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.
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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

5

2

2

1

11

2

Houston

3

2

1

4

19

29

3

Chicago

3

6

2

16

3

30

4

Pittsburgh

13

7

10

1

11

42

5

Detroit

3

14

2

8

16

43

6

Seattle

12

11

10

7

5

45

7

Arizona

10

23

5

3

11

52

8

San Diego

2

4

9

18

22

55

9

Dallas

13

15

21

5

3

57

10

Green Bay

3

10

14

20

11

58

11

Atlanta

3

24

22

14

5

68

12

Miami

21

3

5

30

10

69

13

Denver

19

12

10

9

22

72

14

Philadelphia

21

16

5

15

16

73

15

New England

8

8

5

28

29

78

15

NY Giants

9

18

14

26

11

78

15

NY Jets

11

29

25

6

7

78

18

Carolina

26

20

16

13

7

82

19

Minnesota

21

17

16

10

19

83

20

St Louis

21

13

22

17

11

84

20

Tampa Bay

16

1

16

32

19

84

22

Cincinnati

13

19

25

19

16

92

23

Indianapolis

16

25

25

11

22

99

24

Kansas City

30

22

10

12

29

103

25

Baltimore

28

28

25

22

1

104

26

Cleveland

20

26

16

23

22

107

27

Oakland

16

21

30

21

22

110

28

Washington

27

9

16

31

31

114

29

Jacksonville

29

27

31

25

7

119

30

Buffalo

25

31

32

24

27

139

31

Tennessee

30

30

22

27

31

140

32

New Orleans

32

32

25

29

27

145



Matchups to exploit
Atlanta at New Orleans (32): You are going to play the Falcons you always play – they're just going to do more. So let's move on.
Miami at Tennessee (31): The Miami running game is too committee-oriented for Reggie Bush to explode as he should, but he's obviously a must-start this week given those Titans run stats. Daniel Thomas is flex worthy, too. Make sure Brian Hartline is in your lineup. And despite the dearth of passing touchdowns, Ryan Tannehill is worth a spin this week, as well.
New England vs. Buffalo (30): Maybe Week 10 will be a high-scoring week. I'd find a space for any Patriots running back this week. If you own Sam Cunningham, start him. Mack Herron is a good play this week. And the Bills are friendly to passers, too. Remember, Tom Brady had 300 yards and the Patriots had two 100-yard rushers in their last meeting. The floor for the Patriots offense this week is 40 points.
Indianapolis at Jacksonville (29): With Donald Brown questionable again with a knee injury, you have to play Vick Ballard against the Charmin-soft Jaguars run defense. While the Jaguars have been stout in preventing passing touchdowns, their yardage totals show their pass defense isn't good, either. So while I wouldn't go too far out of my way to play the Colts passing game, T.Y. Hilton, Donnie Avery, Andrew Luck and, of course, Reggie Wayne are all startable in Week 10.
Matchups to avoid
St. Louis at San Francisco (1): You're smart enough to know to not play any Rams, I hope. So , moving on …
Chicago (3) vs. Texans (2): Matt Forte is not going to be much of a factor given that the Texans haven't given up a rushing TD this year. Looks like it's going to be another semi-productive (catches, yards) day at best for Andre Johnson, who has trouble finding the end zone against everyone. Owen Daniels gets easy looks every game on those boot-action throws from Matt Schaub that are not matchup-sensitive. So play Daniels. This will be a quiet day for Arian Foster, though, who really is overrated in reality, let's admit it (4.0 per carry this year).
Kansas City at Pittsburgh (4): Last week, I said ignore matchups with Chris Johnson and I'm saying the same thing this week about Jamaal Charles. The other Chiefs stink against everyone.
Minnesota vs. Detroit (5): Adrian Peterson is a monster again less than a year from ACL surgery. He's matchup-proof, too. But the Lions don't allow many passing yards. Given Christian Ponder's recent struggles, forget about all components of the Vikings passing game except Percy Harvin.

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