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Best Fantasy Football Landing Spots For 2023 Rookie Wide Receivers

Quentin Johnston - Fantasy Football Rankings, NFL Rookies, Draft Sleepers

We are just a few days away from the 2023 NFL Draft, and there are plenty of incoming rookies that could make an immediate impact in redraft fantasy leagues. Running back Bijan Robinson comes to mind, but there are also numerous wide receivers that could be selected within the first few rounds with the ability to produce right away.

Fortunately for both receiver prospects and fantasy players alike, many teams in the NFL could use an influx of talent at the position. Some of these teams lack depth but boast high-flying offenses, while others have a clear opening at WR1 for the taking.

We'll be discussing the best landing spots for incoming rookie wideouts and how these potential homes can provide fantasy-relevant output for redraft leagues in 2023. Of course, these aren't the only teams that could be looking to select a receiver early in the draft, and a lot could change before Week 1 to create unforeseen opportunities. Given what we know now, here are seven teams that fantasy gamers should be rooting for to spend significant draft capital on a wide receiver.

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Kansas City Chiefs

While the Chiefs proved just two short months ago that they can win a Super Bowl without a consistent WR1, it's obvious that one could have incredible success in this offense alongside tight end Travis Kelce. It's also realistic to think that Kansas City will target a receiver in the draft as the team lost JuJu Smith-Schuster, its target leader at the position in 2022, as well as Mecole Hardman in free agency.

The Chiefs aren't without talented pass-catchers, but there are certainly question marks surrounding many of them.

Kadarius Toney has flashed immense upside when healthy but missed as many regular season contests as he finished throughout his two professional seasons. Skyy Moore, who was selected in the second round last April, should see his role increase this season but was mostly uninvolved as a rookie.

Marquez Valdes-Scantling averaged fewer than five targets and three receptions per game in his first year in red and gold and Richie James, who was signed to a one-year deal just a few weeks ago, has just 95 receptions for 1258 yards in his four-year career. Justyn Ross has been the recipient of some recent Twitter hype, but the Clemson product went undrafted in 2022 and is yet to suit up for his first NFL action.

The aforementioned Kelce should easily lead the Chiefs in targets, receptions, and receiving yards this season, but there would still be plenty of opportunities available for an incoming rookie with Patrick Mahomes attempting nearly 40 passes per game. If Kansas City spends up on a wideout, it's quite easy to see a path to fantasy relevance on an elite offense with a wide receiver room that can be described as murky at best.


Buffalo Bills

Entering last season, Gabe Davis was a popular breakout candidate routinely being selected as a fantasy WR2. Although the 24-year-old finished just outside of this range, it didn't feel like he took the leap that many were expecting as he was wildly inconsistent and tied for the league lead in drops.

Stefon Diggs remains one of the NFL's elite wideouts, but there's an obvious need for depth behind him in Buffalo. Khalil Shakir was a fifth-round draft selection in 2022 and finished with just 10 receptions for 161 yards as a rookie. Tight end Dawson Knox is a solid pass-catcher at his position but is not particularly great at earning targets.

The lack of reliability from Josh Allen's receiver group was evident in Buffalo's loss to the Bengals in the Divisional round of the 2022 playoffs. Shakir led the team's wide receivers in yards with just 40 in the 27-10 defeat. It became apparent that the Bills were lacking a significant weapon with the ability to take some pressure off of Diggs, who hauled in just four of his 10 targets for 35 yards.

Davis will continue to be a home run threat and Diggs will once again thrive as Allen's go-to guy, but there are 118 targets vacated with the departures of Isaiah McKenzie and Devin Singletary this offseason. Assuming the Bills use an early-round draft pick on a receiver, he will instantly have a shot to produce for fantasy purposes on a team poised to attempt close to 600 passes and score amongst the best offensive units in the league.


New York Giants

The Giants' pass attack may not be quite as exciting as that of the Chiefs or Bills, but the opportunity that New York can provide to a rookie wide receiver may be greater than what any other team in the league has to offer.

