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Target Hogs to Lean On for Fantasy Football in 2023 Justin Jefferson, Ja'Marr Chase, Cooper Kupp

Davante Adams - Fantasy Football Rankings, NFL Injury News, DFS Lineup Picks

It seems with each passing year, wide receivers are being drafted earlier and earlier in fantasy football. It’s a trend that is likely here to stay and there are a lot of reasons for this.

Receivers tend to have a lower injury risk and their role is less likely to change as the season goes along. The NFL is also passing at higher rates, increasing the volume for pass-catchers, and then of course, there’s the increasing emergence of the running back by committee approach. Each one of these factors is slowly but surely increasing the value for receivers everywhere.

We’re going to be focusing on those elite receivers who fantasy managers can build their rosters around. Players who can almost single-handily carry a whole position group. A lot of these aren’t going to surprise you. They’re some of the very best the NFL has to offer. In any case, let’s look at some of the best pass-catchers who fantasy managers can use as the building block for their championship rosters. Please be sure to use promo code "BOOM" for 10% off of any premium purchase.

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Justin Jefferson, Minnesota Vikings

Since entering the NFL in 2020 there have been very few receivers who have been better than Justin Jefferson. Since the moment he stepped onto the field, he has been dominating NFL defenses and there’s absolutely zero reason to think that stops anytime soon.

Year TS % Targets Receptions Yards TDs YPRR Full-PPR PPG
2022 29.3% (7th) 184 (1st) 128 (1st) 1,809 (1st) 9 (4th) 2.79 (5th) 21.7 (2nd)
2021 29.9% (3rd) 167 (4th) 108 (4th) 1,616 (2nd) 10 (7th) 2.76 (6th) 19.4 (4th)
2020 26.5% (6th) 125 (16th) 88 (13th) 1,400 (3rd) 7 (18th) 2.65 (5th) 17.1 (9th)

He’s simply been unstoppable and 2023 could very well be his best season yet. This upcoming season will mark his and quarterback Kirk Cousins’ second season in head coach Kevin O’Connell’s offensive system and with other teams in years past, we’ve seen a second-year leap. It’s scary to think what Cousins and Jefferson could accomplish if that happens.

While Adam Thielen was just a fraction of the player he used to be last season, his replacement, Jordan Addison, is a rookie and there could be an adjustment period for him. Very few players can walk onto an NFL field and be a factor like Jefferson.

It’ll also take time and chemistry for Addison and Cousins to gel. That could mean Cousins leans on Jefferson even more in the early portion of the season. Either way, Jefferson is going to smash again this season and will be the 1.01 in some redraft leagues this season. There’s a good reason for it. He’s a championship pillar.


Ja’Marr Chase, Cincinnati Bengals

If there’s anyone that could threaten Jefferson’s hold on being the NFL’s best young receiver, it’s Ja’Marr Chase. He was phenomenal as a rookie, but he was even better as a sophomore and that was despite missing games due to a hip injury.

What he did after returning from injury is what should get fantasy managers even more excited. From Week 13 until the Bengals lost in the playoffs, Chase averaged 10.9 targets, 7.5 receptions, and 82.6 yards per game. If he carried those averages into 2023, he’d finish with 185 targets, 128 receptions, and 1,404 yards. Those target and reception numbers would’ve ranked first last year. He averaged 19.5 full-PPR PPG during that stretch, but his expected full-PPR PPG average was even higher, at 21.2.

While Tee Higgins actually averaged more targets and receptions per game in 2021, Chase started to separate from him early last year. When he came back from injury, as noted above, the former LSU star went nuclear. Now entering his third season, don’t be surprised if we witness his very best season yet.


Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs

What is there to be said about Travis Kelce that has not already been said? He might be the biggest positional advantage you can have in all of fantasy football. The difference between Kelce and whoever winds up as the TE2 has been larger than the other top-two players at the other three core positions. To put it plainly, Kelce is a cheat code.

He held a 5.2 PPG advantage over TE2 last year and 9.1 over TE10. His 19.2 PPG average would’ve ranked as the WR5. In 2021, he finished as the TE2, 1.2 PPG behind Mark Andrews. He had a 1.8 PPG edge over TE3 and 5.7 over TE10. He would’ve finished as the WR9. In 2020, he provided fantasy managers a 4.1 PPG over TE2 and 10.3 over TE10. His 20.9 PPG average would’ve resulted in a WR3 finish.

He’s recorded 1,000+ yards in seven straight seasons and there’s no reason to expect that trend to end in 2023. The team is replacing JuJu Smith-Schuster, who was a dependable No. 2 target, with rookie Rashee Rice, and two other players who have disappointed mightily early in their careers, Skyy Moore and Kadarius Toney.


