We’ve been working on something massive behind the scenes at Fantasy Points this year. We have an exceptional team of charters led up by Brett Whitefield and Chris Wecht — two guys we’re convinced are superstars in this field — who have been gathering data native to the website.
Eventually, that data will be available on the site in raw form and in pretty charts and graphics (everyone loves pretty graphics!), but building the foundation of the database has been the big focus for everyone.
With Fantasy Points Data — a project that we’ve had in the works for the better part of a year — we wanted to answer one big question: what if we tailored all of the data our team has gathered (hand-charted from our team of experts) directly to the fantasy player?
Based on years of playing season-long fantasy, dynasty, and DFS — and using all the charted data out there to build models and try to gain an advantage in a game where the margins are shrinking — we believe we’ve found where we can do things better. And we have tools in development that we think fantasy players will go absolutely crazy for. We believe, in all humility, we’re going to do this better than anyone else, and it will unequivocally blow your mind.
So I’ve decided to give everyone a sneak peek with a new weekly feature I’m calling the mismatch report. Based on eight weeks of actionable data, we can determine which offenses have it “easy” this week, and which are going to have a tougher go.
I’ll break this article every week into two sections — a macro look at offensive lines vs. defensive lines, and a micro look at wide receivers vs. secondaries — highlighting both the best and worst matchups every week.
(NOTE: All data is from a range of the most recent five weeks.)
Top Run Game Mismatches
Our “RUSH GRADE” is based simply on a formula measuring an offense’s average yardage before contact on non-QB rush attempts (a catch-all way to eliminate scrambles) versus a defense’s average yards per contact allowed on non-QB rush attempts.
Best Week 9 Run Blocking Matchups
At first glance, it sure looks like the run for Travis Etienne as one of the biggest hammers in fantasy football is going to continue in Week 8 against the Raiders. But I’m a little more skeptical of how much the matchup itself has to do with that. The Raiders’ run defense actually gives up fewer yards before contact than league average (1.38). And I don’t think I’d call the Jags' offensive line anything more than average in terms of run blocking. Rather, I think Etienne himself skews these numbers — his speed and elusiveness have helped him rip off big runs on which he was barely touched week after week (his 48-yarder against the Broncos this past week is a perfect example). Indeed, Etienne ranks second in the NFL over the past four weeks among RBs with 20 or more carries with 4.35 yards before contact. For the purposes of analyzing our data, it sure seems like Etienne matters.
On the flip side, the matchup has a lot to do with Miles Sanders’ outlook this week. We know the Eagles’ line is good (though actually slightly below average in YBC/ATT statistically), but Houston has been absolutely crushed by Josh Jacobs and Derrick Henry in back-to-back weeks. The Texans are two-touchdown underdogs. Pray for your friends in Houston.
The big question for Baltimore this week is exactly who will be able to take advantage of a strong matchup against the Saints — Gus Edwards has a hamstring injury. This game is on Monday night, so it’s possible we don’t get a definitive answer until it’s too late.
The Chargers’ run defense has been really bad. Over the last five weeks, only the Chiefs have allowed more FPG above average to RBs than the Chargers have — all of Ken Walker, Nick Chubb, and Dameon Pierce have run for over 100 yards and a touchdown in that span, with Chubb and Walker scoring twice apiece. So I think it’s especially notable that Cordarrelle Patterson — who was averaging 5.9 YPC before a knee injury and has ranked much better than Tyler Allgeier and Caleb Huntley in YBC/ATT, suggesting he has much better vision — is eligible to come off IR this week. If he’s been dropped, go get him.
It’s not like you’re sitting Austin Ekeler anyway, but the matchup is a glorious one.
Worst Week 9 Run Blocking Matchups
We’ll see if James Conner (ribs) is back this week, but the matchup is a bad one for the Cardinals against a Seahawk defense that ate up Austin Ekeler (in the run game) and Saquon Barkley the last two weeks, with big NT Al Woods back in the lineup in his rotational run-stuffing role. The Cardinals have been unable to run the ball with any consistency, whether it’s Conner or Eno Benjamin.
Brian Robinson is now the Commanders’ lead runner, but he’s had a tough time finding room behind a banged-up offensive line and averages just 3.2 YPC on the year. This could well be another week for Washington to get Antonio Gibson involved in the passing game, where he’s had a ton of success.
