WR vs. CB Matchups & Advice: Week 4 (2022 Fantasy Football)
With 3 weeks under our belt, this NFL season has been as whacky as ever. Beyond teams like the Jaguars sitting at #2 by DVOA, we’re having countless priors challenged, particularly in the passing game. Things like:
- The Chiefs will be fine with whatever WRs you put out there
- Russell Wilson is the missing piece to an extremley talented offense in Denver otherwise
- A Goff-led offense simply can not be empirically good
All of this is happening within the shadow of a league-wide offensive downturn. In fact, ESPN did a piece last week, citing
“Not since 1996 have we seen unders cash at a 68% clip over the first two weeks. Rarely is the market that far off, even in a small size of 32 games. But that’s the ripple effect of a scoring dip to 21.4 points per team, which would rank as the lowest since 2006, if it held for the entire season.”
To wit, even those in the analytics community can’t seem to come to an agreement as to why this dip in offensive production is happening. One half seems to think it has to do with the increase in 2-High Safety Shells (with the pendulum swinging back from when the “Legion of Boom” days when they made Single-High looks so popular) decreasing explosive pass plays, the other is calling out that analysis to be flawed with correlated, but not causal variables.
And with this backdrop, were left trying to figure out what WR to start this week in our fantasy lineups. Either way, we will continue to focus on the process and not the outcome, and lean on a sound model to help glean some information, in hopes of gaining an advantage.
NOTE: As we mentioned in weeks prior, like in the 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 get better throughout the year, as the sample sizes of the relevant data points increase.
Week 3 Results:
6-3 last week, with 4 solid winners, highlighted by the Zay Jones pick (16.5 above expected), but were hurt by Tyler Boyd’s big game. While Boyd 2x-ed his expectation, it seemed that we simply had the “wrong” Bengal WR to fade on the week, as Higgins performed up to snub, while Jamar Chase had his second “below par” outing in a row.
|Equanimeous St Brown||START||5.5||7.3||+2.1 (W)|
|Nelson Agholor||START||8.9||4.1||-4.8 (L)|
|Tee Higgins||START||15.6||14.3||+1.3 (W)|
|*Marvin Jones||START||6.8||13.3||+6.5 (W)|
|*Zay Jones||START||8.0||24.5||+16.5 (W)|
|Tyler Boyd||SIT||10.2||20.5||+10.3 (L)|
|Jahan Dotson||SIT||9.5||3.0||-6.5 (W)|
|Diontae Johnson||SIT||13.8||16.4||+2.6 (L)|
|*DJ Moore||SIT||12.1||2.5||-7.6 (W)|
Season Scored Card
Season Record: 17-10
Total Net Points: 73.3
Net Points/Selection: +2.82
*All stats based on Yahoo Fantasy Football ½ 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 in to 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 (after week 4)
- 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.|
|Michael Pittman Jr.||60.6||26.5||0.02||5.00||5.5||8||21||3||23||14|
|Amon-Ra St. Brown||50.6||29.3||0.00||-0.33||27.5||5||25||71||1||26|
|Richie James Jr.||46.4||21.5||0.03||-2.95||16.2||15||18||92||2||32|
|Equanimeous St. Brown||38.5||11.4||-0.02||5.78||4.6||67||72||2||29||43|
|Allen Robinson II||53.1||12.5||0.00||3.77||-2.4||58||25||17||74||44|
|D.J. Chark Jr.||52.4||11.8||0.03||1.50||0.5||64||19||48||59||48|
|Marvin Jones Jr.||56.6||12.3||0.00||2.49||-4.8||60||25||33||85||51|
*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 DB’s)
- *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 datapoint to populate)
Most frequently targetted Rookie CBs
Although not officially worked into our model, we do like to use the info above (thanks again to PFF) to support some of our decisions.
WR Matchups to Target in Week 4
*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)
- Richie James Jr.
