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2023 Fantasy Football Burning Questions: Wide Receivers

Tyler Lockett - Fantasy Football Rankings, NFL Injury News, DFS Lineup Picks

For many fantasy football players, the season never ends. All throughout the offseason and preseason, they spend so much time considering the outlooks of possible difference-making players for the upcoming year.

So it’s never too early to tackle the biggest questions at each position in advance of the 2023 campaign. I am providing answers and analysis in a series that covers quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers, and tight ends.

The first installment was at quarterback. In this edition, we take a look at some hot wide receiver topics that can shape your draft strategies and player evaluations for the 2023 season.

Be sure to check all of our fantasy football rankings for 2024 fantasy football drafts:

 

Burning Questions and Answers: Wide Receivers

Question: Who will be Seattle’s No. 2 wide receiver this season?

Answer: Those who anticipate that Jaxon Smith-Njigba will surpass Tyler Lockett on the actual Seattle depth chart are misfiring on their projected outlooks. Yes, Smith-Njigba was drafted in the first round by the Seahawks and Lockett will be 31 years old this season. But the rookie was drafted to fill an immediate need as a third WR for Seattle, and 31 is not the major decline age for the position.

Smith-Njigba is talented enough to potentially approach Lockett’s production as his ceiling, marking both players as possible fantasy WR3 types. But he will not quickly and surely overtake Lockett right away as the team’s clear second WR this year.

The returning veteran has not shown any signs of a possible significant falloff yet and even though he and DK Metcalf’s production will take a hit because of the rookie, Smith-Njigba is ticketed to be the Seahawks’ third WR in 2023. So the answer is, Lockett in real life, and possibly by a slight margin in fantasy football.

Question: Who Is the Baltimore WR to draft?

Answer: Odell Beckham Jr. will still command a lot of defensive respect, and he is worthy of a later dart throw as a fantasy WR5. Rashod Bateman is recovering from foot surgery, but he could turn out to be very reliable for Lamar Jackson when he is back in full form.

Zay Flowers is my favorite potential upside play of the three and he can quickly emerge as a top option for Jackson, so I will draft him as an intriguing fantasy WR4 over Bateman, whom I might prefer if there were no lingering concerns.

Question: What Carolina WRs will you be targeting?

Answer: DJ Chark and Adam Thielen are the top two projected starters right now, but I won’t be investing in either one fantasy-wise. Chark is a durability risk who is living off one good season in 2019, and Thielen should not be expected to produce much statistically at this point of his career. I will take late fliers on Terrace Marshall and rookie Jonathan Mingo.

It’s now or never for Marshall to start showing more in his third season. Mingo and Bryce Young may be a comfortable connection for a long time beginning this year, so I will lean to him over Marshall. Both Marshall and Mingo are fine later picks, but I see the former Ole Miss guy becoming a more reliable target for Young, as soon as this season.

Question: How are you valuing the Cleveland WRs?

Answer: I am expecting Deshaun Watson to recapture a good chunk of his better form, now in his second season with the Browns and having no interruption heading into the regular season after a full preseason. Amari Cooper had 1,160 yards and nine TDs last season, and he was not healthy for the full 2022 campaign, so he is a definite higher-end fantasy WR2 target for me.

A change of scenery can reinvigorate the outlook of Elijah Moore, who will at least be an upside streamer as a fantasy WR4.

Question: What veteran WR may be most undervalued among the projected non-fantasy-starter types?

Answer: Working with Dak Prescott, Brandin Cooks will be in his best situation in six years. He capably fills the hole at the No. 2 WR spot that Dallas was dealing with. I will be drafting Cooks as a WR4 but with certain WR3 expectations.

Question: What are your expectations for Calvin Ridley in his return to the NFL this season?

Answer: After a missed season, a slow start from Ridley in 2023 can be expected. He has likely kept himself in the best shape possible, but getting back into a rhythm at regular game speed with a new team might lead to some disappointing weeks early on.

Trevor Lawrence has trusted returning targets and Ridley doesn’t have to play at a frequent star level right away for the team to win games. The ex-Falcon can potentially surge later in the season, but I don’t see him regaining fantasy WR1 status this year.

Question: Will we see a true breakthrough season from Kadarius Toney?

Answer: We all know it’s not a question of talent with Toney, it’s about availability. Kansas City did not make any other moves of major significance in the offseason to present Toney with a challenge for the No. 1 WR role.

The ex-Giant is a very tempting risk/reward pick, as he could at least emerge as a regular fantasy WR2 this season if he doesn’t miss extensive time. It will also be interesting to see if Skyy Moore or rookie Rashee Rice can make their presence felt in the Chiefs’ passing game. Both are viable late-round fliers.

Question: Who is your favorite sleeper rookie WR?

Answer: Preseason reports have already indicated that the Giants’ Jalin Hyatt is facing an uphill battle to climb the depth chart. But pre-NFL Draft scouting reports compared him to DeSean Jackson, and there is not much notable competition in New York for a receiver of Wyatt’s talents.

Maybe he starts to become a true playmaking threat after a few weeks, but the Giants don’t have any other upside types in the WR room that can offer the promise of Hyatt, and that includes Parris Campbell. The third-round rookie is a needed missing piece in the New York passing game, as offensive coordinator Mike Kafka tries to incorporate more big plays.

Question: Which Jets WR other than Garrett Wilson will be the most productive?

Answer: The Jets lack a true No. 2 WR on their roster. Allen Lazard is a good blocker and a decent NFL No. 3 WR. Corey Davis doesn’t offer enough on the field in terms of consistent contributions. The wild card here can be Mecole Hardman.

The ex-Chief could see more opportunities to open up his game after he felt restricted as a gadget type in Kansas City. But Hardman did not take advantage of playing with Patrick Mahomes, so he should be readily available as a later-round pick. The speediest WR of the trio is my preferred draft target of the Jets’ wideouts outside of Wilson.

Question: Will Treylon Burks bust out in his second season?

Answer: The Titans identified Burks as their immediate replacement for A.J. Brown last year. That was a miscalculation in year one, but Burks is still ready to be the Titans’ clear No. 1 WR heading into 2023. He’s not going to have much competition for prime targets and Burks has a lot of promise for volume no matter who plays QB for the Titans.

The 23-year-old has a strong fantasy WR3 floor for this season, with the potential for higher-end fantasy WR2 production.

Scott Engel's fantasy and betting analysis is also featured at The Game Day.

 



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