Fantasy Football: QB matchups, streamer of the week, Week 6 rankings and more

2MA298F Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow (9) looks to throw a pass during the first half of an NFL football game against the Cleveland Browns in Cleveland, Monday, Oct. 31, 2022. (AP Photo/David Richard)

QB Joe Burrow (68.6 PFF passing grade), Cincinnati Bengals vs. Seattle Seahawks: Burrow’s play improves and his calf strain heals.

• QB Geno Smith (76.7 PFF passing grade), Seattle Seahawks @ Cincinnati Bengals: Head coach Pete Carroll will rely on the run game against Cincinnati.

• Dominate your fantasy league in 2023: For up-to-date fantasy draft rankings and projections, check out PFF’s fantasy rankings tool!

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

NFL Week 6 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 Joe Burrow, Cincinnati Bengals vs. Seattle Seahawks

Burrow (68.6 PFF passing grade, calf strain) stormed to a triumphant mid-tier QB1 (24.4 fantasy points) Week 5 finish, showcasing an ability to throw on the run that eluded him in Weeks 1-4. Among 30 NFL quarterbacks to attempt a Week 5 throw while scrambling or rolling outside the pocket, Burrow’s 84.7 PFF passing grade on throws outside the pocket and 20.0% big-time-throw rate rank Nos. 2 and 3, respectively. Burrow is a high-end QB1 against Seattle’s fraudulent defense.

PFF’s OL/DL matchup chart gives Cincinnati a moderate 8.0% pass-blocking matchup advantage rating.

FanDuel implies Cincinnati to score 24.25 points.

Seattle’s pass rush has performed to the level its opponents allow, registering an 85.6 PFF pass-rush grade against the New York Giants (26.3 PFF pass-blocking grade) and Carolina Panthers’ (48.5 PFF pass-blocking grade) bottom-dwelling offensive lines and a 58.1 PFF pass-rush grade against the Los Angeles Rams’ (40.3 PFF pass-blocking grade) mid-tier and Detroit Lions’ (76.2 PFF pass-blocking grade) elite units.

Cincinnati’s (55.3 PFF pass-blocking grade) offensive line is up to the task, existing in a tier between Detroit’s and the remaining four.

Seattle’s Weeks 1-5 opposing offensive line season-long data.
NFL OL Pass-Blocking Pass-Block Win % QB Pressure % Allowed
Los Angeles Rams 81.3 33.3%
Detroit Lions 88.1 22.0%
Carolina Panthers 80.8 35.8%
New York Giants 74.3 44.0%
Cincinnati Bengals 84.8 26.2%

Seattle’s talented secondary is exploitable. No. 1 cornerback Tariq Woolen’s (67.1 PFF perimeter-coverage grade) 80.0% catch rate allowed ties for No. 59 among 60 NFL perimeter cornerbacks with at least 75 perimeter-coverage snaps, and fellow perimeter cornerback Michael Jackson’s (68.3 PFF perimeter-coverage grade) 72.7% ranks only 11 spots better.

Seattle rookie slot cornerback Devon Witherspoon (85.2 PFF slot-coverage grade) is playing well but is one of three players tied for No. 17 with a 75.0% catch rate allowed among 41 NFL slot cornerbacks with at least 35 slot-coverage snaps.

Seattle safety-trio starters Quandre Diggs (48.6 PFF coverage grade) and Julian Love (52.4 PFF coverage grade) both grade out as bottom-12 players among 69 NFL safeties with at least 100 coverage snaps. A knee injury and a concussion have limited former first-team All-Pro safety Jamal Adams (78.4 PFF coverage grade) to just four coverage snaps.

Burrow is a mid-to-high QB1.

QB Matthew Stafford, Los Angeles Rams vs. Arizona Cardinals

Stafford (79.2 PFF offense grade) returns to this section armed with No. 1 wide receiver Cooper Kupp (80.5 PFF receiving grade, hamstring strain) in tow, following Kupp’s successful Week 5 return to play. Four of five NFL quarterbacks to face Arizona’s injury-plagued defense totaled 249 passing yards or more.

Arizona interior defender Jonathan Ledbetter (70.7 PFF pass-rush grade, finger) missed Weeks 4-5, four-time-defending Pro Bowl safety Budda Baker (67.3 PFF coverage grade) is on injured reserve, and safety/starting slot defender Jalen Thompson (69.0 PFF slot-coverage grade) suffered a Week 5 hamstring strain.

PFF’s OL/DL matchup chart gives Los Angeles a moderate 9.0 pass-blocking matchup advantage rating.

FanDuel implies Los Angeles to score a sky-high 26.75 points.

With Kupp back in the fold, Stafford is free to carve up defenses with the league’s most efficient Nos. 1 and 2 wide receiver duo. Among 95 NFL wide receivers with at least 40 receiving snaps and 12 targets, Kupp and Puka Nacua (82.8 PFF receiving grade) rank top 12 in both yards per route run (2.88 and 2.72, respectively (YPRR)) and target rate (31.7% and 29.0%, respectively). Both players earned double-digit Week 5 target sums.

Among 27 NFL quarterbacks with at least 15 Week 5 dropbacks, Stafford produced tied for top-two past-the-sticks throwing (48.6%) and average-time-to-throw (2.26 seconds) rates against Philadelphia’s (71.9 PFF defense grade) No. 14-graded defense.

Stafford has an easy path to a mid-tier QB1 Week 6 finish.


