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Week 11 NFL Matchup Manifesto: Ryan Fitzpatrick Might Have Some Magic Left for the Giants

Nov 18, 2018 6:00 AM EST
  • The most action-packed matchup of Week 11 will be the Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Rams showdown on Monday Night Football.
  • Meanwhile, Carolina Panthers-Detroit Lions and Oakland Raiders-Arizona Cardinals are primed to be the week's slowest matchups.
  • Ezekiel Elliott, Saquon Barkley, Melvin Gordon and Kareem Hunt are well-positioned to break off huge runs.

The NFL is a matchup-driven league. Offensive coordinators are always looking to scheme their playmakers into one-on-one situations against a defender, while defensive coordinators will attempt to do anything in their power to upset the timing and rhythm of the opposing quarterback.

Despite the obvious impact that defenses have on opposing offenses, fantasy players are often left with one-way metrics to describe offenses and defenses that they are then forced to compare against each other in an attempt to identify mismatches.

The goal here is to provide easy-to-decipher charts and notes to identify each week’s key matchups on both sides of the ball in:

  • Explosive Plays
  • Pace
  • Pressure
  • Trench Battles
  • Turnover Margin
  • Passing Game

Last week’s manifesto helped correctly forecast high-scoring matchups in Rams-Seahawks and Jaguars-Colts, tough afternoons for the Cardinals’ and Jets’ respective offensive lines as well as solid rushing performances for Alvin Kamara/Mark Ingram for the Saints and Frank Gore/Kenyan Drake for the Dolphins.

The following charts display matchup-specific information meant to highlight the largest mismatches in these ever-important facets of football to ultimately gain actionable betting and fantasy takeaways.

Note: This data is based on what has happened in Weeks 1-10

Explosive Plays

Big plays make the football world go round. Matchups between explosive offenses and leaky defenses are exactly what we’re looking for when compiling game stacks in DFS, or when betting an over. We can calculate this with help from NFL.com’s team-based statistics.

  • Explosive Pass Rate: The sum of an offense’s rate of 20-plus yard completions per pass attempt and the opposing defense’s rate of 20-plus yard completions allowed per pass attempt. A higher percentage is better for offenses (green is good, red is bad).
  • Explosive Run Rate: The sum of an offense’s rate of 20-plus yard gains per rush attempt and the opposing defense’s rate of 20-plus yard runs allowed per rush attempt. A higher percentage is better for offenses (green is good, red is bad).

  • The most action-packed matchup of the week is (unsurprisingly) Chiefs-Rams. The 63.5 over/under is very likely the highest total in NFL history. I’ll be writing a special edition single-game manifesto for this highly-anticipated matchup later this week.
  • Other games that feature pass offenses capable of creating big plays on both sides of the ball include Broncos-Chargers, Buccaneers-Giants and Eagles-Saints. The Saints are positioned particularly well against an Eagles defense that could be without multiple starting members of its secondary.
  • Russell Wilson, Deshaun Watson, Cam Newton, Josh Rosen and Mitchell Trubisky are also set up fairly well to create explosive pass plays in their respective matchups.
  • Games featuring two inept offenses at creating chunk plays through the air include the Bengals-Ravens, Cowboys-Falcons, Steelers-Jaguars and Titans-Colts.
  • Aaron Rodgers, Alex Smith, Matthew Stafford and Derek Carr also aren’t positioned well to complete big passes against the Seahawks, Texans, Panthers and Cardinals, respectively.
  • Kirk Cousins’ quest to create big plays through the air against the Bears’ ferocious defense could be tough considering he has the week’s lowest combined explosive pass play rate.
  • Running backs who pose the largest threats to break off huge runs include studs Ezekiel Elliott, Saquon Barkley, Melvin Gordon and Kareem Hunt.
  • Joe Mixon, James Conner and Christian McCaffrey are also set up well.
  • Lamar Miller owns the worst combined explosive run play rate of the week against the Redskins. Miller’s stranglehold on the Texans’ backfield could be nearing its end considering D’Onta Foreman (Achilles, IR) returned to practice this week.
  • Adrian Peterson, David Johnson and Jordan Howard/Tarik Cohen aren’t expected to consistently break off explosive runs in their respective matchups.

