Week 7 Passing Matchups

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

Jump to Rushing Matchups

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


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.


Baltimore Ravens Passing Offense vs New Orleans Saints Passing Defense (Great Matchup)

Joe Flacco is making a great push to wipe his 2017 from memory. Like Alex Smith in Kansas City last year, the 33-year-old Flacco looks revitalized upon the addition of a dynamic first-round quarterback to the room. Through 6 games, he’s posting the highest yardage of his career (298 per game) and enjoying his most efficient season since 2014. The key factor has been the return of his deep ball, which was once truly one of the best in the game. Armed with the explosive John Brown, who looks reborn himself after battle injuries and illness, Flacco is showing a willingness to air it out in search of splash plays. He and Brown have generated 20 yards or more on 8 of their 21 connections thus far, a dizzying rate that’s keeping both in weekly fantasy relevance. The tight ends are staying involved, too, though their production is too spread out to trust. Rookie Mark Andrews has impressed, finding soft spots and moving through the open field; he could find himself on the radar at some point.

While the New Orleans defense has tightened considerably on the run, it’s slipped from its 2018 heights against the pass. Opposing quarterbacks average 313 yards against them, completing 71% of their throws along the way. It’s worth noting that the play has been legitimately better over the last two games. They seem, for instance, to have found a worthy bookend for Cameron Jordan – rookie Marcus Davenport has produced two sacks, five quarterback hits, and plenty of peripheral pressure over 145 snaps. This is a gambling defense, though, one that lives and dies by its ball-hawking cornerbacks. If they’re coming up with disruptions, this is a stingy matchup. But more often than not, they whiff, and that’s all it takes to turn a decent day bad. They’ve already allowed 11 different players to produce 50 yards, and 3 have topped 145.

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


Cincinnati Bengals Passing Offense at Kansas City Chiefs Passing Defense (Great Matchup)

Andy Dalton continues to show marked improvement with coordinator Bill Lazor calling the shots. Dalton appeared to be at a career-low point early last season, but Lazor’s creative offensive scheme has rescued him. There’s innovation in this offense now, thanks in large part to the emergence of Swiss Army knife Tyler Boyd. For years, Dalton was handcuffed to A.J. Green and Tyler Eifert, while both faced heavy coverage in the absence of viable other receivers. But Boyd has been fantastic from the slot, catching 71% of his targets and routinely commanding attention away from Green. For his part, Green continues to look like the class of the league – he’s topped 58 yards in each game thus far, and he’s averaged 92 over the last three. His Week 6 drops were fairly anomalous and not a concern – he’s still a walking mismatch, always capable of skying over defenders for the ball, or merely out-positioning them and winning with physicality. All in all, Dalton’s arsenal is talented and versatile for the first time in years, and he’s producing as a borderline QB1 as a result.

Kansas City’s pass defense remains weak and fully targetable for fantasy purposes. In fact, fantasy players seeking massive passing lines should probably look at this matchup first. The Chiefs have already allowed 3 quarterbacks to top 420 yards through the air, and the other 3 they’ve faced have averaged 279. It doesn’t help that the electrifying offense keeps handing opponents tons of volume opportunity, but the Chiefs are giving up efficiency, too. Opposing passers are averaging 7.1 net yards per attempt (sixth-most in the league), which measures sacks and losses alongside yardage. There’s a dynamic pass rush in place here, even when All-Pro Justin Houston sits. End Chris Jones has sizzled thus far, as have breakout veteran Dee Ford and rookie Breeland Speaks, who have papered nicely over Houston’s absence on the edge. But the mix-and-match secondary, low on talent and ravaged by injury, has been bad enough to skew that number itself. There are huge holes at the safety spots, especially after a pair of recent injuries there.

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


Cleveland Browns Passing Offense at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Passing Defense (Great Matchup)

Baker Mayfield suffered an ankle injury early in the game last week which really bothered him for most of the game. While he says he will be fine, the issues showed up for the Browns for the first time that there are cracks in the armor of their passing game after a tremendous performance the week before against a tough Baltimore team. The issue for the Browns is the lack of receiving talent that they have on the team as their receiving group has lost three players so far from the opening day roster including Josh Gordon, Rashard Higgins and Derrick Willies. While not a unit that was overly deep to begin with, the Browns had expected Antonio Callaway to be further along than where he is at this point in the season as he still looks like a rookie that is not ready to be anything other than a deep threat. Jarvis Landry can only do so much, and we have seen David Njoku and Duke Johnson start to become more of a focal point of this offense which should lead to fantasy production this week.

This game will show us everything we need to know about the Browns going forward as they could not have an easier matchup than they do this week going up against a Buccaneers secondary that is on pace to shatter records for most passing yards given up as they have allowed 355 net passing yards and 366 total passing yards per week. This is a unit that is led by 35-year-old Brent Grimes who is on his last legs of his career and is leading a unit that has very little behind him in young players Ryan Smith and rookie M.J. Stewart who have both struggled as well. They have been susceptible to the pass against running backs as they are allowing 67 yards receiving to the running backs each week which could set up for a big Duke Johnson week if the Browns get him more involved. All in all, if the Browns struggle to throw the ball this week, it may be time to be concerned about Mayfield.

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


Kansas City Chiefs Passing Offense vs Cincinnati Bengals Passing Defense (Great Matchup)

There hasn’t yet been an antidote produced for Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs’ dazzling pass game. The robust numbers are becoming commonplace: he’s averaging 311 yards per game and has topped 300 in 5 straight. Along the way, he’s completed 65% of his passes and thrown 14 touchdowns. The creative, cannon-armed Mahomes could hardly be matched with a more dynamic receiving corps. Tyreek Hill’s blazing, versatile game was on full display last week, scorching the Patriots for three touchdowns of varying types and lengths. Travis Kelce is a walking mismatch in the slot and down the seams, far too powerful for defensive backs to shield from the ball. And Sammy Watkins is displaying the speed and elusiveness he once flashed in Buffalo. It’s certainly possible to goad Mahomes into mistakes – he’s thrown two interceptions in each of the last two games and had another dropped last Sunday night. But Andy Reid will take those miscues while his young passer is generating such dynamite. Mahomes is athletic, powerful, and ruthlessly aggressive, yet generally poised as he attacks tight defensive gaps. There’s too much explosiveness in this unit to just project regression for the sake of it.

