Go here for this week's Rushing Matchups.
Top 5 Passing Matchups
LA Chargers at Las Vegas
The Chargers are getting healthy and confident on offense, which is frightening news for their back-end schedule. They’ve battled awful injury luck for most of the year, to both the receiving corps and the front line, forcing Justin Herbert to keep things tight and underneath. Dating back to Week 6, his 5.8 yards per throw has sat firmly bottom-five among regulars. But Keenan Allen and Gerald Everett are back in the fold, and Mike Williams isn’t far behind them, so things could open back up at any moment. Herbert is to be commended for keeping things afloat, averaging a solid 254 yards and 1.5 touchdowns over that span. Allen and Ekeler are still prolific underneath – they combined to go 16-109-2 last week – and Herbert’s ceiling will soar with Williams back on the field. There are still big concerns up front, which could limit his ability to truly uncork deep. But any trend-up heading into a matchup with the Raiders is worthy of fantasy buzz.
The Raiders and poor pass defense have gone hand-in-hand for the last decade or so, and 2022 has been no exception. They’re giving up the league’s seventh-most passing yards per game, an improvement on recent years but still a juicy fantasy target. Some of that can be attributed to bad injury luck: top cornerback Nate Hobbs, a rising superstar, hasn’t played since breaking his hand in Week 5. But even if Hobbs were on the field and dominating, there would be holes to exploit virtually everywhere else. Rock Ya-Sin has been up-and-down in Hobbs’ place as the alpha cornerback, and he was beaten downfield more than once in last Sunday’s win. The ever-rotating reserves have played like reserves, and they’ve done so with little safety help behind them. The team cut ties with Jonathan Abram, who was a black hole in coverage, but did so lacking a backup plan. All told, this rebuilding unit has taken baby steps over the past two years, and that’s not to be discounted. In the moment, though, they look woefully unprepared to face Justin Herbert and a semi-healthy Chargers offense. When these teams met in Week 1, with Hobbs on the field, Herbert hit on 76% of his throws at 8.2 yards apiece.
NY Jets at Minnesota
The Jets may already be ready to move on from the Zach Wilson Era. Wilson simply hasn’t shown a speck of growth through 21 NFL starts, while Mike White just became the first Jet since Ken O’Brien to post multiple 300-yard, 3-touchdown games. This offense is finally well-stocked with dynamic weapons, and unlike Wilson, White looks capable of cashing in more often than not. White hit on four deep completions (15+ yards downfield) on Sunday; for comparison’s sake, Wilson had notched just 10 all season. Stability at quarterback keeps super-rookie wideout Garrett Wilson (5-95-1 Sunday) a weekly play, and it could even mean a return to relevance for Elijah Moore (2-64-1). There’s big risk, of course, in hitching one’s wagon to White; the bottom could absolutely fall out at any time. But it can’t get any worse than it was under Wilson – and Sunday hinted at much, much better.
The Vikings, with all due respect, continue to look like one of the shakier (luckier?) 9-2 teams in recent memory. The main reason for that is the pass defense, which has hemorrhaged yardage and touchdowns all year. The problems start up front, where the surprisingly limp pass rush isn’t hasn’t been very threatening. Even with 16.5 sacks from Danielle Hunter and Za'Darius Smith, they sit just 24th in pressure rate, giving opponents ample time to pick apart the secondary. And while Patrick Peterson is enjoying a solid bounce-back season at 32, he’s no longer a shutdown type who erases half the field. He needs help, like all mortal cornerbacks, and this group lacked consistency even before his teammates started to go down. Fellow Week 1 starters Cameron Dantzler and Akayleb Evans are on the shelf, forcing practice-squad types into heavy roles. The results have been disastrous: more yards allowed per attempt (7.8) and per game (293) than anyone, with a stunning 22 opposing pass-catchers already topping 10 PPR points. Mike White may not be destined for another 300-yard surprise, but he certainly projects near his realistic ceiling Sunday.
Philadelphia vs Tennessee
The Eagles still don’t want to put too much on Jalen Hurts’ plate (on his arm, at least). Hurts hasn’t thrown 30 passes in a game since Week 5, and he hasn’t reached 300 yards since Week 3. But while his passing volume has been iffy, Hurts himself has been wildly efficient through the air (third league-wide in yards per throw). In fact, over that low-volume six-game span, he threw multiple touchdowns five times. Of course, a healthy chunk of the credit goes to his dynamic receiving corps. A.J. Brown has been quiet over the past month, averaging just 42 yards per game, but his week-to-week upside is undeniable. Brown has been leaned on both downfield and underneath, with DeVonta Smith taking advantage of the softer coverage on his side. Smith is always a Mike Williams-esque dice roll, having topped 75 yards in 4 games but falling below 40 in 5 others. The Titans simply don’t have the cornerbacks to track both of these guys across the field, even with tight end Dallas Goedert on the shelf.
The Titans continue to trot out one of the league’s shakiest pass defenses. They’ve been dominant against the run, forcing quarterbacks to test their thin secondary early and often, with typically strong results. Three of their last four opponents have topped 270 yards through the air, including the punchless Broncos and the Ja’Marr Chase-less Bengals. Last Sunday, they had no answer for Cincinnati’s Tee Higgins, who took turns beating cornerbacks Roger McCreary and Kristian Fulton en route to 7 receptions, 114 yards, and a touchdown. Both McCreary and Fulton have been subpar in coverage all year, but they’re forced into every-down roles here, and Higgins was far from the first opposing receiver to take advantage. Amazingly, they’ve already allowed 25 different pass-catchers to record 10+ PPR points, and the Eagles absolutely have the horses to add to that total. It’s hard to see how McCreary and Fulton can successfully juggle A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith down the field, and Nick Sirianni surely knows it.