Estimated reading time: 8 minutes
NFL Week 3 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.
QB Matchups to Target
Cousins (76.4 PFF passing grade) has strong odds of maintaining his fantasy football overall QB1 (45.02 points) status against the NFL’s most quarterback-friendly defense (9.49 yards allowed per coverage snap). Cousins’ 8.1 yards per passing attempt rank No. 3 among 33 NFL quarterbacks with at least 25 dropbacks.
The game’s 54.5-point FanDuel over/under is the only game to hit 49.0 or higher.
PFF’s OL/DL matchup chart gives Minnesota a 15.0% pass-blocking matchup advantage rating, ranking No. 7 among NFL teams.
Cousins picked apart the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (60.7 PFF coverage grade) and Philadelphia Eagles (67.0 PFF coverage grade) defenses, totaling 340-plus yards and multiple touchdowns in both games. No. 1 wide receiver Justin Jefferson’s (87.6 PFF receiving grade) 309 receiving yards leads among NFL wide receivers and rookie wide receiver Jordan Addison (66.7 PFF receiving grade) pocketed explosive 15-plus-yard receiving touchdowns both weeks.
Three-of-four cornerbacks in Los Angeles’ four-player rotation bear sub-55.0 PFF coverage grades. Among 99 NFL cornerbacks with at least 25 coverage snaps, all four rank outside the top 60 in both yards allowed per coverage snap and explosive 15-plus-yard pass plays allowed rate.
Los Angeles linebacker Eric Kendricks’ (50.1 PFF coverage grade) availability is in jeopardy after registering three straight Week 2 “did not participate” designations (hamstring strain/personal). Fellow starting linebacker Kenneth Murray Jr.’s (54.9 PFF tight end coverage grade) fails to instill fear for Minnesota tight end T.J. Hockenson (79.7 PFF receiving grade), whose 93.8% catch rate leads among 13 NFL tight ends with at least 10 targets.
Cousins will push for a top-five finish.
Stafford’s (80.6 PFF offense grade) 647 passing yards rank No. 3 among NFL quarterbacks. He enters Week 3 with a winnable matchup against Cincinnati’s accommodating defense.
The game’s 44.5-point FanDuel over/under is fantasy-friendly.
PFF’s OL/DL matchup chart gives Los Angeles a mid-tier -2.0% pass-blocking matchup advantage rating against a Cincinnati defensive line, which generates a 24.3% quarterback pressure rate, tied at No. 25 among NFL teams.
Stafford’s 2023 passing data among 33 NFL quarterbacks with at least 25 dropbacks.
|2023 NFL QB Passing||Matthew Stafford|
|PFF Passing Grade||79.9 (No. 4)|
|Big-Time-Throw %||7.3% (No. 3)|
|Turnover-Worthy Play %||2.0% (No. 8)|
|Adjusted Completion %||76.5% (No. 14)|
|aDot||8.7 (No. 9)|
|Yards per Pass Att.||7.0 (No. 15)|
|Past-The-Sticks Throwing %||45.2% (No. 7)|
|Average Time to Throw||2.58 (No. 9)|
Stafford’s reinvigoration following an injury-ruined 2022 yields elite pocket navigation, as he has taken just one sack and has scrambled five times. Through Weeks 1-2 2022, Stafford suffered eight sacks and escaped via scramble just once. His improved mobility helps breathe life into waning drives; Stafford’s (64.2 PFF rushing grade) 28.6% first-down gained and/or touchdown scored rate ties for No. 14 among 23 NFL quarterbacks with at least six rushing attempts.