The Bengals’ defensive shortcomings have absolutely spread to their pass defense here in 2018. Through 6 games, they’re allowing quarterbacks to complete over 66% of their throws and average 303 yards. Four of their opponents have notched 319 or more, and 3 have thrown multiple touchdowns. There’s a dynamic pass rush in place here, as well as talented cover men, but the cohesiveness just hasn’t been there. That has never been more apparent than on last week’s final Steelers possession, on which JuJu Smith-Schuster and Antonio Brown traded off chances to squeeze between the Bengals’ poorly-patrolled zones for big plays. Even with cornerback William Jackson III blossoming into a star, unacceptable splash plays are becoming commonplace for this disappointing unit.

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


New York Giants Passing Offense at Atlanta Falcons Passing Defense (Great Matchup)

Eli Manning looks like his days are numbered in New York. Saddled with declining arm strength and a poor pass-blocking line, Manning is routinely forced into a quick-hitting, small-ball approach. As a result, his completion rate is way up (a career-best 68.7%), but his throws are having little impact. His 10.5 yards per completion rank 27th out of 35 qualifiers, and he’s managed just 6 touchdowns over 6 games. It’s hampering coach Pat Shurmur’s desired splash-play game, and handcuffing Odell Beckham Jr. tremendously. The superstar wideout has topped 100 yards 3 times, but landed at 60 or fewer in each of the other 3. He’s a weekly WR1 in fantasy, of course, but it’s hard to project him for the massive plays he’s known for (just 6 catches of 20 yards or more). The cause should be helped by the return of dynamic tight end Evan Engram, but these don’t look like temporary problems. Until Manning is benched – which should happen at some point during this lost season – expect more of the same dink-and-dunk football that relies upon Beckham, Engram, and Saquon Barkley to break off huge gains.

Of all the Falcons’ injury losses thus far, their most backbreaking might be that of free safety Ricardo Allen. The emerging ballhawk has left a huge hole in the middle of the secondary, and quarterbacks are taking advantage, averaging a stunning 343 yards since Week 1. Cornerbacks Desmond Trufant and Robert Alford remain above-average cover men, but they get no help in the deep zones and struggle to contain downfield receivers. Wideouts are averaging a wild 13.6 yards per catch in this matchup since Week 1. But the most devastating numbers have come out of opposing backfields. Thus far, they’ve already allowed 3 different running backs to produce 75 receiving yards or more – and 2 of those topped 100. That’s a bizarre trend, but it’s an illustration of how badly the Falcons are being beaten on every level. They miss their safeties downfield, and they miss Deion Jones, one of the league’s premier cover linebackers, in the flats.

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


Buffalo Bills Passing Offense at Indianapolis Colts Passing Defense (Good Matchup)

It’s been years since the NFL has seen anything as toothless as this Bills pass game. They’ve somehow thrown just 3 touchdowns over 6 games, and their leading receiver (Zay Jones) is on pace for all of 531 yards. It says something that an injury to the rookie quarterback who’s completing 54% of his throws threatens to push them even lower. Josh Allen has been ruled out this week, and the Bills have named Derek Anderson the starter over Nathan Peterman. Peterman has been the worst passer in football over the last 2 years, Peterman has posted a 29.9 rating on the NFL level. Derek Anderson who is a veteran should be able to at least keep an offense afloat. He won’t have dynamic targets to throw to, though, or a line to keep him clean. Regardless of the quarterback, there’s no part of this pass game that approaches fantasy relevance.

The Colts still field one of the NFL’s worst pass defenses, and therefore one of fantasy’s tastiest matchups. Through 6 weeks they’re giving up 298 yards per game, with 4 of their opponents throwing multiple touchdowns. Not to knock Jets rookie Sam Darnold, who’s looked improved of late, but it was disconcerting to see him shred this group so badly last Sunday. The pass rush has been surprisingly strong, but the mix-and-match cornerbacks are poor in coverage, even on shorter routes. Darnold wasn’t the first quarterback to beat this secondary repeatedly on slants and timing routes just inside the secondary. All told, opposing quarterbacks are completing a whopping 71% of their throws in this matchup, and they’re getting solid impact out of it. Fantasy players should welcome this matchup.

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


Carolina Panthers Passing Offense at Philadelphia Eagles Passing Defense (Good Matchup)

Cam Newton remains among the NFL’s most inconsistent passers. On any given week, he could come out polished and in-control or indecisive and scattershot. He showed a bit of both last week, frequently hitting on laser-quick timing throws but also throwing wildly off his back foot several times. As a result, it’s always tough to pinpoint his success through the air. At least he’s stocked with targets and unafraid to use them – he sent five looks to five different Panthers last Sunday. Devin Funchess remains his favorite downfield target, and while he’s not the most adept at creating space, he flashes elite ball skills and beats strong coverage for a big catch or two a week. Underneath, Newton relies upon Greg Olsen and Christian McCaffrey on flat and wheel routes, and both are dynamic enough to spin gold on a given target. Rookie D.J. Moore may find himself in the doghouse after a pair of fumbles Sunday, but he adds yet another explosive element for 25-30 snaps a game. Game flow ultimately determines their production, but there’s plenty of week-to-week dynamism here.

