Week 1 Passing Matchups

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

Jump to Rushing Matchups

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


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.


Dallas Cowboys Passing Offense vs New York Giants Passing Defense (Great Matchup)

The Dallas Cowboys got off to a slow start through the air in 2018, which led to the team giving up a first-round pick in exchange for then-fourth-year wide receiver Amari Cooper. Before the acquisition of Amari Cooper, the Cowboys managed just 183 passing yards-per-game. Following the trade, Dallas' offense produced 250 yards-per-game through the air. Entering 2019, Amari Cooper is battling with a foot injury, but he is expected to be on the field alongside second-year wide receiver Michael Gallup. Gallup, a former second-round pick, has established himself as Dak Prescott's clear number-two option in this offense. Cole Beasley has packed his bags and flown up north to join the Buffalo Bills in the 2019 season, but Dallas has replaced him with veteran Randall Cobb. Cobb is not expected to be a major factor in the offense, but the veteran slot-receiver may serve as Prescott's safety-blanket in an offense lacking a top-end tight end. At the tight end position, the team has lured Jason Witten out of retirement but, as seen throughout the preseason, there is some rust to shake off. Dak Prescott bounced back in 2018 following a sophomore slump in 2017, and he is expected to continue this upward trajectory in 2019. Finally, the Cowboys' stout offensive line, receiving an A pass-blocking grade from Matt Bitonti, is likely to accel at keeping Dak Prescott clean and upright, which may be the most critical factor in Prescott's development as a passer.

In 2018, the New York Giants defense allowed the 6th-highest net yards/attempt (NY/A) tally in the entire NFL. The Giants will enter 2019 without its most productive pass rusher from last year in Olivier Vernon. Vernon was traded to Cleveland along with Odell Beckham, Jr. over the offseason. In just 11 games, Vernon led the team in sacks, with 7, and his 21 quarterback hits were more than twice as much as the team's second-leading pass rusher. In his place, this season will be Lorenzo Carter, a second-year edge-rusher with much left to prove. Throughout his rookie season, Carter was serviceable at best as a pass-rusher. At the second level of the defense, New York's linebackers are a liability in the passing game. This unit is mostly the same as last year's unit opposing offenses consistently shredded over the middle of the field. In the secondary, New York lost Landon Collins to free agency but added Jabrill Peppers via trade. This swap will likely have minimal impact on the overall performance of the secondary, as both players are similarly strong pass defenders. Alongside Peppers at safety will be Antoine Bethea. Bethea signed with New York as a free agent, and at 35-years old, he is likely nearing the end of the road as a starting NFL safety. In 2018, Bethea saw his production levels drop significantly across the board, as expected for a player nearing in on 13,000 career snaps. If Bethea regresses any further in 2019, he will surely become a liability at the back of an already weak defense. Finally, at cornerback, the Giants lack a true lockdown corner. The league once viewed Janoris Jenkins as one of the top cornerbacks in the league but, following a weak 2018 season in which he allowed a career-worst 788 yards, he is no longer feared. The New York Giants' front seven's inability to pressure the quarterback will make it exceptionally difficult to improve as a whole against the pass as the secondary attempts to integrate three new faces into the mix this season.

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


Tampa Bay Buccaneers Passing Offense vs San Francisco 49ers Passing Defense (Great Matchup)

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have lured Bruce Arians out of retirement to coach the team in 2019 following another disappointing season under Dirk Koetter. Bruce Arians made a name for himself constructing prolific aerial attacks in Pittsburgh and Indianapolis before being hired as the head coach for the Arizona Cardinals. Now, the Buccaneers will bring in Arians in the hopes that he can once again turn this offense into one of the league's best. 2019 is shaping up as a make-or-break season for quarterback Jameis Winston, as the team has been noncommittal regarding his future with the team beyond this season. Luckily, Winston will be flanked by one of the league's top group of pass-catchers. Mike Evans has eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark in each of his first 5 seasons as a pro, and he posted a career-high 11.0 yards-per-target in 2018. Chris Godwin will start opposite Mike Evans this season, and following a rookie campaign in which he found the endzone seven times, expectations are high in 2019. Lastly, tight end O.J. Howard has seized taken the starting job and ran with it early in 2019. Howard was one of the highest-rated tight end prospects in recent memory when he entered the league in 2017, but he failed to secure the starting job away from Cameron Brate until now. The young tight end has always impressed on tape and this season will serve as his first significant opportunity to contribute to this offense.

The 49ers made a handful of offseason moves to bolster their pass rush, headlined by a trade for edge rusher Dee Ford. Ford registered 13.0 sacks and 29 hits on the quarterback in 2018, good for 7th and 5th in the NFL, respectively. Additionally, San Francisco selected arguably the draft class' most talented pass rusher, Nick Bosa, with the second overall pick in the 2019 draft. This defensive front is poised to wreak havoc on opposing quarterbacks all season long, and pressure is a great way to neutralize a prolific passing attack. Unfortunately, the coverage unit behind this defensive line may be one of the league's weakest. In 2018, the only linebacker to post near-average numbers in coverage was Fred Warner. Aside from Warner, both Kwon Alexander and Mark Nzeocha lagged far behind the league average benchmarks for coverage linebackers. In the secondary, Richard Sherman proved he still has some gas in the tank with arguably the most impressive season in coverage of any player currently on the 49ers roster. Sadly, aside from K'Waun Williams, the 49ers defensive backs struggled mightily to defend the pass. If the front-four is unable to create pressure, the secondary will likely be in for a long opening game in week one.

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)

Joe Flacco found a new home with the Broncos this offseason as he will lead this passing offense in 2019. While Flacco isn’t known for his fantasy upside, he actually represents an upgrade for what was an embattled Broncos passing offense in 2018. Flacco should be very comfortable running the Rich Scangarello offensive system, which is very similar to the Gary Kubiak offense under which Flacco flourished in 2014 with a career-high 27 touchdown passes. Flacco has a good mix of talent around him with veteran Emmanuel Sanders and young rising star Cortland Sutton at wide receiver. Sanders is coming off an Achilles injury that cut his 2018 season short, but he is ready to go for Week 1 and has been receiving positive reports throughout the preseason. Flacco has shown an affinity for veteran wide receivers throughout his career, so Sanders figures to be a top target to start the season. Cortland Sutton did not live up to expectations in 2018 as he lacked the consistency and poise of a clear-cut WR1. He has top-flight talent that has led to splash plays throughout the preseason, but Sutton needs to show consistency in-game to be trusted with more targets. DaeSean Hamilton is cemented into the WR3 role here as more of a possession option with limited upside. Tight end Noah Fant also enters the mix as the first-round draft selection for the Broncos. Fant has not impressed throughout training camp despite being force-fed targets in numerous scenarios while also dealing with a minor ankle injury that set him back a few weeks. Regardless, Fant should be the top tight end and represent a true red-zone threat for the Broncos.

The Raiders pass defense may have looked average on paper based on 2018 metrics in passing yards allowed, but this defense was one of the worst in the league, accentuated by a big weakness in the pass-rushing department. They added a first-round defensive tackle in Clelin Ferrell along with tackle Corey Liuget to help bolster their defensive line, but pass rush still appears like it will be a key weakness for this group that finished rock bottom with 13 sacks in 2018. For context, the next highest team (Giants) finished with 30 sacks. Their secondary does not look to be much improved from last season as this group lacks playmakers all around. With LaMarcus Joyner covering the slot, look for Emmanuel Sanders to have a positive matchup with plenty of chances to get open. Both Cortland Sutton and DaeSean Hamilton should also have great opportunities to open the season on a positive note with their new quarterback.

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


Detroit Lions Passing Offense at Arizona Cardinals Passing Defense (Good Matchup)

Matt Stafford finished 2018 with his worst passing totals in nearly a decade. Stafford hadn't posted a yardage total lower than his 2018 mark of 3,777 yards since his rookie year (aside from an injury-shortened year in 2010.) His 21 touchdowns were also the fewest in his last 6 seasons. Matt Patricia's imprint on this team's offense is clear: he wants this team to run the ball early, often, and well. While this approach certainly limits the aerial attack's upside, the weapons in this offense are primed to maximize the efficiency of the passing game. Kenny Golladay burst onto the scene last year with 1,063 receiving yards, and Marvin Jones, Jr.'s efficiency numbers consistently challenge the league's best (he led the league in yards-per-reception in 2017 with an 18.0-yard mark.) The Lions also invested a first-round pick in this year's NFL Draft in T.J. Hockenson, a tight end from Iowa University. Hockenson was praised as one of the most talented players in the 2019 NFL Draft, but due to his position, few thought he would be drafted as highly as he was (8th overall.) This sizeable investment proves Detroit believes he will be a difference-maker in this offense sooner rather than later. Detroit's offensive line is a very serviceable unit, with clear strengths at the two tackle positions. A preseason injury to center Frank Ragnow has forced some shuffling before the season's opener, but Matt Stafford should have no significant issues with the pocket closing in on him in week one.

