Week 16 Passing Matchups

by Justin Howe, Devin Knotts, and Keith Roberts, Exclusive to Footballguys.com

Jump to Rushing Matchups

Great Matchups: [HOU]
Good Matchups: [ATL] [CHI] [CLE] [DAL] [DEN] [GB] [KC] [MIN] [NO] [PHI] [SEA]
Neutral Matchups: [CAR] [CIN] [IND] [JAX] [LAR] [NYG] [OAK] [PIT] [TB] [TEN] [WAS]
Tough Matchups: [ARI] [BUF] [NE] [NYJ]
Bad Matchups: [BAL] [DET] [LAC] [MIA] [SF]


PLEASE NOTE: This does NOT replace the Cheatsheet ranking. The Cheatsheet rankings are the final say on where we see a player for that week. The Matchup Breakdowns are simply one more tool in the box when it comes to helping choose your lineup.

Also note, just because a player has a "bad" matchup, it does NOT mean he's not a starter in your league. If Tom Brady is playing the toughest pass defense in the league, that just means he's got a tough matchup that week. He's also your starter unless you're loaded at QB. In the same way, if the worst QB on your roster has a "great" matchup that week, it doesn't necessarily mean he's your starter. It means we think he'll fare better than normal that week.

Bottom line is that the cheatsheets are the final say.


Houston Texans Passing Offense at Philadelphia Eagles Passing Defense (Great Matchup)

Deshaun Watson has avoided turnovers over his last four games, including a road win over the Jets in Week 15. Watson is near the top of the NFL in yards-per-attempt, yards-per-completion, and touchdown rate. Watson, however, has been a sack magnet, absorbing an NFL-high 52 sacks and at least four in each of the last four games. Houston lost Will Fuller midseason and Keke Coutee has sparsely played over the past two months due to injury himself. As a result, DeAndre Hopkins has been even more important to Houston’s pass game. Demaryius Thomas has been functional but unspectacular in his six games with Houston, but yet to surpass 61 yards in any singular game or provide any downfield presence of note. The tight end position has been a middling unit with three viable tight ends seeing snaps and rotating their weekly receiving impact.

The Eagles secondary continues to be one of the worst in the NFL as they have allowed 269 yards or more in every game since week 4 with the exception of one game against Mark Sanchez. The Eagles have been the second-easiest adjusted matchup for opposing wide receivers this season. They allowed the historic 10-217-3 stat line to Amari Cooper two weeks ago and 10-157-1 to Tre’Quan Smith back in Week 11. Generating pressure has been an equal concern with the sixth-lowest sack rate in the NFL. On the plus side, Philadelphia’s 3.6% touchdown rate allowed is among the best in the league and they have forced six turnovers over the past two weeks, their best two-game span of the season. Injuries have ravaged the Eagles secondary with four of their five starting cornerbacks are out for the year and nursing other missing pieces from Week 15.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


Atlanta Falcons Passing Offense at Carolina Panthers Passing Defense (Good Matchup)

Matt Ryan continues to motor through a lost season with the 5-9 Falcons. He’s actually enjoying his second-best season as a pro, and on a better team, he’d be a frontrunner for his second MVP award. Ryan is posting his second-best yardage and touchdown rates, completing 70% of his throws along the way. At 308 yards and 2.1 touchdowns per game, he’s producing virtually the same fantasy gold as his MVP season of 2016 (309 and 2.4). Julio Jones remains a gem - like Ryan, he’s also in the midst of his second-best season as a pro. Jones is a matchup-proof dominator who routinely beats upper-level cornerbacks down the field; it was no surprise to see him score on Patrick Peterson last week. He’s on pace to lead the NFL in per-game yardage for the third time in four years and actually producing touchdowns (six over the last seven weeks). There’s not much consistency beyond Jones’ production, but Mohamed Sanu and rookie Calvin Ridley provide just enough to keep defenses honest. With Ryan playing at a high level, all three should find adequate room downfield against the Panthers’ struggling coverage unit. Keep an eye on Jones' status, however, as he has been limited in practice this week which would significantly change the outlook of this offense if he was unable to go.

The Panthers pass defense remains a mediocre unit, boasting a generally-strong pass rush but one of the league’s shakiest coverage groups. Over the last 6 weeks, they’ve allowed opposing quarterbacks complete 71% of their throws, with 7 different receivers topping 80 yards. Cornerbacks James Bradberry and Donte Jackson opened the year in tremendous fashion, but both seem to be losing confidence of late. Bradberry flashes great coverage ability but has had enough downfield lapses to allow for a handful of big gains and receiving lines. On the other side, Jackson has slipped noticeably since a rough showing against Antonio Brown in Week 10. Slot man Captain Munnerlyn has been a liability throughout the year, and the safeties are much stronger in run support than downfield coverage. On the whole, this hasn’t been an imposing fantasy matchup all year, and it’s slipped even further of late.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


Chicago Bears Passing Offense at San Francisco 49ers Passing Defense (Good Matchup)

This Bears offense has not been particularly known for their passing excellence this season as Mitchell Trubisky has put up serviceable, but not spectacular, numbers while airing on the side of caution more often than not. Tarik Cohen has been a staple in the offensive game plan catching those short passes out of the backfield, and he has shown a high ceiling at times with a couple games of over 120 receiving yards and five receiving touchdowns on the season. Neither Allen Robinson nor Taylor Gabriel has shown much upside in recent weeks, while Trey Burton finally re-appeared with a touchdown and four receptions last week but still has competition for snaps and targets from Adam Shaheen. Overall, Tarik Cohen is the most reliable and predictable weapon in this passing offense. The Bears continue to utilize a horizontal passing offense instead of a vertical one as the Bears did not complete a pass longer than 13 yards through the air last week.

The San Francisco defense has been sub-par for most of the season due to their lack of playmakers to generate turnovers along with a lackluster pass rush. They rank at the bottom of the league in turnovers generated with less than half the turnovers of the next best team and are riding a five-game streak without forcing a single giveaway. The secondary has trended in the wrong direction as they have been below average against wide receivers all season, but Richard Sherman’s play has dropped off in recent weeks to make this much less of a feared unit. The 49ers also lost starting cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon to injury last week, yielding to a rookie replacement in Tarvarius Moore who will be a matchup to exploit for these Bears outside receivers. This secondary has covered tight ends relatively well this season though, allowing just the fourth-fewest fantasy points per game to the position in PPR scoring formats. Since Week 7, however, the 49ers have allowed the fewest fantasy points per game to tight ends with no games of over four receptions for 46 yards and just one touchdown given up over that span which could make for a tough day for Trey Burton.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


Cleveland Browns Passing Offense vs Cincinnati Bengals Passing Defense (Good Matchup)

The Browns passing offense had been middling, ranking 17th in yards per game (234.6) and 21st in yards per attempt (6.6). The passing offense had shown signs of improvement after Freddie Kitchens was promoted to offensive coordinator midseason, especially in back-to-back wins over Atlanta and Cincinnati in Weeks 10 and 11. However, the passing offense has regressed a bit in recent weeks. Baker Mayfield has had an excellent rookie season but had uncharacteristic struggles with accuracy at times against a tough Broncos defense. Mayfield threw for just 188 yards, his lowest total since Week 8. Rookie Antonio Callaway was the most impactful receiver, catching 5 of 7 targets for 35 yards and 1 touchdown. Callaway was also solid in the previous meeting against the Bengals, with 4 catches for 62 yards and 1 touchdown.

