StrategyDecember 18, 2009

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Weak Defenses and Favorable Week 15 Matchups

By Jeff LaGrassa

Looking to exploit favorable fantasy matchups in Week 15? In this article, I list the worst rushing and passing defenses in the league through the first fourteen weeks of the season, their opponents, and who may benefit and produce great fantasy performances.

Worst Run Defenses

RankTeamYds. AllowedYds/gameRush TDs
24Chicago Bears1663127.912
25Detroit Lions1669128.414
26Carolina Panthers1785137.313
27St. Louis Rams1914147.219
28Kansas City Chiefs1925148.113
29Cleveland Browns1925148.114
30Oakland Raiders2004154.220
31Tampa Bay Buccaneers2096161.215
32Buffalo Bills2217170.517

Matchups in Week 15
Chicago Bears @ Baltimore Ravens (Ray Rice)
Detroit Lions vs. Arizona Cardinals (Beanie Wells, Tim Hightower)
Carolina Panthers vs. Minnesota Vikings (Adrian Peterson, Chester Taylor)
St. Louis Rams vs. Houston Texans (Ryan Moats, Chris Brown, Arian Foster)
Kansas City Chiefs vs. Cleveland Browns (Jerome Harrison, Chris Jennings, Josh Cribbs)
Cleveland Browns @ Kansas City Chiefs (Jamaal Charles)
Oakland Raiders @ Denver Broncos (Knowshon Moreno, Correll Buckhalter*)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Seattle Seahawks (Justin Forsett, Julius Jones)
Buffalo Bills vs. New England Patritos (Laurence Maroney, Sammy Morris, Kevin Faulk)

* watch injury reports

Worst Pass Defenses

RankTeamYds. AllowedYds/gamePass TDs


Jacksonville Jaguars3113239.520
27San Francisco 49ers3167243.613
28Arizona Cardinals3232248.620
29Seattle Seahawks3287252.824
30Atlanta Falcons3352257.823
31Tennessee Titans3356258.227
32Detroit Lions3537272.129

Matchups in Week 15

Jacksonville Jaguars @ Indianpolis Colts (Peyton Manning, Reggie Wayne, Dallas Clark, Austin Collie, Pierre Garcon)
San Francisco 49ers @ Philadelphia Eagles (Donovan McNabb, DaBomb Jackson, Brent Celek, Jason Avant)
Arizona Cardinals @ Detroit Lions (Matt Stafford*, Calvin Johnson, Bryant Johnson)
Seattle Seahawks vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Josh Freeman, Antonio Bryant, Kellen Winslow)
Atlanta Falcons @ N.Y. Jets (Mark Sanchez*, Dustin Keller, Jerricho Cotchery, Braylon Edwards)
Tennessee Titans vs. Miami Dolphins (Chad Henne, Greg Camarillo, Davone Bess, Brian Hartline, Tedd Ginn)
Detroit Lions vs. Arizona Cardinals (Kurt Warner, Larry Fitzgerald*, Anquan Boldin, Steve Breaston)

* watch injury reports

Additional notes

Week 15 either continues the playoffs for some, or starts the playoffs in nearly every other league format. Lineup decisions become critical because there’s no second chances. While favorable matchups still exist, fantasy owners need to carefully weigh whether to take advantage of them or ride the horses that got them there.

With regards to favorable running defense matchups, Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson, and Knowshon Moreno should continue the fantasy success they’ve enjoyed all year. Jamaal Charles has been a breakout RB over the last month and is making his case as the Chiefs workhorse back of the future, and Chris Wells should benefit from Tim Hightower slowly being phased out of the gameplan. On the flipside, the RBBC in both Houston and New England can’t be trusted and these running backs are simply too much of a gamble for anything more than a flex spot. I also don’t have much confidence in a reeling Seahawks team.

There’s some favorable passing matchups for known studs like Kurt Warner, Donovan McNabb, Peyton Manning and their respective receivers. However there’s also a lot of fool’s gold out there who are simply too unreliable in this all important week. To wit, you have young quarterbacks like Chad Henne and Josh Freeman along with QBs like Mark Sanchez and Matt Stafford returning from injury that despite the favorable matchups can’t be started with confidence, even in 2 QB leagues. In Miami especially, it seems like a different receiver is featured each week and none can be trusted.

Good luck to all this week with your lineup decisions, and may the fantasy gods bestow you the chance to win a league championship this holiday season!

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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