The Arizona Cardinals finished the 2018 season with one of the league's worst run-defenses which inflated their passing statistics a little bit last season as they were the fourth-best aginst the pass last season, but the problem is this is a unit that will look very different this season with Patrick Peterson being suspended and Robert Alford being out. In 2019, Vance Joseph has been brought in to attempt to provide Kliff Kingsbury with a formidable defense for once in his coaching career. The team will transition from a base 4-3 defense to a base 3-4 defense, as Joseph has typically used throughout his coaching career. This change will shift Chandler Jones, one of the league's top edge rushers, into a stand-up outside linebacker with both coverage and pass-rushing duties. Aside from Jones, however, there is a startling lack of impact pass rushers. The team drafted Zach Allen in the third round of this year's NFL draft, and he is slated to come in and immediately start at defensive end. Allen was widely scored as a second or third-round pick before the draft with the expectation that down the road, he may have the opportunity to become a starter in the NFL. In coverage, the Cardinals will be led by Tramaine Brock, but behind Brock is second-year undrafted rookie free agent Chris Jones and second-round rookie corner Byron Murphy out of the slot. Safety D.J. Swearinger, Sr. turned in the best season of his career in 2018 in every phase of the game. Arizona is poised to struggle against the pass here in week one as they rely upon rookies and aging veterans such as Terrell Suggs to pressure the quarterback and lock-down opposing wide receivers.

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


Houston Texans Passing Offense at New Orleans Saints Passing Defense (Good Matchup)

The Texans passing offense will be led by a similar cast of characters in 2019 as Deshaun Watson remains under center while top receivers DeAndre Hopkins, Will Fuller, and Keke Coutee all return. New faces in Kenny Stills at wide receiver and Duke Johnson Jr. at running back also join in as weapons for Watson this season. Watson remains a high upside option with his mobility and impressive arm strength, but his prospects of staying healthy look just as grim in 2019 as they did in 2018. Watson was knocked down a league-high 138 times last year, and it was a miracle for him to have started all 16 games considering the injuries he dealt with throughout last season. The Texans added a pair of guards in the draft this offseason, both of whom expect to start in Week 1. While this is encouraging long-term, it will not provide immediate relief as this offensive line still grades out in the bottom tier to start the season. Despite the lack of protection and injury woes for Watson, he still managed to support a WR1 season for DeAndre Hopkins in 2018. With four straight years of 150 or more targets in this offense, it is clear that Hopkins will remain the center of this passing attack. Will Fuller is the clear WR2 behind Hopkins while Keke Coutee is listed as WR3 despite the recent addition of Kenny Stills from Miami. Coutee has been dealing with an ankle injury from preseason though, so look for Stills to be involved off the bench in Week 1. Duke Johnson Jr. cannot be forgotten here either, as he adds another dimension that this offense lacked in the past with Lamar Miller. Johnson is known for his pass-catching prowess and should be expected to put those skills on full display while also contributing between the tackles as the lead running back for the Texans.

The Saints secondary returns all three starting cornerbacks that led them to finish as one of the worst passing defenses in football last season, giving up the fourth-most passing yards per game (268.9) and the league’s most receiving yards (209) and fantasy points (44.2 in PPR scoring) per game to opposing wide receivers. Last season’s addition of Eli Apple helped slightly down the stretch, but this group overall still lacked cohesion and communication to provide sustainable results. Marshon Lattimore has shown how talented of a player he is, and he is certainly a strength of the group. However, their weakness out of the slot from the poor play of P.J. Williams is absolutely glaring. Both Keke Coutee and Kenny Stills have very favorable matchups this week, while DeAndre Hopkins should still be a go-to option despite the shadow coverage to come from Lattimore. Where the Texans may struggle is downfield passing simply because their offensive line is severely outmatched by the strong front seven of the Saints. This Texans offensive line needs more time to build cohesion before they can be relied upon for any level of proficient protection afforded to Deshaun Watson.

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


Jacksonville Jaguars Passing Offense vs Kansas City Chiefs Passing Defense (Good Matchup)

The Jaguars made one of the biggest splashes of the offseason with their signing of quarterback Nick Foles to the richest guaranteed contract in franchise history. While Foles is known more so as a game manager at the position, he certainly certainly represents an upgrade over Blake Bortles and should introduce some much-needed consistency into this offense. The Jaguars are not necessarily loaded with proven talent at the wide receiver position, but they do have some young guys with potential. Dede Westbrook figures to start as the top target for Foles based on impressive chemistry they have shown together throughout the preseason. Westbrook had an impressive 2018 season considering the circumstances, and he has the route-running ability to easily lead this team in targets. There is plenty of debate around who will fall behind Westbrook in targets for the Jaguars. D.J. Chark has looked impressive throughout the preseason and has great size to become a threat in the red zone for Foles. Chark did suffer a concussion in Week 3 of the preseason, but he should be through the protocol in time for Sunday. Chris Conley comes to the Jaguars from being buried amongst the high-powered Chiefs offensive weapons last season. Conley has also had a decent this preseason and will bring more of a veteran presence to this young receiving group.

The Chiefs finished 2018 with one of the worst passing defenses in football as they were plagued by pass-heavy game scripts and an underperforming group of cornerbacks. They did virtually nothing to address the weakness at cornerback this offseason from adding Morris Claiborne, who will not help them this week as he serves a four-game suspension to start the season. The loss of Steven Nelson to the Steelers is also a blow as he played very well for the Chiefs down the stretch. They do return Kendall Fuller as a solid slot cornerback, but he is the top talent they have at cornerback and should be a relatively even matchup with Dede Westbrook this week. The addition of safety Tyrann Mathieu will help, but this still a bottom tier secondary until they prove otherwise. Up front, the Chiefs lost top edge rusher Justin Houston in free agency but replaced him with Frank Clark from Seattle, who finished with 14 sacks last season and will be a fine replacement for Houston. Chris Jones also remains a key piece of this defensive line as a strong pass rusher. All in all, however, this defense still does not seem to be improved from last season and should afford the Jaguars passing offense with an attractive opportunity to succeed in Week 1.

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


Los Angeles Rams Passing Offense at Carolina Panthers Passing Defense (Good Matchup)

Jared Goff closed out a true breakout 2018 with a thud, right down to a Super Bowl performance that will live infamy. Goff hit indeed a wall, but some of that collapse can be blamed on the abrupt loss of Cooper Kupp to an ACL tear in Week 10. With Kupp at full strength, Goff averaged 348 yards and 2.4 touchdowns per game. Without him, those numbers fell to 247 and 1.3. Kupp will again team with Brandin Cooks and Robert Woods, both versatile, explosive threats themselves, to form one of the league’s most frightening arsenals. Cooks has topped 1,000 yards in 3 straight seasons (for 3 different teams), while Woods has proven an underrated gem, excelling both in the slot and from outside. Distribution among them may be hard to pin down, as Kupp’s return muddies Woods’ role in the slot. But together, they’ll account for the bulk of Goff’s production. With versatile pieces all over the depth chart, the Rams don’t utilize many four-wide sets. Todd Gurley is one of the league’s most dynamic receivers out of the backfield, with 32.5 career yards per game. But Gurley’s week-to-week health and usage will always be up for debate, especially in Week 1. Tight ends Gerald Everett and Tyler Higbee are used situationally, though neither has ever shown much dynamism.

Carolina’s pass defense was wildly inconsistent in 2018, giving up the NFL’s seventh-most net yardage per attempt. The shallow secondary struggled in coverage, and the pass rush disappointed majorly, with only 21 sacks coming from the front line. They did, however, pull together to close the year strongly, and they enter 2019 a deeper unit. The pass rush has added veterans Gerald McCoy and Bruce Irvin, as well as first-rounder Brian Burns, to bring more pressure. Cornerback James Bradberry remains an underrated cover man; he’s beaten from to time on deep balls, but balances that with occasional lockdown play. The team hopes for more consistency from Donte Jackson, who opened his rookie year well but stumbled badly down the stretch. Tre Boston should bring a coverage upgrade on Mike Adams at free safety, though Eric Reid remains a liability against the pass. The biggest question mark is in the slot, and ex-Giant Ross Cockrell can’t perform much worse than Captain Munnerlyn did last year. This unit remains a shaky one, but one with real rebound potential.

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


New England Patriots Passing Offense vs Pittsburgh Steelers Passing Defense (Good Matchup)

Tom Brady has entered seasons without Rob Gronkowski before, but this Sunday he’ll do it in a permanent sense. Gronkowski’s retirement leaves Brady without the league’s most dominant one-on-one matchup at his fingertips. Still, his receiving hierarchy looks awfully familiar, with Julian Edelman manning the slot and Josh Gordon back across the field. Neither practiced much over the summer, but both are healthy, conditioned, and locked into their respective roles. Gordon may be asked to win more Gronkowski-type plays, outmuscling defenders for jump balls up the seams. James White remains Brady’s primary dump-off option, a role in which he caught 107 balls over 19 games last year. He’s also a strong red-zone weapon: over the past 2 years, he’s turned 34 such targets into 10 touchdowns. Beyond them, Phillip Dorsett is the clear-cut No. 3 wideout to open the year, though Demaryius Thomas is now healthy and making a case for the role. Thomas is also adept at underneath and horizontal route-running, and he brings far more upside to the table than Dorsett. All of these targets will be leaned on to some degree in Week 1, with virtually no production expected from the new-look tight end room.

