StrategyOctober 21, 2010

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Weak Defenses and Favorable Week 7 Matchups - 2 comments

By Jeff LaGrassa

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 2010 season, their opponents, and who may benefit and produce great fantasy performances.

Worst Run Defenses

RankTeamGamesYds. AllowedYds/gameRush TDs
26Carolina Panthers5672134.44
27Indianapolis Colts6824137.37
28Detroit Lions6833138.87
29Arizona Cardinals5704140.85
30Oakland Raiders6897149.56
31Tampa Bay Buccaneers5785157.03
32Buffalo Bills5912182.47

Matchups in Week 7

26 Carolina Panthers vs. San Francisco 49ers (Frank Gore)
27 Indianapolis Colts BYE WEEK
28 Detroit Lions BYE WEEK
29 Arizona Cardinals @ Seattle Seahawks (Marshawn Lynch, Justin Forsett)
30 Oakland Raiders @ Denver Broncos (Knowshon Moreno, Correll Buckhalter)
31 Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. St. Louis Rams (Steven Jackson)
32 Buffalo Bills @ Baltimore Ravens (Ray Rice, Willis McGahee)

Worst Pass Defenses

RankTeamGamesYds. AllowedYds/gamePass TDs
26Arizona Cardinals51206241.29
27Kansas City Chiefs51247249.46
28Jacksonville Jaguars61582263.714
29New England Patriots51367273.411
30Seattle Seahawks51454290.86
31Washington Redskins61789298.29
32Houston Texans61837306.214

Matchups in Week 7

26 Arizona Cardinals @ Seattle Seahawks (Matt Hasselbeck, Mike Williams, John Carlson, Deon Butler)
27 Kansas City Chiefs vs. Jacksonville Jaguars (Mike Thomas, Marcedes Lewis, Mike Sims-Walker)
28 Jacksonville Jaguars @ Kansas City Chiefs (Matt Cassel, Dwayne Bowe, Tony Moeaki)
29 New England Patriots @ San Diego Chargers (Philip Rivers, Antonio Gates*, Patrick Crayton, Legedu Naanee, Buster Davis)
30 Seattle Seahawks vs. Arizona Cardinals (Max Hall, Larry Fitzgerald, Steve Breaston*)
31 Washington Redskins @ Chicago Bears (Jay Cutler, Johnny Knox, Devin Hester, Earl Bennett, Matt Forte)
32 Houston Texans BYE WEEK

* check injury reports

Some caveats:

  • While we now have five or six weeks worth of data for most teams with which to derive statistics, these averages can be influenced by whether a team has faced strong rushing or passing offenses so far this year. Additionally, defensive strengths can change wildly due to players returning from injury or suspension.
  • 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 own strengths despite whatever their opponents’ weaknesses may be.
  • If a team gets down quickly in a game, they may not have the choice of running the ball even though their opponent may have a weak running defense — the losing team 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.

Last week’s favorable run defense matchups really panned out, with Ryan Torain, Chris Ivory, and Frank Gore all having banner days, and I expect that trend to continue this week. You wouldn’t think twice about taking Frank Gore, Ray Rice or Steven Jackson out of your starting lineups, but if you have bye week issues, then running backs like Marshawn Lynch, Justin Forsett, and a now seemingly healthy Knowshon Moreno should make for strong starts in a flex spot. With the addition of Lynch, Forsett looks more comfortable back in his natural third-down role and should be able to work the edges and remain fantasy relevant. On the flip side, Correll Buckhalter and Laurence Maroney have been utilized too sporadically and have not displayed enough competency to be even desperation starts this week, even against the Raiders.

As for the exploitable passing defenses, it’s a shame that Houston is on bye this week as they have been giving up yards and TDs in bunches and likely won’t turn things around very soon after losing LB DeMeco Ryans for the season. On paper, two games statistically could see some aerial fireworks: both the Cardinals-Seahawks game and the Chiefs-Jaguars game feature four of the worst passing defenses in the league. While the respective offensive coordinators could always plan for a ground game, if they take to the skies then some very favorable numbers could be had for the passing and receiving components of these teams. After being torched by Indianapolis last week, the Washington defense travels to Chicago where they should be feasted on by Jay Cutler and Co. And finally, while Philip Rivers may be without the services of his leading WR and Pro Bowl TE this week, his backup WRs make sneaky plays against a young Patriot secondary which was just lit up at home by Baltimore last week.

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 that also start a third WR, a fourth WR, or a flex spot. In a smaller (10-team) league which only starts two RBs and two 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 for 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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2 Responses to “Weak Defenses and Favorable Week 7 Matchups”

  1. User avatar Navyseal says:

    Tampa Bay D has been stingy with rushing TDs to date, but SJax may just change all that, come sunday afternoon… well done, good analysis, quite thorough…

  2. User avatar u_fig_eater says:

    Jamaal Charles has upcoming games vs the Bills, Cards, and Raiders. : )


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