The Eagles pass defense is an exceptionally hot-and-cold unit, one capable of both shining and self-destructing from week to week. It was definitely concerning to see the struggling Marcus Mariota work them over methodically in Week 4. The secondary play remains a big concern, with top cornerback Jalen Mills regressing badly after a strong 2017 and counterpart Sidney Jones beaten badly almost every week. As a result, they’ve already allowed 7 different wideouts to rack up 77 yards or more, and 7 to catch a touchdown, through just 6 games. There’s still enough juice from the swarming pass rush to make things difficult for most quarterbacks, and they’re always a tricky fantasy target. But until the coverage unit improves, there’s no reason to avoid their opponents.

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


Chicago Bears Passing Offense vs New England Patriots Passing Defense (Good Matchup)

Mitchell Trubisky continues to evolve into a quarterback who is playing perfectly into the system that Matt Nagy is running. Using Trubisky’s mobility along with his accuracy on short to intermediate throws, the Bears have designed an offense which is to get their speed of Tarik Cohen and Taylor Gabriel into space which will force Allen Robinson into a one-on-one matchup. Trubisky has completed 70% or more of his passes in each of his last two games and now is above 70% on the season. The deep ball accuracy continues to be a concern for him, and he has turned the ball over in critical times, but Trubisky and this passing offense are one of the strongest we have ever seen from the Chicago Bears and they are so different than anyone outside of Kansas City due to the speed that they can put in so many different formations.

The Patriots secondary has been inconsistent for a large portion of this season as they have allowed back-to-back 350 yard performances to Kansas City and Indianapolis which they have now allowed three 350 yard or more performances as the other one was to Blake Bortles and the Jaguars. However, in their other three performances, the Patriots have looked great as they held DeShaun Watson to just 176 yards, shut down the Dolphins holding them to a combined 135 passing yards, and held Matthew Stafford to a very respectable 262 yards passing. The issue for the Patriots for most of the season has not been the corner play as Jason McCourty and Stephon Gilmore are both having good seasons, but instead it is the safety play in Patrick Chung and Devin McCourty have not been playing up to the level that we are typically used to seeing from the two Patriots veterans. This is a unit that is burnable deep as we saw from Tyreek Hill last week who had 7 receptions for 142 yards and 3 touchdowns.

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


Detroit Lions Passing Offense at Miami Dolphins Passing Defense (Good Matchup)

Matthew Stafford remains one of fantasy’s most consistent producers on the QB1/2 borderline. Stafford typically doesn’t see great volume, but has the arm and the weaponry to attack defenses downfield and maximize every fantasy opportunity. He’s completing 66% of his throws and making them count, utilizing his slot extraordinaire (Golden Tate) and his deep-ball weapons (Marvin Jones, Kenny Golladay) plenty. The splashiest one thus far has been Golladay, who’s actually out-snapped Tate and produced far more per target than Jones. Golladay is putting up 86 yards a game – he hasn’t ended below 53 yet – and has scored 3 times. (He also had a 47-yard touchdown called back in Week 4). In sum, there’s enough dynamism in this unit to make them matchup-proof plays. Fantasy owners could do worse than Stafford as a weekly starter, and the receivers are good enough to bring value with just moderate opportunity.

The Miami pass defense is rooted in aggressiveness in seeking out splash plays. Through 6 weeks they sit 24th league-wide in yardage allowed – and tied for second in interceptions. Cornerback Xavien Howard runs hot-and-cold, flashing shutdown ability but also yielding huge completions at times. He and rookie Minkah Fitzpatrick represent the ball-hawking aspect the team has injected. But on the whole, this is a thin group that’s missing both top pass rusher Cameron Wake and starting cornerback Bobby McCain. This isn’t a pushover unit, and quarterbacks rarely have fun avoiding their landmines. But they’ve produced 303 yards per game (with 9 touchdowns) over the last 5 games and can absolutely beat this secondary down the field.

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


Los Angeles Rams Passing Offense at San Francisco 49ers Passing Defense (Good Matchup)

Jared Goff was held to a pedestrian fantasy outing last week with just 201 passing yards, no touchdowns, and one interception while completing only 50 percent of his passes. This was Goff’s worst game of the season, but it primarily was due to how effective the Rams were rushing the ball. Goff had passed for over 320 yards per game with 10 passing touchdowns over his last four games leading into Week 6, so there is little reason to be concerned based on one subdued outing. Cooper Kupp had an injury scare in last week’s game as he left with what could have been a serious knee injury. Kupp ended up returning to the game, but has since been diagnosed with an MCL sprain and is doubtful leading into this week’s outing. With Kupp absent, this will lead to an opportunity for Josh Reynolds to see some increased playing time. Reynolds will still at the back of the line for targets behind Robert Woods and Brandin Cooks. Cooks had a big play last week in his return from a concussion scare but was underutilized otherwise with only two targets. Woods stole the show with a team-leading 10 targets as he now leads the Rams for the season in target share and has over 80 receiving yards in five straight games, including three 100+ yard outings over that span.

The 49ers have given up multiple passing touchdowns in five of six games, with three passing touchdowns coughed up in three of those outings. Opposing quarterbacks are scoring the sixth-most fantasy points per game against this defense despite very solid play from Richard Sherman on the outside. The rest of this secondary simply is not getting it done as Ahkello Witherspoon is losing playing time from poor play while Jimmie Ward looked silly on multiple plays last week against the Packers. This secondary also has just one interception on the season. Combine that with only two fumbles forced, and this defense is the worst in the league at taking the ball away. The pass rush has been nothing to write home about either--but even if it were strong, they would be in for a tough test against the top tier Rams offensive line. Look for all Rams offensive weapons to be in a good spot here.

