- Start Pickens: While Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Diontae Johnson (70.1 PFF receiving grade) has a tough matchup against Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Jamel Dean (81.8 PFF coverage grade), fellow Steelers wide receiver George Pickens (69.4 PFF receiving grade) should thrive against Carlton Davis (57.3 PFF coverage grade).
- Kirk set to succeed: Jacksonville Jaguars slot receiver Christian Kirk (67.0 PFF receiving grade) is next-in-line to take a bite out of Indianapolis Colts cornerback Kenny Moore II’s (39.6 PFF coverage grade) delectable coverage.
- Avoid starting Elijah Moore: Fantasy managers must wait another week to safely start the New York Jets wide receiver (59.1 PFF receiving grade).
Estimated reading time: 17 minutes
Welcome to Week 6 of the 2022 NFL season. The sections below highlight five targets and avoids with data gleaned from PFF’s WR/CB matchup chart.
5 WR/CB MATCHUPS TO TARGET
- Pickens (69.4 PFF receiving grade) is expected to face Davis (57.3 PFF coverage grade) on 29-of-56 coverage snaps, per PFF’s WR/CB matchup chart.
- The chart slapped Pickens with a below-average 33.8 matchup advantage rating, which likely reflects public sentiment surrounding Pickens’ Week 6 prospects. With that in mind, there are reasons for optimism that make Pickens a sneaky DFS and season-long fantasy play.
- In two of the last three seasons, Davis has maintained a 72.1 PFF coverage grade or better but has started to show cracks in his armor. This year, Davis’ 0.39 fantasy points allowed per route and 1.91 receiving yards allowed per coverage snap are two of the 10 most wide receiver-friendly rates in their respective categories among all NFL cornerbacks.
- Among NFL cornerbacks with at least 150 coverage snaps, Davis’ 4.9% explosive pass plays allowed rate is second-highest in the league, and his nine total explosive pass plays allowed sits at No. 3. His 353 pass yards allowed also rank second-most.
- Pittsburgh rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett took over for Mitchell Trubisky part way through the team's Week 4 game against the Jets and was named the starter moving forward. Over the last two weeks, Pickens has earned an 84.0 PFF receiving grade, tops among all Pittsburgh pass-catchers by a 7.6-point margin. His four explosive pass plays generated are double the next closest Steeler, and his two missed tackles forced as a receiver are tied for the third-best among NFL wide receivers with at least 10 targets during that span.
- Playing within the comfortable confines of its own stadium, Pittsburgh opened as +8.5-point home underdogs against Tampa Bay on BetMGM. The over/under is set at a moderate 44.0 points, and Pittsburgh has been unafraid to let Pickett rip it despite his limited experience. In last week’s 38-3 loss to the Buffalo Bills, Pickett threw the ball 52 times — tied for the most passing attempts among all NFL quarterbacks in Week 5.
- Pickens’ chunk-gain playing style is Davis’ Kryptonite, and the game script should facilitate a voluminous workload.
- Update: Lattimore (abdomen) has been ruled out for Week 6. Tee Higgins (ankle) logged a “limited participant” designation in practice. If active, he is likely a decoy. Chase’s upside is even higher than anticipated.
Zooming in always ruins the resolution but there’s good reason to believe Tee Higgins suffered a high ankle/eversion sprain to his left ankle
-Week 4, Q3, 2:15
This is essentially a copy/paste injury that Amon-Ra had. It’ll be interesting to see how Higgins progresses this week. pic.twitter.com/Df6O8rdLxt
— Edwin Porras, DPT (@FBInjuryDoc) October 10, 2022
- Chase is lagging behind his five-game pace from 2021 due to changes in usage and an increase in defensive attention.
- Drafted as a top-five wide receiver, Chase sits as the WR13 in PPR scoring, but even so, Chase has maintained his dynamic ability to earn targets at an above-average level.
|Ja’Marr Chase||PFF Receiving Grade||Rec./Targets-Yards-Touchdowns||Explosive Pass Plays (15+ yards)||Missed Tackles Receiving||Average Depth of Target (aDot)||Receiving Snaps – Targets per Route Run Rate||Yards per Route Run|
|2021 Weeks 1-5||79.5||23/34-456-5||12||6||17.8||161 – 22.2%||2.98|
|2022 Weeks 1-5||72.8||33/49-343-2||6||2||9.5||236 – 22.1%||1.55|
- Chase’s pre-snap slot rate has hardly changed (24.2% to 23.0%) while his average depth of target (aDot) dropped precipitously.
- Defenses are focusing more on Chase than they did last year instead of treating the now-injured X-receiver wide receiver Tee Higgins (ankle) as Cincy’s alpha.
- Fortunately for Chase, PFF’s WR/CB matchup chart projects him to see favorable coverage matchups against New Orleans' No. 2 cornerback Paulson Adebo (38.8 PFF coverage grade) and slot cornerback Bradley Roby (53.0 PFF coverage grade) on 22-of-40 combined snaps this weekend. Adebo notably missed Weeks 1 and 2 due to a high-ankle sprain — an injury with a storied history of lingering all year long. Adebo most recently showed up on the Week 6 injury report with a knee injury as well.
- Lattimore (55.7 PFF coverage grade), typically a foe to be feared, looks like he may miss the Pro Bowl for the first time in four years.
- PFF’s WR/CB matchup chart projects that Chase will face Lattimore on 18 of his 40 snaps.
- While each defender has a weakness, it is the 14 snaps against Adebo that fantasy managers should be truly excited about. Adebo’s 3.38 receiving yards allowed per coverage snap lead all NFL cornerbacks with at least 75 coverage snaps by a 0.85 margin, and his 0.75 fantasy points allowed per route is the single highest rate among all NFL cornerbacks.
- Lattimore has allowed a team-high 44.4% open target rate.
- Roby’s 12.5-yard aDot pairs most evenly with Chase’s own 9.5-yard aDot. Roby has forced an incompletion on just 10.0% of targets.
- Higgins (ankle) has now failed to practice on both Wednesday and Thursday, putting his availability on Sunday firmly in doubt. While the defense will surely spend more time focusing on Chase, the imminent target dump that would tumble into Chase’s lap offsets the extra coverage attention.