Looking to exploit favorable fantasy matchups in Week 8? In this article, I list the worst rushing and passing defenses in the league through the first seven weeks of the 2010 season, their opponents, and who may benefit and produce great fantasy performances.
Worst Run Defenses
|Rank||Team||Games||Yds. Allowed||Yds/game||Rush TDs Allowed|
|31||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||6||946||157.7||3|
Matchups in Week 8
25 Jacksonville Jaguars @ Dallas Cowboys (Marion Barber, Felix Jones)
26 Carolina Panthers @ St. Louis Rams (Steven Jackson*)
27 Indianapolis Colts vs. Houston Texans (Arian Foster, Derrick Ward)
28 Oakland Raiders vs. Seattle Seahawks (Marshawn Lynch, Justin Forsett)
29 Arizona Cardinals vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Cadillac Williams, LaGarrette Blount)
30 Denver Broncos @ San Francisco 49ers (Frank Gore)
31 Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Arizona Cardinals (Beanie Wells, Tim Hightower)
32 Buffalo Bills @ Kansas City Chefs (Thomas Jones, Jamaal Charles)
Worst Pass Defenses
|Rank||Team||Games||Yds. Allowed||Yds/game||Pass TDs Allowed|
|25||Kansas City Chiefs||6||1463||243.8||8|
|30||New England Patriots||6||1692||282.0||12|
Matchups in Week 8
25 Kansas City Chiefs vs. Buffalo Bills (Ryan Fitzpatrick, Lee Evans, Steve Johnson)
26 Cleveland Browns BYE WEEK
27 Jacksonville Jaguars @ Dallas Cowboys (Jon Kitna, Miles Austin, Dez Bryant, Roy Williams, Jason Witten)
28 Atlanta Falcons BYE WEEK
29 Seattle Seahawks @ Oakland Raiders (Blecch!)
30 New England Patriots vs. Minnesota Vikings (Brett Favre*, Randy Moss, Percy Harvin, Visanthe Shiancoe)
31 Washington Redskins @ Detroit Lions (Matt Stafford, Calvin Johnson, Brandon Pettigrew, Nate Burleson, Tony Scheffler)
32 Houston Texans @ Indianapolis Colts (Peyton Manning, Reggie Wayne, Pierre Garcon, Jacob Tamme)
* check injury reports
* While we now have six or seven 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. Denver wasn’t one of the bottom run defenses until this past week when, with several players hurt, they gave up 328 net yards rushing to the Raiders. One very bad week can turn a middling defense into a bad one, and on the contrary, defensive strengths can suddenly strengthen 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.
The first game of the 2010 season without Tony Romo couldn’t have come against a more favorable opponent for the Cowboys since the Jaguars suffer in both run defense AND pass defense. I expect however that the gameplan will be to keep the ball on the ground and to take the pressure off Kitna, resulting in favorable results for the Cowboys tandem. If Steven Jackson isn’t bothered by his finger injury, he should continue his successful year against the Panthers. Don’t expect a repeat of Arian Foster’s monster Week 1 in the rematch against Indianapolis on Monday Night Football, but a successful fantasy day isn’t too much to ask for, and Derrick Ward makes for a good play as well if you’re suffering from the bye week blues. LaGarrette Blount also makes a sneaky play this week, as the torch has seemingly been passed in Tampa Bay from an ineffective Cadillac Williams. Any member of the Arizona and Kansas City running back committees make strong starts this week, although Coach Whiz has seemingly lost faith in Hightower because of his fumbling woes.
As for the exploitable passing defenses, you’re starting any healthy member of the Indianapolis air forces, who should put on a show on Monday against a Houston defense that has 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, the Oakland and Minnesota games are set up for two exploitable passing defenses but I’m willing to bet that these offensive coordinators plan for a ground game, since it is their forte. And other than Zach Miller, I want no part of the Oakland passing “attack.” As previously mentioned, if the Cowboys want to air it out, they have the favorable matchup there to exploit. Matt Stafford makes his triumphant return this week and I’m expecting big things there, and if you’ve been paying attention to what’s been going on in Buffalo as of late, you have to love what you see there. While the Bills won’t have Ravens CB Fabian Washington to pick on again, if you have bye week issues, don’t be gun shy about plugging Bills into your starting lineup.
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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