Stafford’s elite weapons are perfectly molded to exploit Cincinnati’s defensive deficiencies. Record-setting inside/outside rookie wide receiver Puka Nacua (83.2 PFF receiving grade) continues his offensive rookie of the year campaign against perimeter cornerback Cam Taylor-Britt (73.2 PFF perimeter coverage grade) and slot defensive back Mike Hilton (55.1 PFF slot-coverage grade). Taylor-Britt’s 1.44 yards allowed per coverage snap and 3.2% explosive 15-plus-yard pass plays allowed rate rank outside the top 40 among 69 NFL perimeter cornerbacks with at least 25 perimeter-coverage snaps, and Hilton has allowed completions on five-of-six slot wide receiver targets thrown into his coverage. His 3.19 yards allowed per slot-coverage snap against slot receivers ranks 32nd among 34 NFL slot defensive backs with at least 15 such snaps.
Nacua’s 37.9% target rate ranks No. 1 among 96 NFL wide receivers with at least 30 receiving snaps, and both his 3.06 yards per route run (YPRR) and five explosive 15-plus-yard pass plays rank top seven.
No. 1 cornerback Chidobe Awuzie (62.1 PFF coverage grade) is playing well while working to regain his sea legs after tearing his right ACL in Week 8 2022.
Los Angeles wide receiver Tutu Atwell (76.8 PFF receiving grade) maintains a top-25 2.09 YPRR and a 23.5% deep-target rate through two weeks among qualifying NFL wide receivers.
Cincinnati is one of six NFL teams to allow a 100.0% running back-target catch rate. Los Angeles No. 1 running back Kyren Williams (42.7 PFF receiving grade) played backfield mate Cam Akers (64.3 PFF offense grade) out of a job in just one week. Williams’ 11 targets tie for the positional lead among 34 NFL running backs with at least 25 receiving snaps and his 10.5 yards after the catch per reception (YAC/Rec.) ranks No. 5.
QB Matchups to Avoid
PFF’s OL/DL matchup chart gives Chicago a -17.0% pass-blocking matchup advantage rating, Week 3’s sixth-worst rating.
Fields’ scattered decision-making when faced with pass-rush pressure has resulted in the league’s second-highest sack total (10), and Kansas City’s 2022 All-Pro interior defender Chris Jones (92.8 PFF defense grade) ended his holdout in time to win Week 2 triple-crown positional-highs with a 91.6 PFF pass-rush grade, 1.5 NFL sacks and a 40.7% pass-rush win rate among NFL interior defenders with at least 10 snaps.
Fields will struggle to improve both his No. 25-ranked 72.9% adjusted completion rate and his No. 33-ranked 22.7% past-the-sticks throwing rate when firing passes to his one-man-show wide receiver corps (D.J. Moore (69.0 PFF receiving grade)). Kansas City cornerback L’Jarius Sneed (52.3 PFF coverage grade) shadowed limping Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Calvin Ridley (65.8 PFF receiving grade) last week, limiting Ridley to two receptions for 32 receiving yards on eight targets.
Should Chicago offensive coordinator Luke Getsy scheme Moore away from Sneed, Moore will contend with stud youngsters, perimeter cornerback Joshua Williams (53.6 PFF perimeter-coverage grade) and slot-cornerback-convert Trent McDuffie (79.2 PFF coverage grade). Among 69 NFL perimeter cornerbacks with at least 25 perimeter-coverage snaps, Williams’ 25.0% perimeter catch rate allowed ranks No. 4. McDuffie’s 90.2 PFF slot-coverage grade is the only such grade over 88.0 among 33 NFL slot cornerbacks with at least 15 slot-coverage snaps.
Fields’ big-play rushing potential remains intact but it will be difficult for him to find his ceiling without at least moderate passing production.
Watson‘s (63.5 PFF offense grade) passing ability has largely evaporated. Among 33 NFL quarterbacks with at least 25 dropbacks, Watson’s 5.6 yards per passing attempt and 66.5% adjusted completion rate both rank outside the top 30. His QB15 (32.26 fantasy points) status is directly attributable to his still-capable rushing ways, but Tennessee’s (68.2 PFF run-defense grade) elite run defense makes Watson a total Week 3-avoid.
