Welcome to our first fantasy football roundtable of the 2023 draft season, where we’ll focus on the position that will typically occupy the most spots on your fantasy roster. Esteemed members of The Athletic fantasy football staff who are helping to answer some of the hot-button questions at wide receiver include Jake Ciely, Nando Di Fino, Renee Miller, Dom Petrillo and Jay Felicio.
Which WRs belong in the first round of PPR drafts? Which receiver will benefit most from switching teams during the offseason? How about which Giants receiver we should care most about? Read on for our answers to these questions and much more!
In Flex10 (3 WR starting spots and a FLX), PPR leagues, list the WRs you’d take in the first round of a 12-team league, and the order you have them ranked.
Funston: Justin Jefferson, Cooper Kupp, Ja’Marr Chase, Tyreek Hill, Stefon Diggs, Davonte Adams
Ciely: Jefferson, Chase, Kupp, Hill, Amon-Ra St. Brown, Adams, Diggs
Di Fino: Hill, Jefferson, Chase, Kupp — I think fantasy managers are forgetting just how huge of a season Hill had last year — and he did it with a concussed and in-and-out Tua.
Miller: Justin Jefferson, Ja’Marr Chase, A.J. Brown, Stefon Diggs
Petrillo: Justin Jefferson, Cooper Kupp, Ja’Marr Chase, Davante Adams, Tyreek Hill
Felicio: Justin Jefferson, Ja’Maar Chase, Tyreek Hill, Cooper Kupp, Amon-Ra St. Brown, CeeDee Lamb, Garrett Wilson, AJ Brown, Stefon Diggs
Which WR do you think will see the biggest fantasy value boost after switching teams this offseason:
Funston: Brandin Cooks (from HOU to DAL) — With a 9.0 half-PPR average last season, Cooks ranked 39th among receivers in fantasy PPG (min. 8 games played). He’s finished with an 11.3 mark (or greater) in seven of his nine seasons, and with Dak Prescott throwing him the ball, and CeeDee Lamb drawing the extra defensive attention, Cooks is in great position to push back up near the back-end WR2 range at an early WR4 price.
Ciely: Elijah Moore (from NYJ to CLE) — Most of these are net neutral given other factors, but the biggest boost for me would be Elijah Moore with the opportunity to be the No. 2 in Cleveland after falling to the wayside with the Jets, and that’s before the added upgrade moving from QBs Zach Wilson/Mike White to Deshaun Watson.
Di Fino: JuJu Smith-Schuster (from KC to NE) — JJSS had possibly the quietest 100 target season of any wide receiver last year. And now he moves to a Patriots team that has a real (and very good) OC in Bill O’Brien, with a likely higher target share than he did last year. The group of team-jumping WRs isn’t really spectacular, but Smith-Schuster has a shot to reaffirm his standing as a very good fantasy WR again.
Miller: Parris Campbell (from IND to NYG) — Unlike the Colts, the Giants are a team on the rise with creative coaching and a well-rounded offense this season. Daniel Jones is my favorite second-tier QB option this season, and I love how late you can pick up his top receivers. Campbell has the size and speed to be a special player but injuries have repeatedly dampened enthusiasm for him as a fantasy option, thus driving his ADP way down. If you’re buying Brian Daboll and Daniel Jones, Campbell should be on your late-round radar as WR72.
Petrillo: Parris Campbell (from IND to NYG) — This may give away my answer to a later question, but Campbell should finally have a solid season. A prototypical slot receiver, Campbell will take the lead in a WR group which lacks any form of reliable weapon. While another addition, Darren Waller, will provide even more than Campbell, when it comes to receivers, Campbell will make an enormous impact for the Giants in 2023.
Felicio: Elijah Moore (from NYJ to CLE) — We saw the flashes in Elijah Moore’s rookie season — the Jets inexplicably (well, they’re the Jets) decided not to involve him in the offense last year. A trade to Cleveland with the expectation he’ll be the second target behind Amari Cooper, Moore has breakout candidate written all over him.
Which rookie WR do you believe will provide the greatest fantasy ROI based on current WR ADP?
Funston: Jordan Addison — I was tempted to go with Jonathan Mingo, because I really like his game, but I have a feeling that we might be lucky to get three rookies to return WR4 value or better this season, and history suggests first rounders are fairly safe bets. And among the first rounders, none are currently in line to see the kind of attention that Addison will get as the likely No. 2 WR in Minnesota opposite Justin Jefferson.
Ciely: Jordan Addison — Jaxon Smith-Njigba and Quentin Johnston need an injury to max value while Addison and Zay Flowers are already pushing for a starting 1-2 spot. That could happen for the others as well, but there’s much more traffic in front. Addison is the No. 2, and Flowers looks to be the 1 or 2 given Rashod Bateman’s continued injury concerns and questions of what’s left of OBJ. So, give me Addison narrowly over Flowers, even with higher cost.