The Pittsburgh pass defense finished 2018 among the top 10 in both yardage allowed and efficiency. But it’s worth noting that those numbers were aided by a long, midseason stretch of shaky opponents. The better passers they faced – Patrick Mahomes, Matt Ryan, Drew Brees, Tom Brady, even Joe Flacco – had little trouble posting big lines. The problem certainly wasn’t with the Steelers pass rush, which produced a league-high 52 sacks. Rather, the team simply failed to find a suitable second starter at cornerback. Joe Haden remained an above-average starter, and Mike Hilton was solid in the slot, but former first-rounder Artie Burns continued to look like a lost cause. The Steelers have brought in ex-Chief Steven Nelson to stabilize the spot, a shrewd, low-cost move after a solid season in Kansas City. A step forward from last year’s first-round pick, strong safety Terrell Edmunds, would also go a long way. With a strong, versatile pass rush providing pressure, there’s nowhere to go but up for this shaky secondary.

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


New Orleans Saints Passing Offense vs Houston Texans Passing Defense (Good Matchup)

The Saints passing offense had an uneventful offseason as they return all starters with the only notable addition being Jared Cook coming in at tight end from Oakland. Cook is a journeyman veteran eager to prove he has a few more touchdowns in the tank as he comes off a career year with Oakland last season. While Cook has higher competition for targets this season, he still represents a solid red-zone option in what should be a potent offense with plenty of red zone opportunities. Drew Brees remains elite at his position despite the mindset shift of this offense to more of a run-heavy system. Michael Thomas will continue to be his favorite target as he now has a shiny new contract coming off another impressive season. The only knock on Thomas from 2018 was his week-to-week inconsistency, finishing with fewer than 50 receiving yards and no touchdowns in 5 of 16 games and five or fewer receptions in 7 of 16 games. Alvin Kamara should remain the next best target for Brees after finishing with over 100 targets in 2018. Kamara is a dynamic weapon out of the backfield and should continue to prove plenty of value with his pass-catching ability. Beyond Thomas and Kamara, it was tough to find much consistency or volume from other Saints receivers in 2018. While Cook was added at tight end, much of the same can be expected from their other contributors such as Tre’Quan Smith and Ted Ginn Jr.

The Texans secondary has been significantly revamped after their passing defense had been such a problem in recent years, finishing fifth-worst in passing yards allowed (260.4) last season. They will return a couple of solid pieces in second-year safety Justin Reid along with veteran cornerback Johnathan Joseph. They added multiple safeties to go along with Reid though, with veteran Tashaun Gipson having won the starting role. Gipson brings recent experience from the Jaguars secondary and should be an improvement at the position for Houston. The Texans also added Bradley Roby at cornerback, which is actually an improvement despite Roby’s inconsistencies last season for Denver. Michael Thomas should see most snaps against Roby this week, giving Thomas a significant advantage in this matchup based on Roby’s track record. Aaron Colvin is then expected to start again in the slot, which should be a matchup advantage for Ted Ginn Jr. The Texans lost a lot up front with the departure of Jadeveon Clowney, which bumps them immediately from an elite to slightly above average pass-rushing defense still anchored by J.J. Watt. The Saints' strong offensive line should hold up well in this matchup and only further solidify the matchup advantage this passing offense has over the Texans.

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


Philadelphia Eagles Passing Offense vs Washington Redskins Passing Defense (Good Matchup)

Much to the dismay of the NFC East, Carson Wentz is returning to the starting lineup for Philadelphia after missing the final three games of the 2018 regular season due to a back injury. In 2019, Wentz will be flanked by a few new weapons in the backfield and at wide receiver. The Eagles acquired one of the league's most effective deep threats, DeSean Jackson, over the offseason in exchange for a late-round pick. Jackson's ability to stretch the field, as represented by his league-leading 18.9 yards-per-reception in 2018, is unmatched. The speedster will add a dimension to Doug Pederson's offense that has not been present in previous years. No receiver in an Eagles uniform has topped 14 yards-per-reception with at least 20 receptions over the last three years, but that will almost certainly change in 2019. Elsewhere, the Eagles return each of their top four receivers from last season, including record-breaking tight end Zach Ertz. Up front, the Eagles sport one of the league's most dominant offensive line units. FootballGuys' Matt Bitonti ranks this as the second-best offensive line in the NFL entering the 2019 season, in part due to a rare A+ pass-blocking grade. Keeping the pocket clean for Wentz to deliver the ball will be essential for the success of the Eagles' passing game, and it's tough to find a better unit for the job than the five starters Philadelphia will send out for week one.

The Washington Redskins sported a league-average passing defense throughout the 2018 season. The team returns all three defensive linemen as well as one edge rusher for the 2019 season. Ryan Kerrigan has built a strong reputation as one of the league's top pass rushers, and the numbers back that up. With 13 sacks and 19 quarterback hits, Kerrigan was one of the league's best at applying pressure to opposing quarterbacks. In the secondary, the Redskins still have the aging Josh Norman who is no longer the lock down corner he once was, but the real problem this week will be that the Redskins will be without Fabian Moreau who will be replaced by Greg Stroman or Jimmy Moreland and both are liabilities at corner. The Redskins also lose HaHa Clinton-Dix who had his best coverage season of his of his career, but he has since left the team to join the Chicago Bears. Stepping in for Clinton-Dix at safety will be three-time Pro Bowler Landon Collins. Collins has been strong in coverage since his second season in the NFL, and his performance as the last line of defense for Washington will be crucial to the team's success or failure defending the pass.

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


Seattle Seahawks Passing Offense vs Cincinnati Bengals Passing Defense (Good Matchup)

With Doug Baldwin retired and a host of rookie faces joining the wideout room, the Seattle passing game is in full-blown transition. Tyler Lockett is now the clear-cut No. 1 option, with three draft picks and a few practice-squad types vying for attention behind him. Of course, having Russell Wilson under center goes a long way in phases like this. Wilson remains one of football’s steadiest passers, fresh off a season that saw him post his best yardage and touchdown rates in years. He still works behind one of the league’s worst lines, but his mobility and instinctiveness mitigate that somewhat. It’s also fair to wonder how he’ll fare without Baldwin as a security blanket, but Lockett might not prove much of a downgrade. He’s actually been more effective since entering the league in 2015, posting an elite 10.0 yards per target to Baldwin’s 9.1. Lockett lacks the size of a prototypical No. 1, but so did Baldwin, and he’s fast and quick-footed with a nose for inching past downfield coverage. He was outstanding on deep balls last year, a big reason he turned just 57 receptions into 10 touchdowns. He’ll be a difficult cover cover for the Bengals, both inside and out, often drawing free safety Jamie Bates to help in the deep zones. Speedy rookie DK Metcalf and journeyman Jaron Brown will start on the outside, and both have the ability to lift the lid off a secondary. It’s yet to be seen, though, just how much of a connection they’ll forge with Wilson; they could both be looked at as decoys off the bat. Perhaps tight end Will Dissly will offer some seam-stretching value, but he’s still an unknown commodity.

The Bengals were weak in pass defense throughout 2018, giving up the league’s fourth-most net yards per attempt and sixth-most touchdowns. Still, there’s a reason to expect some degree of improvement in 2019. Top cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick returns to full strength after shuffling on and off the field down the stretch. Kirkpatrick was an elite playmaker on the outside when healthy; he pairs with William Jackson III to make up one of the league’s strongest duos. Depth, however, is a major concern. Darqueze Dennard will miss at least the first six games on PUP, leaving a handful of reserve bodies to fight for snaps in nickel and dime sets. Free safety Jessie Bates has impressed greatly, but he can’t be everywhere, and the team needs improved cornerback play in the slot and up the seams. This is a unit that will be improved from last season, but will still struggle with consistency from week-to-week.

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


San Francisco 49ers Passing Offense at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Passing Defense (Good Matchup)

Head coach Kyle Shannahan is widely regarded as one of the league's best and most creative offensive minds. His unrelenting use of pre-snap motion and play-action has given defenses fits for years. In 2019, Shannahan hopes to finally have his starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo healthy for a full 16 games. In 2018, Garoppolo tore his ACL on an impromptu rushing attempt in week three. This injury forced C.J. Beathard and Nick Mullens into action. While the former struggled mightily, the latter posted some surprisingly strong numbers. Mullens finished the season with the 7th best net-yards-per-attempt in the NFL, with a mark of 7.39. Much is expected of Garoppolo given the investment made in his success by San Francisco, not only in the form of a massive contract but the plethora of weapons they have placed around him. Tight end George Kittle returns for year two following a record-breaking rookie season capped by a 149-yard outburst in week 17. Another second-year player, Dante Pettis, played sparingly to start the 2018 season, but he came on strong with 4 touchdowns over his final 5 games of his rookie year. Additionally, the 49ers spent 2 of their first 3 draft picks on wide receivers Deebo Samuel and Jalen Hurd. How much these two will be involved is unclear, but they will undoubtedly play a factor this season. Expectations for the San Francisco passing offense are sky-high entering week one of the 2019 season with a full bill of health and some shiny new weapons to throw the ball to.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers enter the 2019 season with a retooled defense. The Bucs open the season with a new starter at 7 of 11 positions on this side of the ball, and they'll be running an entirely new system under defensive coordinator Todd Bowles. Tampa Bay's pass rush will likely struggle once again in 2019, as the unit is made up almost exclusively of career underperformers (aside from Ndamukong Suh.) Some serious creativity will be required of Bowles to effectively pressure the quarterback here in week one. At linebacker, the Bucs drafted Devin White with the fifth overall pick this year with the explicit intention of building around him for the foreseeable future. In 2019, however, the outlook is bleak at the second level of Tampa Bay's defense. Deone Buccanon is slated to start alongside White at inside linebacker to start the season, and surprisingly, the former safety has struggled in coverage in recent years. In the secondary, all four starters return from Tampa Bay's 2018 roster that failed at every turn to stop opposing passing attacks. Expect this trend to carry over into week one of the 2019 season, as no substantial changes have been made to make a considerable difference.

