Week 3 Passing Matchups

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

Jump to Rushing Matchups

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


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 Miami Dolphins Passing Defense (Great Matchup)

Dak Prescott continued his impressive start to the season last week, passing for three touchdowns and 269 yards as he completed a stellar 86.7 percent of his 30 pass attempts. Prescott now has seven touchdowns to start the season as he has looked like one of the top quarterbacks in the league under his new offensive coordinator Kellen Moore. Amari Cooper found the end zone for the second straight week, but he actually finished third in targets behind both Randall Cobb and Michael Gallup as Prescott was spreading the ball around. His top target for the season has been Michael Gallup, who looked impressive last week before suffering a meniscus injury that will sideline him for multiple weeks. Gallup’s absence will open the door for Devin Smith to at least temporarily see more playing time. Smith burst onto the scene last week as he hauled in all three of his targets for 74 yards, including a 51-yard touchdown reception on which he showed off his flashy speed. Jason Witten also remains a key cog in this offense. He has been targeted twice in the red zone in back-to-back games and converted on one of those opportunities in each week as he has notched two touchdowns already.

After the Dolphins allowed 102 points scored and a league-leading 32.7 fantasy points per game to quarterbacks through the first two weeks, one would think things could not get much worse for this defense. However, the Dolphins decided to trade away one of their top playmaking defensive backs Minkah Fitzpatrick to the Steelers earlier this week. This makes an already thin defense even thinner, as Fitzpatrick was about as versatile as they come at the defensive back position. They still have a talented young cornerback in Xavien Howard, but the rest of this secondary along with a ho-hum defensive line represents an extreme liability that should have the Cowboys passing offense licking its chops.

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


Detroit Lions Passing Offense at Philadelphia Eagles Passing Defense (Great Matchup)

The Detroit Lions' opened the season with two polar opposite opponents. In week one, the Arizona Cardinals attempted to rely upon an up-tempo offense to maximize their offense's chance of scoring. In week two, the Los Angeles Chargers slowed down the pace to mask notable absences on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. In turn, Detroit's offensive production through two games has been somewhat erratic. In week one, Matthew Stafford threw the ball 45 times, primarily to Kenny Golladay (9 targets,) Danny Amendola (13 targets,) and T.J. Hockenson (9 targets.) In week two, Stafford attempted just 30 passes. Kenny Golladay stood out as Stafford's favorite target in week two, commanding 10 targets, while both Amendola and Hockenson tailed off with only 1 and 3 targets, respectively. Golladay is the team's clear-cut number-one wide receiver, which should bode well for Stafford's efficiency. Golladay has long been considered one of the best young talents at the wide receiver position, and a more substantial and more consistent role in the offense is well-deserved. Detroit's offensive line struggled in week one against the Arizona Cardinals, as Stafford was under pressure more than any other quarterback in the league. These struggles carried over to week two when the Chargers disrupted the pocket on 9 of Stafford's 32 dropbacks on the day. The Lions need to shore up the trenches before expecting a consistently-dangerous passing attack, and week three at Philadelphia poses a tough matchup up front. Fortunately, the Eagles' secondary is far from elite.

Through the first 2 weeks of the 2019 season, the Philadelphia Eagles have allowed multiple 300+ yard passers, multiple 3-touchdown passers, and 3 100+ yard receivers. Philadelphia had hoped that a healthy secondary in 2019 would provide a solution to the coverage issues that arose late in 2018 following a slew of injuries, that has not been the case. Philadelphia ranks 31st in passing yards allowed, 29th in passing touchdowns allowed, and 25th in net-yards-per-attempt allowed. The Eagles' pass rush has done the secondary no favors to start the season. Aside from Fletcher Cox and Brandon Graham, no other member of the Eagles front-four (or linebacking corps) has been able to generate pressure at a respectable rate to start the season. What had previously been a strength of Philadelphia's defense, depth on the defensive line, has quickly transformed into a weakness. In week one, the Eagles lost defensive tackle Malik Jackson for the season to a foot injury. Then, in week two, Jackson's replacement Tim Jernigan was taken back to the locker room on a cart, and he will miss about a month due to a foot injury of his own. Philadelphia's pass defense has been woefully disappointing through two games, and defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz will have his work cut out for him attempting to solve these issues ahead of a week three clash with the Detroit Lions.

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


Minnesota Vikings Passing Offense vs Oakland Raiders Passing Defense (Great Matchup)

The Minnesota Vikings threw the ball just 10 times in their season-opening victory over the Atlanta Falcons, but week two was an entirely different story. The Green Bay Packers jumped out to an early 21-0 lead over the Vikings, which forced the team into a pass-heavy approach. Kirk Cousins went 14-of-32 on the day for 230 yards, 1 touchdown, and 2 interceptions in the unfriendly confines of Lambeau Field. The Vikings struggled to build any momentum with either of their top-tier wide receivers, Adam Theilen and Stefon Diggs. Thielen finished the game with 5 receptions for 75 yards on 8 targets, while Diggs caught just 1 of his 7 targets for 49 yards on the day. The talent of each wide receiver is undeniable, but the Vikings have not eclipsed 250 passing yards in a game since week 12 of the 2018 season. Minnesota's offensive line has done Kirk Cousins no favors to start the season, either. Opposing defenses have pressured Cousins on 20 out of 53 dropbacks on the season, one of the worst rates in the entire NFL. Pat Elflein missed week two with a knee injury, and his status for week three is once again in question. Dakota Dozier will start for Elflein if he is unable to play against Oakland, and Dozier's numbers to this point in the season have been horrid. Minnesota's goal this season under offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski is seemingly to throw the ball as seldom as possible. When the game script calls for a pass-heavy approach, the offensive line must improve and provide Cousins with a clean pocket to throw from for this passing-game to show signs of life.

Oakland's pass defense turned in a poor performance in week one, which was masked by Joe Flacco's inability to capitalize on the Raiders' miscues. In week two, however, the Raiders were not quite as fortunate. The Raiders played host to the Kansas City Chiefs' dynamic offense in week two when Patrick Mahomes and the NFL's most prolific passing attack ever lit them up for nearly 450 passing yards, 4 touchdowns, and 0 interceptions. Oakland lost its starting safety Jonathan Abram after week one to a season-ending shoulder injury that required surgery. In his place, the Raiders attempted to rotate Curtis Riley and Erik Harris into the game at safety. Both Riley and Harris were terrorized all day by Kansas City's vertical passing attack, which placed a magnifying glass on a definitive weakness of the Oakland Raiders' defense. In the trenches, unfortunately, the Raiders' defensive linemen were not much better. The Raiders have failed to reach double-digit hurries on the opposing quarterback in either of their first two games in 2019. The inexperience up front has been on full-display through two games, and the only thing that may save them in week three is Minnesota's fondness for running the football. When Minnesota attempts to air it out, the Vikings will likely face little resistance from a reeling Raiders defense.

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


New England Patriots Passing Offense vs New York Jets Passing Defense (Great Matchup)

The Patriots so far this season have dominated teams through the air as this is one of the best wide receiver groups that Tom Brady has had in his tenure in New England. The Patriots came out and made it a point to get the ball to Antonio Brown this past week as Brady’s first three completions all went to Brown. Brown played just 33% of the plays as he continues to learn the offense after being released by Oakland. This is a unit that will continue to exploit the matchups of the opponents and has weapons across the offense in Brown, Julian Edelman, Josh Gordon and James White who we have yet to see get going so far this season.

The Jets secondary has played well in both games so far this season and then have fallen apart in the second half of games. The Jets held the Bills scoreless in Week 1 and held Baker Mayfield to just 47% completion percentage in the first half of the Monday Night game. The Jets strength is the ability Gregg Williams has to confuse defenses and the quality of their safeties in Marcus Maye and Jamal Adams. The Jets weakness is their corner positions as they benched Trumaine Johnson who is their highest-paid corner for Nate Hairston and it did not improve things as Hairston struggled alongside Darryl Roberts. Brian Poole was burned badly by Odell Beckham on an 89-yard touchdown pass. Gregg Williams was able to cover up for his poor cornerback play against two inexperienced quarterbacks in Josh Allen and Baker Mayfield for a half, but don’t expect Tom Brady to be fooled by anything Williams throws at him. Expect a long day for the Jets in this one.

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


Tampa Bay Buccaneers Passing Offense vs New York Giants Passing Defense (Great Matchup)

It wouldn’t be out of line to call Jameis Winston’s Week 2 a bounce-back showing. After a horrid opener, Winston looked serviceable against the Panthers, completing 64% of his throws and avoiding turnovers. Week to week, Winston boasts high upside in Arians’ vertical, playmaking attack. He has a wealth of talent at his disposal, led by Mike Evans, who’s opened the year slowly but always presents a mismatch. Thus far, though, Winston’s strongest connection has been with Chris Godwin, who’s already racked up 174 yards and found the end zone in both games. Godwin works primarily out of the slot, which was heavily utilized back when Bruce Arians was coaching the Cardinals. His blend of size and athleticism makes him a great target both on quick-hitters and on fade routes in the end zone. Perhaps the most head-scratching aspect of the Tampa Bay pass game thus far has been O.J. Howard’s disappearing act (32 yards through 2 games). Arians has never been accused of using his tight ends excessively, but he’s also never had one as dynamic down the field as Howard. The youngster will need to trim his mistakes - drops, fumbles, etc. - if he’s going to carve out a meaty role. Cameron Brate, who had two touchdowns called back in Week 1, still looms as a vulture.

