So, Week 8 has painfully (speaking for myself) come and gone. Will Levis attacked the Atlanta Falcons defense to the tune of four touchdown passes. The Falcons are the same defense that previously only surrendered five passing touchdowns in the past four games. (The outlier being two passing touchdowns to Jared Goff)!
And the Baltimore Ravens decided to play down to their competition…well Zay Flowers and Lamar Jackson underperformed. Flowers had seven targets, five receptions, and 19 yards. In his defense (and mine?) Mark Andrews and Justice Hill led the team with 40 receiving yards, which brings us to Lamar Jackson’s 27 attempts and 18 completion day, which resulted in 157 passing yards and one passing touchdown! Mon Dieu! (I’ve been watching a lot of Agatha Christie’s Poirot on Brit Box)! Gus Edwards shredded the Arizona Cardinals’ defense with 80 rushing yards, 14 receiving yards, and three touchdowns.
Statistical probabilities are not so probable for the first eight weeks of the NFL season. Then I was reminded by the great Kurt Warner, “Stats should back the narrative, not create it.” So, let’s get to some narratives that attack the defenses and back them with some statistical analysis, shall we? Keep in mind the Will Levis anomaly will happen anytime and anywhere.
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Defenses to Attack Week 9
Our concern here is the defenses that we can attack by offensive positions. Spoiler alert: that is why the Dallas Cowboys vs. Philadelphia Eagles wasn’t mentioned. There are holes to be attacked there.
Defenses Vulnerable to Quarterback Attack
Let’s begin with the stats. Chicago Bears are allowing 1.5 touchdown passes per game. They allow the seventh-most passing attempts per game (36.8) and the third-most passing yards per game 262.3. Last week, Justin Herbert threw for 298 yards and three touchdowns against this Bears’ defense. The week prior, the Bears allowed the Las Vegas Raiders backup duo to throw for 204 yards against them.
Carr has a 57.1% completion percentage when pressured and a 65.5% completion percentage from a clean pocket. Carr has thrown for 282 yards and averages 38.0 passing attempts per game. He has attempted 27, 55, and 50 passes per game in the last three weeks. Carr has thrown for 310, 301, and 353 passing yards in those games.
Defenses Vulnerable to Running Back Attack
There is a pseudo-running back by committee in Carolina, but not really. For the season, Miles Sanders has been on the field for 42.02% of the offensive snaps compared to 50.10% for Hubbard. Last week, Hubbard was on the field for 67.2% of the offensive snaps, had three touches inside the 10-yard line, and had 15 rushing attempts (we will gloss over his inefficient 1.9 yards per attempt).
Sanders was on the field for 17.9% of the offensive snaps last week. He had two rushing attempts, and neither were inside the red zone.
The Colts allow the third-most rushing attempts (31.8) and the fourth-most fantasy points per game (20.2) to the running back position. The Colts defense also allows 1.4 rushing touchdowns per game and 94.0 rushing yards.
Last week, the Panthers’ offensive coordinator, Thomas Brown, took over the play-calling. He is 1-0. In an extremely small sample size, the Panther rushed the ball 24 times and had 31 passing attempts. For the season (with Frank Reich play-calling), the Panthers are 24th in rushing attempts (24.0) and second in passing attempts (39.4).
It remains to be seen what Brown (the former running back) will rely more on the run game and take some pressure off their rookie quarterback.
The offensive line isn’t great. ESPN analytics ranks them 31st with a 64% run block win rate. Quarterback Bryce Young faced pressure at a 40% rate last week, while the run game averaged 1.83 yards per carry.
But attacking the weak is what we do. The Colts just allowed Taysom Hill to average 7.0 yards per carry on his way to scoring two touchdowns. Hubbard should be attacking the Colts’ defense on his way to at least one rushing touchdown.
Defenses Vulnerable to Wide Receiver Attack
There is no doubt that CeeDee Lamb is the alpha receiver in Dallas. The Philadelphia Eagles allow the most fantasy points per game to the wide receiver position (43.9), with 61% going to the out wide receiver. Per Razzball’s wide receiver fantasy points scored chart, Lamb scores 43% of his fantasy points from the slot and 57% out wide. Cooks scores 96% of his fantasy points out wide.
Last week, Cooks was on the field for 61.5% of the offensive snaps. He was tied for second in targets (4), but that was compared to Lamb’s 14 targets. Cooks finished with three receptions, 49 yards, and one touchdown (compared to Lamb’s 12 receptions, 158 yards, and two touchdowns).
This is to say that Lamb is the obvious choice, but if you don’t have him, you shouldn’t shy away from a Cooks start. Last week, the Eagles’ defense allowed Jahan Dotson 108 receiving yards and Jamison Crowder 95 receiving yards.
Division games are notoriously unpredictable, but that goes for the season. This game in Philadelphia could be a shoot-out, in which case the Dallas receivers should thrive, or a defensive battle, in which case the Dallas receivers should thrive.
All cards on the table Madden Simulation does not look good for the Cowboys…but it looks excellent for Lamb.
Defenses Vulnerable to Tight End Attack
When the Buffalo Bills attempted to play two tight end sets, Kincaid had 110 snaps out of the slot. He ran routes on 26.5 plays per game and had a 73.6% route participation percentage.
The Bills target the tight end position at 22.9%. Now, with Dawson Knox’s surgery, Kincaid is the tight end in a game with the second-highest predictive total against a team, allowing the most fantasy points to the tight end position (8.9) per fantasydatabase.com.
Buffalo at Cincinnati is a Sunday Night prime time game. Attack the Cincinnati defense with Kincaid.
PS NFL Redzone is free this Sunday. Enjoy!
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