Fantasy Football: QB matchups, streamer of the week, Week 2 rankings and more

2RT3C40 New Orleans Saints quarterback Derek Carr (4) warms up before an NFL football game against the Tennessee Titans in New Orleans, Sunday, Sept. 10, 2023. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

• QB Derek Carr (68.4 PFF passing grade), New Orleans Saints @ Carolina Panthers: He threw for over 300 yards last week, but the fantasy community remains incorrectly low on Carr due to his one-touchdown result.

• QB Kenny Pickett (52.8 PFF offense grade), Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Cleveland Browns: His initial showing points to a second-year flop.

• QB C.J. Stroud (55.2 PFF offense grade), Houston Texans vs. Indianapolis Colts: He will pick apart Indianapolis’ bottom-barrel cornerback group.

Estimated reading time: 10 minutes

NFL Week 2 action is here. For fantasy football managers who passed on the elite quarterback tier, start-and-sit decisions must now be made. Below are two quarterbacks with advantageous matchups to target, two quarterbacks with difficult matchups to avoid and one streaming option possessing a top-12 finish in his range of outcomes. 

WR:CB Matchup Chart

QB matchups to target

QB Derek Carr, New Orleans Saints @ Carolina Panthers

New Orleans’ passing game enters Week 2 severely underrated after hanging 305 passing yards on a tough Tennessee Titans defense while scoring just one passing touchdown. Carr (68.4 PFF passing grade) is in prime position to exploit Carolina’s explosive-play-friendly defense.

FanDuel implies New Orleans to score a helpful 21.75 points. 

Carr’s Week 1 passing data among 32 NFL quarterbacks with at least 10 dropbacks.
2023 NFL QB Passing Derek Carr
PFF Passing Grade 68.4 (No. 13)
Big-Time-Throw % 5.9% (No. 5)
Turnover-Worthy Play % 2.6% (No. 15)
Adjusted Completion % 71.9% (No. 24)
aDot 12.3 (No. 2)
Yds/Att. 9.2 (No. 2)
Past-The-Sticks Throw % 48.5% (No. 4)
Avg. Time to Throw 2.89 (No. 20)

Carolina will be without No. 1 cornerback Jaycee Horn (68.0 PFF coverage grade), who suffered a Week 1 hamstring strain, leaving big-play turnstile C.J. Henderson (43.5 PFF coverage grade) to man the perimeter across from mid-tier No. 2 cornerback Donte Jackson (69.2 PFF coverage grade). Among 84 NFL cornerbacks with at least 300 coverage snaps in 2022, Henderson’s 2.6% explosive 15-plus-yard pass plays allowed rate ranks No. 55. He continued the trend in Week 1, allowing an 8.3% explosive 15-plus-yard pass plays allowed rate.

Carolina rotates cornerback Troy Hill (77.0 PFF slot-coverage grade) and safety Jeremy Chinn (64.5 PFF slot-coverage grade) in slot coverage. Hill played well for the Los Angeles Rams last year, but Chinn’s dreadful 78.9% slot-catch rate allowed and 1.35 yards allowed per slot-coverage snap in 2022 offer a clear runway for New Orleans slot receivers. 

New Orleans’ speed-demon wide receivers Chris Olave (81.4 PFF receiving grade) and Rashid Shaheed (76.5 PFF receiving grade) posted points-per-reception (PPR) WR1 finishes in Week 1 and are repeat-ready for Week 2. The duo notched three explosive 15-plus-yard pass plays apiece in Week 1, tying for No. 6 among 43 NFL wide receivers with at least six targets. Both registered at least a 27.0% pre-snap alignment rate at all three wide receiver spots, allowing them regular access to both Henderson and Chinn. No. 3 wide receiver Michael Thomas (65.9 PFF receiving grade) posted a respectable 71.4% catch rate (tied for No. 17 among qualifying receivers).

