Nothing changes the narrative of a wide receiver’s season like touchdowns both in real and fantasy football. Look no further than Christian Watson. Watson was a waiver wire league winner because he caught seven touchdowns in a four week period. Those seven touchdowns propelled him to a WR3 finish in .5PPR last year.
There are also plenty of wide receivers who’s 2022 seasons would have looked a lot different had they scored more touchdowns.
I was curious just how different last year’s wide receiver ranks would look like if we could equalize for touchdowns. Thus, Fantasy Points without Touchdowns (FPwoT) was born!
The idea behind FPwoT is simple enough: total fantasy points if every player didn’t score a single touchdown. Touchdowns are fickle and can vary wildly season to season unless you’re the cream of the crop at the wide receiver position. (Even then we all know of those years when Julio Jones decided he was allergic to the end zone.) Removing them from total points pushes receivers who have reliable/integral roles in their offenses higher in the rankings. Those are the players who will likely be values in your fantasy drafts.
Here are four wide receivers who ranked higher in 2022 FPwoT then their .5PPR finish and seem primed for bounce-back seasons in 2023.
Diontae Johnson (WR23 in FPwoT, WR37 in .5PPR)
Obviously Johnson is going to headline this list. He is literally the reason I created the stat. Johnson didn’t score a single touchdown in 2022 and as such finished well outside the WR2 value many drafted him as. But according to FPwoT, Johnson was a WR2. A fringe one, but one none the less.
Only Justin Jefferson, Davante Adams, Tyreek Hill, CeeDee Lamb, and Stefon Diggs saw more targets than Johnson last year. Johnson also managed to finish T-10th among WRs in red zone targets with 16. Had he converted any of those into touchdowns, his 2022 fantasy season would’ve looked a lot different.
We’ve got a whole summer ahead of us for ADPs to change, but Johnson currently is going WR39 behind the likes of Marquise Brown, Treylon Burks, and even Johnson’s teammate George Pickens. If that’s where Johnson’s value remains come August, he’ll be on all my rosters.
Courtland Sutton (WR31 in FPwoT, WR45 in .5PPR)
Sutton might have the greatest chance on this list to go from worst to first. I was amazed to see actually how high he ranked last year per FPwoT despite what we all have treated as an absolute dumpster-fire season in Denver. It makes sense though as Sutton only scored one touchdown last year despite leading the Broncos in red zone targets (12). Again, dumpster-fire.
I’m choosing to buy into the Sean Payton Broncos and I’m hoping Russell Wilson isn’t just suddenly a corny catchphrase factory with no quarterback skills. If Wilson can return to anything like we saw in Seattle, while playing in Payton’s high-tempo offense, Sutton could quickly find himself a WR2 or better in 2023.
Terry McLaurin (WR10 in FPwoT, WR18 in .5PPR)
I will never get off the Scary Terry bandwagon no matter how many times it hurts me. McLaurin has been one of the most productive wide receivers in the game since entering the league in 2019. Since then he ranks 10th in targets, 14th in receptions, and 12th in yards. Only in touchdowns does he rank outside top-15 at the position (19th). He is the Commanders’ clear No. 1 receiver and will continue to perform at that level regardless of the talent around him.
Sam Howell isn’t at all exciting at quarterback, but the Commanders did invest in their offense this offseason, headlined by adding new OC Eric Bieniemy. McLaurin is going outside WR2 status in Underdog ADP (WR26) which is great value for someone who has WR1 upside.
Garrett Wilson (WR18 in FPwoT, WR22 in .5PPR)
Can a rookie really be a bounce-back candidate? I don’t know. Probably not. But I can tell you that he’s got a shot to be a set-it-and-forget-it WR1 this season with the addition of Aaron Rodgers. If Rodgers and Wilson can get on the same page early, there’s no ceiling to Wilson’s 2023 season. Even with the broken-down carousel of QBs the Jets rolled out last year, Wilson still managed to rack up over 1,000 yards and finish 9th among WRs in red zone targets (19). The next closest player on the Jets had eight. Sky’s the limit with Wilson in 2023.