Week 2 Fantasy Football Defensive Matchup Exploitation By Position

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Saints Defense

Sep 8, 2013; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints defensive tackle Akiem Hicks (76) tackles Atlanta Falcons running back Steven Jackson (39) during the first quarter of a game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

We talk a lot about which fantasy football players you should pick up but once they’re on your team, you have an even tougher decision to make. Who to start. If you have two players with similar ability, the decision will usually come down to the defensive matchup. The problem is, you can look at a defense and see if they’re good or not but that doesn’t mean they’re good against every position. Some teams have a vicious front-seven. Others have a blanket for a secondary.

That’s why every week I’ll be breaking down every defensive matchup by position to find the most favorable and least favorable based on how each defense performs against each position. I’ve listed the players with the most favorable and least favorable matchups below and you can scroll down and see the breakdown for every individual matchup based on fantasy points against and some additional starts-and-sits.

Most Favorable QB Matchups: Jay Cutler, Aaron Rodgers, Robert Griffin, Alex Smith, Michael Vick, Philip Rivers, Josh Freeman, Chad Henne, Peyton Manning

Least Favorite QB Matchups: Tom Brady, E.J. Manuel, Christian Ponder, Andrew Luck, Matthew Stafford, Colin Kaepernick, Andy Dalton

Most Favorable RB Matchups: DeAngelo Williams, Alfred Morris, Lamar Miller, Doug Martin, Darren McFadden, Daryl Richardson

Least Favorable RB Matchups: Adrian Peterson, Steven Jackson, Jacquizz Rodgers, Vick Ballard, Ahmad Bradhaw, Reggie Bush, Joique Bell, Darren Sproles, Pierre Thomas, Mark Ingram, Marshawn Lynch, Frank Gore, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Giovani Bernard

Most Favorable WR Matchups: Julio Jones, Roddy White, Steve Smith, Pierre Garcon, Leonard Hankerson, Dwayne Bowe, Malcom Floyd, Vincent Brown, Torrey Smith, Marlon Brown, Vincent Jackson, Mike Williams

Least Favorable WR Matchups: Reggie Wayne, T.Y. Hilton, Calvin Johnson, Nate Burleson, Anquan Boldin, A.J. Green

Most Favorable TE Matchups: Jared Cook, Jermichael Finley, Dwayne Allen, Jimmy Graham, Brandon Myers, Julius Thomas

Least Favorable TE Matchups: Zach Sudfeld, Tony Gonzalez, Greg Olsen, Kyle Rudolph, Jason Witten, Antonio Gates, Dallas Clark, Ed Dickson, Jermaine Gresham, Tyler Eifert

It’s difficult to tell exactly how good a defense is after just one week. The Ravens aren’t going to give up seven passing touchdowns every game. I’ve included 2012 ranks in fantasy points against as well as week 1 ranks, based on Yahoo standard scoring.

Matchup: New York Jets at New England Patriots

Jets

Rank vs. QB

Rank vs. RB

Rank vs. WR

Rank vs. TE

2012 Ranks

5

24

3

15

2013 Week 1 Rank

5

11

22

1

Helps: -

Hurts: Tom Brady, Zach Sudfeld, any other Tight End

Patriots

Rank vs. QB

Rank vs. RB

Rank vs. WR

Rank vs. TE

2012 Ranks

22

8

23

28

2013 Week 1 Rank

12

19

9

8

Pretty conflicting data here, especially since the Pats played their first game against the below-average Bills offense. I’d bet the matchup is pretty neutral except at running back where I take the Pats D over Bilal Powell and Chris Ivory.

Matchup: St. Louis Rams at Atlanta Falcons

Rams

Rank vs. QB

Rank vs. RB

Rank vs. WR

Rank vs. TE

2012 Ranks

17

19

9

18

2013 Week 1 Rank

16

9

30

7

Helps: Julio Jones, Roddy White, Harry Douglas

Hurts: Steven Jackson, Jacquizz Rodgers, Jason Snelling, Tony Gonzalez

Falcons

Rank vs. QB

Rank vs. RB

Rank vs. WR

Rank vs. TE

2012 Ranks

10

23

7

19

2013 Week 1 Rank

22

25

19

25

Helps: Daryl Richardson, Isaiah Pead, Zac Stacy, Jared Cook

Hurts: -

Matchup: Carolina Panthers at Buffalo Bills

Panthers

Rank vs. QB

Rank vs. RB

Rank vs. WR

Rank vs. TE

2012 Ranks

11

21

8

25

2013 Week 1 Rank

9

13

24

10

Helps: -

Hurts: EJ Manuel (probably CJ Spiller and Fred Jackson as well but we’ll see just how improved that front seven is)

Bills

Rank vs. QB

Rank vs. RB

Rank vs. WR

Rank vs. TE

2012 Ranks

27

31

16

12

2013 Week 1 Rank

11

27

27

2

Helps: DeAngelo Williams, Mike Tolbert, Steve Smith

Hurts: Greg Olsen

Matchup: Minnesota Vikings at Chicago Bears

Vikings

Rank vs. QB

Rank vs. RB

Rank vs. WR

Rank vs. TE

2012 Ranks

28

7

24

20

2013 Week 1 Rank

21

32

8

16

Helps: Jay Cutler

Hurts: -

Some conflicting RB and WR data but Matt Forte and Brandon Marshall should do just fine.

