Fantasy Football: Week 1 OL/DL Matchups to target and avoid

2KP7T5Y Philadelphia, United States. 28th Nov, 2022. Green Bay Packers Jordan Love throws a pass in the 4th quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles in week 12 of the NFL season at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia on Sunday, November 27, 2022. The Eagles defeated the Packers 40-33. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI Credit: UPI/Alamy Live News

• Betting on Jordan Love to keep his strong preseason momentum going: The Green Bay Packers offensive line holds a significant advantage against the Chicago Bears defensive line this week, which should allow Love time to operate in the pocket.

Jahan Dotson and the Washington Commanders draw a positive matchup: The Arizona Cardinals’ defense projects to be one of the better defensive line matchups to take advantage of this season.

• 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: 9 minutes

Whether you’re looking for some important tie-breakers in fantasy start/sit decisions or an advantage in DFS, knowing which players have the most and least beneficial matchups each week can help.

Understanding which teams have the advantage in the trenches can be a key to weekly fantasy football results. These are some of the more crucial matchups to be aware of as fantasy managers head into Week 1.

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Offensive line matchups to target

Green Bay Packers @ Chicago Bears

  • The Bears’ defensive line ranked dead last in PFF pass-rush grade last season (52.2).
  • Chicago has added improvements this year, including Yannick Ngakoue, but even he is coming off the worst pass-rush grade of his career in 2022 (56.9).
  • The Packers ranked third in pass-blocking grade last season (77.6).
  • Green Bay’s offensive line remains relatively intact after last season, including a healthy David Bakhtiari at left tackle, who earned an 87.8 pass-blocking grade (fifth) and didn’t allow a single QB hit or sack all of last season.
Key player(s) to target

QB Jordan Love, Green Bay Packers 

  • Love is set to take over for Aaron Rodgers as Green Bay’s new QB1, so there are going to be questions about how he’ll perform as an NFL starter for the full season, however, he is coming off an encouraging preseason.
  • Love posted a 77.9 passing grade (10th) through three preseason games on 37 dropbacks where he went 21-for-33 for 193 yards and three touchdowns, with no interceptions or turnover-worthy plays.
  • While his preseason performance shouldn’t be weighed too heavily, it’s also a big step in the right direction for a player who had struggled mightily in his two previous preseasons.
  • Going into Week 1 as one of the cheapest quarterback options in DFS, this is a great spot for Love to continue his momentum against a defense and defensive line that is expected to continue their struggles generating pressure in 2023.
  • Love is $6,400 on FanDuel – DFS

WR Christian Watson, Green Bay Packers 

  • Stacking Love with his top wide receiver here in DFS should be the play here, as long as Watson is active for this game, currently listed as questionable.
  • The last time Watson faced the Bears in Week 13 of 2022, he finished as the PPR WR8.
  • Watson is now set to be the clear No. 1 target in this Packers’ offense and should see even more volume come his way in 2023.
  • The Bears defensive line was among the worst in the league last season at generating quick pressures (fewer than 2.5 seconds), ranking 30th (16.4%) in that regard.
  • Love should have time to get the ball to his top target, and high ADoT wide receiver (14.3 in 2022), in order to create some of the big plays that he’s become known for early in his NFL career.
  • Watson is $6,300 on FanDuel – DFS

Minnesota Vikings versus Tampa Bay Buccaneers

  • The Buccaneers ranked 23rd last season in run defense grade (57.8).
  • Tampa Bay has not added any significant run defense help along their defensive line this offseason. 
  • Minnesota’s offensive line remains unchanged from last season where they ranked third in run-blocking grade (74.1).
Key player(s) to target

RB Alexander Mattison, Minnesota Vikings

  • Mattison is set to take over the RB1 role in Minnesota’s offense for the first time in his career, which should lead to a significant workload.
  • Mattison has performed well as a fantasy asset when starting in Dalvin Cook’s absence, averaging 89 rushing yards per game over his last four starts.
  • Mattison is also coming off a career-high PFF rushing grade (84.2) in 2022 and gets to start the season off with one of his best-expected matchups of the year.
  • Mattison has a +196 SGP – over 55.5 rushing yards + anytime TD – on DraftKings Sportsbook

Washington Commanders versus Arizona Cardinals

  • The Cardinals were a bottom-10 team in pass-rush grade last season (67.4) and may arguably be even worse this season after losing J.J. Watt and Zach Allen — their top two defensive linemen in pass-rush grade.
  • The Cardinals ranked tied for 26th last season in sacks per game (2.29), and as they’ve gotten arguably worse this season, that should only help Washington keep drives alive and add more volume to the Commanders’ fantasy production.
  • The Commanders have a lot of new faces along their offensive line but this looks to be a good matchup for them to start the year.
Key player(s) to target

WR Jahan Dotson, Washington Commanders 

  • Dotson could very well be the team’s top target in the passing game this week because Terry McLaurin is still considered questionable with a toe injury.
  • Dotson immediately became Sam Howell’s top target once McLaurin left the last preseason game with the starters, which bodes well for this connection to continue in Week 1, even if McLaurin does play and isn’t 100%.
  • With Sam Howell as the starter (Week 18-Preseason Week 2), Dotson earned the highest target rate (24.4%) among the team’s wide receivers when there was no pressure on the play.
  • Dotson is $6,100 on FanDuel – DFS

