*** Rankings below based on 0.5 PPR leagues
Updated August 31, 2023
1. Justin Jefferson, MIN
2. Ja'Marr Chase, CIN
Justin Jefferson indisputably sits atop the draft board at WR, while Ja’Marr Chase follows at number 2…nearly as inarguable as Jefferson at number 1. Both WRs are set to post monster numbers in 2023.
Jefferson can go as high as first overall, while Chase should follow in the top half of round 1.
3. Tyreek Hill, MIA
4. Stefon Diggs, BUF
5. Davante Adams, LV
6. Cooper Kupp, LAR
7. Amon-Ra St. Brown
8. CeeDee Lamb, DAL
9. AJ Brown, PHI
10. Garrett Wilson, NYJ
The wide receiver position remains as deep as ever at the top, evidenced by the high-end options above and the names to come. Tyreek Hill leads the group falling just under tier 1. Hill assuaged any fears of his numbers being dependent on Mahomes at QB by blowing past his previous PR in yardage – 1,710 yards with Tua at QB. Hill remains in his prime and will accumulate game wrecking numbers again this season.
Stefon Diggs and Davante Adams profile as two of the best route runners in the game…always losing DBs and catching everything that comes their way. Both provide high, safe floors with upsides of 12+ TD seasons. Cooper Kupp drops down a tier due to health concerns, as rumblings have emerged that he could miss the opener. How healthy is his hamstring? We shall see.
Amon-Ra St. Brown had quite a successful sophomore campaign last year, catching 106 balls for 1,161 yards and 6 TDs. As part of the maturing Lions’ offense, St. Brown is poised to reach new heights this year. Similarly, CeeDee Lamb has improved during each of his three seasons. As Dak Prescott’s primary weapon, he’s a safe bet for 100 catches and 1,300 yards.
The Eagles intended for last year’s AJ Brown trade to put them over the top. A Jalen Hurts MVP-type season and near Super Bowl victory later, the Brown trade did just that. The Eagles’ prize acquisition fell just shy of 1,500 yards while hitting double digit TDs (11). Not sure that Brown will hit that yardage mark again with so many mouths to feed in Philly, but he’ll at least hover in the 1,300 – 1,400 range. We end with superstar second year WR Garrett Wilson. Wilson crossed the 1,100 yard mark with Zach Wilson, Joe Flacco and Mike White throwing him passes. Swap those three with Aaron Rodgers for 2023 and you can extrapolate a bump in his numbers this season.
This superb tier 2 class should go in drafts starting in the back half of round 1 and be off the board by the end of round 2.
11. Jaylen Waddle, MIA
12. Chris Olave, NO
13. Tee Higgins, CIN
14. DK Metcalf, SEA
15. Devonta Smith, PHI
16. Keenan Allen, LAC
The 2023 tier 3 group would typically be top ten-ish options most years, but they get bumped down due to the historic pool of WR talent currently in the league. Jaylen Waddle has had two very different types of seasons – high volume, short passes in 2021 and lower volume, higher aDot passes in 2022. He has thrived in both settings. Waddle leads off tier 3 here, though he has a solid case for tier 2 inclusion.
Chris Olave had 72 catches in his rookie season while crossing the 1,000 yard threshold. That was with subpar QB play. Enter Derek Carr, who’ll accentuate Olave’s strengths in the downfield game. Olave comes with a high floor plus tremendous upside. Tee Higgins has the number 2 role for the Bengals, opposite Ja’Marr Chase in the Bengals’ prolific passing offense. Higgins has settled in nicely as a safe 70 catch, 1,000 yard, 6 TD performer. Not the same upside as Olave or the WRs in the tiers above, but he’s as steady as they come.
DK Metcalf leads the receiving corps of a quietly potent Seahawks’ offense. The addition of slot WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba will draw some attention away from Metcalf (and Tyler Lockett), which could lead to the best season of Metcalf’s career. Also look for some positive TD regression for Metcalf, scoring only 6 TDs despite having 90 receptions. Devonta Smith is the 1A to AJ Brown’s 1 for the Eagles, quietly catching 95 passes in 2022. Not sure how much higher Smith’s ceiling is with a crowded Eagles’ offense, but he’s another member of the “high floor” group.
Keenan Allen has been the WR1 for the Chargers for years now. Has he reached the decline phase? Allen only played in 10 games last season, and he’ll play the 2023 season at age 31. Allen hasn’t hit 1,200 yards in the past 5 years. The counter argument is that new OC Kellen Moore will unlock Herbert and the Chargers’ offense. Allen’s ranking here absorbs both factors.
Rounds 3 and 4 should be the target on when to select this group of pass catchers.
17. Deebo Samuel, SF
18. Amari Cooper, CLE
19. Calvin Ridley, JAC
20. Terry McLaurin, WAS
21. DeAndre Hopkins, TEN
22. Christian Watson, GB
23. DJ Moore, CHI
24. Drake London
25. Mike Williams, LAC
26. Christian Kirk, JAC
27. Chris Godwin, TB
Leading off tier 4, Calvin Ridley sat out last year due to a gambling suspension. Now a Jaguar, he joins an ideal situation as Trevor Lawrence’s likely top target. Ridley’s got top 10 upside if you’re looking to roll the dice for ROI.
Deebo Samuel has fallen a bit fantasy ranking-wise from last year. Christian McCaffrey’s addition has syphoned some touches away from Deebo, and injury concerns lurk as well. But don’t drop him too far on your board. Amari Cooper scored 9 TDs and had 1,160 receiving yards with mostly non-Deshaun Watson QBs throwing him the ball. With an expected full season of Watson at the helm and Cooper remaining the hands-down top target, look for those numbers to be his floor for 2023.