Cincinnati has allowed the 5th-most passing yards (270.6) and rank 28th, allowing 7.6 yards per attempt. The overall numbers are ugly primarily due to a brutal early stretch that saw the Bengals allow 350 or more passing yards five times in the first eight games. The pass defense has been much improved in the second half of the season. No opposing quarterback has thrown for more than 265 yards against the Bengals since Week 8. The improvement has largely come due to schematic changes. Cincinnati was suffering way too many blown coverages in a zone-heavy scheme under first-year coordinator Teryl Austin. He was fired after Week 10 and Marvin Lewis stepped in as the defensive coordinator. He has simplified the scheme and allowed the Bengals talented trio of first-round cornerbacks (William Jackson III, Dre Kirkpatrick, and Darqueze Dennard) to play man-to-man coverage much more often. Since Lewis took over the defense, the Bengals are allowing just 208.4 passing yards per game but did allow Mayfield and the Browns to throw for four touchdowns in their first meeting this season.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


Dallas Cowboys Passing Offense vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers Passing Defense (Good Matchup)

After a red-hot performance against the Eagles in Week 14, last week was a bucket of ice water for the Dallas passing game in Indianapolis. Dak Prescott missed a number of available throws and Amari Cooper was abruptly silenced after an unstoppable 217-yard, three-touchdown effort in Week 14. Prescott has posted his best production split against questionable passing defenses at home this season, much like the matchup with Tampa Bay in Week 16. While Prescott has avoided interceptions as a general rule this season, Dallas has the fifth-highest sack rate allowed and has one of the lowest yards-per-completion averages (and big plays created through the air) in the NFL. The key has been missed connections by Dak Prescott and, of late, Michael Gallup on deep targets when separation has been created.

While Tampa Bay held down the run-centric Ravens passing offense last week, they have been an exploitable unit all season. The Buccaneers have allowed 30 passing touchdowns, second-most in the NFL, and an NFL-high 72% completion rate and 8.3 yards-per-attempt. Both of Tampa Bay’s outside cornerbacks are among the weakest in the NFL in coverage, including allowing quality games to middling receivers Curtis Samuel, Dante Pettis, Willie Snead, and Josh Doctson in recent weeks. On the plus side, Tampa Bay has been average in generating pressure and forcing turnovers, including three total sacks over the past two weeks, both in losses. Amari Cooper should see significant time on Brent Grimes this week which is a tremendous bounce-back spot for the wide receiver facing the aging veteran who is no longer the player he was earlier in his career.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


Denver Broncos Passing Offense at Oakland Raiders Passing Defense (Good Matchup)

Case Keenum and the Broncos passing attack has been a major disappointment this season. Denver is 24th in the league, averaging just 6.4 yards per attempt through the air. Keenum was held to under 200 yards passing in Weeks 12, 13, and 14. It took him 48 pass attempts to get 257 yards last week against the Browns and threw 2 interceptions and 0 touchdowns in the ugly loss. The Broncos traded away Demaryius Thomas at the trade deadline and lost Emmanuel Sanders two weeks ago to a season-ending injury. Without the two veterans, Denver has seen an extreme youth movement at the position. Second-round rookie Courtland Sutton and fourth-round rookie Daesean Hamilton have been thrust into featured roles. So too has second-year-pro Tim Patrick. Hamilton has been the featured guy in the pass offense over the last two weeks, with 14 catches on 21 targets. Since getting his chance, Hamilton has outplayed the more highly-touted Sutton. Keenum struggled against the Raiders in Week 2. He is the only starting quarterback to face the 2018 Raiders defense and be held without a passing touchdown (though he did have a rushing score) and was held to just 222 passing yards and an interception in a sloppy performance.

The Raiders rank dead last in yards per attempt allowed (8.0) and are also last in the league in sack rate (2.8%). The lack of pass rush comes after trading away elite edge rusher Khalil Mack in the offseason without any real plan to replace his production. Third-round rookie Arden Key has tried to fill in as the top outside rusher. He has shown some flashes but hasn’t been able to put it all together. The secondary isn’t terrible but they are being forced to cover too long. Second-year-pro Gareon Conley has started to come on after a slow start. The Raiders gave up just 130 yards to Bengals quarterback Jeff Driskel last week, though that is mainly attributable to Driskel’s struggles and not a sign this pass defense has made a big leap forward. Over the last five games, the Raiders pass defense has given up the most fantasy points to opposing tight ends. The lack of size at safety has been an issue for Oakland in trying to match up against talented pass-catching tight ends, which the good news for the Raiders is that the Broncos have been unable to find consistent production out of the tight end position since Jeff Heuerman went down earlier this season.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


Green Bay Packers Passing Offense at New York Jets Passing Defense (Good Matchup)

Aaron Rodgers and the Packers are coming off a tough loss to the Chicago Bears, where Rodgers failed to complete 60% of his passes for the fourth time this season. Rodgers is in the midst of a puzzling season from a statistical standpoint. He’s averaging 283.9 passing yards per game, which if sustained, would be the second highest average of his career, but he has only three games of 300+ passing yards, which is tied for the lowest of his career. Rodgers is completing just 61.8% of his passes, the second lowest total since becoming the Packers starter, and well off his 10-year average of 65.1%. Rodgers is also on pace to have his lowest interception total, a feat that spawned an NFL record 402 straight passes without an interception. That record came to a halt on Sunday when Jimmy Graham let a Rodgers pass clank off his hands in the end zone, resulting in an interception by the Bears Eddie Jackson. A big part of Rodgers inconsistency has been a revamped receiving core, led by Davante Adams moving to the #1 spot. Adams has stepped in as Rodgers go-to guy and put together a fantastic season, already amassing 100 catches for 1,315 yards and 12 touchdowns. Adams has scored a touchdown in all but four games, and in three of those four games, he’s gone over 100 yards. The problem for the Packers has been consistency at the #2 and #3 wide receiver positions, as Rodgers has had to depend on Marquez Valdes-Scalding and Equanimeous St. Brown, rookie wide receivers for most of the season. The Packers also lost breakout star running back Aaron Jones, which should result in the Packers throwing the ball even more than normal.

While the New York Jets rushing defense is one of the worst units in the league, the secondary has overachieved this season, as they currently rank 19th in the NFL with 243.4 passing yards allowed per game. The Jets secondary had a very tough time slowing down Deshaun Watson this past week, as Watson completed 22 of 28 passes for 294 yards and two touchdowns. Watson played a very efficient game and made some big throws down the stretch, but the Jets secondary just didn’t have an answer for DeAndre Hopkins, who caught 10 of 11 targets for 170 yards and two touchdowns. The Jets are sorely missing Marcus Maye (injured reserve) at safety to pair alongside Jamal Adams, and this was readily apparent every time Hopkins was able to shake free and make plays down the field, which was quite often. It won’t get any easier this week though, as the Jets host the Packers. The Jets secondary will have to contend with Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams, who similarly to Hopkins, will command a large volume of targets and should have very little trouble beating one on one coverage. The Jets are 21st in the NFL in sacks per game at 2.4, which does not bode well for them, as the Packers offensive line is one of the better pass blocking units in the league. If the Jets can't manufacture some pressure on Rodgers, it will be a long day, as Rodgers will exploit whoever tries to cover Adams, much like Watson did with Hopkins.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


Kansas City Chiefs Passing Offense at Seattle Seahawks Passing Defense (Good Matchup)

Patrick Mahomes had one of his worst fantasy games of the season last week with just 243 passing yards and two touchdowns against the tough Chargers defense. Mahomes elevated expectations all season long, and for the most part, he has lived up to those lofty projections with a spectacular touchdown-laden season. Travis Kelce continues to be a consistent focal point of Mahomes as he has seen the most consistent target volume of any player on the Chiefs this season with at least nine targets in six of his last seven games along with at least one red zone look in all but one game this season. Kelce was held to a mediocre game last week as he missed out on the end zone for just the second time in his last seven games, but he will remain a go-to option going forward. Tyreek Hill was banged up going into last week, and while he did not appear hampered by the ankle injury, he had a very tough outing that included a dropped long ball which would have been a touchdown. Hill has now struggled in two of his last three games with no touchdowns before the Week 12 bye, but he will have had 10 days to rest and should be in a decent spot to bounce back this week.

