- Atlanta has consistently allowed high number of targets to RBs
- There are multiple matchups involving defenses who can’t defend TEs
- The Saints got torched in 2018 by WRs including against the Rams who look to repeat their success
In advance of Sunday’s games, I wanted to isolate specific matchups based on defensive performance in 2018. Since one week of data is not enough to go on, I listed matchups where in 2018, defenses allowed the top 10 largest target shares to each position, while also allowing the top 10 highest yards per attempt figures.
Defenses that allowed top 10 target share + top 10 highest yards per attempt in 2018:
- Atlanta (4th-highest target share, 10th highest yards per attempt)
- Darren Sproles was targeted 7 times with 4 receptions and 22 yards in the season opener last season against Atlanta
- In the 2018 Wildcard game, Philly RBs were targeted 10 times. Jay Ajayi and Corey Clement had 8 receptions for 75 yards. The 10 targets represented 33% of all of Nick Foles’s targets that day
- Seattle (8th highest target share, 4th highest yards per attempt)
- Gio Bernard and Joe Mixon combined to catch 4 passes for 49 yards on 6 targets last week against the Seattle defense.
- James Conner caught 4 passes for 44 yards last week against New England
- Indianapolis (highest target share, 4th highest yards per attempt)
- Indianapolis gave up 103 catches and 1,194 yards to tight ends last season. Matt Eberflus’ zone defense helps prevent explosive plays but lends itself to being exposed underneath by tight ends.
- Delanie Walker had an excellent game last week in his comeback after missing all of last season due to injury. He caught 5 passes for 55 yards and 2 TDs against the Browns
- Walker is most likely set to be a big part of the Titans game plan against Indy
- LA Rams (3rd highest target share, 6th highest yards per attempt)
- The Saints’ Jared Cook has experience going up against this Rams defense, torching them for 9-180 on 12 targets in the opening game last season.
- Drew Brees knows when to take advantage of a matchup so look for him to attack the Rams with Cook on Sunday. Last season in their matchup against the Rams, Brees targeted his trio of TEs — Ben Watson, Josh Hill, and Dan Arnold 9 times. Those TEs caught 5 passes for 72 yards. Let’s be honest, those are not world-beaters at TE so having a top-10 quality TE in Cook should provide Brees with a legit weapon this Sunday.
- Oakland (8th highest target share, highest yards per attempt)
- The Raiders had the highest yards per attempt figure allowed last season to TEs and get to face Travis Kelce on Sunday
- Last season in two games against Oakland, Kelce produced 230 yards on 17 receptions and 2 TDs.
- With Tyreek Hill out of the lineup it will be interesting to see if Oakland decides to double Kelce
- New Orleans (2nd highest target share, highest yards per attempt)
- The Saints allowed 9.2 yards per attempt on targets to WRs last season
- Even in one score situations last season, the Saints defense was 30th in yards per attempt allowed to WRs at 9.5. So, the case that the Saints only allowed big yardage to WRs because of blowouts is not valid.
- In last season’s matchup against the Saints, Jared Goff averaged 11.9 yards per attempt to WRs
- Rams WRs produced these totals against the Saints last season. 6-114-1 for Brandin Cooks, 5-71-0 for Robert Woods, and 5-89-1 for Cooper Kupp.
- Two seasons ago in their matchup against the Saints, Goff targeted WRs on 32 of 43 attempts (74%) and produced 7.1 yards per attempt to those WRs. Kupp led the way with 8 receptions for 116 yards.
- Last week, Deshaun Watson targeted WRs 20 of 30 attempts for 10.8 yards per attempt against the Saints defense. Deandre Hopkins was targeted 13 times and caught 8 balls for 111 yards and 2 TDs.