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Wide Receivers to Avoid (2022 Fantasy Football)

May 20, 2022
DK Metcalf

With question marks at the quarterback position in Seattle, DK Metcalf doesn’t have the best fantasy outlook for 2022.

The 2022 NFL Draft is over and we finally have a peek into what the new rosters and depth charts could look like to open the season. There will still be a surprise veteran that is traded or cut and there are always a few position battles in training camp that impact the landscape in fantasy football. Injuries can also impact rankings for fantasy managers, but we have a reasonable guess of what the depth charts are going to look like for the first time since Super Bowl LVI ended.

I have said for a long time that no player is off-limits in my league and no player must be on my roster in any league. Average Draft Position is the great equalizer, I want to avoid players that are being significantly above their ADP and I want to draft players that have a higher ADP than they are being drafted. I could see rostering any of the players on this list, but I want to avoid them at their current ADP.

Based on my snap judgments after the 2022 NFL Draft, here are some wide receivers that I would try to avoid in 2022.

DK Metcalf (WR – SEA)

I think Metcalf is arguably the most overrated fantasy player in the 2022 ADP Rankings. It is astonishing to me that he is the 14th-ranked wide receiver and the 37th overall player. This is a player that had 14 games with 65 receiving yards or less and finished the year with only 75 receptions for 967 yards. The statistic that propped up his fantasy value last year was 12 receiving touchdowns. That did not make up for a horrible stretch from Week 10 to Week 15, where Metcalf failed to gain more than 60 receiving yards in a game or score a touchdown.

I do not see him having 12 receiving touchdowns this year. Russell Wilson (QB – DEN) was the quarterback there last year and even though he missed three games with a finger injury, he still played 14 games and was the quarterback in that horrible Week 10 to Week 15 stretch that Metcalf posted at the end of the season. Metcalf was too up and down last year for a wide receiver playing with a quarterback of that caliber, even in a down year for Wilson.

This year, the starter is either going to be Drew Lock (QB – SEA) or Geno Smith (QB – SEA). Lock has 25 TD passes in 21 career starts and 24 career games. Geno Smith has 34 career TD passes in 45 career games and 34 career starts. It is not realistic to expect Metcalf to be a dominant wide receiver with this quarterback room. This looks like a team that is destined to finish in the bottom five in yards gained and points scored. I do not think there is much upside to picking Metcalf this high in a fantasy draft, he does not have a quarterback that is going to allow him to live up to that ADP.

Chris Godwin (WR - TB)

Godwin was a WR1 through his first 14 games last year, tallying 193.4 fantasy points before he went down with an ACL injury. ACL injuries that late in the season are prime for a player either starting on the physically unable to perform list the next year or being on a snap count. That does not seem to be baked into the ranking right now, he is the 13th-ranked fantasy wide receiver and 36th-ranked overall player.

Tom Brady (QB - TB) is also turning 45 years old this year and new head coach Todd Bowles is not likely to call as many passing plays as Bruce Arians did. Last year, the Buccaneers were second in pass rate over expected last year and had the highest neutral pass rate. This could be a situation where Tampa Bay does not look to throw the ball 731 times this year. If the Buccaneers throw the ball less, that means that Godwin and Mike Evans (WR - TB) will not finish the year with 241 combined targets in 30 games. I think the coaching change, Brady's age and Godwin's injury could all factor into him being overvalued this year.

D.J. Moore (WR - CAR)

Moore has been a pretty consistent wide receiver the last three years. He has finished the year with 1,175, 1,193 and 1,157 yards in 2019, 2020 and 2021 respectively. Each season he has tallied four receiving touchdowns. He has been the victim of playing with quarterbacks like Kyle Allen (QB - HOU), Teddy Bridgewater (QB - MIA), Sam Darnold (QB - CAR) and Cam Newton (QB - FA). He has enough talent to average about 65 receiving yards per game, but not enough help to be a touchdown scoring threat. That has hampered his ability to be an elite fantasy receiver.

