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 Tim Tebow(notes) is playing against – Oakland this week. There's six or seven sacks plus assorted turnovers right there.

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

1

3

2

3

2

11

2

Pittsburgh

3

8

7

1

9

28

3

Cincinnati

1

2

18

9

3

33

4

Houston

10

6

16

5

6

43

5

San Francisco

8

1

1

21

13

44

6

Cleveland

6

26

3

2

11

48

7

Jacksonville

3

14

16

8

13

54

8

Dallas

13

4

7

16

17

57

9

Seattle

10

11

13

18

6

58

10

San Diego

15

18

7

4

17

61

11

Detroit

19

30

3

6

6

64

12

NY Jets

10

25

29

7

1

72

13

New Orleans

3

24

18

11

17

73

14

Washington

19

21

18

12

4

74

15

Philadelphia

6

19

18

10

23

76

16

Tennessee

13

27

7

17

17

81

17

Green Bay

15

10

3

31

23

82

18

Chicago

19

12

7

28

17

83

19

Minnesota

18

5

7

29

28

87

20

Atlanta

27

7

18

23

13

88

21

Miami

17

13

3

27

30

90

22

NY Giants

27

28

29

13

4

101

23

Carolina

19

29

31

14

9

102

24

Buffalo

19

20

27

24

13

103

25

St Louis

8

32

18

15

30

103

26

Oakland

19

16

24

25

23

107

27

Denver

29

17

13

19

30

108

27

Kansas City

19

22

24

20

23

108

27

New England

31

9

13

32

23

108

30

Tampa Bay

19

23

24

26

17

109

31

Arizona

31

15

32

30

11

119

32

Indianapolis

30

31

28

22

29

140

The Panthers, Lions, Jaguars and Vikings are off this week.

Let's start with the worst defensive teams as always.

Falcons at Colts (32): Indy last week shut down the mysteriously, consistently ineffective Chris Johnson – who is playing like he was bitten by a Tsetse fly during his holdout. Will they have similar success with Michael Turner(notes)? Considering they had little against Johnson's backup Javon Ringer(notes), I'll say, "no." But the Colts are terrible against the pass, too. So all the Falcons get major upgrades this week. Indy has packed it in, so the sky is the liimit.

Rams at Cardinals (31): Okay, maybe I was wrong in the Scouting NotebookSteven Jackson will probably have one more great week in him. Then, trade him. Brandon Lloyd(notes) is a good play this week because I would put more weight into the yards allowed versus the TDs allowed – especially when the defense in question is 31st in red zone possessions allowed. That says a lot of guys are being tackled inside the five, a fluke.

Bucs (30) at Saints: Revenge will be sweet for Brees and company. But do you realize that since opening day, no Saints running back has had more than 50 percent of the Saints carries?

Giants at Patriots (27): The Giants pass defense is very good. Corey Webster(notes) has been solid and their pass rush is first-class all around. Big Blue's run defense stinks, but you want the Patriots to try to run it. Given Eli Manning's(notes) play of late plus the Patriots allowing 320-plus yards per game, he's the No. 1 QB this week. If Hakeem Nicks(notes) is limited due to his hamstring injury, he'll still be top five, and Victor Cruz(notes) is a top 10-to-20 wideout.

Turning to the best defensive teams:

Ravens (1) at Steelers (2): The Ravens have little chance to do anything unless they get seven turnovers again. Ben Roethlisberger(notes) is playing his best football ever, but this is going to be an ugly game. Expect 200 yards and 1-to-2 scores from Big Ben.

Bengals (3) at Titans: Sorry Johnson owners. I also picked a bad week to say that Nate Washington(notes) is a borderline top 20 receiver.

Jets (12) at Bills: Why are the Jets here? Fred Jackson(notes) is definitely a play, there's no denying. But the Bills and Ryan Fitzpatrick(notes) do not match up well at all against the Jets, who will blitz like crazy since the Bills never throw the ball more than five yards anyway. So it's all upside for Rex Ryan. Mark Sanchez(notes) seriously outscores Ryan Fitzpatrick. Little known fact: Jets nickel corner Kyle Wilson(notes) (a No. 1 pick last year) has the fourth-best passer rating allowed among corners who have been targeted 20 or more times (41.5). So receivers can get marooned on Wilson Island, too.

Feel free to ask my any questions via Twitter @MichaelSalfino

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