The Matchup Machine - Week 12'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 12.
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: Russell Wilson – 10th-overall QB
What Happened: Lynch stole the show from a touchdown perspective by racking up three. Wilson still managed to finish as a QB1.
Drew Brees @ Falcons
The Thursday Night Football games have generally not been the friendliest to quarterbacks and the overall play has been sloppy because both teams come in on short rest. However, it would be foolish to look past what promises to be an incredibly easy matchup for Brees based on that fact alone. In their previous meeting, in Week 1,Brees torched the Falcons for 357 yards passing and two touchdowns while completing 74.3% of his passes. This time, he faces a Faclons defense that is injured and playing with a lot less confidence than they were in Week 1.
Just last week, they looked washed up and like they had given up while allowing rookie quarterback Mike Glennon to complete 20-of-23 passes for 231 yards and two touchdowns. Glennon delivered out of a clean pocket for a majority of the game. That performance has torpedoed the Falcons even further down our ratings. They now stand as the fifth-worst team in pass coverage (-32.8) and fifth-worst in pass rush (-16.2). The only way to avoid Brees picking you apart is by delivering consistent pressure and muddying his pocket. With washed up defensive end Osi Umeinyiora leading the way, this Falcons pass rush rarely succeeds at that. Brees should pick apart this defense at will.
Machine Readout: Start him and feel comfortable investing in him in daily fantasy leagues if your strategy this week is to pay top dollar for a quarterback. He is worth the investment.
Last Week: Nick Foles – fifth-overall QB
What Happened: Foles did a heck of a job for anyone who bought him in daily leagues.
Colin Kaepernick @ Redskins
Starting Kaepernick this season has been a roller coaster ride for fantasy owners. Unfortunately, that ride has come to an unexpected halt more often than not. If there were ever a week for him to break out, it would be this one. The matchup is perfect and the competition is even better, with several high-scoring quarterbacks facing more difficult matchups. He has also seen a fallout in his price for daily fantasy football leagues.
The Redskins defense is a misery. They have graded out as our worst defense overall. They often lose battles at the line of scrimmage and their secondary cannot contain any opposing receivers. They have graded out as our worst overall defense in pass coverage (-56.8) and their average pass rush (+4.3) does not mask their deficiencies everywhere else along the defense. Last week, they were able to stop Nick Foles from connecting on big plays only because they dropped two safeties deep on every play. This faulty strategy caused them to get torched on ground and in the short passing game. Likely to try something different against Kaepernick, it will allow him to have a lot of opportunities for big chunk yardage plays over the top off of play-action.
Machine Readout: Start him. Kaepernick presents a good middle price range quarterback for daily fantasy leagues.
Last Week: Case Keenum – 25th-overall QB
What Happened: Keenum was inexplicably pulled from the game with a quarter and a half left to play.
Case Keenum vs. Jaguars
Keenum returns this week as the Texans’ starting quarterback and one of the cheapest starting quarterbacks in daily fantasy football leagues. After being inexplicably benched in the middle of the Raiders game, a spat between now backup quarterback Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson might have helped Gary Kubiak decide that sticking with Keenum is the right move. Overall, Keenum’s play hasn’t been anything spectacular. He has graded out below average (-0.4) in his 236 snaps. However, through the right matchups combined with his willingness to sling the ball into one-on-one coverages with his receivers, he has been able to hit some big plays. Through four games now, he has eight touchdowns and one interception while averaging just under 250 passing yards a game.
This week, it is all about the matchup. When advising to use Keenum against the Raiders, I overlooked their strong play from the week before against the Giants while dismissing it as another poorly blocked and coached game from the Giants offense. This week, there is no momentum to overlook—the Jaguars pass defense was just torched for 419 yards passing and two touchdowns by Carson Palmer, who had previously failed to top 300 yards after Week 1. The Jaguars dropped to ninth-worst in our pass coverage grades (-25.2). They were even worse at getting to Palmer, and as we all know putting pressure on Palmer is the way to beat him. The Jaguars pass rush, fifth-worst in the league (-17.3), will struggle to get more pressure on a more talented Texans’ pass blocking unit.
Machine Readout: Start him! Keenum presents a nice value in daily fantasy leagues and should be able to produce a solid return on your investment in a week with limited plus matchups for quarterbacks.
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.