Seahawks vs. Rams WR/CB Matchups: D.K. Metcalf Gets Downgrade vs. Jalen Ramsey
Abbie Parr/Getty Images. Pictured: Jalen Ramsey, D.K. Metcalf
Wide receiver-cornerback showdowns might be the most important individual matchups in football.
In this piece, I leverage snap data from Pro Football Focus (PFF) to project Wild Card Weekend WR/CB matchups for the Seahawks-Rams game.
For more, see the FantasyLabs Matchups page, where we provide basic and advanced data — including fantasy and red-zone performance — for each offensive skill-position player based on his matchup.
As we get more clarity during the week on the injury status of receivers and corners, I will update my WR/CB projections.
Seahawks (-4.5) vs. Rams (42.5 O/U)
Kickoff: 4:40 p.m. ET on Saturday | TV: FOX
Seahawks Wide Receivers
In just his second season, D.K. Metcalf transformed himself into a superstar with 83-1,303-10 receiving on 129 targets. But the latter half of the campaign was something of a letdown. In the eight games since Week 10, Metcalf is just 40-515-2 receiving on 61 targets.
Metcalf’s upside is unrivaled, but it’s hard for him to get his fill if quarterback Russell Wilson doesn’t cook like a three-star chef.
In the slot, Tyler Lockett is a dynamic playmaker with frustrating weekly inconsistency and admirable yearly dependability. In only four games this year has Lockett gained at least 70 yards receiving. But since his 2018 breakout season Lockett has been incredibly reliable with his seasonal production from scrimmage.
- 2018 (16 games): 1,034 yards, 10 touchdowns
- 2019 (16 games): 1,052 yards, eight touchdowns
- 2020 (16 games): 1,054 yards, 10 touchdowns
On a weekly basis, it’s impossible to know when Lockett will go off, but he has the ability to do so in any game.
David Moore is an underused No. 3 receiver with a respectable 8.7 yards per target for his career. He has more than four targets in just two games this year but with six touchdowns on the season, he’s capable of making an impact.
The Rams are Nos. 1 & 3 with an 88.6 PFF coverage grade and -11.2% pass-defense DVOA (per Football Outsiders). Led by No. 1 cornerback Jalen Ramsey, they are incredibly tough on opposing pass offenses.
Against the Cowboys in Week 1, Ramsey had a tough matchup and allowed 8-81-0 receiving on nine targets. On top of that, he was beat deep for a long reception toward the end of the game that was called back by a questionable pass interference.
By the eyes and the numbers, it was a bad performance.
Since then, however, Ramsey has allowed just 4.4 yards per target on a 44.6% catch rate and four targets per game while shadowing opposing No. 1 receivers almost every game.
This week Ramsey will almost certainly match up most with Metcalf, who hasn’t done well against bigger cornerbacks with above-average speed (i.e. Ramsey and Patrick Peterson).
- Week 14, 2019 (vs. Ramsey & LAR): 6-78-0, six targets
- Week 16, 2019 (vs. Peterson & ARI): 0-0-0, one target
- Week 7, 2020 (vs. Peterson & ARI): 2-23-0, five targets
- Week 10, 2020 (vs. Ramsey & LAR): 2-28-0, four targets
- Week 11, 2020 (vs. Peterson & ARI): 3-46-1, five targets
- Week 16, 2020 (vs. Ramsey & LAR): 6-59-0, eight targets
Metcalf is always capable of going off, but Ramsey is the league’s best cornerback.
And the Rams cornerback unit isn’t just Ramsey and some random dudes:
Slot corner Troy Hill has inside/outside coverage versatility, and since last year he has allowed just 6.2 yards per target.
Perimeter corner Darious Williams has emerged as a strong player opposite Ramsey. This season, he has allowed a catch rate of just 50%.
Both Hill and Williams represent tough matchups for Lockett and Moore.
Rams Wide Receivers
UPDATE (Fri. 1/8): WR Cooper Kupp (COVID-19) has been activated this week and will play against the Seahawks. An established veteran with 2,135 yards over the past two years, Kupp will resume his spot in the slot while WR Robert Woods shifts to the perimeter for most of his snaps and WR Van Jefferson returns to the sideline.
QB Jared Goff (thumb) is tentatively expected to play through his questionable tag.
Slot receiver Cooper Kupp (COVID-19) missed Week 17 due to a positive coronavirus test, and I am skeptical that he will play this week.
