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.
Don’t miss Part 1 of the Week 3 edition.
Carolina Panthers at Seattle Seahawks
Perhaps no team invites opponents to run against them as much as the Seahawks do.
Well, one other team does (Chicago), but that’s because their offense doesn’t force opponents to play an uptempo game. Seattle, however, has an effective passing game.
Against a Carolina pass defense that generates little pressure and allows big plays at a below-average rate, the Seahawks should be able to put up some points. They would ostensibly be better off going after the Panthers’ middling secondary than challenging them on the ground.
Although Carolina has not fielded a particularly strong run defense, the Seahawks do not appear to have fielded a particularly strong rushing offense. Ken Walker’s last RB1 game falls just outside the range I’m looking at. He hasn’t been a top-12 RB since Week 9 of 2022.
Carolina’s inability to limit yards after contact should give him a chance to succeed, but Seattle’s advantage appears to be in the passing game.
This would seem to force Carolina to throw more, but, despite often playing from behind, only two teams have more rushing attempts than the Panthers. Seattle’s pass defense won’t necessarily force Carolina to play this way. Despite being among the better teams at covering wide receivers, the Seahawks are not a top pass defense.
But the Panthers’ offense struggles to make plays through the air. It doesn’t help that only one team holds the ball longer, and it really doesn’t help that Bryce Young is continuing this trend. Only Zach Wilson and Russell Wilson have a longer average time to throw so far in 2023. Even though Seattle’s pass rush isn’t scary, they might find holes in Carolina’s No. 24 ranked offensive line. Carolina would prefer to lean on Miles Sanders and Chuba Hubbard as much as possible.
Dallas Cowboys at Arizona Cardinals
It’s perhaps surprising to see that the Cardinals boast some impressive passing game peripherals. Unfortunately, this is unlikely to be the week in which those peripherals turn into actual production.
The Cardinals’ offensive line is good, but they face a tough test against the Cowboys’ top-ranked pass rush. Only three teams are better at limiting opponent passing EPA, and only four hold opposing passing attacks to a lower success rate.
Yet the most unfortunate thing for the Cardinals is that Dallas’ run defense is nearly as brutal.
They rank No. 1 in evasion rate allowed and No. 2 in EPA allowed per attempt. Even though Arizona comes in with an efficient rushing attack, they could be stymied in this one.
That seems particularly likely when we consider that the Cowboys will have little trouble moving the ball downfield through the air.
No team plays looser coverage against opposing WRs, and only a handful allow a higher passing success rate — a facet where Dallas excels offensively. I say that with the important caveat that the alignment data does not paint such a rosy picture of the Cowboys’ chances.
Yet if the Cardinals secondary can bottle up Dallas’ receivers, Tony Pollard and the Cowboys’ running game should be able to find some openings.
Only two teams have allowed more rushing FPOE, and only two have allowed a higher rushing boom rate.
Chicago Bears at Kansas City Chiefs
Unstoppable force, meet very movable object.