Ranking the top wide receivers against man and zone coverage from 2023

2WB5B22 Dallas Cowboys wide receiver CeeDee Lamb (88) celebrates after scoring a touchdown against the Washington Commanders during the first half, Sunday, January 7, 2024, in Landover, Md. Dallas won 38-10. (AP Photo/Jess Rapfogel)

• CeeDee Lamb carved up man coverage in 2023: The Dallas Cowboys wide receiver led the position in catches (49), yards (810), touchdowns (seven), missed tackles forced (10) and first downs gained (37) against man coverage.

• Two Dolphins led the way against zone coverage: The speedy Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle ranked first and second, respectively, in PFF grade against zone coverage last season.

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Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes

Man Coverage

1. CeeDee Lamb, Dallas Cowboys (94.1)

No receiver was targeted more in 2023 than CeeDee Lamb (197). He faced single coverage on 35.3% of his targets against man coverage, the third-highest rate in the league, and dominated on his way to the best passer rating when targeted (150.4).

Lamb led the position in catches (49), yards (810), touchdowns (seven), missed tackles forced (10) and first downs gained (37) against man coverage. He secured five contested targets, averaged 7.2 yards after the catch and finished second in yards per route run (4.35).

2. Nico Collins, Houston Texans (92.1)

Collins caught 25 passes for 399 yards and three touchdowns against man coverage in 2023. He finished first in yards per route run (4.43), averaged 6.7 yards after the catch and only dropped one pass.

The Michigan product finished as a top-10 wide receiver in missed tackles forced (four) and first downs gained (19) against man while generating a 137.6 passer rating when targeted.

Click here to see Nico Collins' PFF Premium Stats profile.

3. DJ Moore, Chicago Bears (91.2)

Moore saw 45 targets against man coverage this past season (10th most) and recorded the highest average target depth of any player on this list (15.3 yards).

The Maryland graduate was a playmaker, finishing in the top five in yards (598), first downs (24) and yards per route run (3.86). He caught four touchdown passes, secured five contested catches, and averaged 8.4 yards after the catch.

4. Brandon Aiyuk, San Francisco 49ers (90.4)

Aiyuk recorded the lowest target rate against man of the players on this list (25.4%), but he still ranked fifth in receiving yards (447) and averaged a solid 3.24 yards per route run.

Nearly every catch for Aiyuk turned into a positive gain for the 49ers. He caught 23 passes and turned them into 21 first downs. The star wideout hailed in three touchdown passes, secured four of seven contested targets and didn’t drop a single pass.

5. A.J. Brown, Philadelphia Eagles (90.4)

Brown tied for first in target rate (36.8%) against man coverage, catching 38 passes for 510 yards. He brought in four touchdowns and tied for second in first downs (25). He gained 205 yards after the catch (fourth most), averaged 3.36 yards per route run (seventh) and forced seven missed tackles (third).

Zone Coverage

1. Tyreek Hill, Miami Dolphins (93.3)

No receiver was better at exploiting zone coverage in 2023 than Tyreek Hill. He was targeted 103 times (third most) and finished eighth in passer rating when targeted (120.1).

The speedster caught 77 passes for 1,117 yards and dropped only six balls against zone. He did struggle in contested situations, hauling in only three of 12 targets, but he still caught seven touchdowns and gained 50 first downs. Hill led all receivers in yards per route run (3.83) against zone, gained 388 yards after the catch (fifth most) and forced 21 missed tackles (second).

Click here to see Tyreek Hill's PFF Premium Stats profile.

2. Jaylen Waddle, Miami Dolphins (91.4)

Waddle placed right behind his teammate after catching 53 passes for 696 yards. He gained 300 yards after the catch and 33 first downs. He also finished fourth in yards per route run (2.94), forced nine missed tackles and dropped only three passes.

3. Amon-Ra St. Brown, Detroit Lions (91.0)

Few receivers were more dangerous after the catch than St. Brown. He averaged only 8.4 depth yards per target but still led all receivers in zone targets (112), catches (84), yards (1,180) and first downs (56).

He caught six touchdowns (third most), forced 12 missed tackles and gained 511 yards after the catch (second). The 2021 draft pick also secured eight of 13 contested targets and averaged 2.85 yards per route run.

4. Justin Jefferson, Minnesota Vikings (90.6)

Jefferson caught 43 passes against zone coverage for 641 yards, averaging 3.00 yards per route run (third best). He recorded three touchdown receptions, secured five contested catches, forced five missed tackles and finished with a 118.3 passer rating when targeted.

5. Puka Nacua, Los Angeles Rams (90.4)

The only rookie featured on this list, Nacua brought in the second-most passes against zone coverage (79) for 1,061 yards. He gained 46 first downs (third most), caught four touchdown passes and averaged 3.08 yards per route run (second).

Nacua forced nine missed tackles, gained 384 yards after the catch (sixth most) and secured eight contested catches against zone.


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