2023 Week 17 DFS Coverage Shells


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2023 Week 17 DFS Coverage Shells

Week 17 contains games with encouraging implied-team point totals, most of which project to be in lopsided affairs. The most popular matchup on the slate (fantasy and reality), I’d argue, is Baltimore (-3.5) vs Miami in a battle for the top seed in the AFC.

This is another week to be conscious of game scripts, and in bigger prize pool formats, a stronger incentive to differentiate yourself in some way.

This week’s piece covers miscellaneous QB + pass catcher combinations I perceive as being valuable based on their respective defensive opponents.

Team Defenses

Once again, the Rams lead all defenses in neutral pass rate allowed to opposing offenses over the last month of the season (68%).

Week 17 opponents that both have defenses towards the top: CIN/KC, HOU/TEN, SF/WAS.

Titans @ Texans

This one assumes rookie QB CJ Stroud ($7,100) is back in action.

Going back to the Texans well, in what seems to be a common theme in this article series going back to the early parts of the regular season.

Stroud hasn’t played since his Week 14 concussion vs the Jets, which was a matchup we avoided anyway given the coverage tendencies that NY presents themselves with.

Houston has been absolutely night & day with Stroud vs Case Keenum playing under center. Stroud losing his fellow rookie Tank Dell was another huge blow to a team unexpectedly finding themselves in the AFC playoff hunt this late in the regular season.

The Texans are currently 4.5-point home favorites with a 24.25 team total in this divisional showdown vs the Titans.

Defensively, the Titans allow the 2nd-highest pass rate to opposing offenses first-reads (72%), and the 2nd-lowest checkdown rate (6%).

Stroud is a productive QB when targeting his first read this season:

Further, Stroud owns one of the league’s highest average depth of targets this year at 9.6. Titans QB Will Levis ($5,200) just so happens to be the only other QB with a higher ADOT than Stroud here at 10.3.

Both teams rank inside the Top 10 in defensive ADOT allowed throughout all of the 2023 season:

Downfield opportunities and air yardage should both be plentiful this weekend.

Texans WR Nico Collins ($7,200) or Noah Brown ($5,100) are very worthy of consideration.

Houston (105) and Tennessee (99) have allowed the 1st/2nd most play-action receptions. Noah Brown owns 39% of the Titans’ play-action receiving yards, which ranks as the 6th-highest share in the NFL. Brown averages 6.02 YPRR with play action and just 1.29 YPRR without.

The Titans allow the lowest FPPG to opposing TEs (8.6) and the 5th-highest FPPG to WRs (38.4), rendering Texans TE Dalton Schultz ($4,300) a less intriguing play relative to Brown/Collins.

Raiders @ Colts

The Colts are coming off a Week 16 loss to the Falcons, while the Raiders are feeling ecstatic after their Christmas Day win over the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead.

Indy was already one of the league’s pass-heavier offenses throughout the prior month or so leading up to the Atlanta game.

This made their subsequent underdog status vs the Falcons a bit fishy during the early parts of last week.

HC Shane Steichen deserves some coach of the year recognition given what he’s been able to do with journeyman QB Gardner Minshew ($5,700). But one player they each missed dearly in their Week 16 loss was WR Michael Pittman Jr. ($7,500).

Pittman was held out due to a concussion suffered the week prior, but he’s good for their upcoming game vs the Raiders.

Defensively, the Raiders deploy zone coverage at an 80% clip, 5th-highest in the NFL.

Pittman has been the Colts’ sure-fire #1 target against zone coverage this season:

The Colts rank 2nd among offenses in neutral pass rate over the last month of the season (64%), while the Raiders rank 9th (58%).

I think this sets up a potential volume day for Steichen’s favorite target, Pittman.

Packers @ Vikings

This NFC North battle has possible playoff implications and a game total hovering around 43.5. It does, fortunately, take place in Minnesota, much more enticing compared to a cold Lambeau Field for both of the passing attacks, so I would like to cover a couple of interesting angles from a coverage perspective.

The Vikings are one of the hardest defensive units to predict on a weekly basis, since DC Brian Flores isn’t afraid to adjust gameplans by the week, sometimes even while a game is unfolding.

This can scare people away from looking at their opponents at times, but I still think it’s worthwhile to consider macro-level trends for some classic differentiation.

Minnesota deploys two-high shells on 56% of their coverage snaps, 5th-most among defenses. They also blitz at the highest rate in the NFL at 49%.

Packers QB Jordan Love ($6,400) has been a much more viable DFS play vs two-high defenses. His 0.52 points per dropback vs. two-high places inside the Top 3 out of 22 qualifying QBs.

Against single-high, Love averages 0.41 FP/DB (15th).

Against the blitz, Love doesn’t have any glaring concerns for Brian Flores to spam come Sunday:

Green Bay’s WRs reflect this takeaway: Romeo Doubs ($5,600), Jayden Reed ($5,400), and Dontayvion Wicks ($4,500) are all more efficient vs two-high defenses this season:

There’s a decent chance that both Watson and Wicks don’t play, and if Reed plays, would still be dealing with a lingering injury. If that were all to come into fruition (sounds like a lot but all strong possibilities), Love/Doubs are one of the handful of combos to poach from this GB offense for prime roster utilization.