That reality has not changed in 2022. Sam Darnold is still the starting quarterback and rookie Matt Corral (QB - CAR) will be battling him for the starting position. Neither one of them offers a ton of upside, which means Moore is likely to be trapped in another anemic passing offense where he puts up inconsistent yardage and few touchdowns. This makes it puzzling why Moore is being drafted as the 16th-ranked wide receiver and 40th overall player. That is too high for a receiver that failed to reach 60 receiving yards eight times and had only one game where he tallied both 100 receiving yards and scored a touchdown in the same game.

Amari Cooper (WR - CLE)

Cooper was the 27th-ranked fantasy wide receiver last year playing on a Cowboys team that ranked sixth in pass attempts (647), second in net passing yards gained (4,800) and third in touchdowns thrown (40). He is going to a team that is as committed to running the ball as any team in the league. Cleveland was 28th in pass attempts (520), 27th in net passing yards gained (3,320) and 20th in touchdowns thrown (20). Even if they throw the ball more with Deshaun Watson (QB - CLE), it seems hard to believe they will turn into an offense that throws the ball like the Cowboys did last year, yet Cooper is being valued as a better fantasy player than he finished last year, ranking 21st in WR ADP and 51st overall.

There is a feeling that Cooper has a chance to improve his numbers as the top receiver playing with Deshaun Watson. That may very well come to fruition, as DeAndre Hopkins (WR - ARI) was one of the most productive wide receivers in the NFL playing with Watson in Houston. Cooper has never been that guy though, as he has never posted more than 1,200 receiving yards in a season and has never scored more than eight touchdowns in a season. Cooper is not a young receiver anymore, he turns 28 years old this year and has played with good quarterbacks in the past, such as Derek Carr (QB - LV) and Dak Prescott (QB - DAL). I do not see the upside of grading him as a better player than he was last year on the basis that Watson is now his quarterback.

There are also legal issues with Watson that may result in him being suspended to start the season. We have no idea how his civil lawsuits are going to progress between now and the start of the season and whether there will be a suspension and how long it will last if he is suspended. That would mean that Jacoby Brissett (QB - CLE) would be the likely starter unless Baker Mayfield (QB - CLE) is miraculously on the roster. I would avoid Cooper at his current ADP, he is much more of a WR3 in my mind than a WR2 and there is too much uncertainty with Watson's unresolved legal situation.

DeAndre Hopkins (WR - ARI)

His ADP is currently 22nd among wide receivers and 52nd overall, even with a six-game suspension for violating the league's ban on performance-enhancing drugs. He will probably need to score about 160 fantasy points in 10 games to live up to that ranking. Hopkins averaged only 12.6 fantasy points when he was playing last year, and he missed seven games due to injury. He failed to record a 100-yard game in 2021, averaging a modest 13.62 yards per reception, and the only thing that saved his fantasy season was eight touchdown receptions.

He turns 30 years old and he looked a step slow last year, so it does not surprise me that he was caught using something he was not supposed to be using given how he looked last year. He claims that the violation was unintentional, but we have heard that too many times to count. I think Marquise Brown (WR - ARI) is going to have a chance to fill that featured receiver role and Hopkins is probably destined to average 10 fantasy points or less per game. I certainly would not draft him as the 22nd receiver and use a dead roster spot on him to start the season.

Michael Thomas (WR - NO)

Thomas is the 24th-ranked fantasy wide receiver and 59th overall player, despite not playing a game in 2021 and playing only seven games in 2020. That year, he had only 55 targets, 40 receptions, 438 receiving yards and no touchdowns. Thomas has not had a 100-yard game since Week 13 of the 2020 season and he has not found the end zone since Week 16 of the 2019 season. If Drew Brees was still the quarterback and Sean Payton was still the head coach, I would have a little more hope for Thomas bouncing back in 2022. Instead, Jameis Winston (QB - NO) is the quarterback and Dennis Allen is the head coach.

You also have to wonder how much the Saints are buying into Thomas returning to his old form when they traded a 2023 first-round pick, 2024 second-round pick, two 2022 compensatory third-round picks and a 2022 fourth-round pick to move up and take Chris Olave (WR - NO) with the 11th pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. Then, after they spent all that draft capital on Olave, they went out and signed Jarvis Landry (WR - NO), who similar to Thomas lines up a lot in the slot position. His ranking seems very high for a team that spent that much capital this offseason addressing the wide receiver position. Both Fantasy Pros' Pat Fitzmaurice and Joe Pisapia called him the Saints' most overrated player and I am on board with that assessment.

