DFS

Defensive Coverage Breakdown for Every Divisional Round Team

Coverage analysis has been the biggest beneficiary towards how I find the best plays in DFS and props to take. Many defensive coordinators have a specific scheme they will utilize no matter their opponent, and others will take note of the opponents’ strengths and weaknesses.

For example, the Rams ran zone coverage at more than 75% rate this season, and it did not matter if they were playing Josh Allen or Marcus Mariota; they were going to be in zone coverage. Coverage numbers can swing depending on the game script and if a team is losing early on, they will likely get into more Cover 1 style of play to defend the run better. 

 

Every coverage has its counter, and it’s up to the play-caller and quarterback to identify what’s about to be played and how to exploit that coverage. Below I will break down how often a team is in man or zone coverage, the coverage-specific scheme and what players are in-line to attack that scheme from the pass-catching position.

All of the Data is provided by Sports Info Solutions, and the percentages are proportionally taken to be out of 100%.

Jaguars vs. Chiefs

Team Man YPA TD Rate Zone YPA TD Rate
Jaguars 29.9% 7.6 5.3% 70.1% 7.3 3.0%
Chiefs 37.6% 6.8 8.9% 62.4% 7.1 1.5%
  • I would anticipate the Jaguars attempting to play more man coverage than they did early in the season because they have to test these Chiefs wide receivers
  • The Jaguars attempted zone coverage at a high rate the first time these teams met this season in Week 10. Patrick Mahomes had an 11.4% pass touchdown rate while throwing for 331 yards
  • Travis Kelce is the main player against man coverage, averaging 2.57 yards per route run and holding a 29.3% target share on the season
  • Against man coverage, Mecole Hardman averages 2.62 yards per route, and Kadarius Toney gets targeted on 21.1% of his routes
  • Juju Smith-Schuster has a 70.4% catch rate against man coverage but is third on the team in targets
  • The Jaguars mostly run Cover 1
  • Against Cover 1, Kelce averages 2.8 yards per route run
  • Hardman is third in targets per route against Cover 1 coverage
  • Jacksonville’s favorite zone scheme is Cover 2
  • Smith-Schuster has a 32.7% target per route run and 3.92 yards per route against Cover 2
  • The Chiefs will stick to what they know best, run a heavy man coverage scheme, and bring pressure
  • They ran man coverage at a 65.5% rate in the first matchup with the Jaguars
  • Christian Kirk is the main player against man coverage, averaging 2.96 yards per route run and a 32.7% target share
  • Zay Jones is second on the team in targets against man coverage but only averages 1.31 yards per route run
  • In the first matchup, Kirk and Jones combined for 173 of Lawrence’s 259 yards passing

Giants vs. Eagles

Team Man YPA TD Rate Zone YPA TD Rate
Giants 45.9% 6.1 5.6% 54.1% 8.0 1.6%
Eagles 34.5% 6.6 5.7% 65.5% 7.0 2.3%
  • The Giants are going to stick to who they are and will play a ton of man coverage against the Eagles
  • A.J. Brown leads the NFL in yards against man coverage this season, and DeVonta Smith ranks in the top five
  • Jalen Hurts will identify which way the single-high safety is leaning and attempt to push the ball downfield to the opposite side
  • To keep the safety in the middle of the field, Dallas Goedert will have to have a big game
  • Tight ends have had success against the Giants this season. T.J. Hockenson showed the blueprint twice, and Mark Andrews did it early in the season
  • The Giants will play Cover 0 at a higher rate than most, but their main man coverage is Cover 1
  • Cover 0 is about beating the man in front of you as quickly as possible; both Brown and Smith can do that without issue
  • Against Cover 1, Brown has a 40.1% target share, averages 4.32 yards per route run and has an aDOT of 14. Smith has a 27.5% target share, averages 2.84 yards per route run and has an aDOT of 11.8
  • If the Giants switch to a zone-heavy scheme, it will likely be Cover 3 because of the Eagles’ running game. Cover 3 allows you to have an extra man near the line of scrimmage.
  • Against Cover 3, Brown averages 3.32 yards per route run, Goedert averages 2.72 and Smith averages 1.76.
  • Overall, the two players I expect to have the biggest impact will be Brown and Goedert
  • When the Eagles play man, you will see a lot of Cover 1. When they back out of it, it’ll be more Cover 3 and Cover 4
  • The Eagles play a lot of Cover 1 in games where they can’t stop the run but have improved along with the health of the interior defensive line
  • The Eagles do not play much soft coverage like the Vikings, and their pass rush has multiple guys with more than 10 sacks
  • Against Cover 4, Isaiah Hodgins is the player to have. He has a 23.7% target per route rate and averages 2.74 yards per route against it
  • Against Cover 3, Darius Slayton is the player they look towards the most and expect to win down the field
  • All three of the Giants’ primary receivers put up similar numbers against Cover 1 coverage, and it will come down to who is winning their battle off the line of scrimmage into the stem of their route

