Frank DuPont

Fantasy Fallout

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Friday Rundown

Friday, October 5, 2012

The following article is a guest post by Frank DuPont, author of Game Plan: A Radical Approach to Decision Making in the NFL. You can also follow Frank on Twitter.

This is a weekly feature I'll be doing here where I take a run through my stats based projection system and give you the things that stand out most to me.  Some of it will be interesting, some of it might border on obvious, and hopefully some small part of it will help you make decisions on guys to start or guys to target in trades.


Dwayne Bowe vs. Baltimore – A Better Matchup Than We Might Think

Through four weeks the Baltimore defense has allowed four 100 yard receivers and is giving up about 8.5 yards/target to opposing wide receivers and tight ends.  Those numbers not only aren't anything we should worry about, it actually makes this a decent matchup for Bowe.  Maybe the only thing that might indicate that the Baltimore defense is a little better than their numbers indicate is that they haven't given up very many touchdowns to opposing wide receivers and tight ends. 


I use a projection system that focuses on finding rough approximations of matchups in historical games.  The tables below contain the summary information for my projection of Bowe's week five matchup.  The first table contains Bowe's statistical summary to date, along with the Baltimore defense's summary.  The table also contains my projection for Bowe this week.  Then the second table contains the 20 most similar games that I have in my database.  The results of those games are how I got to my projection for Bowe.


Summary Key: Targets/Game, Yards/Game, Yards/Target, Touchdowns/Game

Season SummaryGame Projection
NameYrWt/AgePlayer SummaryDefDef SummaryRecsYdsTDsFPs
Dwayne Bowe 2012 221/28 12.2/85.5/7/0.8 BAL 34.5/288.8/8.4/0.5 7.05 102 0.6 13.85


The list of players that are somewhat similar to Bowe are based on statistical similarities, along with size and age.  The defenses are similar statistically. You can see in the similar matchups below there were a number of really nice games including a few that were above 20 standard fantasy points.  The average of the 20 similar matchups is my projection for Bowe, which is not quite 14 fantasy points.  One thing you'll notice about the summary statistics is that they are slightly different even for the same player in the same season.  For instance, Brandon Marshall-2011 is in the table twice with slightly different statistics for each entry.  The reason is that each line contains the player's summary with that specific game pulled out of the summary statistics.  So if I want to project Dwayne Bowe's game against Baltimore, and I don't yet know the result, I have to compare it against players/defenses based on their summary statistics where the matchups we're looking at aren't included in those summary statistics (because including that game in the summary statistics would be equivalent to feeding the projection system an answer in advance).


The last thing worth mentioning about these similar games is that you can see that while there are a number of really good games, it's not out of the realm of possibility that Bowe could put up a bad game against Baltimore (like Roddy White did against New Orleans in 2009 for instance).


Summary Key: Targets/Game, Yards/Game, Yards/Target, Touchdowns/Game

Season SummaryGame Summary
NameYrWt/AgePlayer SummaryDefDef SummaryRecsYdsTDsFPs
Roddy White 2011 208/30 11.3/83.1/7.3/0.5 GB 31.3/266.4/8.5/1.8 6 50 1 11
Eric Moulds 2002 210/29 11.2/82.1/7.3/0.7 SD 27.9/237.2/8.5/1.3 5 61 0 6.8
Miles Austin 2011 217/27 7/56.1/8/0.8 NE 30.7/264.7/8.6/1.4 7 74 0 7.4
Anquan Boldin 2008 220/28 10/77.5/7.7/1 SEA 26.5/220.4/8.3/1.4 13 186 0 18.9
Terrell Owens 2002 226/29 11.4/86.8/7.6/0.8 SD 27.4/223.3/8.1/1.2 7 171 2 29.1
Andre Johnson 2010 225/29 10.5/96.5/9.2/0.6 TEN 29.3/222.5/7.6/1 6 54 1 11.4
Andre Johnson 2010 225/29 10.6/96.3/9.1/0.6 TEN 30.7/233.7/7.6/1 9 56 1 11.6
Eric Moulds 2002 210/29 11.5/83.7/7.3/0.6 KC 28.9/230.9/8/1.4 4 36 1 9.6
Torry Holt 2005 190/29 11.3/92.8/8.2/0.7 SF 27.5/238.9/8.7/1.5 10 125 0 12.5
Torry Holt 2005 190/29 11.6/89.8/7.7/0.6 SF 29/244.3/8.4/1.5 10 163 1 22.3
Plaxico Burress 2005 226/28 10.4/75.7/7.3/0.5 SF 28.9/248/8.6/1.5 5 79 0 7.9
Brandon Marshall 2011 230/27 8.6/72.5/8.4/0.4 NE 30.1/259.1/8.6/1.4 7 139 0 13.9
Brandon Marshall 2011 230/27 8.7/71.4/8.2/0.3 NE 30.9/265.3/8.6/1.3 7 156 1 21.6
Dwayne Bowe 2011 221/27 8.9/71.5/8.1/0.3 NE 30.3/268.1/8.8/1.5 7 87 0 8.7
Plaxico Burress 2007 226/30 8.5/62.1/7.3/0.7 MIN 29.5/234.3/7.9/1.3 7 93 1 15.3
Roddy White 2009 208/28 10.5/74.1/7/0.7 NO 28.4/208.5/7.3/0.9 2 41 0 4.1
Roddy White 2009 208/28 10.1/69.7/6.9/0.7 NO 28.1/205.7/7.3/0.9 4 108 1 16.8
Roddy White 2011 208/30 11.5/82.3/7.2/0.5 NO 29.9/225.4/7.5/1.3 4 62 0 6.2
Roddy White 2011 208/30 10.9/77.9/7.2/0.5 NO 29.5/222.3/7.5/1.3 11 127 0 12.7
Vincent Jackson 2011 230/28 6.7/62.3/9.3/0.5 NE 31.2/266.9/8.6/1.3 10 172 2 29.2


Darren McFadden is Probably a Buy Low

It's likely that the Darren McFadden owner in your league is hurting and needs a win this week.  You might be able to take advantage of that desperation by making a trade offer for McFadden.  That's really the ideal trade scenario as you're looking for an undervalued asset held by a desperate seller.  After DMC's bye week his schedule gets easier.  Below is a graph that shows my week by week projection for the Raider running back.