It's fair to assume that Daniel Jones won't be throwing for 35 touchdowns in a season anytime soon, but the 40-million-dollar quarterback has proven to be a capable passer despite being equipped with very few proven weapons throughout his career. It's clear that the team is looking to change that this season, as the Giants acquired former Pro Bowl tight end Darren Waller via trade in March.

Waller could easily establish himself as the primary target in Brian Daboll's offense, but health will be a key factor in this coming to fruition. The 30-year-old appeared in just 20 regular season games with the Las Vegas Raiders over the last two years combined. Even if Waller manages to stay healthy, though, a rookie wideout could emerge in what is one of the most ambiguous receiver rooms in the NFL.

Returning to the Giants in 2023 will be Darius Slayton, Sterling Shepard, Isaiah Hodgins, Wan'Dale Robinson, Collin Johnson, and David Sills. Slayton and Shepard have been effective in New York, but Shepard, unfortunately, hasn't played in more than 12 games since 2018 and Slayton has consistently operated as a deep threat.

Hodgins, a former sixth-round pick, impressed down the stretch in his first NFL action last season but should not be considered a guaranteed starter. Robinson flashed as a rookie but was forced to miss the majority of his first season with knee injuries, while Johnson and Sills have a combined total of 41 receptions for their careers.

In addition to Waller, the Giants brought in Parris Campbell and Jamison Crowder this offseason. Campbell is yet another player on this roster that has struggled to stay on the field but did manage a full season for the first time in his career in 2022. He represents a solid upside for a wide receiver room that desperately needs it. Crowder has enjoyed a handful of productive seasons but appears to be entering the twilight of his career after an injury-riddled 2022 in Buffalo.

There are legitimate questions to be asked about every pass-catcher on the Giants' roster except Slayton, and Waller is the only one with a 1,000-yard receiving season under his belt. New York could take a gamble on their current wide receiver group, but if they choose to look at the position with pick 25, it would be hard not to get excited from a fantasy perspective. Their actions in preparation for the draft show that this excitement may be warranted.


Minnesota Vikings

Similar to the Bills, the Vikings very obviously lack depth at wide receiver behind their star. Justin Jefferson is arguably the best in the league and should average double-digit targets per game for years to come, but Minnesota will need to add talent at the position with Adam Thielen now in Carolina.

Of course, the Vikings invested in T.J. Hockenson at the trade deadline last season and immediately reaped the benefits. Still, Thielen is leaving behind 107 targets in the third-heaviest passing offense in the NFL. With head coach Kevin O'Connell at the helm, Minnesota changed its identity in 2022 as Kirk Cousins attempted a career-high of 643 passes. This is more than enough for Jefferson, Hockenson, and a potential rookie receiver to find success.

Despite parting ways with Thielen, the Vikings have been noticeably quiet in the wide receiver market this offseason. The only newcomer thus far is Brandon Powell, a five-year veteran with 47 career receptions. Other receivers currently on the roster include K.J. Osborn, Jalen Reagor, and Jalen Nailor.

Osborn has the most apparent upside and even showcased it at various points last season, his third as a pro. Reagor notoriously was selected by Philadelphia one pick ahead of Jefferson in 2020 but has been largely ineffective so far in his career, and Nailor, a sixth-round selection in 2022, hardly saw the field as a rookie.

If the team has confidence that Osborn can become a quality WR2, it could opt to wait for a few rounds before adding a wideout in the draft, but there is no doubt that some capital will be spent on the position. The Vikings have met with several of the top receivers in the draft and may have a particular interest in USC product Jordan Addison.


Los Angeles Chargers

The Chargers were one of the two teams to pass more than the Vikings last season as Justin Herbert averaged over 41 attempts per game. Los Angeles hasn't seen many significant targets vacated yet this offseason outside of DeAndre Carter's 65, but a staggering 127 may become available in the near future.

The biggest beneficiary of a potential Austin Ekeler trade would probably be Keenan Allen, a reliable option for Herbert who primarily operates underneath. Both Allen and Mike Williams dealt with injuries last season, however, and the pass-catchers behind them on the depth chart didn't necessarily step up as expected.

