StrategyDecember 24, 2009

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Weak Defenses and Favorable Week 16 Matchups

By Jeff LaGrassa

Looking to exploit favorable fantasy matchups in Week 16? In this article, I list the worst rushing and passing defenses in the league through the first fifteen weeks of the season, their opponents, and who may benefit and produce great fantasy performances.

Worst Run Defenses

RankTeamYds. AllowedYds/gameRush TDs


Detroit Lions1786127.616
25Chicago Bears1799128.512
26Carolina Panthers1826130.414
27St. Louis Rams1966140.419
28Oakland Raiders2084148.920
29Cleveland Browns2095149.615
30Tampa Bay Buccaneers2224158.915
31Kansas City Chiefs2276162.616
32Buffalo Bills2319165.618

Matchups in Week 16
24 Detroit Lions @ San Francisco 49ers (Frank Gore)
25 Chicago Bears vs. Minnesota Vikings (Adrian Peterson, Chester Taylor)
26 Carolina Panthers @ N.Y. Giants (Brandon Jacobs, Ahmad Bradshaw)
27 St. Louis Rams @ Arizona Cardinals (Beanie Wells, Tim Hightower)
28 Oakland Raiders @ Cleveland Browns (Jerome Harrison, Chris Jennings)
29 Cleveland Browns vs. Oakland Raiders (Justin Fargas, Michael Bush, Darren McFadden)
30 Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ New Orleans Saints (Pierre Thomas, Reggie Bush, Mike Bell)
31 Kansas City Chiefs @ Cincinnati Bengals (Cedric Benson, Larry Johnson)
32 Buffalo Bills @ Atlanta Falcons (Jason Snelling, Jerious Norwood)

Worst Pass Defenses

RankTeamYds. AllowedYds/gamePass TDs


Jacksonville Jaguars3421244.424
28San Francisco 49ers3473248.114
29Seattle Seahawks3492249.426
30Atlanta Falcons3567254.824
31Tennessee Titans3711265.128
32Detroit Lions3760268.631

Matchups in Week 16

27 Jacksonville Jaguars @ New England Patriots (Tom Brady, Randy Moss, Wes Welker)
28 San Francisco 49ers vs. Detroit Lions (Daunte Culpepper / Drew Stanton, Calvin Johnson)
29 Seattle Seahawks @ Green Bay Packers (Aaron Rodgers, Donald Driver, Greg Jennings, Jermichael Finley)
30 Atlanta Falcons vs. Buffalo Bills (Brian Brohm, Terrell Owens, Lee Evans)
31 Tennessee Titans vs. San Diego Chargers (Philip Rivers, Vincent Jackson, Antonio Gates, Malcom Floyd)
32 Detroit Lions @ San Francisco 49ers (Alex Smith, Michael Crabtree, Vernon Davis, Josh Morgan)

Additional notes
Week 16: Championship week. This is what we spend all offseason preparing for, what keeps us glued to our televisions every Sunday, and what makes or breaks our holiday season. Week 16 is for all the marbles, and when we pray that the fantasy gods are kind to us this week more than any other. But it’s also the week where lineup decisions are of the utmost importance. It’s especially critical to look at favorable matchups for your fantasy players to increase your chances in getting that coveted trophy, but at the same time, it is crucial to not bench stud players and opt for a marginal player with a favorable matchup.

When it comes to matchups in the run game, there are several stud players with favorable matchups who could bring you a league championship. Frank Gore, Adrian Peterson, and Cedric Benson should finish your fantasy season in fine style. Michael Turner foolishly tried to return from injury last week and lasted all of one carry; with the worst run defense in the league on tap, Jason Snelling makes a fine flex play this week. Both components of the Arizona and New York Giants running back by committee platoon also make excellent starts. On the flip side, despite the favorable matchup, it’s impossible to determine what’s going on with the Raiders run game and none of their backs can be trusted with any degree of confidence. And the “Mangenius” is seemingly taking delight with tormenting fantasy owners by alternating featured running backs each week. Despite a record-breaking performance last week against the Chiefs, it wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest to see Jerome Harrison take a back seat to Chris Jennings against the Raiders this week. Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me.

If you didn’t lose in the playoffs last week because of Tom Brady’s dreadful performance, he should repay you handsomely with a bounce-back performance against a struggling Jaguars pass defense. Aaron Rodgers has been absolute money this year, and he and his receivers should deliver once again. Philip Rivers has quietly achieved the third-highest QB rating in the league this year and is facing the Tennessee passing defense, which has been putrid since the beginning of the season. On the other side of the coin, you simply cannot bench a stud to start a QB with a favorable matchup. If you lose your most important head-to-head matchup of the season this week because you started a Detroit, Buffalo, or San Francisco quarterback, you only have yourself to blame.

With every respectable league finishing their championships in week 16, this will be the final article of the year. If your league is still competing in week 17 (when many NFL teams have wrapped up playoff spots and bench most of their starters) then tell your commissioner to get a clue!

Good luck to all this week, and maybe the (fantasy) force be with you.

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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