These numbers make what Josh Jacobs is doing all the more impressive. The Raiders’ offensive line just isn’t opening a lot of big holes. Meanwhile, Jacobs’ 4.33 yards after contact per attempt over the last five weeks is third-best among qualified RBs (Tony Pollard, Rashaad Penny).
The Titans have the nastiest run defense in the league by far over the last five weeks — they are allowing less than half the YBC/ATT (0.34) of #2 (Minnesota, 0.73). Kansas City doesn’t run it anyway, so this is a massive pass-funnel matchup for the Chiefs.
The numbers clearly bear out the differences between David Montgomery and Khalil Herbert. Montgomery’s 0.51 YBC/ATT is last among qualified runners over the last five weeks, while Herbert is middle-of-the-pack at 1.79. The Bears’ line isn’t good, but Herbert just sees the paths in their zone scheme faster than Montgomery does.
Top Pass Game Mismatches
Our “PASS GRADE” is a formula developed using “QB Pressure Rate Over Expectation.” It measures how much a quarterback should be expected to face pressure, adjusted for the quarterback’s average time to throw (a quarterback with a 3.0-second aT2T should be expected to be pressured more than one with a 2.0-second aT2T, for instance).
The higher the number, the worse it is for an offense, and the better it is for a defense.
Best Week 9 Pass Rush Matchups
Seeing the Buccaneers at the top of this list will become commonplace in this article, but it doesn’t all of a sudden mean their offensive line is performing well. By our definition, Tom Brady isn’t technically being “pressured,” but the perception of pressure that will happen is forcing him into inefficient and ineffective plays. This Tampa line is not performing at a league-best rate.
The Lions have the worst pass rush by pressure rate over expectation over the last five weeks and are hemorrhaging points in the secondary. If Aaron Rodgers and the Packers’ passing game doesn’t get right this week…
It’s unlikely to happen immediately, but the Ravens’ pass rush could get a boost with rookie David Ojabo, a second-round pick who was a lock to go in the first round before tearing his Achilles at his Pro Day. Ojabo has been activated, and he’ll likely have a part-time role in the early going. The Ravens also activated Tyus Bowser this week, so this could soon be a much tougher matchup than the numbers let on.
It’s notable to see Joe Burrow and the Bengals on this list, but it’s also hard to swallow that after watching Jonah Williams getting his ass kicked by Myles Garrett all over the field on Monday night against the Browns.
The Jaguars’ offensive line has actually performed well in pass protection. It’s FootballOutsiders’ #6 offensive line in adjusted sack rate, though the Raiders’ pass rush could well give Trevor Lawrence issues.
Worst Week 9 Pass Rush Matchups
Tennessee doesn’t throw the ball anyway, and their matchup with the Chiefs will be one of the biggest style discrepancies in the entire NFL. The Titans’ elite run defense will go up against a team that doesn’t run it, and they’ll be hoping to run the ball with Derrick Henry to keep the ball out of Patrick Mahomes’ hands (and to hide their league-worst pass protection unit).
The Bears having a tough matchup by QBPROE is not unexpected. The offensive line isn’t good and Justin Fields is the type of QB who invites extra pressure. Fortunately, Bears OC Luke Getsy has started getting Fields in positive situations by using his legs, and the trade for Chase Claypool helps him — in theory. Of course, the Dolphins’ trade for Bradley Chubb is likely more impactful in this particular matchup.
Davis Mills has one of the worst matchups on the week, while WR Nico Collins (groin) is hurt. At least he still has Brandin Cooks!
By the numbers, the line of scrimmage is going to dictate the Lions/Packers showdown. Aaron Rodgers could have all day to throw… while Jared Goff (who notoriously wilts in muddied pockets) will not.
The Falcons’ run game has an elite matchup against the Chargers’ front. Their pass protection is a different story. This could be a sub-20-attempt game for Marcus Mariota regardless of gamescript.
Top WR/CB Mismatches
A note on our process: there are very few situations in the NFL in which one receiver will match up with one corner for the vast majority of his routes. So honestly, WR/CB matchups in the traditional sense are perhaps the most overrated form of fantasy analysis.
We aim to do them better: our process breaks down how many routes a receiver runs from a certain alignment, and assigns a weighted score based on how much that receiver is expected to see a given defender based on those alignments. So it will measure how often we expect a receiver to face all defenders in a matchup, not just one particular defender, and weigh a score by those expected percentages.
So really, this is more of a WR/Secondary breakdown, as opposed to individual WR/CB matchups. And if we do believe there could be a shadow situation, I will mention that.