Pace

Fast-paced games lead to more plays, which lead to more points. There are several games that could resemble a track meet based on their combined situation-neutral pace ranking (Football Outsiders).

  • Combined Situation-Neutral Pace: Represents the combined situation-neutral pace between each matchup’s two offenses. A lower number indicates fewer average seconds per play (green = fast-paced game), while a higher number indicates more average seconds per play (red = slow-paced game).

  • There’s essentially a three-way tie for the week’s fastest-paced game, as matchups featuring the Bengals (No. 6 in situation neutral pace) and Ravens (No. 3), Titans (No. 20) and Colts (No. 2), as well as the Chiefs (No. 7) and Rams (No. 4) are expected to more-closely resemble track meets.
  • Matchups featuring the Bucs-Giants, Steelers-Jaguars and Broncos-Chargers are also expected to have an above-average pace of play.
  • The week’s slowest-paced matchups feature the Panthers (No. 24) and Lions (No. 31) as well as the Raiders (No. 29) and Cardinals (No. 28). The public’s money was in favor of each game’s under as of Wednesday (see live odds here).
  • Offenses from matchups featuring the Packers-Seahawks, Texans-Redskins and Eagles-Saints also aren’t expected to move at a particularly blazing pace.

Pressure

An overmatched offensive line can result in poor fantasy days for all skill-position players involved. Meanwhile, quarterbacks with all day to throw can help generate points in bunches. We can determine which offensive lines might be especially better (or worse) this week with help from Pro Football Focus’ offensive and defensive pressure statistics.

  • Combined Pressure Rate: The sum of the offensive line’s rate of pressures allowed per dropback and the opposing defense’s total pressures generated per dropback. A higher percentage (red) is better for defenses, while a lower percentage (green) indicates that matchup’s quarterback could face reduced pressure.

  • The Texans’ offensive line easily has the week’s most-imposing matchup at the line of scrimmage. Deshaun Watson has been pressured on a league-high 44.7% of his dropbacks this season.
  • Other quarterbacks who could have to get the ball out more quickly than they’d like include Russell Wilson, Patrick Mahomes, Blake Bortles and Kirk Cousins.
  • Home defenses that are set up reasonably well to pressure the quarterback include the Redskins, Chargers, Bears and Rams.
  • The Steelers and Packers are the week’s top-two road defenses in combined pressure rate in their respective matchups against the Jaguars and Seahawks.
  • Matchups featuring disruptive pass rushes on both sides of the ball include the Broncos-Chargers and Vikings-Bears.
  • Unconfirmed Action Network subscribers Ryan Fitzpatrick and Eli Manning, as well as Marcus Mariota and Andrew Luck, should all have plenty of time to throw in their respective matchups against each other.
  • Additional quarterbacks who shouldn’t face an overwhelming amount of pressure include Joe Flacco/Lamar Jackson, Alex Smith and Josh Rosen.

Trench Battles

Running backs receive most of the praise for an offense’s rushing output, but an overmatched offensive line can thwart a team’s run game before it even has a chance to get started. We can determine the offensive lines that might be especially better (or worse) off this week with help from Football Outsiders‘ offensive and defensive adjusted line yards per rush statistics.

  • Combined Adjusted Line Yards Per Rush: The sum of an offensive line’s adjusted line yards per rush and the opposing defense’s adjusted line yards allowed per rush. A higher number (green) is good for running backs, while a lower number (red) indicates that matchup’s offense could have some trouble running the ball.

