Press coverage use is on the decline in the NFL. Displayed below is the league average press coverage rate over the past five seasons.
Press coverage rate by season:
2018 -- 63%
2019 -- 65%
2020 -- 58%
2021 -- 56%
2022 -- 55%
With press coverage becoming less prevalent, understanding which wide receivers struggle or excel against the press isn't quite as useful of a data point for in-season matchup analysis. Instead, I believe that press coverage data's real value comes in the form of offseason analysis.
My primary application for press coverage splits is in helping to form my long-term evaluation of a player. Often, wide receivers who prove capable of beating press coverage also prove capable of drawing targets and piling up Fantasy points.
As I begin to reflect on the 2022 season, wide receiver data when facing man and press coverage is one of the first places that my curiosity takes me. We were treated to another awesome rookie wide receiver class in 2022 (a class that posted historic numbers against man coverage), and we saw several second- and third-year wideouts step into a more prominent role as well. Familiarizing myself with how these young receivers performed against man and press coverage helps to move past the base-level results and add context to the early stages of their careers.
Drake London provides the clearest recent example of how wide the discrepancy can be between base-level stats and underlying advanced data. On the surface, it was a mediocre rookie showing from London. A deeper dive into London's analytics -- particularly, his per-route data -- indicates that he could produce at an elite level under better circumstances, particularly against man coverage I'm getting ahead of myself here -- we are focusing on press coverage splits in this article. If you are curious about man coverage data and want to learn more about which players stood out when facing it in 2022, click this link.
Digging through the 2022 press coverage data provided some intriguing takeaways. A few surprising names who stood out with exciting 2022 results vs. press were Mike Williams, Terrace Marshall, and Donovan Peoples-Jones. In contrast, the 2022 press coverage data compiled by Terry McLaurin, Elijah Moore, and Gabe Davis threw up some red flags. And would you believe that three rookies ranked inside the top-10 in yards per route run against press coverage in 2022? Garrett Wilson is the obvious standout rookie, ranking fifth, but you'll have a tough time guessing the other two.
The 2022 press coverage data is full of surprising insight.
Which Year 3 receiver stepped into elite territory against press coverage in 2022? And what should we make of veterans such as Michael Pittman, Diontae Johnson, and Terry McLaurin being out-produced by rookie teammates when facing press coverage? ... Join SportsLine here to see Jacob Gibbs' press coverage data deep dive, all from one of the nation's most accurate experts as graded by FantasyPros!
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