Little has changed from the Giants’ poor 2018 in pass defense; if anything, things have gotten noticeably worse. Last Sunday, this unit reached a new low, allowing Buffalo’s Josh Allen his best day as an NFL starter. The biggest problems are at cornerback, where Janoris Jenkins is no longer a shutdown guy and Eli Apple has yet to be adequately replaced. Rookie DeAndre Baker has been a massive liability through his first two games, biting on fakes and losing sight of his man far too often. Antonio Hamilton hasn’t been much better, rounding out one of football’s most beatable trios. Behind them, 35-year-old Antoine Bethea no longer offers much support down the field. With such poor coverage in place and such a ho-hum pass rush up front, this should remain one of fantasy’s tastiest matchups. No. 1 options like Mike Evans need no longer fear Jenkins, and rising talents like Chris Godwin face little resistance from anyone else.

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


Buffalo Bills Passing Offense vs Cincinnati Bengals Passing Defense (Good Matchup)

In his second season, Josh Allen has shown modest improvement as an NFL passer. With a big arm and nimble, creative feet, he has tools in place to develop into a dynamic dual-threat quarterback. Allen sorely lacked weapons as a rookie, so the Bills made two key offseason additions, wideouts John Brown and Cole Beasley, to serve as his primary options. Through 2 games, they’ve combined to draw 46% of his targets and account for 63% of his passing yardage. Brown is still one of the NFL’s fastest players, which has been on full display in Buffalo. He's also shown improved route-running skills, playing underneath and working back to the ball when needed for a quick completion. For his part, Beasley isn’t much of a playmaker, as evidenced by his career 10.3-yard average. But he’s quick-footed and adept at finding soft spots underneath, crucial traits for a young quarterback’s security blanket. Beyond them, there’s little to speak of here; no other Bill has caught more than five passes thus far. Zay Jones remains a low-impact reserve talent, and none of the team’s bevy of tight ends has made a dent in the offense. At the moment, it makes sense to view Week 2 as this unit’s absolute ceiling and play it accordingly. Allen simply doesn’t throw often, and he’s still quite raw when he does. Week to week, Brown is the only component that can be trusted - and even he’s largely dependent upon splash plays for his value.

The Bengals continue to trot out one of football’s more enigmatic pass defenses. They boast a pair of strong cornerbacks in William Jackson and Dre Kirkpatrick, and a rising star at free safety in Jessie Bates. But despite that talent, the necessary cohesion and communication simply aren’t there, and this matchup remains one of the juiciest in fantasy football. Offenses have little trouble finding soft spots under and between the secondary’s zones, leading to big days through the air. Last week, the 49ers’ Jimmy Garoppolo snapped out of a year-long funk in this matchup, completing 17 of 25 throws for 297 yards and 3 touchdowns. Over and over, the Bengals were gashed by slot playmakers George Kittle and Deebo Samuel, while Marquise Goodwin kept the secondary backed up deep. If this unit is going to wake up and offer any resistance, it will have to tighten up in the flats and the seams. The Bills’ receiving corps isn’t flashy but boasts enough speed and quickness to create a handful of big plays.

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


Carolina Panthers Passing Offense at Arizona Cardinals Passing Defense (Good Matchup)

Now 30 years old, and has undergone two shoulder surgeries over the past two years, Cam Newton is struggling. He’s been erratic all over the field, but particularly on deep balls (15+ yards), where he’s completed just 3 of 10 attempts thus far. As a result, neither D.J. Moore nor Curtis Samuel has been able to create much downfield magic. Moore has been dependable in the No. 1 role, catching 67% of his targets, but has averaged just 10.3 yards apiece. He’s yet to find the end zone or even record a play of more than 18 yards. Samuel did make a great deep catch last Thursday, skying over Buccaneers cornerback Vernon Hargeaves for a 44-yard gain, but hasn’t exactly been unleashed yet (just 7.2 yards per target thus far). At least 34-year-old Greg Olsen looks spry and recovered from foot surgery, working the seams as a security blanket with plenty of foot-speed left. Newton’s Week 3 availability remains up in the air; if he can go, the team will keep having to manufacture production with after-the-catch yardage. Moore and Samuel are dynamic athletes, while Christian McCaffrey may be the game’s best pass-catching back. There’s enough talent to keep this attack afloat with Newton under center, but a move to undrafted youngster Kyle Allen would ding the whole group. Allen looked serviceable in Week 17 of last year, going 16-of-27 for 228 yards and 2 scores against the Saints. But he’s not to be trusted yet in fantasy - and most of his supporting cast goes into wait-and-see status.

With All-Pro cornerback Patrick Peterson in the lineup, the Cardinals still field a subpar pass defense, but he remains suspended. Without him, this is one of football’s worst units. Late moves and miscommunications have resulted in far too many splash plays to open the year. In Week 1, the Lions got their passing game on-track with 385 and 3 touchdowns. And last Sunday, Lamar Jackson continued his torrid start to the season, hitting on 24 of 37 for 272 and 2 more scores. Peterson’s replacements, Tramaine Brock and Chris Jones, have been shaky on the outside, and rookie slot man Byron Murphy has been beaten frequently. The cornerback play has been bad, but thus far, opposing tight ends have caused the most damage. T.J. Hockenson (6 for 131 and 1 touchdown) and Mark Andrews (8 for 112 and 1) have exploited major vulnerabilities over the middle and up the seams; both made huge downfield plays that came far too easily. This is a unit that could allow Greg Olsen to have one more big game that we have seen many times throughout his career.

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


Chicago Bears Passing Offense at Washington Redskins Passing Defense (Good Matchup)

Sadly, Mitchell Trubisky has failed to make the third-year jump many had hoped for here in 2019. In week one against the Green Bay Packers, Trubisky threw for just 228 yards on 45 pass attempts, en-route to a 3 point offensive performance for the Bears. Somehow, it got even worse for Chicago in week two with just 120 yards through the air against the Denver Broncos. Trubisky's consistent failures to get the ball out on time and make the throws expected of an NFL starter have hampered Chicago's aerial attack to start the 2019 season. The top two targets in Chicago's offense are evident through two games: wide receiver Allen Robinson and running back Tarik Cohen. Robinson's pure talent as a pass-catcher ensures he will always be a focus of this offense through the air. Trubisky frequently looks his way in the highest-leverage situations throughout the game. Cohen, on the other hand, is an exceptional playmaker after the catch. Head coach and play-caller Matt Nagy consistently involves Cohen in the offense in unconventional ways thanks to his rare ability to make defenders miss. Aside from Robinson and Cohen, tight end, Trey Burton returned to the lineup in week two after missing the season opener with a groin injury. Burton was only able to play 43-percent of snaps in his 2019 debut because of the ailment, but as his health improves, so will his production. Chicago's offensive line has unexpectedly struggled to start the 2019 season. FootballGuys' offensive line analyst, Matt Bitonti, ranks the Bears' front-five as one of the league's best in pass protection, but through two games the results have been poor. Unless Chicago's offensive line rights the ship, their aerial attack will almost certainly continue to struggle. Even if the issues up-front are resolved, Trubisky's lack of development as a passer is cause for concern for the Bears' passing offense.

The first two weeks of the 2019 season have not been kind to the Washington Redskins. Following two bouts with top-tier division rivals, the Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys, the Washington Redskins defense ranks amongst the league's worst. The Redskins' defensive front was depleted early in week one against the Philadelphia Eagles, as interior defenders, Caleb Brantley, and Jonathan Allen went down with injuries. The status of both players is in doubt for this week three bout with the Chicago Bears. Allen is certainly an impactful absence from the pass-rush, but even his presence likely would not be enough to bring this unit up to a league-average level. At just 20 total pressures on opposing quarterbacks, the production from the Washington pass-rush ranks 4th-worst in the entire NFL. Additionally, in the secondary, there is little good news to report. Three previously-strong pass defenders in Landon Collins, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, and Josh Norman have all struggled mightily in the opening weeks of the 2019 season. All three players have lengthy resumes as above-average players in coverage. However, the fact that all three players are struggling at the same time, with two still integrating into a new defensive scheme in 2019, may signal a systemic issue in the Washington secondary. The Redskins have allowed the second-most passing touchdowns in the NFL through two weeks. It would be tough for the Chicago Bears to dream up a better matchup to right the proverbial ship and get the passing offense back on track.