Deep dive on this one. James has been one of the bigger beneficiaries of all the Giants WR injury woes, but at least has done SOMETHING with the opportunity, posting 5/59, 5/51 and 4/36 (very consistent) receiving lines to start the season. Beyond the anecdotal love for a WR who has consistently provided 8+ point fantasy weeks, WITHOUT a TD, week 4 looks ripe for a breakout.
James comes in this week within the top 19 percentile of WRs available based on our core model. This is mainly propped up by the 2nd best “Net PFF grade” on the week. Take his 69.3 grade on the season, vs. Kyler Gordon’s (85% expected pass snaps) 46.6 and you see a very clear performance advantage.
Besides the core model liking his chances this week, as the bonus chart shows above, opposing CB Kyler Gordon has been consistently picked on by OCs (see picture above), more than any other rookie CB, seeing 24 targets in 3 games (and that’s with almost 20% less pass coverage snaps than #2 on the list). Clearly, OCs are scheming to go after this rookie, who is not fairing that well to start his career, so we recommend you smash this play in DFF/or if you are really in need of some WR help this week.
- Romeo Doubs
Doubs has already come a long way from his first snap in the NFL, dropping an almost sure TD from Aaron Rodgers (which I believe is still influencing opinions of him out there). Particularly, blowing up last week for a 8/73/1 receiving line. More importantly, as we’ve seen in the past, earning Rodger’s praise after the game is usually worth a couple of points on its own.
In addition, he comes in as this week’s “checks all boxes” matchup play. That is, he’s ranked 7th on our weekly chart, and that’s mainly due to “not being too low” in any marker. His best indicator is his net PFF grade, mainly due to his 73.7 grade going up against most likely matchup (41% expected pass snaps) Jalen Mills from the Patriots and his abysmal 29.2 grade this early in the season.
- Drake London
We’ll admit, this one is cheating a bit, as pretty much everyone is starting London at this point if he’s on your roster. However, we think he’s a strong play for DFSers out there as well. He is currently priced at $6100 on Fan Duel, cheaper than guys like Allen Lazard and Christian Kirk.
Drake is another one of the plays that gets both a great matchup grade according to our model, 3rd highest on the week behind only Cooper Kupp and Michael Pittman, AND will face a heavily targetted rookie CB (see Bonus Chart above). According to the estimates, London will go up against Martin Emerson of the Browns on 55% of snaps. This is significant as Emerson has seen 18 targets on 105 pass snaps, or 17% target rate.
Drake may put up 30 on this guy.
Others to consider bumping up this week:
- KhaDarel Hodge
- Noah Brown
WR Matchups to Avoid in Week 4
- Mack Hollins
I have to be honest, a big part of this selection is “the likely swing back to a normal target share” we would expect from a team that:
- Is getting Hunter Renfrow back
- Is looking at their 0-3 record, lack of draft capital and their prized addition from the offseason, along with his 2nd most expensive WR in the league price tag, and thinking: we need to get the ball to Davante Adams
That is, it’s always good to be on the RIGHT side of regression. Hollins has to come back to earth after already beating his career-best season in yardage, through only 3 games.
On top of this, Hollins comes into the week with one of the worst matchups. In just about every matchup point he’s at a disadvantage, but the one that really sticks out is his net YPRR. He’s most likely to see the majority of his snaps vs. young up-and-comer Patrick Surtain II, whose .57 YPRR significantly pulls down Hollins’ average of 1.98.
- Christian Kirk
This is the first time a WR has been put on this list twice, on different sides of the prediction spectrum. Kirk, who we mentioned before is somehow going for a higher salary than Drake London this week in DFS, has an awful matchup Sunday. He is set to face off vs. Avonte Maddox for 78% of the pass snaps. Beyond Maddox having the speed advantage (over a guy that wins with speed mind you) at 4.39 vs Kirk’s 4.47, he brings a 78.5 defensive grade against the Jaguar, compared to Kirk’s 73.6.
Others to consider sitting:
- Deebo Samuel
- Devante Parker
We really like this week’s picks, so hopefully they help you towards a winning week. Stay tuned next week when we add back the coverage data to tighten up the model!