IDP Matchups to Exploit and Avoid: Week 11

Dave Larkin breaks down the best and worst IDP match-ups on the Week 11 slate. 

Each week, this column will take a critical look at key statistical trends to highlight pass rushing and tackle matchups to exploit and avoid. We'll be heavily relying on another great feature at FBG this season, the IDP Matchup Spreadsheet that will be generated by Aaron Rudnicki. That spreadsheet will contain weekly average statistical measures to help identify those defensive teams who are facing the best and worst opportunity as the season progresses. While this column will include analysis of tackle and pass rush opportunity and matchup data, it's only a fraction of the data available in the spreadsheet. We hope that the Matchup Spreadsheet and this column will join John Norton's weekly IDP projections, Doug Drinen's Matchup Analyzer Tool and our customizable MyFBG function as useful tools to assist in making weekly line-up and waiver wire decisions.

You are very welcome to the 11th edition of the IDP Matchup column here at Footballguys in 2019. I have been penning this defensive diary for the past several years and I am delighted to be able to share some tidbits to help you secure a league title come December.

For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Dave Larkin. I am a veteran IDP player and what some would call a diehard fan of this game of football that we all love so much.

Defense is my passion. Over the past few years, I have assimilated countless pages of data from various sources to hone my knowledge of the defensive side of the football. Every week I will study film from the previous week’s games and provide you with nuggets of wisdom that will lead you to a championship.

It is time to switch your brain to playoff mode. Every line-up decision, every waiver wire acquisition and release, should be couched in the basic notion that the playoffs are coming; now all we must do is make sure we secure our seat at the table. Even if your team is on the outside looking in, do not fret; there are weeks left to claw back the deficit.

If you are in the box seat, reveling in the destruction all around you, don’t get complacent. Things can change quickly, after all. Humility and an honest assessment of our rosters will be crucial to get to the dance and win the top prize.

Without further ado, let’s kick off with this week’s matchups.

Team
Team Defense
Team Offense
Pressure
Applied
QB Sacks
QB Hits
Drop Backs
Faced
Pressure
Allowed
QB Sacks
Allowed
QB Hits
Allowed
Drop
Backs
2016 NFL Average
0.142
2.18
5.37
37.8
0.142
2.18
5.37
37.8
2017 NFL Average
15.1%
2.33
5.49
36.5
15%
2.33
5.49
36.5
2018 NFL Average
15%
2.5
5.56
37
15%
2.5
5.56
37
2019 NFL Average
14.7%
2.56
5.5
37.3
14.7%
2.56
5.5
37.3
Team
Team Defense
Team Offense
Pressure
Applied
QB Sacks
QB Hits
Drop Backs
Faced
Pressure
Allowed
QB Sacks
Allowed
QB Hits
Allowed
Drop
Backs
Arizona
15%
2.7
6
40
10.7%
3.2
4.2
39.4
Atlanta
12.6%
1.4
4.3
34.3
16.2%
2.4
7.2
44.4
Baltimore
17.8%
1.8
6.8
38.1
10.9%
2.1
3.4
31.7
Buffalo
13.9%
2.4
5
36
16.4%
2.6
5.9
35.9
Carolina
16.2%
4
6.6
40.6
14.5%
3.1
5.7
39.1
Chicago
14.1%
2.8
5.8
40.9
14.7%
3
5.3
36.2
Cincinnati
11.4%
1.1
3.4
30.3
13%
3.4
5.8
44.3
Cleveland
14.7%
2.9
5.1
34.7
11.9%
2.8
4.4
37.4
Dallas
16.2%
2.1
6.1
37.8
14.3%
1.7
5.3
37.2
Denver
12.8%
2.1
4.4
34.8
14.7%
3.3
5.1
34.7
Detroit
11%
2.1
4.3
39.4
12.3%
2.2
4.9
39.7
Green Bay
15.9%
2.5
5.9
37.2
14.6%
2.3
5.4
37
Houston
13.6%
2.3
5.7
41.7
16.5%
2.8
6
36.4
Indianapolis
14.2%
2.6
5.1
35.9
15.7%
1.9
5.6
35.4
Jacksonville
17.7%
3.3
6.7
37.7
11.6%
2.4
4.3
37.4
Kansas City
15%
3
5.6
37.3
12.7%
1.8
5.1
40.1
LA Chargers
15.2%
2.4
4.7
31
15.5%
2.1
6
38.6
LA Rams
13.8%
2.9
5.4
39.4
13.1%
1.8
5.4
41.4
Miami
13.6%
1.4
4.4
32.8
21.9%
3.9
8.6
39.1
Minnesota
16.4%
2.9
6.6
40.3
13.6%
1.7
4.1
30.2
New England
18.3%
3.6
6.7
36.4
12.2%
1.8
5.1
41.8
New Orleans
14.6%
3.2
5.7
38.8
11.2%
1.6
4.3
38.7
NY Giants
16%
2.4
5.4
33.7
18.8%
3.4
7.9
42
NY Jets
15.3%
2.1
6.1
40
23.6%
4.3
8.4
35.8
Oakland
11.7%
2.2
4.3
37.1
6.8%
1.3
2.2
32.9
Philadelphia
17.4%
2.7
6.4
37
14.6%
2.2
5.3
36.6
Pittsburgh
20.1%
3.7
7.9
39.2
10%
1.2
3.4
34.4
San Francisco
18%
3.9
5.9
32.8
14.8%
1.9
4.8
32.2
Seattle
9.5%
2
3.9
41.2
17.8%
2.7
6.3
35.4
Tampa Bay
14%
2.3
6.1
43.6
17%
3.8
7.3
43.2
Tennessee
13%
2.7
5.2
40
20.7%
4.2
7
33.8
Washington
12.8%
2.3
4.3
33.9
17.9%
2.9
5.7
31.7