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


New York Jets Passing Offense vs Minnesota Vikings Passing Defense (Good Matchup)

Sam Darnold may have already arrived. The youngest starting quarterback of the Super Bowl era, Darnold opened his NFL career with a whimper, completing just 56% of his throws over the first 5 weeks. But over the last 2, he’s averaged a studly 9.54 yards per attempt and thrown 5 touchdowns. Darnold is a strong-armed prospect, one who’s unafraid to test downfield and flashes excellent placement when his mechanics are sound. He’s still getting by mostly on quick, short routes, and his slot men remain the Jets’ most consistent producers. Quincy Enunwa easily led the team in targets and yardage before his Week 6 injury, and Jermaine Kearse stepped in last week to catch 9 balls. But as Darnold’s confidence and fundamentals improve, there will be more opportunity for splash plays. As it stands, this certainly isn’t the league’s most explosive attack, but it’s one that’s finally showing fantasy utility. If Darnold keeps developing quickly as a franchise passer, the fortunes of Robby Anderson and Terrelle Pryor will rise, if only gradually.

In general, the Vikings pass defense has been disappointing to open 2018. They were last year’s second-most dominant unit, but thus far have allowed 4 of 6 quarterbacks to top 260 yards. They faced rookies in the other two games, and even Buffalo’s Josh Allen was able to beat them on a handful of tough downfield throws. The pass rush remains dynamic, even without Everson Griffen, but the coverage units have been undermanned and shaky. The cornerbacks have alternated solid performances with bad ones, and it likely won’t get better without first-round rookie Mike Hughes. This a group still quite capable of dominating, as it did last week in haranguing Cardinals rookie Josh Rosen. But it’s no longer the fantasy-shutdown unit it once was.

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


San Francisco 49ers Passing Offense vs Los Angeles Rams Passing Defense (Good Matchup)

C.J. Beathard had what may be his best game yet last week against the Packers on Monday night. Beathard may have only passed for 245 yards, but he had a couple long touchdown passes and was basically having his way with the Packers secondary when not leaning on his backfield. Beathard now has multiple passing touchdowns in every game, but he also has made his fair share of mistakes with seven turnovers in three starts. Marquise Goodwin had a coming out game of his season last week, hauling in four of five targets for 126 yards and two long touchdowns. Finally appearing to be healthy, it was encouraging to see Goodwin flash the explosiveness we came to expect last season. George Kittle had a down game last week now that Goodwin has come back into the picture, but he remains involved as he had equal targets as Goodwin but just could not get loose downfield. Pierre Garcon remains a fringe option in this offense.

The Rams secondary struggled for the third straight game as they allowed Case Keenum to rack up over 300 yards, albeit most of which came in garbage time. The Rams cornerbacks allowed a few big plays to the outside receivers while letting Emmanuel Sanders have his way from the slot. They have now allowed multiple passing touchdowns in four straight games, giving up the second-most fantasy points per game in PPR formats to opposing wide receivers over that span. Both Marcus Peters and Troy Hill have struggled on the outside, with Hill allowing three of every four balls thrown his way to be caught with over 3.5 yards allowed per route covered. The Rams defensive line, however, has been quite effective against opposing quarterbacks despite racking up only a dozen sacks. They lead the league in pressures since Week 4, with Aaron Donald being a big part of that as he finished with 11 pressures last week. The 49ers have a stout offensive line that appears to be back to full health though, so they will have a good chance at fending of this fierce Rams pass rush. Both Marquise Goodwin and Pierre Garcon look to have positive matchups here, especially when lined up against Hill who has really struggled in relief of Aqib Talib.

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


Arizona Cardinals Passing Offense vs Denver Broncos Passing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

The Cardinals passing offense remains one of the lowest performing units in the league--one of only three teams with fewer than 1,000 passing yards through Week 6 with only four touchdowns to six interceptions. Josh Rosen has yet to flash much of anything in three starts for the Cardinals. Despite passing for 240 yards last week, Rosen failed to find the end zone while throwing one interception in a tough matchup. While he was more accurate last week, Rosen still is making some bad reads and missing opportunities on a regular basis. Rookie Christian Kirk has been his favorite target in three starts, leading the team in receiving yards over the past two weeks with over 75 yards in both games. Larry Fitzgerald was the most heavily targeted receiver last week, but he managed to haul in just five receptions for 39 yards. Fitzgerald has had a very disappointing season plagued by injury. Last week’s 39-yard outing was his best game since Week 1, and Fitzgerald has been held out of the end zone all season. David Johnson also continues to lack involvement and production in the passing game as he hauled in only two receptions for the second straight week.

The Broncos passing defense has had ups and downs this season with some encouraging statistics of limiting opposing passers to fewer than 300 yards in all but one game while giving up multiple touchdowns just three times. This secondary, however, has struggled with Bradley Roby as a significant liability on the outside. Roby was beaten terribly by Robby Anderson in Week 5, and he gave up a handful of big plays to both Robert Woods and Brandin Cooks last week in another dreadful outing. Chris Harris continues to play well out of the slot and should help hold Larry Fitzgerald in check, but look for Christian Kirk to get this plus matchup against Roby. With Roby aside though, the Broncos defense has held up fairly well--especially during the first half of play against Patrick Mahomes in Week 4 as they showed significant promise against one of the top quarterbacks this season. Jared Goff also had pedestrian numbers as they kept him out of the end zone last week, but much of that was attributed to how terrible this defense played against the run. The trenches are where the Broncos can find an advantage this week, as the combination of Bradley Chubb and Von Miller should have a significant advantage over the pair of struggling Cardinals tackles.

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


Denver Broncos Passing Offense at Arizona Cardinals Passing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

Case Keenum continues to struggle as the leader of this Broncos passing offense, but his coaching staff remains committed to him despite clamoring for rookie Chad Kelly to take over. Keenum has had decent stats from a fantasy perspective in half of his games this season, passing for multiple touchdowns and over 320 yards in those three outings, two of which have now come in back to back games. Keenum also has at least one interception in every start though, as he is tied for a league-leading eight interceptions while sporting one of the lowest completion rates and quarterback ratings among starters. Keenum leaned heavily on Emmanuel Sanders again last week as Sanders racked up over 110 receiving yards and a touchdown for the second time this season. Sanders now has 24 targets in the last two games compared to just 10 targets for the next receiving option over that span. Demaryius Thomas remains a downfield and red zone threat as he found the end zone for the second straight week while Cortland Sutton continues to put up decent numbers considering his low reception volume. Sutton has tons of talent to make big plays but has yet to haul in more than three receptions in a game. Regardless, Sutton has still put up over 50 receiving yards with 1 touchdown over his last three games.

