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TOP 5 Passing Matchups Week 1
To view all of our Week 1 Matchup content, please see the links below:
Top 5 Passing Matchups Week 1
Bottom 5 Passing Matchups Week 1
Top 5 Rushing Matchups Week 1
Bottom 5 Rushing Matchups Week 1
Rushing Matchup Chart Week 1
Passing Matchup Chart Week 1
Kansas City Passing Offense vs Houston
The Kansas City passing game is always an elite fantasy play, of course. It boasts an elite coaching staff, the game’s best quarterback, and a handful of game-breaking receivers whose speed is nearly impossible to account for. But the Week 1 outlook for this unit is even stronger than usual as they take on a shaky Texans pass defense in the home opener. This is virtually the same unit that allowed Patrick Mahomes II to throw 5 rally touchdowns en route to a 51-31 romp in January’s playoff meeting. The Chiefs have become more dynamic adding in Clyde Edwards-Helaire who was a dominant receiving running back at LSU last year and should only add additional options for Mahomes this season.
The Texans will actually be down a man Thursday night, with cornerback Gareon Conley opening the year on injured reserve. Tyreek Hill and his fellow speedsters Sammy Watkins and Mecole Hardman will look to target replacement Lonnie Johnson, who struggled through a rough rookie season, down the field. The Texans boast a rising star at free safety in Justin Reid, but still lack reinforcements against the deep ball, and no one strikes downfield quite like Mahomes and company. Former Tampa Bay bust Vernon Hargreaves returns to man the slot; he and several of his teammates were simply bullied into submission by Travis Kelce in that playoff outburst. With the Texans still light on underneath cover men, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the game’s best tight end put up another huge day. He’s used all over the field and creates instant mismatches with Hargreaves and the linebackers. Overall, the Chiefs look poised to kick off the season in style, and it’s hard to go wrong playing any of their prominent pieces in fantasy. The biggest wild card is second-year man Hardman, who will need to beat out coaches’ favorite Demarcus Robinson to see significant snaps. But even as a reserve, Hardman would carry an exceptionally high ceiling for big plays in this matchup.
Pittsburgh Passing Offense vs New York Giants
By all accounts, Ben Roethlisberger’s elbow is finally sound. He showed it off on social media during the offseason and threw hard with no limitations in camp. Roethlisberger is now 38, but is just 20 months removed from capping a 5,129-yard season. At a minimum, he’s worlds better than the likes of Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges, so the Pittsburgh pass game is officially on an upswing. Top wideout JuJu Smith-Schuster is over his 2019 injuries, and as usual, the team has stocked a bevy of gifted bodies behind him.
The Steelers will have the benefit of opening the season against a Giants secondary that just endured a horrendous offseason. They signed prized free-agent cornerback James Bradberry, who excelled for years in Carolina, in March. But two months later they lost DeAndre Baker, last year’s first-rounder, to a set of disturbing legal troubles. Then replacement Sam Beal opted out of the season, and second-round rookie safety Xavier McKinney went down with a broken foot. Baker was one of football’s worst cover men last year, so that may be addition by subtraction, but these are still talented bodies taken off the field. New addition Logan Ryan brings a flashy name, but he’s lost a step or two and looks destined to fill in at safety. Smith-Schuster and company will look to feast on a patchwork cornerback group of Bradberry, Corey Ballentine, Isaac Yiadom (traded for last week), and fourth-rounder Darnay Holmes. It’s as attractive an outlook as any for the season opener.
Seattle Passing Offense vs Atlanta
Russell Wilson comes fresh off another season spent among the NFL’s most efficient passers. Wilson didn’t throw much last year but managed to finish top-eight in completion percentage, yards per attempt, and touchdown rate. Those are great indicators, especially since so little changed for this attack in the offseason. Last year’s top three wideouts - Tyler Lockett, DK Metcalf, and David Moore - all return for 2020. In fact, they’ve even added two helpful pieces in wideout Phillip Dorsett and tight end Greg Olsen which should give the ability to further spread the field to be able to have an additional deep threat in Dorsett and a possession receiving option in Olsen.
