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 a number of weekly and 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 Week 10 edition of what will be a season-long look at the best and worst matchups in the IDP landscape based on detailed, accurate spreadsheet data generated by Aaron Rudnicki on a weekly basis.
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. Each and 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.
Remember to stay engaged until you hit the finish line in fantasy leagues, because you never know when a potential spoiler role could turn into a full-blown title run. With a solid 10 weeks of data in the bank, we can make informed decisions on which matchups to target and which to pass on.
This week is about stayin’ alive or solidifying your position in the playoff hunt. So without further ado, let’s dig in to the Week 11 matchups.
Pass Rushing Matchups to Exploit
Jacksonville pass rushers at Cleveland
There might not be a more tantalising matchup on the slate this week from a pass rushing perspective. The Jaguars have parlayed deft drafting and shrewd free agent pickups into a dominant defense that can frighten even the most potent offenses. So what chance do the Browns have? Cleveland has looked more like a professional offensive outfit the last couple of games, but the offensive line yields pressure on 20.1% of dropbacks. The Jaguars rack up 3.9 sacks and 6.6 hits per game, so this one could get ugly for the home team. Plug in your Jaguars pass rushers.
Key stat: The Jaguars have bizarrely notched 27 sacks on the road, while they have recorded just eight at home. Road warriors, indeed.
Arizona and Houston pass rushers
In what might be a first for this column, I am recommending both sides of a matchup. My logic is this: neither team has a commanding quarterback right now who can get the ball out on time and give their offensive line a break. Both teams are willing to bring pressure and neither offensive line is equipped to handle it (see pressure statistics below). If I was a gambling man, I would bet the under in this slugfest of a matchup between two teams on their last legs. That doesn’t mean IDP owners can’t have a sneaky plug-in here to boost their points total.
Key stat: The Cardinals (17.4% pressure applied) and Texans (14.2%) haven’t been the worst pass rushing units this season, while both offensive lines (19.5% and 19.2% pressure allowed respectively) have given up pressure for fun. This is a recipe for sacks, hits and hurries.
Pass Rushing Matchups to Avoid
Washington pass rushers at New Orleans
Nobody is touching Drew Brees right now, and it is easy to see why. The Saints are making mince meat of opposing defensive fronts, ramming the football down their throats time and again as the run-first philosophy that took the team to their last title comes to the fore. The Redskins actually have a decent defense when it comes to rushing the passer, applying pressure on 18.3% of dropbacks – but I would hardly call it a strength. Washington could keep it close, but the smart play here is to dump your Redskins for other options.
Key stat: The New Orleans offensive line is playing like a well-oiled machine, surrendering just 0.9 sacks per game and allowing pressure on a paltry 9.7% of dropbacks.
Tackle Matchups to Exploit
Kansas City and New York Giants defenders
The 10.5-point spread here should tell you what the world (and Vegas) thinks of the Giants right now. Ben McAdoo is on his last legs as head coach, the owners are starting to become tetchy after releasing public statements and the fans are, well, peeved, to put it mildly. For IDP purposes, none of that matters. The favourable TVO factor makes this a prime matchup for production, so plugging in your Giants and Chiefs is an excellent move. The Giants players figure to see more tackle opportunity (52.2 per game coming into Week 11), while the Chiefs offense averages 49.3 per game.
Key stat: In a dismal season for the once proud New York Giants, the only statistic they can claim to be leading the league in is TVO factor. The home stat crew in New York ranks top of the league at 1.335, a tasty prospect if you own any Giants or Chiefs.
Buffalo defenders at Los Angeles
The Bills will bench Tyrod Taylor for this contest in L.A., with rookie Nathan Peterman stepping in. One can only assume this is a response to the recent cold streak and a tacit admission by the coaching staff that they have preferred Peterman to Taylor all along and were simply looking for a window of opportunity to bench the starter. Buffalo should rely heavily on the run, but so will Los Angeles. Ultimately, I trust Philip Rivers to keep his offense on schedule, while Peterman will likely struggle against L.A.’s pass rush. Plug in your Bills this week.
Key stat: The Chargers home stat crew ranks second in the league with a TVO factor of 1.275.
Tackle Matchups to Avoid
Detroit and Chicago defenders
Neither side of this matchup is particularly appealing if it is tackle numbers you seek for your IDP teams. The Bears offense has come to life in the last couple of weeks, certainly, but can we trust that to keep happening? No matter how this game plays out, the prudent thing to do here is search for other options unless you are desperate.
Key stat: The Bears home stat crew doesn’t do any favours for IDP owners, ranking second to last in the league in TVO factor (1.023).
Denver and Cincinnati defenders
The matchup that someone told me ‘they didn’t want to see a second of’ this week pits the Bengals against the Broncos in a battle of pride. Neither quarterback should scare the opposing defense, so expect a low-scoring, grind-it-out affair. The TVO factor tilts this one towards the ‘stay away’ zone, however.
Key stat: Denver’s home stat crew ranks among the mid-table options in TVO factor (1.076), so while it isn’t a wasteland, it’s probably worth avoiding.
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 email@example.com, or if you prefer you can tweet me @davlar87.