The Cardinals passing defense has been up and down this season with exceptional play from Patrick Peterson, but relatively unreliable coverage outside of that. Budda Baker looks to be better suited at safety than cornerback as he has flipped back and forth. Tre Boston has also played well in coverage at safety, but the linebackers for Arizona have proven to be very ineffective in coverage as Adam Thielen exploited them repeatedly last week. The stats for the Cardinals secondary are decent, but much of that can be attributed to Patrick Peterson and the lack of offenses needing to pass due to the weakness of the Cardinals’ run defense. Their pass rush, however, has come alive in recent weeks with eight sacks in their last two games to help relieve some pressure from the secondary. Defensive end Chandler Jones, in particular, has found his groove after a relatively slow start, racking up at least one sack in four straight games with three sacks and two forced fumbles in his last two games. With Patrick Peterson locking down one side of the field, it will be up to Sanders to put up numbers out of the slot--an achievable feat considering what Adam Thielen did to this defense last week.

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


Jacksonville Jaguars Passing Offense vs Houston Texans Passing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

Blake Bortles continues to be someone that can not be relied upon for consistency, but still has some of the most upside of any quarterback in the NFL. Last week against the Cowboys, the Jaguars were unable to move the ball hardly at all which is now the third game in which Bortles has thrown for 176 yards or less this season. The talent remains around Bortles and while they do not have a superstar wide receiver, they have a group of receivers that are all having solid production seasons in Donte Moncrief, Keelan Cole, and Dede Westbrook. Expect this unit to continue to have an up and down season.

The Texans pass defense has improved on its pitiful, injury-ravaged 2017, but not by much. Kareem Jackson, Tyrann Mathieu, and Jonathan Joseph aren't the most consistent of cover men, but they're playmakers on the ball and contributing more than they did last season. And the pass rush, led by J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney, is almost impossible to contain on the edges. This is a unit that you should not change your opinion on based on last week as they played a Buffalo team that is a disaster in passing the ball and 3 of their 6 opponents have racked up 277 yards or more. (The two who didn't: Blaine Gabbert, Dak Prescott, Josh Allen/Nathan Peterman.) This is matchup between two mediocre units in the Jaguars passing attack and the Texans secondary will likely play a significant role in determining how the rest of the season will go for these two teams.

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


Los Angeles Chargers Passing Offense vs Tennessee Titans Passing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

The Chargers passing offense led by Phillip Rivers is off to a hot start in 2018 with a whopping 15 passing touchdowns compared to only three interceptions. Rivers has multiple passing touchdowns in each game while he has averaged over 10 yards per pass attempt in back-to-back outings. Rivers is surrounded by weapons capable of making big plays at any moment. Last week, we saw Tyrell Williams explode for 118 yards and two touchdowns on only three receptions after surpassing 50 receiving yards only once this season. Mike Williams was minimally involved last week, but he has also posted a couple big games this season. Keenan Allen continues to be the top and most consistent target for Rivers despite his lack of touchdowns, now averaging six receptions per game with no outing below 44 receiving yards. The backfield duo of Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler are also having spectacular seasons as receivers, notching six receiving touchdowns between the two of them while they each are averaging over 40 receiving yards per game.

The Titans defense has benefitted from some plush matchups and game scripts to help propel this secondary to allowing just 215 passing yards per game--fifth-fewest in the league. This secondary is worse than this number suggests though, as Josh Allen could only muster 85 passing yards in Week 5 to help suppress this stat. The Titans secondary has played better in recent weeks, but they can certainly be exploited by opposing receivers. Malcolm Butler has been the target of more than his fair share of long plays this season, giving up well over two yards per route covered and with a catch rate of over 70 percent against him. The Chargers receivers move all over the field, so everyone should have a chance against Butler here. The Titans pass rush has been up and down this season, but they took a blow with the loss of Derrick Morgan for a few weeks due to a shoulder injury. While rookie Harold Landry is a spectacular backup option, losing Morgan still will have an impact to this unit’s depth and pass-rushing effectiveness. The Chargers offensive line has given up an average of just 1.3 sacks per game, good for the third lowest rate in the league--so this matchup points to Rivers having plenty of time to find an open receiving option.

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


Minnesota Vikings Passing Offense at New York Jets Passing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

Kirk Cousins’ efficiency has been amazing so far this season. Through 6 games as a Viking he’s completing over 71% of his passes, and he sits 11th league-wide in adjusted net yards per attempt. (He’d rank higher if not for a porous front line that’s already allowed 18 sacks.) A patient yet aggressive passer, Cousins is utilizing his talented weaponry with much more skill than Case Keenum did last year in (mostly) a caretaker role. His tendency to release low and have throws batted back in his face is annoying, but just a nitpick of a fantastic debut season in Minnesota. Adam Thielen has been the main beneficiary. His consistency is staggering, with at least 102 yards in each game thus far. Thielen keeps winning battle after battle in the slot, and he’s proving himself one of the game’s best downfield receivers from inside – his 8 catches of 20 yards or more ranks eighth in the league. Stefon Diggs trails him in terms of attention, but adds sure-handed explosiveness on the outside. On the whole, there’s little to distrust about this attack. It’s methodical yet striking, and it keeps succeeding regardless of matchup.

There’s incremental improvement on display, but the Jets still field one of the league’s more beatable pass defenses. They’ve allowed their last 3 opponents to top 300 yards, and none were particularly imposing air attacks. Blake Bortles (388) and Case Keenum (377) both routinely found big openings downfield, and last week Andrew Luck (301) nickel-and-dimed them with a stripped-down receiving corps. Cornerback Morris Claiborne has been fantastic in coverage, but he’s had little help from the team’s inexperienced safeties. If fellow cornerbacks Trumaine Johnson and Buster Skrine remain out for Week 7, Claiborne will likely again be stretched too thin. Inside receivers have put on a show thus far against the Jets, and virtually anyone testing their zones down the seams have had great success.

