WORST PASSING MATCHUPS
To view all of our Week 3 Matchup content, please see the links below:
Top 5 Passing Matchups Week 3
Bottom 5 Passing Matchups Week 3
Top 5 Rushing Matchups Week 3
Bottom 5 Rushing Matchups Week 3
Rushing Matchup Chart Week 3
Passing Matchup Chart Week 3
Buffalo vs LA Rams
The Bills stunned the fantasy world in Week 2, winning a second straight game on the back of a potent downfield attack. Knocked constantly for his raw passing skills, Josh Allen has opened his third season on a tear, throwing for 312 and 417 yards, with 6 touchdowns, through 2 weeks. Allen is a fearless downfield passer, always looking downfield for the big play, and he’s showing subtle developments in his footwork and timing when he does. It helps, of course, that he throws to two gifted wideouts in Stefon Diggs and John Brown - and that he’s opened the year against the ultra-soft secondaries of the Jets and Dolphins.
The Rams boast a star-studded pass defense, and they’ve unsurprisingly opened the year in dominant fashion. They’ve stifled both Dak Prescott and Carson Wentz, allowing just 6.2 yards per attempt and a single touchdown. The Rams’ big names have yet to be contained; Aaron Donald demands constant double-teams but still causes havoc, while Jalen Ramsey continues to lock down big plays from each opponent’s top wideout. Donald posted one of the most dominant individual defensive games in recent memory in Week 1, knocking Prescott down four times, then tied up double- and triple-teams from the Eagles’ front line. He frees up teammates like Michael Brockers and Leonard Floyd to help push the pocket and force ugly downfield throws. Since Ramsey joined the Rams in mid-2019, only a single opposing No. 1 receiver (Julio Jones, in Ramsey’s first game) has cracked 90 yards. He’ll likely spend much of Week 3 trailing Diggs across the field, capping Allen’s big-play upside noticeably in the process. That should push most of Allen’s action into the slot, making another 300-yard eruption seem unlikely.
Houston at Pittsburgh
The Texans dealt away DeAndre Hopkins in the offseason, and unsurprisingly, their air attack has suffered a noticeable ding. Deshaun Watson has struggled mightily with Hopkins gone and Will Fuller V bouncing in and out of the lineup; there’s a lack of a go-to option to rely upon in tough spots. The problem is exacerbated by the Texans’ front line, which simply crumbled in the face of Baltimore’s blitz packages last Sunday. Left tackle Laremy Tunsil has another tough assignment coming against T.J. Watt, Cameron Heyward, and the Steelers’ swarming, big-play pass rush. Watson’s mobility is a plus, but if he spends the day on the run, he’ll have his hands full trying to find separation anywhere against this tough group.
The Steelers made for one of fantasy’s most prohibitive matchups in 2019, and little has changed through two weeks of 2020. The Giants and Broncos have each topped 275 yards, but both needed pass-heavy game flows to do it, and neither posted much efficiency. Daniel Jones, Drew Lock, and Jeff Driskel have combined for just 6.9 yards per attempt, with quite a bit of inflation from late-game hurry-up mode. Neither of their front lines has been able to slow Watt and the Steelers’ dominant pass rush, which led the NFL in sacks last year and sits second thus far in 2020. The secondary is stout as well, particularly inside, where slot cornerback Mike Hilton remains an underrated gem and safety Minkah Fitzpatrick attacks the throw with gusto. In Week 1 they held the Giants’ slot duo of Evan Engram and Sterling Shepard to just 56 yards on 13 targets.
Carolina at LA Chargers
The Panthers are completing passes with volume - that can’t be argued. Through 2 weeks, new starter Teddy Bridgewater sits fifth league-wide with 55 completions, hitting on over 72% of his throws. Predictably, though, he’s throwing almost exclusively underneath, and this group isn’t having much impact while the game’s score is close. It’s been impressive to see Robby Anderson (15 catches for 224 yards and 1 touchdown) find early success, but the offense simply isn’t dynamic enough under Bridgewater to project too much further. With the loss of Christian McCaffrey in the passing game, defenses will pay even more attention to the wide receivers which should make the day much more difficult as they no longer have to worry about the best pass-catching running back in the NFL.