The Seahawks defense finished in disappointing fashion last week with a litany of mistakes costing them the game against the 49ers. Last week marked the second time this defense has not looked sharp against a very average San Francisco offense as they allowed nearly 700 passing yards to the 49ers alone in recent weeks. The Chiefs offense will be the toughest test this defense has faced all season as the Seattle secondary has no elite playmakers to help stop the likes of Tyreek Hill or Travis Kelce. Tight ends haven’t had a ton of success against this defense as Bradley McDougald has been one of the top safeties when covering tight ends, giving up just over half a yard of separation per route covered. However, the only tight end he has covered anywhere near the skill level of Kelce has been George Kittle, who amassed 105 yards from nine receptions in his two outings against McDougald and company. These Seahawks cornerbacks, particularly on the outside, have struggled in recent weeks as an opposing team’s top outside receiver has averaged 107.5 receiving yards per game over the last six weeks with at least 76 yards in each of those games. This should be music to the ears of Tyreek Hill as he tries to bounce back from a couple disappointing games from the last three weeks.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


Minnesota Vikings Passing Offense at Detroit Lions Passing Defense (Good Matchup)

As 2018 wears on, Kirk Cousins and the Minnesota pass game is gradually providing less and less impact. After averaging 7.4 yards per attempt and 315 per game over the first 8 weeks, they’ve produced just 6.8 and 232 over the last six. A number of factors have led to the dip, from a slight shift in offensive scheme to an embattled front line that consistently lets pressure in on Cousins. He’s a fine downfield passer, but lately, he’s lacked the time to set up and find receivers, relying more than ever on quick-hitters and check-downs. Cousins’ connection with Adam Thielen has fallen off noticeably: Thielen opened the year with eight 100-yard games but has averaged just 55 since. Stefon Diggs continues to make a big play or two a week on the outside but has also suffered from a lack of downfield chances. He’ll have his hands full Sunday, drawing most of Darius Slay’s attention on the boundary. There’s still plenty of fantasy appeal throughout this unit, from the receivers to running back Dalvin Cook’s dynamic pass game ability. But they haven’t shown off their difference-making ceilings much over the past two months.

In terms of raw numbers, the Detroit pass defense isn’t terrible. They’ve held each of their last 4 opponents below 240 yards, after all, and 9 of 14 overall. But from an efficiency standpoint, it’s been among the league’s worst, and the stronger passers on the schedule have taken full advantage. Aaron Rodgers (442 yards and 3 touchdowns), Cam Newton (357 and 3), and even Mitchell Trubisky (355 and 3) have all scorched this unit with little resistance. In all, opponents are producing 6.9 net yards per attempt (factoring in sacks and sack yardage) in this matchup, fifth-most in football. Fantasy totals have stayed in check, as the Lions have faced the league’s second-fewest attempts (just 31 a game). But it’s clear that stronger passing games can work over most of this group to big results. Darius Slay remains an upper-tier top cover man, but his fellow cornerbacks have been liabilities throughout the year. Slay will be tasked with Stefon Diggs for much of Week 16, which sets up Adam Thielen nicely inside against Nevin Lawson.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


New Orleans Saints Passing Offense vs Pittsburgh Steelers Passing Defense (Good Matchup)

As the Saints continue to control games from the outset, less and less is being asked of Drew Brees. Dating back to Week 7, he’s attempted just 29 passes a game and topped 250 yards only 3 times. Brees is still lethally efficient, completing 75% of his throws at 8.1 yards apiece. But it hasn’t translated into usable fantasy production in almost a month. The Saints pass game is run disproportionately through Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara, who have accounted for 49% of team targets and 51% of the yardage. Beyond them, injuries have decimated the receiving corps, and Brees throws almost exclusively to undrafted practice-squad types. Thomas has been almost robotically good, catching 86% of his looks, but has lacked dynamism in this grinding offense. He’s averaged just 9.9 yards per catch over the last 6 weeks, landing below 50 yards in 3 of them. A Week 16 date with the Steelers seems like a perfect opportunity for this unit to break out of its shell, but that’s certainly not the Saints’ goal. They’d much rather shorten the game and win on the ground, with a small (and unpredictable) batch of splash plays mixed in.

The Pittsburgh pass defense continues to waffle between dominant and vulnerable. They enjoyed a fantastic stretch of play from Weeks 6 through 12, giving up just 187 yards per game and 8 touchdowns to a mostly-shaky batch of passers. But over their other 8 contests, they’ve allowed an average of 313 with 18 scores. The Steelers continue to struggle in downfield coverage - on display during Chris Hogan’s wide-open touchdown last week - relying instead on a dynamic yet inconsistent pass rush to disrupt the flow. When T.J. Watt, Bud Dupree, and the explosive front line collapse the pocket, passers are flushed out of their comfort zones and struggle to generate much down the field. But when the Steelers’ challenging blitzes and stunts are picked up, life is much easier for them. Top cornerback Joe Haden is no longer anyone’s idea of a shutdown guy, and the safeties are little more than auxiliary linebackers installed for run support. Drew Brees’ razor-sharp game matches up well against this group: he’s hard to rattle with the blitz, and his pinpoint passing can work wonders against shaky cover men.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


Philadelphia Eagles Passing Offense vs Houston Texans Passing Defense (Good Matchup)

Nick Foles was back under center for the Eagles in Week 15, an impressive road win over the Rams. Foles was bold downfield to Alshon Jeffery but struggled on a handful of critical throws from should-be interceptions (two of them) to a turnover and missing receivers. On the plus side, Foles avoided sacks and was accurate on throws despite absorbing big hits in the pocket against the Rams. The Eagles have used Golden Tate primarily on short after-the-catch-centric targets since his acquisition and Nelson Agholor has morphed into a situational option at best. Zach Ertz is coming off his least productive two-game stretch of the season with 8-60-0 on a sturdy 15 targets over the span.

The Texans passing defense has fallen on hard times over the last four weeks after getting off to a tremendous start to the season. The Texans have allowed three of the last four quarterbacks to throw for over 300 yards and have allowed two touchdowns in three of those games. The Texans have been generous as a schedule-adjusted matchup for opposing wide receivers and tight ends this season. Robby Anderson, T.Y. Hilton, Jarvis Landry, and Corey Davis have all posted at least 90 yards against Houston over the past four games. The results have been equally-suspect against tight ends with Chris Herndon, Eric Ebron, Jonnu Smith, Anthony Firkser, Jordan Reed, and Jeff Heuerman all-surpassing 50 yards since Week 9. Big plays have been a concern area for Houston’s pass defense, allowing 11 plays of 40 or more yards on the season, third-most in the NFL. Houston has been a sturdy unit in forcing pressure and turnovers, however, with 24 turnovers and nearly three sacks per game.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


Seattle Seahawks Passing Offense vs Kansas City Chiefs Passing Defense (Good Matchup)

Russell Wilson got back on track last week with another multi-touchdown game as he completed just over 74 percent of his passes for 237 yards--his highest yardage mark in three weeks. It is tough to expect much from Wilson given the run-heavy style of this Seattle offense, but he has shown both accuracy and playmaking ability when needed this season as he is taking care of the ball and continuing to find the end zone with multiple passing touchdowns in all but two of his 14 games. Tyler Lockett has been his favorite target, but Lockett was held out of the end zone in back to back games for the first time all season as his fantasy floor was on full display last week with only 45 receiving yards from two receptions. It was Doug Baldwin’s turn to shine for the first time this season as he found the end zone twice while leading the team in receiving yards for his best game of the season. Baldwin appeared to be healthy after missing the previous week with a hip injury, but he and any other receiver in this run-first offense will be tough to trust going forward given the inconsistent passing volume.

