2016 Draft Kit

Week 4 rushing matchups to attack and avoid

This week I’m changing things up a bit. We’ve been using year-old Defense-adjusted Value Over Average for the first few weeks.

Last week, we looked at both 2014 and 2015 DVOA in an attempt to gain a bit of an edge. Now this week I’ve added in fantasy points allowed.

Yes, FPA can be problematic, but after three weeks we should start to see some trends and the outliers start to get filtered out. It will be even better next week, and better yet every week as we go.

This week I looked for the matchups that appeared in the same category twice or more. For instance, the New York Giants vs. the Buffalo Bills is a top passing matchup both according to 2015 DVOA and 2015 FPA. That makes them a strong play.

I also, however, noted when there was a discrepancy of any type. Again using the NYG-BUF matchup as an example, the Bills were the toughest team to pass against in 2014.

Alright, let’s get to the discussion.

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Rushing matchups

Rushing matchups to attack

Carolina Panthers vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers — DVOA says the Buccaneers are the least effective team in the NFL against the run. FPA backs that up. They are tied for third in touchdowns allowed and third in rushing yards allowed. This is music to the Panthers’ ears. But for fantasy owners it’s a bit of a conundrum. It’s pretty obvious Cam Newton is the team’s No. 1 RB and it’s QB. If Jonathan Stewart can’t produce anything this game, he’s probably droppable in all formats. If you didn’t already drop him, of course.

Houston Texans vs. Atlanta Falcons — In this week’s passing matchups, we talked about how the Falcons are giving up gobs of yards to receiving running backs. Well, they’re also giving up yards on the ground too. The one thing that may hurt Alfred Blue‘s chances of getting 30 carries is that the Falcons score bunches of points. If Houston can’t slow down the Matt Ryan-to-Julio Jones connection it’s going to be a long day for Blue owners. There is some chatter this week that Arian Foster may be ready to go. If he is, we should be all-in on him this week because he is a double threat and an elite running back in an elite matchup. Atlanta has given up six rushing touchdowns, the most in the NFL. It isn’t reflected in 2015 DVOA, but in 2014 they finished as the third-least effective team against the run, which means they might find their way onto the 2015 list soon enough.

San Diego Chargers vs. Cleveland BrownsMelvin Gordon and Danny Woodhead disappointed last week in what was supposed to be a good spot. I saw one retweet on Twitter this week about Gordon that was pretty interesting though. Gordon has a boatload of first-half carries but only eight in the second half so far this season. If that evens out, Gordon gets more touches throughout the game, he’ll bust out. You want him in your lineup when he busts out. It’s surprising how many times fantasy football sharps come to a realization like this the same week an NFL team does. This week, he faces the Browns, who have given up the third-most fantasy points to opposing running backs this season and who were second-worst in the NFL last season. No team has given up more rushing yards (475) than the Browns in 2015. I’ll have more than a few Melvin Gordon shares at under $5,000 this week at Draft Kings.

Rushing matchups to avoid

Detroit Lions vs. Seattle Seahawks — This matchup is one of only two across both passing and rushing research to appear in all three statistics categories I looked at. The Seahawks are dominant against the run in 2015, according to DVOA, were dominant last year and have allowed the fourth least fantasy points to opposing running backs so far this season. Sure Ameer Abdullah‘s the kind of back who could break a big game against them. But that’s not a high percentage play.

St. Louis Rams vs. Arizona Cardinals — Arizona has allowed the 10th-least fantasy points to running backs this season, but more impressively, DVOA says they are the most efficient defense in the NFL against the run. They’ve allowed just two touchdowns and 3.5 yards per carry. Meanwhile, Todd Gurley hardly impressed in his debut. Gurley didn’t need to have a superstar showing in his first NFL action to become a superstar, but he’s likely to not break out in this one either. That said, if Gurley shows signs of life against this defense, we should really set our sights on week 7, when the Rams, fresh off a bye, face the aforementioned

Philadelphia Eagles vs. Washington Redskins — Like a lot of Ryan Mathews owners, I hope last week’s performance means more carries for the former San Diego Chargers star back in the committee with DeMarco Murray and Darren Sproles. However, the Eagles running offense may find it rough to run this week. The Redskins have allowed just 225 yards and one touchdown on the ground, third-best and tied for fifth-best in the NFL this season. They’re on this list because of impressive DVOA this season which backs up a low fantasy points allowed total.

Cincinnati Bengals vs. Kansas City Chiefs — The Chiefs are one of four teams in the NFL yet to allow a rushing touchdown this season, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that they have allowed the third-least fantasy points to running backs this season. DVOA has them as the seventh-most efficient team against the run in 2015 as well. This could make it a long day for Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard. I’m still probably going to start Bernard where I have him in season-long, but even the passing game — a silver lining for him in many cases — might not be able to salvage the day. The Chiefs are among the top third in efficiency against pass-catching running backs, allowing 32.5 yards passing to them each game.

Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Baltimore Ravens — Baltimore has allowed the fifth-least fantasy points to opposing running backs and DVOA ranks them fifth-best against the run this season. That’s a pretty solid correlation. Le’Veon Bell is the best back they will have faced by a considerable margin and he does get quite a bit of action in the passing game as well. But, like Bernard above, I’ll start Bell in season-long games, but his price is too costly to consider in anything more than a what-the-heck-Mike-Vick-may-go-all-Mike-Vick tournament play in daily fantasy.

Washington Redskins vs. Philadelphia Eagles — One place Philadelphia hasn’t struggled this season is stopping the run. The Eagles allow just 3.1 yards a carry, least in the NFL and haven’t given up a rushing touchdown. While they don’t appear on the 2015 DVOA list, they’ve allowed the sixth-least fantasy points to opposing running backs this season and were ranked fifth-best by DVOA in 2014. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Matt Jones and Alfred Morris struggle again this week, and Philadelphia move onto the 2015 DVOA list for Week 5.

Ok, that’s it for the rushing matchups. Do you like the new format or do you prefer the old format? Let us know in the comments.

Thanks for reading.

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