Cooper Kupp, Los Angeles Rams

If you think what Justin Jefferson has done the last two seasons is great, I’d like to introduce you to Cooper Kupp’s 2021–2022 per-game averages: 11.11 targets, 8.46 receptions, 106.11 receiving yards, and 0.84 touchdowns per game. Over 17 games, you’re looking at 189 targets, 144 receptions, 1,804 yards, and 14 touchdowns. That equals a 24.02 full-PPR average. Josh Allen averaged 24.3 PPG last year, just for reference.

The best pass-catcher in Los Angeles this season behind Kupp is either Van Jefferson or Tyler Higbee. It’s one of the ugliest depth charts behind the top option as far as pass-catchers go in the NFL. This offense is once again going to run through Kupp and quarterback Matthew Stafford will routinely lean on the NFL’s best receiver over the past two years.

Fantasy managers, based on his current ADP, seem somewhat hesitant with Kupp, likely due to his season-ending injury last year and some of the concerns regarding Stafford. There’s little reason to fret about Kupp and by all accounts, Stafford is healthy and good to go. At his current price tag, Kupp makes one heck of a mid-first-round pick with his insanely high ceiling.


Tyreek Hill, Miami Dolphins

There was no shortage of concern with Tyreek Hill going from Kansas City with Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid to Miami with Tua Tagovailoa and Mike McDaniel. Still, in the end, it simply did not matter because Hill is a uniquely talented and elite receiver.

Despite the downgrade at quarterback and play-caller and having the entire Miami offense having to learn a new system in Hill’s first season, he still managed to put up the best statistical season of his career.

With the entire team being more familiar with McDaniel’s offense and with a healthier season from Tagovailoa, fantasy managers shouldn’t be expecting any sort of regression from Hill.

The team’s No. 3 receiver is back again for 2023 and he had just 18 targets. They also let Mike Gesicki, who was best viewed as a pass-catching specialist at tight end leave in free agency only to replace him with more blocking tight ends.

The team re-signed veteran running backs Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson Jr., indicating fantasy managers shouldn’t expect a bigger emphasis on the running game. This offense is going to flow through Hill every single week.


Davante Adams, Las Vegas Raiders

There are likely some fantasy managers freaking out about the quarterback change to Jimmy Garoppolo. In the same way that some were concerned about Derek Carrlast season, but why? This is Davante Adams we’re talking about here.

In 2017, in seven games with Brett Hundley, the superstar receiver averaged 8.71 targets, 5.85 receptions, 69.85 yards, and 0.57 touchdowns per game. With Brett Hundley, he was on pace for 148 targets, 99 receptions, 1,187 yards, and 10 touchdowns.

Last year with Carr, he had 180 targets, 100 receptions, 1,516 yards, and 14 touchdowns. Simply put, it doesn’t matter who his quarterback is. Defenses can’t stop him, they can only wish to contain him, and those wishes often go unanswered.

Carr averaged 9.1 intended air yards per attempt last season, one of the higher numbers in the NFL. Jimmy G on the other hand, was at just 6.9 such yards. This could limit some of Adams’ boom weeks, but it will also help some of the duds he put up last year. He was more boom or bust than he’s ever been in his career last year.

Carr completed just 60.8% of his passes with the Raiders in 2022. Garoppolo hasn’t had a season under 67.0% since 2018 when he tore his ACL in just the third game of the season. The season before that, however, he was once again above 67.0%.

Adams is likely to be much more consistent in 2023. While that could mean slightly fewer yards or touchdowns, it’ll likely be offset by the increase in receptions with a more accurate thrower. Don’t be worried about the quarterback change, Adams is simply too good.


Stefon Diggs, Buffalo Bills

Since coming over to Buffalo in a trade prior to the 2020 season, there have been very few receivers as productive as Stefon Diggs.

Year Targets Receptions Yards TDs Full-PPR PPG
2022 154 108 1,535 8 20.9
2021 164 103 1,225 10 16.4
2020 166 127 1,429 11 18.9
Average 161 113 1,396 9.7 18.7

For the past two years, it’s been the Josh Allen to Stefon Diggs show in Buffalo and there’s little reason to think they’ll change much this season.

The team ended up drafting tight end Dalton Kincaid in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft, but otherwise, the team is going to be running back the same set of pass-catchers as last season, which means fantasy managers will get another season of full-blown alpha-receiver, Stefon Diggs.


CeeDee Lamb, Dallas Cowboys

Some questioned if CeeDee Lamb could become a true alpha receiver after having target shares of just 18.0% as a rookie and 20.4% in 2021. During those two seasons, he had 111 and 120 targets, respectively. However, one thing that often got overlooked with those numbers was that in his first two seasons, he didn’t clear an 81% snap or route share. Based on the Dallas depth chart heading into the 2022 season, it was easy to see Lamb was going to play a lot more.

That’s exactly what happened. In 2022, he had a 93.3% route participation rate and an 87.2% snap share. That increased opportunity led to a 28.7% target share and 156 targets. He finished last year as the WR8 in full-PPR PPG.

