Football by the Numbers: Fantasy Matchups to Seek and Avoid
These rankings are for the purposes of how many fantasy points they score. We’re trying to use season-to-date performance to predict how many fantasy points they are likely to allow this week to offensive players. If you have questions relating to matchups, feel free to ask them via Twitter @MichaelSalfino. But don’t ask me which fantasy defense to play – if that’s your biggest problem, you’re good. Generally, pick the defense that’s facing the team that’s allowed the highest sack rate and/or scored the fewest real-life points. All else is pure guess work.
This week’s highlighted matchups follow after the chart. But first a word about the categories. Only “Red Zone” is a little tricky. We’re not talking efficiency there, but rather red zone possessions allowed. Red Zone Possessions have proven over many years to be more useful in predicting future defensive performances. Plus there’s too much overlap with the TD rates we look at. RYPG is rushing yards per game. RTD/G is rushing TDs per game. PYPG is passing yards per game. PTD/G is passing TDs/per game. Obviously, yardage allowed is more reliable than touchdowns allowed for predictive purposes.
Here are the rankings. Matchup recommendations follow.
Let’s start with the worst defensive teams as always.
Jaguars at Colts (32): Bad week to face Maurice Jones-Drew(notes). But the real question is whether you play any other Jaguars in a week with no byes. Marcedes Lewis(notes) is having a terrible year driven by poor QB play but is coming off a decent game against the Texans and should be top 10 this week versus Indy, which especially struggles with defending tight ends.
Texans at Buccaneers (31): Of course Arian Foster(notes) but Ben Tate(notes) is a top 20 back this week, too, in light of those Buccaneers rushing rankings. All the running of course hurts Matt Schaub(notes), but against the Bucs he should be comfortably in the top 12 this week. Maybe Kevin Walter(notes) sneaks into the top 35 wideouts this week assuming that the Texans don’t roll up 250-plus rushing yards.
Raiders (29) at Chargers: I don’t know if Ryan Mathews(notes) will play this week, but I doubt it so Mike Tolbert(notes) should be a top 10 back against a Raiders defense that lacks basic fundamentals versus the run. Oakland is closer to average versus the pass, but Philip Rivers(notes) should have no problems. Expect Antonio Gates(notes) to have a big day after being called “fat and slow” by an anonymous teammate.
Bills (29) at Cowboys: Big days should be expected for all Cowboys except for Dez Bryant(notes), who will have a huge quarter or maybe a quarter and a half, as always. Make sure you play Laurent Robinson(notes) (but you have to pick him up first).
Matchups to avoid:
Steelers (4) at Bengals (2): This is the game of the week. I’ve said here all year (well, the numbers have said it, actually) that the Bengals are for real defensively. But Ben Roethlisberger(notes) did just throw for 300-plus versus the Ravens. So play him and his receivers. Rashard Mendenhall(notes) gets a downgrade but you still have to start him. Cedric Benson(notes) won’t do anything, but still play A.J. Green(notes). Avoid all other Bengals.
Texans (3) at Bucs: Wow, Texans No. 3? Even with some key injuries. Forget about Josh Freeman(notes) this week. Maybe LeGarrette Blount(notes) scores a touchdown to contribute somewhat, but the ceiling for him in Week 10 is quite low.
Feel free to ask my any questions via Twitter @MichaelSalfino