by Russ Bliss (11/9/11)


We've gotten thru 9 weeks of the season and every team has played at least 8 games. While anything is possible, you pretty much get a fairly good gauge on each team's defense by this point and how they'll do the rest of the season. Are they a good matchup for your QB's, WR's, and TE's? Are they a bad matchup?

Knowing this information now can help you make the right decisions when it comes to evaluating trades and potential free agent pickups for those fantasy playoff weeks. Especially if you think you are going to make your fantasy playoffs.

It doesn't matter if you get in as the top seed, or the bottom seed, in head to head style leagues, each week is elimination and the team that is best prepared with players who have the best matchups, is usually going to win.

Weeks 14-16 are usually the 3 playoff weeks in standard head to head leagues and I use that as the basis. You'll also see included the weeks 13 and 17 matchups off the side, and I include those for those who have playoffs that start earlier, or leagues that go all the way thru to week 17. But for the purposes of the rankings below, I use weeks 14-16, and total up the amount of fantasy points allowed per game for each of the 3 opponents those weeks. I have also included the defensive rankings for each opponent, but I think the total amount of points allowed is a little more important than the rankings, since there can be less than a single point that separates many teams in their ranked position. For example, currently there are 6 teams who give up between 32.81-33.89 receiving fantasy points per game. They represent receiving defenses ranked 12-17. A difference of 5 ranking spots due to a difference of barely a single receiving point. So points are more desirable in my opinion.

Looking at the graph below, you'll notice that the Chicago Bears have the best fantasy matchups thru the air weeks 14-16. Now I'm not saying you trade Michael Vick or Phillip Rivers for Jay Cutler because they have much weaker matchups those weeks, but what you can do is get Jay Cutler via trade with the owner who has him to be your backup, or one of 2 QB's you use in a rotation (if you lack a high quality QB1) and have him ready in case you need him for those games.

Last year when I published this type of fantasy playoffs preparation article, I made mention of how Josh Freeman and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers had a very favorable playoff schedule and how he was widely regarded thru 9 weeks as being a mediocre fantasy backup who could actually be found on waiver wires in some leagues. Well, in those 3 weeks, Freeman put up solid fantasy numbers culminating in a 5 TD week 16 performance that helped those who didn't have a stud QB win their fantasy championships.

Does it play out like that every year? No. But the point is that it can, and you increased your chances that it can because you've done good quality preparation.

Fantasy Football is about preparation and luck. And good prep puts you in the best position to have good luck. Bad luck will stomp all your good prep into the ground, but that's why there are no sure things in fantasy. But if you've done good prep, and you still lose, at least you know it wasn't because you slacked off.

By examining this list, you'll be able to figure out who you should be trading for, and who you should be avoiding. And remember, this list uses the simple generic formula of 1 point per every 10 receiving yards allowed and 6 points for every rushing TD allowed divided by the number of games each defense has played.
 

