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WORST PASSING MATCHUPS
To view all of our Week 4 Matchup content, please see the links below:
Top 5 Passing Matchups Week 4
Bottom 5 Passing Matchups Week 4
Top 5 Rushing Matchups Week 4
Bottom 5 Rushing Matchups Week 4
Rushing Matchup Chart Week 4
Passing Matchup Chart Week 4
Chicago vs Indianapolis
The Bears are hoping a quarterback switch can reverse the fortunes of one of 2020’s worst passing games. But it feels like a pipe dream; last week’s winning rally aside, Nick Foles simply isn’t a starting-caliber passer. Credit Foles for taking advantage of a soft, injury-riddled Falcons defense, but the going gets tougher Sunday, and Foles will have less open space to pick through. At least Foles is unafraid to push the ball, which does sometimes result in a big play, as seen in last week’s fourth quarter (or his Super Bowl MVP turn just 2.5 years ago). Still, Anthony Miller, Darnell Mooney, and Jimmy Graham make for one of football’s weakest supporting casts around No. 1 man Allen Robinson. This is a difficult attack to trust in a high-leverage fantasy spot.
The Colts, meanwhile, have put together one of 2020’s best starts against the pass. They’ve yet to allow more than 173 yards to a single opponent, and they’ve bullied the last two into historically awful performances (a combined passer rating). It’s true that they haven’t exactly faced a Murderer’s Row of opposing passers in Gardner Minshew, Kirk Cousins, and Sam Darnold. But the pass rush, led by Justin Houston and DeForest Buckner, has been impressively disruptive, and the secondary has done great work against their most talented receivers. D.J. Chark, Adam Thielen, and Chris Herndon combined to produce just 77 yards and a single touchdown on their 16 targets against this group. The catalyst has been cornerback Xavier Rhodes, whom they signed away from the Vikings in the offseason. Rhodes had slipped noticeably in recent years but seems to have regained his shutdown status in Indianapolis. With quality depth around him in Kenny Moore and Travis Carrie, Rhodes is free to shadow No. 1 wideouts for chunks of games, and early returns have been fantastic. That’s bad news for Robinson, the only consistent receiver Chicago can boast. Robinson is a fine wideout, but his upside may be capped as he negotiates the tough matchup.
Washington vs Baltimore
The Football Team still can’t get anything going through the air. Second-year starter Dwayne Haskins is entitled to his share of mistakes, but his lackluster play here in 2020 has already drawn public criticism from coach Ron Rivera. Haskins has completed just 56% of his throws and produced an anemic 208 yards a game. He’s missing throws and failing to establish himself down the field - except, of course, when Terry McLaurin is the target. McLaurin is always a fantasy play, with 269 yards through 3 weeks, but no one else in this attack projects to frighten the suffocating Ravens.
The Ravens had no answer for Patrick Mahomes II Monday night, but there’s little shame in that. When facing lesser quarterbacks, they’ve been nearly as stingy as we’ve come to expect. Deshaun Watson posted 275 yards back in Week 2, but that was aided by some garbage time; the Ravens severely limited his downfield game. In general, this star-studded secondary is capable of slowing just about any non-Mahomes attack. Cornerbacks Marcus Peters and Marlon Humphrey both rank among the game’s best. They blend true shutdown dominance with the ability to attack the ball when they’re actually tested. The safety play isn’t quite as strong without Earl Thomas, and the pass rush is still finding its legs. But there’s so much dynamism and depth here, their opponents rarely make for strong fantasy plays - particularly wideouts forced to tangle with Peters.
Philadelphia at San Francisco
The Eagles probably aren’t thinking of benching quarterback Carson Wentz, who’s put up just 5.6 yards per attempt and thrown 6 interceptions. But something needs to break his way if this disastrous start is going to reverse. Wentz has had his struggles but also has yet to throw to a consistent group of starting-caliber pass-catchers. He’ll face Week 4 without top wideouts Alshon Jeffery, Jalen Reagor, and possibly DeSean Jackson. That says nothing of tight end Dallas Goedert, who caught 12 balls over the first 2 weeks but just landed on injured reserve. Wentz can’t love the wideout options he’s left with - rookie John Hightower led the way in snaps last week - so Zach Ertz is likely looking at a massive workload. He stands as Wentz’s best hope for getting on-track in a difficult matchup.
