StrategyNovember 12, 2010

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Weak Defenses and Favorable Week 10 Matchups - 2 comments

By Jeff LaGrassa

Looking to exploit favorable fantasy matchups in Week 10? In this article, I list the worst rushing and passing defenses in the league through the first nine weeks of the 2010 season, their opponents, and who may benefit and produce great fantasy performances.

Worst Run Defenses

RankTeamGamesYds. AllowedYds/gameRush TDs Allowed
24Dallas Cowboys8991123.96
25Carolina Panthers8998124.85
26Oakland Raiders91123124.86
27Detroit Lions81023127.99
28Arizona Cardinals81082135.38
29Indianapolis Colts81127140.99
30Tampa Bay Buccaneers81176147.07
31Denver Broncos81237154.614
32Buffalo Bills81426178.39

Matchups in Week 10

24 Dallas Cowboys @ N.Y. Giants (Ahmad Bradshaw, Brandon Jacobs)
25 Carolina Panthers @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (LeGarrette Blount, Cadillac Williams)
26 Oakland Raiders BYE WEEK
27 Detroit Lions @ Buffalo Bills (Fred Jackson, C.J. Spiller)
28 Arizona Cardinals vs. Seattle Seahawks (Marshawn Lynch, Justin Forsett)
29 Indianapolis Colts vs. Cincinnati Bengals (Cedric Benson)
30 Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Carolina Panthers (DeAngelo Williams*, Jonathan Stewart*, Mike Goodson, Tyrell Sutton*)
31 Denver Broncos vs. Kansas City Chiefs (Jamaal Charles, Thomas Jones)
32 Buffalo Bills vs. Detroit Lions (Jahvid Best, Kevin Smith)

Worst Pass Defenses

RankTeamGamesYds. AllowedYds/gamePass TDs Allowed
26Atlanta Falcons82004250.513
27Arizona Cardinals82044255.513
28Jacksonville Jaguars82137267.117
29New England Patriots82151268.913
30Seattle Seahawks82164270.511
31Washington Redskins82247280.914
32Houston Texans82386298.320

Matchups in Week 10

26 Atlanta Falcons vs. Baltimore Ravens (Joe Flacco, Anquan Boldin, Derrick Mason, Todd Heap)
27 Arizona Cardinals vs. Seattle Seahawks (Matt Hasselbeck*, Mike Williams, John Carlson)
28 Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Houston Texans (Matt Schaub, Andre Johnson, Jacoby Jones, Owen Daniels*)
29 New England Patriots @ Pittsburgh Steelers (Ben Roethlisberger, Hines Ward, Mike Wallace, Heath Miller)
30 Seattle Seahawks @ Arizona Cardinals (Larry Fitzgerald, Steve Breaston)
31 Washington Redskins vs. Philadelphia Eagles (Michael Vick, DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, Brent Celek, Jason Avant)
32 Houston Texans @ Jacksonville Jaguars (David Garrard, Mike Sims-Walker, Marcedes Lewis, Mike Thomas)

* check injury reports

Some caveats:
* We now have eight weeks worth of data for most teams with which to notice trends and draw conclusions which is a good sample size. However, injuries and player personnel can still alter defensive strengths around. Additionally, teams tend to run more and pass less this time of year when the weather worsens.
* 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.

With the exception of the N.Y. Giants and Kansas City Chiefs tandems, I don’t feel good at all about this week’s weak ground defenses. Though they come with favorable matchups, most of the teams involved such as Detroit, Seattle, Buffalo, etc. are ones that have not been successful running the ball with any consistency at all this year. The Carolina RBs are a walking M*A*S*H unit with a rookie at QB, and the Bungles seem to be a team in total disarray right now. The good news is that this is the last bye week, and after this week you’ll be able to start all your studs as you begin your push to playoffs.

On the other side of the coin, the favorable passing matchups are where the action is at this week. On paper, the Houston-Jacksonville game should have some aerial fireworks; start any healthy bodies on these teams, especially sneaky plays like Mike Thomas, who is likely available in most leagues. The Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Baltimore offenses should torch their opponents this week, but I’d be wary of the Arizona game: note that I specifically did not list Derek Anderson for the Cardinals because I cannot imagine starting him even if you have Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, or Philip Rivers on bye this week. Find a more trustworthy option to cure your bye week blues!

Honorable mention: Dallas may be 14th in the league with only 214.4 yards per game given up, but in the last three weeks since Tony Romo broke his collarbone, they surrendered 306 passing yards and four passing TDs at home to Eli Manning, 260 yards and four passing TDs to David Garrard, and then 289 yards and three TDs on the road in Green Bay. This is a Dallas team who just had their coach fired and clearly looks like they have given up on their season. While you weren’t taking them out of your starting lineup anyway, it clearly goes without saying that the Giants offense makes an especially good start this week. It should be noted however that Wade Philips was also in charge of the Dallas defense and the former defensive line coach is now the new defensive coordinator; there is a chance that the defense could improve, but I’d still bet the farm that this is a unit that can be exploited for rest of the year.

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 a 20 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 10 Matchups”

  1. User avatar u_fig_eater says:

    I’m taking a flier on Mike Thomas this week. Should be good.

  2. User avatar joejlitz says:

    The Colts are one of the league’s worst run defenses and as Jeff mentions, the Bengals are in disarray – but an additional new fact is that Bengals OT Andre Smith is out this week:

    Not good for Cedric Benson.


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