The Wrong Read has had many lives — first as a reflection on insights from the RotoViz podcasts; then as a freeform space for exploring a variety of metrics and strategies. It will likely continue in that latter function, but at least for now — in season — it’s an in-depth matchup lookahead article.
Each week I’ll gather advanced stats from our tools to paint a picture of the upcoming week and offer some thoughts on how the games might unfold. My interest is in how the games will impact fantasy teams, and as such I’m looking mainly at the metrics that I think can help us predict how different teams and players will (or won’t) score fantasy points.
Because we are very early in the season, the numbers you will see below are still weighted more toward last season. As we get deeper into 2023, the importance of 2022 will wane. At some point in the near future I will remove the 2022 data entirely. The numbers you see below include the second half of 2022.
Los Angeles Chargers at Minnesota Vikings
This game has the highest total of the week, and for good reason. Over the final half of 2022 and the beginning of 2023, no team dropped back to pass more often than the Vikings.
Although the Chargers’ defense ranks second in total pass game EP (passing plus receiving EP) allowed, they are one of the worst teams in total FPOE allowed. This is largely because they allow the second highest passing boom rate (the percentage of passing plays that generate at least 1.0 expected points added) in the league. Minnesota will continue to lean on their passing game for at least one more week.
Although the Chargers aren’t particularly good at defending the run, the Vikings are even worse at executing on offense.
Cam Akers is unlikely to suit up for his first week as a Viking, which is just as well, since Minnesota ought to rely on their passing attack. This is especially so because the Chargers are most likely to pass a lot as well.
Only two teams (one being the Vikings) dropped back to pass more often and generated more total EP in the passing game. Minnesota’s defensive line has struggled to generate pressure, but they’ve also faced the sixth-fastest time to throw in the dataset. In any event, L.A.’s receivers have been elite at gaining separation, and it doesn’t appear the Vikings’ secondary will do much to change that in Week 3. That said, the Passing Game Matchup Rater is not so optimistic.
The Vikings’ rushing defense won’t give the Chargers too much trouble. Despite lackluster numbers in many of the peripheral metrics, L.A.’s running game is among the more successful in the league, especially at generating positive plays.
Minnesota doesn’t allow many broken or missed tackles, yet they still rank in the bottom third of the league in yards after contact per attempt, EPA per attempt, and success rate. If the Matchup Rater is right about the difficulty the Chargers’ receivers may face, look for Joshua Kelley to earn a lot of carries.
Indianapolis Colts at Baltimore Ravens
Despite a passing offense that often looks (and, by many measures, is) dysfunctional, some of Baltimore’s peripherals are encouraging.
They block well, they get the ball out quickly, and their receivers get open. Unfortunately, they are the third worst at generating points over expectation in the passing game. The good news is that only three teams allow more total passing game FPOE than the Colts. This is the perfect get-right spot for Lamar Jackson and Co. Zay Flowers and Mark Andrews both have favorable matchups according to the alignment data.
The Colts, however, will have a harder time. For one thing, they are without their starter, Anthony Richardson. While Gardner Minshew has shown that he can produce for both reality teams and fantasy teams, this isn’t the ideal matchup.
Only two teams are better at limiting opponent passing game FPOE than Baltimore. They also rank inside the top 10 in WR separation, EPA per attempt, and boom rate. Yet the biggest problem for Indianapolis is that they might not have any choice but to challenge Baltimore’s pass defense.
Few teams have been stingier on the ground than the Ravens. They rank No. 7 or better in every metric besides yards after contact per attempt (where they are still inside the top 12). While the Colts’ rushing game has been effective, much of this production happened last year with a (relatively) healthy Jonathan Taylor.
A rushing touchdown for the Ravens is always in play, though they enter the game already banged up. J.K. Dobbins was lost for the season in Week 1 and the team has already ruled out Justice Hill. That leaves Gus Edwards along with two new additions to the active roster, Melvin Gordon and Kenyan Drake. This who’s who of fantasy underperformers won’t be challenged much by the Colts’ run defense, but it’s also hard to place a bet on any of them to turn in a usable fantasy day.
New Orleans Saints at Green Bay Packers
Jordan Love and the Packers have not yet been truly tested. That changes on Sunday.