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


New England Patriots Passing Offense at Chicago Bears Passing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

By most accounts, Tom Brady is off to a slow start for him this season which for any other quarterback would be a tremendous start to the year. Most of the early season struggles were due to the lack of receiving options in New England which they should have figured out with the acquisition of Josh Gordon and Julian Edelman returning from suspension and while this group will continue to come together, it already showed signs of this the last two weeks against the Chiefs and Colts as Brady has thrown for 340 yards in each of those two games and will continue to look to build chemistry with their receiving group along with James White which should once again develop into one of the best passing offenses in football.

The Bears pass defense has been entirely based on their pass rush as if they fail to get to the quarterback as they did last week where they failed to sack Brock Osweiler, he was easily able to pick this defense apart. The Bears statistically have been solid this year as they have allowed just one quarterback to go over 300 yards which was this past week. Prince Amukamara continues to be the strong point of this secondary, but Kyle Fuller and Bryce Callahan who have been great this season both struggled last week allowing both Albert Wilson and Danny Amendola to have big games. The biggest issue for the Bears is that their linebackers and safety Adrian Amos are tremendous liabilities in pass protection which when the Bears go with a zone defense the opponents as we saw last week are able to pick this team apart. Look for Brady and Belichick to come up with a game plan that looks to eliminate the pass rush for Chicago and test the corners this week.

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


Philadelphia Eagles Passing Offense vs Carolina Panthers Passing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

Carson Wentz continues to showcase top-notch creativity and dynamism as a passer. He moves exceptionally well, allowing his receivers to find room in the secondary and make plays. And of late, he’s appeared to shake off the rust of his ACL recovery, hitting on 50 of his 71 throws (70%) overall. His supporting cast has been devastated by injuries, but he still throws to a pair of strong security blankets in Alshon Jeffery and Zach Ertz, both of whom have been outstanding in the red zone. Dating back to last year, the duo has combined to score on a studly 18 of their 41 targets (44%) from inside the 20. Nelson Agholor remains a wild card – he can be erased from game plans, but showed his value last week, breaking off his route on a Wentz scramble and working open for a huge 58-yard connection. This unit is in a somewhat precarious spot, seemingly due for touchdown regression with so many pieces missing. (Left tackle Jason Peters joined that group Thursday with a torn biceps; he’s out indefinitely.) But on its face, it’s an explosive attack that’s still generating touchdowns on the regular. There aren’t any matchups that spell fantasy doom for its principal players.

Carolina’s pass defense continues to prove itself undermanned and burnable. It was nice to see the star-studded pass rush show up last week, hitting Alex Smith six times and sacking him three. But in all, the coverage unit has been so poor that quarterbacks have been teeing off in general. They’ve allowed 3 of 5 quarterbacks to throw for 272 yards or more – the only others being a date with Dak Prescott and last week where the Redskins got out to an early lead and did not press the ball down the field. Sunday was a great snapshot of the confusion and blown assignments often seen in the middle of the field. Slot receivers from Cole Beasley, Calvin Ridley, and Tyler Boyd have all posted big days in this matchup, averaging 86 yards and scoring twice.

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


Washington Redskins Passing Offense vs Dallas Cowboys Passing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

Alex Smith came out after the game last week and said that the receivers and Smith were still not in sync which so far this year has been evident. It doesn’t help that the amount of injuries that the Redskins have had in the receiving game has limited the amount of practice time that the receivers have had with Smith who is in his first year in Washington. Even with all of that, Smith continues to be a productive game manager as he has been for most of his career and while he is not the type of player that you can expect to throw for 300 yards per game, is still on pace for the second-highest yardage season of his career. Just in a year where yardage seems to have skyrocketed throwing for 241 yards per game seems like an offense in which is below average. The biggest question for this week will be the health of the receivers as the Redskins will likely be without Jamison Crowder and could be without Paul Richardson and Chris Thompson leaving very little receiving options.

The Cowboys secondary has been an up and down unit for most of the season as they held Cam Newton, Russell Wilson, and Blake Bortles to under 200 yards passing, but allowed 300 or more yards to Matthew Stafford and DeShaun Watson threw for 375 against them. This is a unit that is led by Byron Jones who is playing at an All-Pro level this season and Jourdan Lewis out of the slot has been playing very well, but the issues remain with Anthony Brown and the safeties in Jeff Heath and Xavier Woods who have struggled this season. This is a team that their strengths are as good as anyone, but if you can exploit their weakness you will have success against this unit.

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


Atlanta Falcons Passing Offense vs New York Giants Passing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Thus far, Matt Ryan hasn’t quite matched the efficiency of his dazzling 2016, but he’s come close. Averaging a career-best 320 yards per game and a touchdown every 17 attempts, he’s actually posting a comparable fantasy season. He opened last week by hitting on his first 11 throws and never slowed down, consistently shredding the Buccaneers’ barely-there secondary. Ryan has a bevy of weapons at his disposal, from Julio Jones’ impossible-to-defend downfield game to Calvin Ridley’s dynamic slot work to Austin Hooper’s emerging underneath dominance. Altogether, he’s completing just south of 70% of his throws, and he’s doing so without locking disproportionately onto Jones. Ridley’s impact on the offense has been huge as a dynamic route-tree guy in the intermediate zones, and he’s been an upgrade over Sanu in terms of drawing defensive attention away from Jones. And the star of the show is producing himself, posting 4 games of 96 yards or more (with 3 over 143). There are still limitations here, of course. Ryan still isn’t much of a downfield passer, and his value tends to hinge upon the secondary he’s facing. And Jones remains a non-factor near the goal line, a half-decade trend that seems to have strong roots. But in general, this attack can hold its own in any shootout, and Ryan has been good enough for most of the year that he’s proven capable of starting them up himself.

