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2023 Fantasy Football Wide Receivers To Prioritize in Standard, But Fade in PPR Leagues

Gabriel Davis - Fantasy Football Rankings, Draft Sleepers, NFL Injury News

While points-per-reception (PPR) leagues have become fantasy football's most popular format over the years, there's still something to be said for standard (STD) settings. PPR leagues weigh productivity, such as catches, more heavily. STD formats significantly lean towards efficiency, such as touchdowns.

When it comes to wide receivers, PPR leagues tend to reward not only high-floor players but also those who regularly embrace a heavy target volume. These settings favor wideouts who consistently function as slot receivers and those who receive high-percentage looks in general.

STD formats advocate the use of the league's most dangerous deep threats. This pertains to sheer field stretchers with spectacular contested-catch potential. Fantasy managers are far less inclined to target slot men, who generally get the ball on low average target depths rather than on the perimeter. Let's investigate some of the gridiron's most intimidating vertical weapons to prioritize in STD leagues but fade at their average draft positions (ADP) in PPR.

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D.J. Moore- Chicago Bears

FFPC ADP: 46.8

With three straight 1,200-yard seasons from 2019 to 2021, D.J. Moore has evolved into a format-proof fantasy asset as a catch-and-run sensation. However, the 26-year-old was one of the game's biggest busts in 2022. He had four catches or fewer in 11 out of 17 games with the Carolina Panthers. Moore's move to the Chicago Bears now places him as the unquestioned number-one wide receiver for rising star QB Justin Fields.

Moore's abysmal catch rate of 53.4% last year leaves much to be desired and is unlikely to improve with the inaccurate Fields. The dual-threat quarterback ranked at the bottom of the league in completion rate at 60.4%. Fields' season high in pass attempts (28) across 15 games translated to just 22.4 team pass plays per game. The scrambling signal-caller ranked top three in each advanced receiving category among quarterbacks in 2022.

Chicago deploys one of the league's most run-centric offenses, ranking third in team rush attempts per game (32.8) last year. This factor is likely to limit the weekly box score outputs for the team's receiving corps. The slow-paced Bears attack generated the second-fewest plays per game (58.4) last season. This isn't exactly a recipe for high-floor stat lines for any skill position.

Moore's fantasy floor is likely to be as unstable as it was last year unless Fields drastically improves as a thrower. However, Moore's ceiling is heightened with his new cannon-armed field general, compensating for that shortcoming.

Even in Carolina's dysfunctional offense last season, the former first-round pick showcased a 150-yard ceiling. Moore is worth considering in the fifth round in standard leagues with the change of scenery and his big-play upside. However, he's not worth the cost in PPR leagues due to his weekly volatility as a WR2 play.

Gabriel Davis, Buffalo Bills

FFPC ADP: 95.8

One of fantasy's rare receivers who can display weekly overall WR1 upside is Gabriel Davis. He is capable of making a significant impact on any given Sunday. If Josh Allen reduces his rushing as suggested (although I'm skeptical), this change could potentially raise the minimum production levels for the Buffalo Bills' pass catchers.

Nevertheless, Stefon Diggs is almost guaranteed to receive 150 targets. Buffalo also utilizes checkdown options at the running back position with James Cook and Nyheim Hines. Fantasy managers who have followed Davis since he was drafted probably already understand what they're getting when they select this explosive wideout.

At 24 years old, Davis represents a boom-or-bust WR2/3 option. He has one of the most distinct differences between his floor and ceiling among all wide receivers. In 2022, Davis had a floor of one point and a ceiling of 30 points. This is a more acceptable risk in standard leagues. It wasn't until Week 18 that the former fourth-round pick saw double-digit targets for the first time.

Davis' inconsistency (51.4% catch rate) is not entirely his fault. His role as a field stretcher naturally involves more deep-ball targets rather than short-area opportunities. He simply isn't a reliable option in PPR leagues but offers a high ceiling in high-scoring game environments for the Bills.

Despite the disappointment surrounding him in 2022, Davis is worth considering in standard leagues due to his playing style aligning well with that format. One could consider him a prime post-hype sleeper for 2023 given his currently undervalued cost.


