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Fantasy Football 2011: Something You NEED to Know for Playing Wide Receivers

I have just come across something that's going to change how I look at the final week of the regular season of fantasy and especially fantasy playoffs.

The first place I look when deciding which players to play and which to bench (beyond name recognition, respect, and talent) is matchups. Currently, I have a dilemma of deciding to pick two of three between Dez Bryant, Andre Johnson, and Victor Cruz. Normally, you may look at only total defense, touchdowns allowed, yards allowed by the defense. But they don't normally break down from which position those numbers came from.

These handy rankings from Football Outsiders do that for you.

It's amazing to see how deceptive some defenses are. Look at the Kansas City Chiefs...

Overall, they rank 12th in total pass defense and 23rd in passing touchdowns allowed. That's fair enough to assume you can play a number one wide receiver against them without question. (They play the Bears this week and who is their number one wide receiver anyway? Does it matter with Caleb Hanie? Let's assume its Johnny Knox.)

However, the Chiefs are 3rd in the NFL against #1 wide receivers by DVOA. (Defense-adjusted Value Over Average)

Does that hold true when you look at game-by-game matchups? Yes... follow after the jump.

Week 12 against the Steelers: Mike Wallace, 2 catches for 17 yards. Antonio Brown, 4 for 81.

Week 11 against the Patriots: Wes Welker, 2 catches for 22 yards. Rob Gronkowski gets the work, 4 for 96.

Week 10 against the Broncos: Well.. the Broncos completed 2 passes.

Week 9 against the Dolphins: Brandon Marshall, 8 catches for 106 yards and a TD.

Week 8 against the Chargers: Vincent Jackson, 3 catches for 49 yards. Malcom Floyd with 5 for 107.

Other than Marshall, the Chiefs have not been a solid play for #1 WRs. However, they're good plays for #2s, TEs, and 27th against RBs catching the ball.

How about another example, the Arizona Cardinals.

The Cards play the Cowboys this week, which sounds like a great day for Dez Bryant and Laurent Robinson. Afterall, the Cards are 25th against the pass, though 5th in TDs allowed. Split it up though and the Cards are 25th against a #1 WR, but 15th against a #2. This could have something to do with Patrick Peterson, but I'm not entirely sure.

If Robinson is the Cowboys #2, then it could be a tough day for him. Whereas, it would be a very nice day for Bryant.

The Seahawks are a pretty good pass defense across most of the board: 8th against the #1, 6th against the #2, 11th against other WRs. But they are 20th against TEs and 32nd against RBs.

It works on the other side too, finding out where you can expose good overall pass defense.

The Houston Texans rank 4th in overall pass DVOA, 2nd in yards allowed and 2nd in TDs allowed. They play the Falcons which could mean its going to be a long day for Roddy White. Or is it?

The Texans rank 29th against #1 WRs but are strong in every other category. In week 6, Anquan Boldin got them for 8 catches and 132 yards. In week 4, Mike Wallace had 4 for 77. With Marques Colston out, Lance Moore had 9 for 88 and a TD. Even Reggie Wayne had 7 for 106 and a score in week 1.

I'd like Roddy White in this game, I'd worry about Tony Gonzalez, Julio Jones, and Harry Douglas.

The Jaguars are 5th in total DVOA against the pass, but they're 2nd against a #1 and 22nd against a #2. That could be bad news for Vincent Jackson this week, and good news for Floyd.

The Jets will shut down your #1 and #2, but they're 26th against all other WRs and 29th versus TEs.

These are very important to note. As for my own dilemma, I'm considering benching Michael Bush against a red-hot, tough Miami Dolphins run defense, starting LeGarrette Blount at RB, and flexing Andre Johnson.

If you have any questions, throw a comment down below and/or hit me up on twitter @casetines