The Matchup Machine - Week 6'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.
Let’s take a look at some of the best and worst options for Week 6.
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: Matt Stafford– 16th-overall QB
What Happened: Calvin Johnson was a surprise inactive and we were forced to watch Stafford force one too many passes to Kris Durham. Stafford is not a recommended play when Johnson sits.
Andrew Luck @ Chargers
Coming fresh off of the biggest win of his young career, Luck has to travel to the west coast to face a 2-3 Chargers team—to gamblers around the country, this game screams trap! Just when everyone is expecting Luck to have a letdown game, I am predicting the opposite. Unfortunately for the Chargers, they just don’t have the personnel on the defensive side of the ball to stop this Colts passing game. Continuing the season-long trend, the Chargers pass defense was shredded in the first half by Terrelle Pryor, Rod Streater and Denarious Moore. The Chargers currently grade out as our third-worst defense in pass coverage and 11th-worst in pass rush. The pass rush grade should get even worse, as this is only their second game without their top pass rusher Dwight Freeney, who was lost for the year to injury.
The major problem with this team is their secondary. It is quite frankly far too easy to pick on their cornerbacks. After attempting to use Shareece Wright and Johnny Patrick, both who graded out as bottom-15 cornerbacks in pass coverage, the Chargers opted to start Derek Cox and Richard Marshall against the Raiders. Well, those two cornerbacks graded at (-1.5) and (-2.0) respectively and combined to allow 160 yards while in coverage. Cox looked stiff and unable to keep up with Rod Streater on a 50 yard go route that resulted in a touchdown. Luck has Reggie Wayne, Colby Fleener, Darius Heyward-Bey and T.Y. Hilton at his disposal. If the Chargers shut down the run early, the Colts will look to pass all game based on how successful it will be.
The Colts will likely find their best success using “11 personnel”, three wide receivers and a tight end. This will force the Chargers to use Shareece Wright (-4.3) or Johnny Patrick (-5.0) to defend Hilton and strong safety Marcus Gilchrist (-1.8) to defend Colby Fleener. All Colts receivers have plus matchups in what is shaping up to be a dream matchup for Andrew Luck.
Machine Readout: Start him! Luck has a good chance to put up high-end QB1 numbers this week.
Last Week: Eli Manning – 15th-overall QB
What Happened: After an extremely slow half, the Giants finally moved to the no huddle attack with “11” personnel and Manning cruised down the field two straight possessions for two touchdowns. Late game interceptions ensued and Manning unraveled as did his score.
Tony Romo @ Redskins
Romo, fresh off of a game that was likely to go down as the best of his career before his last passing attempt, is likely to explode again this week against the Redskins sieve of a defense. Of course, there are two negatives to his outlook—the Redskins are playing for their liveliehoods and their coordinator Jim Haslet has had past success defending Romo. Fortunately for Romo owners, coaching and motivation, while certainly factors of some importance, are not quite enough to make up for a lack of talent. The Redskins have remained as the lowest graded team in pass coverage throughout the entire season.
Their average pass rush is not enough to make up for their atrocious safety play. Even while splitting the snaps three ways over the first four games, the Redskins trio of safeties Bacarri Rambo, Brandon Meriweather and E.J. Biggers have all individually graded out in the bottom 20 of our pass coverage grades among safeties. That average Redskins pass rush will be attempting to generate pressure against a Cowboys offensive line that has been the fourth-best in pass blocking thus far. They gave Romo all day last week against the Broncos to pick apart a much better secondary. The Redskins like to blitz so there should be plenty of chances for Romo to hit a big play.
Machine Readout: Start him! Romo is likely to end up as a high-end QB1 for a second week in a row.
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.