Strong Matchup
Weak Matchup

Pass Rushing Match-ups to Exploit

Baltimore pass rushers vs. Houston offensive line

The Ravens defense is getting into a bit of a groove. Despite their recent success, however, they rank among the bottom teams in the league in terms of sack percentage, a statistic that indicates how often pressure is converted into sacks. This clash against a Houston offensive line that has allowed pressure on 16.5% of dropbacks could be just the ticket for John Harbaugh’s team. Corralling the elusive Deshaun Watson will not be a straightforward task, but Baltimore’s ‘no name defense’ could cause serious problems with the right game plan.

Having practiced against Lamar Jackson for the entire season, one would assume the Baltimore defensive players would be comfortable formulating such a game plan. The Ravens’ pass rush has averaged pressure on 17.8% of opponent dropbacks and an impressive 6.8 hits per game. The underlying statistics – and a home game with a raucous crowd – favor the Ravens in this spot. Expect that sack percentage number to skyrocket after this week.

Key stat: Baltimore ranks fourth in the league with a pressure applied percentage of 17.8.

Buffalo pass rushers at Miami

The numbers don’t lie for the Dolphins: an average sack allowed percentage of 9.9 (3rd in the league); 24 sacks allowed at home (3rd) and 11 quarterback hits allowed at home on average. The team has rallied around the hirsute Ryan Fitzpatrick, whose derring-do has led them to two victories and, stunningly, a two-game winning streak. There is no mistaking the story here – and it is a positive one – but the cold, hard facts say the Dolphins are in for an implosion.

Buffalo’s pass rush, after a hot start, hasn’t exactly been firing on all cylinders. This is an excellent remedy for what ails them, though: a visit to the sunny climes of Florida with a lot of the Bills Mafia in the crowd and facing an opponent ripe for the picking. The Bills have pressured the passer on just 13.9% of dropbacks, but Miami has allowed pressure on 21.9% of dropbacks – there is a window of opportunity for serious production from the Buffalo pass rush. Plug in a Buffalo player for a potential blow-up game.

Key stat: The Dolphins offensive line allows 8.6 quarterback hits per game, with the league average standing at 5.5.

Pass Rushing Match-ups to Avoid

Pittsburgh pass rushers at Cleveland

As the key stat below outlines, the Steelers pass rush has been ridiculously skewed. In home games, the pass rush is unstoppable; on the road, a different story emerges. That is borne out in the other underlying statistics: quarterback hits (52 at home, 19 on the road); interceptions (10 at home, four on the road); passes defensed (36 and 15). It pains a fascinating picture and is a large enough sample size to be significant for our purposes.

You throw in the fact that the much-maligned Browns offensive line has allowed pressure on just 11.9% of dropbacks (league average is 14.7) with just 4.4 quarterback hits and this Thursday night clash presents as a bit of a struggle for the fancied road team. The Browns have allowed a sack on just 6.3% of their dropbacks at home. Baker Mayfield could be in for an armchair ride if these numbers bear out in reality. Fade the Steelers pass rush here if you have better options at your disposal.

Key stat: The Steelers have totaled 33 sacks this season, ranking third in the league behind only Carolina and San Francisco. Only three of that total, however, have come on the road – a stunning 30-3 home to road discrepancy.

