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Early 2023 Fantasy Football Draft Targets and Sleepers – Wide Receivers

Jahan Dotson - Fantasy Football Rankings, Draft Sleepers, Waiver Wire Pickups

It is always critical for you to remain flexible in your decision-making throughout the entire fantasy football draft process even though that recommendation should not deter you from developing a plan before you begin each draft. Knowledgeable fantasy managers are already aware that the decisions that are made during every round remain important, which underscores the need to adjust your strategic approach as each draft progresses.

That also provides the rationale for determining which players should be targeted once drafts have advanced beyond the early rounds since the selections that you make during the middle and late rounds remain crucial - even if you are ecstatic with the players that you secured near the onset of your drafts.

These players can become vital resources for your rosters if you are prepared to capitalize on their availability when you have an opportunity. This article will help your pre-draft planning by identifying wide receivers who are primed to outperform the current expectations of their ADPs. Draft results from January and February in the FFPC’s best ball leagues have been used in the creation of this article.

Editor's Note: Our incredible team of writers won two writing awards and received 12 award nominations by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. A big congrats to our very own Byron Lindeque (Golf) and Jordan McAbee (NASCAR) for both winning Writer Of The Year awards! Be sure to follow RotoBaller's analysis and advice all year long, and win more. Win More With RotoBaller!

 

Jahan Dotson, Washington Commanders

Dotson was the fifth wide receiver to be selected during the 2022 NFL Draft when Washington secured him with the 16th overall pick. The Commanders opted to seize Dotson after he had generated 91 receptions, 1,182 yards, and 12 touchdowns during his final year at Penn State (2021).

His first season with Washington was shortened by a hamstring injury, but his appealing blend of speed, athleticism, and adeptness as a route-runner should usher him to weekly WR2 status during his second year.

Dotson did launch his rookie season with promising results as he led the Commanders in snap share (93.4%), and routes run (92) in Weeks 1-2, while averaging 5.0 targets/3.5 receptions/50 yards per game, and vaulting to second among all wide receivers with three touchdowns. The problematic hamstring brought a sudden halt to Dotson’s production during the Commanders’ Week 4 matchup in Dallas, and he did not resurface until Week 10.

His involvement in Washington’s distribution of targets was dramatically reduced upon his return as he only accumulated four targets, two receptions, and 27 receiving yards from Weeks 10-12.

This catch though! @JahanDotson stays makin' plays

However, Dotson led the Commanders in targets from Weeks 13-18 (35/7.0 per game) and paced the team in targets (26/6.5 per game), receptions (16/4.0 per game), receiving yards (290/72.5 per game), air yards (382), air yards share (36.8%), and yards after catch (83) from Weeks 15-18.

Weeks 15-18 Rec Yards Yards/Gm
A.J. Brown 476 119
DeVonta Smith 421 105.3
CeeDee Lamb 398 99.5
Jerry Jeudy 385 96.3
Jaylen Waddle 353 88.3
Keenan Allen 352 88
K.J. Osborn 350 87.5
Drake London 333 83.3
Chris Godwin 321 80.3
Mike Evans 319 106.3
Justin Jefferson 309 77.3
Jahan Dotson 290 72.5

 

Weeks 15-18 Air Yards AY %
A.J. Brown 602 44.04
Garrett Wilson 589 42.25
Davante Adams 471 34.11
D.J. Moore 453 58.38
DeVonta Smith 432 31.6
Mike Evans 432 49.32
Tyreek Hill 431 42.3
CeeDee Lamb 391 31.71
Drake London 390 47.16
Jahan Dotson 382 36.84

Dotson finished 10th overall in air yards and 12th in receiving yards was targeted on 22.2% of his 117 routes and averaged 2.48 yards per route run during that sequence. He also finished second among rookies in receiving yards and third in targets, receptions, air yards, and yards after the catch.

Dotson’s seven touchdowns from Weeks 1-18 also tied him with Christian Watson for the lead among rookies, while he also finished 10th among all receivers in yards before catch per reception (11.0) and 14th in aDOT (13.5).

Dotson accumulated his numbers while operating with three different signal callers during his 12 matchups as Taylor Heinicke (six) and Carson Wentz (five) combined for 11 starts, while Sam Howell spearheaded Washington’s aerial efforts in Week 18. Howell could also emerge as Washington’s starter during the Commanders’ season opener although the situation will remain unsettled until we have advanced further into the offseason.

Washington will be transitioning to a new offensive coordinator following the departure of Scott Turner, but Dotson and Terry McLaurin should operate as the top two receiving weapons within the Commanders’ restructured attack. This should allow Dotson to function with a sizable percentage of targets during the majority of his matchups. He possesses the talent to capitalize on his opportunities and generate numbers that propel him beyond the expectations of his ADP in best ball drafts (90/WR39).

