Looking to exploit favorable fantasy matchups in Week 7? In this article, I list the worst rushing and passing defenses in the league through the first six weeks of the season, their opponents, and who may benefit and produce great fantasy performances.
Worst Run Defenses
|Rank||Team||Games||Yds. Allowed||Yds/game||Rush TDs|
|26||St. Louis Rams||6||795||132.5||9|
|27||San Diego Chargers||5||705||141.0||6|
|31||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||6||1,030||171.7||6|
Matchups in Week 7
26 St. Louis Rams vs. Indianapolis Colts (Joseph Addai, Donald Brown)
27 San Diego Chargers @ Kansas City Chiefs (Larry Johnson, Jamaal Charles)
28 Oakland Raiders vs. New York Jets (Thomas Jones, Leon Washington)
29 Carolina Panthers vs. Buffalo Bills (Marshawn Lynch, Fred Jackson)
30 Cleveland Browns vs. Green Bay Packers (Ryan Grant)
31 Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. New England Patriots (Laurence Maroney, Kevin Faulk)
32 Buffalo Bills @ Carolina Panthers (DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart)
Worst Pass Defenses
|Rank||Team||Games||Yds. Allowed||Yds/game||Pass TDs|
|25||Kansas City Chiefs||6||1,497||249.5||10|
|27||St. Louis Rams||6||1,512||252.0||8|
Matchups in Week 7
24 Minnesota Vikings @ Pittsburgh Steelers (Ben Roethlisberger, Hines Ward, Santonio Holmes, Heath Miller)
25 Kansas City Chiefs vs. San Diego Chargers (Philip Rivers, Vincent Jackson, Antonio Gates, Darren Sproles)
26 Dallas Cowboys vs. Atlanta Falcons (Matt Ryan, Roddy White, Tony Gonzalez)
27 St. Louis Rams vs. Indianapolis Colts (Peyton Manning, Reggie Wayne, Dallas Clark, Austin Collie, Pierre Garcon)
28 Cincinnati Bengals vs. Chicago Bears (Jay Cutler, Devin Hester, Johnny Knox, Earl Bennett, Greg Olsen)
29 Detroit Lions BYE WEEK
30 Jacksonville Jaguars BYE WEEK
31 Arizona Cardinals @ New York Giants (Eli Manning, Steve Smith, Hakeem Nicks, Mario Manningham)
32 Tennessee Titans BYE WEEK
# While we now have five or six 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 catch-up.
# 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.
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.
As opposed to last week, I don’t have as much confidence in this week’s RB matchups. Indianapolis could run all over the Rams, but historically the Colts have been a pass-first team and the Rams are just as inept in passing defense (see below). Still, Joseph Addai should be in your starting lineup. Thomas Jones just had a career day against Buffalo last week, but the Raiders just shut down the Eagles at home. The Chiefs’, Bills’, and Packers’ running games have looked quite sickly in the past few weeks and I don’t have a lot of confidence in them despite the favorable matchups. New England has been playing running back roulette, and it’s anyone’s guess as to what Bill Belichick, fantasy football’s dark overlord of running back by committees, will do this week. About the only matchup that is close to a sure thing is Carolina at home vs. the Bills, who just gave up over 300 yards rushing to the Jets. Buffalo could stack the box with nine men and dare Delhomme to beat them with his arm, but they have to account for Steve Smith. DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart owners should be licking their chops!
As for this week’s weak passing defenses, three of the four worst teams in the league are on bye, so I decided to go a little deeper into the rankings. I feel very confident about the Colts, Falcons, Chargers and Steelers this week because they have demonstrated prolific passing attacks in prior games. I am leery though about the Bears offense versus Cincinnati, because up until last week’s game against Houston, the Bengals had actually been doing a decent job defensively. The Bears offensive line has looked very shaky this year and Cutler is prone to forcing bad balls into coverage, and the Bengals have an opportunistic secondary. However, with the NFL’s second-leading sack leader (8) Antwan Odom down for the count with a torn Achilles tendon, perhaps the Bungles are back to being an exploitable D.
Furthermore, I don’t have as much confidence in the Giants matchup versus Arizona. Statistically, Seattle should have had a banner day last week vs. this same Arizona passing defense, but the Seahawks laid an egg. However, the Giants have a much better offensive line than the Seahawks patchwork group, and despite Manning’s heel problems, he may exploit a Cardinals defense that historically does not travel well to the East Coast. With a whopping six teams on bye this week, there are some options in these matchups who could serve as an emergency WR3 or WR4 start this week. If available in your league, WRs Mike Wallace of the Steelers, Michael Jenkins of the Falcons, and Malcolm Floyd of the Chargers could all serve as high risk, high reward sleeper options in your lineup.
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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