Jamaal Charles' Matchup vs. the Ravens Looks Difficult

While the Ravens' pass defense has given up some really good games to opposing wide receivers, they've held opposing running backs to fewer than 3.5 yards per carry on average.  The only running back to hit the Ravens for more than four yards per carry was BenJarvus Green-Ellis.  Given the newly found passing game on the Ravens' offensive side of the ball, their generally stout run defense, and the fact that the Chiefs have never seen a game where they didn't want to get down big, this really could be a matchup where you're sweating Charles' rushing yards.  You can see from the table below that only touchdowns saved the fantasy games of most of the running backs that faced the Ravens… and you never want to be banking on getting a touchdown.  But the reality is that Charles has been so good this year, you really can't sit him this week.


RkPlayerTm OppAttYdsY/ATD
1 BenJarvus Green-Ellis CIN @ BAL 18 91 5.06 1
2 LeSean McCoy PHI   BAL 25 81 3.24 1
3 Trent Richardson CLE @ BAL 14 47 3.36 1
4 Stevan Ridley NWE @ BAL 13 37 2.85 0
6 Danny Woodhead NWE @ BAL 15 34 2.27 1
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 10/4/2012.


Frank Gore Gets Another Positive Matchup in Week Five

There are three key statistics that give us a hint that Frank Gore's matchup against the Bills is a favorable one.  First, the Bills are giving up a lot of rushing yards to opposing running backs.  But it's not just that they're giving up rushing yards.  They're also giving up quite a few receiving yards to opposing running backs.  The Bills have allowed about 50 yards per game in receiving yards to opposing RBs.  They're also giving up a lot of yards on a per carry basis.  Unless the workload gets further divided based on Brandon Jacobs' return, Gore's chances to go for better than a 100 yards and at least one touchdown are probably good in this game.


The Saints Have the Medicine to Make Philip Rivers Right

My similarity based projections have unearthed a number of historical matchups comparable to Rivers' game against the Saints this weekend.  One such matchup was Rivers' game last year versus the Minnesota defense, where Rivers threw for 335 yards and two touchdowns.  The most similar defense to the 2012 Saints over the past 10 years was the 2004 Kansas City Chiefs defense, which surrendered a 426 yard, 4 touchdown performance to Billy Volek!  That Kansas City defense also surrendered a 343 yard and 3 touchdown performance to Kerry Collins.  The Saints defense shares with that 2004 Chiefs defense a very high yards/attempt average, a high TD/game average, and a low interception/game average.  Rivers is a start this week and might be a really great value if you play in daily fantasy leagues.


Is Cam Newton Matchup Proof?

One of the reasons to take a quarterback that racks up rushing yards is that their results can be like a waterbed.  If you push it down in one spot, it pops up in another.  Limit Cam Newton's ability to throw the ball and he can just take off and run.  That makes Newton probably a little more matchup proof than most quarterbacks.  However, the reality is that Newton is probably still impacted by matchups, maybe just not to the degree that other quarterbacks might be.  If you look at Cam Newton and perhaps his most similar historical comparable, Daunte Culpepper (people who think the NFL has never seen anything like Cam have short memories), you'll see that when they face better pass defenses, their passing numbers do take a hit, but it has almost no impact on their rushing totals.  Cam has his 2nd of four consecutive difficult matchups this weekend when he gets Seattle.  If I had to wager, I would bet on Cam to underperform a little in this game, but in the way of full disclosure, I would have said the same thing last weekend and he did better than fine.  Probably the bigger impact of matchups for Carolina would be felt by their pass catchers, who do not benefit when Newton runs with the ball.  For that reason, perhaps the actionable intel we can gain for looking at Newton's more difficult matchups is to downgrade his pass catchers.


Bills Running Backs – Gross Timeshare, Meet Gross Matchup

It seems like you'll have to be pretty desperate this weekend to rely on either of the Bills running backs.  Last week's workload wasn't an even split between Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller, but it was close.  In the priority order of choosing your fantasy starting running backs, it should probably go as follows: 1) stud running back vs. bad defense 2) stud running back vs. good defense 3) timeshare running back vs. bad defense 4) timeshare running back vs. good defense.  So pretty much this week's matchup vs. SF looks like the worst possible scenario for Jackson and Spiller owners.


Peyton Manning's Schedule Continues to be Favorable

Peyton's upcoming schedule looks a lot more like his favorable matchup against the Raiders than the difficult matchups he had against either Atlanta or Houston.  The graph below is my projection for Peyton (using 6 points for passing touchdowns – if your league differs, it wouldn't change the projection much as all of the numbers would just be lower).  In order to think about how easy Peyton's schedule is, contrast it with Aaron Rodgers schedule which contains the following teams after this week's game against IND: HOU, STL, JAC, ARI.  While Manning is facing a run of defenses that have generally made quarterbacks look good, Rodgers will face a run of defenses that have made quarterbacks work for their stats.


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