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Fantasy Football Matchups That Matter - Week 3

By Jared Smola | Updated on Sun, 24 Sep 2023 . 9:20 AM EDT

Welcome to Week 3’s Matchups That Matter.

The goal of this article is to give you a look into the process that fuels our weekly projections and rankings.

The information below is all stuff that we use when formulating those rankings. Hopefully taking a look through it helps you make better lineup decisions each week.

We have two week’s worth of 2023 data at this point, which is good but still not great. 

We’re just starting to get a good idea of what all these offenses and defenses will look like this season. But a lot of the data can still be misleading.

So be careful not to weigh matchups too heavily. And, of course, check the Week 3 Rankings and the start/sit advice on your Team Intel page.

Good luck in Week 3!

  

Highest Game Totals

1. Chargers at Vikings (54.0)

2. Bears at Chiefs (48.0)

3. Broncos at Dolphins (47.5)

4. Falcons at Lions (46.5)

5. Eagles at Buccaneers (45.0)

   

Lowest Game Totals

t-29. Saints at Packers (42.0)

t-29. Panthers at Seahawks (42.0)

31. Titans at Browns (38.5)

32. Patriots at Jets (35.5)

 

Highest Implied Points

1. Chiefs (30.25)

2. Cowboys (28.0)

3. Vikings (27.5)

4. 49ers (27.0)

5. Dolphins (26.75)

6. Chargers (26.5)

7. Ravens (25.75)

8. Jaguars (25.5)

 

Lowest Implied Points

t-27. Colts (17.75)

t-27. Bears (17.75)

29. Titans (17.5)

t-30. Jets (16.5)

t-30. Giants (16.5)

32. Cardinals (15.5)

  

Pass Rate Over Expected + Neutral Pace

Here's where every team ranks in Pass Rate Over Expected and neutral pace (average seconds per snap) through 2 weeks:

   

Fastest-Paced Games

(Average of neutral seconds/snap)

1. Cowboys at Cardinals (24.7 seconds)

2. Panthers at Seahawks (26.3 seconds)

3. Rams at Bengals (26.9 seconds)

4. Patriots at Jets (27.0 seconds)

.5 Texans at Jaguars (27.15 seconds)

 

Slowest-Paced Games

(Average of neutral seconds/snap)

29. Chargers at Vikings (29.7 seconds)

30. Saints at Packers (29.7 seconds)

31. Broncos at Dolphins (30.2 seconds)

32. Giants at 49ers (31.5 seconds)

   

Weather Concerns

Patriots at Jets

Rain is very likely during this game. Winds are forecasted at 10-15 mph with gusts up to 30. This figured to be a low-scoring game anyway, and the weather won't help the offenses. Hopefully you're not relying on these passing games.

Colts at Ravens

The forecast calls for an 80% chance of rain at kickoff. Winds are expected are just 5-10 mph, though. Not ideal conditions, but the weather shouldn't play a major factor here. We're not adjusting projections for this game.

Bills at Commanders

Similar weather here as in Baltimore. Rain is likely, but wind won't be a big issue. We're not adjusting projections for this game.

   

Quarterback

5 Best QB Matchups 

(based on 2023 fantasy points allowed)

1. Baker Mayfield vs. Eagles

2. Kirk Cousins vs. Chargers

3. Dak Prescott vs. Cardinals

4. Matt Stafford vs. Bengals

5. Desmond Ridder vs. Lions

5 Worst QB Matchups 

(based on 2023 fantasy points allowed)

28. Jordan Love vs. Saints

29. Sam Howell vs. Bills

30. Geno Smith vs. Panthers

31. Ryan Tannehill vs. Browns

32. Joshua Dobbs vs. Cowboys

Sneaky Starters

Jared Goff, Lions

Goff delivered for us as a sneaky starter last week, throwing for 323 yards and three TDs in the overtime loss to Seattle.

He’s in a good spot again this weekend against a mediocre Atlanta defense. Detroit is sporting a big 24.75-point implied total.

And Goff is at home, where he’s thrown for 300+ yards and/or 3+ TDs in 10 of 18 games as a Lion.

Russell Wilson, Broncos

Wilson has opened the season with QB16 and QB3 finishes. Last week’s tally was boosted by that Hail Mary TD. But take that away and he still finishes QB13.

Denver’s offense at least looks competent under HC Sean Payton. And Wilson reminded us that he can add value with his legs last week, rushing six times for 56 yards.

The Broncos figure to be chasing points in Miami this weekend. The Dolphins are currently 6.0-point favorites.

