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Football by the Numbers: Matchup Decider

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 3 1 2 3 10
2 Seattle 5 11 10 5 3 34
3 Chicago 11 10 3 7 5 36
4 Pittsburgh 11 5 14 1 5 36
5 Houston 2 2 1 19 19 43
6 Arizona 5 24 4 3 11 47
6 Denver 11 7 4 6 19 47
8 Cincinnati 8 12 16 11 5 52
9 San Diego 4 6 4 21 21 56
10 Atlanta 5 20 28 15 2 70
11 Detroit 3 19 10 18 21 71
12 Miami 24 8 4 27 9 72
12 NY Giants 8 21 5 22 16 72
14 Green Bay 11 15 16 17 15 74
15 Carolina 17 25 16 8 10 76
16 Dallas 17 17 22 10 11 77
17 NY Jets 8 29 26 4 13 80
18 Minnesota 24 14 16 14 16 84
19 Tampa Bay 16 1 16 32 21 86
20 St Louis 28 13 29 12 5 87
21 New England 15 9 14 29 21 88
22 Cleveland 17 16 16 24 16 89
22 Philadelphia 20 18 8 16 27 89
24 Baltimore 24 23 22 23 1 93
25 Washington 20 4 10 31 29 94
26 Kansas City 30 26 10 9 32 107
27 Indianapolis 20 22 26 20 21 109
28 Buffalo 20 30 32 13 21 116
29 Jacksonville 31 31 30 28 13 133
29 Tennessee 29 27 22 26 29 133
31 Oakland 24 28 30 25 29 136
32 New Orleans 31 32 22 30 27 142

Games of note:

Broncos at Raiders (31): Thursday night could be a big night for owners who look at the matchups for guidance in choosing Denver running back Knowshon Moreno. I see Moreno as easily a top 20 back this week against a Raiders defense that is terrible at preventing yards and touchdowns.

Giants vs. Saints (32): You want to play fringe Giants like Ahmad Bradshaw and Marcellus Bennett in Week 14.

Titans (29) at Colts (27): I guess Kenny Britt is flex worthy this week. If you have Chris Johnson (and if you are in the playoffs you probably traded for him cheaply; you certainly didn't draft him), congratulations on eying the Titans attractive playoff schedule (from CJ's perspective). He should be good for 130 total yards and a touchdown. I like Donnie Avery again this week after all those targets in Week 13. And Andrew Luck is worth considering, but the volume may not be there with the Colts favored – and Luck needs volume because his efficiency is poor.

Ravens at Redskins (25): Look at Washington's pass defense splits. You want to consider Joe Flacco this week and find a spot for Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith. Dennis Pitta is a better play than Antonio Gates, among other tight ends.

Rams at Bills (28): I doubt many Steven Jackson owners made the playoffs. But if you did, make sure you get him in your lineup this week given those Bills run defense splits.

New England (21) at Houston (4): This is going to be a very good week for Andre Johnson owners, though we can never expect touchdowns from him for reasons that continue to elude me. But don't sweat the Texans defense too much if you have Tom Brady, Wes Welker or Aaron Hernandez shares. Offense generally wins these types of battles. So if the Patriots execute (they did not last week), they will have success. And this game is absolutely imperative for the Patriots hopes to get a bye come the wild-card round. Off the typically sloppy performance in Miami, Brady should bounce back as he usually does with his A-game. A down day, in all likelihood, but not terrible and not nearly as bad for him as it will likely be for Stevan Ridley given the Texans proven ability to prevent rushing yards and scores.
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