The Seahawks enter the season in a fantastic matchup with a Falcons defense that’s forever in transition. Top cornerback Desmond Trufant left town in the offseason, leaving only a rookie and a handful of subpar bodies to fill his shoes. Lockett remains the Seahawks’ primary option, and he’s the best Week 1 play here. He’ll play virtually every snap, kicking inside whenever the Seahawks go three-wide. That means he’ll work often against Isaiah Oliver and slot man Kendall Sheffield, both of whom graded extremely poorly in 2019. (In fact, Lockett caught all 6 of his targets for 100 yards when these teams met in Week 8.) Across the field, big-play dynamo Metcalf will face off mostly with Falcons first-round pick A.J. Terrell. The rookie is a talented unknown, but Metcalf brings a dazzling size/speed profile to the table, and he’s not an easy cover for anyone. Olsen should lead a deep stable of tight ends against a unit that was beaten badly by virtually every good one it faced last year. The Falcons simply lack usable bodies at linebacker, which should allow Olsen and Co. to work the short zones and gather yardage after the catch.
Indianapolis Passing Offense vs Jacksonville
The Colts passing game underwhelmed in 2019, with coach Frank Reich asking little of placeholder quarterback Jacoby Brissett. Now Philip Rivers steps under center after 17 years helming the Chargers. Rivers has had his struggles of late: he’s not much of a downfield passer anymore, and he threw 20 interceptions last year, third-most among 16-game starters. Second-year player Parris Campbell will be relied upon out of the slot to play a possession receiving role after having a 2019 season that was riddled with injuries. The Colts did add Michael Pittman Jr who will the Colts drafted at the start of the second-round this season who will look to develop into a receiving option and could surpass Zach Pascal at some point this season but expect him to be eased into a consistent role in this offense.
Rivers and the Colts get the benefit of starting the season against a rebuilt Jacksonville defense that’s unrecognizable from its past dominance. Gone are shutdown cornerbacks Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye, as well as safety Ronnie Harrison, who was traded away last week. The Jaguars will likely start rookie C.J. Henderson on one side and the hot-and-cold Tre Herndon on the other as they look to keep top wideout TY Hilton in check. Herndon has flashed shutdown traits, but lacked consistency as a 2019 starter and can be avoided as needed anyway. When these teams faced off last year, Hilton repeatedly worked the short and intermediate zones en route to a handful of splash plays across the field. And that’s likely how he’ll be used Sunday; Rivers looked for Hilton early and often in training camp, using him both down the field and on a wide variety of routes underneath. The speedy Parris Campbell will do much of the same, working across the formation to create plays in space against an undermanned secondary. Both are candidates to make a handful of big plays - as is rookie Michael Pittman, who’s big and fast enough to test Herndon in downfield coverage. The Jaguars also struggled to contain tight ends last season, with 6 of their opponents topping 4 receptions and 60 yards, and they may actually regress there in 2020. That bodes well for Jack Doyle and Mo Alie-Cox, who will face a rebuilt and shaky middle of the Jacksonville defense. New strong safety Josh Jones is far more of a run-stuffer than anything, while new middle linebacker Joe Schobert allowed five touchdowns in coverage last year with the Browns.
Philadelphia Eagles Passing Offense vs Washington
The Eagles enter Week 1 with a banged-up receiving corps, with Alshon Jeffery and explosive rookie Jalen Reagor both sidelined for the first few weeks. But there should still be plenty of volume to go around Sunday and coach Doug Pederson could hardly ask for a better opening matchup. The Eagles will rely heavily on their tight ends Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert along with deep threat DeSean Jackson who returns after a myriad of injuries derailed his season after a big Week 1 last year.
Washington boasts a strong pass rush but has pieced together a secondary that would look much better in 2017 than it does now. Cornerbacks Ronald Darby and Kendall Fuller have slipped and are miscast as downfield cover men; both have been burned frequently over the past few years. They match up poorly on paper with DeSean Jackson, who’s still one of the game’s most explosive deep threats, and J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, whose 6-foot-2, 225-pound frame should matter more now that he’s healthy. Safety Landon Collins will earn $14.5 million this year, but it’s not for his pass defense. He and the other safeties are fully beatable up the seams, as seen in last year’s season opener when Jackson erupted for 154 yards and 2 touchdowns. There are also big mismatches inside, where tight end tandem Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert will work against a shaky group of linebackers. If new middle linebacker Thomas Davis is asked to chase them across the field at age 37, they’ll enjoy a big advantage. It may be hard to pinpoint the distribution, but the Eagles passing game has a clear avenue to a big Opening Day showing.
Methodology: Best matchup does not mean the players who are projected for the most amount of points. We try to balance the impact that the defense will have on the offense as we start with a baseline for each team and try to determine which defenses will have the biggest impact on the offense. More often than not, bad offenses will show up on the worst matchups and good offenses will show up on the top matchups but occasionally you will have a scenario where the top offense is facing the top defense, therefore, making it a difficult matchup for that offense.
You should always start elite players even if they are in one of the more difficult matchups of the week.