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 9 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 hope it’s Week 9 and feelin’ fine for all of you, because this is about the time of the season that things get serious. If you’re in contention, you’re flying high and thirsty for more; for those wrestling with their very fantasy football season’s mortality, these next weeks contests will be season-defining.
So, whether you’re in the box seat or slumming it down below, let’s dissect the Week 9 match-ups.
Pass Rushing Matchups to Exploit
Houston pass rushers vs. Indianapolis
The Texans may lack the oomph that they once had with superstar tandem Whitney Mercilus and J.J. Watt giving opposing quarterbacks nightmares, but all is not lost. Alas, the flagging Colts are coming to town, a team that surrenders pressure for fun. Indianapolis may have to play from behind here, as it is unlikely Jacoby Brissett will be able to win an arms race with the red-hot Deshaun Watson. Good news for our Texans pass rushers, in that case. The Texans are averaging only a 13.5% pressure mark – a low total compared to most teams – but the Colts can remedy that.
Key stat: No offensive line has allowed more pressure than the Colts, who allow heat on 27.1% of Jacoby Brissett’s dropbacks.
Washington pass rushers at Seattle
This may be a little out of left field. After all, the Seahawks just bolstered their line by signing Duane Brown. Keep in mind though that Brown only played his first game back after a long holdout last week and may not be fully up to game speed. Desperate teams can be dangerous, and Washington fits that bill. Russell Wilson is a magician and can escape pressure, but Washington’s edge rushers have the athleticism to keep him contained, I believe. This is a sneaky one, but trust your Redskins pass rushers this week on the road.
Key stat: The Redskins have averaged pressure on 20.2% of dropbacks and lead the league in quarterback hits at 7.5 per game.
Pass Rushing Matchups to Avoid
Miami pass rushers vs. Oakland
The Raiders have many problems; the offensive line isn’t one of them. Consistency up front should have been the platform for a playoff season for this team. Instead, it is the struggling defense that is letting them down. Miami may have to rely on its defense to win this arm wrestle as neither Jay Cutler nor Matt Moore inspire confidence. Expect the Raiders to win the battle up front and rely more on the ground game to offset the Miami rushers.
Key stat: The Oakland offensive line has given up pressure on just 7.3% of dropbacks, comfortably the lowest mark in the league.
Tackle Matchups to Exploit
New York Giants and Los Angeles Rams defenders
Another cornerback disciplinary issue has rocked the Giants prior to this clash against the Rams that, in all likelihood, is a damp squib for the home team. The Rams, on the other hand, have to keep up the momentum to stave off an inspired and hungry Seahawks team. The game script could be an ugly one for New York, but that doesn’t mean they can’t keep Rams defenders viable as tacklers. If you have to plug in any players here, I would make it Giants IDP options. The Rams average 29 rush attempts per game and should control this one.
Key stat: No stadium stat crew is more generous as far as TVO factor as the Giants (1.325). Solos and assists will be doled out in plentiful supply, so lean towards starting your Giants and Rams.
Carolina and Atlanta defenders
In a fascinating NFC South clash, the Panthers (sans Kelvin Benjamin) take on the off-kilter Falcons. Neither offense has been lighting the word on fire in recent weeks, so trying to predict how exactly this game will go is a fool’s errand. What we should expect is for Atlanta to try to establish the run and Carolina to try to establish this new-fangled passing attack we’ve heard so much about. No matter how it turns out, play your IDP options in this one.
Key stat: Carolina’s home stat crew ranks fourth in the league in TVO factor at 1.248, so err on the side of playing your IDP options in this game.
Tackle Matchups to Avoid
Cincinnati and Jacksonville defenders
This could actually be a decent tackle opportunity game as far as the numbers go. The problem will be that the home stat crew won’t reward players for it. Both teams want to run the ball (and in Jacksonville’s case, they want nothing more than to run it every down), so we should see the leading tacklers hit a low watermark. However, the stat crew will limit the IDP upside of all the major assets. Avoid if you can.
Key stat: At 0.990, the Jacksonville home stat crew ranks dead last in the NFL in TVO factor. Must be spending too much time in the stadium’s luxury pool and not enough keeping track of tackles, am I right?
Philadelphia defenders vs. Denver
The Broncos have announced that it will be Brock Osweiler starting for them on Sunday. To that I say, whoop dee doo. I don’t think the starting quarterback’s identity will make a huge difference against a stout Philadelphia front seven. Denver will try to protect the ball on offense and play sound defense, but that won’t result in many tackle opportunities for Eagles defenders. Before long this game could get out of hand. If you’re looking for pass rushing upside, this is one to watch; for tackles, look elsewhere.
Key stat: With a 1.057 TVO factor, the Eagles’ home stat crew is one of the worst in the league. Ye who seek points, look elsewhere.
Best of luck with Week 9 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.