Football by the Numbers: Matchup Decider

Michael Salfino
Yahoo Sports

These rankings are for the purpose of predicting how many fantasy points defenses will allow to offensive players this week.

If you have other questions relating to matchups, feel free to ask them via Twitter @MichaelSalfino. I cannot emphasize enough that these defensive rankings have nothing to do with which defense to play in fantasy.

This week's highlighted matchups follow after the chart. But first a word about the categories. Only "Red Zone" is a little tricky. We're not talking efficiency there, but rather red zone possessions allowed. Red zone possessions have proven over many years to be more useful in predicting future defensive performances. RYPG is rushing yards per game. RTD/G is rushing TDs per game. PYPG is passing yards per game. PTD/G is passing TDs/per game. Yardage allowed is more reliable than touchdowns allowed for predictive purposes. Ideally, the two correlate. But some teams really can be break but don't bend, e.g., teams that blitz a lot.

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Defensive Power Rankings

Teams are sorted by cumulative rankings in all categories. Lowest total number is best; highest is worst.
Rank Team RZ RYPG RTD/G PYPG PTD/G POWER
1 San Francisco 1 5 2 2 1 11
2 Houston 3 2 1 4 19 29
3 Chicago 3 6 2 16 3 30
4 Pittsburgh 13 7 10 1 11 42
5 Detroit 3 14 2 8 16 43
6 Seattle 12 11 10 7 5 45
7 Arizona 10 23 5 3 11 52
8 San Diego 2 4 9 18 22 55
9 Dallas 13 15 21 5 3 57
10 Green Bay 3 10 14 20 11 58
11 Atlanta 3 24 22 14 5 68
12 Miami 21 3 5 30 10 69
13 Denver 19 12 10 9 22 72
14 Philadelphia 21 16 5 15 16 73
15 New England 8 8 5 28 29 78
15 NY Giants 9 18 14 26 11 78
15 NY Jets 11 29 25 6 7 78
18 Carolina 26 20 16 13 7 82
19 Minnesota 21 17 16 10 19 83
20 St Louis 21 13 22 17 11 84
20 Tampa Bay 16 1 16 32 19 84
22 Cincinnati 13 19 25 19 16 92
23 Indianapolis 16 25 25 11 22 99
24 Kansas City 30 22 10 12 29 103
25 Baltimore 28 28 25 22 1 104
26 Cleveland 20 26 16 23 22 107
27 Oakland 16 21 30 21 22 110
28 Washington 27 9 16 31 31 114
29 Jacksonville 29 27 31 25 7 119
30 Buffalo 25 31 32 24 27 139
31 Tennessee 30 30 22 27 31 140
32 New Orleans 32 32 25 29 27 145

Matchups to exploit

Atlanta at New Orleans (32): You are going to play the Falcons you always play – they're just going to do more. So let's move on.

Miami at Tennessee (31): The Miami running game is too committee-oriented for Reggie Bush to explode as he should, but he's obviously a must-start this week given those Titans run stats. Daniel Thomas is flex worthy, too. Make sure Brian Hartline is in your lineup. And despite the dearth of passing touchdowns, Ryan Tannehill is worth a spin this week, as well.

New England vs. Buffalo (30): Maybe Week 10 will be a high-scoring week. I'd find a space for any Patriots running back this week. If you own Sam Cunningham, start him. Mack Herron is a good play this week. And the Bills are friendly to passers, too. Remember, Tom Brady had 300 yards and the Patriots had two 100-yard rushers in their last meeting. The floor for the Patriots offense this week is 40 points.

Indianapolis at Jacksonville (29): With Donald Brown questionable again with a knee injury, you have to play Vick Ballard against the Charmin-soft Jaguars run defense. While the Jaguars have been stout in preventing passing touchdowns, their yardage totals show their pass defense isn't good, either. So while I wouldn't go too far out of my way to play the Colts passing game, T.Y. Hilton, Donnie Avery, Andrew Luck and, of course, Reggie Wayne are all startable in Week 10.

Matchups to avoid

St. Louis at San Francisco (1): You're smart enough to know to not play any Rams, I hope. So , moving on …

Chicago (3) vs. Texans (2): Matt Forte is not going to be much of a factor given that the Texans haven't given up a rushing TD this year. Looks like it's going to be another semi-productive (catches, yards) day at best for Andre Johnson, who has trouble finding the end zone against everyone. Owen Daniels gets easy looks every game on those boot-action throws from Matt Schaub that are not matchup-sensitive. So play Daniels. This will be a quiet day for Arian Foster, though, who really is overrated in reality, let's admit it (4.0 per carry this year).

Kansas City at Pittsburgh (4): Last week, I said ignore matchups with Chris Johnson and I'm saying the same thing this week about Jamaal Charles. The other Chiefs stink against everyone.

Minnesota vs. Detroit (5): Adrian Peterson is a monster again less than a year from ACL surgery. He's matchup-proof, too. But the Lions don't allow many passing yards. Given Christian Ponder's recent struggles, forget about all components of the Vikings passing game except Percy Harvin.
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