One of the best tools for deciphering vexing offensive lineup decisions is the ESPN Fantasy Points Against index. While potentially broad, it affords managers the identity of defenses against specific positions, and this deep into the season those identities are increasingly accurate. For years we've been searching for such relevant resources for our side of the ball; asking what metrics can we look to for some help in determining the ideal IDP decisions. My job as resident defensive nerd asks that I constantly seek out the most salient and telling information in order to pass it on to you, my fellow tackle-obsessed nerd. In searching for a comparable index I stumbled across this savvy IDP site that allows the user to submit specific scoring settings and generate reports on the production allowed by specific teams to specific defensive positions.
Having plugged in our standard scoring key (found below) I was able to deduce the most generous offenses for each of the major IDP positions over the course of the season. Consider these as helpful determinants as you build your lineups in these crucial fantasy playoff matchups.
Most generous to opposing fantasy linebackers (points per game allowed)
1. Seattle Seahawks: Allowing 21 fantasy points per game to opposing linebackers thanks to amazingly high rates of sacks and turnovers allowed to the position.
2. Oakland Raiders: Allowing nearly 30 percent more point production to linebackers than the average NFL offense.
3. Baltimore Ravens: Somewhat surprising until you consider how often they lean on the backfield and tight end position, leading to lots of work for opposing backers as evidenced by the high tackle rate for the position.
4. Kansas City Chiefs: Their duo of backs keep linebackers busy on a regular basis.
5. New York Giants: See Kansas City Chiefs.
1. Oakland Raiders: Sacks are one element to this ranking, but it's the volume of turnovers they've allowed against ends that has them as the most generous to the position.
2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: The running game and a young mobile QB keeps lineman busy as they yield a high number of tackles.
3. Philadelphia Eagles: One of the most generous in terms of turnovers to the position, seemingly only increasing as Michael Vick has fumbled at an alarming rate in the past three weeks.
4. Jacksonville Jaguars: A porous line allows for pass rushers to thrive.
5. Carolina Panthers: Sloppy quarterback play and a dedicated running attack feeds ends with production.
1. Miami Dolphins: High turnover and sack production afforded to opposing safeties.
2. Arizona Cardinals: See Anderson, Derek. It's not funny.
3. Indianapolis Colts: Sack and turnover numbers are minimal, but the historically busy passing game affords safeties great tackle production.
4. Seattle Seahawks: Similar to the Dolphins' makeup.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Allowing the second-most sacks to opposing safeties.
1. Detroit Lions: A busy, but sloppy, passing game that allows every major stat at a high rate to opposing corners.
2. New York Giants: Eli Manning and his carousel of receivers keep corners busy.
3. Pittsburgh Steelers: Their sacks allowed rate to corners is 277.6 percent higher than the league average.
5. St. Louis Rams: A pass-heavy offense leading to solid tackle production for opposing corners.
Front Four: The weekly word on the world of defenders
Burnett the Bolt: The San Diego Chargers' Kevin Burnett has been a beast but is getting far too little appreciation, given his 23 percent ownership. If his worth early in the season was predicated on solid sack production, he's now compiling turnovers and solid tackle totals for his savvy owners. With an inviting stretch of opponents that includes two particularly generous offenses in Oakland Raiders and Kansas City Chiefs, Burnett could be the boon your team needs to clinch a crown.
Post Peppers: The Carolina Panthers' Charles Johnson is enjoying a quiet breakout campaign for a downtrodden team. He's consistently corralling the quarterback and given that opponents run often against the Panthers, he's compiled nice tackle numbers, a rarity at the end position.
Not named Ndamukong: Enough about Ndamukong Suh; he's great, grand and wonderful, as Chris Farley the bus driver would say. Instead, let's discuss the other notable talents in this rookie class. Whereas Suh was proficient from the first snap, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Gerald McCoy has his hit his stride of late after a slow start to the season. In his past three outings, the Oklahoma kid has tallied sound tackle numbers to go with three sacks. ... The New York Giants' Jason Pierre-Paul took a similarly slow route to productivity and is now getting the requisite snaps to produce, as he's coming off a monster outing that saw him tally two sacks and two forced fumbles. ... Touted by many (including me) to be a top rookie defender, the Oakland Raiders' Rolando McClain has struggled to produce at a consistent pace for much of the season. Lately, however, he's been finding the ball carrier with nice burst, and the numbers are starting to show. ... Cleveland Browns rookie corner Joe Haden has amazingly big ears, and also has picks in three straight games, while the injured Eric Wright is getting the Wally Pipp/Kevin Kolb treatment.
Cool Names, Good Games?: Don't let the sweet names fool you. I've gotten a good deal of e-mails about the Carolina Panthers' Captain Munnerlyn, who arguably has the best name in the biz right now. His pick-six against Cleveland is not really an indicator of future success, but rather just a favorable meeting with Jake Delhomme. This seems obvious when you peruse his game logs, but people really do like to roster them some funny names. ... The Green Bay Packers' Frank Zombo sounds like a Sopranos character, but his role for the Packers isn't likely to result in consistent production. ... The Indianapolis Colts' Pat Angerer is just simply a solid name, but unlike these other catchy names, this guy's game is worthy of fantasy recognition for as long as Gary Brackett is ailing.
IDP Rankings Week 13: The Top 10 linebackers, linemen and defensive backs
So that we're working from agreed parameters, we'll use what many consider traditional scoring modifiers for an IDP league: Tackle - Solo (0.5), Tackle - Assist (0.25), Sack (3), Interception (3), Forced fumble (3), Fumble recovery (3), Touchdown (6), Safety (2), Pass defended (1), Blocked kick (2).
Jim McCormick is a fantasy football analyst for ESPN.com, as well as a regular contributor to the Washington Post's "Behind the Helmet" and Sirius XM's Fantasy Sports Channel. You can reach Jim with your questions and comments at JMcCormickESPN@gmail.com or on Twitter @JMcCormickESPN.