Estimated reading time: 11 minutes
Welcome to Week 4 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
Just three games into his professional career, Olave leads his team in targets (28), receptions (17) and receiving yards (268). The latter sum ranks seventh in the league overall, and his 19.3-yard average depth of target (aDot) is No. 1 among all NFL players with at least 10 targets. Among the same group of players, Olave’s 2.39 yards per route run sits No. 8, and his 25.0% targets per route run rank is tied for 11th. The former Ohio State Buckeye landed with the perfect quarterback pairing in devil-may-care passer Jameis Winston, whose 5.7% big-time throw rate ranks top-six in the NFL.
PFF’s WR/CB matchup chart projects Olave to face Peterson on 27 receiving snaps, perimeter cornerback Cameron Dantzler on 17 snaps and slot cornerback Chandon Sullivan on 12 snaps, but Olave’s pre-snap alignments do not actually lineup with the snap projections given in the chart. Regardless, all three of the Minnesota cornerbacks’ PFF coverage grades fall at least 15.0 points short of Olave’s 74.5 PFF receiving grade, as Dantzler’s 58.0 PFF coverage grade leads the lackluster pack. As a whole, the Vikings’ secondary has been tagged for a 19.4% explosive pass plays allowed rate — the second-highest rate in the NFL. Olave, the team leader in explosive pass plays (four), was already going to have his number called repeatedly against this bunch – and that was before X-receiver Michael Thomas and slot receiver Jarvis Landry suffered respective toe and ankle injuries last week. Thomas has failed to practice on both Wednesday and Thursday, which puts his availability further in doubt than Landry’s, who only took Wednesday off. Even if both are active, they will be less than 100%, which should push even more work onto the rookie’s plate.
WR Josh Reynolds, Detroit Lions vs. CB Tariq Woolen, Seattle Seahawks
Reynolds has worked his way into the No. 2 wide receiver role over the last two weeks, cruising to a 72.6 PFF receiving grade — second only to Amon-Ra St. Brown among Lions wide receivers and 28th overall among NFL wide receivers who have taken at least 50 receiving snaps during that span. All three of Detroit’s starting wide receivers — St. Brown, Reynolds, and D.J. Chark Jr. — are dealing with ankle injuries, but head coach Dan Campbell has expressed optimism that both Reynolds (did not participate in Wednesday’s practice) and Chark (limited participant on Wednesday) will play in Week 4. St. Brown’s short-term status is up in the air, as the team has indicated that it will be cautious with him, though his initial test results are “encouraging”.
Stretching the field with aplomb, Reynolds leads the team with five explosive pass plays. His 2.00 yards per route run ranks second, as does his 19.4% targets per route run rate, among all Detroit Lions with at least 10 targets during that two-game stretch.
Per PFF’s WR/CB matchup chart, Reynolds is expected to face Woolen (53.8 PFF coverage grade) for 22 coverage snaps, Michael Jackson (49.4 PFF coverage grade) for 18 coverage snaps and slot cornerback Coby Bryant (34.1 PFF coverage grade overall, 44.6 PFF coverage grade in the slot) for 11 coverage snaps. Seattle’s cornerback trio will receive “help” from free safety Quandre Diggs, whose 66.4 PFF coverage grade ranks 18th at the safety position among NFL safeties with at least 100 coverage snaps.
With St. Brown’s status up in the air, Reynolds’ target rate should hold steady, if not increase. Seattle’s 18.8% explosive pass plays allowed rate, the third highest in the NFL, is a perfect match for Reynolds and his newly minted downfield role.
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