After a one week hiatus due to the Thanksgiving holidays, I once again look to exploit favorable fantasy matchups in Week 13; in this article, I list the worst rushing and passing defenses in the league through the first twelve weeks of the 2010 season, their opponents, and who may benefit and produce great fantasy performances.
Worst Run Defenses
|Rank||Team||Yds. Allowed||Yds/game||Rush TDs Allowed|
|27||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||1457||132.5||8|
Matchups in Week 13
26 Washington Redskins @ N.Y. Giants (Brandon Jacobs, Ahmad Bradshaw)
27 Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Atlanta Falcons (Michael Turner)
28 Oakland Raiders @ San Diego Chargers (Mike Tolbert, Darren Sproles)
29 Indianapolis Colts vs. Dallas Cowboys (Felix Jones, Tashard Choice)
30 Denver Broncos @ Kansas City Chiefs (Jamaal Charles, Thomas Jones)
31 Arizona Cardinals vs. St. Louis Rams (Steven Jackson)
32 Buffalo Bills @ Minnesota Vikings (Adrian Peterson*, Toby Gerhart)
Worst Pass Defenses
|Rank||Team||Yds. Allowed||Yds/game||Pass TDs Allowed|
|32||New England Patriots||3173||288.5||21|
Matchups in Week 13
25 Arizona Cardinals vs. St. Louis Rams (Sam Bradford, Danny Amendola, Danario Alexander)
26 Tennessee Titans vs. Jacksonville Jaguars (David Garrard, Mike Sims-Walker, Mike Thomas, Marcedes Lewis)
27 Atlanta Falcons @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Josh Freeman, Mike Williams, Arrelious Benn, Kellen Winslow)
28 Jacksonville Jaguars @ Tennessee Titans (Blecch!)
29 Washington Redskins @ N.Y. Giants (Eli Manning, Mario Manningham, Derek Hagan, Kevin Boss)
30 Seattle Seahawks vs. Carolina Panthers (Blecch!)
31 Houston Texans @ Philadelphia Eagles (Mike Vick, DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, Jason Avant, Brent Celek)
32 New England Patriots vs. N.Y. Jets (Mark Sanchez, Braylon Edwards, Santonio Holmes, Dustin Keller)
* check injury reports
# With bye weeks completed, we now have exactly eleven weeks worth of data for every NFL team (which is a good sample size) with which to notice trends and draw conclusions. 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 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.
Week 13: Possibly your last chance to clinch a playoff spot or improve your playoff seed. Now more than ever, it’s of the utmost importance to start your best possible lineup and earn the most points before you begin your playoff push. You’ve been starting Michael Turner, Jamaal Charles, Steven Jackson and Adrian Peterson religiously all season long, and with favorable matchups this week, you’ll certainly want to leave them in your starting lineup provided they are healthy. However, both of the Giants’ running back tandem also make for a good start this week due to the fact that because of Bradshaw’s fumbling problems, there’s now an equal timeshare. The Cowboys running back committee has been mostly anemic this season, but due to the injury suffered by Marion Barber and the tasty matchup against Indy, both Felix Jones and Tashard Choice make excellent starts this week. Similarly, with Ryan Mathews in continual limbo, both of the San Diego bowling balls Mike Tolbert and Darren Sproles make strong flex starts this week.
I didn’t think it was possible for Houston to lose their spot as the worst passing defense in the NFL, but the woeful Rusty Smith allowed the Texans to rise above the Patriots and give the latter that ignominious distinction. The breakout game for Dirty Sanchez came earlier this year versus the Pats and I expect him to reprise that performance with new weapon Santonio Holmes added to the mix. Start every element that you can of the Philadelphia offense – Vick might just actually eclipse his monster November game on Thursday night. Sam Bradford set career highs in passing yardage and TDs last week and I expect the results to be quite different on Sunday than the first time he faced the Cardinals in his first ever NFL start in Week 1. On the flip side, even with Kerry Collins and Jimmy Clausen back at QB, now is not the time to trust any element of the Tennessee or Carolina passing offenses, despite the favorable defensive matchups.
And an honorable mention has to go to Cincinnati, who may be only 23rd in the league in rushing defense, and 15th in the league in passing defense, but after meltdowns in the second half of the last two weeks have dropped them to 2-9 on the season, this clearly looks like a team that’s mailing it in. Not that you need any extra incentive, but New Orleans offensive players clearly make great plays this 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 which also start a third WR, a fourth WR, or a flex spot. In a smaller (10-team) league which only starts, for example, two RB and two WR positions, 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’ve got 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 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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