 

Treylon Burks, Tennessee Titans

Burks performed with an intriguing blend of speed and athleticism during his collegiate career at Arkansas, while also possessing the versatility to operate from multiple areas of the field. The Titans were sufficiently enamored with the 6’3, 225-pound Burks to jettison A.J. Brown to Philadelphia in exchange for a chance to seize Burks with the 18th overall selection of the 2022 NFL Draft.

That instantly presented Burks with the opportunity to ascend atop Tennessee’s depth chart while confiscating the WR1 responsibilities that had previously been entrusted to Brown. His ability to accumulate eye-opening numbers during his first season was circumvented by health issues that sidelined him during six of Tennessee’s matchups.

However, the promising usage and big-play capabilities that were displayed during several sequences in his rookie season now provide the basis for optimism that his production will increase significantly during his second year.

Burks was limited to a combined 49 snaps in Weeks 1-2 but still secured a 20.8% target share. He was also targeted on 36.7% of his routes – which led all wide receivers who had run 30+ routes – and averaged 3.4 yards per route run during those contests. He also led Tennessee in targets (11/5.5 per game), receiving yards (102/51 per game), air yards (144), air yards share (29.3%), and yards after catch (45) despite his managed involvement.

A turf toe issue forced his absence from Weeks 5-9. However, he established season-highs in target share (29.6%), targets (eight), receptions (seven), and receiving yards (111) when the Titans visited Green Bay in Week 11. He also led all receivers in targets per route run (38.1%) and yards per route run (5.3), while finishing 12th overall with 18.1 fantasy points.

Burks was limited to 10 snaps in Week 13 before he sustained a concussion, as he absorbed a significant hit while securing a touchdown pass.

He also tied his season-high by capturing eight targets for 66 yards when Tennessee hosted Dallas in Week 17 and vaulted to ninth among all receivers in air yards (122).

The identity of Tennessee’s starting signal caller entering Week 1 remains unclear. However, Burks currently resides atop a depth chart that also contains Robert Woods, Nick Westbrook-Ikhine, and Kyle Philips, and he should operate as the Titans' primary receiving option. His favorable usage and home-run capabilities make him an enticing option at his Round 8 ADP in best ball drafts (87/WR38). 

 

Rashid Shaheed, New Orleans Saints

Shaheed was signed by New Orleans as an undrafted free agent in 2022 after stockpiling 5,478 all-purpose yards during his collegiate career at Weber State. He had also accumulated 146 receptions, 2,164 receiving yards, and 18 receiving touchdowns as a Wildcat, while his exceptional speed also helped him generate seven touchdowns on kickoff returns.

Multiple factors fueled a lack of interest in Shaheed during the NFL Draft. Not only had he failed to generate impressive numbers as a receiver, but he had been recovering from a torn ACL leading up to the draft. This blended unfavorably with concerns regarding his age, as he was destined to turn 24 before Week 1.

Shaheed didn’t register his first snap until Week 6, and the modest beginning to Shaheed’s NFL career understandably left fantasy managers uninspired by the prospects of securing him for their rosters during that span. However, Shaheed’s involvement increased as the year progressed. He also displayed the capacity to generate yardage and fantasy points at a level that easily transcends the minimal investment of his current ADP.

Shaheed began his rise into relevance after being elevated from the practice squad in Week 6 when he promptly bolted for a 44-yard rushing touchdown during his NFL debut.

His first career reception also resulted in a 53-yard touchdown in Week 7.

He later eclipsed 75 receiving yards in three of his four matchups from Weeks 13-17. That propelled Shaheed to 22nd overall in receiving yards during that sequence (290/72.5 per game), which included the Saints’ bye week. He was also 17th in yards after catch (123), while averaging 4.8 targets/4.3 receptions per game during those contests.

Weeks 12-17 YPRR
Christian Watson 4.55
Rashid Shaheed 3.99
Tyreek Hill 3.57
A.J. Brown 3.37
Mike Williams 3.36
Michael Pittman 3.34
Amon-Ra St. Brown 3.08
Drake London 3.06
DeVonta Smith 3.02
Davante Adams 3.01
Diontae Johnson 3.01

 

Weeks 12-17 YPT
Rashid Shaheed 15.6
D.J. Chark 13.4
Mike Williams 12.6
D.J. Moore 11.8
Jaylen Waddle 11.7
A.J. Brown 11.2
George Pickens 11
Kalif Raymond 10.8
Tee Higgins 10

Shaheed also vaulted into the league lead in yards per target (15.6) from Weeks 12-17 among receivers who collected 20+ targets. Shaheed was also second in yards per route run (3.99), and fifth in yards per reception (18.1) during that five-game span.

