The NFL is a game of matchups. Defensive coordinators will do their utmost to disrupt the opposing quarterback’s flow.
Despite the obvious impact of defenses on opposing offenses, fantasy players and fans are frequently left with one-way metrics to describe crimes and protection. They are then forced to compare against one another to find mismatches.
The goal is to provide simple charts and notes that define the key matchups and advantages every week on both sides in:
- Explosive Plays
- Yards Before Contact
- Passing Game
The world of football revolves around big plays. When compiling game stacks in DFS or betting an over, we’re looking for matchups between explosive offenses and leaky defenses.
The explosive pass rate is the sum of an offense’s rate of 20-plus yard completions per attempt and the average length of completions allowed by the defense. For violations, a higher percentage is preferable (blue is good, red is bad).
These offenses produce high-octane plays: The Ravens (12.8 percent), Raiders (12.3 percent), Buccaneers (11.8 percent), Cardinals (11.8 percent), Bengals (11 percent), Seahawks (10.8 percent), and Rams (10.8 percent) have all had explosive pass play rates in the first four weeks (10.6 percent ). The entire NFC West could be in this group with a Trey Lance explosion.
Lance, a third-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, took just 30 minutes to perform as the Week 4 fantasy QB17. In the game, he racked up 18.4 fantasy points, a total that Jimmy Garoppolo (calf) only managed to match in eight of his 27 career starts with the 49ers.
Lance will be in the weekly QB1 conversation in fantasy land for as long as Jimmy G is out; there isn’t a lot of history of high-usage dual-threat quarterbacks busting. Only Lamar Jackson and Jalen Hurt push for this kind of usage every week, as evidenced by the third overall pick’s 7-41-0 rushing line last week. Lance is ranked 13th among quarterbacks in my fantasy football rankings, ahead of Kirk Cousins, Ryan Tannehill, and Daniel Jones, to name a few.
In today’s NFL, a strong offense outperforms a strong defense: The Vikings, Buccaneers, Ravens, and Raiders are the clear-cut top-four offenses that appear set to thrive based on their combined explosive pass play rate. That’s funny; it’s almost as if Lamar Jackson is currently playing fantastic football.
The Ravens are 3-1, and you don’t seem to mind: Jackson has the best completion percentage in the league and ranks fourth in yards per rush. Madness. With the 2019 NFL MVP at quarterback, defenses are forced to account for every square inch of the field, which has become increasingly difficult. Jackson has shown that when presented with a clean pocket, some questionable passing ability borders on the erotic.