  • Todd Gurley is the first running back in the fabled history of the matchup manifesto to have a combined adjusted line yards per rush rate higher than 11 yards. Only four running back groups since Week 4 have even had a matchup greater than 10 yards.
  • Other running backs who are set up especially well include Aaron Jones, Ezekiel Elliott and Marlon Mack. Note that Elliott and the Cowboys will likely have to deal with returning stud Falcons linebacker Deion Jones (foot, IR).
  • The respective committee backfields from Seattle, Denver and Baltimore along with Christian McCaffrey and Melvin Gordon all have above-average matchups this week on the ground.
  • Saquon Barkley has the week’s worst matchup. Still, the Bucs allowed more than 100 rush yards just once in Weeks 1-6, but opponents have surpassed that threshold in four consecutive games since starting linebackers Kwon Alexander (knee, IR) and Jack Cichy (knee, IR) were lost for the season.
  • Running backs who could have a tough time getting much going on the ground include Tevin Coleman/Ito Smith, Peyton Barber, Leonard Fournette, Dion Lewis/Derrick Henry, Dalvin Cooks/Latavius Murray as well as the Eagles’ ever-evolving committee backfield.
  • Games featuring more-than-competent rush offenses on both sides of the ball include the Packers-Seahawks and Broncos-Chargers.
  • Matchups including two offenses that could struggle to run the ball feature the Bucs-Giants, Steelers-Jaguars and Vikings-Bears.

Turnovers

Matchups between two careless teams are obviously of interest when it comes to targeting fantasy defenses. Crafting a turnover differential for each individual matchup between an offense and defense can help identify when turnover-prone offenses are taking on ball-hawking defenses.

  • Combined Turnover Rate: The sum of the offense’s turnover rate and the opposing defense’s takeaway rate. A higher percentage (red) is better for defenses, while a lower percentage (green) is better for offenses and indicates the absence of a turnover-prone offense or takeaway-happy defense.

  • The Vikings stand out as the week’s most-turnover prone offense for their Sunday night battle against the Bears at Soldier Field.
  • The Buccaneers, Texans, Jaguars, Lions and Cardinals also appear poised for some sloppy football on the offensive side of the ball.
  • Games featuring potentially turnover-prone offenses on both sides of the ball include the Raiders-Cardinals and Vikings-Bears.
  • The Falcons and Saints stand out as offenses that shouldn’t make a habit of giving the ball away this weekend.
  • The week’s top matchups featuring two offenses that each take care of the ball include the Bengals-Ravens, Cowboys-Falcons and Rams-Chiefs.

Passing Game

Some pass offenses are obviously more efficient than others, while certain secondaries are seemingly capable of shutting down any aerial attack. We can determine the week’s largest mismatches in the passing game using each offense’s and defense’s net yards per pass attempt (via Pro Football Reference).

  • Combined Net Yards Per Pass Attempt: Net yards gained per pass attempt differs from yards per attempt by accounting for sacks. The rate is calculated by subtracting a quarterback’s sack yards from his passing yards, then dividing that number by the sum of the quarterback’s pass attempts and sacks taken. A higher number (green) is good for quarterbacks and receivers, while a lower number (red) indicates that matchup’s pass offense could be in trouble.

  • As was the case in our explosive play section: Chiefs-Rams is shaping up to be every bit the shootout that fans and fantasy owners are hoping for.
  • Additional quarterbacks who are expected to play well include Ryan Fitzpatrick vs. the Giants, Philip Rivers vs. the Broncos, as well as Drew Brees and Carson Wentz in their Sunday afternoon battle.
  • Matchups featuring pass offenses that should excel on both sidelines include the Bucs-Giants, Eagles-Saints and Chiefs-Rams
  • Andy Dalton easily has the week’s worst matchup. He’s failed to throw for multiple touchdowns in eight of his 11 career games without A.J. Green (toe).
  • Other quarterbacks who could also especially struggle this week include Blake Bortles, Alex Smith and Kirk Cousins.
  • Packers-Seahawks and Bengals-Ravens boast the worst combined scores of the week, but the Titans-Colts, Raiders-Cardinals and Vikings-Bears matchups aren’t far behind.
Credit:

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Ryan Fitzpatrick

Follow Ian Hartitz on Twitter
@IHartitz

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44.5
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52.5
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