While three weeks of defensive data is far too small a sample size to determine which teams are very good and which teams are very bad defenses, there are things that can be gleaned from what we’ve seen in the first three weeks of the season. Because of that, we’re going cross-category here and mixing my “Real or No Big Deal” theme with my take on weekly matchups. You’re pretty smart, so you’ll catch on quickly.
First, let’s take a look at passing defenses. After all, it’s a quarterback league. Haven’t you heard?
If writing this last week, I would’ve been undecided. Week 1 was a big lead and furious comeback by San Diego. Week 2 was against Chip Kelly’s machine. But when you allow just a shade under 300 yards to Jake Locker, you’re officially exploitable. San Diego’s bad pass defense is REAL.
Denver and Philadelphia
These teams are getting lumped together not just because they play each other this week but because they share a similar trait. Both of these teams, because of how they play offense, will allow more passing attempts (and, therefore, yards and touchdowns) than most teams. Are the defenses really that bad? Probably not, but for fantasy purposes, they’re good opponents to exploit. REAL.
Note on Philadelphia: Number two receivers have been torching them this season.
- Leonard Hankerson: 5-80-2
- Eddie Royal: 7-90-3
- Donnie Avery: 7-141-0
Eric, “you’re on DECK-er.” I may rank him as a WR1 option this week, and I’m not sorry for the terrible pun.
With as strong a cornerback duo as any team in the league, it’s surprising to see Chicago’s yardage number shaded green. Ben Roethlisberger’s 406 yard performance is obviously inflating this number. A lot of that was Pittsburgh being unable to balance the offense and playing catch-up football. Charles Tillman also sat out a large stretch at the tail end of the game for precautionary reasons with a groin injury. The Bears pass defense is better than this. NO BIG DEAL.
This was the NFL’s 30th-ranked secondary in terms of yards allowed in 2012. Now, they start a rookie at safety and have another rookie on the two-deep at right cornerback. They’ve played some really good offenses to this point in the season, so I don’t expect these averages to stay this high, but this is a bad defense. As the annoying customer service rep said in that Discovery Card commercial when the caller was surprised to have her call answered by something other than a machine, “you know I’m REAL!!“
New York Giants
The Giants are a middling pass defense by the yards per game metric, but don’t be fooled. Cam Newton threw just four passes in the second half of last week’s blowout, keeping the passing yardage numbers down for the Giants. This secondary has been crushed by injuries and is very susceptible. The Giants as an average-or-better pass defense? NO BIG DEAL – they’re a bad pass defense in an average pass defense’s clothing.
Jacksonville is currently allowing the sixth-fewest passing yards per game in the NFL. This one’s NO BIG DEAL. Russell Wilson just showed that you can still do whatever you want with this team. If their offense ever keeps them competitive in a game, teams will throw all over them. That said, when we discuss run defenses, we’ll tell you to be a little hesitant to start parts of the passing game against the Jags.
New England has allowed the second-fewest points to fantasy QBs, indicating that their pass defense is improved from last season’s 29th-ranked pass defense. Don’t be fooled, though. New England has played E.J. Manuel in his NFL debut, Geno Smith in a rainstorm in his second NFL game, and the struggling, soon-to-be-clipboard-holding Josh Freeman. This is NO BIG DEAL. In other words, allowing 200 yards per game passing almost seems like a lot against that slate.
The Panthers appear to be an average matchup. However, their secondary is banged up and inexperienced. They allowed over 300 yards to Russell Wilson and 296 to EJ Manuel before improving their stats by sacking Eli Manning into submission and ripping the will from the Giants to the tune of just 119 yards for Manning. One game does not a good defense make. The Panthers being average is NO BIG DEAL. They can be exploited.
To Be Determined
Houston is second in the NFL, allowing just 171 yards per game. However, they’ve played Philip Rivers, Jake Locker, and Joe Flacco in a game where Baltimore scored two non-offensive touchdowns (which obviously limits the offense’s chances to pile up yards).
Baltimore is a team that’s difficult to read. After being simply decimated by Peyton Manning in the season’s opener, they’ve shut down Brandon Weeden (don’t write home about that) and held Matt Schaub in check. The secondary is still young, so I’m not sold that they’re a “minus” matchup quite yet.
As a reward for reading to the bottom, here’s the fully readable/printable Week 3 Matchup Data, sorted by pass yards and rush yards from high to low.