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 — mainly the Advanced Team Stat Explorer — 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.
Carolina Panthers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- The Panthers appear beatable both through the air and on the ground. Yet the numbers above may underestimate the strength of Carolina’s pass defense — they haven’t given up 200 passing yards in any of their last five games.
- Of course, some of that can be explained by the fact that opposing teams haven’t needed to score a lot. The Panthers haven’t scored more than 15 points since Week 6.
- However, in their lone win they held the otherwise explosive Texans to only 13 points, limiting C.J. Stroud to only 140 passing yards and no TDs.
- Dak Prescott had a slight hiccup in his MVP campaign in Week 11 against the Panthers when he passed for only 189 yards.
- The point is, this passing defense is better than the numbers above indicate. The Buccaneers will need to have their running game working.
- The good news is that Tampa Bay’s running game has also been better recently than the numbers above would suggest. Rachaad White has produced positive FPOE in six consecutive games, and Carolina is the easiest matchup he’s faced all season.
- Likewise, Tampa Bay is one of the easiest matchups Bryce Young will face all season, especially with multiple injuries on the defensive side. But unlike White, Young has not yet had a single game with positive FPOE.
- In any case, this is a difficult matchup for the Panthers’ RBs. No team is better at limiting opponent rushing boom rate than the Bucs.
Cleveland Browns at Los Angeles Rams
- The Rams’ will need to rely on Kyren Williams and the running game in this matchup. Cleveland’s pass defense is No. 1 in every EPA-based metric. As expected, the Rams’ receivers have some of the worst matchup ratings of the week.
- However, Cleveland’s rush defense is No. 27 in evasion rate allowed and rushing FPOE allowed. They also allow boom rushing plays at a high rate. Williams returned from IR and immediately dominated L.A.’s backfield touches. He should have multiple opportunities for big plays in this game.
- The good news is that the Browns don’t seem to have the personnel to put up points in a hurry. They will be starting a 38-year old Joe Flacco who’s over a decade removed from his “elite” playoff run in Baltimore. In five appearances with the Jets last season, Flacco compiled a total of 28.1 fantasy points below expectation. And that includes a 307-yard, four-TD game (against the Browns, incidentally).
- The Rams are not a strong defense in either phase, but they do a good job of preventing yards after contact, and are above average at limiting opponent rushing success rate. They are also above average at limiting passing efficiency, yet in the EPA-based metrics they appear beatable through the air.
- Cleveland might still have better luck throwing the ball. Deshaun Watson’s absence has had a fairly profound effect on the Browns’ running game.
- If having Flacco under center also forces opponents to focus on stopping the run, then Amari Cooper and Elijah Moore could find some soft spots.