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2023 Fantasy Football: Week 17 WR-CB Matchups to Target

The NFL regular season spans 18 weeks so Week 17 functions as fantasy football’s championship week. Below are five NFL wide receivers who offer must-draft, league-winning potential based on their Week 17 matchup. 

Week 17 Matchups to Target

Amon-Ra St. Brown: Detroit Lions at Dallas Cowboys

  • Amon-Ra St. Brown, Detroit’s third-year slot receiver, is in a prime position to post elite fantasy football WR1 numbers against the Dallas Cowboys’ slot coverage.
  • Last season, a Week 7 Lisfranc injury suffered by Dallas’ then-starting slot cornerback, Jourdan Lewis, cleared the way for 2022 fifth-round rookie DaRon Bland to seize the starting role. 
  • Despite playing in just 12 games last year, Bland led all slot cornerbacks with four interceptions among 47 players with at least 20 slot targets. 
  • Bland’s interception-hunter playing style also lends itself to the high-volume-reception potential for opposing slot receivers. When he fails to jump the route properly, the slot receiver can easily get behind him. 
  • Defensive coordinator Dan Quinn’s scheme focuses on generating turnovers, further accentuating this dynamic.
  • From Week 8 to Super Bowl LVII, Dallas allowed 19.0 points-per-reception (PPR) points per game to opposing slot receivers, 11th most in the NFL, per The 33rd Team’s The Edge tool. 
  • The table below ranks, in parentheses, Bland’s slot-coverage data among the aforementioned 47 qualifying slot cornerbacks. “No. 1” denotes the position best or the team’s performance. Source: SportsInfoSolutions.
NFL Slot CB Data Target % Receptions Allowed Catch %: Allowed - Deserved Yards Allowed per Cov. Snap
DaRon Bland 14.9% (T-No. 38) 22 (No. 38) 56.4% (No. 21) - 82.8% (No. 33) 1.0 (T-No. 29)
  • The table below ranks, in parentheses, St. Brown’s 2022 slot-receiving data among 40 wide receivers with at least 35 slot targets. Source: TruMedia.
NFL Slot WR Data Per Routes Run: Target % - Yards Targets - Rec. Catch % aDot - YAC/Rec Slot PPG - .5PPR
Amon-Ra St. Brown 28.8% (No. 4) - 2.07 (No. 14) 83 (No. 4) - 61 (No. 4) 73.5% (No. 14) 5.52 (No. 38) - 4.92 (No. 22) 8.38 (No. 6) - 6.47 (No. 7)
  • Dallas’ offense improved with the addition of free agent WR Brandin Cooks and the shedding of RB Ezekiel Elliott. Last year’s 11th-ranked unit in offensive yards per game (354.9) should push Detroit’s offensive pace en route to a back-and-forth affair.
  • St. Brown has a visible path to double-digit receptions against Bland. 

Michael Pittman Jr.: Indianapolis Colts vs. Las Vegas Raiders

  • As the 2023 season begins, Michael Pittman Jr. exits three years of turmoil and enters his most stable setting yet. 
  • The 6-foot-4, 223-pound former second-round pick overcame compartment leg syndrome as a rookie, suffered Carson Wentz’s aura as a sophomore and drowned in a sea of Matt Ryan, Sam Ehlinger and coach Jeff Saturday as a junior. 
  • Despite the noise, Pittman Jr. posted a position-high 7.71 yards after the catch per reception rate among Indianapolis Colts wide receivers with at least 25 targets in 2020.
  • In 2021, he ascended past the position’s ideal 2.00 yards-per-route-run rate. 
  • In 2022, Pittman Jr. produced a 28th-ranked 22.0 percent targets-per-route-run rate and a 15th-ranked 70.2 percent catch rate among 87 NFL wide receivers with at least 50 targets.
  • Rookie QB Anthony Richardson will be under center and mobile-quarterback guru Shane Steichen is at the helm, so Pittman Jr. finally will be afforded the opportunity to thrive in a modern-day offense.
  • Indianapolis’ X-wide receiver is being drafted at his 2022 floor on Underdog as the WR28.
  • The Las Vegas Raiders, Pittman Jr.’s Week 17 opponent, hosted 30-year-old free agent cornerback Marcus Peters on May 15th, indicating underwhelming offseason additions, Brandon Facyson and Duke Shelley, indeed underwhelmed once in-house.
  • Facyson and Peters ranked outside the top 50 in catch rate allowed and yards allowed per coverage snap among 113 cornerbacks with at least 25 targets thrown into their primary coverage.
  • Shelley earned a top-five catch rate allowed but was tied for 37th in yards allowed per coverage snap (0.9). 
  • Indianapolis’ offensive line should bounce back after a down year in 2022. The banged-up unit produced a middling 34.6 percent quarterback pressure rate allowed. Center Ryan Kelly impressively produced a top-20, 1.1 percent blown-block rate.
  • The front five should hold their own for Richardson, whose sack avoidance is his most NFL-ready skillset. 
  • Among 47 Power-5 quarterbacks with at least 300 pass attempts, Richardson’s 3.8 percent sack rate tied for 10th.