The Chiefs, hampered by poor secondary and a pass-heavy opposing game script, have struggled in pass defense the entire season. They have allowed the league’s most passing yards per game while quarterbacks and tight ends alike have scored the second-most fantasy points per game (PPR) when facing the Chiefs. Wide receivers, while scoring an average amount of fantasy points against the Chiefs due to fewer touchdowns, are still tied for averaging the sixth-most receiving yards per game. While Eric Berry made his return to the field last week, he only played about half the snaps in his first game back. Berry’s presence should increase this week, which is a bump for this defense. However, this secondary suffered a big loss last week as their top cornerback, slot man Kendall Fuller, opted for surgery on his fractured wrist and will be unavailable for the remainder of the season. The depth behind Fuller is quite suspect, which should create an opportunity for Doug Baldwin in this one. The big strength of the Chiefs defense has been their pass rush though, as defensive tackle Chris Jones is having a spectacular season with a sack in 10 straight games, totaling 14 sacks on the year. The Chiefs edge rushers are also elite and should put plenty of pressure on Russell Wilson given that pass-blocking is the clear weakness of this Seahawks offensive line. With Wilson under duress, it will be tougher to find receivers--but his mobility and efficiency should still prevail against a below average secondary without their top cornerback.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


Carolina Panthers Passing Offense vs Atlanta Falcons Passing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

Cam Newton clearly isn’t himself right. Working through a small but nagging shoulder injury, Newton has taken a nosedive from the heights of what had once looked like his best season as a pro. After completing 70% of his throws at 7.5 yards apiece through the first 12 games, he’s landed at 59% and 5.6 over the last two. Struggling to push downfield at all, Newton hasn’t been able to create any big plays with Devin Funchess or game-breaking rookie D.J. Moore. This has all led to the Panthers determining that it was time for them to shut Newton down for the season and start Taylor Heinicke who is a fourth-year undrafted player out of Old Dominion. If it helps anyone it should be Christian McCaffrey on check downs as the Panthers will make it easy for the quarterback making his first career start.

Against all odds, the Falcons’ much-maligned pass defense has tightened noticeably of late. With both starting safeties on injured reserve, the team opened the year allowing 317 yards per game over the first 8 weeks, but has calmed to just 197 since. That said, there are still holes throughout this unit, and plenty of room to create efficiency. The Falcons pass rush has vanished for long stretches throughout the season, and the cornerbacks have looked much shakier than usual. Slot man Brian Poole, in particular, has been arguably the league’s worst cover man on the inside. Free safety Ricardo Allen, an emerging star as a playmaker in coverage, has been missed dearly with so many open zones down the seams. The Panthers pass game has been spotty lately, but this is a fine place to expect a bounce-back.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


Cincinnati Bengals Passing Offense at Cleveland Browns Passing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

Injuries have decimated the Bengals offense. Not only is starting quarterback Andy Dalton on injured reserve, but Cincinnati’s top three pass catchers (A.J. Green, Tyler Boyd, and Tyler Eifert) are all sidelined as well. Jeff Driskel was solid in his first start, throwing for 236 yards in a loss to Denver, but there is only so much he can do with limited talent around him as he has averaged just 150 passing yards over his last two. As a starter, Driskel is averaging just 5.5 yards per attempt. He had his worst performance last week, with way too many throws off target in a dreadful 14-for-33 performance against the Raiders. Driskel’s few positive plays came mostly on first-half passes to Tyler Boyd. Boyd injured his knee midway through the game and is likely done for the season. In his absence, the Bengals will run out one of the league’s worst groups of receivers led by John Ross who is the top remaining target but he has been unreliable. The second-year pro has caught just 38% of his career targets and is averaging just 4.1 receiving yards per target. Alex Erickson and Cody Core have been special teams stalwarts but will be forced into the starting lineup over the last two weeks. In addition to the lack of quality targets to throw to, Driskel will also have to play behind a poor offensive line that has allowed the 8th-highest sack rate in the league.

Cleveland’s defense has faced a league-high 41.6 passing attempts per game and rank 30th in yardage, allowing 275.1 passing yards per game, but that does not tell the entire story. While the Browns have given up a lot of passing yards, their one strength is having allowed very few touchdowns through the air. Since giving up a pair of passing touchdowns to Cincinnati in Week 12, the Browns have allowed just one passing touchdown total over the last three weeks. Cleveland is finally starting to figure out how best to use some of the talented young athletes they’ve been able to add in the early rounds of the past few drafts. Recent top picks Myles Garrett and Denzel Ward both made their first Pro Bowls this week. Safety Jabrill Peppers has also started to make an impact since the Browns decided to move him closer to the line of scrimmage. He was one of the stars of Cleveland’s Week 15 win over Denver, getting pressure on the quarterback four times on blitzes and sacking Case Keenum on fourth down in the final minute to seal the victory. The Browns will have favorable matchups across the board in the secondary given the Bengals will be unlikely to take advantage of the matchup due to all of the injuries the Bengals have suffered at wide receiver.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


Indianapolis Colts Passing Offense vs New York Giants Passing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

If you were to just look at the Colts talent at the skill positions, you would probably not guess that they rank seventh in the NFL in passing yards (273.6 yards per game), but that is a testament to Andrew Luck’s ability as a quarterback. Luck has been phenomenal all year, throwing for 34 touchdowns to 13 interceptions and 3,951 yards through 14 games. From week four through week 12, Luck threw for at least three touchdowns in every game, including three games of four touchdowns. Luck has taken on a heavy burden this season, averaging 39.7 passing attempts per game, and leading the Colts to a likely playoff berth with a group of cast-off receivers behind TY Hilton. Hilton has been a monster in the second half of the season, totaling at least 77 yards in his last six games. Among those games were performances of 155 yards, 125 yards and most recently a 199-yard dusting of the Houston secondary in a game that had major playoff implications in the AFC. The Lions were content on letting Eric Ebron walk this offseason, but he has certainly found a home with the Colts. Ebron is having his best season as a pro and has reinvented himself as a red zone threat, catching 12 touchdowns through 14 games, which ranks second in the NFL.

The New York Giants secondary currently ranks 13th in the NFL, allowing 245.7 passing yards per game. From a fantasy perspective, they are one of the better secondaries, allowing the fourth-fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks, and the fifth fewest points to opposing wide receivers, but a lot of this has been due to game-script and their run defense struggling. The secondary is led by Jenoris Jenkins, and he will have his hands full this week trying to contain the speed of TY 30th Hilton. The Giants are still reeling from the loss of superstar safety Landon Collins, and although Michael Thomas has played well in relief, he is not the playmaker that Collins was. It is impressive that the secondary has played as well as they have, as the Giants defensive line has been unable to create any kind of sustainable pressure on opposing quarterbacks, ranking 30th in the NFL with only 25 sacks on the season. If the Giants are not able to get pressure on Andrew Luck, he is going to sit in the pocket and pick them apart.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


Jacksonville Jaguars Passing Offense at Miami Dolphins Passing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

Serious bridges must be burned in Jacksonville because it’s hard to imagine Blake Bortles was ever quite this bad. Last Sunday against Washington, new starter Cody Kessler dropped back to throw 23 times and came away with 9 completions, 6 sacks, an interception, and 57 yards. Through 4 appearances, Kessler has managed to produce just 5.3 yards per attempt and 151 a game, with all of 2 touchdowns along the way. He’s taken 17 sacks, fumbled in each game, and led just 2 touchdown drives. He’s the league’s least productive starter by a mile, and he’s dooming any hope for fantasy value among Jacksonville’s receivers, too. Over the last 2 weeks, starters Dede Westbrook and Donte Moncrief have turned 27 targets into a minuscule 135 yards. This has been a shallow group all year, but is now dangerously undermanned and lacking in any dynamism. Westbrook represents virtually all of the slim fantasy appeal here - he did post 7 for 88 just 2 weeks ago. But the Dolphins’ breakout secondary is an opportunistic one, and this is not the ideal quarterback to carry into that kind of matchup.

