With the film and data continuing to mount, the reliability of my process is exponentially rising. A coaching staff is only able to shade their base gameplans underneath a small sample size before the floodgates open. The coverage scheme rotation has already been fully revealed. We may still see slight alterations, but nothing that will alter the process. Individual coverage liabilities will be the final hurdle to fall. Once we are able to isolate issues related to health from the results directly accompanying poor play, we will have reached an ultimate state of matchup preparedness. Performance anomalies will always be present in an NFL stacked with the premier talent in the world. And injuries to key defenders are a constant concern. That said, it’s down the path of the process where we will minimize risk toward maximum profits.
*9-13 (41%) — 1-4 in Week 3
Los Angeles Rams (-2.5) at Seattle Seahawks
Green Bay Packers (-3.0) at Cincinnati Bengals
Tennessee Titans (-4.5) at Jacksonville Jaguars
Minnesota Vikings (-7.0) vs. Detroit Lions
Carolina Panthers (-3.5) vs. Philadelphia Eagles
Las Vegas Raiders (-5.0) vs. Chicago Bears
New York Giants (-7.0) at Dallas Cowboys
Arizona Cardinals (-5.5) vs. San Francisco 49ers
Buffalo Bills (+2.5) at Kansas City Chiefs
*6-7 (46%) — 1-3 in Week 3
New York Jets vs. Atlanta Falcons (Under 46.0)
Miami Dolphins at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Over 48.0)
Green Bay Packers at Cincinnati Bengals (Under 50.5)
Chicago Bears at Las Vegas Raiders (Under 44.0)
Cleveland Browns at Los Angeles Chargers (Over 46.0)
New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys (Over 52.5)
San Francisco 49ers at Arizona Cardinals (Over 49.5)
Indianapolis Colts at Baltimore Ravens (Over 45.5)
*8-3 (73%) — 3-2 in Week 3
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-435) vs. Miami Dolphins
Green Bay Packers (-160) at Cincinnati Bengals
Tennessee Titans (-200) at Jacksonville Jaguars
New England Patriots (-410) at Houston Texans
Las Vegas Raiders (-235) vs. Chicago Bears
Dallas Cowboys (-310) vs. New York Giants
Arizona Cardinals (-235) vs. San Francisco 49ers
Baltimore Ravens (-280) vs. Indianapolis Colts
Matchups to Target
Matthew Stafford, LAR ($6.5K DK | $7.9K FD) vs. Seahawks’ Cover 3
Seattle threw some early shade on their defensive approach in Week 1, shifting away from the Cover 3 that was the base scheme of their infamous Legion of Boom. That alteration was a far more palatable decision by HC Pete Carroll and DC Ken Norton Jr. during their comfortable victory over the Colts. When put to the test during their subsequent consecutive defeats, reverting to their beloved Cover 3 was only a matter of time. But the Seahawks’ defense has yet to provide the type of results the staff is hoping to see. Seattle is handing over the fifth-most FPG to entire opposing offenses (114.8), fourth-most pure passing FPG to QBs (19.4), and much of that blame is on the shoulders of a lackluster pass rush and porous secondary.
Highest passer rating on 20+ yard throws this season:— PFF (@PFF) October 3, 2021
🥇 Matthew Stafford - 146.8
🥈 Justin Herbert - 137.5 pic.twitter.com/EobnQgpkQ9
Matthew Stafford is found on a very short list of elite QBs without a single coverage scheme vulnerability. That is an amazing achievement when the low quality of some of the Detroit Lions’ offenses are factored into the equation. If HC Sean McVay’s determination to get Robert Woods more involved in the party takes root, we may see the Los Angeles offense kick into high gear. Nevertheless, this is easily the highest level of surrounding talent that Stafford has been surrounded by during his career. The ‘Hawks will present Stafford with the most lenient overall defense faced this season. In Thursday-to-Monday formats, Stafford is in a particularly appealing place to shine a spotlight on his 0.630 FPs/dropback (FP/Db, second-highest) with QB12 pricing on DraftKings (DK).
Van Jefferson, LAR ($3.7K DK | $5.8K FD) vs. D.J. Reed Jr., SEA
Nobody is suggesting that Cooper Kupp is not the apple of Matthew Stafford’s eye. The word on the street is also calling for an increase in Robert Woods’ opportunities. But Van Jefferson is listed in this spot due to playing particularly well against Cover 3 during his brief career. And that success is boasting him as an outstanding value on DK with pricing as the WR87. VJJ has been on the field for at least 72% of passing snaps in every game, provided with 16% and 15% target shares the last two weeks. Jefferson has attacked a Cover 3 on 23% of career routes. He’s generated 45% of his receptions, 45% of yardage, one-of-four career TDs, and collected 90% of his 19 targets. Last week against Arizona, Jefferson put together a 3/48/1 line on only six snaps against the Cards’ Cover 3. Seattle is using Cover 3 at the NFLs second-highest rate.