Di Fino: Zay Flowers — I love JSN, but how many targets can we expect from him in that offense? I think it’ll be Flowers. There’s more of a pass-happy style in Baltimore and we don’t know what Odell Beckham is going to look like in 2023. I still think even he may be going a little high for having to compete with a few guys for possible targets, but he should return more value than the others.
Miller: Quentin Johnston — As the current WR46 in PPR drafts, Johnston gets the nod from me due to his landing spot. The Chargers are expected to once again be an offensive powerhouse with the fifth-highest implied point total for the season. With all due respect to Keenan Allen (age, injuries) and Mike Williams (injuries), Justin Herbert needs a healthy young stud to throw the football to. With his size and athleticism, Johnston can immediately be that man in three-wide sets, but would explode into fantasy relevance not if, but when, injuries strike Allen or Williams.
Petrillo: Rashee Rice — Despite Josh Pate saying a college with a food name is never good, Rashee Rice is. Not to mention he is playing with the best QB in the NFL in Patrick Mahomes. The fact JuJu Smith-Schuster is now in New England and Kadarius Toney is again hurt will give Rice a leg up in helping get the Chiefs back to another Super Bowl. As WR63, the pick risk is minimal.
Felicio: Puka Nacua — All aboard the Puka hype train! All are welcome! He has a chance to be the second option behind Cooper Kupp in an offense that he fits in like a glove. The Puka drumbeat has gotten louder and louder in training camp, and while his upside is nowhere near the likes of Addison, JSN, or the other rookie WRs, Puka is free.
Which WR scares you the most based on current WR ADP: Calvin Ridley, Kadarius Toney, Michael Thomas or Odell Beckham?
Funston: All of the above — Not trying to be a cop-out, just trying to be as honest as possible — I’m terrified of all of them and I will not be rostering any of them at current cost.
Ciely: Calvin Ridley — Two years removed from playing, target volume concern (several options), now a toe concern… Even if everything goes best-case-scenario, Ridley likely only flirts with WR1 status, thereby giving him a small potential ROI even without all these concerns.
Di Fino: Odell Beckham— OBJ is 30 years old now, is learning a new offense, and hasn’t had a 1,000-yard season since 2019. Ridley will be great. Toney is young and has a ton of talent if he can stay healthy. Thomas — he’s a close second here for me. But Beckham is scarier, I think, because he instills a lot of hope and we all remember how electric he was, and that may build up a round or two of helium, especially if he has an acrobatic catch in training camp or the preseason.
Miller: Kadarius Toney — As the current WR43 (half-PPR), Toney continues to tempt drafters with his flashes of efficiency and athleticism at the start of his fourth season in the NFL. Still young, Toney is dealing with yet another injury to his knee which led to his second offseason surgery this summer. What’s more, the Chiefs have shown no inclination to develop a new Tyreek Hill within their WR corps — target share (and subsequent productivity) was very inconsistent among the WRs in 2022. At some point, we have to let go of what could have been with Toney and realize he’s not going to be a fantasy superstar.
Petrillo: Kadarius Toney — Not only has he not been able to remain on the field in the past, he was hurt five minutes into his first practice this training camp. Talented is an understatement for Toney, but he has not shown any dedication/willingness to train in the offseason to limit his exposure to soft tissue injuries and this is concerning. Beckham Jr. and Thomas both know what they are at this point and I trust Trevor Lawrence to get what he can out of Ridley. But there is nothing Patrick Mahomes can do with Toney if he is standing on the sideline next to Andy Reid.
Felicio: Kadarius Toney — He’s only started eight regular season games in two seasons and only played in 19. He literally has three games of double-digit fantasy points. Absolutely no way I’m drafting Toney ahead of guys like Jahan Dotson and Jordan Addison.
PICK ‘EM (half PPR)
1. Amon-Ra St. Brown or A.J. Brown?
Ciely says: “It was ASB, but close, before Jameson Williams suspension, and now this is easy.”
Di Fino says: ” A.J. gets another year with Hurst. He’s a stud.”
Miller says: “The difference here is quarterback quality, so give me A.J. with Jalen Hurts every time.”
Petrillo says: “The ball will be spread around more in Philadelphia, allowing St. Brown to make up the point difference with the amount of catches he gets from Jared Goff.”
Felicio says: “Half PPR knocks ASB slightly, but the Lions’ pass-heavy offense makes up the difference.”
2. DeVonta Smith or Chris Olave?
- Smith 2 votes; Olave 4 votes
Di Fino says: “Smith. I’m not sure what Derek Carr is going to look like in NOLA.”
