The Matchup Machine - Week 10's Best and Worst
For those subscribers who were active readers in 2012, you might remember that last season I wrote a weekly column breaking down the best and worst matchups for running backs. Using PFF’s grading system I was able to breakdown and pinpoint matchups along the offensive/defensive lines and between the fullbacks and tight ends/ linebackers. However, there is more to a running back’s weekly matchup including coaching tendencies, what direction a running back has success rushing to and the likelihood that a team is rushing based on the score of the game. All factors considered, I was able to predict the worst matchups at a highly successful rate while also targeting some of the breakout backs of the week.
This season I will be trying something a little different. Instead of just focusing in on the running backs, I will look into all of the different matchups in fantasy football including quarterbacks, wide receivers and tight ends in an attempt to pick the overall best and worst matchups of the week. Fortunately, PFF has all the tools to break down each individual matchup. Want to know how your wide receiver is going to do? Well if he lines up as a split end on 90% of his snaps, we can pinpoint which cornerback he will be matching up with for those snaps.
Of course, as was the case last season, this column will become more accurate as the season goes on and we compile more grades for the players and get a feel for tendencies and overall strengths/weaknesses of the 32 teams.
Before each new matchup projection for this week, I will revisit my prediction from last week so you all can get an idea of the process and its results. All the results will show how a player scored in a standard scoring system and in a 12 team league. The only difference is that by “standard” I am referring to what the majority of leagues have moved to – 0.5 points per reception. If you are a reader at PFF, it is likely that you are playing in this scoring system.
I find that this column can best be used for fantasy football day gamers. In leagues set up on websites like fanduel.com, you can choose from the entire player pool and must assemble a team based on a salary cap format. You can get a 100% deposit bonus & chase the dream of the $1 million 1st prize at the FanDuel Fantasy Championship.
Speaking of daily fantasy football leagues, in my advice section I will tailor the different matchup advice based on each player’s price that week.
Let’s take a look at some of the best and worst options for Week 10.
Also, please feel encouraged to tweet questions at me on Twitter @PFF_DanSc or post them in the comments if you want to know any specific cornerback/wide receiver matchups for your players or if you want an idea of how your running back’s offensive line grades out or the rush defense that he faces.
Last Week: Cam Newton – 13th-overall QB
What Happened: Newton took his foot off the gas with a big lead and two late turnovers dropped his score from the top eight quarterbacks.
Peyton Manning @ Chargers
With the bye week under his belt, I would be very fearful of the kind of performance Peyton Manning could put up in sunny San Diego this weekend. The peripherals of the matchup set up very well for a big Manning day. Great weather, a week to rest his injuries and an opponent who likes to push the pace could all play a role in his success.
Looking a bit deeper into it, the Chargers simply do not have the talent in the secondary or the pass rush from their front four to compete with this Broncos passing offense. Overall, the Chargers have graded out as the second-worst pass defense thus far in 2013 (-38.2). Last week, they gave up almost 300 yards passing to a struggling Robert Griffin III. Starting cornerback Derek Cox (-8.1) looks washed up and does not have the long speed to keep up with go routes anymore. He gave up two catches for 51 yards when in coverage on Pierre Garcon last week. On the season, Cox has given up 484 yards receiving and three touchdowns. He lines up most often at left cornerback and will see a heavy does of Eric Decker this week.
The problem doesn’t stop with Cox. The Chargers use four cornerbacks primarily and all four have graded out negatively. The other culprits, to a lesser extent, are Johnny Patrick (-7.9), Shareece Wright (-7.6) and Richard Marshall (-6.8). These four combined to be four of the 16 worst cornerbacks in pass coverage thus far.
Machine Readout: Start him and feel comfortable investing in him in daily fantasy leagues if your strategy this week is to pay just under top dollar for a quarterback.
Last Week: Tony Romo – eighth-overall QB
What Happened: Romo tosses the ball around the field at will but the Cowboys were held to field goals and his score was limited to just over 20 fantasy points.
Russell Wilson @ Falcons
Last week against the Falcons, my Cam Newton play backfired because the Panthers got out to a huge lead. While that is certainly possible this week, my feel is that the Seahawks will want to make a statement in a game where they are facing the easiest pass defense they have matched up with since the Jaguars. The Falcons have graded out as our ninth-worst pass defense (-23.1) while generating little to no pass rush (-13.5). Only the Raiders, Packers, Patriots, Eagles and Jaguars get less pressure on opposing quarterbacks.
The lack of pressure is the key component here because when the Seahawks have struggled, it has been because of their inability to protect Wilson. Wilson should have a clean pocket and multiple opportunities to score touchdowns.
Machine Readout: Start him. Wilson presents a good mid-upper price range quarterback for daily fantasy leagues.
Last Week: Phillip Rivers – 12th-overall QB
What Happened: Rivers threw for 341 and two touchdown passes but the two interceptions were costly.
Nick Foles @ Packers
I hate chasing last week’s results, as you might have picked up on reading this column all season. This matchup, however, is too good to pass on. In the Eagles high-octane offense, Foles is a good bet to try and push the pace of the game and he should receive additional possessions and opportunities due to the ineptitude of Seneca Wallace. All season long, the Packers have struggled to defend the pass. Joe Flacco for example, who has struggled against almost every other defense, had torched this secondary for 340 yards in their matchup. Last week was no different, as fill-in journeyman Josh McCown threw for 272 yards passing and two touchdowns. Overall, the Packers have graded out the 10th-worst defense in pass coverage (-23.0).
Pass rush is the king in this matchup. The Packers have graded out as the second-worst team in generating a pass rush (-19.3). Clay Mathews is highly unlikely to return for this week and last week they were forced to use right outside linebacker Nate Palmer to generate a pass rush. He predictably struggled mightily grading out as one of the worst pass rushers (-2.0) of the week. He may have to play another 61 snaps again this week.
Machine Readout: Start him! Foles presents a mid-priced option for daily leagues and should perform as a back-end QB1.
As always, you can follow me on Twitter @PFF_DanSc. If you have any recommendations or complaints feel free to voice them and I will do my best to accommodate them.