Joshua Palmer received a fair amount of hype last offseason, and while he did take a sizable leap from 2021, the 23-year-old still left a lot to be desired. Despite running the fifth-most routes in the NFL last year, Palmer was targeted on just 18.4 percent of them and found the end zone only three times. Gerald Everett, who is currently in line to start at tight end for the Chargers again in 2023, averaged just 6.4 yards per target and struggled with drops throughout his first season in L.A.

If the Chargers are able to work out a deal to retain Ekeler, it could be difficult for a rookie receiver to make an immediate fantasy impact, assuming the team's receiver corps stays healthy. Regardless, Los Angeles is likely to add depth at the position and there is certainly a scenario in which the incoming rookie is thrust into a larger role than initially anticipated.


Baltimore Ravens

Unlike most of the other offenses discussed, the Ravens were not a prolific passing team in 2022. In fact, Baltimore attempted even fewer passes per game than the aforementioned Giants. Still, there is reason to have hope for a rookie wideout on this team.

For starters, Baltimore has replaced Greg Roman with Todd Monken as its new offensive coordinator. Monken, who was most recently an OC at the University of Georgia, will bring an up-tempo style of play that the team has lacked under Roman. In this new system, Lamar Jackson should be expected to air the ball out more often than he has in his career to this point. Jackson's mere presence under center was a huge unknown just a few weeks ago, but all signs now point to the former MVP returning, at least for this season.

Odell Beckham Jr. signed a one-year contract worth up to $18 million with the Ravens in April, a deal that was reportedly struck at the request of Jackson himself. Beckham wasn't the only receiver on Jackson's radar, though.

Baltimore, for the time being, has chosen not to pursue DeAndre Hopkins, but the next best thing from Jackson's perspective would certainly be seeing the front office spend up on a first-round receiver. If the Ravens truly want to keep Jackson long-term, their wide receiver room should be addressed early in the draft.

A rookie on this offense would compete for touches with Beckham along with Rashod Bateman, Nelson Agholor, Devin Duvernay, and, of course, star tight end Mark Andrews. Both Beckham and Bateman have struggled to stay on the field over the past two years, while Agholor hasn't eclipsed 50 receptions in a season since 2018. Duvernay is a vital asset to Baltimore's special teams unit but could be less involved on offense next season if the receiver group is properly filled out.

Much like Kelce is for the Chiefs, Andrews is the primary receiving threat for the Ravens and has demonstrated sensational chemistry with Jackson for four consecutive seasons. Nevertheless, Jackson has proven that he can support a fantasy WR2 alongside Andrews. In 2021, Marquise Brown finished as the WR23 in half-PPR scoring with 145 targets, 91 receptions, 1008 yards, and six touchdowns.

There is a clear opportunity in Baltimore given the concerns surrounding their current starters and the potential for a new fast-paced offense. The ball is in the front office's court to keep their franchise QB happy by investing in a new weapon for him.


New Orleans Saints

A bit of a sleeper to select a wide receiver early in the draft is the New Orleans Saints. The Saints used their 11th overall selection on Ohio State product Chris Olave in 2022 and should have absolutely no regrets about doing so. Olave was fantastic as a rookie and should only improve going forward with Derek Carr now at quarterback.

Behind Olave, though, there is a lot of uncertainty in New Orleans. Michael Thomas showed glimpses of his old self in his first two games of last season but did not see the field again after Week 3. In total, Thomas has suited up for just 10 games since the start of the 2020 campaign.

24-year-old Rashid Shaheed displayed some promise as a rookie after going undrafted, but the Saints were working with one of the thinnest receiver groups in the league, especially when Olave and Jarvis Landry dealt with injuries.

New Orleans wasn't particularly pass-happy last season, but that could easily change with the addition of Carr and the looming suspension of running back Alvin Kamara. If Carr attempts his career average of about 550 passes, Olave and at least one other receiver can definitely thrive.

Even if the Saints don't spend their first-round pick on a wideout for the second year in a row, any addition at the position within the first three rounds would likely warrant some enthusiasm for redraft fantasy purposes.

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