The retooled Miami pass defense has taken appreciable steps forward here in 2018. Xavien Howard who looks like he will return this week and rookie Minkah Fitzpatrick look like core blocks for an aggressive unit that sits seventh league-wide with 20 interceptions. Still, they’ve been bowled over consistently by downfield-oriented passers, and remain nothing to fear for fantasy purposes. Five quarterbacks have easily topped 300 yards in this matchup, including the likes of Sam Darnold and Derek Carr, working through a secondary that’s shown promise but still lacks talented bodies. The return of top cornerback Howard from a knee scope would be a godsend, of course. He’s broken out this year as an occasionally-dominant downfield cover man, and he’s made a ton of splash plays, tied for the league with seven interceptions. But his fellow cornerbacks have been hit-or-miss all year; altogether, the Dolphins have allowed 10 different wideouts to top 80 yards in a game. They’re making things a bit tougher on quarterbacks, but still giving up far too many plays downfield.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


Los Angeles Rams Passing Offense at Arizona Cardinals Passing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

Jared Goff and this Rams passing offense have been trending in the wrong direction recently. Despite amassing 339 yards last week, the Rams have failed to find the end zone through the air in two straight games while Goff has thrown seven interceptions compared to just one touchdown in his last three games. Accuracy has been a huge issue for Goff, and it was on full display last week as he routinely sailed balls over his receivers while making poor decisions against what was a beatable Eagles secondary. Robert Woods continues to see a high volume of targets with at least nine in four straight games as he amasses solid, but not spectacular, numbers with just two touchdowns in his last 10 games. Brandin Cooks has been held to lackluster outings in three straight games as Josh Reynolds is earning an increased share of targets on the outside, finishing with a season-high 12 targets last week. Todd Gurley was one of the bright spots through the air last week though as he led the team in receptions and receiving yards to further display his versatility as their top player.

The Cardinals have been proficient against the pass thanks primarily to the spectacular play from top cornerback Patrick Peterson. Opposing passing offenses are averaging just 212 passing yards per game and 7.0 yards per pass attempt--both metrics well within the top-10 in the league. Quarterbacks have scored just the sixth-fewest fantasy points per game when facing the Cardinals as they are typically under duress from a stout pass rush combined with half of the field shut down from Peterson’s coverage. With Goff struggling to put the ball on the mark lately, a strong pass rush is the last thing he wants to face. Part of Arizona’s success against the pass must be attributed to game scripts though, as they have typically been playing from far behind while playing terribly against the run, leading to this being very much a funnel defense. Look for Patrick Peterson to assist in shutting down these outside receivers with opportunities for Robert Woods coming out of the slot along with Gurley to contribute through the air from the backfield.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


New York Giants Passing Offense at Indianapolis Colts Passing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

The loss of Odell Beckham Jr. in weeks 14 and 15 was a death blow to an already struggling Giants offense. While Eli Manning managed to keep it together and have an impressive outing against Washington in week 14 (14 for 22 with 197 yards and three touchdowns), he was inept against Tennessee in week 15. Manning completed just 47.7% of his passes, with a 5.2 yards per attempt with no touchdowns and one interception. The Giants were shut down in every facet of their offense, including Saquon Barkley and the running game, which had been doing an excellent job of setting up the pass. From weeks 11 through 14, Manning completed 67% of his passes for 224 yards per game with seven touchdowns to two interceptions. In Beckham Jr’s absence, Sterling Shepard has stepped into the #1 receiver role, but he has had problems matching up with the opposing teams best cornerback. In the two games Beckham Jr has missed, Shepard has totaled just four catches for 54 yards and a touchdown. Russell Shepard and Bennie Fowler have filled out the Giants rotation, but neither has commanded enough volume to make a difference from week to week. Tight end Evan Engram has stepped up in Beckham Jr.’s absence, averaging 5.5 catches for 76 yards per game over the last two weeks.

The Colts currently rank 15th in the NFL, allowing 237.9 passing yards per game, and subscribe to the “bend but don’t break” theory on pass defense. The Colts secondary is very good at containing opposing wide receivers and not allowing many big plays, as they rank tied for fourth in 20+ yard plays (35 such plays on the season) and are second only to the Buffalo Bills in 40+ yard plays, having given up only three on the season. With that said, it is not like opposing quarterbacks have struggled to move the ball against the Colts. Indianapolis has allowed nine quarterbacks to throw for 240+ yards and have given up multiple passing touchdowns in seven games this season. They have also been very fortunate playing against the likes of Derek Anderson, Cody Kessler, Blaine Gabbert and Sam Darnold, so their overall numbers are somewhat skewed. The Colts have not allowed a 100+ yard receiver since week four, but aside from DeAndre Hopkins and Josh Gordon, they have not faced any high end wide receivers in that time period, playing against the Jaguars, Colts, Dolphins, Titans, Bills, Jets and Raiders, With the Giants coming to town without Odell Beckham Jr. this week, the Colts passing defense should have their way with a New York offense that is devoid of playmakers on the outside. The Colts defense ranks 12th in the NFL with 28 sacks on the year, and have the advantage over a Giants offensive line that has underachieved. Led by Nate Solder and Will Hernandez, the Giants have invested a lot of money in their offensive line, but unfortunately, it has not yet paid dividends and they will have to deal with an aggressive Colts pass.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


Oakland Raiders Passing Offense vs Denver Broncos Passing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

After a miserable start to the season highlighted by a number of awful interceptions, Derek Carr has righted the ship in the second half. He has now gone nine straight games without throwing an interception. The biggest issue with the Oakland passing game has been the atrocious play of rookie tackles Brandon Parker and Kolton Miller. The duo is the reason Oakland ranks near the bottom of the league with a sack rate of 8.8%. The weakness will be especially glaring this week against Denver’s top-10 pass rush featuring a pair of elite edge rushers with Von Miller and Bradley Chubb. It is impressive Carr has been able to keep the Raiders in the top half of the NFL in terms of yards per attempt (6.9) and passing yards per game (244.8) given the pass protection issues and lack of weapons since trading Amari Cooper. Jordy Nelson is having a nice end to the season as he now has 22 receptions over his last three games. Only tight end Jared Cook, having a career season at age 31, has been able to consistently get separation.

With decent talent in the secondary and an elite pass rush, the Broncos pass defense has underperformed. Denver ranks just 25th in the league, allowing 257.9 passing yards per game. Injuries have played a role, with Pro Bowl slot cornerback Chris Harris Jr. landing on injured reserve with a broken leg. Since Week 11, the Broncos have allowed 401 yards to Philip Rivers, 462 yards to Ben Roethlisberger, a career-high 236 yards to Jeff Driskel, and 332 yards to Nick Mullens. The strong effort in holding Baker Mayfield to just 188 yards last week is an outlier. Derek Carr completed 29 of 32 passes for 288 yards and 1 touchdown against this Broncos defense back in Week 2. However, Oakland has lost three starting offensive linemen and Amari Cooper since then, so Denver should be a bit more successful this time around.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


Pittsburgh Steelers Passing Offense at New Orleans Saints Passing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

As the Steelers inch toward the postseason, Ben Roethlisberger continues to play dynamic, if shaky, real-life football. The 36-year-old has thrown 8 interceptions over the last 5 weeks, and his Week 16 performance against the Patriots (22 of 34 for 235 yards and 2 scores, with 2 picks) was arguably his worst of the season. Still, Roethlisberger remains a top-tier fantasy quarterback, thanks to a tremendous blend of opportunity, aggressiveness, and explosiveness at the receiver position. Roethlisberger is averaging 319 yards per game, with 170 of it (53%) going to the world-class duo of Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster. Both are enjoying fantastic seasons while dominating the ball, with Brown scoring 13 times over 14 games and Smith-Schuster topping 100 yards 7 times. Various others, like James Washington and tight end Vance McDonald, pop in and out of the gameplan as well, but not with any predictability. This attack belongs to the two starters, and Roethlisberger remains powerful enough to take full advantage in virtually any matchup.