Amazingly, 87 wide receivers are currently being selected before Shaheed in deeper best-ball leagues (ADP 278/WR88). This provides an opportunity to benefit from his availability by seizing him during your upcoming drafts. Offseason roster alterations could change his status, but he is currently positioned to operate as the Saints‘ WR2 behind Chris Olave.  This creates a path for Shaheed to deliver big plays as a dynamic vertical weapon, and he can also accumulate yardage after the catch while operating on shorter routes.

If the Saints infuse more imagination into their offensive approach and secure an upgrade at quarterback, those improvements would also boost an already-promising outlook for Shaheed.

 

Khalil Shakir, Buffalo Bills 

Shakir is a capable route runner with reliable hands and the versatility to operate outside or from the slot. His enticing blend of attributes did not propel him to a sizable target share in 2022 (6.1%), but Shakir can deliver a significant increase in his output if he can seize an expanded role in Buffalo’s aerial attack during his second season.

Shakir’s prospects of securing more opportunities will be determined by the modifications that are made to the Bills’ depth chart during the offseason. However, his potential to capitalize on any increase in his usage provides the incentive for targeting him as he is not being selected in the majority of 28-round drafts.

The Bills selected Shakir during Round 5 of the 2022 NFL Draft (148th overall) after he had accumulated 208 receptions, 2,878 receiving yards, and 20 touchdowns during his four seasons at Boise State. He also performed impressively in training camp and accumulated 151 yards (50.3 per game) during Buffalo's preseason matchups. This accelerated interest in Shakir as a late-round draft option with the belief that he was ascending toward an ongoing role during his first season.

Shakir's ability to secure a favorable target share was largely impeded by a congested depth chart as Isaiah McKenzie, Jamison Crowder, Isaiah Hodgins, and Jake Kumerow were also competing for opportunities behind Stefon Diggs and Gabe Davis entering Week 1, while Cole Beasley and John Brown were also added to the Bills’ roster during the season.

Shakir completed his first year with unexceptional numbers as he operated on 261 offensive snaps (29.3% share), collected 10 of his 20 targets, accumulated 161 receiving yards, and generated 195 air yards. He only attained a 40% snap share in two different contests but did secure a season-high 70% share when the Bills hosted Pittsburgh in Week 5. He also established season-highs in targets (five) and receiving yards (75) during that same matchup.

Shakir also ran 44.6% of his 97 routes from the slot, and only reached 20 routes in one matchup during the year. Shakir was also targeted on 20.6% of his routes during his rookie season while averaging 1.66 yards per route run.

However, even though his involvement in Buffalo’s aerial attack was limited throughout the majority of his matchups during 2022, it is premature to dismiss him as a resource for fantasy managers after one season. He is capable of accumulating numbers that launch him firmly into the fantasy landscape if his target share rises during his second year.

Calvin Ridley, Jacksonville Jaguars

There is an inherent risk in prioritizing Ridley among your draft targets while his suspension remains intact. He will also turn 29 in December and will be performing after an extended absence upon his return. However, these factors have also impacted his ADP, and the potential benefits of securing him during early drafts also deliver the prospects of a significant return on investment if Ridley is reinstated during the offseason. 

Exactly two years ago, Ridley was entering the 2021 offseason having just finished fourth among all wide receivers in point-per-game scoring (18.8). Ridley had also completed his 2020 regular season with a league-high 2,018 air yards while pacing his position with 1,099 yards before the catch. He also soared to fourth in receiving yards (1,374/91.6 per game), including a league-best eight games of 100+. Ridley was also second in air yards share (41.6%), seventh in targets (143/9.5 per game), 11th in receptions (90/6.0 per game), and generated nine touchdowns.

2020  Rec Yards 100+ 
Stefon Diggs 1535 7
DeAndre Hopkins 1407 7
Justin Jefferson 1400 7
Calvin Ridley 1374 8
Davante Adams 1374 7

 

2020  Air Yards AY %
Calvin Ridley 2018 41.56
D.K. Metcalf 1768 39.21
Stefon Diggs 1713 34.24
Tyreek Hill 1708 35.92
D.J. Moore 1551 40.76

 

2020  YBC YBC/Rec
Calvin Ridley 1099 12.2
Stefon Diggs 1071 8.4
Justin Jefferson 947 10.8
D.K. Metcalf 940 11.3
Allen Robinson 931 9.1

Unfortunately, Ridley has only played in five regular season games since that career-best season and has not registered a snap since October of 2021. He was limited to 52 targets/31 receptions/281 receiving yards during that 2021 season before he requested a personal leave in order to focus on his mental health.

