Football by the Numbers: 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.

Defensive Power Rankings
Teams are sorted by cumulative rankings in all categories. Lowest total number is best; highest is worst.
Rank Team RZ RYPG RTD/G PYPG PTD/G POWER
1 Baltimore  7 4 3 6 1 21
2 Houston  5 5 6 2 7 25
3 Pittsburgh  1 7 6 3 12 29
4 Cincinnati  3 2 22 10 4 41
5 Jacksonville  2 14 13 5 10 44
6 San Francisco  6 1 1 26 17 51
7 Dallas  10 11 6 13 12 52
8 Cleveland  7 30 13 1 7 58
9 Detroit  21 27 3 4 4 59
10 Seattle  10 12 6 19 12 59
11 NY Jets  14 15 24 8 2 63
12 Atlanta  17 3 13 23 12 68
13 New Orleans  3 19 13 18 18 71
14 Miami  17 10 2 25 18 72
14 Tennessee  14 22 3 15 18 72
16 Washington  23 18 22 9 2 74
17 Green Bay  13 8 6 31 25 83
18 San Diego  20 24 6 7 28 85
19 Philadelphia  10 17 20 11 28 86
19 St Louis  7 32 13 12 22 86
21 Chicago  25 13 13 29 12 92
22 Denver  23 16 6 20 31 96
22 NY Giants  25 20 27 17 7 96
24 Carolina  21 28 31 14 10 104
25 Arizona  25 21 31 24 4 105
25 Minnesota  25 6 13 30 31 105
27 Kansas City  17 26 24 16 25 108
28 Oakland  14 25 24 22 25 110
29 New England  32 9 20 32 22 115
30 Buffalo  25 23 28 27 18 121
31 Indianapolis  30 31 28 21 28 138
31 Tampa Bay  31 29 28 28 22 138

The Texans, Colts, Saints and Steelers have the week off.

Yes, I said that Tom Brady(notes) would have a bad week against the Jets. Rather, the numbers said that. I also said that Mark Sanchez(notes) would outscore him, but can you really kill me for that given Sanchez’s fantasy numbers? The Pats really found something with the no huddle – 6-for-6 for 90 yards and a TD. I wrote about that Tuesday in the Wall Street Journal.

Matchups to seek:

Buccaneers (31) at Packers: Oh. Dear. God.

Bills (30) at Dolphins: Reggie Bush(notes) is hot and should have another big day running and receiving. Also, Matt Moore(notes) is a sneaky bye-week play for owners who have lost QBs this week to byes. He’s a good running threat and the Bills give up points in bunches so 220 yards passing plus 30 rushing with a passing TD and a decent chance for a rushing score – not a bad day. Brandon Marshall(notes) of course is a top receiver this week.

Chiefs at Patriots (29): Tyler Palko(notes) could be a garbage time king this week. Who has the guts to play him though? All bets are off with the Chiefs this week as we just don’t have any reliable data on Palko’s ability. But Dwayne Bowe(notes) should get great volume, especially in the second half.

Raiders (28) at Vikings: Good matchup I guess for Adrian Peterson, not that he is remotely a match-up type of runner. Still, it can’t hurt. Percy Harvin(notes) should be useful this week.

This is a really crappy week for good matchups. Let’s dig a little deeper. I like Matt Hasselbeck(notes) as a top 12 QB this week against a Falcons pass defense that gives up lots of yards. And looking at that yardage rank for the Packers, you have to play Josh Freeman(notes) this week, too. And Marshawn Lynch(notes) is a decent bet for 150 yards from from scrimmage versus the Rams.

Matchups to avoid:

Bengals (4) at Ravens (1): This will be a real slobberknocker, which we like to avoid for fantasy purposes. This game is symptomatic of a bunch of good defensive teams facing each other or facing teams that don’t have many (any?) fantasy players of note. Looks like a low-scoring week unless you have serious Packers’ shares.

Feel free to ask my any questions via Twitter @MichaelSalfino

Michael Salfino provides quantitative player and team analysis for the Wall Street Journal and Yahoo! Sports.
Updated Tuesday, Nov 15, 2011