TOP PASSING MATCHUPS
To view all of our Week 5 Matchup content, please see the links below:
Top 5 Passing Matchups Week 5
Bottom 5 Passing Matchups Week 5
Top 5 Rushing Matchups Week 5
Bottom 5 Rushing Matchups Week 5
Rushing Matchup Chart Week 5
Passing Matchup Chart Week 5
Carolina at Atlanta
The Panthers' pass attack continues to improve incrementally in coordinator Joe Brady's image. It's armed with several dynamic weapons - even with Christian McCaffrey on the shelf - and a quarterback capable of facilitating those talents. Teddy Bridgewater comes fresh off his best game as a Panther; he turned 37 attempts into 276 yards and 2 touchdowns Sunday against the Cardinals. Bridgewater doesn't test the waters downfield very often, and he doesn't boast much arm strength when he tries. But he's trending upward as a game manager type, and he's building an impressive connection with wideout Robby Anderson, who's caught 82% of their targets and put up 94 yards a game in an across-the-field role.
The Falcons entered the season undermanned and lacking in coverage talent in the secondary. Now, with their two best cornerbacks and a starting safety out of the lineup, the outlook has gotten even worse. First-round rookie A.J. Terrell may return from the COVID list by Sunday, but they still make for a dream fantasy matchup regardless of opponent. Even on his best day, Terrell wouldn't be enough to paper over the many holes in this secondary. Darqueze Dennard, who's serviceable, is on injured reserve, leaving a huge burden on the shoulders of Isaiah Oliver and Blidi Wreh-Wilson in coverage. Last week, they suffered another blow as free safety Damontae Kazee was lost to an Achilles rupture. The reserves haven't been up to the task thus far, and opposing receivers have taken advantage - through 4 weeks, 7 have topped 85 yards. Their biggest problems tend to come in the slot, which is bad news in this matchup. The Panthers throw liberally to the slot and flat areas, and it's hard to see the Falcons jumping consistently on Anderson, D.J. Moore, and Curtis Samuel.
NY Giants at Dallas
The Giants limp into Week 5 with one of football's weakest attacks. Daniel Jones is doing little but dinking and dunking, putting up just 6.0 yards per attempt as he throws to an injury-ravaged group of wideouts. In other words, it's a great time to draw the porous Dallas defense. Top receiver Darius Slayton has posted 15.7 yards a catch; he's an air-yardage dynamo fully capable of beating this shaky secondary down the field. And there's plenty of checkdown help, with Evan Engram and Golden Tate as slot specialists who can move with the ball. Jones could certainly use more dynamic help, but his cupboard is plenty stocked for this matchup.
The Cowboys have been beaten soundly through the air by three of their first four opponents. Jared Goff, Matt Ryan, and Russell Wilson opened the year by completing 66% of their throws at 8.1 yards apiece, with 9 touchdowns. The Browns slowed things down last week, looking to take some burden off Baker Mayfield, but Odell Beckham Jr Jr. had little difficulty working through the secondary for a handful of splash plays. Simply put, the Cowboys lean heavily on one of the league's most burnable cornerback crews. Jourdain Lewis is beaten often, while Daryl Worley has been one of football's worst journeymen for years. Rookie Trevon Diggs has been the best of the bunch, but still solidly below average. Safety Darian Thompson has been brutalized behind them; it feels like a matter of time before Brandon Carr or a current free agent steps into his role. It's truly curious this unit could find no use in camp for Ha Ha Clinton Dix. Badly undermanned and in need of a talent infusion, this is one of fantasy's most targetable matchups - regardless of opponent.
Seattle at Minnesota
The Seahawks continued their torrid pace through the air Sunday, with Russell Wilson shredding the Dolphins for 360 yards and 2 touchdowns. Through 4 weeks, Wilson is the clear NFL MVP, hitting on 75% of his throws at 9.4 yards apiece. He's thrown 16 touchdowns, a wild pace that should come down sharply but still remain elite. Wilson has forged a devastating big-play relationship with Tyler Lockett, and DK Metcalf continues to shape up as arguably the biggest steal of the 2019 NFL Draft. If not for a pair of misadventures at the 1-yard line, Metcalf would sit second league-wide in PPR points on the young season.