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


Arizona Cardinals Passing Offense vs Detroit Lions Passing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

The Arizona Cardinals fired head coach Steve Wilks after just one mightily disappointing season. In his place comes Kliff Kingsbury, a recently-fired college coach at Texas Tech University. Even after being relieved of his duties as head coach at Texas Tech, Kingsbury's offensive genius is unquestioned. As head coach, he led the school to 4 straight seasons averaging at least 30.4 points per game. Upon being hired, Kingsbury was able to hand-pick the quarterback he wanted to hitch his proverbial wagon to, and ultimately he selected Kyler Murray. As a product of a similar collegiate offense, Murray's transition into Kingsbury's air raid offense is seamless. Kingsbury has noted that rather than forcing Murray to learn his terminology, Kingsbury has made an effort to learn Murray's terminology when building out the team's playbook. Murray will be consistently be setting up shop in 3, and 4-wide receiver sets this season, and the Cardinals have substantially invested in the position to ensure he is surrounded by skillful playmakers. The Cardinals drafted 3 wide receivers in the 2019 NFL Draft and, shockingly, the most impressive of the bunch has been 6th-round pick, KeeSean Johnson. For now, however, none of these rookies are starters on the team's depth chart. Starting out wide will be two returning wide receivers, Larry Fitzgerald and Christian Kirk, along with free-agent signing Michael Crabtree. How much the two veterans have left in the tank is unknown, but the potential of second-year player Christian Kirk is tantalizing. In the trenches, the Cardinals have a talented offensive line, but as Matt Bitonti notes, they just cannot seem to stay healthy. Fortunately, they will enter week one of the 2019 season as healthy as ever following a full offseason to rest. It is also worth noting that Kliff Kingsbury's fast-paced offensive attack was one consistently of the least-blitzed offenses in the country throughout his tenure at Texas Tech.

This offseason, the Detroit Lions added Trey Flowers to their front four following the departure of the oft-injured Ezekiel Ansah. Flowers finished the 2018 season as one of the league's most consistent pass rushers. His sack total of 7.5 was not astoundingly high, but he registered 20 total hits on opposing quarterbacks. The Lions' pass rush will otherwise rely upon the same three-person linebacker unit from 2018 to slow down the opposition's short-passing game. Last season, the team generally struggled in this regard, and none of the linebackers stand out as particularly strong players in coverage. The team's best hope for improvement here is that second-year linebacker Jarrad Davis will improve substantially following a shaky rookie season. In the secondary, Detroit fields one of the league's top cornerbacks, Darius Slay. Slay will move all over the field to shadow top receivers as necessary, but he is unlikely to do so in a matchup against a team devoid of a true number-one option. The Lions faced the third-fewest pass attempts in the league in 2018 but allowed the eighth-most net-yards-per-attempt and overall came out to an average defense last season. While they have grounds to improve, this is a wait and see type of situation.

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


Baltimore Ravens Passing Offense at Miami Dolphins Passing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

As a rookie, Lamar Jackson simply wasn’t trusted to throw the ball much. (He also turned quite a few pass calls into runs, of course.) He averaged just 159 per start, then was strongly hidden in the Ravens’ playoff game. But running quarterbacks do have to evolve, and Jackson threw noticeably more in his limited preseason action. He’ll likely continue to look short and underneath most of the time, seeking to limit complex downfield reads. When he does, he’ll have a handful of new, intriguing targets to aim for. Speedy rookie Marquise Brown was schemed a few touches in the preseason; he’ll log plenty of snaps, but may be limited to quick-hitting, Tavon Austin-like usage. Brown has elite foot-speed, but at 5-foot-9 and 166 pounds may not be ready to win tough battles down the field. Willie Snead and Chris Moore are low-impact options, so the team would love to give dynamic tight end Mark Andrews a big role. He hit on a handful of splash plays in 2018, averaging 16.2 yards on his 34 receptions. They’re also looking for downfield help from rookie Miles Boykin, who has dazzled onlookers at camp and in preseason play. Jackson never forged a connection with deep threat John Brown last year, so the hope is he and Boykin will grow together. Boykin is an intriguing size/speed prospect capable of winning on contested throws, a trait no one else on this roster really has.

The Dolphins pass defense proved an aggressive, but inconsistent unit in 2018. On the back of a ball-hawking secondary, the defense intercepted 21 of the 508 attempts it faced, good for the league’s second-best rate. Top cornerback Xavien Howard earned a hefty raise with his occasional shutdown play, and safety Minkah Fitzpatrick made splashes in downfield coverage as well. Still, even with the Dolphins forcing turnovers, there was plenty of success to be had against them. With little pass rush to speak of, they allowed the league’s second-most net yardage per attempt, which factors in sacks and sack yardage. And they’ll enter 2019 with even less proven pass-rush talent: stalwart Cameron Wake is gone, as are Robert Quinn and Andre Branch. All told, expectations should be pulled even further down from last year. While there’s promising play throughout the secondary, it will be hard for this group to put pressure on opponents and force errant throws. Lamar Jackson will likely keep the ball grounded against them, playing against their primary strength.

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


Buffalo Bills Passing Offense at New York Jets Passing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

Josh Allen entered the NFL in 2018 as a particularly raw prospect, and he certainly didn’t disappoint. He completed just 53% of his rookie throws for an inefficient 6.8 yards per attempt, and he topped 225 yards just once over 12 games. Still, he also flashed real NFL traits that could certainly blossom. Allen is huge and powerful, capable of driving pro-caliber throws down the field. He’s also exceptionally mobile for his size, with Ben Roethlisberger-like instincts to evade pressure and keep looking for plays. If Allen is to have any success in 2019, it will be on the heels of his downfield game. To that end, the Bills feature journeyman deep threat John Brown and 2018 pleasant surprise Robert Foster as deep-ball specialists. Brown looked good in the preseason and has the edge in experience, but Foster showed a strong rapport with Allen last year. The two hooked up 22 times over the final 6 games, including completions of 75, 42, and 38 yards. On shorter, more conventional routes, Allen will throw to Zay Jones and ex-Cowboy Cole Beasley, both reasonably capable slot targets. At the moment, there’s no receiving tight end of note in the offense’s plans.

The Jets spent most of 2018 struggling with consistency against the pass, ultimately giving up the league’s ninth-most net yards. It’s fair to expect another bumpy year, though there’s reason to believe in modest improvement. Trumaine Johnson will return as the top cornerback, provided his preseason hamstring strain is indeed healed. Johnson lost six games to injury in 2018, but he’s still a solid cover man, if no longer much of a shutdown force. The team lacks depth at the position, so Johnson’s health and effectiveness are crucial. Jamal Adams has developed nicely at one safety spot, but the X-factor here is Marcus Maye, who missed 10 games last year but continued to look fantastic when healthy. He’s been cleared for a full complement of Week 1 snaps, making for great downfield support behind the cornerbacks. All would benefit from a more consistent pass rush. The Jets have struggled to create pressure without blitzing; their hope is that gifted end Leonard Williams finds more consistency form up front. When Williams is pushing back linemen and threatening the pocket, the pass rush is that much more effective from all over the formation. It would also open things up more for dynamic rookie tackle Quinnen Williams, an athletic marvel who led the SEC in hurries last season. While this is not a perfect unit, it should be good enough to be competitive against the lackluster passing attack of Buffalo.

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


Chicago Bears Passing Offense vs Green Bay Packers Passing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

Mitchell Trubisky will look to take another step forward as this Bears passing offense kicks off the season against the Packers on Thursday night. Trubisky showed tremendous improvement in his second year as a pro with his completion jumping from 59% to 66% while he passed for over 50% more yards and over tripled his passing touchdowns. The reports are not positive coming out of the preseason, but Trubisky has not seen much game time at all while he also gets the pleasure of practicing against the league’s top defense--so take those reports for what they are worth. All of his primary weapons will return, with Allen Robinson looking the part of a clear No. 1 receiver throughout this preseason. Robinson led the team in targets despite missing 3-4 games worth of playing time last season, and when healthy, he can be expected to be a favorite option of Trubisky throughout the season. Trubisky’s second-favorite target could be any one of Taylor Gabriel, Allen Robinson, Trey Burton, or Tarik Cohen, as Trubisky was known for spreading the ball around in 2018. Given what Cohen showed last season, he will likely remain heavily utilized in this offense despite the addition of rookie David Montgomery to eat into Cohen’s playing time. Trey Burton is slowly recovering from hernia surgery and is slated to be a game-time decision as of mid-week.

The Packers finished 2018 with a middling pass defense and return most of their young secondary coming into 2019 that should have the potential to continue to grow together. Second-yard cornerback Jaire Alexander and third-yard pro Kevin King will start at cornerback, pending King’s full recovery from a hamstring injury (he is on track to start). Alexander is the stronger cornerback and should line up opposite Taylor Gabriel while the larger Kevin King should be stuck on Allen Robinson, who has a slight advantage in this matchup. Top tier safety Adrian Amos, recently added from the Bears, will serve as a safety blanket over the top and has proven effective at limiting big plays over his past two seasons with Chicago. From a pass rush perspective, the Packers are not particularly strong on the edges and are already dealing with various injuries at the linebacker position which will force them to roll out an inexperienced group at that position in Week 1. Kenny Clark is their strongest defensive lineman, but he will need help applying pressure on what should be a very cohesive Bears offensive line. If the Packers can apply some resemblance of pressure, this could be a tough day for Trubisky.

