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
- Yards Before Contact
- Passing Game
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 Week 1.
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).
Which Week 2 matchups feature big-play offenses vs. big-play allowing defenses?
Higher or lower % = large or small combined sum of the pass/rush big-play rate from the matchup's offense and defense (green = good, red = bad)
Big pass play: 20+ yds
Big run play: 15+
Data: Week 1 pic.twitter.com/5PTHYWbPJS
— Ian Hartitz (@Ihartitz) September 16, 2020
- Only the Vikings (19%), Ravens (17%), Rams (15%), Lions (13%), Bears (13%), Packers (11%), Colts (10%) and Raiders (10%) posted an explosive pass-play rate of at least 10% in Week 1.
- The Vikings’ absurdly efficient effort on both the ground and through the air has them averaging a ridiculous 7.8 yards per play after one game of action. That’ll happen when your QB goes for 10.4 yards per attempt and the run game averages 6.1 yards per carry. Expect this to level off in the upcoming weeks, although it does show that Kirk Cousins and company should be just fine putting up points without Stefon Diggs.
- QBs that are set up for success this week in creating chunk plays through the air include: Cousins, Jared Goff, Matthew Stafford, Matt Ryan, Lamar Jackson, Philip Rivers and Aaron Rodgers.
- Jackson’s much-anticipated passing TD regression will have to wait for another week, as he shredded the Browns for 275 yards and three scores through the air on just 25 pass attempts. Forty-five additional yards on the ground demonstrates the scary reality that 2020 Jackson appears to be every bit as dangerous as the 2019 version.
- One concern is the reality that Stafford didn’t display the same level of deep-ball fondness in Week 1. Overall, his 9.5% rate of passes thrown 20-plus yards downfield was far removed from his 19.2% mark in 2019. Not having Kenny Golladay (hamstring) to target is a solid explanation, but either way we didn’t see the same sort of fantasy-friendly mentality from Stafford.
- Check out my Week 2 quarterback rankings for full thoughts on all 32 starters around the league.