The Matchup Machine: Week 1'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. For Week 1, we can base things off of how players fared for the entirety of their 2012 season along with 2013 coaching changes and increased roles.
Let’s take a look at some of the best and worst options for Week 1.
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.
Matt Ryan @ New Orleans
In what sets up to be a shootout and Vegas’ highest predicted over/under point total, Matt Ryan faces a Saints defense that is dealt with transition and injury in Week 1. The Saints are transitioning from a 4-3 defense to Rob Ryan’s 3-4 and in the process they have dealt with injuries to their front seven with Victor Butler and Will Smith. The remaining starters on the Saints defense will struggle to pick up the scheme by Week 1 and the front seven is going to struggle to get pressure off the edge. Even in last year’s 4-3 scheme, the Saints struggled to get any pressure from anywhere and finished with the second-worst pass rush grade (-34.5). Their pass coverage was the worst in the entire NFL (-41.0) and first round rookie safety Kenny Vacaro has looked good in preseason but is more of an in-the-box type. Expect Matt Ryan to pass with ease in a matchup that is likely to turn into a shootout.
Recommendation: Start Ryan in all leagues as a high-upside 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.