Bears

Rank vs. QB

Rank vs. RB

Rank vs. WR

Rank vs. TE

2012 Ranks

4

1

10

8

2013 Week 1 Rank

15

14

25

17

Helps: -

Hurts: Christian Ponder, Adrian Peterson, Kyle Rudolph

Matchup: Washington Redskins at Green Bay Packers

Redskins

Rank vs. QB

Rank vs. RB

Rank vs. WR

Rank vs. TE

2012 Ranks

28

9

30

32

2013 Week 1 Rank

28

30

10

24

Helps: Aaron Rodgers, Jermichael Finley

Hurts: -

Conflicting data on RB and WR, especially after an unusual affair against the Eagles. We’ll wait and see how they play against a more traditional, though even more potent, offense.

Packers

Rank vs. QB

Rank vs. RB

Rank vs. WR

Rank vs. TE

2012 Ranks

14

17

17

2

2013 Week 1 Rank

30

24

26

30

Helps: Robert Griffin, Alfred Morris, Roy Helu, Pierre Garcon, Leonard Hankerson, Josh Morgan, Santana Moss, and maybe Fred Davis

Hurts: -

Matchup: Miami Dolphins at Indianapolis Colts

Dolphins

Rank vs. QB

Rank vs. RB

Rank vs. WR

Rank vs. TE

2012 Ranks

16

14

12

13

2013 Week 1 Rank

6

4

6

27

Helps: Dwayne Allen, Coby Fleener

Hurts: Andrew Luck, Vick Ballard, Ahmad Bradshaw, Reggie Wayne, T.Y. Hilton, Darrius Heyward-Bey

Colts

Rank vs. QB

Rank vs. RB

Rank vs. WR

Rank vs. TE

2012 Ranks

12

25

28

11

2013 Week 1 Rank

24

18

14

15

Helps: Lamar Miller, Daniel Thomas

Hurts: Charles Clay

Matchup: Dallas Cowboys at Kansas City Chiefs

Cowboys

Rank vs. QB

Rank vs. RB

Rank vs. WR

Rank vs. TE

2012 Ranks

13

28

15

21

2013 Week 1 Rank

31

2

31

23

Helps: Alex Smith, Dwayne Bowe, Dexter McCluster, Donnie Avery, Anthony Fasano

Hurts: -

Chiefs

Rank vs. QB

Rank vs. RB

Rank vs. WR

Rank vs. TE

2012 Ranks

22

25

20

7

2013 Week 1 Rank

2

10

1

6

Helps: -

Hurts: Jason Witten

Outside of TE, some very conflicting data here after the Chiefs completely shut down the hapless Jaguars offense. Let’s wait and see how they perform against a real offense.

Matchup: San Diego at Philadelphia Eagles

Chargers

Rank vs. QB

Rank vs. RB

Rank vs. WR

Rank vs. TE

2012 Ranks

20

10

18

3

2013 Week 1 Rank

26

20

15

32

Helps: Michael Vick

Hurts: -

Eagles

Rank vs. QB

Rank vs. RB

Rank vs. WR

Rank vs. TE

2012 Ranks

30

16

25

5

2013 Week 1 Rank

23

12

29

14

Helps: Philip Rivers, Malcom Floyd, Vincent Brown, Eddie Royal

Hurts: Antonio Gates

Matchup: Cleveland Browns at Baltimore Ravens

Ravens

Rank vs. QB

Rank vs. RB

Rank vs. WR

Rank vs. TE

2012 Ranks

6

18

12

1

2013 Week 1 Rank

32

16

32

29

Pretty crazy opener against the Broncos, we’ll see how the Ravens look in a normal game before making any decisions about their defense.

Browns

Rank vs. QB

Rank vs. RB

Rank vs. WR

Rank vs. TE

2012 Ranks

20

21

28

4

2013 Week 1 Rank

8

5

21

12

Helps: Torrey Smith, Marlon Brown, Brandon Stokley

Hurts: Ed Dickson, Dallas Clark

Matchup: Tennessee Titans at Houston Texans

Titans

Rank vs. QB

Rank vs. RB

Rank vs. WR

Rank vs. TE

2012 Ranks

24

29

22

30

2013 Week 1 Rank

4

1

17

4

The Titans really shut down the Steelers but without any semblance of a running game, Pittsburgh was pretty ineffective. After a terrible defensive year last season, let’s see how the Titans do against a real running game.

