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 Weeks 1-2.
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 3 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: Weeks 1-2 pic.twitter.com/ud9etOf1yZ
— Ian Hartitz (@Ihartitz) September 23, 2020
- Only the Rams (17%), Bills (13%), Ravens (13%), Packers (12%), Vikings (12%), Chargers (11%), Colts (11%) and Falcons (10%) have posted an explosive pass-play rate of at least 10% this season.
- Josh Allen, AKA fantasy’s overall QB1 through two weeks, celebrated his first game ever with 300 passing yards by clearing 400 during the Bills’ Week 2 win over the Dolphins. Allen is surrounded by talented pass-catchers and is just as willing to attempt to sprint into the end zone as he is to gun the ball downfield. This fantasy-friendly style has made him anyone’s idea of a top-six QB ever since returning from injury late in his 2018 rookie campaign.
- QBs that are set up for success this week in creating chunk plays through the air include: Gardner Minshew, Jared Goff, Russell Wilson and Lamar Jackson.
- Fantasy football’s QB8 through two weeks of action, Minshew has earned legit QB1 placement in matchups such as this Week 3 spot against a Dolphins defense that will be without No. 1 CB Byron Jones (groin). The Jaguars’ mustache hero has thrown three touchdowns in three consecutive starts dating back to last season. Treat Minshew as the borderline fantasy QB1 that he’s been for the better part of the last 12 months.
- The likes of Aaron Rodgers, Kirk Cousins and Drew Brees are also set up better than usual to rack up some explosive plays in the passing game.
- Superdome Brees remains one of the surest things the fantasy football world has ever seen. Overall, Brees has thrown for multiple scores and/or surpassed 300 yards in 13 of his last 14 games at home. The non-cake matchup and potential for Thomas to be inactive lowers the ceiling of the entire offense, but don’t expect the Saints offense to continue to sputter for much longer. Brees has never made a habit of constantly throwing downfield; his arm undoubtedly doesn’t look good, but let’s see a bit more evidence of poor performance before we treat the Saints as anything other than a top-tier offense.