Season
Team Defense
Team Offense
Tackle
Opportunity
Rush Atts
Faced
Drop Backs
Faced
Offensive
Snaps Faced
Rush
Percentage
Tackle Opps
Allowed
Rush
Attempts
Drop
Backs
Offensive
Snaps
Rush
Percentage
2016 NFL Average
50
25.3
37.8
63.1
40.1%
50
25.3
37.8
63.1
40.1%
2017 NFL Average
49.6
26.1
36.5
62.6
41.9%
49.7
26.1
36.5
62.6
41.7%
2018 NFL Average
50
25.1
37
62.2
40.5%
50.1
25.1
37
62.2
40.5%
2019 NFL Average
50.2
25.2
37.3
62.5
40.3%
50.6
25.2
37.3
62.5
40.3%
Season
Team Defense
Team Offense
Tackle
Opportunity
Rush Atts
Faced
Drop Backs
Faced
Offensive
Snaps Faced
Rush
Percentage
Tackle Opps
Allowed
Rush
Attempts
Drop
Backs
Offensive
Snaps
Rush
Percentage
Arizona
56.1
27.1
40
67.1
40.4%
49.1
22.8
39.4
62.2
36.7%
Atlanta
52.3
27.9
34.3
62.2
44.8%
51.9
19.8
44.4
64.2
30.8%
Baltimore
44.4
21
38.1
59.1
35.5%
56
34.2
31.7
65.9
51.9%
Buffalo
47.9
24.8
36
60.8
40.8%
48.8
26.3
35.9
62.2
42.3%
Carolina
52.7
25.6
40.6
66.1
38.7%
49.9
25.2
39.1
64.3
39.2%
Chicago
53.3
25
40.9
65.9
37.9%
47.4
22.7
36.2
58.9
38.5%
Cincinnati
52.4
32.1
30.3
62.4
51.4%
49
21.1
44.3
65.4
32.3%
Cleveland
49.6
26.4
34.7
61.1
43.3%
46.9
23.4
37.4
60.9
38.5%
Dallas
49.3
23.7
37.8
61.4
38.5%
54.4
28.6
37.2
65.8
43.4%
Denver
49.4
26.4
34.8
61.2
43.2%
48.7
25
34.7
59.7
41.9%
Detroit
52.3
27.4
39.4
66.9
41%
51.4
25.4
39.7
65.1
39.1%
Green Bay
50.3
26
37.2
63.2
41.1%
47.7
22.9
37
59.9
38.2%
Houston
48
19.9
41.7
61.6
32.3%
54.3
28
36.4
64.4
43.4%
Indianapolis
48.6
23.1
35.9
59
39.2%
52.2
29.4
35.4
64.9
45.4%
Jacksonville
48.7
23.8
37.7
61.4
38.7%
49.8
26.1
37.4
63.6
41.1%
Kansas City
52.6
28.1
37.3
65.4
43%
47.8
20.6
40.1
60.7
33.9%
LA Chargers
48.8
25.9
31
56.9
45.5%
48.5
22.3
38.6
60.9
36.6%
LA Rams
52.4
26.4
39.4
65.9
40.1%
49.7
24
41.4
65.4
36.7%
Miami
52
30.4
32.8
63.2
48.2%
45.1
20.6
39.1
59.7
34.5%
Minnesota
50.1
22.1
40.3
62.4
35.4%
53.1
31.7
30.2
61.9
51.2%
New England
41.9
20.6
36.4
57
36.1%
54.7
27
41.8
68.8
39.3%
New Orleans
46.3
21.4
38.8
60.2
35.6%
51.8
24
38.7
62.7
38.3%
NY Giants
52.9
29
33.7
62.7
46.3%
48.7
21
42
63
33.3%
NY Jets
52.4
25.8
40
65.8
39.2%
44.6
20.3
35.8
56.1
36.2%
Oakland
49.4
24.2
37.1
61.3
39.5%
50.9
27.2
32.9
60.1
45.3%
Philadelphia
46.6
22.4
37
59.4
37.8%
52.7
29
36.6
65.6
44.2%
Pittsburgh
53.4
26.8
39.2
66
40.6%
45.2
22.7
34.4
57.1
39.7%
San Francisco
43.8
23.1
32.8
55.9
41.4%
57.3
34.9
32.2
67.1
52%
Seattle
48.6
21.8
41.2
63
34.6%
54.7
29.6
35.4
65
45.5%
Tampa Bay
50.3
21.7
43.6
65.2
33.2%
53.2
25.9
43.2
69.1
37.5%
Tennessee
51.2
24.9
40
64.9
38.4%
48.5
25.1
33.8
58.9
42.6%
Washington
56.7
31.4
33.9
65.3
48.1%
56.7
20.4
31.7
52.1
39.2%

