15 Oct 2010
Something I discovered last night -- Look at the ranks in pass defense DVOA for the Chiefs' next five opponents:
- Week 6: Houston (31st)
- Week 7: Jacksonville (30)
- Week 8: Buffalo (32)
- Week 9: Oakland (29)
- Week 10: Denver (28)
It doesn't get too much better after that, either. They follow that with Arizona (20th), Seattle (19th), and Denver again (28th) before finally facing a pass defense that currently rates as above-average, San Diego (second).
Of course, the Broncos could get a lot better between now and Week 10. Any of these defenses could improve. But at the moment, it sure looks like Matt Cassel and company have an incredible slate of matchups ahead of them.
Now, the big question: Can a Chiefs passing offense that has looked dysfunctional at best take advantage of these opportunities? Let's go back to the fantasy matchups research that we published in Pro Football Prospectus 2007, but with updated data.
It's difficult to plug in pass defenses quite as bad as Buffalo or Houston -- both teams have pass defense DVOAs above 40%, and only one team in DVOA history (the 2009 Lions) hit that rate. Let's estimate that these teams will end up with pass defense DVOA figures in the bottom ten percent of the league. That would mean that they'd end up with a pass defense DVOA higher than 22.4%. We'll use teams with that level of performance as the baseline.
At the moment, the Chiefs have a 12.8% passing DVOA, which is good for 18th in the league. Let's assume for a moment that they're actually playing at a level worse than that; we'll say that their actual performance is between the 20th and 40th percentile of teams. That would be a range of pass offenses with a DVOA between -11.2% and 2.1%.
In the DVOA Era, there have been 168 starts with that level of pass offense versus that level of pass defense. In those games, starters have gone 19-of-31 for 221 yards with 1.4 touchdowns and 0.7 interceptions. Throw in an average of 11 rushing yards, 0.1 rushing touchdowns, and half a fumble lost, and you end up with an average of 16.5 fantasy points. On average, that's the 13th-best quarterback performance of the week.
Does that make Cassel a quarterback who's suddenly going to engender MVP votes? No. But he should be a worthwhile starter over the next few weeks for fantasy teams that need a quarterback.
34 comments, Last at 20 Oct 2010, 10:14am by CrizzleColts
Possibly the closest Super Bowl matchup in history also poses the question: how much does it mean when certain aspects of an NFL team improve dramatically in the second half of the season?