Unlock More Content Like This With a Footballguys Premium Subscription
"FBG is the best fantasy football advisory service anywhere."
Nigel Eccles, Co-Founder, FanDuel
Go here for this week's Rushing Matchups.
Top 5 Passing Matchups
Chicago at LA Chargers
Undrafted rookie quarterback Tyson Bagent has been a pleasant surprise, exceeding expectations with his recent performance in the victory against the Las Vegas Raiders. Bagent's story is quite remarkable, coming from Division II Shepherd University and not being considered among the top 10 quarterbacks for the 2023 NFL Draft. He has shown maturity and restraint by not trying to do too much, maintaining a 72% completion rate, and demonstrating a quick release, which has led to sound decision-making. However, there are still areas of concern for Bagent, particularly his yards-per-attempt metric. Despite the impressive completion rate, he averages only 5.7 yards per attempt, which would rank him 31st in the NFL this season if he qualified based on attempts. To solidify his role as a starting quarterback, he will need to exhibit more downfield throwing ability.
The Chargers' secondary has struggled throughout the season, ranking as the worst in the NFL, allowing 336 passing yards per game. Last week, they were torched by Patrick Mahomes II for 424 yards, marking the second time this year that they've allowed 420 or more yards in a game, with the first instance occurring against the Miami Dolphins and Tua Tagovailoa. The secondary's issues stem from a lack of talent, with notable struggles from cornerbacks Ja'Sir Taylor and Michael Davis, and safety Derwin James experiencing a challenging start to his career. Elite players like Tyreek Hill, Justin Jefferson, CeeDee Lamb, and Travis Kelce have exploited the Chargers' defensive vulnerabilities. In this game, consistent pass rush will be a significant factor. The Chargers rank 8th in the league in sacks, led by defensive stalwarts Khalil Mack and Joey Bosa. Meanwhile, the Bears have allowed the 3rd-most sacks this season. The matchup between Khalil Mack, facing his former team, and the Bears' offensive line could have a substantial impact on the outcome.
Pittsburgh vs Jacksonville
Kenny Pickett has been managing the Pittsburgh offense effectively, contributing to their 4-2 record this season. While his passing numbers haven't been eye-popping, averaging just 210 passing yards with 5 touchdowns and 4 interceptions, it's worth noting that the Steelers have faced a challenging schedule of pass defenses, including teams like Cleveland, San Francisco, Baltimore, the Los Angeles Rams, Las Vegas, and an improving Houston defense. None of these defenses rank in the top half of matchups this week. Diontae Johnson's return from injury was solid, recording 5 receptions for 79 yards. Expect the Steelers to target him more in the passing game, as he averaged 9.7 targets per game over the last two seasons but has seen a dip to an average of 6.0 targets per game this year.
On the other side, the Jacksonville defense has struggled significantly, even falling short of modest expectations. They've allowed 280 passing yards or more in five of their seven games this season. In their recent three-game stretch, they allowed over 300 passing yards to quarterbacks like Josh Allen, Gardner Minshew, and Derek Carr, with Patrick Mahomes II also surpassing 300 passing yards against them earlier in the season. One of the primary issues for the Jaguars is their pass rush, which ranks as the 5th-worst in the NFL this season. This is surprising, considering the defense was built around its pass rush. Outside of edge rusher Josh Allen, the team lacks consistent pass rushers, including 2022 top overall pick Travon Walker. The secondary, led by Darious Williams, has been under significant pressure due to the lack of pass rush. The potential return of Tyson Campbell may provide some help, but it's uncertain whether he can make a substantial impact, given his limited availability this season.
Philadelphia at Washington
The Philadelphia Eagles' passing attack has shown significant improvement after a slow start to the season. Jalen Hurts struggled in the first two games, failing to throw for 180 yards. However, since those two games, he has averaged 291 passing yards per game. A.J. Brown has been a standout performer, recording 125 receiving yards or more in each of his last five games. One potential concern is the health of quarterback Jalen Hurts, who is dealing with a knee injury. While signs point toward him playing in the upcoming game, there's a possibility that he may be less mobile than usual due to the injury. This could impact his rushing ability, although it may benefit the passing numbers. This is one of the most talented units in the NFL, especially now that Dallas Goedert has bounced back from his early season struggles, as he has averaged 79 receiving yards per game over his last three games.
Washington’s pass defense began the season with promise, holding Joshua Dobbs to 132 passing yards in Week 1 and limiting Josh Allen to 218 passing yards in Week 3. However, they've allowed an average of 299 passing yards per contest in their other five games. This is concerning, especially considering the quarterbacks they've faced, including Tyrod Taylor, Desmond Ridder, Justin Fields, Jalen Hurts, and Russell Wilson. In their first matchup this season, Hurts had a successful outing against Washington's defense, throwing for 319 yards and 2 touchdowns. The secondary has struggled against opposing number one receivers, with Stefon Diggs, A.J. Brown, DJ Moore, and Drake London all recording 100-yard games. Notably, Moore had a massive performance with 230 yards and 3 touchdowns, while Brown contributed 175 yards and 2 touchdowns. This team has talent, especially on the outside corners, with Benjamin St-Juste and Kendall Fuller. Still, they have some massive holes, particularly at slot corner as Danny Johnson has replaced the benched Emmanuel Forbes. At the same time, at safety, Percy Butler has been forced to take on a more prominent role with Darrick Forest placed on IR.
Continue reading this content with a PRO subscription.
"Footballguys is the best premium
fantasy football only site on the planet."
Matthew Berry, NBC Sports EDGE