Ridley was also suspended throughout all of 2022 for betting on NFL games during the 2021 regular season and was eventually traded to Jacksonville in exchange for two conditional draft picks. The Jaguars have expressed their optimism that he will be reinstated, and Ridley's current ADP in best ball drafts (73/WR33) is below the draft position that he will ascend to if that occurs.

The collection of numbers that were mentioned previously will provide renewed perspective regarding his elite status following that breakout season, which had also compelled fantasy managers to seize him early in Round 2 of 2021 drafts (14/WR4).

He will be 28 when the regular season launches in September and would benefit from infusion into an aerial attack that is spearheaded by Trevor Lawrence. Only four teams distributed a higher percentage of targets to their wide receivers than Jacksonville during 2022 (64.2%), as Christian Kirk commandeered a team-high 24.6% share. Zay Jones was second on the Jaguars (23.1%), followed by tight end Evan Engram (18.2%), and Marvin Jones (15.6%).

Kirk also finished 15th overall, with 133 targets (7.8 per game), while operating from the slot on 71.8% of his routes. He also led Jacksonville in multiple receiving categories and will retain a sizable role in the Jaguars’ aerial attack. Zay Jones’ sixth NFL season was his most prolific and he should also remain involved in the distribution of targets. Marvin Jones is a free agent who will turn 33 in March, and could easily resurface on a different roster by Week 1.

Ridley may not replicate the 9.5 targets per game average he attained during his career-best season with Atlanta, but he should join Kirk in operating as the Jaguars' top two receiving weapons.  He should also accumulate numbers that will justify your decision to secure him during your upcoming drafts.



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In every fantasy draft, managers focus heavily on their early-round picks. After all, these are the players who are going to lead your fantasy team. However, the late-round picks are just as important, especially if those "sleepers" turn out to be consistent fantasy options. Just look at the 2023 fantasy season, as several sleepers helped... Read More


Jaxon Smith-Njigba Fantasy Football Rankings, Draft Sleepers, Waiver Wire Pickups

Ladd McConkey vs. Jaxon Smith-Njigba - Who Should I Draft in 2024 Fantasy Football?

Jaxon Smith-Njigba and Ladd McConkey are young wide receivers with unlimited upside. With Smith-Njigba playing in his second season and McConkey about to get his first taste of NFL action, they should have a long way to go in building successful pro football careers. Luckily, some great offensive minds can help them succeed. Smith-Njigba will... Read More


James Cook - Fantasy Football Rankings, Draft Sleepers, NFL Injury News

Players To Fade for Fantasy Football Best Ball Drafts Include Josh Jacobs, James Cook, Chris Olave, David Njoku, more

Fantasy football best ball drafts and contests continue to grow and grow each year. The number of tournaments and strategies deployed surrounding the format is exploding, which means we must stay sharp! Social media is filled with best ball builds and screenshots of different approaches. It's everywhere! But before you can win these leagues, you... Read More


Drake London - Fantasy Football Rankings, Draft Sleepers, NFL Injury News

Fantasy Football Targets and Fades - FFPC Main Event Contest

Even though the calendar still shows it's the first half of June, fantasy football drafts are back in full swing in many best ball leagues, tournaments, and high-stakes contests. These early drafts can help all fantasy football managers get a feel for how the market perceives players and where they will end up in drafts... Read More


Geno Smith - Fantasy Football Rankings, Draft Sleepers, NFL DFS Picks

Fantasy Football Preview - Seattle Seahawks Edition

This new 32-part series will dissect each NFL team through a fantasy football lens. We'll look at each of the four primary positions—quarterback, running back, wide receiver, and tight end—and identify each player's value at their current ADP. Through this series, we'll also recognize players fantasy managers should avoid and target at their current ADP.... Read More


Ricky Pearsall - Fantasy Football Rankings, Draft Sleepers, NFL Injury News

Five Fantasy Football Rookies That Will Fail To Make An Instant Impact In 2024

In recent years, we have seen more rookies than ever before provide immediate fantasy football results. Just last year, we watched Puka Nacua and C.J. Stroud have impressive debut seasons. However, not every rookie can make an immediate impact. Whether it’s due to circumstances or lack of experience, there are times when first-year players disappoint.... Read More


UFL RANKINGS, FANTASY FOOTBALL,

Free UFL Betting Picks - Best Bets, Odds, Predictions for the UFL Championship

Sadly and sweetly, we have reached the conclusory game of the 2024 UFL season. I am already yearning for the start of the 2025 season and eager to follow along as the draft happens, the rosters change, and 2024 stars get their NFL opportunities. There is plenty to reflect on: the great attendance numbers for... Read More