Matchups to Avoid
Russell Wilson, SEA ($7.0K DK | $7.8K FD) vs. Rams’ Cover 4 | 6
When a QB tosses for 301 TDs to only 93 INTs during his career, every matchup provides plenty of intrigue toward exposure consideration. And, just like last season, Russell Wilson has kicked off the year en fuego with nine TD passes, zero INTs, and a 21% increase in YPA over the previous nine seasons. Looking at Wilson’s history of success vs. the most common NFL coverage schemes is a fool's errand considering he ranks within the top-10 in FPs/dropback (FP/Db) across the board.
What we do know is that Wilson will need to provide us with 21.0/19.5 FPs before we see a glimpse of profit on his QB7/QB10 pricing. We also know that “The Professor” averaged 15.4 FPG in three 2020 matchups with LAR. We know Los Angeles is permitting 14.4 pure passing FPG to QBs (12th-fewest). The Rams have assembled the fifth-most QB pressures and seventh-lowest completion rate on 20-plus attempts (10.3%). It must also be considered that much of the passing defense data on LAR is actually inflated from facing Tom Brady and Kyler Murray over the last two weeks. Everyone is responsible for their own investments in lineup decisions. If we are following the risk averse process to the letter, fading Wilson this week might be the best course of action.
Tyler Lockett, SEA ($6.6K DK | $7.3K FD) vs. Jalen Ramsey, LAR
Week 4 solidified two facts concerning Jalen Ramsey:
- He is no longer shadowing opposing WR1s
- His 50/50 time split working between the slot and outside will stand independent of the opponent
When Ramsey entered the NFL with Jacksonville, he took the opportunity against his division’s top wideout, DeAndre Hopkins, to showcase his shadowing skills. It was a respectful rivalry that carried over to matchups between their new NFC West teams. However, on nearly 40 snaps in coverage, Ramsey spent all of four snaps across from Nuk (1/18/0) last week. With that in mind, it’s important to understand that this listing is not indicating Tyler Lockett will be trailed by Ramsey. Rather that Lockett will mainly have responsibility for his coverage split between Ramsey and David Long Jr.
Most coverage snaps this season without allowing a TD— PFF (@PFF) October 5, 2021
Jalen Ramsey - 181 🔒🏝 pic.twitter.com/FAad9BucS7
Ramsey is spending 55% of his time defending the slot, while filling a perimeter role when working against Heavy personnel. Lockett will find his prospects far more appealing facing off with Long’s 1.08 yards/coverage snap (YPCS, 34th out of 84 qualified outside CBs), 0.22 FPs/coverage snap (FP/CS, 28th), and 97.2 targeted passer rating (TPR, 42nd). Ramsey, on the other hand, ranks 13th-best in YPCS, 12th in FP/CS, and fifth with a 57.9 TPR. In three games against the Rams last season, Lockett averaged 8.43 FPG, 57% under DK floor value, and 54% under FD value.
Final notes on Los Angeles
Darrell Henderson Jr. ($5.9K/$6.4K) does offer some appeal running behind a top-five O-line. But I paid particular attention to the Seahawks’ run defense while studying film this week. It may not be this week in particular, but don’t plan on seeing Seattle listed inside defenses allowing the top-10 most FPGs to RBs for long. And we are already seeing a correction from them, limited RBs to the 10th-fewest FPG the last two weeks. I’ll state it again: Cooper Kupp ($7.9K/$8.4K) is the primary target if you can shoulder the WR3/WR2 pricing. And, after showing some Week 1 promise, nickelback Ugo Amadi has not played well since. He currently ranks 27th in YPCS (41 qualified slot corners), 30th in FP/CS, and 35th with a 125.2 TPR.
I lean toward trusting Sean McVay at his word. He’s not been the type to toss around coachspeak in vain. To that end, Robert Woods ($5.5K/$6.3K) would be a tremendous value priced as the WR34/WR30 if he is littered with the promised volume to get him going. The Rams benched RCB Tre Flowers, but “Bobby Trees” could face a struggling Sidney Jones. While I feel Jones is much better than his numbers suggest, he ranks dead last in YPCS (3.56), FP/CS (0.76), and with a perfect — the version on the other side of good — 158.3 TPR. When we account for Seattle approving the 14th-most FPG to TEs (13.7), second-most over the last two (18.6), the full extent of the smash in the spot for Matthew Stafford is revealed. No TE in the NFL — yes, even Travis Kelce — has managed to evade posting a dud in scoring this season. But Tyler Higbee ($4.4K/$5.5K) is simply priced too low to ignore as the TE11/TE14… if he plays.
Final notes on Seattle
Chris Carson ($5.4K/$6.6K) will need to gain clearance from a neck injury, but it may not be the worst thing for his health if he fails to take the field. He only averaged 10 FPG in two games against LAR last season. And I am just not going to endorse chasing after early defensive struggles from the Rams against the run. If any Seahawk is going to do well, it will be between DK Metcalf ($7.0K/$7.4K) and, provided he’s activated from the reserve/COVID-19 protocol, Gerald Everett ($3.1K/$4.9K). I lost a bit of money during the 2020 Wild Card Round when Metcalf managed 26.6 FPs on the Rams. However, 42% of that total was collected on a busted coverage. And he only averaged 8.35 in two other 2020 matchups. Los Angeles has been surprisingly poor against TEs. So Everett is far from the worst TE punt, priced as the TE27/TE29.