When building lineups, it is always a good idea to research and see the weaknesses of a team’s defense. We’ll break it down in to two categories: run and pass defense. This is one of the biggest differences between NFL and NCAAF when it comes to DFS. For NFL, we have stat sites that give us advanced stats and break down position by position. For NCAAF, we’re not quite there yet. That’s not to say something might be unveiled at some point, even very soon, but for right now, we will have to use what is made available to us, that being the basic stats.
Defense vs. Run
When looking at rushing statistics, there are two main things you want to look at, rushing yards allowed per game and rushing touchdowns allowed per game. Generally, yards and touchdowns will go hand in hand, but there may be some exceptions.
We can gauge what type of running back could be good against a certain defense by looking at these numbers. If a defense is giving up something like 110 yards per game on the ground (a close to elite number for a defense) but allowing 2.1 rush touchdowns per game, that could mean one of a few things. The first thing is that the defense could severely struggle to defend the goal line. If this is the case, we can look to target short yardage/goal line running backs or a big QB that has a history of keeping the ball in short yardage situations. Using this type of running back is typically best suited for a tournament style, but if the price is right, can be used in cash games as well. As for the big quarterbacks, this is simply a bonus. QB keepers are unpredictable and should generally not factor into the process of choosing a quarterback.
The other type of team to target a running back against, obviously, is the team that just hemorrhages yards on the ground. There will be plenty of these teams that will rise to the top (or sink to the bottom) very quickly and will be a weekly target of DFSers. These teams will normally fall under one of two categories: bad teams and bad defenses with a good enough offense to keep them in games. Bad teams are just that, they’re bad. We can obviously target these teams with our running backs, but there’s always the risk of an expensive player getting pulled after three quarters. That’s not to say that said player won’t have a solid fantasy line because it’s definitely possible and it will happen, but the best strategy of any sport is to find a guy who is going to get the most opportunities to succeed. Because this is the case, we want to target teams like 2014 Texas Tech, North Carolina, and Texas A&M. It will become evident early in the season which teams will give up the run and which teams will get blown out.
Side note: the more a quarterback is able to run, the better, so running QB’s vs a bad run defense is always a good idea.
Defense vs Pass
This section is pretty self-explanatory, but we’ll touch on a few points.
When selecting quarterbacks and wide receivers, we obviously want to look at passing yards and touchdowns allowed. This stat can be one of the most predictive and most volatile at the same time, especially early in the season. A lot of passing yards/touchdowns allowed plays in to the game script. If a team tends to get ahead early and often, they will see slightly increased pass defense numbers, whereas a team that is generally playing from behind will have better pass defense numbers because teams aren’t forced to throw the ball. However, as the season progresses, we get a better idea of what teams have legitimately good pass defenses and what teams just look good or bad because of a noisy sample. If you have a hard time figuring this out, you can go back and look at previous games and see exactly what happened and when it happened and then get a better idea if the stats are valid.
Once again, and last but not least, keep an eye out for variance and noise in the stats. I’ve said it a couple times in this piece because it’s something that is important when it comes to predicting players. Check previous game scripts, read scouting reports and news from training camps. Try to get an idea whether a defense is actually good/bad or if the small sample (especially early in the season) is skewing the numbers a little bit.
Continue Reading CFB Training Camp
CFB All Star – Lesson 01 – Random Factors
CFB All Star – Lesson 02 – How to Approach the FLEX Position
CFB All Star – Lesson 03 – How to Approach the 2 QB Roster
CFB All Star – Lesson 04 – Using Stats to Predict Performance