StrategySeptember 30, 2010

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Weak Defenses and Favorable Week 4 Matchups - 3 comments

By Jeff LaGrassa

Looking to exploit favorable fantasy matchups in Week 4? In this article, I list the worst rushing and passing defenses in the league through the first three weeks of the 2010 season, their opponents, and who may benefit and produce great fantasy performances.
Worst Run Defenses

RankTeamYds. AllowedYds/gameRush TDs
27Buffalo Bills423141.05
28Tampa Bay Buccaneers424141.32
29Indianapolis Colts424141.33
30New Orleans Saints435145.03
31Arizona Cardinals439146.33
32Detroit Lions446148.75

Matchups in Week 4
27 Buffalo Bills vs. N.Y. Jets (LaDainian Tomlinson, Shonn Greene)
28 Tampa Bay Buccaneers BYE WEEK
29 Indianapolis Colts @ Jacksonville Jaguars (Maurice Jones-Drew, Rashad Jennings)
30 New Orleans Saints vs. Carolina Panthers (DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart)
31 Arizona Cardinals @ San Diego Chargers (Mike Tolbert, Ryan Mathews)
32 Detroit Lions @ Green Bay Packers (Brandon Jackson, John Kuhn)
Worst Pass Defenses
RankTeamYds. AllowedYds/gamePass TDs
28Chicago Bears838279.32
29Jacksonville Jaguars867289.07
30Seattle Seahawks947315.74
31Washington Redskins977325.75
32Houston Texans1106368.76

Matchups in Week 4
28 Chicago Bears @ N.Y. Giants (Eli Manning, Hakeem Nicks, Mario Manningham, Steve Smith)
29 Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Indianapolis Colts (Peyton Manning, Reggie Wayne, Austin Collie, Dallas Clark, Pierre Garcon)
30 Seattle Seahawks @ St. Louis Rams (Sam Bradford, Mark Clayton)
31 Washington Redskins @ Philadelphia Eagles (Michael Vick, DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, Brent Celek)
32 Houston Texans @ Oakland Raiders (Bruce Gradkowski, Zach Miller, Louis Murphy)
Some caveats:

  • While we now have three 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. Anyone who has taken a course in statistics knows that you don’t draw concrete conclusions from such a limited amount of data (three data points).
  • 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, etc.
  • Teams may decide that even though their opponent may have a weak passing defense, they’d rather gameplan to run the ball. Teams often play to their strengths despite whatever their opponents’ weaknesses may be.
  • 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.
    With specific regard to Week 4, I am not too enthusiastic about some of the favorable run defense matchups. While teams like Jacksonville and Carolina have statistically favorable matchups on paper, their respective team performance has been brutal so far this year, and I’m not expecting things to turn around this week for Jones-Drew and DeAngelo Williams. Still, it’s nearly impossible to bench these players, as they were high picks in most leagues; I would just temper your expectations.
    Things look a little brighter for those teams with favorable pass defense matchups. Michael Vick should continue his phoenix-like rise against a Washington defense which has been torched so far this season. While I normally avoid rookie signal callers, if you have bye week issues with your starting QB then Sam Bradford makes for a strong start at home against the Seachickens, who just gave up 455 passing yards at home last week. And if you own any elements of the Colts passing attack, you’re starting them all this week. Heck, against the Jags I’d be starting the Colts water boy if my league rules allowed it.
    While these favorable matchups pan out more often than they fail, I want to stress that this analysis is best suited for borderline roster decisions in larger (12 and 14-team) leagues which also start a third WR, a fourth WR, or a flex spot. In a smaller (10-team) league which only starts 2 RB and 2 WR positions, for example, I’m not likely to ever bench my studs solely to opt for a player with a favorable matchup.
    Don’t get cute! You drafted your studs for a reason, and if you’re gonna go down with them at least go down swinging. Nothing feels worse in fantasy football than seeing a marquee player go off while on your bench because you thought a bit player with a favorable matchup was a sneaky play. Bottom line is: don’t treat this data as gospel; however, if you have a borderline roster sit/start decision, you may wish to opt with one of the favorable matchups shown.

    Jeff LaGrassa is a Steelers fan and a Cafe regular, and the proud dad of an 18-month old boy. 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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    3 Responses to “Weak Defenses and Favorable Week 4 Matchups”

    1. bobznc says:

      Really great information and perspective. Thanks a lot!

    2. Yeah nice stuff here I like it!!

    3. Thank you for posting this.. Now I song have to look at all up myself.. Thx


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