Welcome to the post-NFL Draft, pre-training camps 2022 fantasy football positional rankings. Below we examine my wide receiver rankings with categorical explanations as needed.
The Elite: WR1-WR5
Cooper Kupp takes the cake as the safest, most consistent beast of the bunch.
This off-season the Vikings jettisoned long-time, old school head coach Mike Zimmer and replaced him with the LA Rams’ 2020-2021 offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell. Justin Jefferson is the best bet to unseat Kupp as the overall WR1, based on both Jefferson’s expected Year 3 growth and the massive upgrade at head coach.
Ja’Marr Chase’ ceiling is as high as it gets. Cincinnati HC Zac Taylor will funnel even more targets Chase’ way after a dominant rookie season.
QB uncertainty and rumors that Deebo Samuel wants out of town cast shadows across his fantasy-floor. HC Kyle Shanahan did everything he could to get Samuel 10 touches per game in 2021 though.
CeeDee Lamb should start hot with questions surrounding Dallas’ Nos. 2 and 3 WR jobs. Amari Cooper leaving town increases Lamb’s floor/ceiling combo regardless.
Too-Hot-to-Fail WR1s: WR6-WR12
Mike Evans has finished between WR8-WR12 in each of the last four seasons. He may lack the King Kong potential found in The Elite tier but he’s as steady as they come.
Tyreek Hill’s ceiling takes a hit, no longer catching passes from Patrick Mahomes. New Miami HC Mike McDaniel will use him creatively though.
Stefon Diggs is a very high floor with PPR/yardage upside.
Tee Higgins has solidified his status as a trustworthy starter via exceptionally crisp route running.
Amari Cooper should operate as Deshaun Watson’s go-to.
2021 rumors about Mike Williams handling the Michael Thomas role proved unfounded as the 5th-year man saw a 4-year low in pre-snap slot alignment. On the whole, his usage was promising though and Keenan Allen is on the down slope of his prime.
Davante Adams will not see the target volume we’ve grown accustomed to but his collegiate connection with Derek Carr is certainly helpful.
Fantasy WR2s With WR1 Potential: WR13-WR17
New Denver HC Nathaniel Hackett employed a 55% pass, 45% run rate on first-half early-downs, working as Green Bay’s offensive coordinator over the last three years. Both Courtland Sutton and Jerry Jeudy are high-end WR2s with explosive box score potential.
Brandin Cooks is quietly primed for another voluminous season, catching passes from ascending sophomore, Davis Mills.
As evidenced by Philadelphia’s early-2021 passing rate, the Eagles want to be a pass-centric team. New X-receiver A.J. Brown is evidently best friends with QB Jalen Hurts. Trust him.
Clear Roles: WR18-WR30
Keenan Allen; high-floor WR2.
The addition of Tyreek Hill poured water on Jaylen Waddle’s potential but 2021 showed us Waddle can line up all over the formation and is lethal with the ball in his hands.
Three straight seasons of 1,100+ yards and exactly 4 touchdowns for D.J. Moore. And all with a rotating cast of villains at quarterback. The breakout is coming.
Michael Pittman Jr. made a sizable leap in production from Year 1 to Year 2, doubling his receiving yards (503 to 1,082) and scoring 6 times and 1 touchdown in 2020.
This is the best situation that Allen Robinson has ever been in.
Diontae Johnson remains an underrated, savvy route runner. The veteran receiver would get a boost in the event that Kenny Pickett wins Pittsburgh’s training camp QB battle.
Among WRs to play on 60%+ of team snaps, Adam Thielen has finished 15th and T-9th in red zone target percentage (PFF.com) over the last two years.
Now a Cardinal, Marquise Brown has reunited with his college QB, Kyler Murray. ARI No. 1 WR DeAndre Hopkins is suspended for the first six-weeks of 2022 and long time Cardinal Christian Kirk is now a Jaguar.
Hunter Renfrow’s outlook took a hit with the acquisition of Davante Adams but his floor is solid.
Darnell Mooney has no real positional target competition with Allen Robinson in LA.
Terry McLaurin may be more of a floor-play WR2 but Carson Wentz brings more to the table than the jamokes Washington had playing QB last year.
Gabriel Davis is now the clear-cut No. 2 in Buffalo.
Chris Godwin has finished as the WR15 and WR10, on a .5PPR per game basis, in the two-years with Tom Brady at the helm. His 2022 start will be slowed as he returns from a December ACL tear.
Video released on May 14th shows New Orleans’ WR Michael Thomas unable to comfortable run in a straight line. His ankle injury is evidently still an issue. As a result, rookie receiver Chris Olave rockets into the WR3 realm. Though not a physical specimen a la Julio Jones, Olave brings NFL-ready route running chops and should immediately push for No. 1 pass catching honors.
League-Winning Upside: WR31-WR38
JuJu Smith-Schuster’s sink-or-swim moment.
Amon-Ra St. Brown has plenty of target competition but he soundly erased any questions as to whether he belongs as a starting NFL wide receiver last year. Rookie Jameson Williams is expected to take over as the team’s No. 1 WR but ARSB will absolutely has a chance to retain the title.
For every highlight reel catch D.K. Metcalf makes, Drew Lock will send a ball three-feet over his head. Low volume doesn’t help.
With Marquise Brown gone, Rashod Bateman has a clear path to a voluminous 2022, operating as Baltimore’s true No. 1 WR.