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


Indianapolis Colts Passing Offense vs Atlanta Falcons Passing Defense (Good Matchup)

Jacoby Brissett has led an inconsistent Colts passing offense by racking up five passing touchdowns despite posting passing yard totals of just 190 and 146 yards in his first two games. This Colts offense is leaning heavily on their ground game, which will continue to limit the volume for a Brissett-led passing offense. Brissett has been effective from short range, but he has missed some opportunities downfield while struggling with his intermediate-to-deep ball accuracy. T.Y. Hilton has been just fine with Brissett under center though, as Hilton has been the recipient of three of those five passing touchdowns while leading the team in targets with triple the looks of any other Colts wide receiver. Eric Ebron has played about 25 percent fewer snaps than Jack Doyle in each of the first two games, but he has seen a red-zone look in both games and converted one for a touchdown last week. Both tight ends have seen limited opportunities to start the season, and there is little reason to believe their volume will spike.

Atlanta’s defense looked very sharp against the Eagles last week as they rattled Carson Wentz for three sacks while picking him off twice. Falcons pass rushers were strong as their defensive end duo of Takkarist McKinley and Vic Beasley Jr. got to the Eagles quarterback five times with Beasley registering one sack--an impressive feat against the stout Eagles offensive line. Defensive tackle Grady Jarrett has had an impressive start to the season as well, notching a sack in each outing as he has dominated his matchup in back-to-back weeks. Despite this success, however, the Colts have a very strong offensive line that should have a good shot at withstanding this pressure to give Brissett adequate time. Colts receivers should be expected to have a tough time though, as the Falcons secondary has a ton of talent both at cornerback and safety. T.Y. Hilton will see plenty of coverage from Desmond Trufant on the outside, however, he should have the opportunity for a mismatch when lined up in the slot. Slot cornerbacks for the Falcons have given up a touchdown to opposing slot receivers in back-to-back weeks.

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


Los Angeles Chargers Passing Offense vs Houston Texans Passing Defense (Good Matchup)

Philip Rivers was mediocre in last week’s loss to the Lions as he failed to find the end zone and ended with 291 passing yards. His offensive line couldn’t handle the pressure from the Lions, which led to Rivers being consistently hurried and forced into making some questionable throws. Rivers was missing a key safety blanket in Hunter Henry, who is done for most of the year with a knee injury. Mike Williams was also limited last week as he deals with a knee injury. These limitations for Rivers basically caused him to force-feed Keenan Allen targets last week. Allen has 42 percent of the team’s targets through the first two weeks and has finished with 123 and 98 receiving yards in each game. Austin Ekeler is also seeing a high volume of targets, and he has hauled in all but one of them for a total of 163 receiving yards and two touchdowns to start the season. Both Allen and Ekeler will remain high ceiling assets in this passing offense.

The Texans played decent defense last week as they displayed improvements on the defensive line and secondary. J.J. Watt got back on track while Whitney Mercilus continued his spectacular start to the season as the primary replacement to Jadeveon Clowney. The pair of edge rushers accounted for four hits on Gardner Minshew while Mercilus notched two sacks and Watt recovered a fumble. The Chargers offensive line received a mediocre C+ grade in pass protection by Footballguys offensive line guru Matt Bitonti, so they will be expected to struggle against the talented Texans defensive line. The secondary continues to adjust after cutting cornerback Aaron Colvin. Rookie Lonnie Johnson Jr. started and struggled last week while Bradley Roby moved to the slot and held Dede Westbrook to just one reception for three yards. Johnson Jr. will be a liability due to his lack of experience, which should pose an opportunity for Mike Williams and Travis Benjamin from the edges. Bradley Roby may have had a nice game against the Jaguars, but he is not an extremely talented cornerback and will afford Keenan Allen a clear advantage in the slot. The Texans have also given up decent production to running backs to start the season, allowing 4-40 to Leonard Fournette and 7-72 to Alvin Kamara. Austin Ekeler will have a good chance at meeting or exceeding that level of production from the backfield.

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


New Orleans Saints Passing Offense at Seattle Seahawks Passing Defense (Good Matchup)

The biggest storylines in the NFL after week two are undoubtedly the injuries to franchise quarterbacks throughout the NFL. Drew Brees injured his thumb on a first-quarter pass attempt against the Los Angeles Rams. Brees is set to undergo surgery this week and will miss approximately 6 to 8 weeks with the injury, thrusting Teddy Bridgewater into the starting role. Bridgewater is widely regarded as one of the NFL's best backup quarterbacks, but the drop off in talent from Brees, one of the league's best starters, is massive. Bridgewater mustered just 165 yards on 30 attempts throughout the game in Los Angeles and was unable to lead a touchdown drive all game. Bridgewater focused the passing attack on to primary targets: Michael Thomas and Jared Cook. Michael Thomas' workload with Bridgewater under-center was comparable to what he typically sees with Brees at the helm. However, his targets were significantly less-valuable with Bridgewater, as the backup was unable to push the ball downfield at a Brees-like level. Jared Cook's involvement during his second game as a member of the New Orleans Saints was significantly higher than in his debut with the team. Bridgewater's tendency to rely on safer underneath routes favors Cook over wide receivers Tre'Quan Smith and Ted Ginn, Jr. Bridgewater rarely targeted Alvin Kamara out of the backfield against the Rams. Moving forward, Kamara will undoubtedly be heavily involved in the passing game, as Sean Payton and the Saints coaching staff attempt to make life easier on the newly-minted starting quarterback. The offensive line for New Orleans is a definitive strength of the team. Last week, the Saints faced off with one of the league's best pass rushes, and Bridgewater struggled in the face of pressure. In week three, New Orleans heads to Seattle to face a far weaker pass rush. A clean pocket is essential to an effective passing attack, and Bridgewater should operate in a much calmer pocket here against the Seahawks than he did against the Rams.

The Seattle Seahawks opened the 2019 season with a pair of extremely unique matchups. In the season opener, the Seahawks played host to the Cincinnati Bengals, coached by Zac Taylor, a branch off of the newly-forming Sean McVay coaching tree. Before week one, Taylor hadn't called plays his days as interim offensive coordinator for the Miami Dolphins in 2015. Thus, Taylor's tendencies and philosophies as an offensive play-caller were a relative unknown before week one. In the opener, the Bengals new-look offense threw for 418 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 0 interceptions on 51 pass-attempts in a tightly-contested 21-20 Seahawks victory. In week two, the Seahawks faced the Pittsburgh Steelers. Late in the second quarter of the game, Steelers' starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger left the game with an elbow injury, thrusting Mason Rudolph into the first regular-season action of his young career. Rudolph finished the game with a respectable 112 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 1 interception while completing 12 of 19 pass attempts on the day. One common trend through the two unique matchups for Seattle has been a middling pass rush. Jadeveon Clowney, a recent acquisition from the Houston Texans, has yet to make a significant impact by pressuring opposing quarterbacks. Luckily for Seattle, Ezekiel Ansah, one of the league's most efficient pass rushers, is expected to return to action in week three against the Saints. The combination of Ansah and Clowney rushing off the edge has the potential to be the league's best pass-rushing duo if both stay healthy. In the secondary, aside from Shaquill Griffin's surprising and impressive start to the 2019 season, there is not much to get excited about. Opposite Griffin, Tre Flowers has been picked on relentlessly throughout the first two games of the season. Seattle's reported involvement in the trade market for potential help in the secondary represents just how urgent the team's needs are to shore up this unit. Seattle will rely heavily upon its pass-rush to disrupt opposing quarterbacks throughout the 2019 season. Should the defensive line falter and allow the opposition a clean pocket to throw from, the secondary will be in for a long day at the office against one of the league's smartest offensive minds in Sean Payton.

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


New York Giants Passing Offense at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Passing Defense (Good Matchup)

Mercifully, the Giants opted this week to remove Eli Manning from under center. They’d reached a breaking point: over his last 10 games, Manning had averaged just 7.0 yards per attempt and thrown 16 touchdowns. With a weakened arm and no tools left to beat the pass rush, hesimply lacks any dynamic skills at this point. That’s why the offense is currently made up almost entirely of low-impact slot specialists. Rookie Daniel Jones will take the reins starting this Sunday, and he’s fresh off a fantastic preseason that saw him complete 85% of his throws. He’s big-armed and mobile, offering far more creativity than Manning ever did. Perhaps he’ll catch the NFL napping on him for a few weeks, generating big plays on instinct outside the pocket. Still, he’s a relatively green rookie leading an offense that lacks firepower. Week to week, his best-case scenario is a high-volume day full of check-downs to explosive youngsters Evan Engram and Saquon Barkley. When that happens, both become high-level producers capable of winning fantasy weeks. Engram has caught 17 of his 22 targets thus far, while Barkley is capable of turning any short catch into something special. Sterling Shepard, if cleared by the concussion protocol, will provide another reliable set of hands from the slot. But beyond Engram and Barkley, there’s no reason to prioritize this passing game in any fantasy format.