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


Cincinnati Bengals Passing Offense at Seattle Seahawks Passing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

Andy Dalton has his limitations, but he’s coming off an efficient, if injury-shortened, 2018 season. Through 11 games, he produced on a pace for over 3,700 yards and 31 touchdowns. Dalton’s age-31 year marks a career turning point, though, and the team is offering a one-year audition for his Bengals future. Preseason buzz suggested he was meshing well with new coach Zac Taylor’s scheme, which uses heavy motion and shifts to create mismatches. Of course, his success still hinges upon whether the Bengals’ shaky line – our Matt Bitonti ranks it 29th in football – can keep him upright. First-round left tackle Jonah Williams has been lost for the year, stretching this group even thinner than they were last year. Dalton will also enter 2019 without top target A.J. Green, who will miss at least the first three or four games. The Bengals have added bodies at wideout, and Tyler Boyd has taken huge steps forward, but there’s no doubt Green will be sorely missed. Boyd should lead the way in his absence, and while his 2018 breakout was impressive, he’s more of a complementary piece than a dominant No. 1. Boyd does his best work from the slot, where he’ll be best able to avoid lockdown coverage while Green is sidelined. Undrafted rookie Damion Willis has won Green’s starting role, and he flashed playmaking potential throughout the preseason. Tight end Tyler Eifert can never be counted on to stay healthy, so the team will likely limit his snaps. He’ll see all the passing-down work he can handle, though, with Green on the shelf, and his career rates – he’s scored on better than 10% of his targets – are still tantalizing.

Seattle’s pass defense, once the most dominant in all of football, slipped into the league’s bottom half in 2018. They finished just 17th in net yards allowed per attempt, and they uncharacteristically allowed 8 passers to throw for 275 yards or more. Cornerback play was especially poor last year, and little has changed in terms of personnel. Shaquill Griffin and Tre Flowers, both victimized often in 2018, will continue to start on the boundaries. The team will also be evaluating the free safety spot, where shaky Tedric Thompson will face competition from a pair of high-energy rookies. Ultimately, it’s a clear period of transition for this unit, with even the pass rush taking on a whole new shape. Sack leader Frank Clark is gone, and emerging star tackle Jarran Reed will open the year under suspension. Jadeveon Clowney and Ezekiel Ansah offer tons of potential as an edge-rushing duo, though both have struggled with injury and inconsistency at times.

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


Kansas City Chiefs Passing Offense at Jacksonville Jaguars Passing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs passing offense took the league by storm with their record-breaking year last season. The 2018 MVP who passed for over 5,000 yards and 50 touchdowns is the consensus top-ranked fantasy quarterback coming into 2019. Week 1 brings a lot to be excited about, as Mahomes put up those numbers in 2018 despite missing Sammy Watkins for six games and Kareem Hunt for five games. While he will be without Hunt this season, Mahomes does return all of his primary pass-catchers from 2018. Travis Kelce has had a quiet preseason, but he is healthy and primed for another great season. Tyreek Hill had his share of offseason drama, but he too should be poised to be a top option in this Chiefs offense. This week, however, could be a challenge for Hill as he squares off against one of the top cornerbacks in the NFL. Sammy Watkins will also have his hands full this week in a tough cornerback matchup, but he expects to be intimately involved in the Chiefs offense if he can remain healthy throughout the season. Demarcus Robinson is shaping up to be the third wide receiver for the Chiefs, but rookie Mecole Hardman is giving him a run for his money this preseason and could easily see some valuable routes on which to display his elite playmaking ability.

The Jaguars passing defense is solidified by a pair of top-10 cornerbacks and what looks to be a scary group of pass rushers. Cornerbacks Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye were a big part of how dominant the Jaguars were against the pass in 2018, holding opposing wide receivers to the fewest fantasy points per game (27.2 in PPR scoring) and opposing quarterbacks to the second-fewest passing yards per game (210 yards). Ramsey is expected to shadow Tyreek Hill while Bouye should cover Sammy Watkins as neither receiver can be expected to have easy success this Sunday. This elite coverage on the outside should only lead to an increased opportunity for Travis Kelce in the middle of the field. Kelce should draw coverage from second-year safety Ronnie Harrison in a very winnable matchup. The Jaguars will be coming at Patrick Mahomes with high levels of pressure from top draft pick Josh Allen and veteran Calais Campbell, but the Chiefs roll out a pair of solid tackles to help protect their elite quarterback. Mahomes worked his magic all throughout 2018, and despite the tough matchup, he is basically matchup proof until he proves otherwise.

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


Los Angeles Chargers Passing Offense vs Indianapolis Colts Passing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

The Chargers passing offense will see a few changes this season, but most of their key contributors are returning. Phillip Rivers remains under center as one of the most consistent quarterbacks in the game. He opened the 2018 season with 12 straight multi-touchdown games and finished the season with 4300 total passing yards. Keenan Allen should remain the top receiver for Rivers despite a preseason ankle injury that led to scares of surgery and missed time in the regular season. All reports indicate Allen should be on track for Week 1, but do keep an eye on the injury report come Sunday morning. Tyrell Williams departed for Oakland, which immediately solidifies the increased role Mike Williams should play in this offense. Despite splitting snaps with Tyrell Williams last season, Mike Williams showed spectacular playmaking ability as he doubled his per catch production from 8.6 yards to 15.4 yards while converting over 15% of his targets into touchdowns (10 touchdowns from 66 targets). The return of tight end Hunter Henry should also benefit this offense after Henry missed the entire 2018 season. Henry has both the size and speed to put up elite numbers for a tight end, whether from making big plays to move the chains to powerful grabs in the red zone. Running back Austin Ekeler will also plan to contribute through the air in a similar, but possibly expanded, role from 2018. With Melvin Gordon missing Week 1 (and TBD beyond), Ekeler should see even more snaps and usage out of the backfield.

The Colts enter 2019 with a young but talented secondary that helped them finish near the middle of the pack against the pass in 2019. Pierre Desir is the “veteran” of this group and looks to be their top cornerback option while Quincy Wilson covers the other side with Kenny Moore manning the slot. None of these cornerbacks are particularly great, but they are all serviceable in their matchups. Malik Hooker took a big step forward at safety last season and is proving to be worth his high draft pick in 2017. Second-year linebacker Darius Leonard also returns after his breakout season in 2018. The big news for the Colts this offseason was the addition of pass rusher Justin Houston to help improve upon what were average sack numbers for the Colts last season. The Chargers offensive line should struggle against this improved pass rush of the Colts. Overall, this defense was on the rise in 2018 and looks to be improved coming into 2019. Chargers wide receivers look to be evenly matched, but the deciding factor will be how well this offensive line holds up to the Colts pass rush.

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


Minnesota Vikings Passing Offense vs Atlanta Falcons Passing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

For the most part, Kirk Cousins’ Minnesota debut was a success. He completed 70.1% of his throws, producing nearly 4,300 yards and 30 touchdowns along the way. Still, his overall efficiency left something to be desired. Cousins finished 17th in the league in adjusted net yards per attempt, which factors in sacks and interceptions – below the likes of Mitchell Trubisky and Nick Mullens. In Washington, One concern heading into this week is the health of Stefon Diggs as he missed practice on Wednesday with a hamstring injury. If Diggs is unable to go, this puts a lot of pressure on Adam Thielen and takes away from the overall passing game output. If Diggs is able to go, there is a lot to be excited about. Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs each topped 100 catches last year and the pair averaged 13.7 yards a catch in 2017 before dipping to 11.1 last season. If Cousins has rediscovered his downfield prowess over the preseason, he’ll test the Falcons’ shaky secondary early and often, and he’ll do so with two sure-handed receivers. Chad Beebe beat out draft bust Laquon Treadwell as the third wideout, but the Vikings don’t run many three-wide sets, so tight end Kyle Rudolph and running back Dalvin Cook will absorb most of what’s left over. The team made it a priority to re-sign Rudolph in June, which suggests he’ll play the de facto No. 3 role, working underneath both from the slot and off the line. New addition Josh Doctson isn’t up to speed on the playbook; he looks unlikely to even dress for Week 1, but could be forced into action along with Beebe if Diggs is unable to go.

The Atlanta pass defense tumbled to the bottom of the league in 2018, though much of that collapse can be blamed on an unfortunate rash of injuries. The Week 1 secondary will be nearly the same personnel group that finished top-10 in net yardage per attempt in 2017. The team spent most of 2018 without safeties Keanu Neal and Ricardo Allen, as well as Deion Jones, one of football’s best coverage linebackers. With the secondary ravaged and the pass rush underachieving, the unit put up little week-to-week resistance. The return of Allen is most crucial here – he’s long been underrated as a centerfielder type with great playmaking range. Neal and Jones provide stability underneath and in the flats, where the Falcons were shredded last year. Opposing running backs totaled a league-high 120 receptions for 970 yards in 2018. Their presence will move mountains there, and with Desmond Trufant still an upper-tier cornerback, this unit should rebound noticeably.