Overall

Receiving matchups

14

15

16

Totals


13

17










1

Chicago Bears









opponent

DEN

SEA

GB



KC

MIN


FP/PG

40.34

32.81

43.56

116.71


37.06

40.03


Rank

30

12

32

74


25

29










2

Washington Redskins









opponent

NE

NYG

MIN



NYJ

PHI


FP/PG

43.06

33.29

40.03

116.38


24.59

33.16


Rank

31

16

29

76


2

14










3

Denver Broncos









opponent

CHI

NE

BUF



MIN

KC


FP/PG

36.15

43.06

35.4

114.61


40.03

37.06


Rank

23

31

20

74


29

25










4

Miami Dolphins









opponent

PHI

BUF

NE



OAK

NYJ


FP/PG

33.16

35.4

43.06

111.62


36.49

24.59


Rank

14

20

31

65


24

2










5

Buffalo Bills









opponent

SD

MIA

DEN



TEN

NE


FP/PG

31.58

38.35

40.34

110.27


34.49

43.06


Rank

11

27

30

68


18

31










6

Green Bay Packers









opponent

OAK

KC

CHI



NYG

DET


FP/PG

36.49

37.06

36.15

109.7


33.29

28.06


Rank

24

25

23

72


16

6










7

Oakland Raiders









opponent

GB

DET

KC



MIA

SD


FP/PG

43.56

28.06

37.06

108.68


38.35

31.58


Rank

32

6

25

63


27

11










8

New England Patriots









opponent

WAS

DEN

MIA



IND

BUF


FP/PG

29.66

40.34

38.35

108.35


38.97

35.4


Rank

9

30

27

66


28

20










9

Detroit Lions









opponent

MIN

OAK

SD



NO

GB


FP/PG

40.03

36.49

31.58

108.1


33.89

43.56


Rank

29

24

11

64


17

32










10

New Orleans Saints









opponent

TEN

MIN

ATL



DET

CAR


FP/PG

34.49

40.03

33.24

107.76


28.06

31.19


Rank

18

29

15

62


6

10










11

Seattle Seahawks









opponent

STL

CHI

SF



PHI

ARI


FP/PG

35.19

36.15

35.55

106.89


33.16

35.83


Rank

19

23

21

63


14

22










12

Jacksonville Jaguars









opponent

TB

ATL

TEN



SD

IND


FP/PG

37.45

33.24

34.49

105.18


31.58

38.97


Rank

26

15

18

59


11

28










13

Kansas City Chiefs









opponent

NYJ

GB

OAK



CHI

DEN


FP/PG

24.59

43.56

36.49

104.64


36.15

40.34


Rank

2

32

24

58


23

30










14

Dallas Cowboys









opponent

NYG

TB

PHI



ARI

NYG


FP/PG

33.29

37.45

33.16

103.9


35.83

33.29


Rank

16

26

14

56


22

16










15

New York Jets









opponent

KC

PHI

NYG



WAS

MIA


FP/PG

37.06

33.16

33.29

103.51


29.66

38.35


Rank

25

14

16

55


9

27










16

Tennessee Titans









opponent

NO

IND

JAX



BUF

HOU


FP/PG

33.89

38.97

29.44

102.3


35.4

26.63


Rank

17

28

8

53


20

4










17

Houston Texans









opponent

CIN

CAR

IND



ATL

TEN


FP/PG

29.3

31.19

38.97

99.46


33.24

34.49


Rank

7

10

28

45


15

18










18

Cincinnati Bengals









opponent

HOU

STL

ARI



PIT

BAL


FP/PG

26.63

35.19

35.83

97.65


27.5

25.99


Rank

4

19

22

45


5

3










19

Carolina Panthers









opponent

ATL

HOU

TB



TB

NO


FP/PG

33.24

26.63

37.45

97.32


37.45

33.89


Rank

15

4

26

45


26

17










20

San Francisco 49ers









opponent

ARI

PIT

SEA



STL

STL


FP/PG

35.83

27.5

32.81

96.14


35.19

35.19


Rank

22

5

12

39


19

19










21

Philadelphia Eagles









opponent

MIA

NYJ

DAL



SEA

WAS


FP/PG

38.35

24.59

33.11

96.05


32.81

29.66


Rank

27

2

13

42


12

9










22

Pittsburgh Steelers









opponent

CLE

SF

STL



CIN

CLE


FP/PG

24.49

35.55

35.19

95.23


29.3

24.49


Rank

1

21

19

41


7

1










23

Baltimore Ravens









opponent

IND

SD

CLE



CLE

CIN


FP/PG

38.97

31.58

24.49

95.04


24.49

29.3


Rank

28

11

1

40


1

7










24

Atlanta Falcons









opponent

CAR

JAX

NO



HOU

TB


FP/PG

31.19

29.44

33.89

94.52


26.63

37.45


Rank

10

8

17

35


4

26










25

Tampa Bay Buccaneers









opponent

JAX

DAL

CAR



CAR

ATL


FP/PG

29.44

33.11

31.19

93.74


31.19

33.24


Rank

8

13

10

31


10

15










26

Minnesota Vikings









opponent

DET

NO

WAS



DEN

CHI


FP/PG

28.06

33.89

29.66

91.61


40.34

36.15


Rank

6

17

9

32


30

23










27

St. Louis Rams









opponent

SEA

CIN

PIT



SF

SF


FP/PG

32.81

29.3

27.5

89.61


35.55

35.55


Rank

12

7

5

24


21

21










28

San Diego Chargers









opponent

BUF

BAL

DET



JAX

OAK


FP/PG

35.4

25.99

28.06

89.45


29.44

36.49


Rank

20

3

6

29


8

24










29

Arizona Cardinals









opponent

SF

CLE

CIN



DAL

SEA


FP/PG

35.55

24.49

29.3

89.34


33.11

32.81


Rank

21

1

7

29


13

12










30

Cleveland Browns









opponent

PIT

ARI

BAL



BAL

PIT


FP/PG

27.5

35.83

25.99

89.32


25.99

27.5


Rank

5

22

3

30


3

5










31

New York Giants









opponent

DAL

WAS

NYJ



GB

DAL


FP/PG

33.11

29.66

24.59

87.36


43.56

33.11


Rank

13

9

2

24


32

13










32

Indianapolis Colts









opponent

BAL

TEN

HOU



NE

JAX


FP/PG

25.99

34.49

26.63

87.11


43.06

29.44


Rank

3

18

4

25


31

8