WR vs. CB Matchups & Advice: Week 3 (2022 Fantasy Football)
We’re only a couple of weeks into the NFL season, and we have already had:
- The “Least Likely Loser” in PGWE (post-game winning expectation) since Football Outsiders started tracking it
- A Super Bowl Loser that has lost two straight games to start the season as a seven-point or better favorite for the first time ever
- Of course, a WR1 ranking table that includes: Amon-Ra St. Brown, Jahan Dotson and Devin Duvernay.
And that’s really what brings you here today. Of course, like anyone trying to predict anything, there will be variance and a level of luck. Still, this article and research aim to help maximize your chances of finding that WR1 for your weekly fantasy lineup.
As we mentioned in last week’s WR vs. CB Matchups & Advice: Week 2 (2022 Fantasy Football) and have hammered home to you by now: “Coverage Predicting Models” are barely causal and should not be taken as gospel. Instead, use this data as a tie-breaking system when you have 50/50 decisions. With all the self-loathing out of the way, I will say the model will only improve throughout the year as the sample sizes of the relevant data points increase.
Take that along with our success in the first two weeks, and you have to pay attention, right?
Week 2 Results
As always, win, lose or draw, we will start with last week’s performance, along with an ongoing scorecard for the season as a whole.
Week 2 brought us a “wishy-washy” 4-4 record, but with a +22.4 net points gained vs. the projection between eight players. Frankly, much of that was an “easy” pick on a player everyone is starting anyway (Stefon Diggs). Beyond that, we are just as proud of the Drake London pick as we are disappointed in the D.J. Chark choice.
|D.J. Chark||START||11.8||0||-11.8 (L)|
|Chase Claypool||START||12.1||6.6||-5.6 (L)|
|Tee Higgins||START||15.2||19.1||+3.9 (W)|
|Drake London||START||10.9||24.6||+13.7 (W)|
|Stefon Diggs||START||18.1||44.8||+27.6 (W)|
|Deebo Samuel||SIT||16.5||14.7||-1.8 (W)|
|DeVonta Smith||SIT||9.9||15.0||+5.1 (L)|
|Josh Palmer||SIT||10.9||13.0||+2.1 (L)|
Season Score Card
Season Record: 11-7
Total Net Points: 50.5
Net Points/Selection: +2.97
*All stats based on Yahoo Fantasy Football 1/2 PPR
*Note, based on feedback, we made a few changes to the table:
- We aggregated all data into one spot (likely so you can copy and paste into your own spreadsheet, you rascals, you)
- We made an executive decision to STILL track our “coverage bonuses” (who a QB targets more/less when blitzed/not blitzed and when facing zone/man) but not display and/or add to the model until we can incorporate 2022 data (likely in Week 4-5)
- To standardize all variables we are tracking (and make it easier to read), we included a RANK display, respective of each data point to the right and sorted by the average rank across variables.
Week 3 WR vs. CB Model Scorecard
|Raw Numbers||Weekly Rank|
|Snaps||Wt.ed Net pprr||40 Adv.||HT Adv.||nPFFwted Total||Wt.ed Net pprr||40 Adv.||HT Adv.||nPFFwted Total||Avg. Rk.|
|Amon-Ra St. Brown||49.1||24.8||0.00||1.47||8.3||10||28||49||8||24|
|Equanimeous St. Brown||37.2||13.8||0.00||6.05||4.9||46||26||1||25||25|
|Michael Pittman Jr.||59.5||23.0||-0.03||3.30||4.1||12||79||19||30||35|
|Allen Robinson II||53.8||10.8||-0.07||2.97||8.8||66||91||26||6||47|
|D.J. Chark Jr.||50.6||10.6||0.18||2.73||-4.8||68||1||34||91||49|
|Laviska Shenault Jr.||0.0||0.0||0.00||0.00||0.0||95||28||71||57||63|
*Again, thanks to our friends at PFF for the data
- Snaps: estimated total drop-back snaps a WR will play in the coming matchup
- Wt.ed Net PPRR: “Weighted Net Fantasy Points/Route Run.” Simply this is the net value of a WR’s PPRR average vs. the DB’s PPRR given up, weighted according to the DB each WR is expected to play.
- Say Davante Adams averages 2.0 points/route run
- DB1 (expected to face 50% of snaps) gives up 3.0 points/route run
- DB2 (expected to face 30% of snaps) gives up 4.0 points/route run
- DB3 (expected to face 20% of snaps) gives up 1.0 points/route run
This first model would predict Adams to produce 2.45 points/route run (Adams 2.0 vs. aggregate defenders averages weighted to 2.9)
- *40 Adv: “40 Yard Dash Advantage” (weighted difference between WR 40 time and DBs)
- *HT Adv: “Height Advantage” (same as above, but with height)
- nPFFwted Total: “Net PFF Weighted Total Advantage.” Our core model, similar to the Wt.ed Net PPRR above, it compares the PFF grade between WR and likely DB, weighted by expected snaps he’ll see each respective DB.