Texans

Rank vs. QB

Rank vs. RB

Rank vs. WR

Rank vs. TE

2012 Ranks

15

4

21

27

2013 Week 1 Rank

25

26

20

11

Pretty conflicting data in all sorts of ways but the Texans defense did not look like the powerhouse it was last season. As far as I’m concerned, this is a neutral matchup.

Matchup: Detroit Lions at Arizona Cardinals

Lions

Rank vs. QB

Rank vs. RB

Rank vs. WR

Rank vs. TE

2012 Ranks

18

12

23

23

2013 Week 1 Rank

3

31

11

5

More conflicting data after a strong defensive showing against the Vikings, stopping even Adrian Peterson – for the most part. That front is pretty scary so I don’t see big days for Carson Palmer, Rashard Mendenhall, or anyone else they stick at RB but I’m not worried about their three receivers.

Cards

Rank vs. QB

Rank vs. RB

Rank vs. WR

Rank vs. TE

2012 Ranks

3

20

10

10

2013 Week 1 Rank

20

8

3

31

Helps: -

Hurts: Matt Stafford, Reggie Bush, Joique Bell, Calvin Johnson, Nate Burleson

Matchup: New Orleans Saints at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Saints

Rank vs. QB

Rank vs. RB

Rank vs. WR

Rank vs. TE

2012 Ranks

32

32

32

24

2013 Week 1 Rank

18

21

18

19

Helps: Josh Freeman, Doug Martin, Vincent Jackson, Mike Williams

Hurts: -

Bucs

Rank vs. QB

Rank vs. RB

Rank vs. WR

Rank vs. TE

2012 Ranks

31

11

31

29

2013 Week 1 Rank

10

7

4

26

Helps: Jimmy Graham

Hurts: Darren Sproles, Pierre Thomas, Mark Ingram

The Bucs secondary is very different and very improved. It’s easy to shut down the Jets but I’m curious to see how Revis and Co. do against Breesus and his wealth of receivers.

Matchup: Jacksonville Jaguars at Oakland Raiders

Jags

Rank vs. QB

Rank vs. RB

Rank vs. WR

Rank vs. TE

2012 Ranks

18

30

14

16

2013 Week 1 Rank

13

29

13

3

Helps: Darren McFadden

Hurts: Whoever plays tight end

Raiders

Rank vs. QB

Rank vs. RB

Rank vs. WR

Rank vs. TE

2012 Ranks

24

27

19

26

2013 Week 1 Rank

27

6

14

18

Helps: Chad Henne, whoever plays tight end

Hurts: -

Matchup: Denver Broncos at New York Giants

Broncos

Rank vs. QB

Rank vs. RB

Rank vs. WR

Rank vs. TE

2012 Ranks

8

3

2

31

2013 Week 1 Rank

19

28

23

20

Helps: Brandon Myers, possibly everyone

Hurts: The Broncos lost Elvis Dumervil and are without Von Miller so that defense isn’t what it was last season.

Giants

Rank vs. QB

Rank vs. RB

Rank vs. WR

Rank vs. TE

2012 Ranks

26

15

27

12

2013 Week 1 Rank

14

17

7

28

Helps: Peyton Manning, Julius Thomas

Hurts: -

Matchup: San Francisco 49ers at Seattle Seahawks

49ers

Rank vs. QB

Rank vs. RB

Rank vs. WR

Rank vs. TE

2012 Ranks

9

2

6

9

2013 Week 1 Rank

29

15

28

22

Helps: -

Hurts: Marshawn Lynch, Robert Turbin, Christine Michael

The Niners had a tough challenge in Aaron Rogers and his abundance of receivers but they should look like the team that finished in the top 10 against every position last year the rest of the way.

Seahawks

Rank vs. QB

Rank vs. RB

Rank vs. WR

Rank vs. TE

2012 Ranks

2

6

1

17

2013 Week 1 Rank

7

3

5

13

Helps: -

Hurts: Colin Kaepernick, Frank Gore, Kendall Hunter, Anquan Boldin, Kyle Williams, Quinton Patton, Marlon Moore

Matchup: Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals

Steelers

Rank vs. QB

Rank vs. RB

Rank vs. WR

Rank vs. TE

2012 Ranks

1

5

5

6

2013 Week 1 Rank

1

23

2

9

Helps: -

Hurts: Andy Dalton, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Giovani Bernard, A.J. Green, Mohamed Sanu, Jermaine Gresham, Tyler Eifert

Bengals

Rank vs. QB

Rank vs. RB

Rank vs. WR

Rank vs. TE

2012 Ranks

7

12

4

20

2013 Week 1 Rank

17

22

16

21

The Bears offense proved more challenging than expected, let’s see what the Bengals do against a Steelers offense that looked lost against the Titans in Week 1.

Igor Derysh is Editor-at-Large at XN Sports and has been featured in The Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Boston Herald, Baltimore Sun, Orlando Sun-Sentinel, and FantasyPros. He has previously covered sports for COED Magazine, Fantasy Alarm, and Manwall.com.
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