QB Matchups to Avoid

QB Deshaun Watson, Cleveland Browns vs. San Francisco 49ers

Watson (69.1 PFF passing grade) remains suspiciously sidelined by a shoulder contusion despite sitting out Week 4 and having the Week 5 bye to heal. Should the pressure-sensitive Watson choose to suit up in Week 6, he must play host to San Francisco’s top-graded defensive line (91.2 PFF pass-rush grade).

Update 10/14/23: Watson has been ruled out.

FanDuel implies Cleveland to score just 17.0 points.

PFF’s OL/DL matchup chart gives Cleveland a -49.0% pass-blocking matchup advantage rating, the second-worst on the week. Knee and chest injuries forced center Ethan Pocic (65.1 PFF pass-blocking grade) from the team’s Week 4 contest, 31-year-old left guard Joel Bitonio (74.1 PFF pass-blocking grade) plays through an ankle sprain while right tackle Jack Conklin (78.9 PFF pass-blocking grade) resides on injured reserve.

Among 34 NFL quarterbacks with at least 25 pressured dropbacks, Watson’s 39.6 PFF pressured passing grade, 6.0% turnover-worthy play rate and 5.0 yards per passing attempt rank No. 25 or worse.

The San Francisco defensive line’s (90.9 PFF defense grade) 70.2% pass-rush win rate leads by 4.1% among NFL-team defensive lines and their 37.3% quarterback pressure rate ranks No. 2.

Watson cannot be started even in two-quarterback leagues.

QB Geno Smith, Seattle Seahawks @ Cincinnati Bengals

Seattle head coach Pete Carroll will build the Week 6 game plan around Cincinnati’s (51.4 PFF run-defense grade) No. 31-ranked 5.22-yard average depth of tackle as Smith (76.7 PFF passing grade) works through a Week 4 knee injury, playing behind an injury-plagued offensive line. Carroll coyly asserted Smith is “fine,” but Carroll’s long history of injury-related media misdirection looms large.

PFF’s OL/DL matchup chart gives Seattle a worrying -5.0% pass-blocking matchup advantage rating. Left tackle Charles Cross (87.9 PFF pass-blocking grade, toe injury) resumed practicing on Wednesday but right tackle Abraham Lucas (76.2 PFF pass-blocking grade) remains stuck on injured reserve.

Carroll uninspiringly informed reporters that guards Damien Lewis (PFF pass-blocking grade, ankle sprain) and Phil Haynes (PFF pass-blocking grade, calf strain) “have a chance to be OK this week” after they exited the team’s Week 4 game against the New York Giants.

Among 56 NFL running backs with at least 20 rushing attempts, Seattle No. 1 running back Ken Walker III’s (77.6 PFF rushing grade) 0.3 missed tackles forced per rushing attempt tie for No. 4, and his 3.3 yards after contact per rushing attempt rank No. 14. No. 2 running back Zach Charbonnet (79.3 PFF rushing grade) pens an impressive resumé in his change-of-pace role. Both his 5.0 yards per rushing attempt and 3.2 yards after contact per rushing attempt rank top 16 and his 19.5% explosive run play rate ranks No. 6.

Smith’s timid 2023 passing profile is at disadvantageous against the Cincinnati cornerback corps’ No. 1-ranked 3.77 yards allowed per wide receiver-coverage snap and No. 3-ranked 8.9% explosive wide receiver-passing plays allowed rate, ranked among NFL-team cornerback units.

Among 33 NFL quarterbacks with at least 100 dropbacks, Smith’s 2.2% big-time-throw rate and 30.9% past-the-sticks throwing rate both rank bottom five.

Smith is a capped-ceiling QB2.


Streamer of the Week

QB Bryce Young, Carolina Panthers @ Miami Dolphins

Carolina quarterback Bryce Young (49.3 PFF passing grade) can dink and dunk his way to a QB1 finish against Miami’s quarterback-friendly defense. He possesses multi-touchdown fantasy football upside reinforced by a slippery rushing ability.

The game’s 48.5-point FanDuel over/under is tied for second-highest on the week.

Young emerged from his Week 3 absence (ankle sprain), demonstrating lethality in the quick-passing game. Young’s Weeks 4-5 96.0% adjusted completion rate on throws one-to-nine yards downfield ranks No. 1 among 31 NFL quarterbacks with at least 10 such passing attempts and he completed a perfect 19-of-19 such attempts to the wide receiver position.

Young’s 2.63-second average time to throw (No. 11) is markedly faster than the 3.20-second rate he averaged prior to the injury.

Miami cornerbacks struggle to contain short-area passes to opposing wide receivers, ranking bottom three among NFL-team cornerback units in catch rate allowed (93.3%), yards allowed per coverage snap (6.56) and explosive pass plays allowed rate (11.6%).

Young’s short-area advantage will come to lever in scoring position. No. 1 running back Miles Sanders’ (47.9 PFF rushing grade) nagging groin strain has likely caused head coach Frank Reich to rely on Young in the green zone; Young’s 10 green zone dropbacks in Weeks 4-5 lead among NFL quarterbacks.

The diminutive Young (5-foot-1, 204 pounds) runs sparingly yet effectively. Among 32 NFL quarterbacks with at least eight rushing attempts, he ranks No. 1 in yards per rushing attempt (8.1 yards), No. 2 in missed tackles forced per rushing attempt (0.63) and No. 4 in yards after contact per rushing attempt (4.1).

Quarterback-needy fantasy managers can count on Young in Week 5.

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