The Giants pass defense has been solid from a stat-sheet perspective, allowing just 244 yards per game, good for 10th-best in the league. But much of that production has been deflated by game flow: the Giants tend to trail deep into games, and opponents often come away from the pass early. On an efficiency level, they leave a lot to be desired. The secondary, led by occasional shutdown cornerback Janoris Jenkins, is relatively stout, and they’ve done solid work against No. 1 wideouts. DeAndre Hopkins, Michael Thomas, Devin Funchess, and Alshon Jeffery have combined for just 260 yards over their 33 targets. But with such a hit-or-miss pass rush (seven sacks through six games), they’re often tasked with holding their coverages too long, allowing creative quarterbacks like Deshaun Watson and Carson Wentz to buy time and make big plays. Cam Newton won’t have the easiest time, but should have plenty of opportunity to find openings down the field.

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


Dallas Cowboys Passing Offense at Washington Redskins Passing Defense (Tough Matchup)

The Cowboys passing offense is not unit that is built to have 300 yard passing performances on a weekly basis as Dak Prescott has been the definition of a game manager through the air this season. Dak once again last week did not go over 200 yards which is the fourth time he has failed to do so in the teams six games. This is a unit that is designed to throw the ball enough just to keep the defense honest as it looks for the power run to establish heir offense. The Cowboys top two receivers at the moment appear to be Cole Beasley who had a tremendous game last week going over 100 yards and scoring twice along with Ezekiel Elliott who while he did not need to be a focus in the passing game last week has been catching the ball at a much higher rate than he ever has and should continue to be a focal point as the team looks to get him the ball in space.

The Redskins passing defense is one that outside of a poor performance on Monday Night against the Saints in which Josh Norman was injured and then benched, has been solid for most of the season. They have only allowed Brees to go over 300 yards and have allowed the 9th fewest passing yards on the season. This is a defense that on paper should not be playing as well as they are, but Quinton Dunbar is developing into a tremendous number one corner which takes some pressure off of Josh Norman who has struggled so far this season. D.J Swearinger continues to be one of the top strong safeties in the NFL. Overall this is a unit that while it does not have any elite corners does not have any weaknesses and has some above average players who when they work together have had success this season.

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


Houston Texans Passing Offense at Jacksonville Jaguars Passing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Deshaun Watson continues to have a roller coaster of a season. Watson has thrown for 300 or more yards in four of his six games, but the other two games he struggled mightily as he threw for just 176.5 yards average in those two games. Last week the number of hits that he took were an issue and supposedly played with a partially collapsed lung. The Texans receiving group is an extremely dynamic trio in DeAndre Hopkins, Will Fuller and Keke Coutee that creates significant mismatches for opponents.

The Jacksonville pass defense hasn't been quite as smothering as it was in 2017 when they allowed the league's fewest net yards per attempt and third-fewest touchdowns. Even with last week’s blowout loss, cornerbacks Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye remain extremely stingy in coverage – only Odell Beckham Jr. Sammy Watkins and last week star Cole Beasley have topped 61 yards in this matchup thus far. And their job is made much easier by the swarming pass rush. Calais Campbell, Yannick Ngakoue, and Malik Jackson lead a front that both bends the edge and collapses pockets, and the Jaguars rarely need to blitz coverage men to disrupt things. Fantasy players rely on Jacksonville opponents at their own risk.

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


Indianapolis Colts Passing Offense vs Buffalo Bills Passing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Andrew Luck remains locked into a pass-or-die gameplan, one that begs a ton of his arm. But it’s been a quiet path to the quietest 299 yards per game the NFL has seen in some time. Recovering from long-term injury, Luck still isn’t testing much downfield – especially with T.Y. Hilton out indefinitely. He’s only attempted 45 throws 15 yards or more downfield (16%), but he’s showing just how capable he is of producing even with his offense ravaged by injury and inconsistency. Any 300-yard performance that features Chester Rogers and Zach Pascal as the top available wideouts is to be applauded. Unfortunately, it makes it tough to project much efficiency. Luck’s 6.22 yards per attempt on the season is easily the lowest mark of his career. As it stands, this is a toothless passing game that tries to gum defenses to death. Luck will continue to post major volume, but struggle to produce high-impact numbers. Against the Bills’ ball-hawking secondary, it’s fair to wonder whether he’ll try to throw downfield at all Sunday. This passing game still works through Rogers, the backs, and the tight ends, keeping Luck’s ultimate upside a question mark.

The Bills have constructed their pass defense around splash-play corners, and it’s starting to pay off. Over the last 2 weeks, they’ve allowed just 306 yards and 1 touchdown through the air. The key has been second-year cornerback Tre’Davious White, who’s played at an All-Pro level since midway through last season. With blanket coverage ability and dynamic ball skills (22 pass breakups over 22 NFL games), White is fast developing into a shutdown guy on the outside. He had a shaky day last Sunday, committing three penalties, but played the biggest role in holding down DeAndre Hopkins. Top outside receivers routinely struggle in this matchup, in fact – only Davante Adams and Geronimo Allison have topped Hopkins’ 63 yards in a game thus far. They’re still vulnerable against stronger, more disciplined passers, but this unit is anything but a pushover.

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


Miami Dolphins Passing Offense vs Detroit Lions Passing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Ryan Tannehill’s shoulder injury thrust Brock Osweiler into the lineup last week, and the backup responded with a big stat line (380 yards and 3 touchdowns). But those numbers were largely inflated by the after-catch work of Albert Wilson, Danny Amendola, and company. Osweiler remains a deeply flawed passer, and the Dolphins don’t want him testing defenses downfield too often. He’ll continue to play the caretaker role, utilizing the screen and quick-slant games to try and move the ball. Surrounded by a higher-than-expected level of talent around him, Osweiler could conceivably dink and dunk his way to another solid line. It’s just not very realistic to ask much more, which dings the upsides of deep-ball extraordinaire Kenny Stills. Look for the ultra-versatile Wilson to remain heavily involved, but with hard-to-project efficiency. Osweiler hasn’t strung together decent back-to-back performances in years.