Courtland Sutton, Denver Broncos

FFPC ADP: 102.0

An untimely ACL and MCL tear in 2020 has prevented Courtland Sutton from building upon his breakout season in 2019. Some fantasy experts may have anticipated the 27-year-old playing a similar role to D.K. Metcalf after Russell Wilson joined the Denver Broncos, but it never quite materialized.

Sutton started promisingly with an average of 5.8 catches for 83.4 receiving yards per game from Weeks 1 to 5. However, he struggled as Denver's season spiraled out of control. Tim Patrick is returning to the team, and the addition of second-round rookie Marvin Mims Jr. further adds to the uncertainty surrounding Sutton's potential production in 2023.

If new head coach Sean Payton can indeed "fix" Wilson after a disastrous debut season, the talented quarterback can unlock the full potential of his pass catchers. Despite missing two games, Wilson attempted 87 deep passes in 2022. However, his completion rate of 60.5% does not inspire much confidence in terms of consistency.

Sutton's target rate of 21.8% suggests a lack of separation and explosiveness. He had just 132 yards after the catch across 15 games. As a former second-round pick, Sutton is seen as the preferred vertical threat in the offense. He has had 54 deep targets since 2021, while Jerry Jeudy assumes a more versatile role.

Sutton may need to rely on his size and big plays to compensate for any potential loss of speed. He needs to justify his average ADP alongside a potentially erratic passer. The former Pro Bowler had a successful 43.4% win rate against man coverage last season, showcasing his ability to create mismatches.


Mike Williams, Los Angeles Chargers

FFPC ADP: 65.8

The Los Angeles Chargers' offense limits the fantasy floor of Mike Williams due to competition from slot receiver Keenan Allen and receiving back Austin Ekeler. In 2022, Williams had three games where he was limited to 15 yards or fewer, excluding a shortened Week 11 due to an ankle sprain. However, the 28-year-old also had a high ceiling, achieving four games with 100 yards or more.

The Chargers' selection of outside wideout Quentin Johnston does not contribute to Williams' fantasy stability. Nevertheless, Williams still stands out as one of the most exciting options for a high-scoring week among all pass catchers. His imposing physical presence in the fast-paced and high-volume Los Angeles offense aids his fantasy value. The Chargers ranked second in the NFL with 41.9 team pass plays per game last year.

Considering the number of offensive weapons on the team, it is difficult to recommend targeting Williams in the seventh round of PPR leagues. However, in standard leagues, Williams can be a worthwhile investment, especially with his ADP lower than last year's drafts. Williams holds significant upside in either format, particularly considering the aging of 31-year-old Keenan Allen.


Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

FFPC ADP: 78.5

Mike Evans' explosive performance in the season finale of 2022 (10 receptions, 207 yards, three touchdowns) skews an otherwise concerning second-half decline. From Weeks 9 to 15, the 29-year-old averaged a pedestrian 4.0 catches for 48.6 yards per game. Additionally, there was a noticeable drop in his average yards of separation from 2021 (1.73) to 2022 (1.37).

However, Evans has been a fantasy stalwart throughout his career, succeeding regardless of the quarterback situation. He has an impressive streak of nine consecutive 1,000-yard seasons, but it's reasonable to question whether his age-30 season could disrupt that streak.

In theory, Evans could thrive as a deep threat with quarterback Baker Mayfield. One of the few positives from Mayfield's mostly underwhelming 2022 season was his effective 45.2% completion rate on deep throws. Mayfield excelled against man coverage, a defensive scheme that Evans often exploits with his imposing size. The four-time Pro Bowler recorded 31 deep targets and continued to make big plays down the field last year.

Former quarterback Tom Brady was known for his high opportunity and fast-paced approach in 2022. His departure means that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers offense is likely to adopt a less reliable approach in 2023. While Evans may have standout weeks where his immense talent shines through, stability is unlikely to be a characteristic of Tampa Bay's suspect offense.

Nevertheless, Evans' discounted ADP is certainly appealing. However, considering his age and the significant downgrade at the quarterback position, Evans should be preferred in STD leagues over other formats.

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