Last week, I recommended starting Chargers defensive linemen against the Tennessee Titans. The Chargers ended up with five sacks.
Joey Bosa recorded two sacks and four total tackles, while LB Tuli Tuipulotu, LB Kenneth Murray Jr., and DT Morgan Fox all got in on the action with one each. Khalil Mack still has no sacks. He doesn't even have a single QB hit. Will he ever get back to productivity?
This week, my data shows the Steelers, Bills, Eagles, and Chiefs have the four best defensive line matchups.
In today's column, I will explain in detail who you should start at DB and LB in addition to DL.
2023 IDP Football Week 3 Matchups
If you are already a member, sign in.
Best Defensive Line Matchups
Chiefs vs Bears
Justin Fields has been pressured on 47.1% of his dropbacks, the second-highest rate of any starting quarterback through two weeks, and he has been sacked ten times. The Chiefs defensive line is enjoying a breakout season from second-year end George Karlaftis III. He has an 11.5% pressure rate and 1.5 sacks in the first two weeks. Meanwhile, Chris Jones also made 1.5 sacks in his first game since ending his holdout.
Best Plays: DT Chris Jones and DE George Karlaftis
Streaming Option: Stream DE Michael Danna
Steelers vs Raiders
Top 5 Defenses for Sack %
1. Cowboys - 14.9%
2. Commanders - 13.9%
3. Panthers - 12.7%
4. Cardinals - 11.7%
5. Steelers - 11.5%
— Mitch Blatt NFL, IDP, and Travel (@MitchBlattNFL) September 23, 2023
This looked like a good matchup on paper based on the defensive line vs. offensive line matchup. The Raiders only had an average offensive line in the preseason rankings, but they have been rising and now rank No. 11 in PFF's Week 3 offensive line rankings.
Raiders QB Jimmy Garoppolo has always been good at getting the ball away quickly and avoiding sacks. In the first two weeks, he has not been sacked once. The Steelers defensive line ranks No. 5 in terms of sack rate, and I'd rank them even higher than that just based on their talent. I predict they will finish in the top three by the end of the season.
The Steelers might not feast like they did on Deshaun Watson last week, but it's a good bet Jimmy G takes his first sack this week. T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith are must-starts every week, but I wouldn't look deeper than that for streamers.
Best Plays: T.J. Watt and DE Alex Highsmith as usual
Bills vs Commanders
Commanders quarterback Sam Howell is averaging close to three seconds from snap to ball release. That has led him to be sacked 10 times this season. The Commanders offensive line ranks in the middle of the pack in terms of PFF pass-blocking grade, but Howell's pressure-to-sack rate is 35.7%. Anything above 30% is terribly concerning.
Week 1 sacks taken vs. average time before getting pressured (TruMedia + PFF)
Sure seems like Sam Howell needs to get the football out faster. pic.twitter.com/uSbyaNzMvp
— Ian Hartitz (@Ihartitz) September 13, 2023
The Bills defense made three sacks against the Jets, who also have a poor-quality defensive line, in Week 1. They didn't do anything against the surprisingly strong Raiders' offensive line last week. But this home matchup in Northern Virginia should be a bounce-back.
The Bills run a deep rotation, so it is not easy to predict who might get the most snaps and make the most plays. Even team sack leader Leonard Floyd has only played 47% of the defensive snaps. They could be used as streaming options, however, this week.
Commanders vs Bills
The other side of the ball in this game is also a good pick. The Bills offensive line is average at best. The Commanders defensive line is elite. This week, they are even expected to have the oft-injured Chase Young, who missed the last week, back. Even despite Young's injury woes, Washington has had the second-highest sack rate in the league. Josh Allen has been sacked seven times this year, and 23.3% of the time, he has been pressured. Here's a good matchup, and Washington's top defensive linemen are in the game for more snaps than Buffalo's.
Best Defensive Line Matchups
Lions vs Falcons
The Falcons drafted Bijan Robinson No. 8 overall with the express intent to run the ball down opposing defenses' throats. And that's what they've been doing. They rank No. 4 in rushing attempts per game and No. 3 in rushing yards per game. Packers LBs Quay Walker and De'Vondre Campbell finished as LB8 and LB18 against Atlanta last week in FantasyPros' scoring system. The Lions linebackers will be right in the position to play the run.
— Mike Woellert (@Mike_Woellert) September 17, 2023
Best Play: LB Alex Anzalone
Streaming Option: LB Derrick Barnes
Colts vs Ravens
The Ravens run the ball more than all but four teams. They are favored to win this game relatively comfortably. Colts starting QB Anthony Richardson is officially ruled out, which means Gardner Minshew will be under center. So the Ravens will be running the ball a lot, especially in the second half.
Cardinals vs Cowboys
Tony Pollard gets loose ? pic.twitter.com/SkVoCeuCqS
— SleeperNFL (@SleeperNFL) September 17, 2023
The Cowboys are averaging 37.0 carries per game, the second-most in the league. In part, that's because they like Tony Pollard. It's also largely because the Cowboys have dominated and won by over twenty points in both of their games. They should be expected to go into the second half of this game against Arizona with a huge lead, too, which will cause them to run the ball close to 40 times again. The Cardinals don't have great linebackers, so they might be available on your waiver wire this week. Use them as streamers.
Best Defensive Back Matchups
Chargers vs Vikings
The Chargers-Vikings game has the highest projected score of any game, indicating a pass-heavy shootout is expected. Both teams rank in the top 10 for passing attempts per game and the top six for completions per game. Kirk Cousins has been careful with the football, so he might not throw many interceptions, and you are going to want to play the tackle-heavy defensive backs.
High-risk Streamer: CB J.C. Jackson
Falcons vs Lions
Detroit is averaging 35.0 passing attempts per game. This matchup has a 46.5 over/under in Vegas, which is above the average. The Lions are going to lean on the pass if David Montgomery, who is doubtful, misses the game. Even first-round running back Jahmyr Gibbs, who might step up, is primarily a pass-catching back. So Lions defensive backs will be there to make plays on passes.
Streaming Option: CB AJ Terrell
Eagles vs Buccaneers
On third down, he is 20 of 23 for 201 yards and three touchdowns. He has the best passer rating in the NFL on 3rd down.
He has the Buccaneers at 2-0 with a matchup against… pic.twitter.com/d6NdPKFVWK
— JPAFootball (@jasrifootball) September 21, 2023
Bucs QB Baker Mayfield has been surprising his haters early in the season. Tampa Bay ranks No. 18 in pass attempts per game and No. 12 in yards per game. The Eagles are by far the best team the Buccaneers have faced so far this year. The Eagles are usually leading; hence, their opponents are averaging 49.0 pass attempts per game, the most in the league, so get ready for Baker to be throwing the ball left and right.