In general, the Lions boast a stouter pass defense than the one Aaron Rodgers just gashed in San Francisco. Prior to Week 5, the Lions allowed just 198 yards per game. The unit is headlined by cornerback Darius Slay, who often flashes shutdown ability on the outside. The slot has been a problem at times – Slay himself struggled mightily when following Davante Adams there last week – but in all, it’s a fairly prohibitive group. Free safety Glover Quin adds a ball-hawking element that routinely makes quarterbacks’ jobs harder. This is a team that got an entire extra week to study this Miami passing attack coming off the bye should give the Dolphins a lot of problems this week.

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


New Orleans Saints Passing Offense at Baltimore Ravens Passing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Drew Brees simply refuses to slow down. In Week 5, he spotted Washington a mere 3 incompletions en route to a 363-yard, 3-touchdown performance. That kind of efficiency is pretty much the norm for Brees, who’s completing 72% of his throws on the year and sits behind only Patrick Mahomes among full-timers in adjusted net yardage per attempt. The factors are simple: he doesn’t get sacked, he doesn’t throw interceptions, and he makes it look easy to maximize his supporting cast. His otherworldly connection with Michael Thomas has slowed a bit (though they still boast a 94% completion rate) as defenses have adjusted, but Brees has created success elsewhere. In Week 5, it was rookie Tre’Quan Smith who erupted, and he looks like a true threat to Ted Ginn’s role as the No. 2. In a nutshell, Brees is as precise and dominant as he’s ever been, and that’s terrifying news for opponents – even without the glut of talent he throws to.

The Baltimore pass defense isn’t flawless, but it’s coming together nicely, and it’s far from a friendly fantasy matchup. They’ve allowed a handful of big yardage lines, but they tighten up as well as anyone. Aside from Andy Dalton’s Week 2 eruption, they’ve allowed just 5.94 yards per attempt and a measly 2 touchdowns. The secondary has been strong all year, particularly on the boundaries, where they’ve done a masterful job on wideouts. Armed with at three upper-tier cornerbacks, they’ve managed to slow or shut down the likes of Emmanuel Sanders (38 yards on 9 targets), Corey Davis (24 on 4), and the Antonio Brown/JuJu Smith-Schuster tandem (122 on 22). But the real star is the pass rush, which routinely swarms quarterbacks from all angles. Terrell Suggs leads the way, but he’s not alone – the Ravens boast a deep bench of situational rushers. Truly big games are rare and hard-earned in this matchup.

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


Tampa Bay Buccaneers Passing Offense vs Cleveland Browns Passing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Jameis Winston looked great last week going up against Atlanta and while it is hard to get excited about having a great game against the porous Atlanta defense, it was still great to see for the quarterback who had played just a half of football prior to last week’s game. This is a dangerous Tampa Bay team as we saw what Ryan Fitzpatrick was able to do with the tremendous weapons on the outside in Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson who is having a resurgence in his career, and Chris Godwin who has been a nice surprise for the Buccaneers. O.J. Howard is finally turning into the tight end that the Buccaneers hoped he would be when they drafted him in the first round last season. Overall, this is a unit that can beat you in so many ways that they’re consistently causing matchup issues.

The Browns secondary has been a bright spot for this team as they have allowed the 6th fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks so far this season. This is a unit that is led by Denzel Ward, the first-round rookie who is having a tremendous season so far and is shadowing the number one receiver all over the field. Outside of Ward, the Browns corners will be tested this week, as they are dealing with some critical injuries at the position as E.J. Gaines is in concussion protocol and unlikely to play and Terrance Mitchell was put on injured reserve a few weeks ago. This will force T.J. Carrie to move outside and Briean Boddy-Calhoun to move back to the slot corner a place where he played significantly last season. This is a unit that has been good but will be tested this week.

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


Tennessee Titans Passing Offense at Los Angeles Chargers Passing Defense (Tough Matchup)

The Titans passing offense has been one of the most unreliable units in the game, averaging under 180 passing yards per game with only four touchdowns compared to five interceptions. Marcus Mariota has passed for fewer than 130 yards in four of five games with twice as many interceptions (4) as passing touchdowns (2). His offensive line has a near-historic terrible performance last week as they allowed 11 sacks--one shy of tying an NFL record. Corey Davis is the top target here, but he struggled in coverage last week and can’t do much when his quarterback can’t come close to finding him with the ball. Outside of Davis, the rest of these offensive weapons have been far too unreliable to be considered as viable options.

The Chargers passing defense showed some signs of improvement as they had their best game of the season against Baker Mayfield and the Browns last week. When facing suspect quarterbacks such as Baker Mayfield, Derek Carr, and Josh Allen, this unit has naturally looked great--amassing five interceptions to just three passing touchdowns allowed in those matchups. When facing better offenses such as the Rams and Chiefs though, they have of course been put on display as a reeling secondary. One big struggle has been the pass rush, but this defensive line racked up four sacks while the secondary chipped in for a fifth last week. Facing a Titans offensive line coming off a historically terrible performance, the five-sack game against Cleveland gives the Chargers solid momentum. Slot cornerback Desmond King had a great game last week as he blanketed Jarvis Landry while racking up a couple interceptions in the second half. King has had some up and down games, but he is playing well right now and should help put a lid on Taywan Taylor’s upside. Corey Davis should be in line to draw a decent matchup against the worst of the three Chargers cornerbacks, Trevor Williams. However, rookie safety Derwin James has been a spectacular addition to this secondary and will definitely be helping keep an eye on the Titans’ top receiver Davis.

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