Join the Footballguys Daily Update
Start your morning with our roundup of the most important stories in football - with the fantasy insight you need to make league-winning decisions. Delivered straight to your inbox, 100% free.
TOP 5 PASSING MATCHUPS WEEK 11
To view all of our Week 11 Matchup content, please see the links below:
Top 5 Passing Matchups Week 11
Bottom 5 Passing Matchups Week 11
Top 5 Rushing Matchups Week 11
Bottom 5 Rushing Matchups Week 11
Rushing Matchup Chart Week 11
Passing Matchup Chart Week 11
Arizona at Seattle
The Cardinals are still ironing out the kinks in what’s shaping up to be a lethal pass game. Kyler Murray’s Hail Mary heave to DeAndre Hopkins drew the headlines, but Murray had topped 280 yards (with nine touchdowns) over the previous four weeks. There’s still a bit of hesitance here, with Murray still learning how to effectively work defenses down the field. Coach Kliff Kingsbury’s spread attack often keeps Murray working horizontally, which can cap the deep-ball upside for Hopkins, Christian Kirk, and company. There are several dynamic downfield threats at play here, though, whenever Murray does look to push the issue. Against a leaky, beaten-up secondary, that outlook only burns brighter in a huge divisional showdown. It’s hard to dream up a strategy for the Seahawks to contain Hopkins, let alone the complementary pieces.
The Seahawks pass defense, decimated all season by injury and ineffectiveness, remains the weakest in all of football by most measures. Undermanned and forced into shootout after shootout, they’ve faced more volume (45 attempts a game) and given up more yardage (365) than anyone in football. Eight of their nine opponents have topped 300 yards - and five of those cleared 360. There were huge holes to attack even before the personnel started dropping like flies, and now this secondary is a tattered mess of burnable bodies. On Thursday, they’ll likely have to lean heavily on Tre Flowers and D.J. Reed again, which doesn’t inspire confidence. Safety Jamal Adams is a star in centerfield support, but can only do so much on his own. At some point, this unit is going to need an injection of talent around him. Right now, though, they still stand as fantasy’s most targetable unit.
LA Chargers vs NY Jets
The Chargers have to be thrilled with Justin Herbert’s off-the-bat play. The rookie drew far less ink than the draft’s top two passers but has outdone both over his eight starts, sitting 10th in adjusted yards per attempt and eighth in touchdowns. In fact, he’s thrown multiple scores in six straight games, averaging 282 yards along the way. He’s developed a great rapport with Keenan Allen, who’s turned a 25% target share over that span into 71 yards a game and four touchdowns. There’s dynamism elsewhere, too, with Mike Williams (17.2 yards per catch) an elite downfield threat and Hunter Henry due for major progression. Herbert isn’t a finished product, of course, but he’s drastically exceeding expectations - and he doesn’t need to be one in such a friendly matchup.
The Jets’ nightmare of a 2020 season is mostly blamed on the dysfunctional offense, and that’s fair. But things have been nearly as bad on the other side of the ball; opponents have had little trouble with this badly undermanned unit. Now, a mid-week shakeup to the personnel sets this up as Week 11’s most targetable matchup. The Jets actually boast one of the game’s best slot cornerbacks in Brian Poole, but he was just lost to injured reserve with a knee sprain. They then cut ineffective starter Pierre Desir, and while that may prove to be addition by subtraction, the reinforcements look no better. Blessuan Austin, Lamar Jackson, and Arthur Maulet have been bullied all season, and they’re especially open to the deep ball - no team has given up more 30+ yard completions. All told, this bottom-tier secondary just managed to tumble another plane or two, and Herbert could hardly ask for a better Sunday. Game flow will tell the fantasy tale, but the Chargers shouldn’t find much difficulty doing what they please through the air.
Pittsburgh at Jacksonville
The Steelers aren’t exactly lighting up the field, at least in terms of the deep ball. They’ve produced just 7 plays of 30+ yards, good for 28th in the league, and Ben Roethlisberger’s 10.2 per completion sits 29th. Still, the weaponry is truly dynamic, capable of both winning man battles and making huge plays in the open field. JuJu Smith-Schuster and Diontae Johnson are settling in as dependable all-around threats, working on all levels of the field and offering plenty of dynamism. But rookie Chase Claypool continues to steal the headlines, dazzling all over the field and route tree. Claypool has drawn 19% of team targets over the past four games, and his 20% touchdown rate is only a little bit fluky. He’s simply too much receiver for some defenders to handle, and he consistently dominates at the catch point.
