The Matchup Machine - Week 11'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: Peyton Manning – second-overall QB
What Happened: Manning unloaded for four touchdowns and the game got out of hand. He slowed down in the second half but had scored enough to separate him from most of the quarterback pack.
Russell Wilson vs. Vikings
Russell Wilson and the entire Seahawks passing game has really gotten going in the last four weeks. Wilson owns a 9:2 touchdown to interception ratio over those four weeks and he has rewarded his owners with an extra 16.1 points on the ground. In a week where Peyton Manning and Drew Brees take on top three pass defenses in both coverage and pass rush—the Chiefs and 49ers, respectively, Wilson might be the safest quarterback play.
Things should only get easier this week as Wilson will finally get to play with key offseason acquisition Percy Harvin. There are plenty of questions that remain about Harvin’s health, but when on the field, he has proven to be the most dynamic player in the open field. Something tells me he might have something to prove against his old team. Speaking of his old team, the Vikings, they present the easiest matchup of the season for Wilson. The Vikings own our third-worst grade in pass coverage (-41.0). Last week, Griffin tore them up for 281 yards passing and three touchdowns on 24-of-37 passes. With the return of Harvin, it is no stretch of the imagination to believe that Wilson can outperform those numbers.
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: Russell Wilson – sixth-overall QB
What Happened: Wilson got going early against a weak Falcons pass defense that has become susceptible to big scoring days by opposing teams.
Nick Foles vs. Redskins
Last week, the matchup was too good and I had to chase the Week 9, seven passing touchdown performance by Foles—my advice was to start him. Foles rewarded me with a three-touchdown game while adding 38 yards on the ground. Foles was much shakier than the stats showed, and 100 of his 228 yards passing along with two of his touchdowns came on errant passes.
With no other matchups standing out this week, Foles moves to the forefront in these rankings and he has a solid chance to put up his third consecutive high-end QB1 finish. The Redskins have continued their downward spiral toward the bottom of our pass coverage ratings. They currently stand as our second-worst defense in pass coverage (-48.4). Last week, they allowed Ponder to complete 17 of his 21 attempts for 174 yards, two touchdowns and 8.3 yards-per-attempt. Foles should have more opportunities to pass the ball and he should find much success using play-action passing, like Ponder just a week ago. It seems exceedingly likely that explosive flanker Desean Jackson can get behind the aging Deangelo Hall for at least one big chunk yardage play.
Machine Readout: Start him. Foles presents a good middle price range quarterback for daily fantasy leagues.
Last Week: Nick Foles – fifth-overall QB
What Happened: Foles kept it going against a Packers defense that couldn’t generate pressure or cover over the top chucks. Foles chucked up a few big chunk plays on his way to three scores.
Case Keenum vs. Raiders
Keenum offers a dirt-cheap option in daily fantasy leagues this week and there is even a chance that he remains on the waiver wire of one-quarterback leagues. If so, scoop him and spot start him. Over the past three weeks, his first three NFL starts, Keenum has racked up 821 yards passing, seven touchdown passes and zero interceptions. He has compiled these engaging numbers against the Chiefs, Colts and Cardinals. None of the three teams rank worse than 16th in pass coverage and the Chiefs are a top-tier overall pass defense according to our pass rush and pass coverage grades.
The Raiders pass defense put together its best game in weeks in a windy, rainy game against the Giants at MetLife stadium. Inside the dome, Keenum should be able to dial up his outside receivers and take advantage of the Raiders secondary that lacks the necessary coverage skills to compete. Overall, the Raiders have graded out as our seventh-worst team in pass coverage and only one team is generating a worse pass rush (-20.2), the Eagles.
Machine Readout: Start him! Keenum presents a nice value in daily fantasy leagues and should be able to produce a great return on your investment.
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.