Watson’s No. 1 wide receiver Amari Cooper (79.3 PFF receiving grade) carries a 7.9% re-injury rate due to a nagging groin strain, per DPT Adam Hutchison’s Injury Report, and the position typically takes a 29.7% fantasy-point production hit while working through it.
PFF’s OL/DL matchup chart gives Cleveland a mid-tier 4.0% pass-blocking matchup advantage rating and a highly problematic -23.0% run-blocking matchup advantage rating.
Watson keeps drives alive with his top-five (among 18 NFL quarterbacks with at least seven rushing attempts) 41.7% first-down gained and/or touchdown scored rate but Tennessee’s defense specializes in negating this occurrence. Their 35 run-defense stops, resulting in an offensive failure, and 2.75-yard average depth of tackle both rank top three among NFL teams.
No. 1 running back Nick Chubb (81.8 PFF rushing grade) was tragically lost for the year following a gruesome Monday Night Football knee dislocation and multi-ligament tear. His loss similarly neutralizes Cleveland’s chain-moving ability. Among 27 NFL running backs with at least 25 rushing attempts, his 28.6% first-down gained and/or touchdown scored rate ties for No. 6.
Tennessee’s defense has successfully prevented all opposing rushing offenses from scoring inside Tennessee’s five-yard line.
Watson should not be started in single-quarterback leagues and makes for a zero-floor two-quarterback league option.
Streamer of the Week
Stroud (60.7 PFF offense grade) makes his second consecutive appearance as PFF’s “Streamer of the Week” after tallying a league-high 109 dropbacks in Weeks 1-2. Stroud is a fantasy football QB1 against Jacksonville.
The game offers fantasy managers a moderate 44.5-point FanDuel over/under.
PFF’s OL/DL matchup chart gives Houston a 14.0% pass-blocking matchup advantage rating against Jacksonville’s fifth-least efficient (22.8% quarterback pressure rate) pass rush. The rating ties for No. 8.
Stroud’s 2023 passing data among 33 NFL quarterbacks with at least 25 dropbacks.
|2023 NFL QB Passing||C.J. Stroud|
|PFF Passing Grade||60.2 (No. 24)|
|Big-Time-Throw %||1.0% (No. 29)|
|Turnover-Worthy Play %||2.6% (No. 16)|
|Passing Yards||626 (No. 4)|
|Adjusted Completion %||73.3% (No. 24)|
|aDot||8.2 (No. 13)|
|Yards per Pass Att.||6.9 (No. 16)|
|Past-The-Sticks Throwing %||47.3 % (No. 3)|
|Average Time to Throw||2.69 (No. 15)|
As detailed for Week 2, Houston X-wide receiver Nico Collins (86.4 PFF receiving grade) is forging an uncommon third-year breakout. He is flanked by reliable veteran Robert Woods (66.7 PFF receiving grade) and ascending rookie Tank Dell (71.0 PFF receiving grade), whose 22.2% target rate trailed only Collins’ 22.5% in Week 2.
Jacksonville perimeter cornerbacks Tyson Campbell (72.8 PFF coverage grade) and Darious Williams (79.4 PFF coverage grade) and slot cornerback Tre Herndon (75.5 PFF coverage grade) all rank outside the top 50 in catch rate allowed among 99 NFL cornerbacks with at least 25 coverage snaps.
Houston’s tight end trio led by Dalton Schultz (45.5 PFF receiving grade) can exploit Jacksonville’s perennially accommodating linebacker corps, whose 39.8 PFF tight end coverage grade and 128.0 NFL passer rating when targeted both rank No. 31. Speedy tight end Brevin Jordan (66.6 PFF receiving grade, 1.59-second 10-yard split in the 40-yard dash) brings explosive-pass-play potential.
Jacksonville’s 4.00-yard average depth of tackle on quarterback rushing attempts ties for No. 24 among NFL-team defensive fronts. Stroud’s 3.5 rushing attempts per game should yield positive results.
He is a QB1 entering Week 3.