Meanwhile Terry McLaurin possesses top 10 skills but annually finds himself in a bottom 30 QB situation. Despite who the Commanders trot out behind center, McLaurin will find his way past the 1k yard mark with 70-80 receptions. Absent an upgrade at QB, McLaurin’s ceiling remains as a low end WR2 for fantasy. DeAndre Hopkins remains a top level receiver while possessing durability concerns. Hop could turn out to be a nice value here, as he’ll immediately step in as the Titans’ top WR.
Packers’ WR Christian Watson came on strong during the second half of the 2022 season, scoring 7 TDs over the final 8 games. We’ll see how quickly he connects with new QB Jordan Love, but Watson will certainly be his first look on most routes.
Speaking of new QB-WR batteries, Bears’ QB Justin Fields gets a new lead WR in DJ Moore. The former Panthers’ WR has a strong history of performing agnostic of the identity of his QB, so expect Moore to keep it going in his new home. Drake London, yet another burgeoning second year WR, appears next on the list. London’s ceiling depends on QB Desmond Ridder’s development, but he’s got plenty of ROI upside if Ridder plays better than expected.
Mike Williams has settled in nicely as the WR2 in a potent Chargers’ offense. The team added rookie WR Quentin Johnston in the draft, so with an additional mouth to feed, we’ll see if Williams suffers any drop in usage.
Christian Kirk likely falls down the Jaguars’ WR pecking order with the arrival of Calvin Ridley. But the passing offense will remain potent, and Kirk should have no problem hitting the 70-80 reception, 1k receiving yard mark. The Bucs suffered the largest drop in QB competency with the loss of Tom Brady. Through no fault of Chris Godwin, his fantasy value takes a substantial hit. But he’s a target king, and will remain relevant.
Rounds 5 and 6 makes sense for the tier 4 WR group.
28. Diontae Johnson, PIT
29. Brandon Aiyuk, SF
30. Marquise Brown, ARI
31. Tyler Lockett, SEA
32. Mike Evans, TB
33. Jordan Addison, MIN
34. Courtland Sutton, DEN
35. Michael Pittman, IND
Diontae Johnson somehow managed to score 0 TDs despite catching 86 passes in 2022. Positive TD regression is on the menu for 2023, along with an improving Kenny Pickett. Brandon Aiyuk has settled in nicely as the 49ers’ downfield WR threat. Aiyuk has ascended in each of his three seasons, while crossing the 1,000 yard mark in 2022. His ceiling is limited a bit by the depth of the 49ers’ very nice array of skill position players, all of whom also requiring touches.
Marquise Brown faces QB uncertainty with Kyler Murray’s return date not clear. But the Cardinals’ QB (whoever it may be) needs someone to throw to, and Brown will be that guy. Tyler Lockett leads the perennially underrated team, quietly good for 1,000 yards and 8-10 TDs every year. JSN’s addition will both help (steer defenders away) and possibly hurt (another key target to feed), so these factors will balance each other out into another nice season for Lockett.
Mike Evans suffers one of the biggest drops in 2022 vs 2023 ranking, due entirely to his QB situation. As a more vertical target, there’s less confidence in QBs Mayfield and Trask delivering him the ball as opposed to the GOAT. Rookie WR Jordan Addison steps in for Adam Thielen in Minnesota, and expectations are high…as evidenced by his ranking here. He will have opportunities and targets from the get-go.
Courtland Sutton will be Russell Wilson’s top downfield target, and with Jerry Judy expected to miss several weeks, he has massive upside. Michael Pittman closes out tier 5. Pittman also suffers quite a drop from last year’s rankings, due to no fault of his own. The Colts breaking in a rookie, rush-first QB will reduce Pittman’s targets – it’s that simple.
Rounds 7 and 8 fit well for the tier 5 crew.
36. Gabe Davis, BUF
37. Michael Thomas, NO
38. George Pickens, PIT
39. Jaxon Smith-Njigba, SEA
40. Kadarius Toney, KC
41. Jahan Dotson, WAS
42. Brandin Cooks, DAL
43. Jakobi Meyers, LV
44. Quentin Johnston, LAC
45. Rashod Bateman, BAL
46. Treylon Burks, TEN
47. Odell Beckham Jr., BAL
48. Skyy Moore, KC
49. Bay Flowers, BAL
50. Jerry Jeudy, DEN
Once you hit tier 6 and beyond – beauty exists in the eye of the beholder. My favorites within this group are Michael Thomas, George Pickens, Jaxon Smith-Njigba and Kadarius Toney. While the All-Pro version of the WR won’t be returning, Thomas can revert back to being a heavy targets guy – so PPR alert. Pickens flashed as much talent as any WR from the vaunted 2022 class, but obviously didn’t receive the same opportunities. If Pickett takes a step or two this year, Pickens has room to bust up the rankings. JSN was all set to be placed in the tier above, with the wrist injury pushing him down. He runs routes like an eight year veteran and catches everything thrown his way. Kadarius Toney is the Chiefs’ best non-TE pass catcher, and he’s got Mahomes – enough said.
Tier 6 wide receivers provide good value from round 9 onward.
As mentioned above, the wide receiver position has more high end talent than at any time in recent memory. So you don’t have to feel pressure to draft the position early, though there’s nothing wrong with doing so. In an ideal scenario, grabbing at least one WR from the tier 1 or 2 group, and another from tier 3 or early tier 4 would be a great play. But in case the WRs from the top two tiers fly off the board before you get to selecting one, then make a point to grab at least one tier 3 pass catcher and two from tier 4. Then make sure to snag 1-2 high upside options later from the tier 5 and 6 groups. So don’t stress too much about sticking to a specific plan at WR. You can go top heavy or wait a bit (if you choose to fortify RB and TE early) and grab a troika of WR2 type options, along with some upside plays.
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