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Are we overemphasizing defensive match-ups? (aka, the Riddle of Buffal (1 Viewer)


Every week there's a new WW defense thread. And every week, at least one person posts about how they're planning to pick up Buffalo because of their incredible schedule the rest of the way. Here's the thing. None of the pro-Buffalo folks ever bother to so much as nod toward the defense's talent. It's all about the match-ups. This week, I see people talking themselves into Houston (which has only hit 10 points once all season) and the Giants.

At the other end of the spectrum, I heard from people benching Carolina last week vs. Atlanta because that was considered a "bad match-up", completely ignoring that a) Atlanta is really bad this year, and b) Carolina has a Top 5 defense.

Obviously, you sometimes have to take match-ups into account. I don't own KC, but if I did I'm not sure I'd have the stomach to roll them out against Denver twice in the coming weeks. I do own Carolina, and I may well end up dropping them before they have to place the Saints twice in three weeks. And of course, every single D that has faced Jacksonville this year has walked away with double-digit FPs.

Still, I think some of the streamers are fetishizing match-ups to an unhealthy degree. Maybe it feels more "shark-like" to use match-ups instead of defensive quality; I'm not really sure. Still, I'd urge everyone to think of it as a balancing test between match-ups and defensive ability.

In the meantime, can anyone tell me if Buffalo's defense is any good? I'm thinking about using them for Weeks 14-16 :-)

I think you have to be cognizant of overvaluing a match up. For instance, JAX has some great match ups coming up:


However, a poor D is still a poor D, even against a bad O.

I think the good match up is the starting point that makes it easy to narrow down those Ds you might stream that week. But then you need to dig a little deeper and evaluate fully the chances of a good defensive output.

I like to start by reading the article about streaming Ds here at FBG and a couple others elsewhere. Then I read the ongoing weekly thread here in the Shark Pool about it. Next, I look at the Strength of Schedule at FFToday. Finally, and this usually is what clinches my selection, I look at FFToday's Fantasy Points Allowed.

So back to the JAX example, we can see that they're 3rd in points allowed for the season but if you filter to the last 3 weeks, JAX has only been 10th in points allowed to defenses. If you drill down by clicking on the JAX link, you'll see a lot of extensive data such as what they gave up each week. One thing that jumps out is that they're 20% above the NFL average for points given up the last 3 weeks, 25% over for the last 5 weeks, and ~50% over for the season. In other words, JAX's generosity has slowed recently but they're still a good match up. The same page shows that AZ has scored better than the average NFL D by 29% this season. Conclusion: AZ looks to be a good D to use against JAX in week 10.

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Over the course of a season I have always been bad at playing WW defense roulette every week. I find that I can hit here and there but most of the time I miss and my hits are usually only defenses playing against bottom 3 vs points allowed to D/ST. The past few years if you could pick up a D playing Vick/Romo/Rivers it usually worked out pretty well other than that I did not have a lot of success. So in those cases matchups did pan out but it seems like they need to be optimum to work consistently and it's hard to get that every week.

I've had much more success targeting a couple under the radar defenses late in the draft or scooping one up that does well the first couple weeks and sticking with them throughout the season.

I have KC's defense and do not have a second thought about playing them VS Denver (The leagues I play in only give out bonuses for points allowed under 13 and you can't go negative so I seen no reason not play them). They should be good for some sacks and a TD or two in those games. I really don't understand why people are worried about the match up VS Denver, I think they are over thinking it. KC is a stud defense and you don't sit your studs regardless of match up.

I would almost put CAR in the same category as KC this season. I would definitely play them at home VS NO for sure if I had them.

I don't know all that much about Buffalos D other than they have Mario Williams and I think they've got some pretty high picks from the last 4-5 years in the secondary. I believe they do have some talent and it seems like the past few years people have been expecting them to be pretty good but it just hasn't materialized for the most part.

I feel like AZ has a lot of talent/potential on their defense that hasn't really translated as well as you'd think for fantasy so far this season. I'm probably rolling with them this week while KC is on bye unless something else slaps me in the face.

I think what you're overlooking is that generally speaking all the 'good' defenses are already owned, so you're left with match up plays when you stream.

but I agree with the greater concept of putting more weight on the defense over the match up, although your car/atl example isn't very good because it's a good match up against a crap offense as well as being a good defense.

I was also one of the ones trying to dope out hou vs nyg (vs cincy) this week, and I think things can be fluid throughout the year, so you won't get the same result every week due to all these variables.

it's true these 2 teams don't produce much in the splash plays, and I know hou has given up points, but I don't think you will always find that perfect defense that has every angle each week, so you have to pick the team you think gives you a chance.

I already posted some stats on hou in the other thread, but here's a short list ranking defenses in yards/play allowed.

top 11 defenses

cle 4.5

sea 4.6

hou 4.8

nyg 4.9

cin 4.9

nyj 5.0

ari 5.0

sfo 5.0

car 5.0

nep 5.1

kc 5.1

(buf 5.2)

I think the surrounding 9 on that list are all considered pretty good defenses, many of which are owned.

both hou and nyg are weak on the splash points, but both are facing offenses that probably yield a fair amount of that.

things have evolved for both teams, and both might be in better situations than they were earlier this year

I have KC's defense and do not have a second thought about playing them VS Denver.They should be good for some sacks and a TD or two in those games. I really don't understand why people are worried about the match up VS Denver, I think they are over thinking it. KC is a stud defense and you don't sit your studs regardless of match up.
Agreed. Denver turns the ball over and Manning can be sacked.

I got bored before collecting enough information to statistically reliable, but I was looking into this earlier this season and it seemed (for my scoring system at least) the correlation between the score for a defense and the average points against for the opponent was very close to the average points for of the defense (and neither was particularly strong - there's a lot of variability).

But as someone said, the teams that have high performing (points for) defenses are probably already taken, so in the absence of that, the best you can do is try to maximize the points from the matchup.

One thing I did see however is that BAD defenses were much less likely to take advantage of the bad matchups. So a team that hasn't scored on defense all year, probably won't score much against jacksonville either, but a decent defense might.

Carolina is an curious case because they have scored really well during this recent stretch against some very good matchups. Many streamers picked them up because of these matchups. It will be interesting to see if their scoring continues to be high against what apppear to be tougher opponents the rest of the way(They're just a good defense), or if they will drop off (It was the matchups)


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