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Football by the Numbers: Matchup Decider

Michael Salfino
Yahoo Sports

These rankings are for the purpose of predicting how many fantasy points defenses will allow to offensive players this week.

If you have other questions relating to matchups, feel free to ask them via Twitter @MichaelSalfino. I cannot emphasize enough that these defensive rankings have nothing to do with which defense to play in fantasy.

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. 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. Yardage allowed is more reliable than touchdowns allowed for predictive purposes. Ideally, the two correlate. But some teams really can be break but don't bend, e.g., teams that blitz a lot.

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 San Francisco 1 2 1 2 3 9
2 Seattle 4 10 5 4 1 24
3 Pittsburgh 10 5 9 1 8 33
4 Chicago 10 12 5 6 3 36
5 Denver 9 6 3 7 20 45
6 Cincinnati 7 11 15 10 6 49
6 Houston 2 3 1 19 24 49
8 San Diego 4 4 3 22 24 57
9 Detroit 2 20 12 13 18 65
10 Arizona 10 30 12 5 10 67
10 Dallas 18 16 15 8 10 67
12 Green Bay 10 15 15 17 15 72
13 Carolina 17 21 15 12 10 75
13 NY Jets 7 29 26 3 10 75
15 Atlanta 6 23 28 16 3 76
16 Miami 25 9 9 26 8 77
17 NY Giants 10 22 5 27 15 79
18 New England 10 8 15 29 20 82
19 Minnesota 18 14 15 18 18 83
20 St Louis 25 13 29 11 6 84
21 Cleveland 16 18 15 21 15 85
22 Philadelphia 22 17 5 15 27 86
23 Tampa Bay 18 1 15 32 24 90
24 Baltimore 25 25 23 23 1 97
25 Washington 24 7 9 31 31 102
26 Indianapolis 22 19 23 20 20 104
27 Kansas City 30 27 12 9 27 105
28 Buffalo 18 28 31 14 20 111
29 Jacksonville 31 31 31 24 10 127
29 Tennessee 28 24 23 25 27 127
31 Oakland 28 26 30 28 27 139
32 New Orleans 32 32 26 30 31 151

Games of note:

Buccaneers at Saints (31): New Orleans has sunk to last place in our rankings, supplanting the Raiders, who don't even seem to care anymore. There are no strengths on the Saints' defensive ledger. Josh Freeman is a top five QB this week. Doug Martin and Vincent Jackson are poised to be world beaters. Dallas Clark could be a sneaky play and I doubt many teams have three receivers who should be started over Mike Williams this week.

Chiefs (27) at Raiders (31): It's always dangerous to start the bad offensive teams no matter how good the matchup appears to be. So be judicious here. I don't trust Denarius Moore this week; Rod Streater actually led Oakland in targets last week. Jamaal Charles may be the most productive back this week and should at least be top five.

Jets at Titans (29): Forget about all Jets. But those New York run defense splits are very inviting for Chris Johnson owners, if any made it this far.

Patriots vs. 49ers (1): As we said last week, don't sweat the elite passing game against the top defense. No defense can stop a perfectly executed offensive play, and especially a passing play. Brady is not a matchup-sensitive player. Given the way New England executed this week, there should be plenty of scores to go around. That means you play Stevan Ridley despite facing the normally very stout San Francisco run defense.

Bills vs. Seahawks (2): Remember, this game is indoors. While Marshawn Lynch should be in full Beast Mode again this week, his counterpart, C.J. Spiller, faces a very stout run defense. But is Spiller matchup proof? I say yes, given that yards per carry average. He'll need a few explosive runs, though, to get his yards as they will not come with any consistency.
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