The Saints pass defense continues to excel as the season wears on, wiping away a horrid start with near-shutdown play over the past two months. Over the last 6 weeks they’ve given up just 221 yards a game and 6 touchdowns, despite facing some fairly imposing matchups. Top cornerback Marshon Lattimore has certainly shaken off the cobwebs, and his ball skills have played a huge role in the turnaround. Lattimore is a gambler who can absolutely be beaten, but on most weeks, he looms as a shutdown presence that quarterbacks don’t like to test. On the other side, new Saint Eli Apple continues to improve week after week. He arguably earned the game ball for Week 15, repeatedly stifling Cam Newton and creating big, momentum-shifting plays on the ball. Lattimore is the star, but Apple’s quietly-strong play has been the key piece to the puzzle of late, and a big reason Julio Jones has been the only receiver to top 100 yards over this 6-week run.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


Tampa Bay Buccaneers Passing Offense at Dallas Cowboys Passing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

Jameis Winston has struggled in his two road games against tough pass defenses this season, against the Bears in Week 4 and the Ravens in Week 15. Winston combined for one touchdown and three interceptions across 45 attempts in those two contests. DeSean Jackson has missed the last three games with a thumb injury, but Chris Godwin has logged back-to-back invisible games, totaling 1-13-0, despite the expanded opportunity. Mike Evans, on the other hand, produced well through the past two games of tough matchups with 8-207-0 even with Tampa Bay scoring a total of 26 points. Adam Humphries has been a consistent ancillary target with at least four receptions in each of the past four games. Cameron Brate has seen a marginal uptick in production since taking over for the injured O.J. Howard and is a touchdown-dependent option near the end zone.

The Cowboys have limited yards through the air of late, but have struggled to force turnovers or register sacks with four sacks and three turnovers over the past three games. The Cowboys are led by Byron Jones who is in the running for the best cornerbacks in football this season and has been a significant upgrade to this defense. The positives this season have been Dallas limiting big plays (fifth-fewest plays of 20 or more yards allowed passing) and being stingy against wide receivers with only one 100-yard performance allowed since Week 5 (Julio Jones’ 6-118-1 in Week 11) while limiting T.Y. Hilton, Alshon Jeffery, Michael Thomas, and Corey Davis over the span. Dallas has been more suspect to opposing tight ends, however, with Zach Ertz, Jordan Reed, and Vernon Davis all going for more than 70 yards over the past six games and a total of four touchdowns.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


Tennessee Titans Passing Offense vs Washington Redskins Passing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

With the focus on the ground game in the past two outings, this Titans passing offense has hit rock bottom with virtually no production to speak of through the air. This has been one of the league’s worst passing offenses with just 187 yards per game (ranked 30th) along with a meager 14 passing touchdowns--also third-fewest in the league. Marcus Mariota has shown potential at times, but he simply has not needed to pass in recent weeks given the run-heavy game plan. Corey Davis continues to lead the team in targets, but he hasn’t seen enough volume to put up any resemblance of a WR1 stat line. The variability this season has been extreme for Davis, who has finished games with anywhere from 10 to 161 receiving yards. He has not cracked the 50-yard mark in three straight games though, and considering the run-heavy trend of this Titans offense, it is tough to expect success or reliability from Davis and the rest of these Titans receivers.

The Redskins defense looked great last week, but they were facing a reeling Jaguars offense led by Cody Kessler, which can make even a bottom tier defense seem elite. This passing defense has been struggling throughout the second half of the season with multiple touchdowns allowed in three games leading into last week while opposing passers have passed for more than 270 yards in eight of the last 11 games against the Redskins. The defensive line and pass rush have been a strength to note as they racked up six sacks last week to vault their ranking to ninth in sacks this season. Safety has also been a relatively strong position for the Redskins as the trade for Ha Ha Clinton-Dix earlier this season has worked out nicely while D.J. Swearinger is having another solid season at strong safety. Cornerback is the struggle for Washington, as Greg Norman has been showing his age while rookies Greg Stroman and Danny Johnson are not quite ready to be starting in the NFL. Stroman is allowing over two yards of separation per route covered in the slot, which bodes well for Tajae Sharpe if he can get open on a hobbled ankle. Corey Davis should have a decent matchup against Fabian Moreau, but Moreau has shown improvement as the season has progressed and could challenge Davis with his size.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


Washington Redskins Passing Offense at Tennessee Titans Passing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

With Josh Johnson at the helm, Washington’s passing offense is better than it had been under Mark Sanchez.. However, this remains a low volume, underwhelming passing attack despite their victory last week. Johnson did just enough as he passed for a touchdown and took care of the ball with no turnovers, but the Redskins are clearly trying to limit pass attempts with a focus on their ground game given the weakness at quarterback. Ten different players were targeted last week as Jamison Crowder came out on top due in part to a flukey 33-yard reception from a deflected ball. Josh Doctson just barely cleared the concussion protocol prior to last week’s game, but he was held catch-less after posting a season-high 84 receiving yards in the week prior. Jordan Reed’s status remains in doubt with multiple foot injuries, leading to Vernon Davis taking back over at tight end in his absence. Davis played well in last week’s game, but he did suffer a neck injury from which he quickly returned to the game. All in all, the Redskins remain thin in terms of pass-catchers while this passing offense should not be expected to generate enough volume to support any level of consistency for anyone involved.

The Titans continue to excel against opposing passing offenses with the caveat of playing against below average teams in what has been poor weather conditions in recent weeks. It has been over a month since the Titans have allowed more than 250 passing yards, and they have limited quarterbacks to no passing touchdowns in three of their last six games. This secondary may have lost two critical starters last week though, with cornerback Logan Ryan suffering a broken fibula that will sideline him for the rest of the season and safety Kenny Vaccaro suffering a concussion that has his status in question this week. Leshaun Sims will be a sharp downgrade from Ryan and should afford Jamison Crowder with an increased opportunity to get open. Play from both Malcolm Butler and Adoree Jackson has improved recently, so they stand to keep these Redskins outside receivers in check. The defensive line for Tennessee should also have an advantage over the injury-plagued Redskins offensive line that has allowed the ninth-most sacks this season.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


Arizona Cardinals Passing Offense vs Los Angeles Rams Passing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Josh Rosen’s dismal season continued last week with another multi-interception game while failing to find the end zone in his third straight outing. Rosan has now surpassed 150 passing yards just once in the last five weeks, and on the season is averaging only 170 passing yards per game with more interceptions than touchdowns. The offensive line has made it very tough on Rosen, leaving him under constant duress while allowing him to be sacked multiple times in eight of the last nine games. Rosen also has little talent within his receiving group and has been hamstrung by a coaching staff that has consistently refused to rely on David Johnson in the receiving game.. Johnson was finally used downfield in the passing game last week as he caught a 40-yard reception from the slot in addition to two more receptions totaling 68 receiving yards. However, that was an outlier for the season as Johnson has surpassed 41 receiving yards just twice on the year while averaging only three receptions per game. Larry Fitzgerald has had a tough year as well, on pace for the lowest receiving yard total of his career.

The Rams secondary had put together a couple nice games with top cornerback Aqib Talib back in the lineup, but they faltered last week as Alshon Jeffery ripped through this unit, including Talib who gave up a big 50-yard catch to Jeffery from a blown assignment. This week should pose few challenges for this group though, as the Cardinals lack the talent to match up against these talented defensive backs. Fitzgerald has a tough matchup against one of the top slot cornerbacks this season in Nickell Robey-Coleman. For as poorly as the Rams linebackers have played against the run, they have done a decent job in covering running backs as only one back (Jalen Richard in Week 1) has exceeded 50 receiving yards in a game against them. This is a strong statistic as they have faced some talented pass-catchers including the likes of Alvin Kamara, Kareem Hunt, and Tarik Cohen--while also limiting David Johnson to just one reception for three yards earlier in the season. A big reason for this is that the linebackers for the Rams are undersized but fast linebackers in Mark Barron and Cory Littleton. While the linebackers have struggled against the run, have been better in coverage this season. The defensive line for the Rams is also one of the most talented in football led by All-Pro Aaron Donald and should have no problem with this bottom-ranked Cardinals offensive line.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


Buffalo Bills Passing Offense at New England Patriots Passing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Josh Allen continues to take baby steps as a rookie quarterback. He remains the league’s third-least productive passer, ahead of only by Cody Kessler and Josh Rosen, by completing just 52% of his throws at 4.09 adjusted net yards apiece. That factors in sacks, touchdowns, and interceptions, all of which have been weaknesses for the raw rookie. Still, Allen’s 2018 appeal has come from his instinct, athleticism, and playmaking mindset. He’s freezing defenses (from time to time) with his mobility and foot speed, and also showcasing an upper-tier NFL arm that looks truly special. Allen continues to find fellow rookie Robert Foster for huge plays - they’ve hooked up for gains of 75, 42, 38, 31, 28, and 27 yards over the last 3 weeks. Foster’s dynamism has been a godsend for the Bills’ beleaguered offense, which no longer has to force-feed targets to the low-impact Zay Jones. This is still a weak, mostly-irrelevant attack by fantasy standards. Only Allen and Foster even merit discussion, and neither boasts much volume or efficiency to speak of. But this unit has easily cleared its low bar from early in the year, and now they at least offer a hint of big-play ability.

