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Splitsville: Eagles in flight

Let’s start the Week 7 edition of Splitsville, source of fantasy-football related statistical analysis, with our look at the best and worst defenses to match your skill players against.

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Before getting hurt, Michael Vick's yards per completion rate was at historic levels. (Getty)

Worst pass defenses in fantasy football points allowed per game to quarterbacks and by extension receivers, too: Vikings (28.2), Cowboys (27.4), Packers (27.1), Falcons (26.9), Eagles (26.7), Giants (26.1), Broncos (24.9), Jaguars (24.6), Redskins (24.4), Chargers (23.0).

Toughest pass defenses (ones to avoid): Chiefs (11.2), Seahawks (11.4), Panthers (12.1), Colts (13), Steelers (13.8), Niners (14.7), Browns (15.1), Patriots (15.1), Titans (15.2), Saints (15.5).

Worst run defense (the ones you want to play your backs against): Jaguars (22.3), Redskins (19.5), Rams (19.1), Steelers (18.7), Niners (18.3), Vikings (18.2), Browns (17.8), Lions (17.5), Giants (17.3), Colts (17.2).

Toughest run defenses: Jets (10.6), Ravens (10.8), Cardinals (11.1), Panthers (11.3), Packers (11.4), Bucs (11.5), Falcons (12.1), Broncos (13), Chargers (13), Bengals (13.1).

You know how people mock fantasy football for being so untethered to real football? Heck, I do that myself a lot. I thought it would be interesting to look at the teams that had the most net fantasy football passing points. In other words, simply fantasy points for (standard Yahoo QB scoring) minus fantasy points allowed (with interception tax of two points, of course).

Here are the only teams who are in net positive territory with net positive fantasy passing points per game noted: Saints (7.7), Broncos (7.2), Seahawks (4.0), Lions (3.8), Panthers (3.1), Chiefs (2.9), Steelers (2.9), Colts (1.5), Browns (1.1), Patriots (0.3). The combined record of these teams is 39-18.

But what about the bottom 10 teams in that same net fantasy football passing points per game category? They are the Vikings (-15.9), Jaguars (-15.8), Giants (-11.8), Bills (-9.1), Jets (-8.7), Bucs (-8.5), Redskins (-8.0), Raiders (-7.8), Cardinals (-7.5), Eagles (-6.5). Combined record of those teams is 15-42.

I find it hilarious that simple fantasy football net quarterback scoring provides more insight than about 95 percent of NFL “analysts.” Maybe the networks should just scrub the other stats and just give us a running total of net fantasy football passing points.

In our latest Twitter battle, @scott_pianowski and I were debating Joe Namath’s HOF bona fides and I pulled yards per pass attempt and yards per completion stats for Namath’s peak/only even marginally-healthy period of 1965-72. It’s shocking how the game has changed. I compared quarterbacks of 1960-72 with at least 50 starts to today’s passers and it’s clear that today’s game has all-but abandoned the deep and even intermediate pass.

Only five QBs this year would have had a higher yards per completion than the lowest ranked passer in that stat from 1960-72. In other words, they are playing an old-school game. They are Russell Wilson (12.9), Geno Smith (13.2), Colin Kaepernick (13.6), Aaron Rodgers (13.9) Eli Maning (14) and Michael Vick (16.7). Vick’s number is in the all-time range. It’s not a stat that’s commonly tracked (it should be), but the record is certainly Greg Cook’s 17.5 in 1969. The only other QB to break 17 in the modern era, to the best of my knowledge, was Namath in ’72 at 17.4 (on many more completions). So Vick’s chunk passing plays this year are really noteworthy. I still think the Eagles offense is a better bet with Nick Foles, however. Foles averages 13.2 per completion, which is still quite good.

Vick’s 11.1 air yards per attempt is second only to Josh Freeman. Foles doesn’t qualify according to the NFL’s stat feed, annoyingly. I’ll update next week though.

In one of the sport’s great ironies, Cook compiled that ground-breaking yards per completion rate via deep passing with Bill Walsh as his offensive coordinator. When the smaller-armed Joe Montana became Walsh’s quarterback after Walsh moved to San Francisco as head coach, Walsh developed the ball-control, short-passing game that became his trademark, the famous and still prevalent “West Coast Offense.”

I’ve been trying to find a lot of ways to compare running backs. But people complain about all of them when their guys end up on the wrong side of the analysis. There’s always an excuse for Trent Richardson, for example.

Now, with the help of the NFL, here is how running backs do when running the ball on first and 10, compared to his teammates on first and 10, too.

The best in net yards per rush on first and 10 only (own rushing average minus rushing average on first and 10 for teammates): Andre Ellington (plus-3.28), Zac Stacey (2.91), Danny Woodhead (2.24), LeGarrette Blount (1.13), Lamar Miller (0.98), Bilal Powell (0.93), David Wilson (0.89), Reggie Bush (0.83), Pierre Thomas (0.82) and Gio Bernard (0.80).

Worst performers on first and 10 compared to how teammates fare on first and 10 runs: Stevan Ridley (minus-2.14), Montee Ball (-1.61), Daniel Thomas (-1.25), Trent Richardson (-1.20), Kendall Hunter (-1.03), Mark Ingram (-0.77), Chris Ivory (-0.64), BenJarvus Green-Ellis (-0.55).

Yes, all runs are better but I do that all the time and people complain, for example, that there are too many third down runs for Player Y compared to Player X. I’ve learned with Richardson again what I already know: the more evidence you give a person to counter what they believe (Richardson is a good player), the more fervently they believe it. It only has the opposite effect. We'll witness more of it in the comments, I assure you.
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