Week 17 WR/CB mismatches and phantom covers to exploit in DFS and Fantasy football leagues | Fantasy Football News, Rankings and Screenings

The Fantasy Football Championship has arrived. Prepare accordingly.

I’ll break down the WR/CB matchups throughout the season with a focus on determining who could face shadow coverage as well as the overall best and worst situations. We’ll also briefly touch on each team’s tight end group.

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The following charts list each player’s most common lineup, height (inches), weight (pounds), 40-yard dash (seconds), and yards per road run/coverage snap. Note that wide receivers move steadily around the formation; these are just their primary alignments. Additionally, phantom matches almost never exhibit a true 100% match rate; the general practice in Neverland is to start your stallions rather than overweight a perceived tough match.

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DEN @ BAC | HOO @ SF | CAR @ NO | DET @ WED | MIN @ GB | KEY @ PIT

New York Giants @ Chicago Bears

Giants’ Offense
WR Player H+L 40 YPRR Cornerback H+L 40 YPRR
L Kenny Golladay 76 + 213 4.5 1.32 Jaylon Johnson 72 + 195 4.5 1.08
R Darius Slayton 73 + 190 4.39 0.94 Artie Burns 72 + 197 4.46 1.43
S Kadarius Toney 72 + 193 N / A 2.14 Duke Shelley 69 + 180 N / A 1.69

Cast Shadow Matchups: Nothing

WR/CB Breakdown: The last two PFF quarterbacks were ranked in Week 16 among 37 qualified players: Mike Glennon (41.0) and Jake Fromm (34.0). That passing game hasn’t even gone for 200 yards in a game since Week 8. January, Chicago. That’s what we’re working with here.

Kadarius Toney had nine pretty tough targets last week and they only hit 39 targets; apparently you have to keep Pharaoh Cooper involved as much as possible. The reduced playing time was likely mostly due to it being Toney’s first game since Week 11; either way, we’re sadly forced to take a leap of faith in projecting the No. 20 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft for a full-time role.

Kenny Golladay has one game over 65 yards all season and still hasn’t scored a touchdown. Darius Slayton didn’t hit that relatively arbitrary, but more than doable, distance threshold all year and made just one trip to the end zone. Pistol to the head, I’d pick Toney as the best performer of the group due to the surge in volume and a more-than-winnable matchup against the Bears’ 29th-ranked defense in yards per attempt allowed to receivers fielded from the slot. Even then, we’re talking a boom or (more likely) a WR4 bust here; neither Golladay nor Slayton are ranked among my 48 best options of the week.

ET distribution: Evan Engram scored a garbage-time touchdown last week to “save” the day with a 4-17-1 performance. The performance of the PPR TE7 marked only the second time it finished better than the TE20 since week 10; there’s really no upside for anyone involved in the league’s 30th offense. Engram is a touchdown dependent TE2 in an offense involved to score a pathetic 15.75 points.

bear attack
WR Player H+L 40 YPRR Cornerback H+L 40 YPRR
L Allen Robinson II 75 + 211 4.6 1.17 James Bradberry 73 + 212 4.5 1.09
R Damiere Byrd 69 + 180 N / A 0.78 Jarren Williams 70 + 187 N / A 0.54
S Darnell Mooney 71 + 175 4.38 1.64 Aaron Robinson 73 + 193 N / A 0.81

Cast Shadow Matchups: Allen Robinson vs. James Bradberry

WR/CB Breakdown: A-Rob still doesn’t feel like he’s back to normal since facing the “beast” of Covid-19. He’s unplayable this week due to the high potential for a limited role, not to mention the veteran has finished in the position’s top 45 receivers on just one occasion (WR32 in Week 9) all season.

Credit to Damiere Byrd last week truly spectacular two-point conversion capture, corn Darnell Mooney remains the only viable fantasy receiver in this offense. He posted the following fantastic finishes with Justin Fields (ankle) under the center since the end of September:

  • Week 4: PPR WR15
  • Week 5: WR66
  • Week 6: WR22
  • Week 7: WR51
  • Week 8: WR30
  • Week 9: WR6
  • Week 11: WR4
  • Week 15: WR23

Mooney — like literally everyone in this offense — has a weekly low, but WR2 or better to finish in five of eight qualifying games is nothing to scoff at. The Giants are the league’s sixth-worst defense in PPR points per game allowed to opposing wide receivers for 16 weeks; cast Mooney as WR3 with a sneaky advantage; I’d start it on the likes of DeVonta Smith, Terry McLaurin and Jakobi Meyers.

