In fantasy football the beginning of the season we are trying to determine the identity of team defenses. Is a teamstrong against the run? Can they get after the quarterback? Is the defense one you don’t want to start your wide receiver against?
We ask ourselves all of these questions and at about midway through the season we have a large enough sample size to answer those questions.
The only problem is that once we do identify the strengths of these defenses its hard to think otherwise. The truth is that by playoff time a positive matchup may not be as bountiful as it would appear. In part due to players getting injured/ returning from injury, that means the ease or difficulty of the previous matchups fall into question. Today we are taking a look at the splits of some rush defenses from the beginning of the year to now.
Below are the teams that have either improved or declined the most. Use this information to help with Start/ Sit decisions during the Fantasy Playoffs.
The Dolphins, Lions and Browns started off the year much stronger than they are currently playing. The leader in the drop of production is the Dolphins. Allowing an extra 8.4 fantasy points to RB’s on average is definitely hurting the team. It should come as no surprise that they have also lost their last four games.
As for the Jets, Patriots and Colts….All have made vast improvements on defense and will look to continue that trend throughout the remainder of the season. Patriots and Colts appear to be positive matchups for RBs, both in the Top Five in fantasy points allowed. That may be a smokescreen because these defenses are much improved on what they were to start the season.
So which Running Backs gain the most from these matchups? Jordan Howard leads the biggest winner list with matchups against the Lions and the Browns in Weeks 15 & 16. LeSean McCoy & Kareem Hunt also get a piece of the pie facing one of the softest rushing matchups. McCoy faces Miami in Week 15 and Hunt gets to face them Championship Weekend.
Joe Mixon recently had his long awaited breakout performance. Facing the lions in Week 16 provides a lot of upside for a player who has been quite a disappointment based on his draft day price tag. Jamaal Williams & Alex Collins will look to continue their success against The Browns in Weeks 14 & 15.
Is it possible to be a winner and a loser? LeSean McCoy says it is, facing the Patriots, and Colts Weeks 13, 14 & 16. McCoy’s pass catching ability should give him an edge but facing New England will be an uphill battle. The Patriots can put up massive points and in blowout losses McCoy has averaged just five PPG.
Temper expectations on Melvin Gordon championship weekend where he faces the Jets who appear to be one of the stingiest rush defenses. An unproductive runner by nature will not get any help in this matchup.
Finally, if you are considering starting CJ Anderson in week 15 against The Colts, think again for that is definitely a trap. The way Denver distributes backfield touches coupled with a much improved Colts rush defense makes for a situation to avoid.
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