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


Pittsburgh Steelers Passing Offense at New England Patriots Passing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

In 2018, Ben Roethlisberger threw the ball at a ridiculously high volume. His 675 attempts were the fourth-most in NFL history, and he led the league with 5,129 yards. That usage will surely trend downward in 2019 – he’s 37, and Antonio Brown’s departure creates a ton of uncertainty. But it was encouraging to see him post some of the best efficiency numbers of his career at 36. He completed 67% of his throws, took just 24 sacks, and posted his most adjusted net yards per attempt since 2015. Of course, it’s fair to wonder how well those marks will hold up without the league’s best receiver on board. JuJu Smith-Schuster is a fully-capable No. 1 option, able to win both inside and outside, both down the field and underneath. But Roethlisberger and Brown had such an instinctive downfield connection that it’s hard to just project it down the line. Across the field, deep threats Donte Moncrief and James Washington will likely compete for snaps each week, and both should find some soft coverages opposite Smith-Schuster. Top tight end Vance McDonald has always battled injury and inconsistency, but should see more usage as a slot and seam target. He’s never seen much volume, but over his 25 games as a Steeler, he’s produced 11 receptions of 20 yards or more.

The New England secondary took a huge step forward in 2018, allowing just 6.2 net yards per attempt, good for ninth-best. And it was the talk of Patriots camp last month, with such impressive play and depth that second-round cornerback Joejuan Williams couldn’t even lock down a role. Stephon Gilmore has settled in at an All-Pro level in New England, consistently shadowing and shutting down top receivers. Last year was his masterpiece; he was the driving force in shutting down the likes of Antonio Brown (4 catches for 49 yards), Davante Adams (6 for 40), and Stefon Diggs (5 for 49). Jason McCourty is solid in the slot, while J.C. Jackson was a pleasant 2018 surprise down the stretch on the outside. Devin McCourty remains a solid downfield playmaker at free safety. The most pressing question marks in this unit are up front, where the team is rebuilding its pass rush on the fly. Trey Flowers was allowed to walk in free agency, so the team is counting on quick impacts from newcomers Michael Bennett and Chase Winovich.

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


Washington Redskins Passing Offense at Philadelphia Eagles Passing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

The Redskins signed Case Keenum over the offseason to help address one of the league's worst quarterback situations. Following a gruesome leg injury to Alex Smith in 2018, the team turned to Colt McCoy, who subsequently suffered a broken leg that he has yet to recover from. Aside from a shockingly-strong 2017 campaign, Keenum has failed to prove he is ready to lead a successful aerial attack in the NFL. The 2019 season, especially to start, will be an exceptionally tough test for Keenum. The Redskins enter the season with just two of their top six receivers from 2018 currently on the roster. Jordan Reed led the team with a meager 558 receiving yards in 2018. The second-leading returning receiver is running back Chris Thompson, who compiled just 268 receiving yards over 10 games last year. The turnover in this unit is unmatched, and its success will largely hinge on the play of young and unproven wide receivers Trey Quinn, Paul Richardson, and Robert Davis. Washington's offensive line is serviceable, but not impressive. The well-documented rift between Trent Williams and Redskins management is ongoing, and he will not be with the team to start the season. In his place will be veteran Donald Penn. Penn is a serviceable left tackle in the NFL, but his production pales in comparison to the protection provided by All-Pro Trent Williams. A clean pocket has proven to be one of the most important factors in a successful passing attack, and without exceptional performance up front, Washington will likely struggle to move the ball through the air.

The Eagles suffered from some horrid injury luck in 2018 at the defensive back position which led to the Eagles allowing 269 yards per game which was the third-worst in the NFL last year. However, the secondary enters week one fully healthy with Ronald Darby, Sidney Jones, and Rodney McLeod all back in the mix. Darby and McLeod will almost certainly serve as improvements over their temporary replacements from last year, while Philadelphia hopes that Sidney Jones can reach his fullest potential in year three following his first healthy offseason. His performance on the field has been lackluster to this point, and unless he makes a significant jump this season, he will be the weak point of this secondary. The Philadelphia Eagles' pass rush in 2018 was one of the best in the league. The Eagles finished tied for 8th in the NFL in sacks, but led the NFL in quarterback hits with 133, 18 more than any other team. Generating pressure on opposing quarterbacks using a rotation of several defensive linemen has proven to be a successful strategy for Jim Schwartz's defense, but in 2019 there will be a few new faces in the mix. Vinny Curry and Malik Jackson will be asked to step in and contribute following the departures of Michael Bennett, Chris Long, and Haloti Ngata. There will likely be at least a minor drop off in production from the levels the 2018 defensive line reached, but this will likely remain one of the best in the NFL. This is a unit that should be significantly better than what we saw last season.

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


Atlanta Falcons Passing Offense at Minnesota Vikings Passing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Somewhat quietly, Matt Ryan posted a 2018 season that closely rivaled his MVP form of 2016. He wasn’t quite as deadly-efficient, but he nearly matched 2016’s count numbers, finishing with 4,924 yards and 35 touchdowns. And those numbers, while high, may not be destined for a decline in 2019. He’ll continue to throw to a premier receiving duo, which features a future Hall of Famer in his prime and a promising young playmaker. Julio Jones is still firmly entrenched among the league’s three best wideouts. Dating back to 2014, only Antonio Brown has caught more passes, and no one has produced more yardage. Jones does his best work in isolation coverage downfield, where he wins battles with both strength and athleticism, and in the open field, where he’s never an easy tackle after the catch. Jones posted last year, and his prowess helped open up big chunks of secondaries for rookie Calvin Ridley to run through. Ridley certainly peaked early in his debut – he averaged just 46 yards, with 4 touchdowns, over his final 12 games. Still, he showed enough playmaking juice to expect a step forward as an NFL sophomore. Ridley isn’t particularly fast, but has a great, determined burst into his breaks that creates separation for him. His second gear was good enough to produce touchdowns of 75, 75, and 40 as a rookie. Mohamed Sanu remains a reliable set of hands out of the slot, while tight end Austin Hooper was one of football’s most sure-handed targets in 2018, posting an 81% catch rate.

The Minnesota pass defense was one of football’s best in 2018, boasting both a dominant pass rush and a talented, playmaking secondary. Only three teams allowed fewer net yards per attempt (5.7), and no one gave up fewer touchdowns (15). And with virtually all the personnel back, little has changed for 2019’s outlook. The catalyst remains strong safety Harrison Smith, whose range and aggressiveness keep him among the league’s best in coverage. Anthony Harris was a revelation next to him last year, making the seams and middle dangerous territory to threaten the Vikings. There’s a little more vulnerability on the outside, where Trae Waynes remains inconsistent and last year’s first-round pick, Mike Hughes, is working back from ACL surgery. Xavier Rhodes, typically a near-shutdown presence across the field, is coming off his worst season as a pro. Still, in all, this won’t be an easy group to throw on consistently. The secondary gets ample relief from a pass rush that swarms from both outside and in and will return Everson Griffen in full. He and rising superstar Danielle Hunter make up arguably the league’s most dynamic edge-rushing duo.

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


Carolina Panthers Passing Offense vs Los Angeles Rams Passing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Cam Newton seems to have avoided serious injury to his foot, and he’ll be under center for Week 1. More importantly, it looks as though he’s worked through last season’s shoulder woes and January surgery. Camp onlookers raved about his conditioning and deep ball, which would mean more playmaking opportunity for explosive receiver duo D.J. Moore and Curtis Samuel. Moore began earning heavy usage in Week 8 of his rookie year and closed out on a 67-catch, 955-yard pace. There were a few miscues along the way, but Moore proved a dynamic threat both down the field and underneath. There’s no question he boasts real WR1 traits, and he’ll show them off more with Devin Funchess out of town. Samuel enjoyed a breakout of his own down the 2018 stretch, topping 70 yards in 3 of the final 6 games. A dizzying open-field athlete with 4,31 speed, Samuel is healthy and being counted on for slot and playmaking duties underneath. There’s not much opportunity behind them at wideout, with Christian McCaffrey (107 receptions last year) and two quality tight ends in play. McCaffrey is the team’s most dynamic weapon with the ball in his hands, and even with Moore and Samuel on the rise, he’ll easily pace the team in opportunity. The real question is whether 34-year-old Greg Olsen can stay healthy for anywhere close to 16 games. He could gradually lose snaps to impressive second-year man Ian Thomas.

Last year’s Rams boasted a pass defense built on big names and aggressive styles, but it waned in consistency and finished a below-average unit. They somehow allowed 14 different receivers to notch 90 yards or more, with 3 of them topping 180. The deep ball was a clear vulnerability, despite a star-studded trio of cornerbacks. The good news for the Rams is that they get a healthy Aqib Talib who was fantastic on the right side, and Nickell Robey-Coleman was a shutdown force in the slot. But Marcus Peters struggled mightily through most of the season on the left. He improved as the season wore on, but remains a feast-or-famine cover man whose aggressiveness will always win or lose in grand fashion. 34-year-old Eric Weddle will step into the full-time free safety role, which may provide a small upgrade from Lamarcus Joyner. All told, this is one of football’s deepest and most talented units.

