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 Thanksgiving 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.
I’ll keep it short and sweet this week by wishing everyone a happy Thanksgiving!
Pass Rushing Matchups to Exploit
Carolina pass rushers at New York Jets
The Panthers will be raring to go off their bye week, one that was a long time coming. A fearsome plethora of pass rushers will greet the porous Jets offensive line, so expect Carolina to win the battle up front against an offensive line that has surrendered pressure on 20.2% of dropbacks. Panthers DC Steve Wilks has blitzed more than any other coordinator this year; expect an aggressive strategy to yield big dividends.
Key stat: The Panthers have applied pressure on 17.5% of dropbacks and have registered 6.1 quarterback hits per game.
Pittsburgh pass rushers vs. Green Bay
The Steelers could really turn the screw on the hapless Packers here. Brett Hundley has put forth game efforts, but his pocket presence and ‘YOLO’ passes have doomed him to failure. Offensive line injuries have cost this team dearly. A strong Steelers front seven which has applied pressure on 18.9% of opponent dropbacks should give them a world of trouble.
Key stat: Green Bay gives up pressure on 18.9% of dropbacks.
Pass Rushing Matchups to Avoid
Denver pass rushers at Oakland
The numbers say that Denver’s pass rush ain’t what she used to be. Meanwhile, the Raiders are still a stingy pass rushing matchup to crack, giving up heat on Derek Carr on just 6.6% of dropbacks. Expect a controlled game plan from the Raiders featuring plenty of Marshawn Lynch. Paxton Lynch starts for Denver, so this should be a low-scoring affair – from Denver, at least. Pull your Denver pass rushing options out of your lineup.
Key stat: Denver has seen a massive drop-off in pressure applied this year, bringing heat on just 12.9% of opponent dropbacks.
Tackle Matchups to Exploit
New York Giants defenders at Washington
The Giants and Redskins could be in for a Thanksgiving IDP bonanza tonight. Traditionally this stadium has provided some big outputs for our key assets, so players like D.J. Swearinger Sr and Landon Collins have added appeal. As for the match-up itself, I expect the Giants to hang around here. There was a lot of pride interwoven into their performance against the Chiefs. The Redskins are still technically alive in the playoff hunt, so they will want to leave no doubt they are within a shout here.
Key stat: The Redskins’ home stat crew is one of the more generous when it comes to doling out tackles and assists, ranking sixth in TVO at 1.211.
Cleveland defenders at Cincinnati
Unsurprisingly, the Browns have had 51.8 tackle opportunities per game and their defense has faced 28.3 rush attempts per game. This could be the Joe Mixon breakout game everyone has been waiting for. And yet, the Browns have been playing better in recent weeks. The Bengals offense has mustered only 42.6 tackle opportunities per game, so they could end up cancelling each other out. Still, the right side of this match-up has to be the Browns defenders.
Key stat: The TVO factor in Cincinnati is strong (1.194) and bodes well for both sets of defenders to prosper.
Tackle Matchups to Avoid
Philadelphia and Chicago defenders
Can anyone halt the unyielding march of the Eagles? Not likely, especially not this week. Although the right side of this match-up to target from an IDP angle might be the Bears defenders, the TVO factor really bursts that bubble. Certain Bears assets like Nick Kwiatkoski could squeeze out some value, but try to look elsewhere for tackle production.
Key stat: The 30th-ranked TVO factor at Lincoln Financial Field means this one might be best avoided.
Jacksonville and Arizona defenders
No fantasy owners should be excited about the prospects of IDP production here. Both teams will look to keep it close to the vest and not throw too many haymakers. The Jaguars defense, of course, has all the upside in the world in terms of big plays. For tackle production, however, look elsewhere. Arizona’s offense averages only 22.1 rush attempts per game and has been an inconsistent unit.
Key stat: The TVO factor of just 1.047 in Arizona means your typical IDP assets could struggle to make a dent in the box score.
Best of luck with Week 12 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.