The Matchup Machine - Week 9'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 9.
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 – sixth-overall QB
What Happened: : Manning didn’t entirely live up to his daily league billing scoring just under 23 total points. It took him a half to get going as he did most of his damage in the second half.
Cam Newton vs. Falcons
With ten days of rest and preparation, Cam Newton heads home to defend his turf against his division rival, the Falcons. Most inter-division battles are hard fought and close, but it will likely be difficult for Atlanta to stay close in this game. In the past three games, Newton has averaged just less than 25 fantasy points per game while taking on the Vikings, Rams and Buccaneers.
The Falcons defense, in particular their pass defense, is on par or worse than any of the previous three mentioned. They currently rank ninth-worst in pass coverage (-18.0) and ninth-worst in pass rush (-9.3). The latter is particularly concerning because the Panthers have been PFF’s fourth-best team in pass blocking (+16.4). Newton should have time regardless of whether or not the Falcons scheme to get pressure or just try and send four rushers. If they do try to generate pressure, Newton has the potential to hit a few really big plays. Newton’s big games are usually accompanied by rushing touchdowns and the good news is that he should have his offense inside the 15 yard line often this Sunday.
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: Aaron Rodgers – seventh-overall QB
What Happened: Rodgers was highly efficient against a clearly overmatched Vikings pass defense. If the game had been closer, he would have finished in the top three.
Tony Romo vs. Vikings
Much ado was made of the Dez Bryant sideline scuffle with Tony Romo. In reality, this minor altercation should have no ill effects on Romo or Bryant. They are both primed for a statistically efficient day this Sunday when they host the lowly Vikings after a heartbreaking defeat. The Vikings are marginally better at defending the pass than they are the run, but neither their pass defense nor run defense is something to write home about. The Vikings have graded out as our sixth-worst team in pass coverage (-21.7). They are only in the middle of the pack at rushing the passer and their matchup against the Cowboys offensive line, 10th-best at pass blocking, is not particularly promising.
The Cowboys should look to attack the Vikings in a similar fashion to how the Packers did in Week 8. The Packers lined up Jordy Nelson at times in the slot in order to isolate him with Vikings slot cornerback Josh Robinson, who has graded out as our third-worst cornerback in pass coverage (-8.9). On one play, Nelson caught a touchdown while Robinson was covering him. Mix Dez Bryant into the slot a little bit and good things should come from it.
Machine Readout: Start him. Romo presents a good mid-upper price range quarterback for daily fantasy leagues.
Last Week: Ben Roethlisberger – 17th-overall QB
What Happened: Roethlisberger had a horrible first half and rebounded in the second half but missed a late opportunity at a touchdown pass to get him into the QB1 range.
Phillip Rivers @ Redskins
Fresh off his bye week, Rivers should be primed and ready to roll against the Redskins sieve of a defense this Sunday. Don’t let the west coast team traveling east affect your judgment about what kind of day Rivers is capable of. It seems like we visit the Redskins opposing quarterback weekly in this section and it is for good measure as they currently grade out as our third-worst team in pass coverage (-32.7). Occasionally, they generate a pass rush and it stymies opponents. Unfortunately, thus far this has proven to only be a temporary solution. For example, take last week, the defense collapsed in the second half after stopping the Broncos offense from scoring more than seven points in the first half.
The Chargers pass offense is a quick-hitting and well-designed machine that spreads the field and takes advantage of mismatches. The best way to beat this Redskins defense is to spread them out and test their secondary. Look for the Chargers to get Danny Woodhead isolated with aging and washed up linebacker London Fletcher. On the outside, Keenan Allen should get the better of opposing rookie cornerback David Amerson.
Machine Readout: Start him! Rivers presents a mid-priced option for daily leagues and should perform as a back-end 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.