The Vikings have rebuilt their secondary for the 2020 season, and early results have been shaky at best. Rookie cornerbacks Jeff Gladney and Cameron Dantzler have been targeted early and often, and while Gladney has flashed potential, neither has offered much resistance. Gladney and nickel man Holton Hill were beaten badly last week for long touchdowns; that's a recurring theme for this unit, which has already given up 19 completions of 20+ yards. On the topic of the deep ball, though, it must be noted that the Vikings are also breaking in a new-look pass rush, one that doesn't include Danielle Hunter or Everson Griffen. Griffen is in Dallas now, and Hunter (neck) is facing the possibility of a lost season. Newcomer Yannick Ngakoue has been solid, though not dominant, and certainly not to the point of replacing those two. Something will have to give for this young secondary to string together a few decent performances and build confidence. If the pass rush can't pester Wilson Sunday, it will likely make for a long evening of patient yet potent deep strikes to Lockett, Metcalf, and the rest.
Minnesota at Seattle
The Vikings don't ask Kirk Cousins to throw with much volume - just 25 attempts per game to open the year. But when he does, Cousins goes downfield early and often, looking for Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson in the soft spots of defensive zones. Last week against Houston, he hit on 8 of his 12 attempts that went 15+ yards downfield, generating 204 yards in the process. When Dalvin Cook is running well, the play-action game opens up and allows Cousins to take advantage of mismatches. Thielen is still great, but over the past two weeks, it's been the rookie Jefferson creating most of them. He's gathered 54% of the team's yardage over that span, with 8 of his 16 receptions going for 20+ yards.
The Seahawks' banged-up defense simply can't keep anyone's pass game under control. It speaks volumes that Ryan Fitzpatrick's 315-yard performance last Sunday actually qualified as a breather. Over the first 3 weeks of the season, Seattle gave up a stunning 440 yards a game through the air, with 10 opposing receivers topping 65 on their own. The group has certainly missed safety Jamal Adams, who has a decent chance of returning this week from a groin injury. But the leaks are everywhere, particularly at cornerback, where Shaquil Griffin seems to have lost some of his breakout 2019 magic. He hasn't been compensating well for Tre Flowers, the starter on the other side and a major downfield liability. Adams' return could help stop some of the bleeding, but wouldn't be a cure-all. Thielen and Jefferson are fully capable of exploiting slipped man coverages and finding holes between the zones.
Houston vs Jacksonville
The Texans are in sudden upheaval; apparently, dealing away DeAndre Hopkins wasn't the only sea change in store for 2020. There's little reason to expect the offense to change, though, in the wake of Bill O'Brien's firing. Interim Romeo Crennel is a defensive coach, and coordinator Tim Kelly has been in the offense for years. Watson opened the year sluggishly - understandable without Hopkins - but has produced 9.4 yards per attempt over the past 2 weeks, with 4 touchdowns. The Brandin Cooks connection has yet to pan out (just 138 yards), but Watson has certainly built on his big-play connection with Will Fuller V. The oft-injured yet dynamic Fuller has averaged 91 yards over his full 3 games, at an elite 12.5 per target.
The Jaguars, still reeling from shedding Jalen Ramsey, A.J. Bouye, and Ronnie Harrison over the past two years, remain a very targetable pass-game matchup. They haven't given up much raw yardage on the year, but that's a volume-based illusion. Opponents are completing 77% of their throws, good for a solid 8.4 yards apiece and 8 touchdowns. Rookie cornerback C.J. Henderson has flashed ability, but there's not much surrounding man-coverage talent. And receivers continue to find holes after the catch, turning middling volume into high efficiency. That's been especially true of slot men and tight ends, who have put up the bulk of that production while working against the low-level D.J. Hayden. Parris Campbell, Jonnu Smith, and Tyler Boyd have posted strong lines while working their way through this favorable matchup.