Miller says: “Smith, for the same reason I picked A.J. (above). Hurts made both Brown and Smith Top 10 fantasy receivers last season and the Eagles’ outlook is the same this year.”
Petrillo says: “This is tough as these are players on my two favorite teams. But Olave will be the WR 1 while Smith still has A.J. Brown in front of him.”
Felicio says: “Toughest one for me, but Olave gets the slight edge thanks to the clearer path to becoming the WR1 on his team.”
3. Amari Cooper or Keenan Allen?
- Cooper 2 votes; Allen 4 votes
Ciely says: “Cooper because Allen has more serious competition and career arc concern.”
Di Fino says: “I think Allen gets overlooked for what he’s capable of.”
Petrillo says: “The Browns will use Nick Chubb in the run game to wear down opponents while the Chargers attempt to tire them out by throwing down field. The numbers will be close, but give me Allen for the win.”
Felicio says: “Both are perennially underrated for fantasy, but Kellen Moore as the Chargers OC has me salivating at the potential (for Allen) in this offense.”
4. Drake London or Christian Watson?
- London 4 votes; Watson 2 votes
Funston says: “Give me London, but really give me neither. There’s a few WRs going later who I like more, like Brandon Aiyuk, Tyler Lockett and Chris Godwin, to name three.”
Ciely says: “Watson. Love both, but I’ll go with the higher ceiling in an offense passing more.”
Di Fino says: “London could have a massive season.”
Petrillo says: “Although London is the more talented receiver, Arthur Smith will have the Falcons at or near the top of the NFL in rushing. The Packers and Jordan Love will throw at a much higher rate and this will provide Watson with a better chance for higher production.”
Miller says: “Tough one. I have no issue with Watson’s talent, but Jordan Love is a huge downgrade. I’m taking London for the upside in Atlanta’s unique “position-less” offensive scheme.”
Name and project the catches, rec. yards and TDs for your expected top fantasy scoring NY Giants WR
Funston: Darius Slayton (55/775/5) — This would be right in line with Slayton’s usual (only a slight uptick), so it’s not a stretch. But it also might be the best of what’s left for the WR crew after Darren Waller and Saquon Barkley gobble up what will likely be a sizable chunk of the target share.
Ciely: Isaiah Hodgins (56/633/5) — I don’t have anyone accounting for 20% or more of the targets outside of Darren Waller, currently.
Di Fino: Darius Slayton (63/812/5)
Miller: Isaiah Hodgins (84/960/8)
Petrillo: Parris Campbell (75/850/6) — This is a bit of a flyer but, with the addition of Darren Wallen being the true WR1, I will go with another new addition to lead the WR group in production. Campbell has been having a good preseason and it will fall to him if Daniel Jones wants to continue his trajectory from 2022. But look for both Waller and Saquon Barkley to have better numbers in the pass game.
The wideout I’m most interested in outside the Top 50 WR ADP is…
Funston: John Metchie — Metchie’s Leukemia diagnosis derailed his rookie season, but he’s been given the all clear for 2023 and he says, “I feel 110 percent, actually… I feel better now than I ever did in college, and I feel better than I was before I got diagnosed, so 110 percent, for sure.” An ACL injury in his final NFL game contributed to him falling into the second round of the 2022 NFL Draft but a healthy Metchie might offer the most upside of any Texans WR on roster. I’ll roll those dice late.
Ciely: Zay Flowers — Since Addison (my other rookie receiver in the best value conversation) has an ADP just inside the Top 40, my second pick is the answer here. Flowers’ ability should fit perfectly with Lamar Jackson and the Ravens offense, and Bateman’s a continued concern.
Di Fino: Chase Claypool — He was on track for a third consecutive 100-target season, and this Bears offense has improved. I know D.J. Moore is the guy everyone loves, but get Claypool up to speed in the offense and you have a possibly dangerous 25-year-old weapon everyone has forgotten about.
Miller: Skyy Moore
Petrillo: Justyn Ross — Although he missed all of his rookie season in Kansas City recovering from a neck issue which showed up in college, he comes into this preseason getting all the first team reps with the offense. His talent at Clemson was undeniable. The only reason he fell so far was due to his neck. Otherwise he would have been one of the first receivers taken in the 2022 NFL Draft. The talent is still there and Andy Reid knows how to use talent. So does Patrick Mahomes. Look for him to get major play this season. And he is currently going off the board as WR83. In other words, he is not even being drafted in most leagues.
Felicio: Nico Collins — We have no idea how the hierarchy of wideouts will shake out in Houston. A new offense, a new rookie quarterback, everything is up for grabs. This late, I want to take dart throws at players with a clear path to becoming a top option in their offense.
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