Robert Woods (WR - TEN) 

Woods suffered a torn ACL in his left knee in practice on November 12, 2021. Even if he is not on the PUP list to start the season, he may be on a snap count early in the season. The news on his rehab has been good so far, as he told Aaron Wilson of the Pro Football Network in February that he anticipated a full recovery by the spring and that he should be ready to go when training camp starts. I am always skeptical when I hear these types of reports, teams tend to be very careful with veteran players coming off a serious injury and they are hesitant to bring them along too quickly once training camp arrives.

Woods will also be playing on a team that ranked 25th in pass attempts with Derrick Henry (RB - TEN) missing nine games last year. They did trade A.J. Brown (WR - PHI) to the Philadelphia Eagles, but they replaced him with Treylon Burks (WR - TEN) in the first round. Mike Vrabel has never had two receivers on his roster who both went for 1,000-yards in the same season. The last time the Titans accomplished that feat was back in 2004 with Drew Bennett and Derrick Mason. I am skeptical that this passing offense can support two fantasy wide receivers and I am skeptical that Woods will be their number one receiver this year and that does not even factor in the quarterback battle between Ryan Tannehill (QB - TEN) and Malik Willis (QB - TEN). Woods is the 31st-ranked fantasy wide receiver, but players that I am much more excited about that are a few spots lower than Woods include Jerry Jeudy (WR - DEN) (34th), Mike Williams (WR - DEN) (36th) and Gabriel Davis (WR - BUF) (37th).

Tyler Boyd (WR - CIN)

Boyd posted only 94 targets, 67 receptions, 828 receiving yards and five receiving touchdowns last year. Joe Mixon (RB - CIN) led the team in yards from scrimmage with 1,519 and 16 touchdowns. Ja'Marr Chase (WR - CIN) led the way at wide receiver, posting 81 receptions for 1,455 yards and 13 touchdowns. Tee Higgins (WR - CIN) was the second option with 74 receptions for 1,091 yards and six touchdowns. That left Boyd to fight for the scraps and he had a ton of games where he was ignored. Boyd had nine games where he failed to reach 50 receiving yards and only four games where he topped 80 receiving yards. He just did not have much big-play appeal, averaging 12.0 yards per catch or less in 10 of his 17 games.

Boyd is a safe pick. The Bengals have an exciting young offense and as the third wide receiver, he should finish with 70 receptions for 800 yards and five touchdowns to go along with a couple of games where he makes us think he is going to be a big part of this offense. That just is not enough for me when there are so many rookie wide receivers in that part of the draft that have major upside. Unless Boyd makes sense for a bye with one of my better wide receivers, I would go young at that part of the draft and try to hit a home run. Boyd just does not offer enough upside as the third option in the Bengals' passing game.

Kenny Golladay (WR - NYG)

The Giants are playing for a new quarterback in 2023, as they did not add anything in the NFL Draft and are going into this season with Daniel Jones (QB - NYG), Tyrod Taylor (QB - NYG) and Davis Webb (QB - NYG) behind center. Jones is averaging 6.6 yards per attempt for his career, Taylor has not averaged over 7.0 yards per attempt in a season since 2015 and Webb has never thrown an NFL pass in a regular-season game.

That is bad news for Golladay, who averaged 16.3 yards per reception playing with Matthew Stafford (QB - LAR) in Detroit. Golladay has only found the end zone two times in his last 19 games and he has not shown to be the healthiest player in the league in recent years. He's currently the 54th-ranked WR and 126th overall player, but I see a lot of value ranked below him. I would much rather go with a rookie or hope Tim Patrick (WR - DEN) (57th WR) develops chemistry with Russell Wilson or hope Mecole Hardman (WR - KC) (69th WR) finally figures it out with Patrick Mahomes (QB - KC) rather than bet on Golladay having any consistency with those quarterbacks.

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Derek Lofland is a featured writer for FantasyPros. For more from Derek, check out his archive and follow him @DerekLofland

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