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Almost Everything You Need to Know About Intra-Division Matchups: AFC/NFC East
Image via Wikimedia Commons
Image via Wikimedia Commons

If you missed the first portion of the inner division breakdowns, you can find the AFC and NFC North here. Word of caution once again is to use strength of schedule and matchup outlooks this far in advance lightly and perhaps only as the extra straw on the back of deciding between coin flips scenarios. As mentioned in the first post, I do factor in divisional play when looking at projections on players I have valued closely. Division matchups account for 38 percent of a player’s games in a season, so I will use it to break ties in some instances.

Again, take this information and combine it with the defensive draft capital pieces already done by Papa RotoViz here and here, the Points/Drive app since total yardage is sporadic year to year, and have fun looking at individuals not mentioned here with the Games Splits App.

Combined Production In Division Games

DivisionPts/GmDiv. RankYds/GmDiv. RankPaYd/GmDiv. RankRuYd/GmDiv. RankTO/GmDiv. Rank
NFC EAST43.24726.33501.34224.934.08
AFC EAST40.06691.25435.08256.223.25

*PaYD is player output and NOT effected by yardage lost to sacks

AFC EAST

Last season, the AFC East is where passing games went to die. Part of that is due to the fact that Miami and Buffalo have very good secondaries, but mostly because the division featured two rookie quarterbacks, a second-year QB who may be overrated, and Tom Brady, who was throwing passes to a JUCO team for the majority of the season. Out of 24 opportunities, only four times were there 300 or more passing yards generated by one team in an AFC East affair and every quarterback performed worse from their averages inside of divisional play. Now, the Patriots have added Brandon Browner and Derelle Revis, while Miami and Buffalo still field some of the best corner groups in the league.

Because passing should remain at a relative premium, this should be one of the most run-heavy divisions in the league. Even the Jets, who were the best team in the league facing the run in 2013, allowed four of their top seven games rushing the football in division play. The Pats are improved in this regard with Vince Wilfork and the addition of Dom Easley, but there’s a ton of volume coming from these run games. The Dolphins addition of Bill Lazor fortifies that, but unfortunately every team in this division has some sort of committee in their backfield, making it difficult to really rely on consistent fantasy production.

As mentioned, the Patriots never really established a consistent rotation of players involved in their passing game last season. Kenbrell Thompkins and Aaron Dobson were in and out of the lineup, Shane Vereen and Rob Gronkowski missed significant chunks of the season, and Danny Amendola went Danny Amendola. There was a reason Julian Edelman doubled his entire career production at the age of 27 and he did the bulk of damage in division.  Edelman is in curious spot, because he may be a mid round bargain if he’s the only stable player, but he also could fall aside because of the fact he was the only constant they had.

edelmandiv

This one takes more of a leap of faith since it’s a scattershot sample, but it’s still fun to note. We know the Jets went to value town this offseason, and we know that they still want to run the football despite adding to their non-existent passing game. Maybe the Jets got a whiff of what Chris Johnson has done in games versus the AFC East over his career.  Three of these games from the magic ride of 2009, again this illustration is likely more for fun, but in terms of possible Zero RB candidates, Johnson really never gets mentioned. If more buzz continues about him and Chris Ivory potentially sharing duties, his ADP could get depressed like the owners who have drafted him over the past few seasons. Who knows, maybe a timeshare and a grinder like Ivory beating on defenses actually makes his style far more effective.

cj2kdiv

AFC East Game Log

WeekWinnerPtsPaYdRuYdTOLoserPtsPaYdRuYdTO
7Buffalo Bills23202901Miami Dolphins211941203
11Buffalo Bills37245680New York Jets141631344
16Buffalo Bills191932031Miami Dolphins0135142
13Miami Dolphins233311251New York Jets3108993
15Miami Dolphins24312891New England Patriots20364961
1New England Patriots232881583Buffalo Bills211501362
2New England Patriots13185540New York Jets102141294
8New England Patriots271161521Miami Dolphins171921563
17New England Patriots341222671Buffalo Bills202471690
3New York Jets273311822Buffalo Bills202431200
7New York Jets302331771New England Patriots27228901
17New York Jets202201540Miami Dolphins7204923

NFC EAST

Last season’s divisional games in the NFC East are a reminder that when two bad football teams face other, the results are usually bad. The division produced decent counting yardage and scoring totals compared to other divisions, but also featured the most turnovers per game than any other division. Only twice did a team play clean football in these meetings and out of the 12 games in division, 11 times the game produced a top 12 scoring fantasy defense. One of my favorite stats from 2013 is that 12 team defenses posted top 12 scoring weeks facing the Giants.

Dallas has the worst defensive front on paper in the NFL and they were already hampered by their lousy defense in 2013. The Giants and Washington rank 30th and 31st in terms of draft capital spent on defense over the past three seasons while Philadelphia is in the middle of the road. No team has made real significant adds to their defense in free agency. The Giants added Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Walter Thurmond, but also lost Linval Joseph to Minnesota and Jon Beason to injury.

This looks like a division ripe for cherry picking production, but there’s a fine line in building your team from chasing points that can stem from potential shootouts and this division last year is a prime example. The Giants and Washington were such bad teams a year ago that it really hurt a lot of those matchups. With the adds they’ve made on offense this offseason, I’m still all systems go on most of the players here.

One of the most bizarre splits is that the lead receivers in this division all performed under their seasonal averages except for Victor Cruz who had a three touchdown game week one against the Cowboys.

It’s a small sample for sure, but the NFC East was able to semi slow down the blistering pace that Nick Foles was on. You won’t be benching a potential MVP candidate, and you may even see it as plus if you’re anticipating this division open up in the way we expected it to last year, but the Eagles do close the season with three straight inner division games.

folesdiv

No quarterback has thrown interceptions more interceptions than the 97 that Eli Manning has since 2009. The next closest quarterback, Carson Palmer has thrown 85. Despite his best efforts to sabotage his own statistical profile, Manning has been very good in division play over that timeframe. He may still be learning offense, and he’s hard to trust after last season, but with a new system, new running game and some new offensive lineman, Manning could be useful in bouts versus the East this season.

elidiv

NFC East Game Log

WeekWinnerPtsPaYdRuYdTOLoserPtsPaYdRuYdTO
1Dallas Cowboys36263871New York Giants31450506
6Dallas Cowboys31170481Washington Redskins162172462
7Dallas Cowboys17317742Philadelphia Eagles3209843
12Dallas Cowboys242341071New York Giants211742021
16Dallas Cowboys24226562Washington Redskins231971371
8New York Giants15246881Philadelphia Eagles7188483
13New York Giants24235801Washington Redskins172071391
17New York Giants201631223Washington Redskins6169914
1Philadelphia Eagles332032632Washington Redskins27329743
5Philadelphia Eagles363021400New York Giants21334534
11Philadelphia Eagles242981260Washington Redskins162641912
17Philadelphia Eagles242631371Dallas Cowboys22358563

Again, I’m not suggesting you build your teams around anything SOS related at all as a sole data point. However, if you’re looking to break ties or work toward favorable positions, this approach has been used that way in the past by big money winners. A lot can change over the course of a calendar year, but take any advantage you can get if one crosses your path.

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