While the team did trade for Brandin Cooks, they also lost Dalton Schultz in free agency. They also have yet to resign Ezekiel Elliott or anyone to truly take his place. While there’s no doubt Elliott has lost a step, he still had 231 carries. Pollard had 193 but at just 209 pounds, how many carries can he truly handle?

Based on the team’s current roster construction offensively, it looks like they’re poised to be a more pass-heavy offense than they were last year when they finished with 556 pass attempts, which ranked just 19th. Any increased passing volume is going to lead to even more target opportunities for Lamb.

Assuming Dak Prescott plays a full 17-game season after missing five games last year, fantasy managers shouldn’t be surprised if Lamb has an even better season in 2023 than he did last year.


A.J. Brown, Philadelphia Eagles

In his first season in Philadelphia, AJ Brown finally lived up to the promise and hype he displayed in Tennessee. It certainly helped he played his first full season of his career and the improved quarterback play didn’t hurt. That said, Brown’s 2022 season wasn’t a surprise. He’s been on the verge of a monster season for a while and it finally clicked last year.

He was dominant across the board, finishing with 146 targets (eighth-most among WRs), 88 receptions (11th), 1,496 yards (4th), and 11 touchdowns (2nd). He also posted a 29.0% target share, which was the eighth-highest, and had the second-best yards per route run average at 3.01.

While it might be tough to match some of his efficiency metrics, it’s possible the Eagles pass more in 2023. They lost starting running back Miles Sanders and replaced him with two oft-injured running backs, Rashaad Penny and D’Andre Swift.

Their schedule for 2023 also looks a lot more imposing than the one they played in 2022 when they won seven games by more than one possession. Philadelphia’s defense will also work in as many as four new starters, which could lead to a drop-off from last year. All of these factors put together could lead to the Eagles' offense throwing the ball more often this upcoming season.

That increased volume will help offset any natural regression Brown experiences in his efficiency, but if the regression is mild, the increased team passing volume could lead to a repeat or even bigger performance this season.


Amon-Ra St. Brown, Detroit Lions

There was some skepticism on if Amon-Ra St. Brown could keep up with his end-of-2020 pace when D'Andre Swift and T.J. Hockenson both missed time for the Lions. We can officially put that notion to rest. St. Brown finished the 2022 season with 146 targets, 106 receptions, 1,161 yards, and 6 touchdowns. That doesn’t include the three times ARSB was tackled at the one-yard line and did not end up scoring a touchdown.

He finished 2022 with a 28.1% target share (11th among WRs), 32.3% target rate (3rd), and a 2.57-yard per route run average (9th). He averaged 16.7 full-PPR PPG, which ranked 10th and there’s reason to believe he could be better in 2023.

This will be the second season the offense will be working in Ben Johnson’s offense and as noted before, we’ve often seen huge steps in previous seasons. Jalen Hurts with Nick Sirianni last year. Aaron Rodgers won an MVP in his second season with Matt LaFleur. Matt Ryan won an MVP in his second season with Kyle Shanahan. I’m not saying Goff is winning the MVP, but that increasing familiarity within a system tends to be a really good thing. ARSB and the entire Lions’ offense have that going for them this season.

The team will also be without Swift, Hockenson, and D.J. Chark. They combined to have 165 targets, 104 receptions, 1,286 yards, and 9 touchdowns. They’ve been replaced by rookie Jahmyr Gibbs, rookie Sam LaPorta, and another player who is basically a rookie, Jameson Williams. Williams will also need to serve a six-game suspension. Jared Goff is likely to be zeroed in on his best and most familiar teammate. ARSB could be in line for his best season yet.


Garrett Wilson, New York Jets

I’m going to take a leap of faith including Garrett Wilson here with this group of elite receivers, but there are a lot of reasons to believe he could be up here when the 2023 fantasy football season is complete.

He was a target hog last year, finishing with 147, which was the sixth-most among receivers. Despite this workload, the rest of his counting stats waned in comparison. He finished 16th in receptions (83), 14th in yards (1,103), and 37th in touchdowns (4). He also had the 11th most air yards (1,575) and not surprisingly, the sixth-most unrealized air yards with 837.

His catch rate was just 59.7%. Among receivers with at least 75 targets, he ranked 47th out of 53 qualifying receivers. With four-time MVP, Aaron Rodgers under center, fantasy managers should be expecting Wilson to smash this season.

Player Completions Passing Yards Touchdowns Interceptions
Jets 2022 QBs 357 4,040 15 14
Career Average Rodgers 409 4,828 39 9

The table above is what the Jets quarterbacks did last season. It compares that to the Jets’ passing volume in 2022 with Rodgers’ career averages in terms of completion percentage, yards per attempt, touchdown rate, and interception rate to get an idea of just what kind of improvement their passing game could potentially expect to see if they get average-Rodgers.

At his career-average rates with the Jets’ passing volume, Rodgers would’ve thrown for almost 800 more yards and an insane 24 more touchdowns. Rodgers doesn’t even need to be his average self for the Jets’ pass-catchers to get a significant and sizable boost.

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