DJ Moore: Chicago Bears vs. Atlanta Falcons

  • In the lead-up to the 2023 NFL Draft, the Chicago Bears sold the No. 1 overall pick to the Carolina Panthers for a massive haul, including DJ Moore.
  • Though QB Justin Fields ended 2022 on a positive note, the low-volume nature of Chicago’s passing game brings Moore’s 2023 target-volume potential into question, lowering his fantasy football average draft position (ADP). 
  • Fantasy managers should seize the moment with an eye toward Chicago’s Week 17 showdown with Atlanta Falcons.
  • Atlanta attempted to bolster its 25th-ranked pass defense (231.9 passing yards allowed per game) by trading for CB Jeff Okudah this offseason. Still, Okudah and No. 1 CB A.J. Terrell are coming off down years, signaling vulnerability in 2023. 
  • The table below ranks, in parentheses, Okudah and Terrell’s perimeter pass-coverage data among 61 NFL cornerbacks with at least 25 perimeter-coverage targets. Source: SportsInfoSolutions.
NFL Perimeter CB Data Target % Catch %: Allowed - Deserved Yards Allowed per Cov. Snap Passes Def. 
A.J. Terrell 15.0% (T-No. 44) 48.8% (No. 27) - 69.4% (T-No. 15) 0.9 (T-No. 20) 9 (T-No. 4)
Jeff Okudah  15.5% (No. 47) 48.6% (T-No. 25) - 80.8% (No. 50) 1.4 (T-No. 54) 4 (T-No. 39)
  • Moore maintained reliable efficiency on the perimeter despite abysmal play from Panthers quarterbacks in 2022. 
  • The table below ranks, in parentheses, Moore’s perimeter-receiving data among 46 NFL wide receivers with at least 50 perimeter targets. Source: TruMedia.
NFL Perimeter WR Data Per Routes Run: Target % - Yards Catch % aDot - YAC/Rec Perimeter PPR PPG
D.J. Moore 23.5% (No. 15) - 1.98 (No. 17) 59.7% (No. 32) 14.09 (No. 4) - 2.76 (No. 37) 8.89 (No. 20)
  • Fields’ 12th-ranked 22.2 percent 15+-yard average depth-of-target passing rate should mesh nicely with Moore’s downfield skillset. 

Drake London: Atlanta Falcons at Chicago Bears

  • Drake London makes for an excellent Week 17 bring-back option for Moore drafters.
  • London closed his 2022 rookie season by establishing himself as one of the league’s elite target earners.
  • The table below ranks, in parentheses, London’s receiving data among 87 NFL wide receivers with at least 50 targets. Source: TruMedia.
NFL WR Data Per Routes Run: Target % - Yards Catch % - Yd/Rec aDot - YAC/Rec PPR PPG
Drake London 28.2% (No. 5) - 2.09 (No. 13) 61.5% (No. 54) - 12.0 (No. 49) 10.42 (No. 44) - 3.11 (N0. 68) 10.51 (No. 42)
  • There are questions surrounding QB Desmond Ridder, but the young signal-caller has more than seven months to develop a workable connection with London for the receiver's depressed, late-fourth-round, WR24 ADP to pay off. 
  • Chicago spent a 2023 second-round pick on former Miami CB Tyrique Stevenson, whose 0.9 yards allowed per coverage snap was tied for 80th among Power-5 cornerbacks with at least 20 targets against Power-5 opponents. 
  • Stevenson’s 34.8 percent catch rate allowed respectably ranked top 10, however, Chicago’s near-league-worst secondary needs a complete makeover. 
  • Chicago’s four cornerbacks with 249-plus coverage snaps all ranked outside the top 80 in yards allowed per coverage snap among 113 cornerbacks with at least 25 targets.
  • None of the four ranked inside the top 32 in catch rate allowed. 