 

Bengals vs. Bills

Team Man YPA TD Rate Zone YPA TD Rate
Bengals 34.6% 7.1 3.8% 65.4% 7.2 1.3%
Bills 29.0% 6.9 4.3% 71.0% 6.7 1.4%
  • The Bengals need to protect Joe Burrow to allow these pass catchers to work the ball down the field
  • The Bills will play a zone scheme against this Bengals pass-catching group
  • Against Zone Coverage, there are three players to look for: Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins and Hayden Hurst
  • Higgins averages the most yards per route against zone coverage but gets targeted at the lowest rate of these three
  • Hurst ranks second in targets per route but last in yards per route run
  • Chase leads the team in targets but is behind Higgins in yards per route run
  • Tre’Davious White will likely shadow the area of the field where Chase ends up but will only stay with him when he’s in his area of the field.
  • The Bills want to utilize Cover 2, but with their struggles in the run game, they will end up in many Cover 3 looks
  • Hurst has been the leader in targets against this look
  • Against Cover 3, Higgins is the go-to option and averages 2.69 yards per route run. Chase gets targeted less frequently and averages one yard less per route run
  • Defensive coordinator Lou Anumaro will play many coverages against Allen and the Bills’ passing attack
  • I believe they will test this Bills offense and run plenty of Cover 1 coverage because that has been the biggest weakness for this team
  • Allen has 42.9% of his interceptions against Cover 1 this season
  • Stefon Diggs has no issues winning against Cover 1 and averages 2.72 yards per route with a 36.3% target share
  • The issue is with the rest of the receiving core since nobody averages more than 1.5 yards per route
  • Bracketing Diggs in Cover 1 and making Gabe Davis beat them will be what I expect to see in the first half
  • If the Bengals are playing with a lead, you will see Cover 3 coverage, and that’s where other players can start making plays
  • Against Cover 3, Diggs averages 3.03 yards per route, Davis averages 2.61 yards per route and Dawson Knox averages 1.39 yards per route
  • The Bills need someone outside of Diggs to step up in the postseason and win against the man in front of them. Davis did it last weekend against the Dolphins but will have to continue this weekend against the Bengals

Cowboys vs. 49ers

Team Man YPA TD Rate Zone YPA TD Rate
Cowboys 37.8% 7.3 6.9% 62.2% 7.1 2.5%
49ers 23.5% 7.8 5.2% 76.5% 7.2 2.3%
  • The 49ers are going to rely on what has worked all year — rushing four, and playing zone coverage
  • Against zone coverage, CeeDee Lamb and Dalton Schultz have been the primary playmakers. Lamb has a 26.7% target share and averages 2.26 yards per route. Schultz has a 21.2% target share and averages 1.81 yards per route
  • The 49ers’ primary zone coverage is Cover 4
  • The Cowboys must get Lamb into the slot, matched up with one of the 49ers’ safeties and attack that matchup
  • On the perimeter, Michael Gallup has to make one or two plays down the sidelines to keep the safeties honest on Lamb over the middle
  • The 49ers have struggled with the slot and crossing routes at times this season
  • The 49ers’ play-making group has so many interchangeable pieces that can play RB, WR or TE, and Kyle Shanahan will put them into positions to have mismatches
  • The two main pass catchers for Brock Purdy against man coverage have been Brandon Aiyuk and Christian McCaffrey. Aiyuk has a 31% target share with 3.48 yards per route, and McCaffrey has a 23.8% target share with 2.39 yards per route.
  • The Cowboys’ primary man coverage is Cover 1, and I expect to see a lot of this with the threat of the 49ers running the ball
  • Aiyuk has been the Cover 1 beater for Purdy, averaging 3.94 yards per route with him as the starting quarterback
  • Deebo Samuel has not played much during this time frame but did show up in a big way against the Seahawks
  • The Cowboys’ two zone coverages are Cover 2 and Cover 3, but with the run game, I do not expect to see much Cover 2 against the 49ers. Cover 3 lets you get another player in the box to stop the run
  • Cover 3 is where Purdy spreads the ball the most, but George Kittle leads the way. Kittle has three receiving touchdowns on 13 targets and averages 2.58 yards per route run
  • Samuel has run 34 routes with Purdy against Cover 3 and has been targeted nine times
  • Aiyuk has led the team in targets during this time and has a 70% catch rate

 

Projected Top Pass Catcher

Jaguars: Christian Kirk

Chiefs: Travis Kelce

Giants: Isaiah Hodgins

Eagles: A.J. Brown

Bengals: Tee Higgins

Bills: Stefon Diggs

Cowboys: CeeDee Lamb

49ers: Brandon Aiyuk

WATCH: 1-on-1 With Isaiah Hodgins

Scroll to the Top