FF Tips

Reading the Defenses: Who Are the Tough Matchups for QBs?

By Matt Schauf 11:07am EDT 7/14/17


I have a problem.

So, I have a couple of articles coming up within the next week focused on QBs. For my money, that position swings more on matchups than any other in fantasy football. And that means strength of schedule has been on my mind.

Here’s my problem: I can’t just take last year’s numbers and project the matchups forward. That would be lazy. And lazy ain’t how I do my fantasy stuff. If anything, I swing it too far in the other direction.

So I’ve been digging into QB points-allowed numbers this week and figured I’d share some stuff here before I get to the articles themselves.


Passing Points vs. Total Points

My 1st question: How do you measure the matchups?

Sure, we could just look at the total QB points allowed for each defense. But what about the teams that give up more on the ground? Arizona, for example, allowed 348 yards and 4 TDs rushing to QBs last year. That’s 160 more yards and 2 more TDs than the league averages.

Unless you believe that playing those Cardinals added significant rushing upside to Matt Ryan’s fantasy outlook, then filtering out the points earned only via the pass seems like a good idea.

If you look at only passing points, then 8 defenses rose or fell by 5+ spots in last year’s points-allowed rankings—led by Miami climbing from 28th to 20th and the Jets falling from 17th to 26th.

Over the past 12 years, an average of 6.3 teams per season have climbed or fallen 5+ spots in the passing-points rankings vs. total points. So although the differences proved largely negligible, there were enough movers to make it worth looking at the passing numbers alone. After all, that’s the area we’re most interested in when trying to figure out if a given QB faces a sweet draw that week.


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