The Rams also might be without quarterback Jared Goff (thumb), so their entire passing offense could struggle.
In Kupp’s absence, Woods played the majority of his snaps in the slot (although he still moved around the formation plenty) and if Kupp is out again, I expect Woods to play a similar role this week.
Over his past eight games, Woods has a 26% market share of targets and since the 2018 season, he has been a reliable producer from scrimmage.
- 2018 (16 games): 1,376 yards, seven touchdowns
- 2019 (15 games): 1,249 yards, three touchdowns
- 2020 (16 games): 1,091 yards, eight touchdowns
As for Josh Reynolds and Van Jefferson, they are league-average warm bodies at best: Without Kupp last week, they combined for 8-79-0 receiving on 14 targets.
UPDATE (Fri. 1/8): CB Shaquill Griffin (hamstring) suffered a soft-tissue tweak in practice this week and missed practice on Thursday, but head coach Pete Carroll has said he expects Griffin to play.
With the return of Rams WR Cooper Kupp (COVID-19), I now expect the WR/CB matchups we see most to be Woods vs. Griffin, Kupp vs. Amadi and Reynolds vs. Reed.
The Seahawks allowed a league-high 3,136 yards to wide receivers this year — but they have been significantly better in pass defense since Week 10.
- Weeks 1-9 (8 games): 30.4 points allowed | 362.1 net pass yards allowed
- Weeks 10-17 (8 games): 16.0 points allowed | 207.9 net pass yards allowed
What happened in Week 10?
Cornerback Quinton Dunbar (knee, IR) suffered a season-ending injury in Week 9, and the next week backup D.J. Reed Jr. transitioned from the slot (where he allowed 12-193-0 receiving on 14 targets in Weeks 8-9) to the Dunbar’s vacated spot on the perimeter.
At left corner, Reed wasn’t great in Weeks 10-11 with 10-109-1 allowed on 13 targets, but he also wasn’t horrible — with his 44.2 PFF coverage grade, Dunbar was horrible this year — and after cornerback Tre Flowers (hamstring, IR) suffered an injury in Week 12, Reed shifted to his spot on the right. There, he has been a shutdown force.
In his five games at right corner since Week 13, Reed has allowed just 13-92-0 on 28 targets.
In the aggregate, Reed has allowed just 4.9 yards per target with a 56.1% catch rate since moving to the perimeter in Week 10.
I don’t want to put too much weight on a half-season sample, and Reed’s not the only reason the Seahawks defense has improved, but the high quality of play we’ve seen from the unit as a whole is reflected in his recent numbers.
Opposite Reed, Shaquill Griffin is a perfectly nondescript perimeter defender.
In the slot, Ugo Amadi is exploitable. An injury fill-in for starter Marquise Blair (knee, IR), who was lost for the season in Week 2, Amadi has allowed a 77.6% catch rate in his two-year career.
Amadi could struggle against Woods in the interior.
Wide Receiver Upgrades & Downgrades
- D.K. Metcalf: Large downgrade
- Tyler Lockett: Moderate downgrade
- David Moore: Moderate downgrade
- Robert Woods: No change
- Cooper Kupp: Moderate upgrade
- Josh Reynolds: Small downgrade
Seahawks & Rams WR/CB Injuries
- Rams WR Cooper Kupp (COVID-19) is IN.
- Seahawks CB Shaquill Griffin (hamstring) is projected IN.
- Seahawks CBs Quinton Dunbar (knee, IR), Tre Flowers (hamstring, IR) & Marquise Blair (knee, IR) are OUT.
Seahawks-Rams WR/CB Matrix
Pos = left, right or slot WR or CB
Projected shadow matchups are CAPITALIZED
WR Exp = Wide Receiver Expectation: I rank from 3 to -3 how much I think we should adjust expectations for wide receivers based on matchups. 3: Large upgrade. 2: Medium upgrade. 1: Small upgrade. 0: No change. -1: Small downgrade. -2: Medium downgrade. -3: Large downgrade.
Thanks to Scott Barrett for providing me with some of PFF’s historical data.
Matthew Freedman is 966-750-36 (56.3%) overall betting on the NFL. You can follow him in our free app.
The Editor-in-Chief of FantasyLabs, Freedman is commonly called the Oracle & the Labyrinthian.