Strong Matchup
Weak Matchup

Tackle Match-ups to Exploit

Cincinnati defenders at Oakland

Stadium TVO rank: 3rd (1.237)

If you have watched any Raiders football this season it won’t surprise you to learn they have averaged 28.2 rushing attempts per game at home. The offensive line has routinely mashed opponents into submission, paving the way for an outstanding season from the technically brilliant rookie phenom Josh Jacobs. This week, the Bengals – yes, the same team that leads the league in rushing attempts faced with 32.1 – are on the chopping block, and oh how they figure to be chopped.

Quite frankly, this is a perfect spot for plugging in your Bengals defenders. The stadium TVO factor is especially friendly for tackle production, with mistakes from rookie quarterback Ryan Finley sure to afford Oakland extra opportunities. Cincinnati’s defense faces rushing plays on 51.4% of their plays (the league average is 40.4). In a game that could quickly get away from the Bengals, bet big on the away team and their IDP assets.

Key stat: The visiting team is awarded an average of 44 solo tackles by the stat crew in Oakland compared to 40.2 for the home team.

Chicago and Los Angeles defenders

Stadium TVO rank: 4th (1.234)

The TVO factor puts this clash firmly in play for tackle production, but cool your jets on the Rams’ defensive assets if you are not a Trubisky believer. And let’s be honest, who is at this point apart from a vociferous minority of fans? According to Football Outsiders, however, the Rams offense ranks 21st in DVOA and simply has not been the same unit we have seen in the past rip teams to shreds. The script could flip here in their favor, but the Bears defense is no pushover.

Ultimately this could end up playing out as a very even game between two similarly flawed teams; one with a quarterback quandary, the other with an offensive malaise. Which is which? You be the judge! The Los Angeles offense averages 65.4 offensive snaps per game, a healthy total but one of scant significance when you survey the rest of their numbers. A rush percentage of 36.7 doesn’t paint a good picture, but one would assume Sean McVay will do his utmost to get the ground attack in gear against a Bears front seven that wreaked havoc on his offense last year. Proceed with caution, but this game – if only for TVO – looks like a good spot for tackle joy.

Key stat: The Rams tacklers are awarded an average of 5.5 more solo tackles compared to the road team at the Coliseum.

Tackle Match-ups to Avoid

Minnesota defenders vs. Denver

Stadium TVO rank: 20th (1.143)

The Broncos will likely offer little resistance when they visit Minnesota in what is one of the most lopsided Vegas lines of the week at 10.5. Denver’s offense was competent in Brandon Allen’s first start, but that trend has almost no chance of continuing in a hostile environment on the road.

Expect Denver to play conservatively, attempting to establish the run against a team that has faced rushing attempts on just 35.4% of their snaps. A bloodbath is on the cards, with Minnesota’s defense doing its bit – and possibly even nabbing a defensive touchdown or two. From a tackle standpoint, however, this is a terrible spot and one that should be avoided at all costs.

Key stat: The Denver offense has averaged just 59.7 offensive snaps per game, below the league average of 62.5.

Detroit and Dallas defenders

Stadium TVO rank: 31st (1.074)

Detroit ranks as the second-worst stadium in the league from a TVO perspective, a fact that bears consideration despite the one-sided look to this clash. The Lions are probably going to be without Matthew Stafford, who is nursing a back injury, so Jeff Driskel will get the start. What that means remains to be seen – Driskel is at least a gamer and capable of using his athletic ability to make some plays – but the likelihood is that the Lions offense will flounder.

A Dallas defense that ranks 20th in defensive DVOA isn’t exactly a unit to be feared, but Detroit simply lacks the consistent ground game to make this an offense that produces viable tackle opportunity. The Cowboys defense has, in addition, faced just 23.7 rushing attempts per game and has averaged 49.3 tackle opportunities per game (league average is 50.2). The TVO, the game script, the Detroit quarterback situation – it all points to a huge fade of this one.

Key stat: Detroit’s offensive has averaged just 25.4 rushing attempts per game.

Best of luck with Week 11 and make sure to check back next week for more matchup analysis.

If you have any further questions or tricky line-up decisions you need advice with, please drop me a line at larkin@footballguys.com, or if you prefer you can tweet me @davlar87.

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