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


Cleveland Browns Passing Offense vs Tennessee Titans Passing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Baker Mayfield has a lot to be happy about as the starting quarterback for the Browns coming into this season. After breaking the NFL’s all-time rookie record for touchdown passes in 2018, Mayfield comes into 2019 with an even better array of weapons after the massive offseason addition of Odell Beckham Jr. at wide receiver. This will be the first time Beckham Jr. is catching passes in the NFL from a non-Manning quarterback, and while he may not be force-fed like he was in New York, Beckham should certainly see plenty of quality opportunities. The addition of Beckham Jr. will allow his college teammate Jarvis Landry to move back into the slot role in which he has thrived for much of his career. Landry has shown great chemistry with Mayfield throughout the preseason and will enjoy the lighter cornerback coverage with Beckham Jr. drawing all the focus. Third receiver Rashad Higgins is also here to provide a downfield threat, while tight end David Njoku returns as a key red-zone option. Njoku has been nursing a knee injury throughout the preseason, but barring any setbacks he should be in the lineup this week.

The Titans secondary was relatively inconsistent in 2018 despite allowing the sixth-fewest passing yards per game (216.9) to close the year. This entire unit returns intact, led by the league’s now top-paid safety Kevin Byard. Most of his attention will likely be focused on keeping Odell Beckham Jr. in check, which will still be a tall task despite Byard’s elite playmaking ability. The Titans cornerbacks are tough to read, particularly Adoree Jackson who has had up and down games throughout his short career. Jackson may be a smaller defensive back which can sometimes impact his ability to finish tackles, but plays with aggression and can blanket opposing wide receivers. Both Logan Ryan and Malcolm Butler are very serviceable cornerbacks, but Butler’s inconsistency can also be maddening. After a terrible start to 2018, Butler closed out the year as one of the better cornerbacks in the league. He will see a lot of Beckham Jr. this week though--a matchup in which Beckham Jr. should have the advantage. While the Titans defense overall has looked good this preseason, the Browns may have one of the top receiving corps in football and should give this Titans secondary a significant challenge to start the season.

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


Indianapolis Colts Passing Offense at Los Angeles Chargers Passing Defense (Tough Matchup)

The Colts passing offense has been a key subject of news this offseason with the blockbuster retirement of Andrew Luck. This news clearly downgrades the Colts offense as a whole, but Jacoby Brissett is a fine option to have as a replacement, all things considered. Brissett is a mobile quarterback who has shown some success as a passer based on his 2017 campaign in which he started 16 games and passed for over 3,000 yards and 13 touchdowns with a 59% completion rate. T.Y. Hilton still figures to be the top target for this offense, but his ceiling was certainly lowered with the departure of Luck. Hilton did finish with just under 1,000 yards and four touchdowns in 2017 with Brissett, but those net out to low-end WR2 numbers instead of the low-end WR1 numbers he has put up with Luck under center. Behind Hilton, the Colts added some new faces via Devin Funchess in free agency and Parris Campbell from the draft. Funchess will represent a big-bodied red zone option while Campbell is a slot guy with impressive speed and route-running ability. The duo of Eric Ebron and Jack Doyle return at tight end and will both add safety blanket options for Brissett. Ebron should not repeat his 13-touchdown outburst from 2018, but he remains a red zone threat in this offense. Doyle had some very positive games with Brissett in 2017, so that chemistry could easily re-blossom this season. Finally, Nyhiem Hines returns as their primary passing downs running back. Hines could see a benefit from Brissett under center, particularly this week with the Colts looking at the possibility of playing from behind during much of this game as almost a full touchdown underdog.

The Chargers defense was dealt a huge blow this preseason with the loss of Pro Bowl safety Derwin James, who is expected to miss most of the regular season with a foot injury. James was the best player in this secondary and will be impossible to replace. The Chargers do, however, return an impressive group of cornerbacks anchored by one of the league’s top slot cornerbacks Desmond King. King, along with top outside cornerback Casey Heyward Jr, helped contribute to the Chargers allowing just the fifth-fewest fantasy points per game (29.7 in PPR scoring) to wide receivers in 2018. Look for Parris Campbell to be smothered by King this week, while T.Y. Hilton should draw a difficult matchup with Hayward. The addition of Thomas Davis at linebacker should only help bolster their linebacker group both from a pass rush and coverage perspective, helping to keep tabs on the likes of Nyhiem Hines. The Chargers do also return a strong defensive line with Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa while spending a first-round pick on defensive tackle Jerry Tillery. The Colts have a strong offensive line in their own regard though, making for a relatively even matchup in the trenches. While the loss of Derwin James may bump this unit down from the elite level, they are still a very solid passing defense for the Colts to square off against this week.

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


New York Giants Passing Offense at Dallas Cowboys Passing Defense (Tough Matchup)

General manager David Gettleman made the controversial decision to select Daniel Jones with the 6th pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, but the team made it clear: he will be watching from the sidelines as Eli Manning starts under-center in 2019. Manning's decline as a passer has been well-documented, as he managed just 21 passing touchdowns in 2018. Manning will also enter the 2019 season without perhaps the most talented receiver he has ever played with, Odell Beckham, Jr. Manning's numbers drop significantly across the board without Beckham, Jr. on the field. Most notably, Manning throws for nearly 50 fewer yards-per-game in games without Beckham, Jr. since the start of the 2017 season. Elsewhere, Manning will primarily look towards tight end Evan Engram and wide recevier Sterling Shepard for production through the air. Engram's 9.0 yards-per-target mark from the 2018 season was the highest on the team, amongst players targeted at least 20 times. Since the beginning of Sterling Shepard's career, his involvement has spiked in games absent Odell Beckham, Jr. He will likely step in as the team's top target through the air this season, meaning his target count should be consistent and substantial. Up front, the Giants' offensive line struggled to keep Eli Manning clean in 2018, when he was sacked on a career-high 7.5% of dropbacks. Heading into the 2019 season, this area of need was addressed by bringing in Kevin Zeitler and Mike Remmers at right guard and right tackle, respectively. Both players are upgrades over the players they will be starting in place of, and as Matt Bitonti has noted, this is a unit with a lot of upside in 2019 if they mesh together well.

The Cowboys' defense is filled with playmakers ready to disrupt the passing game on a weekly basis. Off the edge, Demarcus Lawrence is one of the league's most talented pass rushers, and following a massive offseason extension he's being paid like it. At linebacker, the Cowboys sport one of the league's best group of units across the board. Leighton Vander Esch, Jaylon Smith, and Sean Lee each excel in coverage duties, in large part thanks to the exceptional athleticism they possess. In the secondary, Byron Jones has developed into one of the league's top cornerbacks. Jones plays almost exclusively on the right side of the field (the offense's left) and he does arguably as well as any player in the league. In 2018, Jones allowed completions on just 55.8 percent of passes thrown in his direction. Jones is not alone, however, as rest of Dallas' secondary also defends the pass well. Specifically, safety Xavier Woods has made a name for himself as one of the league's better coverage safeties. This defense is filled with the requisite playmakers to give opposing offenses fits through the air all season long when they're at full-strength, as they will be in week one.

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 (Tough Matchup)

Derek Carr and the Raiders offense landed one of the top wide receivers in football this offseason when they traded for Antonio Brown. Despite all the drama surrounding Brown this offseason, he should represent a more than adequate replacement for the talent lost when Amari Cooper left in 2018. Brown will have much less competition for targets in this Raiders offense, but concurrently, the Raiders have been much less of a pass-friendly offense than that of the Steelers while Brown has missed valuable practice time for basically the entire preseason. Derek Carr also represents a steep drop-off from what Ben Roethlisberger brought to the table for Brown. Carr struggled mightily last season due to a lack of talent at the wide receiver position combined with a terrible offensive line situation. In their defense, the Raiders have tried to address both of those areas this offseason, first by bringing in Brown along with Tyrell Williams at receiver. Williams will serve as a legitimate #2 option behind Brown. On the offensive line, the Raiders paid up for right tackle Trent Brown while also adding veteran Ritchie Incognito at guard. It may take a few weeks for this line to come together, however, as both starting guards will be out for Week 1. Jalen Richard remains a pass-catching option out of the backfield, but his services along with those of rookie starting running back Josh Jacobs may be needed more so in the blocking department if this offensive line is unable to hold up against a strong Broncos pass rush in Week 1.

The Broncos made a significant improvement in their secondary by adding slot cornerback Bryce Callahan, who came over from the Bears along with new defensive-minded head coach Vic Fangio. Callahan played a big role in the Bears’ success and will be an upgrade over Bradley Roby in this defense. However, the Broncos now effectively have three slot cornerbacks in Chris Harris Jr. Callahan, and Kareem Jackson. Callahan figures to start in the slot while Harris will line up outside with Jackson moving to safety. Isaac Yiadom looks to have won the starting role opposite Harris and has played well during the preseason, but will still represent the most exploitable part of this secondary given his inexperience. Antonio Brown is actually slated to see most snaps against Yiadom based on pre-snap positioning last season, however, take that with a grain of salt considering this will be Brown’s first game with his new team and he could be shadowed by Harris. The defensive line for Denver remains a strength and should have few issues pressuring this mediocre Raiders offensive line missing both starting guards.