The Tampa Bay pass defense remains one of football’s most vulnerable. With little turnover from last year’s bottom-tier group, they’re still allowing more big plays than they should. The outside coverage unit remains shaky at best, and a lack of communication inside leaves tons of run-after-catch room. On Thursday night, Greg Olsen’s two long scampers down the seam served as shining examples of this unit’s shortcomings. Cam Newton totaled 324 yards, even leaving a few misfires on the table. Vernon Hargreaves remains hit-or-miss in coverage, and he gave up a number of plays to D.J. Moore and Curtis Samuel last week. He recorded 12 tackles on the night, which is never a good sign for a cornerback. The pass rush has improved, with youngsters Shaquil Barrett and Vita Vea bending the pocket much more than was seen last year. But until they can be trusted to hold coverage, this will continue to be a plus fantasy matchup. Even the Giants’ thinned-out receiving corps enjoys something of an advantage here.

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


San Francisco 49ers Passing Offense vs Pittsburgh Steelers Passing Defense (Good Matchup)

Jimmy Garoppolo bounced back from a shaky opener with a statement performance on the road in Week 2. Garoppolo was sharp all day against the Bengals, completing 17 of 25 passes at a stout 11.9 yards per attempt. Most importantly, he was on-target with his downfield throws, hitting on 3 of his 4 deep balls (15+ yards downfield) for 98 yards. Garoppolo rekindled his 2017 connection with ex-Olympian Marquise Goodwin (3 for 77 and 1 touchdown) and put down roots for a new one with rookie Deebo Samuel (5 for 87 and 1). With George Kittle and a pair of pass-catching backs also in play, Garoppolo’s supporting cast is suddenly loaded with after-the-catch dynamism. And that’s to say nothing of Dante Pettis’ potential; he worked his way back onto the field for 35 snaps Sunday, though he failed to draw a target. Coach Kyle Shanahan makes heavy use of screens and quick slants, which should help get the ball to these weapons efficiently. It also helps to mitigate the 49ers’ mediocre front line, which allowed just two quarterback hits Sunday. There are still plenty of question marks surrounding Garoppolo, who’s been anything but consistent as a starter. But unlike last year, the team finally boasts a wide array of explosive, versatile receivers to play around with. Garoppolo may not need to be Tom Brady 2.0 to take advantage.

The Pittsburgh pass defense is a solid unit, though certainly not prohibitive for fantasy matchups. They’ve been especially vulnerable in the slot, where Mike Hilton and the safeties have been nickel-and-dimed by Julian Edelman (6 catches for 83 yards) and Tyler Lockett (10 for 79). It was to that end that the team sent next year’s first-round pick to the Dolphins for second-year safety Minkah Fitzpatrick this week. The merits of that deal are up for debate, but what’s clear is the upgrade he offers in coverage over Sean Davis and Cameron Sutton. Fitzpatrick will play free safety in Pittsburgh, with a heavy focus on the slot, and should get up to speed quickly. He’ll be needed right off the bat to help keep an eye on explosive 49ers tight end George Kittle. On the outside, another new Steeler, ex-Chief Steven Nelson, looked much better in Week 2. He pairs with Joe Haden to form a strong coverage duo on the boundaries. When the pass rush is healthy and active - Stephon Tuitt was a one-man wrecking crew Sunday - this unit is fully capable of slowing opposing pass games. But it may take a game or two for Fitzpatrick’s upgrade to be truly felt.

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


Arizona Cardinals Passing Offense vs Carolina Panthers Passing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

Through two games, it’s safe to say Kyler Murray is taking to coach Kliff Kingsbury’s Air Raid attack. Even with some notable rookie struggles, Murray has topped 300 yards in back-to-back games, and he nearly led a massive upset in Baltimore with his arm. He’s still a fundamental mess in many ways but boasts the instinct and arm strength to spin even ill-advised throws into solid gains. His connection with Larry Fitzgerald, while hit-or-miss last week (5 of 11 targets), is a strong one. Murray is looking for Fitzgerald all over the field, even deep, where the ageless wonder has produced plays of 41, 45, and 54 yards. Christian Kirk got in on the fun last week, posting 114 yards of his own, including a few impressive downfield catches. No one else has made much impact, though, with journeyman Damiere Byrd (87 yards on 10 receptions) taking up almost all of the No. 3 snaps. Running back David Johnson typically fills that role in the pecking order but surprisingly drew just a single target Sunday. As a result, there are only two receivers confidently in play for fantasy success from week to week. Still, on the whole, this is an exciting, fast-paced offense that’s delivering plenty of volume and decent efficiency. With opportunity, weaponry, and game flow often on his side, Murray looks like a weekly, matchup-proof stab at 300 yards.

The Panthers pass defense remains a solid if inconsistent unit. But their arrow is pointing up, thanks to a few key developments from last season’s debacle. In James Bradberry and Donte Jackson, they boast a pair of talented cover men who have opened the year exceeding expectations. They locked down the Rams in Week 1, then held Mike Evans to just 61 yards on 8 targets. It helps that they’re backed by the team’s best free safety in years, new addition Tre Boston, who provides great support downfield. There’s still some vulnerability inside, and Larry Fitzgerald and Christian Kirk should see enough volume and open space to produce. Last week, Jackson was beaten badly for a touchdown by Chris Godwin on a sharp cut to the inside. But on the whole, this is a difficult group to pile up big plays against. With the cornerbacks so strong in downfield coverage - and boasting the ability to move on the ball - opposing deep threats simply don’t project well.

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


Atlanta Falcons Passing Offense at Indianapolis Colts Passing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

Matt Ryan has led a pass-heavy Falcons offense to 624 passing yards from 89 pass attempts--tied for third-most attempts in the league through Week 2. He has been far from efficient with this high volume though, as Ryan has started out with five interceptions to go along with his five touchdowns--including three of each last week. The offensive line did a better job protecting Ryan last week, but the potential injury to right tackle Kaleb McGary is not an encouraging sign for an offensive line already down one starter. Ryan fed his stud receivers handily last week as both Calvin Ridley and Julio Jones were targeted 10 times, finishing with over 100 receiving yards and at least one touchdown apiece. Last week was a nice bounceback for Jones after being held to just 31 yards in Week 1. Ridley has been more consistent to start the season, finishing with at least 60 yards and a touchdown in both games while converting 75 percent of his targets compared to Jones hauling in just 52 percent of his volume. Mohamed Sanu remains involved, but his contributions are inconsistent from the slot. Austin Hooper saw a drop in volume last week after leading the team in receptions for Week 1, but Devonta Freeman has seen consistent targets despite his slow start rushing the ball.

A couple of key injuries threaten to have a significant impact on the Colts defense this week. Top cornerback Pierre Desir suffered a bone bruise in his knee last week and is expected to miss playing time. In addition, All-Pro linebacker Darius Leonard was placed in the concussion protocol after last week’s game and could be at risk of not clearing prior to Sunday. With Desir missing and rookie Rock Ya-Sin on the other side, both outside Falcons receivers Ridley and Jones should have a much easier path to success in this matchup. From the slot, the Falcons gave up a big game to Keenan Allen in Week 1, showing Kenny Moore can also be vulnerable in coverage. But Mohammed Sanu is far from the talent level of Allen, so it will be a much more even matchup in this one. With or without Leonard, this Colts linebacker group has not looked sharp in pass coverage. They haven’t given up much production to running backs, but opposing offenses have not tried to target the position very heavily. Having Leonard is certainly a big plus, but Devonta Freeman could still find space on a few screens this week. Tight end Austin Hooper will not be in a good spot, however, as coverage from the Falcons Colts has been relatively strong.

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


Baltimore Ravens Passing Offense at Kansas City Chiefs Passing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

Against the Cardinals, Lamar Jackson followed up his dazzling Week 1 with another dynamic showing. Shedding the “runner only” tag way ahead of schedule, Jackson has averaged a league-best 12.9 adjusted yards per attempt and 7 touchdowns through the air. He’s shining, and he’s doing it with a clear focus on his two main playmakers, rookie Marquise Brown and tight end Mark Andrews. Last week, Brown and Andrews accounted for 22 of Jackson’s 37 targets, combining for 16 receptions and 198 yards. (No other Raven topped 30 on the day.) Brown’s Week 1 eruption was eye-opening, and it came over just 15 snaps of action. He’s being managed, but it’s clear how much the team wants to feature him when he’s in. Brown’s snap and usage rates skyrocketed in Week 2; he’s being moved around and utilized in different ways to win with his elite speed and quickness. Andrews has all the markings of an in-his-prime Jimmy Graham, fast down the seams and deceptively powerful in the open field. He beat the Arizona secondary repeatedly, both on downfield routes and on tough, contested catches over the middle. Beyond those two, the receiving corps is mostly a situational bunch. Miles Boykin and Willie Snead have combined for just 62 yards on their 9 targets, and the running backs don’t factor in much with Jackson at the helm. He’s more interested in big, tide-shifting plays down the field than checking down. Armed with a pair of weapons as potent as Brown and Andrews, it’s no surprise he’s succeeding early on.

