Let’s take a look at 12 wide receivers that are ready to jump a tier compared to their current fantasy football rankings. And check out our Tier Based Drafting Strategy to learn more about tiers and how to use them to dominate your fantasy football draft.
Rankings noted using FantasyPros half-PPR Expert Consensus Rankings (ECR) and Consensus ADP.
12 Wide Receivers Ready to Jump a Tier
CeeDee Lamb (DAL)
ADP WR7 | ECR WR6
No more Amari Cooper and Cedrick Wilson can only spell great things for CeeDee Lamb in 2022. The biggest issue with Lamb was that he never was seeing the requisite target volume in an offense that had a surplus of playmakers.
Lamb boasted just an 18% target share last season – which ranked outside the top-30 among all pass-catchers.
But with the 8th-most vacated targets left to be distributed between Lamb, tight end Dalton Schultz, ACL-injury returning Michael Gallup, veteran James Washington and third-round rookie pick Jalen Tolbert, I’d bet Lamb crests at least a 20% target share in 2022. His 21% target rate per route run bested anybody in Dallas last season.
And that means more fantasy production will be on its way. Only once did Lamb fail to score double-digit fantasy points in a game where he commanded fewer than six targets in 2021.
Mike Evans (TB)
ADP WR9 | ECR WR8
Mike Evans commanded just a 16% target share throughout the regular season and playoffs, but still finished eighth in both fantasy points per game and overall in half-point scoring.
The Buccaneers wide receiver achieved his eighth consecutive 1,000-yard season and set a new career-high with 14 touchdown grabs, breaking his record from 2020. Double-digit touchdowns accompanied by a low target share is usually a sign to fade a wide receiver, but that’s hardly the case in a pass-happy offense led by Tom Brady.
Michael Pittman Jr. (IND)
ADP WR16 | ECR WR13
Pittman got the true WR1 treatment from the Colts coaching staff in 2021, running a route on 96% of offensive dropbacks – third to only Cooper Kupp (WR1) and Ja’Marr Chase (WR4) through 17 weeks. He also finished the season tied for the league’s eighth-highest target share (24%), which was 11 percentage points higher than the next closest Colt, Zach Pascal, at 13%.
He also made 18 highlight-reel contested catches – fourth most in the NFL. And his 31% target share from Weeks 13-18 cemented his place in Indy’s WR1 chair heading into 2022.
With Matt Ryan under center Pittman has the volume potential to be a top-12 fantasy option. Ryan has a history of fueling top-end fantasy WRs like Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley, making a top-five finish not all that crazy for Big Mike in 2022.
Don’t forget that last season, Ridley as the Falcons’ No. 1 receiver owned the sixth-highest target rate per route run and ranked second among all wide receivers in expected fantasy points per game (16.5).
Terry McLaurin (WAS)
ADP WR17 | ECR WR17
But the horrible quarterback play in the nation’s capital limited McLaurin’s fantasy production to fantasy WR25 status.
Many will point to new Washington quarterback Carson Wentz as just another retread of bad quarterback play coming TMC’s way, but I am much more optimistic.
The former No. 2 overall pick has a proven track record of sustaining fantasy viable weapons – most notably Jonathan Taylor and Michael Pittman Jr. from a season ago. His 27 passing touchdowns, 7 interceptions and 67.9 PFF passing grade are miles better than Washington’s 20 passing touchdowns, 15 interceptions and 58.3 PFF passing grade in 2021.
Mike Williams (LAC)
ADP WR21 | ECR WR20
Mike Williams had the opportunity to take his talents elsewhere this offseason in free agency, but decided to stay in Los Angeles with quarterback Justin Herbert. Hard to argue with the choice to sign a three-year deal worth $60M attached to a young superstar quarterback, especially when that quarterback fueled a career-year.
He stormed out the gate in 2021 as the WR2 in fantasy through the first five weeks of the season, averaging 94.2 receiving yards and 1.2 receiving touchdowns per game.
Big Mike finished the season as the WR23 in fantasy points per game despite cooling off considerably in the later weeks in addition to leaving a boatload of touchdown production on the table.
He finished sixth in end-zone targets (16) but caught only five for touchdowns.
With positive TD regression on his side, Williams looks like a sneaky candidate to repeat his WR12 overall finish in the half-point scoring format.
Courtland Sutton (DEN)
ADP WR30 | ECR WR22
Entering Year 3, it looked like Courtland Sutton was on the cusp of true elite fantasy WR1 production, but his 2020 season was lost due to a torn ACL in Week 2. It was unclear how productive Sutton would be returning from the devastating knee injury.
But to start the 2021 season, the Broncos wide receiver looked like his old self. He averaged 13.8 fantasy points per game (17th) and had a 27% target share in Weeks 2-7 during the regular season.
