2014 In-Season Accuracy: 59.3% (4th out of 22 Experts, 62.3% Highest, 42.6% Lowest).
In this space we typically just talk defense, and for good reason. Offensive players are covered ad nauseam on literally every other page on the Internet. I try to provide a safe haven for IDP owners to come and rejoice in the beauty of the solo tackle, and mourn the losses of beloved friends like Derrick Johnson and Paul Pozluszny. But IDP fantasy football doesn’t exist in a silo, and in order to maximize your lineup’s potential, we occasionally need to think about the other side of the ball.
Early on in the season, playing matchups is a bit of a fool’s errand. Teams are still struggling to establish their identity, starting lineups can be fluid, and one game can have an outsized impact on stat lines. But now that we’re two months into the season, using matchups to help inform lineup decisions can be a valuable tool.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at teams that have been the best (and worst) matchups for each IDP position.
Best: Buffalo Bills
The Bills are a dream for opposing DLs. They have an ineffective running game (even more so after losing Spiller and Freddie), that they are forced to rely on because their passing game (Manuel/Orton) can’t carry the load either. Combine that with a sub-par Offensive Line, and you have by far the best opponent for DLs (DEs especially). In the next couple of weeks, the dynamic duos for the Dolphins and Jets get to feast on Orton and Co., and looking way ahead, Justin Tuck will be a nice option in Championship Week.
Worst: New Orleans Saints
Unsurprisingly, a team that lives and dies with their quick-strike passing game does not make for a great DL matchup. The return of Mark Ingram could open up some tackle opportunities, but Brees is perennially among the least sacked QBs in the league. This doesn’t bode well for Charles Johnson owners, who still face the Saints twice, as well Jared Allen who gets them in Week 15.
Best: Jacksonville Jaguars
Linebackers can contribute in a variety of ways, against a variety of offenses, so it is not surprise that teams have the smallest deviation in terms of LB points allowed. The Jags are slightly ahead of the pack due to their propensity for both allowing sacks and turning the ball over, which obviously makes them an ideal matchup for all IDP positions. Streaming lesser known options as bye week replacements against the Jags can be a great strategy (like Emmanuel Lamur this week), and it makes a guy like Avery Williamson look pretty good for Championship Week.
Worst: Philadelphia Eagles
This one is a bit surprising to me, given the diversity of the Philly attack. Anecdotally, it has seemed like Philly either gets stopped for a loss or hits a big play, which would essentially avoid the Linebacker level. Typically the worst matchups for LBs are teams that go three-and-out frequently, but Philly has the 9 lowest three-and-out percentage in the league. I’m chalking this up to a case of the notoriously honest numbers being less than truthful, but I still might think twice about starting a non-stud LB against the Eagles. More logical matchups to avoid are the next two teams in line, Tennessee and Oakland.
Best: Philadelphia Eagles
Now this makes sense. As happy as offensive player owners were that Chip Kelly moved to the NFL, IDP owners were just as happy. Successful, fast-paced offenses lead to more stats all around (apparently except for LBs), and DBs can reap those benefits. The top 4 teams is DB points allowed are the NFC East teams, which should come as no surprise. Lots of passes, lots of interceptions, and lots of points seem to define that division. The Eagles face the Cowboys in Weeks 13 and 15, so if you have a team that looks like a contender, I’d try to make a move on Barry Church (and think about streaming Brandon Carr for those weeks in CB-required leagues).
Worst: Cincinnati Bengals
The absence of A.J. Green has hindered an already less than stellar Bengals passing attack, and opposing DBs have felt that pain. The only types of DBs that thrive against the Cincinnati offense are ones that play more like Linebackers. Luckily for his owners, Donte Whitner is one of those players, and he gets to face Cincy twice for the rest of the season, as do T.J. Ward and Kenny Vaccaro. But for more pass-reliant Safeties and all Cornerbacks, I would avoid starting them against the Bengals.