ET distribution: Cole Kmet has posted 6-71-0 and 4-49-0 receiving lines over the past two weeks while continuing to post break rates north of 90%. The only problem was Jim Graham (which has a no-trade clause) and its use of the featured red zone. Overall, Kmet outshot Graham 83-20, but Graham leads the way on opportunities inside the 10-yard line four to three. This makes Kmet more of a low-ceiling TE2; he’s a better low-buy candidate in Dynasty than someone to chase a fantasy championship with this week.

Jacksonville Jaguars @ New England Patriots

Jaguar offense
WR Player H+L 40 YPRR Cornerback H+L 40 YPRR
L Laquon treadmill 74 + 215 N / A 1.41 Jalen Windmills 72 + 191 4.61 0.83
R Marvin Jones Jr. 74 + 198 N / A 1.25 JC Jackson 73 + 198 4.46 1.25
S Tavon Austin 68 + 179 4.34 1.16 Myles Bryant 69 + 185 4.62 1.2

Cast Shadow Matchups: marvin jones vs. JC Jackson

WR/CB Breakdown: Trevor Lawrence has *one* touchdown since Week 9. Here’s a list of NFL players who also have that many scores in the air during that span:

Naturally, this led to terribly depressed benefits for everyone involved in the passing game. The remaining wide receivers posted only two WR2 finishes during that span: marvin jones (WR21 in week 16) and Laquon treadmill (WR22 in week 15). Does this sound like the kind of group to rely on with the Fantasy Championship on the line? Oh, they also face the Patriots’ fourth-best defense in PPR points per game allowed to opposing wide receivers.

I’d probably bet on Austin seeing improved accelerated usage and thus racking up the most combo ranges and targets; it’s still nothing more than a low-cap WR4 game at best. Stay away from this group if possible.

ET distribution: James O’Shaughnessy (58% shots in week 16) loses way too much work to Jacob Hollister (49%) as something other than borderline TE2. AKA: Don’t play with him.

Related content for you: Fantasy Football: Week 17 Snaps and Efficiency Report for NFL’s 32 Backfielders by Ian Hartitz
Patriots offense
WR Player H+L 40 YPRR Cornerback H+L 40 YPRR
L Kendrick Bourne 73 + 203 4.68 2.01 Tyson Campbell 74 + 185 N / A 1.39
R N’Keal Harry 74 + 228 4.53 1.35 Shaquill Griffin 72 + 198 4.38 1.01
S Jakobi Meyers 74 + 203 4.63 1.52 Rudy Ford 71 + 204 N / A 1.17

Cast Shadow Matchups: Nothing

WR/CB Breakdown: There’s nothing too concerning about this match, but expect McJones constantly keeping your foot on the accelerator is problematic. Kudos to Jones for being the best rookie quarterback of the year; that doesn’t mean it was anything better than a little above average as a whole.

The following chart shows the rookie quarterback’s performance in a variety of metrics, with each player’s average ranking in each leading to a cumulative ranking. Note that ranks are among 48 signal-callers with at least 60 dropbacks this season to include Trey Lance:

Player PFF passing score YPL aComp% QB Rating Medium
McJones 14 22 26 22 21
Trey Lance 35 16 35 26 28
Davis Mills 38 32 23 30 30.75
Justin Fields 32 29 45 39 36.25
Trevor Lawrence 37 42 38 42 39.75
Zach Wilson 41 41 40 44 41.5

May be Jakobi Meyers finds the end zone for the second time in his life NFL career. May be Kendrick Bourne reverts to displaying the top five like it did in weeks 10 and 12. There’s probably a version of this simulation we live in where N’Keal Harry finishes in the position’s top 50 producers for the first time this season.

And yet, Meyers remains the only player in the group even remotely viable as a fantasy starter. Even then, it’s best approached as a low-ceiling WR3 which is only a somewhat recommended start in full PPR formats. Neither Harry (has no more than two catches in a game this season) nor Bourne (47% snaps last week) are worth considering. It works quite well; the Jaguars were much worse in yards per attempt allowed to receivers out of the slot (9.38, 31st) as opposed to those fielded on the outside (8.59, 22nd).

ET distribution: henry hunter routinely struggles to see any kind of real volume unless the Patriots fall behind early and often, which seems woefully unlikely this week with Bill Belichick and company sitting as 15.5-point home favorites. Jonnu Smith hasn’t played more than a third of the attacking snaps in consecutive weeks. Henry is a touchdown-dependent TE2; just realize that the cap is limited due to the likelihood that we only need one hand to count its total goals. Smith is not a realistic option unless you like to give your fantasy team a chance to succeed.

Los Angeles Rams @ Baltimore Ravens

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