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Top NFL receivers by WR Rating against press and off-man coverage

Baldwin ended the 2017 season with 23 catches on 31 targets for 339 receiving yards and five touchdowns against press coverage, posting a WR rating of 149.1.
Baldwin was also one of just seven receivers to see at least 30 targets against press coverage without dropping a single pass, and his average of 2.78 yards per route run against press coverage was the league’s fourth-best mark.
Kupp caught 18-of-23 targets for 320 yards against press coverage, posting a WR rating of 147.7 and recording a catch rate of 78.3 percent, both of which ranked third among receivers with at least 10 targets.
Inman tallied a catch rate of 80.0 percent against press coverage, with 70.0 percent of his press targets going for either a first down or a touchdown, both of which ranked second among receivers.
He finished the 2017 campaign with a WR rating of 128.8 versus press coverage, catching 75.0 percent of his targets for 125 yards and one touchdown, while averaging a very healthy 15.6 yards per reception.
Honorable mentions The rookie wide receiver faced press-man coverage on 40.3 percent of his routes in 2017 and caught 50.0 percent of his targets for 203 yards and two touchdowns.
Watkins was especially effective against off-man coverage, as he caught 20-of-39 targets for 329 receiving yards and four touchdowns, giving him a league-best WR rating of 139.7.
What’s more impressive, is that 61.3 percent of those targets ended with either a first down or a touchdown, also the league’s best mark.
Last season, he faced off coverage on 65.0 percent of his routes, finishing the season with 61 catches on 78 targets and racking up a league-leading 924 receiving yards against off-man coverage.
Robert Woods, Los Angeles Rams, 134.3 WR Rating Woods took advantage of defenders giving him a cushion at the line of scrimmage in 2017, as he gained 608 receiving yards on 44 receptions against off coverage.

Jan 14, 2018; Minneapolis, MN, USA; New Orleans Saints wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr. (19) against the Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Against man coverage, a receiver will generally face one of two basic tactics at the line of scrimmage: press coverage or off-man coverage. When in press coverage, the defensive back will line up directly across from the receiver and be tasked with physically matching the receiver coming out of his break or off the line of scrimmage, with the goal being to disrupt the intended route. When playing off-man coverage, the defender gives some depth at the line of scrimmage, leaving a “cushion” between him and the receiver. This cushion makes off-man less vulnerable to deep routes than press-man, as it affords the defender much more room to break on the route and make a play on the ball.

At PFF, the pre-snap alignment is one of the many things that we track during our analysis process. This practice lends data that we can use to evaluate how receivers fare when facing particular types of coverage. Using one of our Signature Stats, we will look at the NFL’s top receivers in WR Rating (passer rating when targeted) against both press and off-man coverage.

Against press coverage

WR Rating vs press coverage
1. Ted Ginn Jr, New Orleans Saints: 158.3 WR Rating

With Ginn’s blistering straight-line speed, it’s no surprise to see that defenses chose to play off Ginn at the line of scrimmage (69.9 percent of his routes), considerably more than they chose to press him (30.1 percent). However, Ginn took advantage of his opportunities against press coverage, as he ended the season with 15 catches on 17 targets for 304 receiving yards and three touchdowns. All told, he produced a perfect WR rating of 158.3 and recorded a catch rate of 88.2 percent, both of which ranked first among all receivers seeing at least 10 targets.

2. Doug Baldwin, Seattle Seahawks: 149.1 WR Rating

Over the last few seasons, Baldwin has cemented himself as one of the most physical and explosive receivers at the line of scrimmage. Baldwin ended the 2017 season with 23 catches on 31 targets for 339 receiving yards and five touchdowns against press coverage, posting a WR rating of 149.1. Baldwin was also one of just seven receivers to see at least 30 targets against press coverage without dropping a single pass, and his average of 2.78 yards per route run against press coverage was the league’s fourth-best mark.

Kupp had a really encouraging rookie season in 2017 and heads into his sophomore campaign as one of the league’s most promising slot receivers. Kupp rarely faced press coverage last season, but when he did, he used his shiftiness and athleticism to produce great results. Kupp caught 18-of-23 targets for 320 yards against press coverage, posting a WR rating of 147.7 and recording a catch rate of 78.3 percent, both of which ranked third among receivers with at least 10 targets. Even more impressive is the fact that a whopping 65.0 percent of Kupp’s press targets were positively graded, which was second only to Sterling Shepherd a season ago.

4. Dontrelle Inman, Chicago Bears, 144.2 WR Rating

The seven-year NFL veteran faced press coverage…

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