The 49ers have unsurprisingly opened 2020 as one of the league’s stingiest pass defenses. Through 3 weeks they’ve allowed almost no production of note - just 5.7 yards per attempt and 2 touchdowns. If we take out a garbage-time drive by the Jets, that average plummets to an anemic 5.2. It’s been even more impressive to see it happen with virtually the whole pass rush sidelined by injury. The cornerbacks have improved from last season, and last week they got Jason Verrett back from his latest injury. Even when factoring in DeAndre Hopkins’ massive Week 1, opposing wideouts have produced just 7.0 yards per target with a single touchdown. But the ace up their sleeve this week might be linebacker Fred Warner, quietly one of the game’s best in coverage. He’ll look to make things difficult for Ertz underneath, which would jeopardize Wentz’s most dependable outlet.
Minnesota at Houston
The Vikings’ Kirk Cousins continues to show off the best of both worlds, mixing great, dynamic plays with back-breaking miscues. Cousins isn’t throwing much (just 26 attempts a game), but when he does, the results are volatile. On the plus side, he’s fresh off his best game of the young season, a three-touchdown showing against the Titans. And he’s sporting a new, explosive weapon in rookie Justin Jefferson, who erupted for 175 yards last week. Cousins definitely needs a second receiving threat to emerge opposite Adam Thielen, so perhaps Jefferson can assume Stefon Diggs’ playmaking role quicker than hoped for.
The Texans pass defense may not be quite as good as their early numbers suggest. They’ve fallen behind early in two of their three games, keeping the final numbers in check even in bad losses. But they do deserve credit for opening the year against Patrick Mahomes II, Lamar Jackson, and Ben Roethlisberger, yet allowing just 7.1 yards per attempt. None of those quarterbacks have reached 240 yards, and only a single wideout (Sammy Watkins) has topped 50. This unit is generally fine with giving up catches underneath but keeping the play out in front to prevent the deep ball. And with safety Justin Reid leading the way, they’ve been effective in shutting down speedsters Tyreek Hill (46 yards on 6 targets), Marquise Brown (42 on 6), and James Washington (36 on 7).
NY Giants at LA Rams
The Giants have actually overachieved a bit through the air despite injuries to Saquon Barkley, Sterling Shepard, and Golden Tate. Quarterback Daniel Jones had done a solid job of slowing the bleeding prior to last week's ambush at the hands of the 49ers. If nothing else, he's played a hand in the development of second-year wideout Darius Slayton, who has shown the ability to make plays down the field. For all of the Giants' bodies at receiver, a deep threat has been lacking, and Slayton has stepped up. Still, the 49ers game showcased what a drastic toll all of the sacks and giveaways truly take on this injury-ravaged unit.
The Rams pass defense hiccupped a bit last Sunday, allowing Josh Allen to rack up 311 yards and 4 touchdowns. But overall, this remains an aggressive, star-studded unit that’s never easy to throw on for four quarters. Allen, for example, dazzled in the first half of Sunday’s game before coming sharply back to Earth in the second. And prior to that, this group had shackled both Dak Prescott (6.8 yards per attempt) and Carson Wentz (5.6) - as well as their receivers. Draped in coverage by Jalen Ramsey and company, Amari Cooper needed 14 targets to reach 81 yards in the opener. Rams opponents often struggle to push the ball downfield, with their quarterbacks so often under duress from Aaron Donald and company. And Ramsey is capable of erasing half the field, which isn’t good news for Slayton, the Giants’ only true threat on the outside. Most likely, the Giants will have to work the slots relentlessly to put forth any semblance of an air attack. No disrespect meant to Engram or Tate, but that’s generally not a path to an efficient day.