The market is split on Chase Claypool’s short term and long term prospects, as some believe rookie George Pickens’ is his heir apparent. Now is the time to buy Claypool shares in all formats as his fantasy production was artificially deflated after his sophomore TD-drought in 2021. In 2020, Claypool caught 62 passes on 109 targets for 873 yards and 9 touchdowns, adding 10 carries for 16 yards and 2 additional touchdowns on the ground. In 2021, Claypool posted a remarkably similar stat line: 59 catches on 105 targets for 860 yards and 2 touchdowns, with 14 carries for 96 rushing yards. It’s a crowded WR room and the QB position is influx, but the 23-year old Claypool can straight up play.
NYG QB Daniel Jones is a mobile passer with a strong arm, but frequently fires errant passes. New HC Brian Daboll had a similar issue with his former QB, Josh Allen, in Buffalo. Allen’s accuracy issues were improved by the Bills supplying him with talented separators instead of towering jump ball specialists. Toney led last year’s WR group with 3.4 average yards of separation at the catch point, per NextGenStats.
Brandon Aiyuk is a run-after-catch beast and appears to have put Kyle Shanahan’s doghouse behind him. He’ll be a reliable flex with King Kong upside should Deebo Samuel be traded.
Rookie Drake London has real-deal 130+ target upside, operating as ATL’s 2022 X-receiver. Treylon Burks steps into a big-time opportunity with A.J. Brown out the door and questions remaining as to whether or not Robert Woods (ACL) will be ready to play in Week 1. Burks relied on his dominant physicality after the catch in college, but he’s playing with the big boys now so he’ll have to prove himself quickly.
Hurdles Exist: WR39-WR45
Skyy Moore and Elijah Moore are in crowded receiving rooms. The former is a rookie but could take over as Patrick Mahomes’ No. 1 WR by season’s end. The latter is a proven NFL talent, catching passes from an unproven sophomore quarterback.
Tyler Lockett is stuck with both the NFL’s worst quarterback, Drew Lock, and the coach with the worst offensive philosophies, Pete Carroll. Lockett is one of the league’s best route runners though.
DeVonta Smith comfortably paced the Eagles in targets last year (101), ending concerns over whether or not his slender frame would limit his ability to operate as a starting wide receiver. The addition of A.J. Brown hurts his potential volume but it also will allow him to develop against No. 2 CBs.
Christian Kirk and Marquez Valdes-Scantling will be used in field-stretching roles on their new teams.
Question Marks With Paths to Success: WR46-WR54
Rookie Jameson Williams and veteran Michael Gallup are both returning from ACL tears and could start slow but their downfield play-making abilities will be on full display at some point in 2022.
Giants WRs Darius Slayton and Kenny Golladay both sit in this tier as low-floor, high-ceiling pass catchers. Golladay currently owns rights to the X-receiver gig but Slayton and Toney are far better at creating space. Slayton was No. 2 among NYG WRs in terms of average yards of separation at the catch point (3.0), per NextGenStats. Throw darts at all three.
Jarvis Landry should slot right in as a high-volume short-to-intermediate receiver in New Orleans. As always, Landry carries a high fantasy floor.
A.J. Green could pace the Cards in targets for the duration of DeAndre Hopkins’ six-week suspension. He offers little in the run-after-catch department though.
Tyler Boyd remains a steady flex option. Josh Palmer is a must-draft.
Thirty-year old starting slot receiver Keenan Allen is steadily slowing down and Palmer flashed in his stead, filling in for the veteran in Week 14 (5 catches, 7 targets, 66 yards, and 1 touchdown). The future slot maven closed the year third on the team in targets and tied for second in catches, over the final three games. Expect him to run as LAC’s No. 3 this year.
Much is expected of Tennessee rookie Treylon Burks but it’s entirely possible off-season acquisition Robert Woods, currently recovering from an ACL tear, gives him a run for his money. Woods has been a steady fantasy producer for years now.
Remaining Players of Note: WR55-WR100
New England brought in DeVante “Never Was” Parker this off-season after Nelson Agholor failed to bring a downfield element to their passing attack. Parker’s annual pre-training camp hype was swiftly slowed when the Pats spent their 50th overall draft pick on burner Tyquan Thornton. The rookie out of Baylor blazed an outrageous 4.28-second 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine and could immediately takeover as Mac Jones’ Z-receiver.
Denver re-upped Tim Patrick’s contract in 2021, securing another reliable target for Russell Wilson.
Cleveland got their Jarvis Landry replacement in Purdue alum David Bell.
Isaiah McKenzie, Jamison Crowder, and rookie Khalil Shakir will compete for slot/No. 3 WR duties in Buffalo while rookie Jalen Tolbert and off-season veteran signee James Washington will compete for No. 3 WR duties in Dallas.
Former University of Pittsburgh X-receiver George Pickens remained a Pittsburgh resident after being selected in the second round this year’s NFL Draft. He’ll be catching passes from the same man as he was last year; fellow University of Pittsburgh alum, rookie QB Kenny Pickett. Christian Watson looks like the direct replacement for Marquez Valdes-Scantling in Green Bay. Garrett Wilson landed in a crowded pass catching corps with an unknown commodity at QB. Jahan Dotson’s QB is known—and he is known to be bad. Devastating medical issues and jarringly poor athleticism destroyed Justyn Ross’ draft stock but he landed in the best place possible; Kansas City. Romeo Doubs is a fine dart throw. John Metchie could work his way into Houston’s starting lineup. Alec Pierce brings speed to an otherwise slow Colts receiving corps.
Odell Beckham Jr. will make waves at some point this year (ACL).
2022 Wide Receiver Rankings
|Michael Pittman Jr.
|Allen Robinson II
|Amon-Ra St. Brown
|D.J. Chark Jr.
|Marvin Jones Jr.
|William Fuller V
|Calvin Austin III
|Cedrick Wilson Jr.
|Laviska Shenault Jr.
|Odell Beckham Jr.