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Andrew Erickson’s Wide Receivers to Target (2022 Fantasy Football)

Aug 18, 2022
Courtland Sutton

Courtland Sutton has a chance for a huge season as Russell Wilson’s WR1 in 2022.

The 2022 NFL season is approaching, and that means it’s time to prepare for your fantasy football draft. What better way to do that than to practice drafting with our free mock draft simulator! Beyond our tools, we’re also going to have you covered throughout the draft prep season with our content.

One of the most important aspects of completing a successful fantasy football draft is knowing who to target. Sure, there could be ‘value’ that presents itself through the draft, but it’s important to know which players you should not only target as values but also those you need to circle on your cheat sheets and prepare to reach for if needed. Here are a few of Andrew Erickson’s fantasy football draft targets. You can find all of his top players to target in 2022 fantasy football drafts here.

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Andrew Erickson’s Wide Receivers to Target

Courtland Sutton (WR – DEN)

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 Drew Lock/Teddy Bridgewater. Nevertheless, Sutton finished the season as the fantasy WR46.

However, even in the anemic offense, Sutton still finished seventh in air yards (1,756), cemented in between Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf, in 2021.

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.

Based on the receiver’s track record of commanding targets near the pylon, I fully expect Sutton to emerge as Wilson’s go-to red-zone target. He led the Broncos in red-zone targets in 2021 and led all WRs in target rate inside the 10-yard line in 2019.

Wilson has an affinity for attacking receivers in the red zone; a Seattle WR has finished top five in red-zone targets for three straight seasons.

Simply put: The fit between Wilson and Sutton could not be better for 2022. And I’m not afraid to go all-in and declare that Sutton will be this year’s Cooper Kupp — the wide receiver drafted in the middle rounds of redraft leagues who takes a massive leap. He could easily lead the NFL in red-zone targets like Kupp did in 2021.

Removing the big-bodied Tim Patrick from the equation — 8 RZ TDs last 2 seasons — just further bolsters the case for Sutton in 2022.

Major quarterback upgrade, wide receiver entering Year 5, another season removed from an ACL injury, history of commanding red-zone targets, and high-end past production were all reasons why you should have bought into Kupp before the start of the 2021 season. And they are all reasons to be aggressive in drafting Sutton before this season kicks off.

He’s still reasonably affordable because of how strong the Jerry Jeudy hype is, even though the latter has still yet to do anything worthwhile in terms of fantasy two years into his NFL career.

The Broncos also open the season with a favorable schedule against suspect secondaries like Seattle, San Francisco, Atlanta, and Detroit. It’s the exact start for my Courtland Sutton to be this year’s Cooper Kupp prediction to be realized.

Denver’s playoff schedule also features potential shootouts against Kansas City, the Rams, and Arizona, further bolstering the case for heavy exposure of their players in summer best ball drafts.

Beyond our fantasy football content, be sure to check out our award-winning slate of Fantasy Football Tools as you prepare for your draft this season. From our free mock Draft Simulator – which allows you to mock draft against realistic opponents – to our Draft Assistant – which optimizes your picks with expert advice – we’ve got you covered this fantasy football draft season.

Michael Pittman Jr. (WR – IND)

Michael 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. His 31% target share from Weeks 13-18 cemented his place in Indy’s WR1 chair heading into 2022. And per PlayerProfiler.com route charting, Pittman ranked No. 2 overall in route run win rate.

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).

Zero threats exist on the Colts’ roster to threaten Pittman’s top-eight target share. Finishing top 20 seems like his absolute floor.

Mike Williams (WR – LAC)

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. It’s 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.

Williams posted highs in targets (122, 18% target share), receptions (76), and yards per route run (1.97, 15th). Through the first five weeks of the season, the big-bodied wideout was second in WR scoring behind only Cooper Kupp.

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 touchdown regression set on the horizon and a resume that features a double-digit touchdown season, Williams appears primed to score 10-plus TDs in 2022 and repeat his WR12 finish in half-point scoring. Williams has commanded 40 end-zone targets since 2019. He has converted them into eight TDs – five of which came last season.

Nothing has really changed about Williams’ situation except Allen is another year older coming off his worst yards per route run output since 2014. Also, Allen’s 28% 2020 target share with Herbert dropped dramatically to 22% in 2021.

The sky’s the limit with the Chargers’ offense, and the production from touchdowns could easily vault Williams over Keenan Allen in fantasy across all formats despite the latter’s higher projected target share. He outscored Allen last year in half-point scoring, which is not reflected in their differing ADPs.

Rashod Bateman (WR – BAL)

Over the final five weeks of the NFL season, Rashod Bateman became officially entrenched in the offense and ran a route on 88% of dropbacks. In Week 18, Bateman tied Marquise Brown with 40 routes run. But what’s most impressive is that Bateman had more receiving yards than Brown from Weeks 14-18 despite the latter seeing 18 more targets.

It’s a credit to Bateman’s per target efficiency that he was able to compile over 500 receiving yards on fewer than 70 targets his rookie season. The only first-round rookie WR to accomplish that feat since 2010 is Brandin Cooks – arguably the NFL’s most underrated wide receiver.

Entering 2021, the Baltimore Ravens traded Brown to the Arizona Cardinals this offseason, opening the WR1 role on offense. Bateman has the opportunity to step in and be the true No. 1 wide receiver for Lamar Jackson in 2022. With Brown’s 23% target share departure, Bateman can seize a massive role for fantasy as a high-end WR2.

Andrew Erickson’s 2022 Redraft Fantasy Football Rankings

 

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