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Zero Wide Receiver Draft Targets (2022 Fantasy Football)

by Matt Barbato | @realmattbarbato | Featured Writer
Aug 15, 2022
Michael Thomas

There are many paths you can take during a fantasy football draft. And one strategy that’s gained some traction is Zero Wide Receiver.

This strategy is a spinoff of the original Zero RB strategy, but the principles are exactly the same. In this case, you wait to take your first wide receiver until Round 5 or Round 6, instead prioritizing running back, which is far more scarce and volatile.

This strategy has its tradeoffs. Wide receiver is the deepest position in fantasy, with roughly 20-to-40 guys who can finish as a respectable WR2 any given week. However, a Zero WR strategy means you’re passing on elite players like Cooper Kupp, Justin Jefferson, Ja’Marr Chase, Stefon Diggs, and others.

If you decide to implement Zero WR, you likely have to be more aggressive in pursuing higher-upside receivers. The goal is to try and find players who could crash the top 24, if not higher. Using our Expert Consensus Rankings and ADP tools, here are some options to consider for a Zero WR draft strategy:

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Fantasy Football Redraft Draft Kit

Darnell Mooney (WR – CHI)

Mooney is ranked 26th among receivers and goes just outside the top 60 picks according to our ADP data. I completely understand why the best wide receiver in what could be a miserable Chicago offense isn’t getting drafted higher. But Mooney is a pretty nice player who could see an insane amount of targets in his third season.

Mooney has great downfield speed but needs to work on his efficiency, as he caught just 57.9% of his 140 targets last season. With a terrible group of receivers around him, Mooney will also need to prove he can handle getting significant attention from opposing defenses. If he can, he’ll benefit from a boatload of opportunities.

Allen Robinson (WR – LAR)

Robinson, formerly stuck in Chicago, is now in Los Angeles, where he’ll finally get to play with a competent quarterback in his ninth professional season. While Robinson’s final season in Chicago was a disaster, injuries and perhaps motivation played a significant role in his disappointing season.

But Robinson is poised to bounce back and get back to his 2019-20 form with the Rams. Yes, he’ll play second fiddle to Cooper Kupp. But the Rams’ WR2 position has been a productive role since Sean McVay took the reins. With an ADP of 64th overall, I’d be thrilled to get A-Rob regardless of my strategy.

Michael Thomas (WR – NO)

Hey, remember Michael Thomas? The guy who set the NFL record with 149 receptions during the 2019 season? Well, after a messy couple of seasons, Thomas is happy and apparently healthy. And he could be one of the biggest steals in fantasy football this season.

Now, I understand the risks: We haven’t seen Thomas on the field since December 13, 2020. Thomas is now 29 years old. And he hasn’t gotten a ton of reps with Jameis Winston. But if Thomas is even 75% of himself, that would generate enormous value as a late sixth-round pick.

JuJu Smith-Schuster (WR – KC)

Another article, another opportunity to hype JuJu Smith-Schuster. So hear me out one more time. I think Chiefs coach Andy Reid had a realization during the 2021 season that opposing defenses had figured his offense out. By playing more two-deep safeties, opponents were taking the deep ball away from Patrick Mahomes, forcing him to remain patient and throw to the intermediate and short levels of the field.

Everything the Chiefs have done this offseason represents an identity shift. There will still be deep throws and big plays (to the lousy Marquez Valdes-Scantling). But I believe Kansas City will implement a less aggressive passing game, with Smith-Schuster playing a big role in the slot.

Yes, I get Travis Kelce is going to be the primary target hog in K.C. But his presence also frees up Smith-Schuster in similar areas of the field. Yes, I know Skyy Moore is the shiny new toy. But I’d like to see the Western Michigan product prove it first, as I’m a bit skeptical of his collegiate competition.

We’ve seen JuJu put up a pair of very good seasons when he’s stayed healthy. An 80-catch, 1,100-yard, and seven-plus-touchdown season is certainly in the realm of possibilities and that would likely make him a WR2. I’ll take that value all day in the middle of Round 7.

Rashod Bateman (WR – BAL)

If you’re looking for a Year 2 breakout, Bateman could be your guy. The Minnesota product was solid in limited action last season, catching 46 passes for 515 yards and a touchdown. But Bateman started the year hurt, then was without Lamar Jackson for a chunk of the season. Both are healthy, and Bateman enters 2022 as the clear No. 1 wideout in Baltimore.

Mark Andrews is still the primary weapon in the passing game. And Bateman still has to prove he’s a legitimate WR1 on an NFL offense. But the talent and opportunity are there.

Kadarius Toney (WR – NYG)

Like I said before, we’re seeking upside with a Zero WR strategy. And there might not be a more boom-or-bust pick than Toney.

The rookie out of Florida is being drafted 110th overall and it’s understandable. He caught 39 passes for 420 yards in 10 games as a rookie. He flashed in Weeks 4 and 5, but he was wildly inconsistent otherwise before getting hurt. We don’t even know if Toney’s coaching staff likes him, as he was rumored to be on the trading block this offseason. And to top it off, Toney left practice with what looks to be a minor injury, but an injury nonetheless.

All of that being said, Toney has a possible “it” quality: His game-breaking speed. And in the 10th round of the draft, Toney is worth a flier so long as he’s healthy.

Romeo Doubs (WR – GB)

I try very hard to remain disciplined when it comes to training camp hype stories. Most of the time, they turn out to be disappointing. But when it comes to Romeo Doubs’ emergence at Packers camp, I’m taking the cheese for a couple of reasons.

For starters, Doubs was a receiver I really liked coming out of Nevada and having seen him play (that’s what happens when you bet on late-night Mountain West action!). He put up an impressive 80-catch, 1,100-yard, 11-touchdown final season with the Wolf Pack. And now he’s the talk of the town in Green Bay.

Doubs also backed up his training camp performances with a good preseason debut, hauling in three passes for 45 yards and a touchdown. He still has to earn Aaron Rodgers‘ trust. But with Christian Watson still sidelined, someone has to start alongside Allen Lazard in Green Bay.

Doubs is being drafted around the 15th round right now, and I expect his stock to only continue to rise. He’s my favorite late-round flier in drafts this summer.

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If you want to dive deeper into fantasy football, be sure to check out our award-winning slate of Fantasy Football Tools as you navigate your season. From our Start/Sit Assistant – which provides your optimal lineup, based on accurate consensus projections – to our Waiver Wire Assistant – that allows you to quickly see which available players will improve your team and by how much – we’ve got you covered this fantasy football season.

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