For all the Chiefs’ surprising 2018 success, the pass defense was mostly a liability. Through two weeks of this season, though, a noticeable turnaround has emerged. New coordinator Steve Spagnuolo has installed an aggressive, turnover-seeking unit that pressures both quarterback and receiver for the ball. Up front, pass rushers Chris Jones and Frank Clark make for a dynamic pass-rush duo. Jones has been nothing short of ferocious on the interior: he lived in the Raiders’ backfield Sunday, knocking Derek Carr down four times. It’s exceptionally tough for opposing passers to throw from a clean pocket in this matchup. There are some questions on the back end, where outside cornerbacks Bashaud Breeland and Charvarius Ward remain hit-or-miss. Both were burned badly on deep balls by the Jaguars’ D.J. Chark in Week 1. But Kendall Fuller remains solid in the slot, and rookie safety Juan Thornhill has injected new playmaking chops into this unit. There could be major help on the horizon, too, as some reports this week have connected the team to disgruntled Jaguars star Jalen Ramsey. As it stands, though, this unit may no longer be the pushover it was for much of last season.

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


Green Bay Packers Passing Offense vs Denver Broncos Passing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

Aaron Rodgers got off to a hot start last week with all but 66 of his 209 passing yards coming in the first half. By Rodgers standards, however, it has been a slow start to the season with just 412 passing yards through the first two games. This team has gone up against a couple of very tough defenses, though, so that helps to explain the quiet start. Davante Adams has been the top target in both games for the Packers, and he bounced back with an impressive stat line last week by hauling in seven of nine targets for 106 yards despite tough coverage from Xavier Rhodes. Geronimo Allison was targeted five times and had the only touchdown last week. This was good news after he finished with no targets in Week 1, but Allison did lose a fumble while also getting called for a holding penalty--so he may be on thin ice with the coaching staff. Marquez Valdes-Scantling saw six targets for the second straight week, but he missed out on landing a big play and finished with just 19 yards. That was better than tight end Jimmy Graham, however, as Graham was held without a catch on just two targets despite playing a higher rate of snaps than in Week 1 when he scored a touchdown.

Stats from the Broncos secondary looked great last week, but they were facing off against a struggling Mitchell Trubisky who has been unable to do anything with the Bears passing offense this season. With last week coming as a bit of an outlier, it is tough to get a good read on this Broncos secondary. Kareem Jackson does look to be a very solid addition while Chris Harris Jr. has also looked good to start the season as both players have split time covering the slot. Isaac Yiadom, however, has been an absolute liability on the outside and would be a very exploitable matchup for Davante Adams and Marquez Valdes-Scantling if he still sees playing time with the possible return of Bryce Callahan. Callahan has been sidelined with a foot injury since joining the Packers from Chicago, but he is hopeful to return this week. The Broncos pass rush has notably fallen far short of expectations to start this season, as they are the only team in the league that has yet to record a sack. That is inexcusable given the talent they have in Von Miller and Bradley Chubb. The Packers have a talented offensive line that has performed well in pass protection to start the season though, so it will not get easier for the struggling Broncos pass rushers. However, with signs pointing to veteran linebacker Todd Davis also making his season debut from injury this week, that pass rush and coverage in the middle of the field should be improved. Keep a close eye on Friday practice report, as this matchup would be upgraded to Good if Callahan is unable to suit up due to the significant advantage the Packers outside receivers would have over cornerback Isaac Yiadom.

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


Houston Texans Passing Offense at Los Angeles Chargers Passing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

Deshaun Watson and the Texans passing offense put forth a meager effort against the Jaguars in Week 2. Watson completed just over 50 percent of his passes for only 159 yards with no touchdowns. He continues to take a beating behind this struggling offensive line as Watson went down four more times last week, bringing his sack total up to a league-leading 10 on the season. DeAndre Hopkins was held to just 40 yards with a long reception of only 14 yards as he struggled against tight coverage--a rare sight from an elite receiver like Hopkins. Will Fuller saw a big bump in targets in Week 2, but his production still lacked last week. Keke Coutee made his season debut after missing Week 1 with an injury, but he was not heavily involved and will compete for snaps in the slot with Kenny Stills as they split relatively evenly last week. Running back Duke Johnson Jr. was shut out of the passing game last week as well, which is a concern as that seems to be his primary source of value with Carlos Hyde eating up the rushing attempts. Johnson’s snap count was down last week, but his usage through should be relatively game script dependent.

The Chargers secondary suffered yet another blow last week as safety Adrian Phillips broke his arm and will miss several weeks. Phillips was playing in place of star safety Derwin James and has been a key piece of the Chargers secondary, so this will be a heavily felt loss. With cornerback Trevor Williams still sidelined with a knee injury, this secondary has become much thinner than anyone would have thought coming into the season. They still have one of the top slot cornerbacks in the league in Desmond King, who should make it tough on Keke Coutee and Kenny Stills this week. Casey Hayward Jr. is also a stout matchup for any opposing receiver and should shadow DeAndre Hopkins this week. Will Fuller should have a good matchup against second-year cornerback Brandon Facyson though, as Facsyon has given up over 2.5 yards per route covered and nearly a 75 percent catch rate in his limited time on the field. Safety will be a clear weakness as well, opening up the chances for some big plays by this Texans receiving corps.

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


Los Angeles Rams Passing Offense at Cleveland Browns Passing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

Jared Goff rebounded after a rough first game against the Panthers as he completed 68% of his passes in the win against the Saints last week. This was a unit that seemed more comfortable last week as he only threw the ball 28 times instead of the 39 that he threw against the Panthers. When the Rams pass offense is the most effective is when they can establish the run and beat you with the play-action pass. Cooper Kupp seems to be back to 100% health after the ACL injury in 2018 as he is leading the team in targets with 19 and broke through with a 66-yard reception outrunning the Saints safeties. This continues to be one of the more dangerous passing units when it is firing on all cylinders.

The Browns secondary is one that on paper looks great, but has yet to really be tested this year facing Marcus Mariota and a combination of Trevor Siemian and Luke Falk last week. On the season, this is a unit that has allowed just 192 yards passing per game. At the corner position, this is the youngest unit in football led by 22-year-old Pro Bowler Denzel Ward and 21-year-old rookie Greedy Williams who has been excellent so far this season. This is a unit that is setup by the pass rush as Myles Garrett is on a mission to backup his statements of winning the Defensive Player of the Year as the defensive end has five sacks through two games. This pace won’t continue as they were against backup left tackle Dennis Kelly and Kelvin Beachum who has seen better days. This week the matchup and key to this game will be Garrett against 37-year-old Andrew Whitworth who has made the Pro Bowl four times throughout his career.

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


Philadelphia Eagles Passing Offense vs Detroit Lions Passing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

The injury bug bit the Philadelphia Eagles' receiving unit throughout week two, as the team lost Alshon Jeffrey, DeSean Jackson, and Dallas Goedert for the matchup against Atlanta. In week three, Alshon Jeffrey's status is in doubt, and in his place rookie, J.J. Arcega-Whiteside will likely step into the starting lineup. The Eagles drafted Arcega-Whiteside, a physically-gifted jump-ball specialist from Stanford, in the second round of the 2019 NFL Draft. The rookie was unimpressive in his first crack at significant playing time in the NFL, and expectations for his production in the short-term should be tempered. Additionally, DeSean Jackson is unlikely to see the field in week three. In Jackson's place, Mack Hollins is poised to make his first career start. Hollins, a third-year receiver, produced 5 catches for 50 yards on 8 targets in what was effectively his first career start against the Falcons. In the absence of two key contributors, Carson Wentz primarily utilized Nelson Algoholor and Zach Ertz through the air, as he targeted the duo 11 and 16 times, respectively. Philadelphia's offensive line entered the season as one of the league's best, and the first two weeks of the 2019 season have solidified this ranking. Philadelphia's passing attack, when healthy, is a strength of this roster. In week three, battling various injuries, Doug Pederson and the rest of the coaching staff have their work cut out for them trying to construct a dangerous passing attack.

The Detroit Lions opened the season against the Arizona Cardinals' up-tempo offense in both quarterback Kyler Murray and head coach Kliff Kingsbury's first taste of NFL action. Murray finished with 308 passing yards, 2 touchdowns, and 1 interception on the day: a stat line driven by an extremely pass-heavy comeback attempt. In week two, Detroit faced off with a much slower, and depleted, Los Angeles Chargers passing attack. Philip Rivers posted 293 yards, 0 touchdowns, and 1 interception on 36 passing attempts in the game. Rivers, however, entered the game without his number-one tight end, Hunter Henry, and a hampered number-two wide receiver, as Mike Williams played through a knee injury. The Detroit pass-rush has been perfectly average through two weeks, generating middling-pressure numbers on opposing quarterbacks. On the back-end, Detroit fields one of the league's best cornerbacks, Darius Slay. Slay is one of the few cornerbacks in the NFL that follows the opposition's number-one wide receiver in coverage, regardless of whether it is on the left or right side of the formation. Against Philadelphia, it is unclear whether or not he will shadow one wide receiver throughout the game, but if he does, Slay will follow Nelson Algholor. As a whole, Detroit's pass defense is a league-average unit at all levels, from the pass-rush to pass-coverage.