Carolina was hopeless against the Atlanta Falcons’ pass-catching running backs, allowing a 100.0% catch rate on nine targets, tied for fifth most in Week 1. The unit ranked bottom four against Atlanta tight ends, surrendering 14.67 yards allowed per coverage snap and a 33.3% explosive 15-plus-yard pass plays allowed rate.

Temporary No. 1 running back Jamaal Williams (56.7 PFF receiving grade) lacks passing-game dynamism but runs routes responsibly and offers Carr sure hands; his 100.0% catch rate tied for No. 1 among 50 NFL running backs with at least two Week 1 targets.

Tight end Juwan Johnson (61.3 PFF receiving grade) is one of just 17 NFL tight ends to earn five or more Week 1 targets. His 6.7 yards after the catch per reception rank No. 3 among the qualifying tight ends.

Right tackle Ryan Ramczyk (75.1 PFF pass-blocking grade) registered a top-15 pass-block efficiency rating among 58 tackles with at least 25 pass-blocking snaps. PFF’s OL/DL matchup chart gives New Orleans a 4.0% pass-blocking matchup advantage rating.

Carr is a QB1 with 300-plus-yard, multi-touchdown potential against Carolina in Week 2.

QB Jordan Love, Green Bay Packers @ Atlanta Falcons

Love (60.8 PFF offense grade) makes his second consecutive appearance here after delivering a top-three Week 1 fantasy finish despite playing without his No. 1 wide receiver Christian Watson (56.1 PFF 2023 preseason receiving grade, hamstring strain). Watson believes there is “a lot better chance” he plays in Week 2.

FanDuel implies Green Bay to score 21 points. 

Among 32 NFL quarterbacks with at least 10 dropbacks, Love produced top-five results in aDot (10.6), yards per passing attempt (9.1) and past-the-stick throwing rate (51.8%).

PFF’s OL/DL matchup chart gives Green Bay a 40.0% pass-blocking matchup advantage rating, second-best on the week. Tackles David Bakhtiari (89.9 PFF pass-blocking grade) and Zach Tom (83.6 PFF pass-blocking grade) allowed perfect 0.0% quarterback pressure ratings and 100.0% pass-block efficiency ratings en route to top-eight PFF pass-block grades among 66 NFL tackles with at least 10 pass-blocking snaps. Atlanta’s 29.0% quarterback pressure rate tied for seventh-worst among NFL teams.

Atlanta’s coverage unit possesses significantly exploitable holes. Injury-plagued starting cornerback Jeff Okudah (54.4 PFF 2022 coverage grade) has yet to practice since suffering a combination foot/ankle injury on August 4th and starting slot cornerback Dee Alford (64.4 PFF slot-coverage grade) failed to improve on his dreadful 2022 campaign, allowing five-of-five targets thrown into his primary slot coverage to be completed. His 1.25 yards allowed per slot-coverage snap ranks No. 20 among 28 NFL cornerbacks with at least 10 slot-coverage snaps.

Tight end Luke Musgrave (63.3 PFF offense grade) is Love’s No. 1 pass-catcher mismatch, facing Atlanta’s abysmal linebacker corps. Carolina tight end Hayden Hurst (71.9 PFF receiving grade) appeared in the Week 1 DFS Cheat Sheet due to this matchup and scored 15.1 PPR points, good for the overall TE2 finish. Musgrave’s 2.08 YPRR led the position by 0.50 yards among 23 NFL tight ends with at least four targets.

Love (6-foot-4, 219 pounds) toasted would-be tacklers on the ground, forcing one missed tackle per rushing attempt. 

Love’s Week 1 rushing data among 24 NFL quarterbacks with at least three rushing attempts.
2023 NFL QB Rushing Jordan Love
PFF Rushing Grade 67.5 (No. 7)
YPC  4.0 (T-No. 10)
Missed Tackles Forced 3 (No. 2)
Yards After Contact per Rush Att. 7.0 (No. 2)
1st-Dwn + TD % 33.3% (T-No. 6)

No. 1 running back Aaron Jones (75.2 PFF rushing grade) suffered a hamstring strain in Green Bay’s win, putting his Week 2 availability in jeopardy. A limited-or-absent Jones would push more rushing work onto Love’s plate. 

