NFL Divisional Round WR/CB Matchups: Robert Woods, Tyreek Hill Positioned for Success
USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Rams WR Robert Woods (17), Chiefs WR Tyreek Hill (10)
- The NFL playoffs roll on with four divisional round matchups: Colts-Chiefs, Cowboys-Rams, Chargers-Patriots and Eagles-Saints.
- Below is a game-by-game breakdown of the top WR/CB matchups, featuring Rams WR Robert Woods and Chiefs WR Tyreek Hill in favorable spots.
Welcome to the Divisional Round! Only eight teams remain, so we’ll be able to focus on each team’s respective wide receiver and cornerback groups more than usual.
Visit the FantasyLabs NFL page for more on this week’s slate. You can also view all of the week’s WR/CB matchups using our Matchups tool and check out matchup-specific stats for every wild-card matchup in the Matchup Manifesto.
Wild Card Matchup Matrix
The fine folks at Football Outsiders offer their DVOA metric specific to against the run, pass and certain positions. The ranks for all eight defenses are below, with red meant to indicate the best and green the worst.
- Los Angeles is the home of two elite secondaries, as the Chargers (No. 10 in overall pass DVOA) and Rams (No. 9) each boast dominant pass rushes to complement their plethora of playmakers at safety and cornerback.
- Neither defense has excelled at taking away No. 1 receivers, although the Rams have been a bit better since the return of No. 1 corner Aqib Talib.
- The Chargers are at least positioned to match strength-on-strength with the Patriots, as Julian Edelman is expected to spend most of his day across from Desmond King — PFF’s No. 2 overall cornerback this season.
- The Cowboys and Chiefs are the defenses best positioned to take away their opponent’s top-two receivers. However, this attention could lead to openings for auxiliary options such as Josh Reynolds and Chester Rogers.
- Neither the Colts nor Chiefs have anything resembling a competent defense vs. opposing tight ends this season. Eric Ebron will be set up particularly well if Eric Berry (calf) is unable to suit up. Be sure to monitor our Divisional Round Injury Report for Berry’s daily practice participation along with his estimated and official game statuses.
- The Patriots haven’t been quite as dominant against top pass-game receivers as the public might think. Overall, they’ve allowed 65 yards per game to No. 1 wide receivers (19th most) and 53 yards per game to No. 2 receivers (ninth most).
- The Saints have allowed 87.8 yards per game to No. 1 receivers (second most), 80.4 yards to No. 2 receivers (most) and 43.2 yards through the air to running backs (17th).
- Only the Eagles allowed more yards per game than the Saints to opposing No. 1 receivers (90.2).
- The Saints-Eagles’ matchup currently has the second-highest over/under in the slate at 51 points. Only Colts-Chiefs at 57 points is higher (per our Live NFL Odds Page).
Divisional Round WR/CB Matchups
We can determine where each receiver will line up as well as which cornerback each receiver will see the most of with help from the snap counts provided by PFF.
We’ll also use PFF to compare each receiver’s and defender’s respective yards per route run and yards allowed per cover snap, along with their height, weight and 40-yard dash time. (Non-listed 40-times courtesy of DraftScout.com.)
- Snap Percentage: Each receiver’s respective percentage of snaps spent as the offense’s left, slot or right wide receiver along with each cornerback’s respective percentage of snaps spent covering an offense’s left, slot or right wide receiver.
- Physical: Each player’s respective height (inches), weight (pounds) and 40-yard dash time (seconds). The players with the biggest advantages are identified in green while those that are undersized or slow are in red.
- Production: Each wide receiver’s respective targets per game and yards per route run along with each cornerback’s respective targets allowed per game and yards allowed per cover snap.
Indianapolis Colts at Kansas City Chiefs
Colts WRs vs. Chiefs CBs
Hilton (ankle) not practicing all week is the new normal, and he’s fully expected to suit up Sunday. Inman possesses his usual height and weight advantage on the outside and is the higher-upside option over Rogers, who typically works underneath as the offense’s slot specialist.
It’s been tough to slow down Hilton all season, but his recent stretch of excellent play has been aided by seven of the Colts’ nine games since their Week 9 bye coming indoors. Hilton has scored just one touchdown outside all season and all five of his games with over 100 yards came inside.
This isn’t exactly a new phenomenon for either Hilton or his quarterback, who will now have to deal with a Chiefs defense that has been significantly better at home in recent history.
Ebron is set up well against the Chiefs’ porous secondary vs. tight ends, but be aware he’s playing through injuries and was on the field for just 36-of-73 snaps (49%) last week.
Chiefs WRs vs. Colts CBs
The Colts utilize zone coverage at the highest rate in the league. This hasn’t exactly been a problem for Patrick Mahomes this season.
As it turns out Hill has been the larger beneficiary compared to Travis Kelce during those five games:
Don’t let noisy home/away short-term splits and a coverage scheme distract you from Hill’s massive speed advantage over the entire Colts secondary. Hill is set up brilliantly considering the Chiefs easily boast the week’s highest combined net yards per pass attempt rate.
This doesn’t mean you should fade Kelce: The Colts’ 29th-ranked defense in DVOA against tight ends has yielded a league-high 76.2 yards per game to opposing tight end units. Kelce is fresh off of finishing one of the greatest regular seasons in the history of the position.
The Chiefs’ all-world tight end is arguably the most-matchup proof receiver in the league thanks to his unrivaled combination of size (6-foot-5 and 260-pounds) and athleticism for the position.
Also helping matters for the Chiefs is the expected return of Watkins (foot). He emerged as the second-most efficient target of Mahomes’ young career in terms of adjusted yards per attempt in Weeks 1-11.
It’s unclear if the Chiefs’ overqualified field-stretcher is anywhere close to 100%, but he’s at least boosted Mahomes’ average yards per attempt during their time together.