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


Pittsburgh Steelers Passing Offense at San Francisco 49ers Passing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

The Steelers have faced stretches without Ben Roethlisberger, who’s no stranger to the injury report, before. But they’re now staring down 14 games with *** Mason Rudolph at the helm. Rudolph looked plenty competent as a Week 2 fill-in, going 12 of 19 for 112 yards and 2 touchdowns, with an interception that resulted from yet another Donte Moncrief drop. Still, expectations must be tempered. Unlike the Seahawks, the 49ers will have the week to watch and prepare for Rudolph’s traits. They’ll focus on taking away his key targets, JuJu Smith-Schuster, and Vance McDonald, and forcing him to win with the intuition and experience he doesn’t yet have. On the plus side, he’ll benefit from working behind an elite offensive line. Maurkice Pouncey and David DeCastro are the big names up front but left tackle Alejandro Villanueva is the team’s premier pass-blocker. Roethlisberger has taken fewer and fewer sacks over the past few years, so protection shouldn’t be an issue for Rudolph. The burning questions revolve around his ability to get the ball to those playmakers on-target. Rudolph did a great job of spreading it around Sunday, throwing to seven different receivers in the second half. Still, this attack will still go through Smith-Schuster and McDonald. The latter caught two short touchdowns late in the game, while the former made a great 45-yard play shortly after Rudolph stepped in. Overall, it’s rarely wise to trust a first-time starting quarterback on the road. Rudolph may find himself in a better situation than most, but he still carries far more questions regarding this passing game than answers.

The 49ers have opened the season much stronger against the pass than they were in 2018. After harassing Jameis Winston into a flurry of interceptions in the opener, they forced Andy Dalton and the Bengals into an ineffective Week 2. It’s too early to truly gauge their progress, but this isn’t an ideal first start for the Steelers’ Mason Rudolph. The 49ers boast a talented, versatile pass rush up front and shutdown potential in the secondary. At age 31, Richard Sherman remains an elite cover man on the 49ers’ left side. He blanketed Mike Evans for much of Week 1, then Tyler Boyd from the Bengals’ game plan last Sunday. Sherman doesn’t shadow, though, nor does he move down into the slot. K’Waun Williams, one of the league’s weaker slot men, will be tasked with JuJu Smith-Schuster for most of this game. That’s a clear trouble spot that Rudolph will look to exploit, so the 49ers will deploy a handful of bodies to slow Smith-Schuster. It will then be up to Sherman and pleasant surprise Ahkello Witherspoon to lock down the boundaries, which they’ve done so well thus far. Funneling the ball to the middle would force Rudolph to spend the day throwing scary passes into traffic.

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


Seattle Seahawks Passing Offense vs New Orleans Saints Passing Defense (Neutral Matchup)

Week two for Seattle's passing attack was much more along the lines of what was expected from the unit entering the season. Following a disappointing one-catch performance in the opener, Tyler Lockett caught 10 of his 12 targets in week two for 79 yards. D.K. Metcalf has also been impressive in his first two games in the NFL, compiling at least 61 yards in each outing with 1 touchdown to add to that. Metcalf's role in the offense is clear: stretch the field as a physical specimen that thrives one-on-one against inferior athletes. Metcalf has excelled in this role thus far, and his involvement has been consistent with 6 and 7 targets in each of the first 2 games, respectively. Aside from the team's top two wide receivers, Seattle's offense is making a conscious effort to involve running backs in the passing attack more often in 2019. Russell Wilson has targeted running backs seven times in each of the first two games, a significant uptick from last year's mark of just under five targets-per-game for the position. Chris Carson has proven a capable pass-catcher when on the field, and he provides Wilson with a safety-valve that has lacked in this offense over previous years. In the trenches, the Seahawks offensive line is cause for concern once again in 2019. While the unit looks much stronger on paper than it has in previous years, the performance through two games is amongst the league's worst. Russell Wilson's other-worldly ability to extend plays has masked some of these struggles. However, if the offensive line continues to falter, it may only be a matter of time before the struggles show up in Wilson's passing numbers.

The New Orleans Saints opened the 2019 season with arguably the most-difficult schedule for any pass defense in the NFL. In week one, the Saints consistently pressured Texans' quarterback Deshaun Watson, yet he still managed to make plays and salvage an impressive 268-yard and 3-touchdown performance on Monday night. In week two, Jared Goff finished with a far-less robust stat line, but an efficient 283-yard, 1-score performance on just 28 pass attempts. These big passing days against New Orleans are not yet cause for concern, as these two offenses are expected to rank amongst the league-leaders in passing in 2019. One major bright spot on the New Orleans defense has been the pass rush. The New Orleans Saints have pressured opposing quarterbacks an astonishing 54 times through 2 games, the second-highest total in the NFL. New Orleans has a rare combination of depth and skill on the defensive line, with 4 different players (including 1 nominal backup) registering at least 5 hurries through the seasons first 2 games. Disrupting the pocket is paramount to stifling an opposing passing attack, and New Orleans has proven they excel here in the opening stages of the 2019 season. In the secondary, New Orleans also fields a wildly-talented set of defensive backs. Marshon Lattimore has solidified his ranking as one of the league's best cornerbacks over his first two seasons in the NFL. The first two games of the 2019 season, however, have not been Lattimore's best. In a week one clash with DeAndre Hopkins, Lattimore justifiably struggled to contain one of the league's best wide receivers. In week two, Lattimore once again struggled against the Rams, one of the NFL's most creative and impressive passing attacks. Lattimore's track record as a reliable NFL cornerback trumps the two data points from the 2019 NFL season, but should the struggles continue in the coming weeks; it may be time for re-evaluation. In total, the New Orleans Saints field an impressive group of pass-rushers backed by an underperforming secondary. The struggles in the secondary are likely a byproduct of a challenging schedule to open the season. The scores and baseline statistics are misleading in this case after just two games in 2019, and the Saints still rank amongst the league's better pass defenses.

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


Cleveland Browns Passing Offense vs Los Angeles Rams Passing Defense (Tough Matchup)

The Browns passing offense while statistically looked great on Monday Night struggled for a large majority of this game. Baker Mayfield was under constant duress as he was sacked three times and held onto the ball for far too long as the Jets defense confused him from time to time. Odell Beckham continues to show why he is one of the top receivers in the NFL as he broke an 89-yard touchdown on a quick slant that greatly inflated the Browns passing numbers as well as a tremendous one-handed catch in the first quarter along the sidelines. The Browns got some good news with Rashard Higgins returning to practice after missing the game against the Jets but will be without tight end David Njoku who suffered a broken wrist. The offensive line continues to be an issue for the Browns as Greg Robinson is not playing at nearly the level that he did last season after being ejected in Week 1 and Kendall Lamm remains doubtful for this game with a knee injury. This is a unit that is going to rely on their offensive line play to throw the deep passes and going up against Aaron Donald and crew will be a major test for the Browns this week.

The Rams defensive line thoroughly dominated the Saints this past week as Drew Brees suffered a thumb injury while under pressure from Aaron Donald. This remains a team that is set up to shut-down your passing attack with outside corners Aqib Talib, Marcus Peters and with Nickell Robey-Coleman out of the slot. This is a unit that through two weeks have not allowed a touchdown so far this season to Cam Newton and the combination of Drew Brees and Teddy Bridgewater. The Browns will likely get to pick their matchups in this one as they move Odell Beckham into all positions onto the field while the Rams typically do not move their corners which can lead to mismatches as the Saints took advantage of with Michael Thomas catching 10 passes last week. Expect the Browns to test the 33-year old Talib in whether he can keep up with Beckham’s speed.

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


Denver Broncos Passing Offense at Green Bay Packers Passing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Joe Flacco attempted 50 passes last week--the second-most of any quarterback during Week 2. He completed 70 percent of those passes for 292 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. His interception was a costly one coming from the two-yard line as they were on the cusp of scoring, but beyond that misstep, Flacco was improved above what he showed in Week 1. His offensive line is still allowing a high volume of pressures as they are playing very poorly right now, which will put a strain on Flacco’s ability to push the ball downfield as he is accustomed to doing. Emmanuel Sanders was a target-hog last week with 13 targets as he led the team in receiving along with notching that lone receiving touchdown. Sanders now leads the team with seven red zone looks through these first two weeks. Cortland Sutton has seen some scoring opportunities, but he has come up short so far. After a solid opener, Sutton struggled under tight coverage last week. Both Broncos running backs continue to be steadily involved in the passing attack though as Phillip Lindsay has hauled in four receptions in each of the first two games while Royce Freeman surprisingly out-performed Lindsay through the air last week with five receptions for 48 yards.