Love is a rock-solid QB1 for Week 2. 

QB matchups to avoid

QB Zach Wilson, New York Jets @ Dallas Cowboys

Wilson (49.6 PFF passing grade) played well in Aaron Rodgers’ (41.1 PFF passing grade, Achilles rupture) relief, manufacturing an 88.2% adjusted completion rate (No. 3 among 32 NFL quarterbacks with at least 10 dropbacks) by focusing on short-area targets. He is a decent season-long waiver wire pickup given his surrounding cast but cannot be trusted against Dallas’ NFL-best defense.

Wilson piloted his team to an overtime win despite his 30th-ranked 4.6-yard average depth of target (aDot). Dallas’ defense feasted on the New York Giants’ short-area throws passing game, boding poorly for Wilson. 

Dallas’ coverage data on throws with a one-to-nine-yard aDot among NFL teams.
NFL Team Short-Area Coverage Dallas Cowboys
PFF Short-Area Coverage Grade 84.2 (No. 2)
Catch % Allowed 55.6% (No. 8)
Forced Incompletion % 22.2% (T-No. 6)
Interceptions per Target 11.1% (No. 2)

PFF’s OL/DL matchup chart gives Wilson’s offensive line a -30.0% pass-blocking matchup advantage rating, third-worst among NFL teams. Dallas’ 42.0% quarterback pressure rate last week led the league by 3.0%. Among 80 edge rushers with at least 15 pass-rush snaps, Dallas’ Dorance Armstrong (90.0 PFF pass-rush grade), Micah Parsons (87.7 PFF pass-rush grade) and Sam Williams (74.2 PFF pass-rush grade) registered top-16 PFF pass-rush grades, producing 15 combined quarterback pressures. Among 85 interior defenders with at least 15 pass-rush snaps, Dallas’ Chauncey Golston (89.5 PFF pass-rush grade) and Osa Odighizuwa (73.2 PFF pass-rush grade) both ranked top 20 in PFF pass-rush grades, combining for eight quarterback pressures.

Wilson stands little chance of producing a usable fantasy football score, even in two-quarterback and superflex formats.

QB Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Cleveland Browns

Pittsburgh’s quarterback Kenny Pickett (52.8 PFF offense grade) failed to make a Week 1 second-year leap, finishing as the QB20 against the San Francisco 49ers. San Francisco’s defense is notably talented, but Cleveland’s is no less so. The unit stonewalled Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow (45.2 PFF passing grade), limiting him to 82 scoreless passing yards on 2.6 yards per passing attempt. Pickett cannot be trusted against Cleveland’s top-tier defense. 

The game’s 39.5-point over/under is tied for the Week’s lowest projected total and Pittsburgh is implied to score just 18.5 points. 

Pickett’s Week 1 passing data among 32 NFL quarterbacks with at least 10 dropbacks.
2023 NFL QB Passing Kenny Pickett
PFF Passing Grade 53.4 (No. 22)
Big-Time-Throw % 0.0% (T-No. 19)
Turnover-Worthy Play % 3.7% (No. 19)
Adjusted Completion % 72.7% (No. 23)
aDot 7.4 (No. 18)
Yds/Att. 5.0 (No. 27)
Past-The-Sticks Throw % 41.3% (No. 15)
Avg. Time to Throw 2.85 (No. 17)

PFF’s OL/DL matchup chart gives Pittsburgh a league-worst -61.0% pass-blocking matchup advantage rating. Among 80 edge rushers with at least 15 pass-rush snaps, Cleveland’s Myles Garrett (90.3 PFF pass-rush grade and 23.1% quarterback pressure rate) and Za’Darius Smith (84.4 PFF pass-rush grade and 24.0% quarterback pressure rate) rank top 12 in both PFF pass-rush grade and quarterback pressure rate.

