The Matchup Machine - Week 15'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 15.
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: Matthew Stafford– 31st-overall QB
What Happened: The snowy conditions were much worse than anticipated and it eliminated the passing game entirely.
Peyton Manning vs. Chargers
So where does last week’s 397 yard and four touchdown game rank in Peyton Manning’s all time “screw you” games? The talk previous to the game last week was that Manning would not be able to throw in the cold weather. That storyline proved horribly wrong as he got going early and torched a previously stout Titans’ defense. In games like that, Manning is wroth every dollar you spend in daily fantasy leagues—especially in 50/50 leagues where you can pickup cheap points at other positions.
This week, Manning draws another cold, home game. This time, he faces a Chargers’ defense that is very doubtful to show up in the cold. Last week, the Chargers’ defense played their best game of the season, but of course, it was against the lowly Giants who traveled all the way to the west coast to give about six plays worth of effort. Even after the positive grades yielded from that game, the Chargers grade out as our third-worst defense in pass coverage (-54.3). They are also the 11th-worst team in generating pressure (-12.1), but that should move to around mid-range with the return of Melvin Ingram.
Quite simply, the Chargers do not have the talent in the secondary to compete with the Broncos receiving core. The Broncos can consistently take advantage of matchups with their outside receivers, Thomas and Decker and the Chargers’ outside cornerbacks. Those two spots were previously held down by Derek Cox (-14.1) and Shareece Wright (-13.6), but Cox is injured and questionable for this week so Richard Mashall (-7.1) will likely step in. Of course, this should cause a trickle-down effect in the entire secondary for Manning to feast on.
Machine Readout: Start him! Obviously, Peyton is a must-start player. However, this is one of the better weeks to get him going in daily fantasy leagues as he could be kept in somewhat of a shootout against the third-worst secondary in the NFL.
Last Week: Matt Ryan – 22nd-overall QB
What Happened: In a great matchup, Ryan was unable to eclipse 206 yards passing.
Cam Newton vs. Jets
Newton wasn’t quite as bad as his stat line read in last week’s Sunday Night Football matchup in New Orleans. Newton has shown higher levels of maturity this season and there is no doubt in my mind that he can put last week behind him after watching film on this Jets’ secondary. The Jets’ secondary is in complete disarray. Antonio Cromartie has to be playing with an undisclosed injury, because his level of play has dropped off more than any other cornerback this season.
The entire secondary is a mess and the Jets grade out as our second-worst defense in pass coverage (-54.4). For all the accolades that their defensive line receives, they haven’t been able to get the job done as the only rushers. Ryan’s blitz heavy scheme has left his secondary vulnerable to big plays up the seams of the defense and they come in bunches. The Jets have graded out as our fourth-worst pass rush (-21.4) in the entire NFL.
If you can get to Cam Newton, then you can beat him—like most quarterbacks. The Jets will struggle to generate any pressure and Newton should take advantage of it with a few big chunk yardage plays.
Machine Readout: Start him. Newton is a fine daily fantasy league play if you do not wish to spend the money on Manning.
Last Week: Tony Romo – 19th-overall QB
What Happened: The Bears controlled the clock and Romo’s numbers suffered.
Tony Romo vs. Packers
I’m taking Romo in this spot once again after he disappointed me in the windy and cold matchup against the Bears at Soldier Field. This week, Romo comes home to a warming crowd and even warmer field. The Cowboys are playing what basically amounts to a must-win game and they couldn’t have drawn a better team. The Packers have failed to win games against the Giants and Vikings and needed a late-game push to beat the lowly Falcons at home this past week.
Even after holding Matt Ryan to 207 yards passing, I find it very hard to believe that the issues with their scheme and pass rush have miraculously gone away. Romo should have no trouble hitting chunk plays against a questionable Packers’ secondary that has graded out in our bottom-third all season long. Currently, they grade out as our eighth-worst team in pass coverage (-29.6) and our seventh-worst team in pass rush.
Machine Readout: Start him and feel comfortable investing in him in daily fantasy leagues.
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.