*Not all WRs and DBs have 40 times and/or height measurements. When this occurs with ONE party, the model ignores the other (i.e., you need a WR and DB with a 40 time for this data point to populate)
WR Matchups to Target in Week 3
*For the matchup sections below, we refrain from “obvious recommendations” and/or players you are starting no matter what (and the opposite for players recommended to sit)
Before everyone laughs at us for recommending the second-third WR on a team that threw 11 passes (in a negative game script to boot) last week, hear us out. For starters, it’s hard not to see the Bears’ total passes going up this week (as they really can not go down). But more importantly, this has to do with a great weekly ranking in our base model (fifth highest ranking, buoyed mainly by the No. 1 height advantage this week) and a new angle we included as a bonus this week:
Bonus Chart: Most Targeted Rookie CBs
We’ve always FIGURED that coaches target young CBs, so we thought we’d look into this and try to glean some additional insight based on trying to “think like an OC.”
Below is a chart, thanks to PFF, of Rookie CBs, by total targets seen this season.
If we filter this list down, excluding any DBs who have had a good coverage grade and have less than 50 coverage snaps over the first two weeks, that leaves us with:
|“Bad Targeted CB”||Highest Expected WR Opponent||Coverage Snap % Expectation||Base Model Wk 3 Rank|
|Derek Stingley||ROWR Equanimeous St. Brown||29%||6|
|Kyler Gordon||SWR Chris Moore||75%||60|
|Damarion Williams||SWR Jakobi Meyers||22%||24|
|Sauce Gardner||OWR Tee Higgins||43%||8|
|Christian Benford||ROWR Tyrek Hill||45%||14|
Admittedly, this angle is most fruitful when you have a veteran QB and/or OC who “have been around the block” and will know to attack this. However, with the amount of film coaches watch, you’d have to think this will, at minimum, be a positive EV approach, especially tied in with our base model.
Back to St Brown for a minute: beyond a great rank in our base model, he’s likely to be matched up vs. Derek Stingley (the MOST, relatively speaking) this week, who has been targeted at an “almost double-digit rate” in each of his first two NFL games (with a bad grade). Cleary teams are targeting him, and the Bears’ coaching staff, although not smart, can’t be this dumb, either.
Put it all together, and you have an excellent environment to “boom” this week.
Yes, we went back to this well last week, but this is a similar play to the one above. But, again, Higgins literally checks all the boxes and has an excellent matchup vs. a rookie CB (see bonus chart above) in Sauce Gardner. Gardner should face Higgins on just under half of his snaps and, regardless of production, can be in line for a big volume bump.
Agholor was actually a streamer for us last week, identifying opposing CB Ahkello Witherspoon after he had been targeted nine times in Week 1 and being the LCB for 92% of snaps, and sure enough, Agholor caught the deep touchdown over him.
Mind you, this is the same WR who the Patriots have invested a lot of money in and has the third-best net points per route run (vs. covered) of any WR this week. All of this is not to mention a matchup with a rookie CB himself, in Damarion Williams. (Note: we recommend the same play for the same reasoning for Jakobi Meyers if you’re looking for someone with a higher floor).
Others to consider bumping up this week:
WR Matchups to Avoid in Week 3
This is an interesting play for us, as it’s the first time we recommended a “sit” and a “start” WR from the same team. I’ll be honest; I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. Nonetheless, this selection has a lot to do with the heavy (89% snaps expected) matchup with CB Michael Carter. Carter out “PFF grades” Boyd 66 to 57 and out “Yards Per Route Run” (YPRRs) him .53 (Boyd) to .21 (Carter, low is good for a CB). There is a lot here, not the least of which is the “transitive property” between Boyd (being predicted as doing “bad”) and Higgins (being predicted as doing “good”), pointing to the negative for Boyd.
It also really hurts that he’s only expected to see 5% of his coverage snaps vs. the rookie Sauce Gardner.
This may be cheating a bit since everyone and their grandma know that, although talented, Dotson’s WR1 ranking through two weeks is really just propped up by TDs. Either way, he grades pretty badly in all matchups, especially sporting one of our worst height disadvantages of the week, with both CBs Darius Slay and James Bradberry having at least an inch on him, which should encompass 71% of his total pass snaps.
This selection is based on an unusual split WITHIN our model. His metrics for Net Grade and YPRR actually out-duel his likely matchup values. However, he has an abysmal speed and height net matchup. At 70 inches tall and running a 4.6 40, he will see 93% of his snaps collectively vs. Denzel Ward (71 Inches, 4.32 40) and Martin Emerson (74 inches, 4.53 40). In other words, this is as pure a PHYSICAL mismatch “sit” as we have ever recommended.
Others to consider sitting:
Hopefully, this model and its selections help you to a winning week, but definitely check back next week when we have enough data to begin including coverage/blitz data to our model. Best of luck this weekend!
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