Fantasy Football: Week 4 OL/DL matchups to target and avoid

2M7KWD2 Las Vegas Raiders running back Josh Jacobs (28) runs with the ball during an NFL football game against the Los Angeles Rams, Thursday, Dec. 8, 2022, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Kyusung Gong)

• Trusting Josh Jacobs to get it done this week: A slow start to the season for last year’s rushing leader has fantasy managers frustrated but a positive matchup this week should help.

• Pressured dropbacks have not been kind to Zay Flowers: The Cleveland Browns defensive line has been among the best in the league at creating pressure, which should affect Flowers’ production this week.

• 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 4.

Click here to see this week’s entire offensive line/defensive line matchup tool.

WR:CB Matchup Chart

Offensive line matchups to target

Denver Broncos @ Chicago Bears

  • The Broncos offensive line hasn’t been perfect this year, but it doesn’t have to be this week going against the Bears, where it holds the greatest advantage of the week in PFF’s OL/DL matchup tool.
  • The Broncos offensive line has allowed a 6.8% knockdown (QB hits plus sacks) rate this season, which is the eighth-best mark in the league.
  • The Bears defensive line ranks 29th in pass-rush grade (58.8) so far this season.
  • The Bears defensive line also ranks just 24th in pressure rate (30.6%) through three weeks.
Key player(s) to target

WR Jerry Jeudy, Denver Broncos 

  • Jeudy has gotten off to a slow start to the season, currently ranking as the WR71 in PPR leagues, and given the struggles of the Broncos as a team through the first three weeks, it’s understandable that fantasy managers may be hesitant to plug Jeudy into Week 4 lineups.
  • This matchup against the Bears stands out, as Jeudy could have his first big game of the season and not just because the Bears rank 28th in the league in coverage grade (53.7).
  • Chicago’s inability to get pressure should allow for more clean pockets for Russell Wilson, which, so far, has been a positive for Jeudy, as he leads the team (min. 20 routes) in target rate when there is a clean pocket (31.3%).
  • When there is pressure on the play, Jeudy’s target rate drops dramatically to 5.6%, which is the second-lowest mark on the entire team (min. 20 routes).
  • Expect Jeudy to be more involved this week and worthy of a starting spot in fantasy lineups again.
  • Jeudy’s receiving line is currently 53.5 on DraftKings.

Las Vegas Raiders @ Los Angeles Chargers

  • The Raiders offensive line ranks top 10 in run-blocking grade (67.8).
  • The Chargers defensive line ranks 30th in run defense grade (39.5) so far this season.
  • The Chargers defensive line has come up with just two tackles at or behind the line of scrimmage this season (tied for 29th).
Key player(s) to target

RB Josh Jacobs, Las Vegas Raiders

  • Fantasy managers are understandably frustrated by Jacobs’ slow start to the season, but after just three weeks, there isn’t a need to panic just yet.
  • The Chargers have been one of the better matchups for running backs so far this season, as all three top running backs that they’ve faced have finished inside the top-20 PPR running backs on the week, which Jacobs has yet to accomplish so far this season.
  • Two of the three running backs that the Chargers have faced have finished top-12 in PPR finish for the position.
  • Considering the volume for Jacobs to touch the ball combined with the Raiders’ above-average run-blocking unit and the Chargers’ poor run-defense unit, this matchup should allow for Jacobs’ best fantasy week so far.

Cleveland Browns versus Baltimore Ravens

  • The Browns offensive line ranks ninth in pass-blocking grade (71.0) so far this season.
  • The Browns offensive line has also been above average in knockdown rate allowed (7.4%) and pressure rate allowed (25.6%).
  • The Ravens defensive line has been banged up recently and ranks just 24th in pass-rush grade (64.2).
  • The Ravens defensive line also ranks just 25th in sacks per game (1.33) this season.
Key player(s) to target

QB Deshaun Watson, Cleveland Browns 

  • With the Ravens defensive line banged up and struggling to generate pressure and sacks, this stands out as a potentially sneakier positive game for Watson.
  • Watson has undoubtedly had his struggles to begin the year, but he has posted two top-10 fantasy finishes so far as well.
  • From a clean pocket, Watson has earned the eighth-best passing grade (84.3), with no turnover-worthy plays.
  • Watson also has a 4.0% big-time-throw rate (tied for 13th) and has thrown for 534 of his 678 yards when kept clean, which includes all of his passing touchdowns so far this season.

