Go here for this week's Rushing Matchups.
Top 5 Passing Matchups
Buffalo at Detroit
The Bills are definitely mired in some type of offensive rut. Still, it’s a rut many teams are looking up at with envy. We’ve seen the heights this group is capable of hitting, even with Josh Allen not operating at 100%. They still sit third league-wide in yards per dropback, fifth in red-zone attempts, and fifth in touchdown rate. In other words, this entire unit’s floor may have dipped over the past few weeks, but the game-to-game ceiling remains sky-high. Allen showed his mettle in a handful of near-perfect games early in the year, and he still throws to a handful of dynamic pass-catchers. Gabe Davis is somewhat hit-or-miss; he’s topped 90 yards in 3 games and fallen below 40 in 4 others. But he’s a true mismatch on the outside, and he’s helped open up Stefon Diggs to return to rock-solid fantasy WR1 status. Taking on a 28% share of Allen’s targets, the ultra-consistent Diggs has cleared 90 yards in five of his last six games.
The Lions’ always-rebuilding pass defense simply can’t catch a break. This was already a talent-starved secondary, sitting dead last league-wide in yards allowed per throw, even before top cornerback Jeff Okudah went down Sunday. Okudah has flashed All-Pro talent when healthy but has already been ruled out for Thanksgiving, leaving another black hole in this woeful lineup. In his place, they’ll continue to lean heavily on depth pieces Amani Oruwariye and Mike Hughes, both of whom have been worked over when forced to start. And they’re backed by arguably the NFL’s weakest crop of safeties, so it’s no surprise that opponents have already hit on 34 completions of 20+ yards (seventh-most in the league). With little hope in man coverage and shaky zones down the field, it’s hard to see how they’ll corral Josh Allen and his many weapons. Stefon Diggs and Gabe Davis loom as devastating mismatches up and down the route tree.
Cincinnati at Tennessee
The Bengals’ high-octane offense clearly has yet to hit its peak. Last Sunday, Joe Burrow and company rang up 355 yards and 4 touchdowns through the air in holding off the Steelers, though it was far from a perfect performance. Ja’Marr Chase remained on the shelf, robbing Burrow of one of the game’s best young game-breakers. And the front line remains a work in progress; Burrow was sacked twice and knocked down seven times. Thankfully, Burrow running for his life and finding his playmakers on speed and instinct is nothing new. And this is a deep, talented group that has weathered Chase’s three-game absence nicely. Tee Higgins has proven himself a WR1 in his own right, erupting for 9 catches and 148 yards last weekend. It was his fourth showing of 90+ yards, and three of those did come alongside Chase.
The Titans’ secondary has taken steps forward over the past few weeks after a ghastly start to the season. Still, they had nowhere to go but up, and this remains essentially the same unit that allowed five of its first eight opponents to top 300 yards through the air. It’s a classic “pass funnel” unit, so dominant against the run (third in yards allowed per rush) that opposing passers happily spend the day picking apart the secondary. Roger McCreary, Kristian Fulton, and Joshua Kalu are spotty at best in coverage, giving up more than their share of splash plays. Last Thursday, each was beaten soundly in man coverage by Green Bay’s Christian Watson. Even Kevin Byard, one of the game’s steadiest safeties of the past decade, has turned in a substandard year in help coverage down the field. To say that the Bengals boast enough firepower to take advantage themselves, even with JaMarr Chase shelved, is a massive understatement.
New England at Minnesota
The Patriots aren’t wowing anyone through the air, but Mac Jones may be finding his footing in general. Since returning from injury, Jones has kept things mostly underneath and completed 73% of his throws. That kind of efficiency bodes well in good matchups, and the Patriots at least have the horses to take advantage Thursday. Jakobi Meyers is an ultra-consistent slot man who produces for PPR-leaguers regardless of outside factors. He’s topped 50 yards in six of his eight games, and he’ll spend most of his day in a favorable matchup against Minnesota’s Chandon Sullivan. It’s never easy to project the rest of this attack, but most of it will enjoy a similar boost, so all the playmakers carry strong per-play upside.
The Vikings pass defense likely isn’t as weak as it’s looked of late. It’s loaded with proven talent on all levels, and we’re in the midst of a big rebound season from top cornerback Patrick Peterson. But there are still exploitable holes in this unit, and in recent weeks they’ve simply had no answer for most of the WR1s they’ve faced. That’s included a wide range of talents, from the Dolphins’ speedy Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle (18 catches, 288 yards, 1 touchdown) to the big, physical DeAndre Hopkins (12-159-1) and Gabe Davis (6-93-1). Beyond Peterson, there are no proven cover men currently healthy, forcing heavy snaps onto shaky rookies Akayleb Evans and Andrew Booth Jr. Evans didn’t play last week, but Booth was beaten early and often, and the whole group shares the blame for Tony Pollard’s too-easy 68-yard touchdown. Rising star cornerback Cameron Dantzler, who flashed big talent before going on IR, can’t get back soon enough. The Patriots aren’t particularly imposing through the air, but even they take on a small upgrade against this overwhelmed unit.
Baltimore at Jacksonville
The Ravens pass game hasn’t turned many heads lately. They’ve mostly coasted on their ground game to win four straight, with relatively little asked of Lamar Jackson and his weapons. And it doesn’t help that Mark Andrews has been schemed down by defenses; he’s produced just 96 yards over the last three games. But given the Jaguars’ struggles in man coverage, this looks like a fine bounce-back spot for the Ravens’ stars. Andrews will spend much of the day working the slot against the Jaguars’ Darious Williams, who’s struggled both inside and out. And new de facto WR1 Demarcus Robinson, who caught all nine targets last week (for 128 yards), has won his share of high-quality matchups lately. Andrews is an obvious weekly must-start, while Jackson is desirable only with his rushing numbers added in. But everyone should enjoy a general boost against the Jaguars’ thin, shaky defense.
The Jaguars continue to rebuild their broken-down pass defense, but at some point, they’re going to have to add more cornerback talent. They’ve already built an imposing front seven, led by Josh Allen and pressuring quarterbacks at the league’s fifth-highest rate. Yet there’s still a notable lack of talent in the secondary; they’ve moved on from first-round picks Jalen Ramsey and C.J. Henderson and have seemingly forgotten to replace them. The results have been predictable: opponents are putting up 7.0 yards per attempt (24th) and 258 a game (23rd). Even with Tyson Campbell enjoying a second-year breakout, black holes remain all over this secondary. Journeyman free agent Darious Williams has added virtually nothing, struggling both inside and out, yet he plays an every-down role across from Campbell. Behind them, the team still leans on longtime burn victims Tre Herndon and Chris Claybrooks for snaps. Overall, it still makes for a perfectly fertile fantasy matchup, and even the run-oriented Ravens are poised to take advantage.