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Hartitz: Fantasy Football Week 5 Mismatch Manifesto

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.

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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 1-4.

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 (14%), Rams (14%), Bills (13%), Packers (12%), Texans (11%), Seahawks (10%), Cowboys (10%) and Colts (10%) have posted an explosive pass-play rate of at least 10% this season.
  • OC Gary Kubiak is committed to establishing the run with Dalvin Cook, but his concentrated deep-ball-heavy passing attack has still enabled some solid passing production. Only Aaron Rodgers has more pass attempts thrown at least 20 yards downfield through four weeks, and Kirk Cousins’ 25% deep-ball rate is the highest mark in the league.
  • QBs that are set up for success this week in creating chunk plays through the air include: Jared Goff, Josh Allen, Cousins and Russell Wilson.
  • In 2020 Wilson is not only throwing more than ever, but he’s also managed to build on his already-spectacular efficiency despite the extra opportunity. He’s currently shattering previous career-high marks in PFF passing grade (94.3 vs. 2019-90.8), yards per attempt (8.9 vs. 2015-8.1), adjusted completion rate (84.6% vs. 2015-76.7%) and QB rating (127.7 vs. 2015-106.8). Thus, #LetRussCook is even more beautiful than we possibly could have imagined.
  • The likes of Teddy Bridgewater, Drew Lock, Lamar Jackson and Deshaun Watson are also set up better than usual to rack up some explosive plays in the passing game.
  • In a parallel universe, Jackson and No. 1 WR Marquise Brown have already connected for multiple long TDs this season. In our present reality, they haven’t quite been on the same page through four weeks. Don’t expect this combination to stay quiet for much longer, particularly in this prime matchup.

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