The New England pass defense continues to improve as the season wears on, and over the past two months has been close to a shutdown unit. They’ve faced the likes of Aaron Rodgers, Ben Roethlisberger, and Kirk Cousins over that span, but allowed the trio just 5.7 yards per attempt and 232 per game. The cornerback play has improved tremendously of late, holding each of Davante Adams, Stefon Diggs, Adam Thielen, Antonio Brown, and JuJu Smith-Schuster under 50 yards. Stephon Gilmore and Jason McCourty have fought off early inconsistencies and now stand as one of fantasy’s more prohibitive matchups. There’s not much Week 16 worry against Buffalo’s air attack, but the Patriots’ inconsistent safeties can’t lose sight of speedy Robert Foster downfield. He’s averaged 25.8 yards per catch over the last 5 weeks and could easily turn a blown coverage or two into disaster.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


New England Patriots Passing Offense vs Buffalo Bills Passing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Tom Brady is no longer a game-breaking fantasy quarterback, but he remains an eerily consistent one. He’s thrown for at least 274 yards in 11 of 14 games thus far, averaging a solid 7.8 per attempt overall, with 24 touchdowns. He just hasn’t flashed the wild Brady ceiling of yesteryear. The Patriots are going to need an additional receiver to step up this week as Josh Gordon has taken time away from the team. Making matters worse is Cordarrelle Patterson missed practice on Thursday which if he were unable to go would leave just Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan, and Phillip Dorsett as the healthy receivers for the Patriots. At the tight end position, Rob Gronkowski hasn’t exactly commanded the gameplan, either, averaging just 60 yards per game with a disappointing 3 touchdowns. He has his work cut out against the Bills, who have yet to allow a tight end to top 55 in a game. Brady continues to favor Julian Edelman and James White as high-percentage check-down targets underneath, and both always boast strong outlooks for volume. From a fantasy standpoint, they’re the backbone of this sanitized, flow-dependent passing attack.

The Bills pass defense has been strong for most of 2018 - and dominant over the past 6 weeks. The last 6 quarterbacks they’ve faced have averaged just 152 yards, with just one topping 200 and one throwing multiple touchdowns. It’s worth noting how weak their schedule was over that span, but these Bills have been harassing and limiting strong passers as well, including Kirk Cousins (just 296 yards on 55 attempts), Aaron Rodgers (298 on 40), and Deshaun Watson (177 on 25). Armed with a pass rush that wins off the edges in a multitude of ways, this unit consistently disrupts throws and allows its playmaking secondary to excel. And shutdown cornerback Tre’Davious White continues to delete half the field from most opponents’ gameplans. White was beaten soundly last week by Detroit’s Kenny Golladay, but remains one of the NFL’s premier blanket-coverage guys. He’s the primary reason that only 6 wideouts have reached 70 yards in this matchup, and his Week 16 snaps across from Josh Gordon should make for seriously entertaining football.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


New York Jets Passing Offense vs Green Bay Packers Passing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Sam Darnold played one of, if not his best game of the season last Saturday against the Texans, completing 24 of 38 passes for 253 yards and two touchdowns. While the stats were not prolific, Darnold played very well throughout the game, specifically how he handled the Texans pressure by recognizing the blitz, scrambling outside the pocket and finding his receivers after the play broke down. Darnold seemed like he was moving backward in his development after throwing seven interceptions combined in week seven and nine, but he has since bounced back and is completing 65% of his passes for 210 yards and 1.5 touchdowns over the last two weeks, with only one interception. Darnold has started to recognize that Robbie Anderson is the only real playmaker the Jets have on offense, and he peppered Anderson with 11 targets, for which Anderson caught seven of them for 96 yards and a touchdown. Anderson was coming off his matchup against Buffalo where he had four catches for 76 yards and a touchdown. Anderson has the type of deep speed that cannot be stopped by a single cornerback, as he proved over the last half of the 2017 season, and it looks as though Darnold will continue keying in on Anderson.

The Green Bay Packers secondary had a difficult time against Mitchell Trubisky and the Bears this past weekend. While Trubisky’s stats were not prolific (20 of 28 for 235 and two touchdowns), the Packers secondary could not get a stop when they needed to, and that stemmed from the fact that the defensive line could not get any pressure on Trubisky. The Green Bay secondary has been solid for most of the season, ranking ninth in pass defense, allowing 225.5 yards per game. The Green Bay corners can sometimes have trouble against taller wide receivers, as Tramon Williams and Bashaud Breeland are both 5’11 and 195 lbs. Allen Robinson looked as though he could have really taken advantage of his size, but the Packers did a good job of not letting him get in advantageous matchups down the field where one big play could have broken the game open. This week the Packers pass defense has another good matchup against rookie quarterback Sam Darnold. Darnold has put together back to back solid games however and appears to be improving as a rookie. The biggest threat the Packers corners face will be keeping Robbie Anderson from getting behind the secondary. The Packers have been susceptible to the deep ball, despite ranking seventh in the league in sacks, and Anderson—much like Marquise Goodwin who caught four passes for 126 yards and two touchdowns—has blazing speed and a quarterback who is not afraid to take deep shots.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


Baltimore Ravens Passing Offense at Los Angeles Chargers Passing Defense (Bad Matchup)

Joe Flacco has been removed from the Ravens’ injury report, but even with the Ravens pushing for the playoffs, he won’t open Week 16 under center. Lamar Jackson has brought such a transformative element to this offense that he’s likely locked himself in, despite showing almost nothing as a passer. Jackson is exceptionally raw, even for a rookie, struggling to create anything of note through the air. Through 5 starts he’s posted just 6.6 yards per attempt, and he’s topped 150 in a game just once, with a paltry 4 touchdowns along the way. Needless to say, the Baltimore receivers have lost all of their fantasy luster in the new run-dominant scheme. John Brown and Michael Crabtree have combined for just 175 yards over these last 5 games, with Willie Snead’s 190 leading the team. Unless Jackson faceplants and Flacco steps in, there isn’t a usable fantasy piece in this attack. The Baltimore offense is now as run-oriented as they come, and Jackson looks miles from pass-game productivity anyway.

