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Fantasy Football: 5 WR/CB matchups to target and 5 to avoid in Week 1

Metairie, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints Jarvis Landry (80) catching receiver drills during organized team activities at the New Orleans Saints Training Facility. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

Target Brown in Week 1: Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver A.J. Brown is set to explode with a perfect 100.0 WR/CB matchup advantage score this week.

Landry set to produce from the slot: New Orleans Saints WR Jarvis Landry will put his 67% career-slot rate to good use against former Canadian Football League Atlanta Falcons’ cornerback Dee Alford — a matchup that favors Landry.

Falcons rookie set to struggle in Week 1: New Orleans Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore and his 76.4 PFF coverage grade are throwing a harsh welcome party for Atlanta Falcons rookie WR Drake London.

Estimated reading time: 10 minutes

Welcome to Week 1 of the 2022 NFL season. The sections below highlight five targets and avoids with data gleaned from PFF’s WR/CB matchup chart.

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5 WR/CB matchups to target

WR A.J. Brown, Philadelphia Eagles vs. CB Jeffrey Okudah, Detroit Lions

Brown tops PFF’s overall WR/CB matchup chart with a 100.0 matchup advantage score against the Lions. Parsing things down to the individual matchups level, PFF has Brown expected to face Okudah, Amani Oruwariye and Mike Hughes in coverage on a combined 55 snaps. Both Okudah and Oruwariye bring 100.0 individual matchup ratings while Hughes comes in with a still-cozy 87.7. Okudah and Hughes are former first-round draft picks whose young careers have been severely impacted by a pair of season-ending injuries, but Okudah’s woes far surpass Hughes', as Okudah’s managed just a 30.9 PFF coverage grade in his lone multi-game season. Oruwariye, meanwhile, has largely panned out how one would expect from a fifth-round pick, earning a 65.0-plus PFF coverage grade in his lone healthy season. 

As covered last week, Philadelphia can safely be expected to return to its early-2021, pass-happy form, which offers Brown access to a pass-first offense for the first time in his career. Brown has finished top-five in yards per route run in each of his first three seasons, produced two top-five PFF receiving grades and finished top-five in targets per route run among NFL wide receivers with at least 90 targets per year twice. Brown is an elite NFL wide receiver who should have no issue torching the Lions’ secondary, especially with the increased target volume headed his way.

WR Courtland Sutton, Denver Broncos vs. CB Artie Burns, Seattle Seahawks

PFF’s WR/CB matchup chart projects Sutton to take 49 snaps against Burns and Sidney Jones. Former top-50 draft picks, both Burns and Jones have been slowed by major injuries and were never able to compete with top-tier in-house competition. Burns, to his credit, managed an 85.1 PFF coverage grade last year on limited snaps after taking more than a year off to rehabilitate from a torn ACL. Jones’ three-year 69.6 PFF coverage grade average offers little confidence to the Seahawks’ faithful.

Also discussed last week, Sutton was slowed by his ACL recovery in 2021, an occurrence that is becoming well documented at the position. The positive for Sutton is that his underlying advanced metrics point to a fantasy WR2 profile, which could easily be elevated to a WR1 mark by Russell Wilson’s quarterback play. In Sutton’s three healthy seasons, his No. 1 quarterback has produced abysmal PFF passing grade marks.

Quarterback (Year) PFF Passing Grade (Rank, min. 100 dropbacks)
Case Keenum (2018) 66.9 (26th)
Joe Flacco (2019) 64.4 (27th)
Teddy Bridgewater (2021) 70.7 (T-17th)

Conversely, it took the dreaded Mallet finger injury to knock Wilson’s PFF passing grade below 86.3 during that same stretch. 

A key component of this matchup also includes the Wilson-Pete Carroll dynamic. Carroll has barely altered his defensive scheme since taking over as the Seahawks head coach in 2010. No quarterback is better equipped to carve it up than Wilson after spending 10 seasons playing for him.

With a pair of subpar cornerbacks covering him and the best quarterback of his career supporting him, Sutton is a prime candidate to post an elite fantasy football WR1 finish in Week 1 of 2022.

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