Defenses to Avoid

Defenses to Avoid

Editor’s Note: This post below looking at defenses to avoid with your streaming QBs was written by Sean Fakete. You can follow him on Twitter @FantasyProcess. …


Last week I introduced a metric I created called Points Allowed vs. Expectation, or PAVE, and pinpointed some of the top defenses to target when picking quarterbacks for your fantasy lineup. Each week I like to take a little time to assess my process and weekly lineup decisions. What worked, what didn’t. I never want to base conclusions on one week of data, but self-reflection is a key tool in every successful fantasy player’s toolbox.

In last week’s article I used PAVE to shed light on six particularly favorable defenses to start a quarterback against: Detroit, Atlanta, Cleveland, Carolina, Tampa Bay, and Indianapolis. Here’s how the opposing quarterbacks performed in Week 9 against these six teams:

  • Sam Bradford (13.9 PPG) vs Detroit: 16.4 points
  • Jameis Winston (17.4 PPG) vs Atlanta: 21.8 points (Mike Glennon added 9.0 points)
  • Dak Prescott (19.1 PPG) vs Cleveland: 23.9 points
  • Case Keenum (12.6 PPG) vs Carolina: 13.8 points
  • Matt Ryan (22.8 PPG) vs Tampa Bay: 27.8 points
  • Aaron Rodgers (21.9 PPG) vs Indianapolis: 26.2 points

All six quarterbacks exceeded their seasonal points per game, and therefore PAVE is a perfect predictor of future performance. No, not really, but Week 9 should help give anyone using the metric a little confidence that it’s not total crap.

Case Keenum’s Week 9 performance highlights the most important feature of PAVE – it is a relative measure than can be applied to any quarterback no matter how bad or good the quarterback is. PAVE told us that Carolina had allowed quarterbacks to outperform their expected points in the first eight weeks, thus we could expect Case Keenum to outperform his measly 12.6 points per game. On the other end of the quarterback “goodness” spectrum, Matt Ryan outperformed his 22.8 points per game with a massive 27.8 point effort on Thursday night.

Lowering the Bar

Now that I have instilled a massive amount of confidence in PAVE across the fantasy community (not really), a lot of people might be wondering which defenses force quarterbacks to underperform expectations. Through nine weeks there have been five teams that stand out as being detrimental to a quarterback’s ability to put up points, according to PAVE. These are the types of defenses you would never want to stream a quarterback against. Aside from a handful of quarterbacks that you could never stomach benching, you really should look elsewhere if your quarterback is playing one of these five teams.

Denver Broncos (holding QBs to 37% below expectation)

In news that shocks no one who has watched football the last two years, Denver’s defense is in a league of its own. The best performance the Broncos yielded to a quarterback was Cam Newton’s 21.1 point game in Week 1, which was heavily aided by 11.4 rushing points. Cam finished QB10 that week.

The Broncos have also held quarterbacks under 200 passing yards in six of nine games this season.

The one Denver “weakness” against quarterbacks has been on the ground, as the Broncos have given up the second-most rushing yards to opposing quarterbacks this season.

Rest of season QBs to face Denver: Drew Brees, Alex Smith (twice), Blake Bortles, Marcus Martiota, and Tom Brady.

Arizona Cardinals (holding QBs to 24% below expectation)

The Cardinals’ major accomplishments include holding Cam Newton (19.1 PPG) to 12.8 points and Jameis Winston (17.9 PPG) to 4.6 points. The best performances against the Cardinals this season were Blaine Gabbert (14.4 PPG) with 19.5 points and Case Keenum (12.8 PPG) with 18.0 points. This serves as a good reminder that PAVE helps us build an expectation, however we should always have an interval around that expectation to include all possible outcomes.

The Cardinals have allowed the lowest number of passing touchdowns to date with five. This is bound to regress some, but it should be noted the Cardinals have also given up the second-lowest passing yard total.

Rest of season QBs to face Arizona: Colin Kaepernick, Sam Bradford, Matt Ryan, Kirk Cousins, Ryan Tannehill, Drew Brees, and Russell Wilson.

Minnesota Vikings (holding QBs to 23% below expectation)

The Vikings have quickly become a defense people know not to expect much against in fantasy, holding quarterbacks to 12.5 points per game. They are yet to allow a quarterback to finish better than QB16 in any given week.

Vikings games have gone under the Vegas over/under in six of eight games so far. This season, quarterbacks have averaged 19.3 points in games that have gone over and only 13.2 points in games that went under.

Rest of season QBs to face Minnesota: Kirk Cousins, Carson Palmer, Matthew Stafford, Dak Prescott, Blake Bortles, Andrew Luck, and Aaron Rodgers.

New York Giants (holding QBs to 23% below expectation)

Money can’t buy you love, but it can buy you a quick fix to your porous defense. The Giants spent around $200 million on this defense in the offseason, and it has thus far proven a wise investment.

The Giants haven’t necessarily brought opposing offenses to an aerial halt, allowing 283 pass yards a game, but they have been exceptional at keeping passes from finding receivers in the end-zone, only giving up 0.9 pass touchdowns per game.

The Giants have only allowed one top-12 performance, Kirk Cousins, and held Dak Prescott and Drew Brees to performances outside the top-20.

Rest of season QBs to face New York: Andy Dalton, Jay Cutler, Cody Kessler, Ben Roethlisberger, Dak Prescott, Matthew Stafford, and Carson Wentz.

Houston Texans (holding QBs to 16% below expectation)

The pass defense has been a bright light on this Watt-less Texans team. Opposing passers are averaging 203 pass yards, 0.8 pass touchdowns, and 0.4 interceptions per game. The Texans have been especially impressive at home with a PAVE of -28% at home.

Rest of season QBs to face Houston: Blake Bortles (twice), Derek Carr, Philip Rivers, Aaron Rodgers, Andrew Luck, and Andy Dalton.

Think Twice

Here are the defenses that just missed the cut and you may want to avoid if possible:

  • Philadelphia (-11% PAVE, -47% at home this season)
  • Seattle (-9%)
  • Baltimore(-8%)
  • Jacksonville (-8%)
  • Los Angeles (-8%)
  • Washington (-8%)
  • San Diego (-8%)

Looking Forward

In most fantasy leagues, the regular season only has four weeks left. If you are still streaming quarterbacks it’s about time to figure out which quarterbacks have the most favorable schedules the rest of the way and hold onto those guys. Sal Stefanile did a fantastic job breaking down which quarterbacks to target in trades in his own Road House way. To supplement Sal’s article, I will quickly note which quarterbacks have the easiest schedule according the PAVE in weeks 10-13.

  • Joe Flacco (average opposing defensive PAVE in weeks 10-13 of +9%)
  • Russell Wilson (+9%)
  • Ryan Fitzpatrick (+8%)
  • Eli Manning (+7%)

And finally, the quarterbacks who have the easiest schedule in the playoffs, Weeks 14-16, and very well could prove to be league-winners.

  • Philip Rivers (+15%)
  • Tyrod Taylor (+9%)
  • Dak Prescott (+9%)

As I mentioned last week, I suggest using PAVE (and any metric, for that matter) as just a piece of the puzzle and not a stand-alone decision making tool.

You can find me on twitter @FantasyProcess. Thanks for reading, and good luck in Week 10.

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