  

Running Back

5 Best RB Matchups 

(based on 2023 fantasy points allowed)

1. Josh Jacobs vs. Steelers

2. Najee Harris/Jaylen Warren vs. Raiders

3. Ken Walker vs. Panthers

4. Kendre Miller/Tony Jones vs. Packers

5. Javonte Williams/Samaje Perine vs. Dolphins

5 Worst RB Matchups 

(based on 2023 fantasy points allowed)

28. Zack Moss vs. Ravens

29. Jahmyr Gibbs/Craig Reynolds vs. Falcons

30. Dameon Pierce vs. Jaguars

31. James Conner vs. Cowboys

32. Jerome Ford/Kareem Hunt vs. Titans

 

Sneaky Starters

Alexander Mattison, Vikings

A RB you took in Round 5 or 6 shouldn’t qualify as a “sneaky starter.” But you’re probably considering sending Mattison to the bench after his ugly start to the season.

No, Mattison has not looked good. But he’s also faced tough Bucs and Eagles defenses that rank 12th and fourth in run defense DVOA this season.

Sunday brings a matchup vs. the Chargers, who rank 25th in run defense DVOA. This game sports a tasty 54-point over/under, so there’s big TD upside for everyone involved.

Most importantly, Mattison has dominated Minnesota’s backfield work, garnering an 82.6% share of the RB carries and an 11.4% target share.

That's unlikely to change much this week, with the newly acquired Cam Akers not expected to play.

Joshua Kelley, Chargers

Let’s flip to the other side of this likely shootout between the Chargers and Vikings.

Kelley busted as Los Angeles’ lead back last week. Blame the matchup vs. that stout Titans run defense.

It was disappointing that Kelley garnered just one target in that one. But he played 79.4% of the offensive snaps, ran a route on 63.8% of pass plays, and handled 13 of 18 RB carries.

In short, the usage was strong.

And Kelley doesn’t draw the Titans this week. In fact, he gets a Vikings defense that ranks 27th in run defense DVOA through two weeks, coughing up 4.8 yards per carry to RBs.

Jaylen Warren, Steelers

How much longer can Pittsburgh stick with Najee Harris as their lead back? He mustered just 44 yards on 11 touches in Week 2, while Warren racked up 86 yards on his 10 touches.

HC Mike Tomlin suggested Tuesday that Warren deserves more work.

We have him projected for about seven carries and four targets this week, which is enough to put him on the RB3 radar in a plus matchup vs. the Raiders.

  

Wide Receiver

5 Best WR Matchups 

(based on 2023 fantasy points allowed)

1. Vikings vs. Chargers

2. Ravens vs. Colts

3. Browns vs. Titans

4. Panthers vs. Seahawks

5. Colts vs. Ravens

5 Worst WR Matchups 

(based on 2023 fantasy points allowed)

28. Lions vs. Falcons

29. Saints vs. Packers

30. Seahawks vs. Panthers

31. Titans vs. Browns

32. Cardinals vs. Cowboys

CB Matchup Upgrades

Chargers WRs Keenan Allen and Mike Williams vs. Vikings CBs Josh Metellus and Akayleb Evans

Bucs WRs Mike Evans and Chris Godwin vs. Eagles CBs Josh Jobe and Mario Goodrich

Steelers WR George Pickens vs. Raiders CBs Marcus Peters and Jakorian Bennett

CB Matchup Downgrades

Patriots WRs DeVante Parker, Kendrick Bourne, and JuJu Smith-Schuster vs. Jets CBs Sauce Gardner, D.J. Reed, and Michael Carter

Sneaky Starters

Tank Dell, Texans

With WR Noah Brown on IR, Dell stepped into a full-time role last week. The results:

  • 82.5% route rate
  • 10 targets (21.3% share)
  • 7-72-1 line

The Texans are playing fast and throwing plenty, so there are fantasy points to be had in this WR corps.

Jacksonville’s secondary has played well so far this year, but Dell should see enough volume to pay off as a WR4 or flex play.

Josh Reynolds, Lions

He’s opened the season with 4-80-0 and 5-66-2 lines. 

Reynolds has garnered an 18.6% target share – and could see even more work this weekend with WR Amon-Ra St. Brown dealing with a toe injury.

The Falcons aren’t a scary matchup. In fact, CB Tre Flowers, who Reynolds will see plenty of, ranks 78th among 80 qualifying CBs in Pro Football Focus’ coverage grades.

