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Fantasy Football Week 17: 5 WR/CB matchups to target and 5 to avoid

East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; New York Giants wide receiver Richie James (80) returns a punt as Washington Commanders wide receiver Cam Sims (89) defends during overtime at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

New York Giants WR Richie James Jr. (68.2 PFF receiving grade): He has the moves to touch up Indianapolis Colts fill-in defensive back Julian Blackmon (59.1 PFF coverage grade).

Atlanta Falcons WR Drake London (82.2 PFF receiving grade): The stage is set for him to waltz past the Arizona Cardinals’ banged-up secondary.

Washington Commanders WR Curtis Samuel (72.1 PFF receiving grade): He is an avoid versus Cleveland Browns slot cornerback Greg Newsome II (68.8 PFF coverage grade).

Estimated Reading Time: 17 mins

Welcome to Week 17 of the 2022 NFL season. The sections below highlight five players to target and five to avoid in DFS and fantasy football with data gleaned from PFF’s WR/CB matchup chart.


5 WR/CB MATCHUPS TO TARGET

WR RICHIE JAMES JR., NEW YORK GIANTS VS. DB JULIAN BLACKMON, INDIANAPOLIS COLTS

  • New York has a 22.25-point implied team total versus Indianapolis. 
  • The Giants are a 6-point home favorite.
  • PFF’s OL/DL matchup chart gives New York a 26% pass-blocking matchup advantage, seventh best on the week.
  • At 8-6-1, the Giants have a tenuous hold on the NFC’s sixth playoff seed.
  • New York’s shifty slot receiver Richie James Jr. (68.2 PFF receiving grade) is set to soar against Indianapolis’ backup slot defensive back Julian Blackmon (59.1 PFF coverage grade).
  • Blackmon transitioned from starting at free safety to operating as the team’s primary slot cornerback after Kenny Moore II (46.3 PFF coverage grade) suffered an ankle injury in Week 12. Blackmon logged a 78.9% slot coverage snap rate in Weeks 13-16. Moore has yet to resume practicing.
  • Rookie slot receiver Wan’Dale Robinson (70.9 PFF receiving grade) suffered a torn ACL in Week 11. James logged an 85.7% pre-snap slot rate in Weeks 12-16.
  • PFF’s WR/CB matchup chart projects James to face Blackmon on 37-of-44 receiving snaps.
  • The table below ranks James Jr.’s slot-receiving data in parentheses among 33 NFL wide receivers with at least 65 slot receiving snaps in Weeks 12-16. “No. 1” represents the player, position or team’s best performance.
PFF Slot Receiving Grade Per Routes Run %: Tgts – Yds Catch % – Contested Catch % aDot – YAC/Rec.  15-Plus-Yd Pass Plays
68.5 (No. 12) 18.9% (No. 14) – 1.66 (T-No. 12) 85.2% (No. 1) – 100.0% (T-No. 1) 7.2 (No. 26) – 3.0 (No. 23) 5 (T-No. 4)
  • The table below ranks Blackmon’s slot coverage data in parentheses among 67 NFL defensive backs with at least 100 slot-coverage snaps.
PFF Slot Coverage Grade Targeted % – Catch % Allowed  Yds Allowed/Cov. Snap  15-Plus-Yd Pass Plays Allowed Open-Target %
64.4 (No. 31) 12.9% (No. 16) – 80.0% (No. 54) 1.60 (No. 56) 3.5% (No. 54) 53.3% (No. 27)

WR ISAIAH HODGINS, NEW YORK GIANTS VS. CB BRANDON FACYSON, INDIANAPOLIS COLTS

  • As mentioned in the Richie James Jr. (68.2 PFF receiving grade) section, New York bears a moderate 22.25-point implied team total as a 6-point home favorite.
  • PFF’s OL/DL matchup chart gives the Giants a 26% pass-blocking matchup advantage, seventh best on the week.
  • Midseason waiver wire addition Isaiah Hodgins (75.4 PFF receiving grade) operates as New York’s intermediate-depth out-wide receiver, having worked his way into a featured role over the past four weeks.
  • Out-wide cornerbacks Stephon Gilmore (80.1 PFF coverage grade, 47.6% wide-left coverage rate, 46.7% wide-right coverage rate) and Isaiah Rodgers (81.5 PFF coverage grade, 45.9% wide-left coverage rate,47.0% wide-right coverage rate) helped Indianapolis earn a seventh-ranked 76.1 PFF out-wide coverage grade, but Rodgers is now out for the year after suffering a Week 16 knee injury.
  • Gilmore has shadowed opposing No. 1 wide receivers in 9-of-15 games this year, but Hodgins is unlikely to be his assignment this week. Gilmore’s primary function is to limit No. 1 wide receivers possessing a downfield skill set.  
  • Seven of Gilmore’s nine shadow assignments have a 13-plus-yard average depth of target when lined up out wide, and Gilmore’s 208 press coverage snaps are 10th most among NFL cornerbacks.
  • Fellow New York wide receiver Darius Slayton’s (71.7 PFF receiving grade) 13.1-yard out-wide average depth of target is the perfect fit. 
  • Hodgins will be left to frequently employ his 10.2-yard out-wide average depth of target against backup out-wide cornerback Brandon Facyson (47.9 PFF coverage grade).
  • In Weeks 13-16, Hodgins logged a 53.5% wide-left pre-snap alignment, followed by a 38.4% wide-right rate and an 8.2% slot rate.
  • The table below ranks Hodgins’ out-wide receiving data in parentheses among 40 NFL wide receivers with at least 75 out-wide receiving snaps in Weeks 13-16.
PFF Out-Wide Receiving Grade Per Routes Run %: Tgts – Yds Catch % – Contested Catch % aDot – YAC/Rec. 15-Plus-Yd Pass Plays Missed Tackles Forced Rec.
71.9 (No. 16) 17.1% (No. 25) – 1.33 (No. 23) 79.2% (No. 8) – 66.7% (T-No. 7) 10.0 (No. 31) – 2.2 (No. 34) 3 (T-No. 19) 3 (T-No. 3)
  • The table below ranks Facyson’s out-wide coverage data in parentheses among 76 NFL cornerbacks with at least 200 out-wide coverage snaps.
PFF Out-Wide Coverage Grade Targeted % – Catch % Allowed Yds Allowed/Cov. Snap 15-Plus-Yard Pass Plays Allowed   Open-Target % Missed Tackles Cov.
51.0 (No. 70) 14.2% (No. 36) – 69.0% (T-No. 57) 1.25 (T-No. 55) 2.9% (No. 51) 34.5 (No. 17) 4 (T-No. 45)
  • Facyson’s allowed catch rate and propensity for missing tackles is tailor-made for Hodgins to exploit.
  • Though Hodgins infrequently lines up in the slot, his 2.10 yards per route run rate from that alignment offers lightning-in-a-bottle upside against starting-free-safety-turned-slot-cornerback Julian Blackmon (59.1 PFF coverage grade).
  • Blackmon’s coverage deficiencies are outlined in the James section. Blackmon’s departure from free safety hurts Facyson’s on-field support.

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