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Fantasy Football: 5 WR/CB matchups to target and 5 to avoid in Week 3

Baltimore, Maryland, USA; Miami Dolphins wide receiver Jaylen Waddle (17) reacts after scoring a first half touchdown against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Estimated reading time: 15 minutes

Welcome to Week 3 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 Gabriel Davis, Buffalo Bills vs. Xavien Howard, Miami Dolphins

The Miami Dolphins are without starting cornerback Byron Jones (Achilles, physically unable to perform) and have been rotating underwhelming veteran Nik Needham and rising rookie Kader Kohou between the perimeter and the slot. PFF’s WR/CB matchup chart projects Davis to take meaningful reps against all three.

Player Expected snaps vs. Gabriel Davis 2022 PFF Coverage Grade Catch Rate Allowed Yards per Route Covered Allowed
Xavien Howard 14 53.6 60% 2.05
Nik Needham 11 35.1 86% 2.35
Kader Kohou 11 90.7 50% 0.83

Howard appeared on the injury report on Wednesday (groin), a sadly common occurrence for the talented player. Now in his seventh season, Howard has suffered knee injuries in three of the past six seasons and worked through a groin injury in 2021. Needham has been a fun story, getting his start as a former undrafted free agent, but his career-best 67.6 PFF coverage grade in 2021 tells the story — he’s a subpar starter. Kohou has played very well in limited action, but he has hardly been tested. Fourteen of his 33 coverage snaps have come against the dysfunctional New England Patriots offense.

Davis stole the starting role from Emmanuel Sanders in Week 14 last year and stormed his way to a team-high 14 explosive pass plays of 15 yards or more through Buffalo’s remaining games. The 6-foot-3 wide receiver bulked up to 227 pounds over the offseason, but he managed to maintain his game-breaking ability, taking two of his four receptions for gains 47- and 26-yard gains in Week 1. The latter play ended in a trip to the end zone. 

Though Davis will see coverage from more than one man, the 11 expected snaps against Needham are the ones to really be excited about. His three explosive pass plays allowed are tied for the league lead, and his 9.4% explosive pass play allowed rate ranked ninth worst. In the event that Howard is unable to play, Davis should see at least a handful of snaps against journeyman cornerback Keion Crossen, who is in his fifth NFL season and has failed to produce a 65.0 PFF coverage grade or better and twice finished under the 45.0 mark. 

WR Brandin Cooks, Houston Texans vs. CB Kindle Vildor, Chicago Bears

Cooks should have a fine showing against the Bears on Sunday. Though Cooks is projected to face Vildor on 19 snaps, he is also slated to face second-round rookie Kyler Gordon on 18. The two defenders sit with respective 51.7 and 46.1 PFF coverage grades this year. Cooks’ 60.3 PFF receiving grade is far lower than his 78.9 two-year average, but the Texans are coming off a pair of tough opponents in the Indianapolis Colts and Denver Broncos. Even so, Cooks’ three explosive pass plays of 15 yards or more are tied for the team lead.

Vildor has failed to force a single incompletion and has a 66.7% open target rate this year, but Gordon has a far more embarrassing record to his name. Gordon’s five explosive pass plays allowed are tied for the league lead. His 15 receptions allowed and 233 receiving yards allowed are both tops in the league and the latter mark paces the crowd by a margin of 65 yards. The two receiving touchdowns against him are tied for third most. Cooks will take them both to task.

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