Quentin Johnston: Los Angeles Chargers at Denver Broncos

  • Quentin Johnston was drafted with the 21st overall pick to be the Los Angeles Chargers' heir-apparent No. 1 wide receiver. 
  • His early eighth-round WR3 ADP on Underdog is understandable from a season-long perspective. Still, Johnston quickly should work his way into the pecking order after producing one of college football’s most dynamic receiving profiles in 2022. 
  • The table below ranks, in parentheses, Johnston’s receiving data among 66 Power-5 wide receivers with at least 75 targets. Source: SportsInfoSolutions.
Power 5 WR Receiving Data Per Routes Run: Target % - Yards Catch %  Yd/Rec aDot - YAC/Re
Quentin Johnston 31.4% (T-No. 11) - 3.4 (No. 3) 61.2% (No. 49) 17.8 (No. 5) 12.6 (T-No. 14) - 8.88 (No. 1)
  • Johnston was also a tackle-breaking machine. 
  • The table below ranks, in parentheses, Johnston’s tackle-breaking data among the aforementioned qualifying wide receivers.
Power 5 WR Tackle-Breaking Data Tackles: Broken - Missed Broken+Missed Tackle/Rec Yds Rec. After Contact Yd After Contact/Rec
Quentin Johnston 13 (No. 3) - 10 (T-No. 11) 0.4 (T-No. 1) 241 (No. 2) 4.02 (No. 3)
  • While Johnston is bracketed by tough target competition, the 6-foot-3, 208-pound 21-year-old has youth and health on his side. 
  • Starting slot WR Keenan Allen (31) has suffered 13 recorded injuries in his 10-year career. He played just 10 games in 2022 after suffering a Grade 2 hamstring strain in Week 1.
  • No. 2 WR Mike Williams (29) has suffered nine recorded injuries in his six-year career and was slowed by a multi-month ankle injury in 2022. 
  • Four of the nine recorded injuries are related to Williams’ spine and surrounding tissue.
  • The Denver Broncos' starting cornerback trio is talented, but each player has weaknesses.
  • Opposing quarterbacks have been unafraid to pick on No. 1 CB Patrick Surtain II, generally yielding positive yardage results.
  • No. 2 CB Damarri Mathis gives up a healthy catch rate.
  • Mathis and starting slot CB K’Waun Williams struggle to tackle talented ballcarriers and run-after-catch specialists like Johnston. 
  • The table below ranks, in parentheses, Surtain II, Mathis and Williams’ wide receiver coverage data among 120 NFL cornerbacks with at least 20 targets thrown to wide receivers in their primary coverage. 
NFL CB Data Target % Catch %: Allowed - Deserved Yards Allowed per Cov. Snap Passes Defended
Pat Surtain II 83.3% (T-No. 81) 50.9% (T-No. 44) - 73.2% (No. 49) 5.2 (T-No. 38) 9 (T-No. 14)
Damarri Mathis 78.5% (No. 50) 58.8% (No. 79) - 79.5% (No. 76) 4.0 (T-No. 7) 6 (T-No. 38)
K’Waun Williams 67.6% (No. 5) 40.0% (No. 5) - 47.6% (No. 1) 2.7% (No. 2) 6 (T-No. 38)
  • The table below includes a pair of tackle-based statistics. The first statistic, total first-contact failures, indicates the number of times the defensive back was the first to make contact with a ball carrier but failed to complete the tackle. 
  • Those players are ranked, in parentheses, among 152 NFL defensive backs with at least 500 defensive snaps (TruMedia). 
  • The second statistic, broken and missed tackle rate, is a run-defense statistic that communicates the frequency with which a player fails to complete a tackle in run-defense. 
  • Players are ranked among 106 NFL cornerbacks with at least 20 run-defense tackles. Though run-defense data does not directly apply to a passing-game weapon, the data helps contextualize the trio’s tackling weaknesses in relation to Johnston’s prolific run-after-catch playing style. 
NFL CB & DB Brkn/Msd Tackle Data Total 1st-Contact Failures Brkn & Mssd Tackle %
Pat Surtain II 12 (T-No. 31) 4.8% (No. 2)
Damarri Mathis 22 (T-No. 123) 18.5% (No. 95)
K’Waun Williams 17 (T-No. 78) 20.4% (No. 102)

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