The Packers defense did a great job against the pass last week as they picked off Kirk Cousins twice while holding him to just 230 yards and a 44 percent completion rate. The Packers cornerbacks have lined up all over the field so far this season, so it is tough to chart a single matchup for most of the game. All three primary cornerbacks have played very well to start the season though, so the Broncos wide receivers will all be in for tough matchups. The one area of opportunity looks to be when Emmanuel Sanders line s up in the slot, as he could find some space against Tramon Williams. The Packers did lose backup safety Raven Greene this past week as Greene landed on the injured reserve list with an ankle injury, but he was only depth behind Adrian Amos and Darnell Savage--both of whom are excellent options to have over the top. On the defensive line, the Packers will have a significant advantage in the trenches due to the struggles of this Broncos offensive line and strength the Packers have both on the interior with Kenny Clark and edges with Za’Darius Smith. Joe Flacco and his supporting case should have a tough time moving the ball in this one unless their ground game can get something going.

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


Jacksonville Jaguars Passing Offense vs Tennessee Titans Passing Defense (Tough Matchup)

Gardner Minshew held his own through his second NFL game, completing 70 percent of his passes for 213 yards and a touchdown. He played very poorly through the first half of last week’s game, but he improved during the second half to bring the Jaguars within a few feet of a victory. He still has plenty of room for improvement, though, as Minshew held on to the ball far too long while making a few terrible throws that could have otherwise been big plays. D.J. Chark was his favorite target this week and hauled in the only touchdown of the game for Jacksonville. Chark has started hot this season with 11 receptions for 201 yards and two touchdowns, but he was listed on the injury report with an ankle issue. While he is tentatively expected to play on Thursday, keep an eye on his status leading into game time. Both Chris Conley was also on that injury report and could be at risk of sitting Thursday, but as of now, he is expected to play. Conley has had a solid start with Minshew under center with 12 target netting out to 10 receptions for 170 yards and a touchdown. Dede Westbrook, on the other hand, hasn’t had a great connection with Minshew to start. He managed to catch just one-of-five targets for three yards last week--this coming after amassing just 30 yards with a touchdown in Week 1. Leonard Fournette has seen a consistent workload through the air though, seeing six targets in each game while hauling in a total of eight receptions for 68 yards to start this season.

The Titans defense had another strong showing against the Colts last week as this secondary continues to impress with their playmaking abilities. The Titans have allowed the second-fewest passing yards per game (182.5) and have forced a league-leading (tied) five turnovers, four of which are interceptions. Logan Ryan has two of those interceptions while also ranking tied for fourth in the league with four passes defended and notching 1.5 sacks to bolster his early-season resume. He has looked like the best cornerback for the Titans and will give slot receiver Dede Westbrook a hard time this week. The other Jaguars wide receivers will also be in for challenges against this Titans secondary, particularly given the strong support coming from these safeties. The Titans pass rush has also been above average with strong showings from the veteran defensive end Cameron Wake and linebacker Jayon Brown. The Jaguars offensive line will have its work cut out for them to defend Gardner Minshew while trying to find open receivers against what should be tight coverage from the Titans secondary.

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


Kansas City Chiefs Passing Offense vs Baltimore Ravens Passing Defense (Tough Matchup)

At this point, it’s safe to project video-game numbers for Patrick Mahomes just about every week. The phenom has opened 2019 with performances of 378 and 443 yards, with 7 touchdowns and no turnovers along the way. Week 3 will bring a much stiffer test than the Raiders did last Sunday, but that’s not prohibitive at all. Against a similar Baltimore pass defense in Week 14 of last year, Mahomes racked up 377 and 2 scores. He’s as matchup-proof a QB1 as the fantasy world has ever seen; a bad statistical day for Mahomes would probably resemble a strong one for 20-25 others. His cannon arm is a perfect match for the Chiefs’ explosive receiving corps, which is packed with elite foot-speed and playmaking ability. Of course, tight end Travis Kelce remains the league’s best, capable of excelling both underneath and up the seams. Linebackers and tight ends make for noticeable mismatches when Kelce gets moving upfield. He’s caught 10 of his 17 targets thus far and has turned them into 195 yards and a score. (Mahomes also just missed him on a wide-open touchdown in Week 1.) And each week, even with Tyreek Hill sidelined, at least one Kansas City wideout makes sure to erupt. In Week 1, Sammy Watkins totaled 198 yards and 3 scores against the Jaguars’ elite cornerback duo. He’s been largely forgotten behind Kelce and Hill, but remains a deadly downfield weapon, winning with both speed and underrated power. Watkins was held in check Sunday, but speedy reserve Demarcus Robinson picked up the slack and then some (6 for 172 and 2 touchdowns). Explosive rookie Mecole Hardman also made his presence felt last week, with 61 yards and a touchdown of his own. All told, it’s wise not to overthink this unit in fantasy. Mahomes is performing on his level of football right now, and every receiver on the roster has a weekly path to big value.

The Ravens’ vaunted pass defense was solid against Kyler Murray and the Cardinals last Sunday. They registered nine hits on the rookie, sacking him three times and forcing more check-downs than Murray is used to. Most importantly, they limited the Cardinals when game flow forced them to pass. Big plays were their only undoing, with 4 different Cardinals recording at least one catch of 20+ yards. Still, this is one of football’s most talented units, and there’s no cause for concern. The Air Raid attack stretches defenses thin with four- and five-wide sets, and NFL teams are still learning how to work against this iteration. The secondary’s depth chart is locked in, with Marlon Humphrey and Anthony Averett on the outside and Brandon Carr in the slot. Averett is the clear weak point here; he boasts far less of a track record than the others and finds himself picked on often. Humphrey is a rising star but had a handful of lapses last week against the Cardinals’ spread attack. To be fair, he was playing after missing the week’s practices with a back injury. Going forward, it’s safe to assume this group will remain among fantasy’s toughest matchups.

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


Tennessee Titans Passing Offense at Jacksonville Jaguars Passing Defense (Tough Matchup)

The low volume Titans passing offense had another unremarkable performance in Week 2 as Marcus Mariota passed for just 154 yards and one touchdown, with that one touchdown going to an offensive line. This offense wants to focus on the run, and they appear to be sticking to that offensive philosophy. Mariota has rarely pushed the ball downfield in these first two games beyond a deep shot to A.J. Brown in Week 1. Last week, he didn’t complete a pass of more than 26 yards. Mariota did suffer a quadriceps injury in last week’s game that kept him from practice Monday, but he will reportedly be good to play coming off the short week on Thursday. The main target to trust with some level of confidence is tight end Delanie Walker, who has led the team in targets and receptions in both games. Corey Davis is receiving hardly any attention from Mariota, while rookie A.J. Brown has actually overshadowed Davis through these first two games. The ceiling for Mariota and all Titans receivers will continue to be set quite low.

The Jaguars defense did a great job against the Texans last week as they held Deshaun Watson to just 159 passing yards with no touchdowns. The pass rush played a big part in their success as the Jaguars notched eight hits and four sacks on Watson with pressure coming from all over, including 2.5 sacks from defensive backs. The secondary played better in this one, notably Jalen Ramsey as he held DeAndre Hopkins in check with just five receptions for 40 yards. Ramsey, however, is on terrible terms with the team as he has publicly requested a trade. He may not be on this roster come Thursday, so keep a close eye on that situation. Cornerback A.J. Bouye was sidelined with an injury last week, so his status will be worth monitoring for the early-week game. Tre Herndon was a liability in Bouye’s absence, so he would make for a plus matchup for A.J. Brown and Tajae Sharpe. D.J. Hayden has been impressive in slot coverage, making for a tough matchup for Adam Humphries. Delanie Walker could find space in coverage against the likes of safety Ronnie Harrison and the Jaguars linebackers. They allowed Travis Kelce to go for 88 yards in Week 1, so a mismatch against one of these struggling linebackers could pay dividends for Walker.

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


Cincinnati Bengals Passing Offense at Buffalo Bills Passing Defense (Bad Matchup)

Thus far, the debut of new coach and offensive guru Zac Taylor has brought a mixed bag of results. The offensive pace is way up - these Bengals are running nine plays more per game than last year’s version - but efficiency hasn’t followed. Andy Dalton looked sharp in Week 1, completing 35 of 51 passes for 418 yards and 2 touchdowns. But things fell apart last Sunday, with Dalton looking out of sorts and struggling to make plays down the field. Prior to a long garbage-time touchdown, Dalton had mustered just 245 yards over 41 attempts (an anemic 6.0 average). The team is determined to feed the ball to speedy wideout John Ross in space, sometimes to a fault. Ross has generated a handful of huge plays, including two long touchdowns in the opener and a 66-yard catch-and-run last Sunday. But he remains quite raw as a full-time weapon, struggling with drops and ball control. Tyler Boyd is still the primary option here, working mostly on tough slot routes over the middle. He’s a dependable target, and like Ross, he’s capable of making things happen on the run. Unfortunately, this attack is too often hampered by one of the league’s worst pass-blocking lines. Left tackle Cordy Glenn may return Sunday, but that wouldn’t be enough to keep Dalton upright and comfortable. Even though there are some intriguing pieces in place, this is a volatile unit that’s difficult to trust. A date with the Bills’ smothering secondary isn’t ideal at this point in its development.