Pittsburgh lost No. 1 wide receiver Diontae Johnson (70.0 PFF receiving grade) to a multi-week hamstring strain over the weekend, leaving Pickett without his top option against a Cleveland cornerback trio who limited opposing wide receivers to league-low rates in catch rate allowed (28.6%), yards allowed per coverage snap (1.37) and explosive 15-plus-yard pass plays allowed rate (0.0%).

Pickett (58.3 PFF rushing grade) flashed scrambling smarts last year, averaging a first-down gained or rushing-touchdown scored on 43.6% of rushing attempts, ranking No. 4 among 33 NFL quarterbacks with at least 25 rushing attempts in 2022. He produced just one rushing attempt for four yards in Week 1, revealing his rushing floor to be a trapdoor.

Pickett is a borderline QB2/3 for Week 2. 

Streamer of the Week

QB C.J. Stroud, Houston Texans vs. Indianapolis Colts

Update 9/17/23: Quarterback C.J. Stroud produced a “Limited Participant” practice designation on Friday due to a sore throwing shoulder. He successfully progressed through pre-game warmups this morning and is officially active. He remains the streamer of the week. 

As detailed in last week’s “Three WR/CB Matchups to Target and Avoid” piece, Indianapolis’ cornerbacks Darrell Baker Jr. (41.6 PFF perimeter-coverage grade) and Dallis Flowers (58.2 PFF perimeter-coverage grade) make up the league’s worst perimeter-coverage duo. Slot cornerback Kenny Moore (57.1 PFF slot-coverage grade) is only mildly superior. Jacksonville perimeter wide receivers averaged 4.00 yards per route run (YPRR) against Indianapolis in Week 1, No. 7 among NFL teams. Houston quarterback C.J. Stroud (55.2 PFF offense grade) is a viable QB1 streamer against Indianapolis’ dismal defense.

PFF’s OL matchup chart gives Houston an 18.0% pass-blocking matchup advantage rating, No. 10 on the week. Indianapolis generated quarterback pressure at a 29.0% rate last week, tying for seventh-worst among NFL teams.

Stroud delivered promising results in his NFL debut against the Baltimore Ravens, ranking 18th or better (minimum 10 dropbacks) in adjusted completion rate (74.4%), past-the-sticks throwing rate (40.9%), average time to throw (2.70 seconds) and turnover-worthy play rate (3.4%). Head coach DeMeco Ryans smartly called an 18th-ranked 24.1% play-action rate and showed trust in Stroud by giving him the league’s second-highest dropback total (54).

Indianapolis posted league-worst defensive rates against play-action passes, surrendering 8.13 yards allowed per coverage snap and a 25.0% explosive 15-plus-yard pass plays allowed rate. Their 28.3 PFF play-action coverage grade ranked dead last by a 1.8-point margin. 

Stroud’s fantasy-friendly four scrambles tied for No. 4 overall. He proficiently averaged 5.0 yards per rushing attempt, ranking No. 8 among 24 NFL quarterbacks with at least three rushing attempts and his 25.0% first-down-or-touchdown-gained rate tied for No. 13. Indianapolis allowed a 50.0% touchdown rate on rushing attempts inside its five-yard line last week, tied for fourth-highest among NFL teams.

Houston wide receiver Nico Collins is among 12 NFL wide receivers to earn at least eight perimeter-route targets last week. His 2.28 perimeter YPRR rank No. 7.

Veteran wide receiver Robert Woods is among just 13 NFL wide receivers to earn at least 10 targets in Week 1. He impressively produced 3.8 yards after the catch per reception (tied for No. 7) and earned a 25.0% target rate (TR, No. 11).

Third-round rookie wide receiver Tank Dell (68.2 PFF receiving grade) produced a 1.50-second 10-yard split in the 40-yard dash and is a good bet to show up as an explosive 15-plus-yard pass-play producer. 


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