Even with injuries swirling throughout the year, the Chargers continue to field one of football’s most impressive pass defenses. There’s been a ton of personnel turnover, but they’re still giving up the league’s eighth-fewest raw yards and ninth-fewest per play, and it is an improving unit as no opposing passer has managed 300 yards since Week 3. With top cornerback Casey Hayward often shadowing and second-year man Desmond King impressing in the slot, wideouts are producing very little downfield. But perhaps their best work has come against tight ends; they’ve come up big against the likes of Jared Cook and Travis Kelce, who’ve totaled just 139 yards over 4 meetings. Playmaking rookie safety Derwin James (12 pass breakups and 3 interceptions) adds yet another layer to this often-dominant group, and it’s hard to see where raw Baltimore rookie Lamar Jackson can expect to go with the ball Sunday.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


Detroit Lions Passing Offense vs Minnesota Vikings Passing Defense (Bad Matchup)

Matthew Stafford and the Lions are now seven games removed from trading Golden Tate, and the difference has been remarkable. After averaging 273 yards and throwing 14 touchdowns over the season’s first 7 games, Stafford has produced just 211 and 5 since. His per-attempt average has plummeted from 7.6 to an anemic 6.2, and he’s topped 245 yards just once since Week 8. Missing his longtime slot creator in Tate, Stafford is routinely on the ropes behind a poor pass-blocking line that’s allowed 3.4 sacks a game over this stretch. And with Marvin Jones out of the picture as well, there’s very little weaponry for Stafford to find and utilize down the field. Kenny Golladay has shattered his Year 2 expectations, but since Jones’ injury 5 weeks ago, the Lions’ other wideouts have combined to produce just 209 yards. This is a shell-shocked unit right now, one incapable of supporting a fantasy asset beyond Golladay and, to a lesser extent, third-down back Theo Riddick.

The Vikings defense is built to attack the pass first and foremost, and it’s as effective as they come. Boasting a dominant, versatile pass rush and strong downfield coverage, this has been among fantasy’s stingiest pass units. They’ve allowed the league’s fewest touchdowns and fourth-fewest yards, and dating back to Week 6, only Tom Brady has topped 240 yards. No quarterback over this span - not Brady, Drew Brees, nor Aaron Rodgers - has managed multiple touchdowns, and only 2 wide receivers have reached 70 yards. Danielle Hunter (14.5 sacks) leads a front that consistently collapses pockets, while Harrison Smith (5 pass breakups, 3 interceptions) continues to excel as a playmaker in all facets. This is an exceptionally tough group to hit for splash plays, and not one that gives up small-ball efficiency, either (just 5.9 net yards per attempt, fifth-best in the league). In sum, they’re a group to avoid in many borderline fantasy matchups. The Lions’ discombobulated attack is certainly one of them.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


Los Angeles Chargers Passing Offense vs Baltimore Ravens Passing Defense (Bad Matchup)

Here in his age-37 season, Philip Rivers continues to push hard for his first league MVP award. The ageless Rivers is completing 69% of his throws, sitting neck-and-neck with Patrick Mahomes atop the league by most efficiency measures. He’s averaging a solid 282 yards per game, and he’s thrown multiple scores in 13 of 14 outings. Rivers is loaded with playmakers in this offense, and in last week’s wild matchup with Kansas City, they stepped in nicely following Keenan Allen’s early injury. Mike and Tyrell Williams turned 21 targets into 147 yards, and Mike found the end zone twice, his eighth and ninth touchdowns on the year. The duo hasn’t produced consistently, but with Allen looking like a game-time decision, they may be tasked with most of the heavy lifting against Baltimore’s suffocating pass defense. Mike served as the banged-up Chargers’ bell cow player in Week 15, and he’s shown a serious playmaking knack in his second season.

Baltimore’s pass defense remains a true shutdown unit. On the strength of a dominant pass rush and suffocating coverage unit, they’re giving up the league’s fewest net yards per attempt, and only 2 opposing passers have managed 275 yards. Even 2018 phenom Patrick Mahomes had to claw for his production in Week 14. The talented secondary has allowed back-to-back 100-yard receivers - their first 2 of the year - over the last 2 weeks, but almost nothing else in the process. They shut down Travis Kelce over the second half of Week 14, then held Buccaneers not named Mike Evans to just 36 combined yards last Sunday. Simply put, there aren’t many snap-to-snap weaknesses here. Marlon Humphrey and Brandon Carr have both been strong in outside coverage, while the flats have been almost impenetrable - no team has allowed fewer receiving yards to running backs. Philip Rivers is enjoying his most efficient season in years, but will likely have his Week 16 capabilities scaled back by this unit, which has been as consistently dominant as any.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


Miami Dolphins Passing Offense vs Jacksonville Jaguars Passing Defense (Bad Matchup)

Likely nearing the end of his Dolphins tenure, Ryan Tannehill continues to struggle mightily. The erratic 30-year-old simply can’t seem to string together more than one solid day at a time. In all, Tannehill has started and finished 9 games this season and topped 230 yards only twice, averaging just 187 along the way. Mired in a slow, low-volume offense, he throws just 25 passes per outing and struggles to create much of anything downfield. Apart from two long throws through badly busted Oakland coverages and a last-second hook-and-lateral, he’s produced a ho-hum 6.8 yards per attempt on the year. His receiving corps has been decimated by injury, but still boasts some game-breaking ability that goes wasted in this setup. Top target Kenny Stills has reached 100 yards twice, but failed to top 40 in 9 other games. It’s hard to find any leeway as this anemic group stares down the Jacksonville pass rush and coverage units.

The Jaguars pass defense remains a strong unit and a tough fantasy matchup for mediocre passing games like Miami’s. It’s not a unit that’s tested often as lesser offenses tend to scheme away from this point of strength - and it’s just punishing enough to thoroughly stifle its weaker opponents. Over the last 4 weeks, only Andrew Luck has topped 165 yards through the air, and only 2 touchdowns have been allowed. The stronger quarterbacks on the schedule (Luck, Patrick Mahomes, Ben Roethlisberger, Carson Wentz) have found ways to exploit this slightly-underachieving group, but Ryan Tannehill and the Dolphins’ decimated offense look ill-equipped for the challenge. The Jacksonville pass rush, which has underperformed for much of the year, boasts a massive advantage in the trenches. And the cornerback duo of A.J. Bouye and Jalen Ramsey, while not as dominant as it was last year, remains a nightmare matchup against Miami’s low-impact downfield game. It’s not wise to project much efficiency against this group, especially for Week 16.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.


San Francisco 49ers Passing Offense vs Chicago Bears Passing Defense (Bad Matchup)

Nick Mullens has been serviceable for the 49ers since taking over the starting role. He has certainly had some up and down weeks, but Mullens has thrown for at least one touchdown in every start while ranking third in passing yards per attempt (amongst quarterbacks with multiple starts) since Week 9. George Kittle continues to put up steady performances despite posting his lowest reception total (3) since Week 2 in last week’s game. The red zone usage is starting to fall off for Kittle though, which is of slight concern. After opening the season with 11 red zone looks in his first 10 games, Kittle has seen just one red zone look in his last four outings with only one touchdown in his last five games. Touchdowns aside, Kittle continues to see elite level volume for a tight end as he has been targeted at least eight times in seven of his last eight games with more than double the targets of any other 49ers receiver this season. Rookie Dante Pettis has come on strong late in the season as the second best option in this passing offense as he is averaging just over six targets and 84 yards per game with four touchdowns in the last four weeks.

San Francisco draws a very difficult matchup this week against one of the best defenses in football. The Bears kept Aaron Rodgers out of the end zone last week while picking him off once and sacking him five times as they all but shut down the Packers offense outside of Davante Adams. This defensive front is frightening for opposing offensive lines. They have racked up multiple sacks in seven straight games with at least three sacks in their last three outings. As a whole, this defense has forced a league-leading 35 turnovers (compared to just five forced by the 49ers), led primarily by their ball-hawking secondary that has nabbed 26 interceptions. That secondary has suffered a few big injuries in recent weeks though. They lost one of the best cornerbacks, Bryce Callahan, in Week 14 followed by the critical loss of top safety Eddie Jackson last week, who suffered a high ankle sprain that will sideline him this week at a minimum. Jackson ranks tied for third in the league with six interceptions, and Deon Bush will be a big downgrade as his replacement. For Callahan, however, Sherrick McManis had a great game covering the slot in Week 15 despite his poor track record in the NFL as a clear backup option. George Kittle should benefit from the injury to Jackson, however, he still will see tough coverage from Adrian Amos Jr.

Please refer to the NFL's injury report for the latest injury news regarding your players.