The Fantasy Football season stops for no one! Fortunately, the Matchup Machine has been busy digesting five weeks’ worth of data to make sure we don’t miss a beat. Slowly but surely, the data is beginning to show some discernible patterns that we can work with. Looking at the next three weeks, there are a few teams to target and a few to avoid:
• Good for QBs: Washington (next three opponents allow an average of 334 yards passing per week), New York Giants (323 yards), Dallas (315 yards) and Chicago (303 yards)
• Bad for QBs: St. Louis (next three opponents allow an average of 199 yards passing per week), Kansas City (220 yards) and the New York Jets (230 yards)
• Good for RBs: San Diego and Denver (next three opponents allow an average of 110 yards rushing to RBs per week). A funny quirk in the schedule, their next three opponents are identical: Jacksonville, Washington and Indianapolis.
• Bad for RBs: Washington (next three opponents allow an average of 70 yards rushing to RBs per week), Detroit (76 yards), Atlanta (77 yards).
But keep in mind, those past trends don’t always predict future outcomes. *As I found out when I started Dallas Clark (7+ targets per game) against Miami (allowing 6 catches, 80+ yards, 1+ TD to TEs per game) last week. Result: Baltimore TEs were targeted twice…neither to Dallas Clark.* The lesson I quickly came to learn…all you can do is use this information to make the most informed decision possible. After that, it is out of your hands. There are no guarantees in Fantasy Football. And with that…here are a few notes to keep in mind when making your Week 6 decisions….
NY Giants @ Chicago
• Through five weeks, Chicago has only allowed one 300-yard passer and twice teams have topped 100 yards rushing. Do the Giants even have a starting RB this week? Is it the RB they re-signed after Week 1 (Brandon Jacobs) or the RB they re-signed this week (Da’Rel Scott)? To be honest, I don’t think it’s going to matter who starts at RB; for better or worse, this game will ride on the arm of Eli Manning.
• As good as the Chicago offense has been, the New York Giants defense has been giving up even more. Jay Cutler has averaged 274 passing yards per game, while the Giants Defense is allowing 277 passing yards to opposing QBs. Chicago is averaging 108 yards rushing per week, while New York is allowing 126 rushing yards per week. So start your Bears, and that includes Martellus Bennett if he ends up playing. New York has allowed a touchdown to a TE in 4 of their first 5 weeks.
Pittsburgh @ NY Jets
• It will be interesting to see if Pittsburgh can find any rhythm on offense this week against the Jets. The Jets have not allowed 100 yards rushing to RBs in any week this year, and allowed their first 300 yard passer last week in Atlanta. Antonio Brown would be the only Steeler I would start with confidence. He has seen 13 targets in each of the last two weeks, and New York has allowed 160+ yards to WRs in 4 of the past 5 weeks.
• Pittsburgh opponents have run the ball 51% of the time on the Steelers. This works just fine for the Jets, as they are one of the more balanced offenses in the league running on 46% of their plays. Geno Smith looked great against Atlanta, but Pittsburgh has a pretty stingy pass defense, allowing just 203 passing yards to opposing QBs. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Jets focus on running the ball this week. Bilal Powell led the team in snaps and rushing last week, but I expect the playing time of Chris Ivory and Mike Goodson will increase this week.
Philadelphia @ Tampa Bay
• Philadelphia has been pretty successful on offense: 180+ yards rushing and 280+ yards passing per game; but Tampa has been pretty successful on defense having not allowed a TD to an opposing RB all season. So what gives? Without Michael Vick, I think the Philadelphia offense is going to go through LeSean McCoy.
• Tampa has been pretty dismal on offense: 101 yards rushing and 191 yards passing per game; but Philadelphia has been pretty dismal on defense allowing 300+ yards passing in 4 of its first 5 games. So what gives? I think we finally see the 2012 Doug Martin while Mike Glennon takes a positive step forward after the bye week.
St. Louis @ Houston
• Playing in Houston against a very angry Texan team is going to be very different than a home game against Jacksonville. Houston has not allowed more than 200 yards passing to an opponent this year. After not being sacked over the first two weeks, Sam Bradford has been sacked 13 times in the last three weeks. Houston has given up a lot of yards to RBs over the last two weeks, but that was against Seattle and San Francisco and St. Louis is averaging only 66 yards on the ground per week. I wouldn’t start any Rams if at all possible.
• St. Louis is allowing 4.5+ YPC to opposing RBs. Considering the recent struggles of Matt Schaub, a game plan featuring heavy doses of Ben Tate and Arian Foster could be in order.
Washington @ Dallas
• Last year in Dallas, Tony Romo threw the ball 62 times for 441 yards in a 31-38 loss. There is no reason for him to throw the ball that much this week because Washington is allowing 120+ yards rushing to opposing RBs at a clip of 4.71 YPC. Demarco Murray has not topped 76 yards rushing in any of his three games against Washington, but I bet he does it this week. Then again, passing works too: Washington is allowing 320+ yards passing to opponents.
• Dallas gave up 400+ yards passing to Eli, Peyton and Phillip Rivers, but less than 250 yards to Bradford and Alex Smith. Which category will RG3 fall in? Dallas is allowing an average of 29 completions to opposing QBs per game, second highest in the league after Minnesota (31). They also allow less than 4.0 YPC to opposing RBs, and have allowed just 1 rushing TD all year to an RB (last week). If I had to guess, Washington will be throwing the ball a lot and Alfred Morris will have to wait another week to get the running game back on track.
Below is data produced by the Matchup Machine. A quick reminder of how the Matchup Machine works: the higher the score, the better the matchup. Scores are calculated using data from the first five weeks of 2013. The data only takes into account the strength of the opponent, not the strength of the player. For example, Robert Griffin III has highest QB score this week. That does not mean he is the best QB, it means he is playing Dallas who offers the best matchup for QBs. Philadelphia allows an average of 340+ passing yards and 2.5+ passing TDs each week to opponents. Take a look and good luck in Week 6!