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Top 5 Passing Matchups
Dallas vs Detroit
The Cowboys, barring the unforeseen, will have their starting quarterback under center for the first time since Opening Day. Dak Prescott’s thumb has probably been ready to roll for a week or two, but Cooper Rush’s caretaking allowed the team to exercise more patience. He now returns at 100%, and to a healthier Dallas offense than the one he left. Michael Gallup is still shaking off the rust, but he’s returned to his deep-threat role, while tight end Dalton Schultz also looks ready to return to action. CeeDee Lamb remains the nominal No. 1 wideout; he’s dominated targets (a 32% share) but is still seeking his first 100-yard game of the season. His Sunday performance was encouraging: 5 receptions for 68 yards despite juggling a pair of elite Philadelphia cornerbacks. If there’s ever a week for him to truly erupt, it’s this one. His quarterback is back under center, and the defensive matchup could hardly be sweeter.
The Lions continue to trot out one of the NFL’s worst pass defenses. Only three opposing passers have really had to throw against 1-4 Detroit, and all three put up strong fantasy lines: Carson Wentz (30 of 46, 337 yards, 3 touchdowns), Kirk Cousins (24 of 41 for 260 and 2), and Geno Smith (23 of 30 for 320 and 2). The last time this unit was on the field, Patriots rookie Bailey Zappe was completing 81% of his throws at 9.0 yards apiece. Simply put, this is an extremely weak group that hasn’t been able to stop anyone through the air. The secondary remains in dire need of a talent infusion; aside from cornerback Jeff Okudah, who’s been inconsistent himself, there are numerous sweet spots to attack. After all, this is largely the same unit that finished 2021 dead last league-wide in passing efficiency. Holdovers like Amani Oruwariye, A.J. Parker, and Bobby Price haven’t improved, and even Okudah has been beaten downfield over the past few weeks. Entering the bye, they were steamrolled by Seattle’s duo of DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett (13 catches, 240 yards) and then New England slot man Jakobi Meyers (7 for 111 and a touchdown). This remains a juicy target in fantasy matchups, even with Dak Prescott coming off a five-game injury.
Indianapolis at Tennessee
The Colts aren’t getting much dynamism from 37-year-old Matt Ryan, who ranks 32nd among NFL starters in aDOT and 23rd in yards per completion. But the fantasy world is getting plenty of count stats as Ryan tries to keep the Colts afloat. No one has thrown more passes than Ryan’s 42.2 per game, and only Josh Allen has produced more yardage than his 294.2. He’s cleared 350 yards 3 times, including last week’s 42-of-58 slugfest against Jacksonville. The Colts’ lack of marquee receivers hasn’t slowed him down; as long as the dynamic Michael Pittman is active, Ryan has at least one dominator to target. Pittman is an obvious weekly must-start, averaging 8 catches and 83 yards a game, and he boasts the profile of a heavy touchdown scorer. The wild card is Alec Pierce, who has asserted himself into the gameplan at the expense of Parris Campbell.
The Titans' pass defense has been little more than a red carpet for opposing quarterbacks. Each of the last four, after all, have topped 300 yards and thrown multiple touchdowns, with 6 of their receivers clearing 75 themselves. (That includes Matt Ryan and these very Colts, who racked up 356 and 2 scores earlier this month.) The Titans have invested tons of draft capital into the cornerback spot with little to show for it: Caleb Farley, Kristian Fulton, and Roger McCreary have been beaten routinely throughout the young season. Opponents keep winning their gambles down the field, as stud safety Kevin Byard can do only so much on his own. They’ll remain a prime fantasy target as long as they’re shuffling personnel in search of something that works.
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