The wide receiver position is full of ups and downs while being challenging to gauge each week. When drafting a winning team, I aim to create the least number of lineup decisions possible. By rostering two frontline wideouts, I should be able to eliminate playing anyone over these two players all season. If I wait to draft wide receivers, I may end up with five or six options with similar value. The downside of this plan is the high number of wrong decisions throughout the season. The goal when developing your receiving corps is to gain multiple edges.
I listed the ranking for each wideouts’ quarterback instead of ADP due to the wide range of scoring for the position in different formats. A receiver playing in a high-scoring offense tends to have a higher floor and more explosiveness. Half of this group of wideouts have a quarterback that expects to rank in the bottom 16 of the league. Based on the ADPs over the previous month in the National Fantasy Football Championship, here are the wide receivers that rank 13th to 24th:
A.J. Brown is the most difficult wide receiver for me to draft at WR2. I understand his potential and previous success, but I’m concerned with his targets (84, 106, and 105 over 43 games in his career). The Eagles want to run the ball and have two other viable receivers. The last report out of Philly has Brown building chemistry with Jalen Hurts. He is ultra-talented but needs over 130 targets to have a top 12 opportunity.
Multiple check marks point to further growth for Mike Williams after a career season. He plays with a rising top-tier quarterback in a division with many high-scoring games expected. Williams makes big plays with high value in scoring. Last year he ranked 14th targets (129), which was 40 more than his previous high. He has similar qualities to AJ Brown while playing in an offense that expects to attempt 150 more passes than the Eagles.
The loss of Russell Wilson is a significant downgrade for DK Metcalf. Drew Lock is the 61st ranked quarterback this summer in the NFFC despite him expecting to start for the Seahawks. Metcalf scored 29 times over his first 49 games in the league while gaining 14.7 yards per catch. His weaker opportunity is priced into his ADP (44.2).
Over the previous three seasons, DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett combined to catch 471 passes for 6,356 yards and 55 touchdowns. In his best two seasons over 33 games, Courtland Sutton caught 130 balls for 1,888 yards and eight touchdowns. He ranks two spots ahead of Metcalf and 47 spots ahead of Tyler Lockett. In the past, I’ve followed the receiving corps to find value at quarterback. In this case, fantasy drafters are betting on the come with the Broncos' top two wideouts.
After setting career-highs in catches (91), receiving yards (1,008), and targets (146), Marquise Brown reunited with his former college quarterback in Arizona. With DeAndre Hopkins out for six games, Brown has an excellent opportunity to start the season. I expect a drop in targets and potentially catches, but he should make up for some of that loss with longer receptions.
The decision between DJ Moore, Jaylen Waddle, Terry McLaurin, Diontae Johnson, and Allen Robinson is exceptionally close. A case could be made for and against all options. Waddle should be the most intriguing based on his age, potential explosiveness, and developing offense. Robinson lands in an excellent offense, but I do have some concern about the right elbow of Matthew Stafford. According to their resumes, Moore and Johnson have the highest floor in catches. McLaurin continues to do more with less.
Darnell Mooney has the feel of a rising player, but he also needs Justin Fields to play at a higher level. Mooney is the clear-cut top receiving option in Chicago, ranking 11th in targets (140) in 2021. This season he’ll draw WR1 coverage, where his size (5’11” and 175 lbs.) may catch up to him.
Brandin Cooks continues to play well no matter who throws him the ball. He did more with less in his two seasons in Houston (81/1,150/6 and 90/1,037/6), giving him a safe WR2 feel in 2022.
There are some excellent options in the WR3 rankings, and I expect multiple players to finish with a profit in 2022.
Once undefined returned to practice, the fantasy excitement began brewing in drafters' hearts. Before his injuries, he was one of the best receivers in the game. With more positive news, Thomas will surely push to WR2 status.
Chris Godwin gets his knock due to some possible missed playing time. His ADP will jump dramatically if he is cleared to play in Week 1.
There is a delicate line balancing the value of DeAndre Hopkins in drafts. I expect him to play well, and he should be easily paired with another wide receiver later in drafts to deliver a better package than his ADP.
If I start my teams with two running backs and a stud wideout, I’m looking for a second wide receiver that can catch 100 passes with a chance at double-digit scores. JuJu Smith-Schuster is that go-to guy based on the quarterback on his new team, contract year, and his previous ceiling. I expect him to outperform his ADP in a big way.
Despite an excellent finish in his rookie season, some fantasy drafters are skeptical about his repeatability. Amon-Ra St. Brown gets open and catches the ball, pointing to a fun career for the Lions. I’m giddy about his potential while expecting him to be an edge as a WR3.
I listed Gabriel Davis on my breakout team, but I feel much better rostering him as a potentially explosive WR3. His production should work well in best ball formats. Elijah Moore landed on my sleeper list when doing the research for all 32 teams earlier this summer.
For those willing to bet on the previous success of Russell Wilson, Jerry Jeudy is priced well above his first two seasons in the NFL (52/856/3 and 38/467). Talent-wise, he should push toward a Tyler Lockett role under the guidance of the Broncos’ new quarterback. However, I would never draft him over Davis, Brown, Smith-Schuster and Moore. It’s all about price point here.
The one-plus-one crowd will believe Rashod Bateman delivers a similar season as Marquise Brown (91/1,008/6) in 2022. Unfortunately, it took him three years to reach that level of play. The Ravens lack top-tier receiving talent, so they can’t help but get Bateman the ball. I need to see results on the field before drafting him in front of some talented wideouts.
The questions at quarterback for the Browns in 2022 make Amari Cooper extremely challenging to draft despite looking like a value. He does a lot of things well, giving him a chance to outperform his price point if the right player is throwing Cooper the ball. In the past, his best play has not come late in the season when fantasy championships are won. He has underperformed expectations four times over the past six years.
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