Minnesota Vikings @ Carolina Panthers

  • The Vikings offensive line owns a top-five run-blocking grade (73.7) so far this season.
  • The Vikings offensive line also rankstop 10 in rushing yards allowed before contact per attempt (1.5).
  • The Panthers defensive line ranks just 16th in run defense grade (59.2) and are allowing 1.6 yards before contact per attempt which ranks 25th.
Key player(s) to target

RB Alexander Mattison, Minnesota Vikings

  • Mattison received a lot of flack for his slow start to the season through the first two weeks, but after highlighting him last week and getting a PPR RB10 finish out of him in Week 3, we can safely go back to the well here in another plus matchup.
  • The Vikings offensive line should create some space for Mattison to get going again this week, which has helped him significantly overcome a lot of his early-season struggles.
  • When given at least one yard before contact, Mattison is averaging 6.2 yards per carry (14th).
  • All four of Mattison’s explosive runs (10-plus yards) have also come when given at least a yard before contact, which is promising this week against a Panthers defensive line that is averaging 1.6 yards allowed per attempt this season.

Offensive line matchups to avoid

Baltimore Ravens @ Cleveland Browns

  • The Ravens offensive line has been average in pass-blocking grade (69.5) so far this season.
  • The Ravens do face the most difficult OL/DL matchup of the week against the Browns, who hold a 58% advantage for the pass game.
  • The Browns’ defensive line ranks top five in pass-rush grade (90.5), pressure rate (40.6%), quick pressure rate (35.4%), and has the fastest average time to pressure in the league (2.17 seconds).
Key player(s) to avoid

WR Zay Flowers, Baltimore Ravens

  • Flowers has gotten off to a very strong start as a rookie, already ranking as the WR29 in PPR leagues.
  • He is a tempting potential start given his early success this season but faces a much tougher challenge against the Browns, specifically their defensive line.
  • Flowers has been one of Lamar Jackson’s go-to targets this season, as he leads the team (min. 10 routes) in target rate (25.0%).
  • However, considering the Browns’ ability to create pressure, we may see that number dip this week.
  • When there has been pressure on the play, Flowers’ target rate drops to 6.9%, which is among the lowest on the team.
  • Flowers should be avoided where possible this week considering the matchup.

Cincinnati Bengals @ Tennessee Titans

  • The Bengals offensive line ranks dead last in run-blocking grade (45.9) so far this season.
  • The Bengals offensive line has generated just 0.8 yards before contact per attempt, which ranks 23rd this season.
  • The Titans defensive line has allowed just 0.3 yards before contact per attempt this season, which ranks as the second-best mark in the league.
Key player(s) to avoid

RB Joe Mixon, Cincinnati Bengals

  • Mixon draws a difficult matchup against a smothering Titans defensive line this week, which could limit his rushing production.
  • The Titans defensive line being among the best in the league at limiting yards before contact is a big reason that the team ranks top five in total rushing yards allowed per game (69.3).
  • Mixon is already averaging (60.0) below the rushing yard total that the Titans are allowing per game this season, which doesn’t bode well for his prospects in this game.
  • Mixon’s rushing yards total is currently set at 52.5 on DraftKings.

Washington Commanders @ Philadelphia Eagles

  • Washington’s offensive line has been about average this season, earning a 68.5 pass-blocking grade that is tied for 13th.
  • The Commanders offensive line has allowed a knockdown rate of 13.7% — a top-five mark in the league.
  • The Eagles defensive line ranks eighth in pass-rush grade (74.7) so far this season.
  • The Eagles defensive line also owns the eighth-fastest time to pressure (2.35 seconds) in the league so far this season.
Key player(s) to avoid

WR Jahan Dotson, Washington Commanders

  • Dotson has gotten off to a really slow start this season, currently coming in as the PPR WR74 on the year.
  • Considering this matchup against the Eagles, Dotson because that much more of a bench candidate in Week 4.
  • Dotson already owns one of the lower target rates on the team (12.8%) this season, but when there is pressure on the play, he sees an even bigger hit, dropping to just 6.8%, which is sixth among the team’s receiving options.
  • On pressured dropbacks, Dotson has come up with just two receptions for 23 yards so far on the year.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ New Orleans Saints

  • The Buccaneers offensive line ranks just 23rd in run-blocking grade so far this season.
  • The Buccaneers offensive line has generated just 0.4 yards before contact per attempt, which ranks 30th.
  • The Saints defensive line has allowed just 0.9 rushing yards before contact per attempt so far this season, which ranks as a top-10 mark.
Key player(s) to avoid

RB Rachaad White, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

  • The Buccaneers defensive line has done a solid job of limiting yards before contact this season, which could create some issues for White’s rushing production.
  • When contact two or fewer yards from the line of scrimmage, White is averaging just 2.3 yards per carry, which ranks 33rd among running backs.
  • White has also been below average this season in creating yards after contact with just 2.9 yards after contact per attempt, which ranks 42nd among qualifying running backs this year.
  • White’s rushing yards total is currently set at 52.5 on DraftKings, which he has only surpassed once this season.

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