As for the Vikings, they aren’t stopping their QB carousel anytime soon. Rookie Jaren Hall ($4,500) will start under center.

Defensively, the Packers use single-high looks at the 4th-highest rate in the league this season (63%).

Vikings WR Justin Jefferson ($8,800) owns a 0.34 TPRR and a 42% yards market share vs single-high coverage, both of which are Top 5 in the NFL.

Lions @ Cowboys

The Detroit Lions are fresh off a road win at Minnesota and are looking to make it two in a row this Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys, who find themselves on a two-game losing streak.

The Cowboys own the 3rd-highest implied team total of the week (29) and are presently 5.5-point home favorites in a game with a total hovering around 51.5.

We have two-lucrative offenses playing each other indoors, presumably something already baked into the game total. What are also likely already baked in, but an avenue still worth exploring, are defensive pressure rates.

Dallas is tied with Cleveland for the highest defensive pressure rate generated this season at 42%, while Detroit ranks 6th at 39%.

Veteran QBs Dak Prescott ($7,800) and Jared Goff ($6,800) have alarmingly different fantasy outputs under pressure this season, making Dak a stronger play:

Lions TE Sam LaPorta ($6,000) is coming off a stinker in Week 16, but has an interesting matchup this week. He leads Detroit in target share on pressured dropbacks (19%), as well as points per route run (0.26).

To be fair, TEs haven’t produced vs Dallas. The Cowboys allow just 10.2 FPPG to opposing TEs, the 6th-fewest in the league, and they’ve also given up the fewest FPPG over the last month of the season (6.2).

However, where LaPorta comes back into the mix revolves around the Cowboys’ 40% man coverage usage (most in the NFL). LaPorta’s arguably been the league’s top TE vs man defenses.

His 2.68 man YPRR ranks inside the Top 10/61 qualifiers, and ranks 2nd among qualifying TEs:

Another play to consider if you’re chasing upside is WR Jameson Williams ($3,800). If pressure were to seriously impact Goff, and/or the Lions maintain their run-heavy style and eventually play from behind, just one hero ball or two going Jameson’s way would need to land in order for him to be a valuable roster piece. A logical complimentary piece with WR CeeDee Lamb ($9,100) or Amon-Ra St. Brown ($8,400).

13/40 of Jameson’s targets this season have come over Detroit’s last two games, and his uptick in slot work is notable given how much the Cowboys have struggled to defend opposing slot receivers this season:

Quick Hits

49ers WR Deebo Samuel owns a 3.36 YPRR and 28% target share vs two-high coverage

  • Both are top 5 among 121 qualifiers this season

  • Commanders deploy the 4th-most two-high coverage defensively (58%)

Lions TE Sam LaPorta owns a 2.68 YPRR vs man coverage this season

  • 6th-highest in the NFL out of 61 qualifiers

  • 2nd-highest among qualified TEs

  • Cowboys play the most man coverage among all defenses (40%)

Vikings WR Justin Jefferson owns a 0.34 TPRR and 42% of the team’s receiving yards vs single-high coverage

  • Both are top 5 among 136 qualifiers this season

  • Packers deploy the 4th-highest usage of single-high looks defensively (63%)

Packers QB Jordan Love is averaging 0.52 FP/DB vs two-high defenses this season

  • Top 3 among 22 qualifying QBs

  • Vikings have the 5th-highest usage of two-high coverages (56%)

Cowboys host the Lions with a game total currently around 51.5

  • Dak Prescott has interesting home/road splits — Home: 25.9 FPPG | 304 passing YPG | 21 TDs; Away: 15.6 FPPG | 221 passing YPG | 10 TDs

49ers QB Brock Purdy averages 0.62 points per dropback vs two-high defenses

  • Highest in the NFL

  • Commanders deploy the 4th-most two-high coverage defensively (58%)

Cardinals deploy two-high coverage at the league’s 2nd-highest rate (65%)

  • Eagles WRs vs two-high defenses: AJ Brown: 1.84 YPRR | 22% target share; DeVonta Smith: 2.46 YPRR | 23% target share

Panthers deploy single-high coverage at the league’s 3rd-highest rate (63%)

  • Jaguars pass catchers vs single-high defenses: Calvin Ridley: 2.29 YPRR | 26% target share; Evan Engram: 2.00 YPRR | 23% target share

Seahawks deploy zone coverage at the league’s 2nd-highest rate (84%)

  • Steelers WRs vs zone coverage: Diontae Johnson: 1.33 YPRR | 21% target share; George Pickens: 2.03 YPRR | 19% target share

Giants deploy man coverage at the league’s 3rd-highest rate (39%)

  • Rams WRs vs man coverage : Puka Nacua: 2.49 YPRR | 26% target share; Demarcus Robinson: 1.87 YPRR | 10% target share; Cooper Kupp: 1.59 YPRR | 32% target share

Originally coming from a baseball background — both as a player and where his analytics journey began — Nick uses a broad range of perspectives to form substantive opinions with matchups and higher-level trends. Prior to joining Fantasy Points, Nick began work as a college base data analyst for Pro Football Focus