The Chargers, as usual, boast one of the league’s most talented pass defenses even while ravaged by injury. Both first-team safeties from camp, Derwin James and Rayshawn Jenkins, will likely sit on Sunday - James for sure, as he’s on injured reserved. But the Chargers can slide in starting-quality replacements Desmond King and 2019 second-round pick Nasir Adderley and keep the secondary stout. Casey Hayward remains one of the game’s stingiest cornerbacks on one side, and he’s a big reason this unit has allowed only two outside receivers to top 80 yards over their last 13 games. Of course, even such a talented secondary feeds off its pass rush, and few harass the quarterback like the edge duo of Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram III. The two put a noticeable dent in Patrick Mahomes II’ plans last week, as the Chiefs created virtually nothing deep. All told, this unit is fully capable of keeping Bridgewater hesitant down the field, so it’s hard to project Moore and Anderson to many big plays at all.
Washington at Cleveland
The Football Team has yet to flesh out a usable passing game. Through two games, Washington has produced just 401 yards and 2 touchdowns through the air. Second-year starter Dwayne Haskins doesn’t have much to work with, but he’s definitely missing more good throws than he’s hitting. The attack revolves around the dynamic Terry McLaurin, who can’t be slowed even by consistent double-teams. It’s daunting to imagine his ceiling with better quarterbacking and a little less defensive attention.
The Browns haven’t shown well against the pass thus far, but they’re trending upward, and help is on the way. After being shredded by Lamar Jackson in the opener, this group tightened tremendously last Sunday against the Bengals and Joe Burrow. The rookie carved out his first 300-yard game, but it came exclusively through safe dink-and-dunks as Burrow found almost nothing down the field. A.J. Green was completely neutralized (just 29 yards on 13 targets), thanks mostly to a cornerback group that’s proving itself more every week. Denzel Ward is an elite cover man, and Terrance Mitchell has been strong across the field. And this Sunday should see the return of Greedy Williams, who has missed the first two weeks but was excellent in 2019. With both Ward and Williams on the field last season, the Browns allowed just 226 passing yards a game. Haskins will have to rely heavily on his checkdown targets to find much success against this rapidly-improving group.
Kansas City at Baltimore
The Chiefs are 2-0, and Patrick Mahomes II has completed 65% of his throws, with 5 touchdowns and no picks. But for a number of reasons, they’ve yet to put up one of the big, fantasy-winning days they’re so prone to. Mahomes has posted a good-not-great 211 and 302 yards to open the year, good for a ho-hum 6.5 yards per attempt. The injury bug also wormed in last week, with Sammy Watkins leaving early with a concussion. Andy Reid’s group is plenty deep at receiver, of course, with Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce firmly upright. But Watkins is the starter for a reason, and Mahomes missed his impact down the stretch against the Chargers. This attack could erupt at any moment - Watkins or not - but this may not be the week to project it.
The Ravens present another tough defensive challenge in Week 3. Not even the lack of Earl Thomas at free safety has dinged this imposing unit to open the season. They’re deep in the secondary, armed with four strong cornerbacks and a pair of big-play safeties. Outside receivers have been all but erased from game plans since shutdown specialist Marcus Peters was added in Week 7 of last year. Mahomes shredded the Ravens for 374 yards and 3 touchdowns just 12 months ago, but that came during a transitional period for this group. Over those 12 games since then, only two outside-first wideouts have topped 80 yards. Peters is a devastating playmaker when he’s thrown at (14 passes defensed as a Raven), while Marlon Humphrey bounces between the boundary and the slot and routinely wins in coverage. Even Mahomes and the Chiefs will have to get creative to manufacture big plays in this matchup.