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Go here for this week's Rushing Matchups.
Top 5 Passing Matchups
Dallas at Tennesseeâ€¯
The Cowboys couldn’t have picked a better time to get Dak Prescott’s best game of the year. Prescott, who’d struggled with efficiency since returning from injury, completed 77% of his throws against the vaunted Eagles, amassing 347 yards and 3 touchdowns. Efficiency woes or not, he’s now posted 250+ yards (and thrown multiple touchdowns) in seven of his last eight games. The Cowboys know they’ll need to mount an air attack to compete in the postseason, and Prescott is making great use of top wideout CeeDee Lamb. The WR1 has commanded 28% of team targets over the last two weeks, producing 17 catches for 226 yards and 2 scores. During a typical week, there’s not much else here to rely upon: tight end Dalton Schultz (3 catches and 43 yards last week) and WR2 Michael Gallup (4 for 36) are inconsistent role players. But everyone gets a boost against the flailing Titans; Prescott looks lined up for his most efficient week of the season.â€¯
The Titans continue to flounder badly against the pass. They’ve developed into a prototypical funnel defense: so dominant against the run (second in the league) that they force opponents to throw tirelessly against their shaky secondary. The results have been colorful: they sit tied with Minnesota at the bottom of the league in per-game passing (296.1 yards a game) and 7thâ€¯per attempt (7.0). They’ve allowed 3 of their last 4 opponents to top 310 yards through the air, and each of those three had a pair of 65+ yard receivers. Simply put, this secondary is in desperate need of a talent infusion. It’s not as though the team hasn’t tried, sinking early-round picks into the likes of Caleb Farley, Kristian Fulton, Elijah Molden, and Roger McCreary. Only McCreary is healthy and in the rotation at this point, and he’s a mediocre cover man on most days. The team has been forced to shuffle backup-caliber guys like Tre Avery, Joshua Kalu, and Greg Mabin into heavy (sometimes every-down) roles, with predictable results. Everyone has been invited to the party, but it's worth noting that tight ends like Evan Engram (11 catches, 162 yards, 2 touchdowns) and slot men like Zay Jones (8 for 77 and 1) and Keenan Allen (8 for 86) have seen the biggest boosts in this matchup lately.â€¯
Green Bay vs Minnesotaâ€¯
The Packers suddenly find themselves thrust back into the playoff race, so they’ll need their best version of Aaron Rodgers down the stretch. Rodgers hasn’t helped the fantasy world much of late: he hasn’t even thrown for 250+ yards since Week 4. But this Sunday, he’ll have the “assistance” of one of football’s worst pass defenses. Virtually everyone has produced against the overmanned Vikings, who struggle to cover anyone downfield, and the Packers are surely aware. Top receiver Christian Watson hasn’t hit on big plays lately, but he’s always capable of them – and he’s commanded 22% of Rodgers’ looks since his Week 10 breakout. Watson left Sunday’s game with a hip injury, but early reports are good. Besides, Rodgers now has a full complement of weapons in play, with impressive rookie Romeo Doubs back on the field. Rodgers is no longer a fantasy no-brainer, but he and his weapons are in position to catch the fantasy world napping this weekend.â€¯
The Vikings simply can’t stop anyone through the air. They’ve been one of fantasy’s most “reliable” units all year, allowing the league’s second-most yards per throw (7.5) and per game (296). But their problems seem to have (somehow) grown over the past month: dating back to Week 12, those numbers have leaped to 7.6 and 319. That horrid stretch included season-best performances from the likes of Daniel Jones (30 of 42, 334 yards, 1 touchdown), Mac Jones (28 of 39 for 382 and 2), and Jared Goff (31 of 57 for 369) across the field. Patrick Peterson has enjoyed a rebirth as a top-flight cover man here in 2022, but he’s had little help from the patchwork group around him. They’re down to journeyman Duke Shelley and the shaky Duke Sullivan at the other full-time spots, and neither inspires much confidence. They’ve got ball-hawking safety Harrison Smith back now, and he’s long been a situational star deep down the field. But snap-to-snap, he’s not enough to solve all these coverage issues. Aaron Rodgers should fare much better here than he did in Week 1’s thrashing.
New England vs Miami
The Patriots haven’t had much luck through the air, save for their Thanksgiving assault of the Vikings. In other words, they’re getting the Dolphins’ bare-bones defense at just the right time. Mac Jones may have lost his starting job, but there’s little drop-off (if any) down to rookie Bailey Zappe. Bill Belichick and the Patriots will likely lean run-heavy against the Dolphins since that’s where most of their talent lies. He probably won’t ask much of Jones, just to make smart, efficient throws under the defense to take advantage of the Dolphins’ biggest weakness.
The Dolphins have spent the year watching piece after piece of their once-proud pass defense go down to injury. All-Pro cornerback Xavien Howard remains, but typical starters Byron Jones, Brandon Jones, and Nik Needham have long been shelved. The result is a fairly patchwork group of guys in the secondary, and they simply haven’t supported Howard well – particularly of late. They’ve allowed two of their last three opponents to top 300 yards easily, with Josh Allen adding four touchdowns in Week 15’s classic. It doesn’t help that the pass rush, despite adding Bradley Chubb to the mix, isn’t providing much support. These Dolphins blitz more often than 26 other teams but still pressure the pocket at a league-average rate. That forces these reserve-caliber cornerbacks to hold coverage for too long, and disaster often ensues. Even the stripped-down Patriots get a projection boost here.
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