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Hartitz: Fantasy Football Week 11 Mismatch Manifesto

Nov 8, 2020; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook (33) runs with the ball in the second quarter against the Detroit Lions at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

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 QB.

Despite the obvious impact that defenses have on opposing offenses, fantasy players and fans alike 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 define each week’s key matchups and advantages on both sides of the ball in:

  • Explosive Plays
  • Pace
  • Pressure
  • Yards Before Contact
  • Passing Game
  • EPA

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. And, of course, to have fun.

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.

  • 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 15-plus yard gains per rush attempt and the opposing defense’s rate of 15-plus yard runs allowed per rush attempt. A higher percentage is better for offenses (green is good, red is bad).

  • Only the Vikings (12.7%), Packers (11%), Bills (10.9%), Chiefs (10.6%) and Colts (10%) have posted an explosive pass-play rate of at least 10% this season.
  • Kirk Cousins has a few bad games every season that make most question how he’s earned his status as a franchise QB, but by and large we’ve seen the two most efficient versions of the 32-year-old signal-caller yet over the past two years. Dalvin Cook might be the engine of this offense; that doesn’t mean Cousins doesn’t deserve credit for enabling the likes of Stefon Diggs, Adam Thielen and meow Justin Jefferson to plenty of success over the years. Per usual, we shouldn’t expect Cousins to pass more than he has to in order to win. The potential for fewer than 25 pass attempts is troubling for any QB to overcome, but ultimately the Cowboys don’t seemingly have a player on their roster capable of matching Jefferson or Thielen.
  • QBs that are set up for success this week in creating chunk plays through the air include: Cousins, Patrick Mahomes, Teddy Bridgewater, Deshaun Watson and Justin Herbert.
  • We saw the worst version of Justin Herbert yet against the Dolphins in Week 10, yet the rookie QB still managed to account for three scores and functioned as the week’s fantasy QB8. Through 10 weeks, his average of 23.9 fantasy points per game trails only 2017 Deshaun Watson as the highest mark among all rookie QBs in NFL history. Up next is a Jets defense that has allowed the fourth-most fantasy points per game to the position. Continue to fire up Herbert as the high-end QB1 he’s been all season.
  • Brutal weather conditions largely sunk the Texans’ chances of getting much of anything going during their Week 10 loss to the Browns. And yet, Deshaun Watson still managed to impress with his ability to create something out of nothing. Watson is the QB8 in fantasy points per game on the season; he earned weekly upside QB1 treatment regardless of the matchup a long time ago.

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