Fantasy football is a game of matchups. We study offensive schemes versus defensive schemes, wide receivers versus cornerbacks, running backs versus defensive lines, you name it. We target the incongruity and expect nothing short of greatness when a favorable mismatch is revealed.
But does a mismatch on paper always translate to the field? No. And it’s up to you to sift through them to discover which ones are actually traps.
With so many fantasy owners in need of bye-week replacements, the Bills seem to be the most logical place to start as they face the defensively challenged Texans. According to a variety of defensive metrics, Houston is ranked second in the league against the run and 25th against the pass. The intuitive fantasy owner immediately looks to exploit the matchups in the secondary while the overthinker looks to both.
Leave the ground game to the overthinkers. You want no part of it. They’ll say that No. 2 ranking is a fabrication because, with a secondary so bad, teams ignore the run and simply pass on them all day. That logic might work in some cases, but not here. Opposing offenses have run 138 rushing plays against the Texans, which is actually the sixth-most in the league. Run-stoppers such as J.J. Watt, Jadeveon Clowney and Whitney Mercilus have done an outstanding job stuffing rushing games and keeping the Texans in the game. LeSean McCoy is not the play this week.
The secondary is easily the place to expose the Texans’ defensive shortcomings. Their cover corners are soft, as evidenced by individual rankings of 18th and worse against individual receiver positions, and fantasy owners are looking at Kelvin Benjamin and Zay Jones as possible targets.
Benjamin is a big-bodied wideout who can outmuscle cornerbacks, and Jones has breakaway speed to stretch the field. Fantasy owners are even looking at tight end Charles Clay — the Texans ranking last in covering the position, allowing an average of 76.7 yards per game to them. But is this really where you want to place your trust in Week 6?
The problem with this matchup is the offensive scheme Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll runs. A disciple of the Erhardt-Perkins system, Daboll goes with a run-heavy scheme, which is supposed to open things up for more play-action downfield. If they can’t establish the run from the outset, how is quarterback Josh Allen supposed to have the time to let receivers run their routes? If they shorten up the passing game, they’re just playing into the strengths of the Houston defense.
Using statistics to find mismatches is important, but if you only skim the surface of those numbers you could be making a mistake. Understanding matchups go beyond the players is important as knowledge of coaches and schemes is vital. You’ll witness this first-hand when the Bills tumble to yet another loss this week.
Howard Bender is the VP of operations and head of content at FantasyAlarm.com. Follow him on Twitter @rotobuzzguy and catch him on the award winning “Fantasy Alarm Radio Show” on the SiriusXM fantasy sports channel weekdays from 4-6 p.m. Go to FantasyAlarm.com for all your fantasy sports advice and NFL player rankings.