Best Week 9 WR/CB Matchups
Allen Lazard (GB) vs. Detroit — Lazard runs about 36% of his routes from the slot and 33% from the right side of the formation. Detroit has been decimated in the secondary, and Lazard — presuming he’s healthy — is projected to run 70% of his routes against Lions slot CB AJ Parker and LCB Amani Oruwariye, both of whom surrender top-3 rates of PPR FP/route run over the last five weeks. Of course, Lazard needs to be able to play through his shoulder injury.
Tyreek Hill (Mia) vs. Chicago — Hill lines up all over the formation for Miami, but the most exploitable spot for Chicago is slot CB Kyler Gordon, where Hill runs 39% of his routes (the most among any position). Gordon, a second-round pick from Washington, is improving. After being second-worst among all qualified CBs from Weeks 1-4 with 0.466 FP/snap allowed, Gordon is allowing just 0.178 FP/snap since. However, we project this is going to be a “welcome back to the NFL, rook” kind of matchup for him with how much Hill is just absolutely cooking everything in his path.
Devin Duvernay (Bal) vs. New Orleans — The Ravens have an abominable WR group right now with Rashod Bateman (foot) near certain to miss Monday night’s game. But Duvernay has been a bit of a pleasant surprise for them. Though his production has been inconsistent, he’s also been a versatile weapon, scoring 3 receiving TD, 1 rushing TD, and 1 return TD. He aligns 52% of the time as the Ravens’ RWR, where he’ll frequently draw Saints LCB Paulson Adebo. Over the last five weeks, among CBs with 50 or more coverage snaps, Adebo’s 0.622 FP/snap is the most in the NFL, ahead of the two Detroit CBs mentioned earlier. Duvernay isn’t a sexy name and he’s not on the main DFS slate, but he could easily be a profitable bye-week fill-in with six teams off this week.
Worst Week 9 WR/CB Matchups
Brandin Cooks (Hou) vs. Philadelphia — Cooks, surprisingly, wasn’t dealt at the NFL’s trade deadline. His “I’m Staying Home!” party features the NFL’s best perimeter CB duo (Darius Slay and James Bradberry) and one of the league’s most underrated slot CBs in Avonte Maddox. If Nico Collins (groin) can’t play, Cooks will draw even more attention than he already does. That is, of course, if he suits up at all. (The following was tweeted shortly after the deadline passed.)
Don’t take a man’s kindness for granted. Covered for the lies for too long those days are done. Crossed the line with playing with my career 🏹— Brandin Cooks (@brandincooks) November 1, 2022
Arizona WRs vs. Seattle — It’s not like you’re benching DeAndre Hopkins, but over the last five weeks, all three of Seattle’s primary CBs — RCB Tariq Woolen, LCB Mike Jackson, and slot CB Coby Bryant — are in the bottom-20 of qualified CBs in FP/snap. It ain’t the Legion of Boom, but Seattle’s young secondary is performing at a very high level. Perhaps this is more a Rondale Moore blurb than anything else.
Adam Thielen and KJ Osborn vs. Washington — Overall, Justin Jefferson has a positive matchup with his primary projected defender, Commanders RCB Kendall Fuller (Jefferson lines up at LWR 43% of the time, and Fuller is almost exclusively the RCB in Washington’s defense). But one of the more underreported storylines for the Commanders is how well LCB Benjamin St-Juste (the primary matchup for Thielen) and slot CB Rachad Wildgoose (Osborn) are playing for Washington. St-Juste has given up the 30th-fewest FP/snap over the last five weeks, while Wildgoose has given up the 7th-fewest.
Week 9 Potential Shadow Situations
Tee Higgins (Cin) vs. Jaycee Horn (Car) — With Ja’Marr Chase healthy, teams should typically shy away from shadowing one of Cincy’s alpha dogs at risk of the other just taking the game over. But with Chase (hip) out, I wonder if the Panthers will use their best corner, Horn, on Higgins. This year, Horn has simply been one of the best and most versatile CBs in the sport. He plays both sides of the formation about equally, and also goes into the slot about 25% of the time, so he can follow around a versatile receiver like Higgins (who, incidentally, has run 22% of his routes from the slot this year). Horn has been utterly spectacular in 2022. Over the last five weeks, he’s allowed just .04 FP/snap, second-fewest in the league behind only Jalen Ramsey. And when targeted over that span… he’s allowed a passer rating of 0.0.