Miami Dolphins @ Los Angeles Chargers

  • The Dolphins ranked seventh in run-blocking grade (69.4) last season.
  • The Chargers ranked 30th in run defense grade last season (35.3).
Key player(s) to target

RB Raheem Mostert, Miami Dolphins

  • The Dolphins’ offensive line should hold a significant edge in the trenches, especially in the run game for this one.
  • Miami’s offensive line ranked 11th in rushing yards generated before contact per attempt (1.5).
  • The Chargers ranked 30th in rushing yards before contact allowed per attempt (1.8).
  • Last season, when Mostert was provided at least one yard before contact he earned a 90.0 rushing grade, generating 6.7 yards per attempt.
  • With Jeff Wilson on IR, there is less competition for Mostert in Miami’s backfield so he should be in for an even larger workload than previously expected.
  • Mostert is -110 to hit over 55.5 rushing yards on DraftKings Sportsbook.
  • Mostert is $5,900 on FanDuel – DFS

Offensive line matchups to avoid

Cincinnati Bengals @ Cleveland Browns

Key player(s) to avoid

QB Joe Burrow, Cincinnati Bengals

  • Burrow is expected to be healthy and ready to go Week 1 after suffering a calf strain this offseason.
  • However, this isn’t as strong of a matchup as it would have been last season when the Browns were among the worst defensive lines in the league at generating pressure.
  • Cleveland already has Myles Garrett and has added three players who earned at least a 79.0 pass-rush grade last season in Za’Darius Smith (84.7), Ogbo Okoronkwo (81.9) and Dalvin Tomlinson (79.1) to their defensive line.
  • Burrow had one of the highest pressure-to-sack conversion rates (22.9%) in the league last season, which led to 41 total sacks (sixth).
  • In games where he was pressured more than 14 times, he had just one top-10 QB fantasy finish (QB6 – Week 1) while the other games led to QB18, QB13, and QB15 finishes last season.
  • The Browns' much-improved defensive line under new defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz should push for that 14-15 pressure mark in this game.
  • Burrow is among the more expensive options at $7,900 on FanDuel – DFS.

Jacksonville Jaguars @ Indianapolis Colts

  • The Jaguars ranked 30th last season in run-blocking grade (47.0).
  • The Colts ranked 12th in run defense grade last season (69.2).
  • The Colts’ defensive line combined for 49 tackles for loss or no gain last season (fourth).
Key player(s) to avoid

RB Travis Etienne, Jacksonville Jaguars

  • Concerns about Tank Bigsby potentially stealing carries from Etienne this season in combination with a tougher projected matchup to start the season should create caution for those considering using him this week.
  • Etienne also had the third-highest stuffed run rate last season (22.2%) which is more concerning against a Colts defensive line that was among the best in the league in that regard in 2022.
  • When Etienne was contacted two or fewer yards from the line of scrimmage, he posted just a 50.4 rushing grade that ranked 52nd among 63 qualifying running backs.
  • Under those same circumstances, he averaged just 2.0 yards per carry, which ranked 56th among the same 63 qualifying running backs.
  • Etienne’s rushing prop is set at 56.5 on DraftKings Sportsbook right now. He failed to hit that mark in 53% of his regular-season games last season.
  • Etienne is currently $7,700 on FanDuel – DFS

New York Giants versus Dallas Cowboys

  • The Giants come into the 2023 season ranked 29th in PFF’s offensive line rankings.
  • The Giants ranked 24th in PFF pass-blocking grade last season (62.6).
  • The Cowboys rank eighth in PFF’s defensive line rankings.
  • The Cowboys also led the NFL in pressure rate (42.9%) and quick pressure rate (30.9%) as a team last season.
Key player(s) to avoid

QB Daniel Jones, New York Giants

  • Jones finished 2022 as the fantasy QB9 thanks to solid passing performances and strong rushing ability.
  • While expectations may be high this season, coming in ranked as PFF’s QB9 in drafts this offseason, this isn’t the best matchup to start the season with for Jones.
  • Dallas led the NFL in plays with pressure generated last season (271) while the Giants ranked 31st in plays with total pressures allowed (31st). Even with some improvement for New York and regression for Dallas, there isn’t much of a case to be made in the Giants’ favor here. 
  • Making matters worse, through Jones’ last three seasons’ worth of games against the Cowboys, he’s never finished higher than QB19 in any of his five starts against them since 2020, including two QB20 performances in both meetings last year.
  • There will be other opportunities to start Jones this season, but if it can be avoided, then this is the week to bench him for a more favorable matchup.

Buffalo Bills @ New York Jets

  • The Jets’ defensive line earned the fourth-highest run defense grade last season (69.0).
  • The Bills ranked 28th in run-blocking grade (50.2) in 2022.
Key player(s) to avoid

RB James Cook, Buffalo Bills

  • The Jets allowed just 1.2 yards before contact per attempt last season (tied for fifth).
  • The Jets’ defensive line was also above average in creating defensive stops (123) last season.
  • The Jets’ defensive line holds a 39% advantage (third) over the Bills’ offensive line according to the OL/DL matchup tool heading into this week.
  • Cook earned a 53.3 rushing grade when contacted two or fewer yards from the line of scrimmage which ranked 43rd among 62 qualifying running backs.


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