StrategyOctober 15, 2009

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Weak Defenses and Favorable Week 6 Matchups - 5 comments

By Jeff LaGrassa

Looking to exploit favorable fantasy matchups in Week 6? In this article, I list the worst rushing and passing defenses in the league through the first five weeks of the season, their opponents, and who may benefit and produce great fantasy performances.

Worst Run Defenses

RankTeamGamesYds. AllowedYds/gameRush TDs
26Houston Texans5704140.89
27San Diego Chargers4604151.06
28Tampa Bay Buccaneers5763152.63
29Buffalo Bills5773154.67
30Carolina Panthers4622155.54
31Oakland Raiders5805161.07
32Cleveland Browns5852170.48

Matchups in Week 6

26 Houston Texans @ Cincinnati Bengals (Cedric Benson)
27 San Diego Chargers vs. Denver Broncos (Knowshon Moreno)
28 Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Carolina Panthers (DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart)
29 Buffalo Bills @ N.Y. Jets (Thomas Jones, Leon Washington)
30 Carolina Panthers @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Cadillac Williams, Derrick Ward)
31 Oakland Raiders vs. Philadelphia Eagles (Brian Westbrook, LeSean McCoy)
32 Cleveland Browns @ Pittsburgh Steelers (Rashard Mendenhall, Willie Parker)

Worst Pass Defenses

RankTeamGamesYds. AllowedYds/gamePass TDs
27Detroit Lions51,223244.615
28Dallas Cowboys51,257251.48
29Kansas City Chiefs51,350270.010
30Jacksonville Jaguars51,365273.011
31Tennessee Titans51,438287.613
32Arizona Cardinals41,212303.09

Matchups in Week 6

27 Detroit Lions @ Green Bay Packers (Aaron Rodgers, Donald Driver, Greg Jennings, Jermichael Finley)
28 Dallas Cowboys on a bye
29 Kansas City Chiefs @ Washington Redskins (Jason Campbell, Santana Moss, Chris Cooley)
30 Jacksonville Jaguars @ St. Louis Rams (Marc Bulger, Donnie Avery)
31 Tennessee Titans @ New England (Tom Brady, Randy Moss, Wes Welker)
32 Arizona Cardinals @ Seattle (Matt Hasselbeck, Nate Burleson, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, John Carlson)

Some caveats:

  • While we now have four or five weeks worth of data with which to notice some trends and draw a few conclusions, statistically, this is still a small sample size and can be greatly influenced by whether a team has faced strong rushing or passing offenses so far this year.
  • You should never bench your studs
  • Just because teams have favorable matchups against weak defenses does not necessarily guarantee fantasy success. A lot of other factors come into play depending on what is going on with the gameplan, the game itself, and other things
  • Teams may decide that even though their opponent may have a weak passing defense, they’d rather gameplan to run the ball.
  • If a team gets down quickly, they may not have the choice of running the ball even though their opponent may have a weak running defense — they may be forced to pass and play catchup.
  • A tight end who should have a favorable matchup against a weak passing defense may be needed to stay and help block because of a decimated offensive line.
  • Darren McFadden and Michael Bush flamed out in spectacular fashion against Houston, the weakest rushing defense in the league at that time, simply because the Raiders are inept.
  • These favorable matchups pan out more often than they fail, but I keep trying to stress that this analysis is best suited for borderline roster decisions in larger (12 and 14-team) leagues which also start a 3rd WR, a 4th WR, or a flex spot. In a smaller (10-team) league which only starts 2 RB and 2 WR positions, I’m not likely to ever bench my studs solely to opt for a player with a favorable matchup.

    Additional notes

    The running back matchups this week are about as tasty as they’ve been all season. With the possible exception of the Bucs RBs, I think every other RB listed this week is going to have stud performances. Watch the injury news however for Willie Parker’s status.

    The passing defense statistics offer some very favorable matchups, but there are a few which I just don’t have a lot of confidence in. I expect Green Bay to have a banner day, with Greg Jennings finally getting back on track. Similarly, Tom Brady and Co. should tee off on the woeful Titans secondary, and Matt Hasselbeck and company might just well repeat their monster results from last week against the Cards. It would be nice though if TE John Carlson could get back in the gameplan; he hasn’t caught a TD or had more than 4 catches since Week 1.

    On the flip side however, the Redskins and Rams offenses haven’t been exactly juggernauts this season, and I would be hesitant to start their respective skill players. The Redskins offensive line is in shambles and I just don’t think that Campbell will get the protection to have even an adequate performance. Chris Cooley didn’t have a single reception last week because he was needed to block.

    Don’t get cute! I would personally still go with established studs like Drew Brees or Philip Rivers (and their WRs) despite the fact that they are facing the #1 ranked N.Y. Giants and #5 ranked Denver Broncos passing defenses, respectively, over a struggling team with a favorable passing defense matchup.

    Jeff LaGrassa is a Steelers fan and a Cafe regular, and a proud new dad. In his free time (yeah right!) he enjoys disc golf, skiing, and playing the electric bass. You can catch him posting in the Cafe forums as The Lung.
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    5 Responses to “Weak Defenses and Favorable Week 6 Matchups”

    1. User avatar Navyseal says:

      Solid analysis…

      NEVER BENCH YOUR STUDS!—-That, my friend, is GOSPEL… I am starting AP with confidence this week now that the juggernaut known as the Baltimore run defense can be had with a balanced attack… if Benson can notch 120 and a TD then I have to believe that Purple Jesus can replicate such a performance, and perhaps even improve upon it…

    2. User avatar BuddysMom says:

      same here. as long as game plan and Favre see that he gets the ball i think he will do fine. actually, should do better than fine with some of the focus on Favre.

    3. User avatar urbanbreez says:

      How odd is it that Arizona has both the best Run D and worst Pass D in the league?

    4. djp317 says:

      The other think to remember is that a team’s weakness in one area can make them look better than they really are in the other. For instance, part of the reason the Cards defense is good against the run on paper is because they’re so awful against the pass that everyone throws on them. The 2008 Colts were the exact opposite — they had a statistically good pass defense, but it was largely because teams could run on them at will so didn’t bother throwing much.

    5. User avatar The Lung says:

      Well so much for Matt Hasselbeck and company repeating their monster results against the Cards. :-(


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