  

Tight End

5 Best TE Matchups 

(based on 2023 fantasy points allowed)

1. Cade Otton vs. Eagles

2. Adam Trautman vs. Dolphins

3. Kyle Pitts vs. Lions

4. Pat Freiermuth vs. Raiders

5. Tyler Higbee vs. Bengals

5 Worst TE Matchups 

(based on 2023 fantasy points allowed)

28. Kylen Granson vs. Ravens

29. Logan Thomas/Cole Turner vs. Bills

30. Chig Okonkwo vs. Browns

31. Tyler Conklin vs. Patriots

32. Luke Musgrave vs. Saints

Sneaky Starters

Zach Ertz, Cardinals

Fine. I can’t ignore this guy anymore.

Ertz has racked up a TE-high 18 targets through two weeks. He’s averaged just 6.4 yards per catch, but his 7.2-yard average target depth suggests the yards per catch should rise.

There’s very little upside here, especially in Sunday’s matchup vs. the Cowboys. But Ertz’s volume gives him a comfortable floor at a position generally lacking it.

Cole Kmet, Bears

I’m not a Kmet guy. But he admittedly looks like a nice Week 3 fantasy play.

Kmet has drawn 13 targets on a 19.7% target share through two weeks.

The Bears are 12.5-point underdogs in Kansas City on Sunday, so the passing volume should be elevated.

The Chiefs rank 28th in TE coverage DVOA and have allowed 5-39-0 and 6-57-0 lines to lead TEs so far this year.

Hayden Hurst, Panthers

Hurst predictably struggled vs. the Saints’ elite TE defense last week. But don’t forget that he opened the season with a 5-41-1 line.

Week 3 brings a plus matchup vs. a Seahawks defense that ranks dead last in TE coverage, according to DVOA. Seattle allowed five catches and 63 yards to Lions TE Sam LaPorta last week.

And there's a pretty good chance that QB Andy Dalton proves to be a short-term upgrade over rookie QB Bryce Young, who is out this week with an ankle injury.

   

Defense/Special Teams

5 Best DST Matchups 

(based on 2023 fantasy points allowed)

1. 49ers vs. Giants

2. Titans vs. Browns

3. Chiefs vs. Bears

4. Jets vs. Patriots

5. Texans vs. Jaguars

5 Worst DST Matchups 

(based on 2023 fantasy points allowed)

28. Bengals vs. Rams

29. Broncos vs. Dolphins

30. Eagles vs. Buccaneers

31. Saints vs. Packers

32. Cardinals vs. Cowboys

Sneaky Starters

Chiefs

We’re attacking the Bears offense for the third straight week.

It worked the first two, with the Packers and Buccaneers combining for 10 sacks, four takeaways, and two TDs

The Chiefs got stud DT Chris Jones back last week and stifled the Jaguars.

They’re 12.5-point home favorites on Sunday. Chicago is sporting a 17.75-point implied total – fifth lowest on the week.

Patriots

QB Zach Wilson took three sacks and tossed three INTs in his first start of 2023 last week.

He now owns a 3.3% INT rate and 9.7% sack rate for his career.

The Jets will be an offense to target as long as Wilson is under center.

Browns

This is a good defense. Cleveland ranks second in defensive DVOA through 2 weeks.

That hasn’t translated to fantasy points yet. That could change this week against a Titans squad with one of the worst offensive lines in the league.

 

Kicker

5 Best K Matchups 

(based on 2023 fantasy points allowed)

1. Chad Ryland vs. Jets

2. Anders Carlson vs. Saints

3. Greg Zuerlein/Austin Seibert vs. Patriots

4. Cameron Dicker vs. Vikings

5. Dustin Hopkins vs. Titans

5 Worst K Matchups 

(based on 2023 fantasy points allowed)

28. Graham Gano vs. 49ers

29. Riley Patterson vs. Falcons

30. Ka’imi Fairbairn vs. Jaguars

31. Chase McLaughlin vs. Eagles

32. Matt Prater vs. Cowboys

Sneaky Starters

Jake Moody, 49ers

The rookie has made all six FG attempts and all six XPs through two games.

He’s in a prime spot on Thursday night as a 10.5-point home favorite with a big 27.25-point implied total.

Brandon Aubrey, Cowboys

The former soccer player leads all kickers in fantasy points through two weeks, drilling seven FGs and five XPs.

He should have plenty of chances to add to those totals on Sunday against the Cardinals. The Cowboys have a huge 28.0-point implied total.

Greg Joseph, Vikings

Unlike Moody and Aubrey, Joseph has not been a productive fantasy kicker so far.

But he’s in a good spot to get going this weekend in a likely shootout vs. the Chargers.

The Vikings’ 27.5-point implied total is third-highest on the week.

  

Other rankings are stale  before the 2nd round.

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