Welcome to the Week 15 Funnel Defense Report, where we examine trends in how defenses are most commonly attacked. It is meant to help narrow our focus from overall game selection, down to the “run versus pass” level. We as fantasy gamers, like NFL game planners, ideally seek paths of least resistance.
The esteemed Adam Levitan coined the term “funnel defense,” or “pass funnel defense” several years ago. It has become common parlance among DFS players and other fantasy aficionados, and refers to defenses that are simultaneously soft against the pass and stout against the run.
Identifying such characteristics is not a one-time task, as injury and performance variation create an evolving landscape. In this space we will leverage, among other resources, up-to-date PFF defensive grades and metrics to stay on top of these constant changes and difference-making fantasy trends.
(For brevity’s sake, all references to pass or run rates/percentages are in terms of neutral game situations. Unless otherwise stated, we will reference one-score situations (plus/minus seven points) to get a truer representation of game plan.)
Since their bye, the Titans have allowed decent games to Joe Flacco and Andy Dalton (260-plus yards, two touchdowns each), a good game to Tom Savage (354 yards, one touchdown), and Ben Roethlisberger to go crazy (299 yards, four touchdowns). Jacoby Brissett and Blaine Gabbert failed. ”Better than Gabbert” is not a high bar. However, clearing Tennessee’s fifth-highest-graded run defense is. They allow the third-fewest yards per carry (3.6), and the seventh-fewest fantasy points to running backs.
Week 15: We don’t know everything about Jimmy Garoppolo yet, but it’s no leap to say he’s better than Gabbert. He should have success against a defense allowing the 11th-most passing yards per game and facing the league’s highest pass rate during the last month (65-percent). Top target Marquise Goodwin saw 11 looks last week and is also in a good spot for fantasy. One potentially dampening factor is pace of play – the Titans, in particular, but the 49ers’ slowing offense as well. San Francisco’s passing game is more likely to display efficiency than enjoy volume.