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Pat Fitzmaurice’s Wide Receiver Tiers, Draft Rankings, & Notes (2022 Fantasy Football)

Aug 15, 2022
Cooper Kupp

You love fantasy rankings, but you really love tiers. We get it:  Tiers give rankings texture and can be a big help when you’re actually drafting. Here are my first few wide receiver tiers, rankings and player notes for 2022.

You can find my full tiered rankings and notes here.

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Tier 1

These are the elites. I’d feel comfortable taking any of them not only in the first round of PPR or 0.5 PPR fantasy drafts but inside the top five.

With a 145-1,947-16 season, Cooper Kupp led the league in receptions, receiving yardage and TD catches last year. It all looked every bit as good as the numbers suggest, too. Kupp probably won’t be able to match his majestic 2021 numbers, but regal production will likely be the new normal for him.

Plagued by drops in training camp and the preseason, Ja’Marr Chase became an August bargain in fantasy drafts and paid off handsomely with 1,455 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns. He’s probably not going to average 11.4 yards per target again, but it’s clear that Chase is a special player, and it was fun to see him pick up where he left off with LSU teammate Joe Burrow.

Justin Jefferson has finished WR6 and WR4 in fantasy scoring in his first two seasons in the league. He piled up 108-1,616-10 last year, and it will be fun to see what he can do in an offense designed by Sean McVay disciple Kevin O’Connell.

Tier 2

Tier 1 is sublime. Tier 2 isn’t chopped liver either, but these players aren’t quite as flawless as the top-three WRs on the board.

Davante Adams has finished as a top-three fantasy WR in three of the last four years. Concerns that he’s changing teams are mitigated by playing with Raiders QB Derek Carr at Fresno State, where Adams had 233 catches for 3,031 yards and 38 TDs in two seasons.

Stefon Diggs had 103-1,225-10 last year, and it actually felt like a mildly disappointing season after his 127-1,535-8 campaign in 2020. Diggs has had more than 160 targets in each of his first two seasons in Buffalo.

CeeDee Lamb had 1,102 yards last season and becomes the undisputed No. 1 receiver in Dallas now that Amari Cooper has left for Cleveland.

Deebo Samuel was a multifaceted fantasy force in 2021, piling up 77-1,405-6 as a receiver and also rushing for 365 yards and eight touchdowns. Samuel probably won’t line up as a running back as often this year, and a QB change from Jimmy Garoppolo to Trey Lance could change the dynamics of the San Francisco passing game. However, Samuel is electrifying with the ball in his hands and is still a worthwhile second-round fantasy pick.

Tyreek Hill goes from playing with Patrick Mahomes to playing with Tua Tagovailoa. Still, it’s impossible to drop him from this tier considering that he’s been a top-eight fantasy receiver in four of the last five years including a WR1 season (0.5 PPR) in 2018 and a WR2 season in 2021.

Tier 3

This is a tier full of fantasy WR2s. It was hard to figure out where Tier 3 should end and Tier 4 should begin. It comes down to this:  I think everyone on Tier 3 has a top-12 finish in their range of outcomes. I don’t think that’s the case with the Tier 4 receivers.

My FantasyPros colleagues Derek Brown and Andrew Erickson are excited about Michael Pittman for 2022, and they’ve convinced me to climb aboard the Pittman bandwagon. As DBro has noted, Pittman’s target quantity and target quality could both improve with Matt Ryan replacing Carson Wentz as the Colts’ quarterback. Pittman had his first 1,000-yard season in 2021 and finished as the WR15.

Tee Higgins improved on a promising rookie year, going for 74-1,091-6 in 14 games. The presence of Chase lowers Higgins’ ceiling somewhat. Still, the Buccaneers had two players finish in WR1 range last year (Mike Evans and Chris Godwin), the Seahawks had two in 2020 (D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett), and the Steelers had two in 2018 (Antonio Brown and Tyler Lockett).

D.J. Moore has topped 1,100 yards in each of the last three seasons and just turned 25. The Panthers have an ugly QB situation, and Moore’s single-season high in touchdowns is only four, but there’s a sturdy floor here, and we haven’t seen the ceiling yet.

The move from Tennessee to Philadelphia devalues A.J. Brown at least a smidge. Brown has lost six games to injury the last two years, and he has yet to post a top-10 fantasy season after three years in the league, but it seems only a matter of time before this imposing physical specimen erupts for a huge year. In 2020, Brown had 1,075 yards and 11 TD catches in only 14 games, hinting at the upside yet to be fully tapped.

Mike Evans has topped the 1,000-yard mark eight times in eight NFL seasons. He’s had double-digit touchdowns in half of those seasons, and his 14 TD catches last year were a career-high. With Chris Godwin recovering from a torn ACL, Evans might see some enormous target counts in early-season games while Godwin recovers.

Through the first five weeks of the 2021 season, Mike Williams led all WRs with 100.6 fantasy points (0.5 PPR). Williams tweaked his knee in Week 5, was limited in Week 6, and didn’t start to pick up the pace again until December. Five years into his career, Williams hasn’t put it all together over a full season yet, but the dude just oozes talent, and he operates in one of the league’s better passing attacks.

I’m lower on Keenan Allen than most because he doesn’t make many big plays or score many touchdowns, and his efficiency numbers have been on a slow but steady decline. Still, Allen has finished with 97 to 106 catches in each of the last five years and should land in that range again if he stays healthy.

It’s hard not to fade D.K. Metcalf when he’s facing a season with a Drew Lock/Geno Smith combination at quarterback. On the other hand, Metcalf caught four TD passes from Smith in the four games (more like 3.3 games, actually) where Smith filled in for an injured Russell Wilson. Metcalf is a rare physical specimen who might be able to defy the limitations of his QBs.

Brandin Cooks has exceeded 1,000 yards in six of the last seasons (with four different teams) yet continues to be bargain-priced in fantasy drafts. Yes, the Texans’ offense is somewhat limited, but young QB Davis Mills wasn’t bad last year.

Diontae Johnson blossomed in his third season, producing a WR9 season on 107 catches. Chase Claypool and George Pickens could provide some in-house target competition, and the QB situation in Pittsburgh isn’t especially attractive, with Mitchell Trubisky and Kenny Pickett battling for the starting job. Still, Johnson is a productive target monster who can get even better if he eliminates the occasional concentration drops.

Terry McLaurin has been on the edge of a breakout for a while now, but Washington’s quarterbacking keeps holding him back. That might be how it goes again this year with Wentz taking over as the Commanders’ QB.

Fading a young WR as good as Jaylen Waddle is no fun, but the Dolphins’ offseason trade for Tyreek Hill put a big dent in Waddle’s 2022 outlook. Waddle’s average depth of target last year was 7.1 yards. Hill’s aDOT in Kansas City last year was 10.4 yards (which was actually a four-year low). Which player do you think is going to see more high-value downfield targets in Miami this season?

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