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


Tennessee Titans Passing Offense at Cleveland Browns Passing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Marcus Mariota has struggled throughout this year’s preseason but is still on track to lead the Titans under center in Week 1. Backup Ryan Tannehill has made the most of his opportunities this preseason, so Mariota will have to perform to fend off the Tannehill replacement talk. It is tough to assign all the blame on Mariota for the Titans’ preseason woes, as the offensive line has struggled and he has yet to have all offensive weapons available to him due to various injuries. As of last week, though, the full starting unit was practicing together and appears to be in good health. Corey Davis will be looking for his first 1,000 receiving yard season as the top wide-out for the Titans. He was heavily targeted in 2018 and expects much of the same this season despite a different cast of characters around him with Adam Humphries coming via free agency and A.J. Brown added via the draft. Humphries will serve as the lead possession receiver while A.J. Brown should line up opposite Davis while competing with Tajae Sharpe for playing time. Brown was dealing with a hamstring injury throughout the preseason, but he is ready to go for this week. Veteran tight end Delanie Walker also returns healthy after missing most of 2018 with a serious ankle injury from which he is just now recovering.

The Browns passing defense enters 2019 anchored by a strong pass rush and top tier cornerback to keep opposing passing offenses in check this season. This defensive line is their key strength and has been bolstered by the additions of Sheldon Richardson at tackle and Olivier Vernon on the edge. Both add experience and are clear talent upgrades to what was already a solid defensive line. Myles Garrett looks to continue the upward trend of his career after finishing with 13.5 sacks in 2018 (7th overall)--over a third of the total sacks for this defense. This Browns pass rush should be a problem for the Titans offensive line that has struggled on all levels throughout the preseason. In the secondary, Denzel Ward is one of the elite cornerbacks in the NFL and should be focusing on Corey Davis for much of this game. Davis has not performed well under tough coverage and Ward never allowed more than 50 receiving yards to a wide receiver he shadowed in 2018. Terrance Mitchell has beat out Greedy Williams for the starting role opposite Ward and should be another tough matchup for AJ Brown and Tajae Sharpe opposite Davis. Adam Humphries likely draws the best matchup amongst Titans wide receivers coming out of the slot against T.J. Carrie. The Browns did allow over 1,000 receiving yards to tight ends in 2018, and Delanie Walker is a favorite target in this Titans passing offense. If Walker can get matched up against one of the weaker Browns linebackers, it could be a big play over the middle waiting to happen.

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


Green Bay Packers Passing Offense at Chicago Bears Passing Defense (Bad Matchup)

The Packers have a new coaching staff, but the same field general as Aaron Rodgers returns at the helm of what should not be a drastically different offense from what we saw in 2018. If anything, the introduction of an offensive-minded head coach like LaFleur may help add some creativity to what Rodgers and company can accomplish in the passing game. Another year of experience will also be a bonus for what is a relatively young group of receivers returning. Davante Adams should be the top target again this year after finishing 2018 as the highest scoring fantasy wide receiver on a per-game basis in PPR formats (21.8 points per game). Marquez Valdes-Scantling is expected to be the second receiver opposite Adams, as he was clearly had the best season amongst the three rookie receivers the Packers rostered last year. Scantling has the size and speed to outmatch many top cornerbacks, yet he will get the #2 option of many teams with Adams drawing top talent in coverage. Geronimo Alison looks to start the season in the slot after a disappointing 2018 campaign in which he only played five games due to injuries. Jimmy Graham rounds out the primary weapons for Rodgers. Graham had a respectable season in 2018 with 636 yards and two touchdowns, but the lack of red zone usage was extremely underwhelming given Graham’s historical track record. Age and injuries have caught up to Graham, so it is tough to hold high expectations for him to turn things around this season beyond a couple of decent games.

Despite the offseason departure of top slot cornerback Bryce Callahan and the loss of their defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, the Bears passing defense remains one of the best in the league. Proven coordinator Chuck Pagano is taking over this unit that will retain one of the top pass-rushing attacks in football led by Khalil Mack and Leonard Floyd on the edges with Akiem Hicks applying pressure on the interior. The Packers have a top tier offensive line with a pair of elite tackles, but this defensive line will outmatch almost any opposing unit in the trenches. It is no question that the loss of Callahan drops this secondary down a notch though, as Buster Skrine is far from a one-for-one replacement of what Callahan brought to the table in the slot. If there is another concern in the secondary, it is the loss of Adrian Amos who was one of the top safeties in the league last season. Amos is being replaced by Ha Ha Clinton-Dix who has had an up and down career but is coming off of a solid season from a coverage standpoint. This secondary is still anchored by Pro Bowl corner Kyle Fuller, and safety Eddie Jackson. With strong pressure and coverage, this Bears defense will give the Packers all they can handle in their season opener.

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


Miami Dolphins Passing Offense vs Baltimore Ravens Passing Defense (Bad Matchup)

It’s fair to call the Miami passing game a complete mess entering the year. This had the look of a low-volume, low-efficiency unit even before wideout Kenny Stills and left tackle Laremy Tunsil were traded last week. There wasn’t much of a quarterback competition during the preseason, which is a terrible sign for young Josh Rosen. The former first-round pick was, by all accounts, out practiced and outplayed by 36-year-old Ryan Fitzpatrick, who will open Sunday under center. Fitzpatrick’s outlook is the same wherever he suits up: an aggressive gunslinger unafraid to test downfield windows in search of a big play. Sometimes he’s successful – he posted four 400-yard games in Tampa Bay last year, with 17 touchdowns in essentially half a season. But he’s also an erratic, turnover-prone passer, with a career 3.5% interception rate. Rosen may see snaps as early as Week 1, given Fitzpatrick’s collapse potential. But it’s hard to feel confident in his abilities after both the Cardinals and Dolphins have opted to start shaky veterans on Opening Day. With Stills gone, Albert Wilson looks like the clear No. 1 wideout. Wilson is primarily a slot specialist but boasts the ability to create after the catch. Last year he produced plays of 75, 74, and 43 yards, all of which came on short throws underneath. Healthy again, Wilson should lead the way in targets, but this offense doesn’t look suited to give him much big-play and scoring opportunity. Across the field, DeVante Parker remains as a nominal starter. Now five seasons into a disappointing career, Parker enters the year healthy but has long struggled with injuries and inconsistency. He’s yet to post an 800-yard NFL season, and his role could be under siege by impressive rookie Preston Williams. Return specialist Jakeem Grant brings lid-lifting ability but has caught just 34 passes over 42 games. Tight end Mike Gesicki followed his disappointing rookie year with, by most reports, an even worse second preseason. His strong athletic profile has yet to roll over into the NFL.

The Ravens’ stingy pass defense only got richer in the offseason. Adding future Hall of Famer Earl Thomas to the mix was a bold move and one that should make the downfield game nearly impossible most weeks. The pass-game upgrade to Thomas from Eric Weddle should be sizeable, and the Ravens are candidates to lead the NFL in interceptions. They’re flushed with talent at cornerback, where Marlon Humphrey has developed into one of the league’s brightest defensive stars: he’s broken up 26 passes through 27 NFL games. Brandon Carr and Jimmy Smith will rotate on the other side, and both are proven playmakers on the ball. Carr is the more consistent cover man and coming fresh off one of his best seasons, while Smith has long struggled with injury and consistency. He fits beautifully, though, as anyone’s No. 3 cornerback. If there’s a weakness, it’s in the slot, where Tavon Young was very up-and-down in 2018. Still, Thomas can help stem the bleeding there at times, and it’s hard to project much week-to-week efficiency. The Ravens do have some pass-rush production to replace, but they’ve always been adept at manufacturing pressure from all over the formation.

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


New York Jets Passing Offense vs Buffalo Bills Passing Defense (Bad Matchup)

As the youngest starting quarterback in the Super Bowl era, Sam Darnold certainly faced growing pains in 2018. But after returning from a foot sprain in Week 14, Darnold tightened his game noticeably. Over the season’s final 4 weeks, he completed 64% of his throws, with 6 touchdowns to a single interception. He’ll look to carry that hot stretch over, but may ultimately lack the firepower to do so, at least in Week 1. Top target Robby Anderson has been limited for the last week by a calf injury; he’s expected to play, but might not be himself off the bat. And tight end Chris Herndon, who flashed playmaking ability as a rookie, will lose the first four weeks to suspension. The rest of the receiving corps looks fairly low-impact: slot specialists Jamison Crowder (11.9 career yards per catch) and Quincy Enunwa (11.8 last year with Darnold) will work the middle, with running back Le’Veon Bell likely to draw heavy usage out of the backfield. If Anderson can go at full strength, it’ll be a massive boon for Darnold. The two got off to a shaky start last year, but during Darnold’s strong closing stretch, Anderson averaged 6 catches for 84 yards. He’s developed nicely from an occasional Hail Mary target into one of football’s more productive deep threats.

Through yet another tough season in 2018, the Buffalo pass defense remained a clear team strength – and a dicey fantasy matchup. On the year, the Bills gave up just 5.4 net yards per attempt (third-best in the league) and 22 touchdowns (eighth-fewest). They allowed only four opposing passers – Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Philip Rivers, and Kirk Cousins – to top 250 yards. And luckily, the unit’s entire core returns intact for the coming year. It’s led by shutdown cornerback TreDavious White, who built on an impressive 2017 debut with an even better 2018. White didn’t shadow often, but was the primary reason the team allowed just three 100-yard wideouts all year. And Levi Wallace was a rookie revelation across the field, dominating all comers after seizing the starting job in Week 10. With a solid safety duo behind them and an aggressive pass rush up front, this secondary will offer a grueling Week 1 test for Sam Darnold. If top Jets wideout Robby Anderson is hobbled, there’s little reason to expect any Jets firepower Sunday.

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