The Jaguars pass defense continues to plod along as one of football’s weakest units. With no real pass rush to speak of and a young, shaky secondary, this unit just can’t seem to get in anyone’s way. Always looking to give up a massive play of some sort, they’ve now allowed 280+ yards in 6 of their 9 matchups. The problems start up front, with a pass-rush group that’s managed just nine sacks through nine games. Beyond second-year stud Josh Allen, there are few threats to push the pocket without dialing up heavy blitzes. That leaves the cornerbacks, already hampered by injuries throughout the season, on islands far too often. They may have caught a rising star in ex-Eagle Sidney Jones, who’s been great in limited play, but also carry their share of dead weight. Tre Herndon and Chris Claybrooks have been targeted often throughout the year, and there’s little downfield help from the safeties. It’s no surprise they’ve already allowed 13 different players to register 60+ yards - or that they’ve given up a 100+ yard game in 5 straight weeks.
New Orleans vs Atlanta
The Saints look poised to watch Jameis Winston give the first audition to Drew Brees’ starting seat. Brees is week-to-week with chest injuries, and Taysom Hill is no one’s idea of a 70-snap quarterback. If Winston is indeed under center, it will be interesting to see how his free-slinging ways will reshape, if at all, in Sean Payton’s system. The New Orleans pass game has been rooted of late in the short game, with Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas dominating attention underneath. They’ll remain the absolute backbone of this attack, but perhaps Winston will look to push the envelope with more high-risk, high-reward throws. It would be wildly premature (and silly) to call this any kind of upgrade, but it’s exciting the envision the upside of Winston firing downfield for Payton.
The Falcons season may be in the midst of a big upswing - likely a month too late, but impressive nonetheless. Sadly, that turnaround hasn’t spread to the Atlanta pass defense, and it’s hard to imagine it will soon. Here in 2020, they’ve allowed eight of their nine opponents to throw for 300+ yards, a list that includes the ho-hum offenses of the Bears, Broncos, and Lions. There’s just so little coverage talent in play here, with only one or two names that belong in an NFL rotation. First-round cornerback A.J. Terrell has shown off plenty of promise but makes up just a small chunk of this undermanned unit. On the whole, this remains one of football’s weakest secondaries, forced to press a number of substandard bodies into heavy snap counts. Isaiah Oliver and Kendall Sheffield grade out among 2020’s worst cornerbacks, and no one has stepped up as a dependable option in the slot. Opponents have taken advantage, routinely winning on inside-out routes and by simply erupting deep up the seams. With little safety help and no real pass rush to speak of, this has the look of the same hopeless Atlanta units on display for the past half-decade.
New England at Houston
The Patriots aren't lighting up the field through the air, averaging just yards a game. And they're coming off a slugfest with the Ravens in which Cam Newton managed just 118 yards. But it's important to note the side factors - that game was played in a rainstorm, and the Patriots led for most of it. Newton has been forced to throw the ball 30+ times twice this year, registering 397 and 275 yards in those games. Of late he's developed a great connection with Jakobi Myers, who sits seventh league-wide in targets (37) and third in yardage (346) over the past four weeks. This isn't a polished or particularly explosive attack, but the matchup and expected game flow point to one of Newton's better weeks.
The Texans pass defense has endured a rough year. Baker Mayfield didn’t need to throw much last week, as the Cleveland ground game rolled to 231 yards in the slugfest. But the Texans’ previous four opponents averaged 314 yards through the air - a list that includes both late-round Jacksonville quarterbacks. In between those meetings, Ryan Tannehill and Aaron Rodgers combined to hit on 71% of their throws at 8.7 yards apiece, with a back-breaking 8 touchdowns. Simply put, this secondary is in major need of a talent overhaul just about everywhere. Vernon Hargreaves remains a massive liability at one of the cornerback spots; the change of scenery from Tampa Bay has yet to make a ding. He’s moved around the formation some and doesn’t cover well inside or outside. The safeties have underachieved as well, with Justin Reid taking a big step down from his breakout 2019. It’s helpful to have top cover man Bradley Roby back in action - he missed half that four-game stretch and has been generally strong throughout the year. But this unit is a mess elsewhere, and there’s very little pass rush to disrupt opposing quarterbacks. It’s an ideal get-right spot for Newton and the Patriots.