The Buffalo pass defense hasn’t been truly tested yet, opening the year against two shaky passing games in in-state matchups. Still, it seems clear this unit hasn’t lost its 2018 magic. The Bills boast a strong pass rush, one of the league’s best cornerback duos, and a solid set of safeties on the back end. TreDavious White has developed into one of the game’s premier cover men, capable of both smothering receivers and making plays on the ball. Levi Wallace has been great on the other side, so working the boundaries is exceptionally tough in this matchup. White and Wallace don’t move around the formation, though, and neither will follow Bengals slot man Tyler Boyd inside. That leaves a glaring mismatch for slot specialists Kevin Johnson and Siran Neal, but they’ll get support from safeties Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde, who are both skilled in help coverage. Overall, it’s not easy for any passing game to find success in this matchup. The retooling Bengals are not strong candidates to buck that trend.

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


Miami Dolphins Passing Offense at Dallas Cowboys Passing Defense (Bad Matchup)

The Dolphins offense was shut out last week as their struggles continued in all facets of the game. Ryan Fitzpatrick threw for three interceptions and just 89 yards before being benched in favor of allowing Josh Rosen some playing time. Rosen also threw an interception while completing just 39 percent of his pass attempts. Both quarterbacks were pressured heavily as the Dolphins offensive line has been terrible, ranking firmly at the bottom of the league according to Matt Bitonti of Footballguys. Ryan Fitzpatrick will remain the starter for Week 3, but this situation is fluid and could change mid-game. Rookie receiver Preston Williams has been a bright spot for Miami’s offense as he has performed relatively well, all things considered. DeVante Parker, on the other hand, was targeted a team-leading seven times last week and failed to catch a single pass as he continues to disappoint.

The Cowboys should have a clear advantage against a struggling Dolphins offense this week. The Miami offensive line will struggle against what has been a mediocre Cowboys defensive line. Both Demarcus Lawrence and Meliek Collins have had great starts to the season, but the rest of this unit has not impressed in the pass-rushing department. The return of edge rusher Robert Quinn from suspension will provide a much-needed boost to this Cowboys pass rush that has notched just two sacks to start the season. The secondary for Dallas looked decent, but they have yet to face what anyone would label as stiff competition with only Eli Manning and Case Keenum on their resume. This secondary did suffer a big loss from last week, however, as strong safety Xavier Woods injured his hamstring and is expected to miss multiple weeks. The talent behind Woods is thin, so safety now becomes a key weakness for this untested Dallas secondary. Even with that loss, however, the Cowboys will still have the advantage this week against the struggling Dolphins offense.

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


New York Jets Passing Offense at New England Patriots Passing Defense (Bad Matchup)

The Jets passing game has taken a turn for the worst as we saw on Monday. Sam Darnold is out with mono, Trevor Siemian who was ineffective prior to his injury is out for the season with an ankle injury and the team has signed David Fales off the street to backup Luke Falk who primarily played the role of game manager just checking the ball down to Le’Veon Bell who caught 10 passes in this game. For Falk’s first time ever being active for an NFL game, he was not terrible, and actually played better than Siemian did for most of the game. This will be an offense that will go through Bell in the passing game and taking an occasional shot play to Robbie Anderson.

The Patriots pass defense is one of the more dominant units in the NFL. Led by the best cornerback in football in Stephon Gilmore, and Jason McCourty who has been tremendous since he came to New England to play alongside his brother Devin McCourty and Duron Harmon at the safeties. This is a unit that is second in sacks, eighth in passing yards allowed, and have only allowed three total points as most of their passing yards have come in the second half while the game was out of hand. This is a unit that is built to be an elite pass defending unit and thus far have shut-down Ben Roethlisberger and the abysmal Dolphins. The Jets will have their handful in this game in what might be the best defense in football.

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


Oakland Raiders Passing Offense at Minnesota Vikings Passing Defense (Bad Matchup)

In week two, Oakland's passing attack failed to build upon the momentum of its impressive showing in week one against the Denver Broncos. At home against the Kansas City Chiefs, while playing catch-up for the majority of the game, Derek Carr elected to dump the ball off underneath rather than push the ball down the field. The refusal to attempt deep-passes highly resembles Derek Carr's 2018 passing tendencies, which proved to be highly inefficient. Although his tendencies changed wildly from week one to week two, Carr's favorite targets remained the same. Tyrell Williams and Darren Waller proved to stand alone atop the depth chart once again against Kansas City with seven targets each. Rookie Hunter Renfrow emerged as a potentially viable option after a quiet NFL debut with 4 receptions for 30 yards on 8 targets in week two. On the offensive line, the Raiders get Richie Incognito back from a two-game suspension heading into a week three clash with the Minnesota Vikings. Before sitting out the 2018 season, Incognito had progressed into one of the NFL's best interior pass-blockers. Incognito remains a bit of an unknown entering his first start in nearly 625 days, but it is almost inconceivable that his performance will be worse than Jordan Devey, the team's fill-in at left guard.

Through two weeks, Minnesota's pass defense has been impressive. In the season opener, the Atlanta Falcons struggled to move the ball down the field, en-route to just a 12-point offensive performance. An early Vikings lead forced the Falcons into a pass-heavy approach throughout the game. The subsequent 304 passing yards compiled by quarterback Matt Ryan were primarily a product of a massive 46 pass attempts. In week two, the Minnesota Vikings went into Green Bay lost 21-16 as Aaron Rodgers threw for 204 yards and 2 touchdowns. One of the touchdowns came on a slip screen to running back Aaron Jones, and Minnesota's pass defense is hardly to blame the score. The Minnesota secondary is led by All-Pro safety Harrison Smith, who consistently ranks amongst the league's best safeties in coverage. Smith has not disappointed in 2019, turning in back-to-back strong performances; he has already matched his entire 2018 tally in pass-breakups through just two games. Alongside Harrison Smith, Anthony Harris has quickly become one of the league's most impressive young safeties. Harris, a former-undrafted free agent, has already intercepted opposing quarterbacks twice in the teams first two games, tied for the league lead. Minnesota's defensive line also sports an impressive duo of its own: Danielle Hunter and Everson Griffen. Both Hunter and Griffen have already registered 15 quarterback-pressures each. Minnesota's strengths along the defensive-front and in the secondary make their defense one of the league's most-impressive all-around units, especially against the pass.

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


Washington Redskins Passing Offense vs Chicago Bears Passing Defense (Bad Matchup)

The Washington Redskins field one of the league's weakest group of pass-catchers on paper. Terry McLaurin, however, has been the lone bright spot in an otherwise anemic passing attack. The rookie third-round pick from Ohio State has found the end zone in each of his first two NFL starts while commanding at least seven targets in both games. Aside from McLaurin, quarterback Case Keenum has very few options to target down the field. Slot receiver Trey Quinn and running back Chris Thompson make up the majority of Washington's non-McLaurin passing attack. Both Quinn and Thompson, as expected given their respective roles, primarily work close to the line of scrimmage on safe underneath routes. At tight end, Washington will likely be without Jordan Reed once again in week three. Head coach Jay Gruden noted earlier this week that Reed has made no significant progress towards making his 2019 debut in week three against Chicago. In Reed's absence, Vernon Davis should see the majority of snaps at tight end, but he has proven to have little impact on the passing game aside from one impressive play in week one. Washington's offensive line has proven to be almost perfectly-league-average through two weeks, directly in-line with what FootballGuys' Matt Bitonti expected before the season kicked off. As a whole, Washington's passing attack lacks the requisite weapons to qualify as one of the league's better units. The performance of youngster Terry McLaurin, however, has been a pleasant surprise through two weeks.

The Chicago Bears were forced to replace one of the league's best defensive coordinators, Vic Fangio after he accepted an offer to become the head coach for the Denver Broncos. In his place, Chuck Pagano has led the 2019 Chicago Bears to another impressive defensive start to the season, allowing just 12 points per game through 2 weeks. While the defensive metrics, specifically in the secondary, have regressed slightly, the Bears still sport one of the league's deepest defenses at all three levels. The team's leader in the trenches, Khalil Mack, is arguably the league's best pass-rusher. At linebacker, second-year player Roquan Smith impressed both against the run, in pursuit of the quarterback, and in coverage throughout his strong rookie season. And finally, in the secondary, Eddie Jackson exploded onto the scene in 2018 with one of the league's best defensive seasons, regardless of position. In 2019, the Bears added another impressive coverage safety, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, into the mix. Through 2 weeks, the Chicago Bears have only allowed 2 passing touchdowns on 80 pass attempts. While the defense as a whole may not post the league-leading numbers of yesteryear that many thought were unsustainable, Chicago's defense, and specifically it's pass defense, will almost certainly rank amongst the league's best once again in 2019.

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