It wasn’t until Jerry Jeudy‘s return from injury that Sutton – and the rest of the Broncos pass catchers – became obsolete in a crowded, run-heavy offense led by a combination of Lock/Teddy Bridgewater. Nevertheless, Sutton finished the season as the fantasy WR46.
Sutton has a real chance to recapture his elite form another year removed from his ACL injury. It also helps substantially that he has received an ultra upgrade at the quarterback position with Denver’s trade for Russell Wilson.
Wilson has always been an elite downfield passer – he had the sixth-highest passer rating on throws of 20-plus air yards last season – which plays heavily into Sutton’s strengths as a vertical threat.
DeVonta Smith (PHI)
ADP WR34 | ECR WR35
DeVonta Smith concluded his rookie campaign as the WR36 in weekly fantasy scoring. Smith was productive in yards per route run, ranking 30th (1.77) among all wideouts with 50 or more targets and third amongst rookies with 25 or more targets (per PFF). He surpassed fellow highly touted receivers Elijah Moore (1.75) and Jaylen Waddle (1.75) in this metric. With A.J. Brown in town, the Eagles could return to the pass-heavy ways from the beginning of 2021. If this happens, Smith’s low-end WR3 status from last season could be the floor if he can increase his touchdown output. Smith was the WR37 last year in receiving yards per game.
Gabriel Davis (BUF)
ADP WR33 | ECR WR33
Gabriel Davis averaged 19.8 fantasy points per game (PPR) and 16.0 expected fantasy points per game in his last six games while running a route on 88% of dropbacks as the Bills finally emphasized his playing time in the offense.
As a strong bet to earn the No. 2 wide receiver job come opening day, Davis has a legitimate shot to be a reliable fantasy option in a Josh Allen-led offense in 2022.
Russell Gage (TB)
ADP WR42 | ECR WR44
Russell Gage walks in the comfortable WR3 role in one of the league’s fastest-paced and pass happiest offenses. If Chris Godwin gets off to a slow start or begins the season on the PUP, Gage could get bumped up to Brady’s second option. Gage has the talent to handle that after what he showed in 2021. He was 17th in yards per route run (minimum 50 targets, per PFF) and 12th in route win rate (per Playerprofiler.com). Brady has proven that he can support a bevy of pass-catchers in fantasy, and Gage could be the latest beneficiary to the Brady bump.
Kadarius Toney (NYG)
ADP WR45 | ECR WR48
Kadarius Toney is a wild card. With offseason rumblings that he could be dealt and an offseason knee surgery to pile on top, Toney is a boom or bust type proposition for 2022. When Toney was on the field last year, there’s no denying that he flashed immense upside. In 2021 among all wide receivers with 100 or more routes, only Cooper Kupp, Davante Adams, A.J. Brown, Antonio Brown, and Toney finished with a 29% target per route run rate (or higher) and at least 2.20 yards per route run.
Jameson Williams (DET)
ADP WR61 | ECR WR62
Williams may not hit the field until October, making him a tough guy to stash in redraft formats. Furthermore, Williams’ vertical ability cannot be capitalized with Jared Goff under center.
Goff’s average depth of throw has decreased over the last four seasons, with his most recent 2021 mark (6.8) ranking dead last among 38th qualifying quarterbacks. He has also averaged just 13 completions of 20-plus air yards the last two seasons. Williams finished top-seven among all college wide receivers in receiving yards on 20-plus air yard throws in 2021.
However, Williams does also possess top-tier YAC-ability so he should be able to salvage some production when he returns from injury.
And although Goff’s lack of deep game isn’t ideal, we have seen him fuel top fantasy WR seasons before in Los Angeles and Detroit. Most recently with Amon-Ra St. Brown, who was the fantasy WR3 to close out last season. Williams commanded a 31% dominator rating last season by hanging 1,561 receiving yards, 20 yards per reception and 15 touchdowns – all achievements that ranked top-three among his 2022 NFL Draft class.
Nobody will be shocked to see Williams out-produce the combination of St. Brown and T.J. Hockenson once he is fully acclimated into the offense.
Josh Palmer (LAC)
ADP WR70 | ECR WR74
Mike Williams‘ return to the Chargers in free agency puts a slight damper on the sophomore breakout for Josh Palmer. But, there’s still fantasy appeal to rostering the No. 3 option in a Justin Herbert-led offense.
As a rookie, Palmer averaged over seven targets per game and scored a touchdown in his three games with a 60% snap share. He was also extremely efficient in the end zone, catching three of his five total end-zone targets for TDs.
His separation skills – 71st percentile, equal to Keenan Allen and 92nd percentile vs single coverage – further showcase his versatility.
FantasyPros Staff Consensus 2022 Redraft Fantasy Football Rankings
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