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12 Wide Receivers Who Could Rebound in 2023 (Fantasy Football)

12 Wide Receivers Who Could Rebound in 2023 (Fantasy Football)

The 2022 fantasy football season is officially in the books; thus, we can start our prep for 2023! Our focus today will be on wide receivers, using their “air yards differential” from this past season to identify some players with a good chance to break out or rebound next season. For those unfamiliar with air yards, the stat measures the distance the ball travels through the air from the line of scrimmage on a passing play, regardless of whether the ball is caught. Players who accumulate a high number of air yards are seeing a lot of deep shots down the field, a lot of targets, or both.

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12 Wide Receivers Who Could Rebound in 2023 (Fantasy Football)

Since air yards do not measure if the receiver catches the ball, they do not always correlate with fantasy production. Thus, we need to dig a bit further, and the player’s air yards differential is an excellent place to start. The differential measures the difference between intended yards and actual yards (factoring out yards after catch) and is calculated as follows:

Air Yards + Yards After Catch – Receiving Yards

Players with high air yards differentials had the opportunity for a better fantasy year than they produced. Often, a high differential is accompanied by a relatively low catch rate or a high drop rate and is on the QB as much as the receiver. The good news for players with high differentials is that their QBs looked for them often this past season.

Below is data for fifteen receivers who had an air yards differential greater than 600 yards last season:

PLAYER TEAM AIR YDS YAC REC YDS AY DIFF CATCH % DROP %
Davante Adams LV 2,113 525 1,516 1,122 55.6 5.0
Tyreek Hill MIA 2,025 501 1,710 816 70.9 3.6
Mike Evans TB 1,666 238 1,124 780 60.2 3.1
Diontae Johnson PIT 1,411 213 882 742 61.3 3.6
DJ Moore CAR 1,425 197 888 734 54.4 3.5
Amari Cooper CLE 1,557 295 1,160 692 59.4 7.8
Chris Olave NO 1,520 184 1,042 662 62.6 2.8
Mack Hollins LV 1,144 204 690 658 61.3 3.2
A.J. Brown PHI 1,598 546 1,496 648 61.8 5.1
Marquise Brown ARI 1,090 253 709 634 64.1 1.9
DK Metcalf SEA 1,457 224 1,048 633 65.4 3.8
Terry McLaurin WAS 1,432 378 1,191 619 65.5 3.5
Allen Lazard GB 1,135 269 788 616 59.6 3.2
Marvin Jones JAX 1,037 98 529 606 57.5 7.5
CeeDee Lamb DAL 1,486 478 1,359 605 68.9 2.7

As is often the case due to volume, several of these players had top-ten (half-point ppr) fantasy seasons even though their high differentials were high, including:

Imagine the year Davante Adams could have had with a slightly higher catch rate! His target share was off the charts, and his stunning differential may explain why the Raiders are likely moving on from Derek Carr.

Amari Cooper will get a full season with Deshaun Watson next year, though he was just as good with Jacoby Brissett, and it is hard to imagine his 26.7% team target share will be any higher. Hill, Brown, and Lamb are in stable situations and should once again be high-end fantasy wideouts in 2023.

It didn’t feel like Mike Evans was the sixteenth-best fantasy wide receiver last season because 23.4% of his points and half his TDs came in Week 17. If Tom Brady returns to the Bucs next season, Evans should rebound with a more consistent year.

Diontae Johnson played most of the season with a rookie QB but again had a high target share. He won’t duplicate his zero TDs next season and could be a draft-day bargain due to his WR39 ranking and the focus that fantasy managers will give George Pickens.

DJ Moore, Chris Olave, and Mack Hollins will likely have new QBs next season, which will factor into their 2023 value. Moore has finished consistently around WR20 the past three seasons despite a revolving QB situation in Carolina. He has the talent to break into the top 10, but we’ll have to see who will be under center for the Panthers next year. Olave had a tremendous rookie season despite missing two games and catching passes from Andy Dalton most of the year. The sky is the limit for this kid. Hollins brings less certainty as he broke out this year and benefitted from injuries to Darren Waller and Hunter Renfrow. If the Raiders’ receiver corps looks similar next year, he’ll have a role, but it may not be as substantial.

Despite missing five games, Marquise Brown made the top 15, which shows how often teams look to take advantage of his speed. However, his best weeks came early in the season when DeAndre Hopkins was serving his six-game suspension, and Kyler Murray may not be back to start the season. Even so, Brown could be a draft-day value, and his low 1.9% drop rate is impressive.

DK Metcalf finished as WR17 this year, but don’t let that fool you. His numbers were as strong as ever outside his six TDs, which should regress to the norm in 2023.

Poor Terry McLaurin. Can we please get this guy a quarterback? He has top-10 talent but needs stability to get there. Hopefully, Washington will find someone next year who will last more than a season.

Allen Lazard had his best fantasy year in 2022, but his production ebbed in the second half once Christian Watson emerged. Watson is an explosive talent who figures to be popular in drafts next summer, but his 8.5% drop rate could frustrate Aaron Rodgers if it doesn’t improve, assuming Rodgers is back next year. This could lead to steady targets for the more sure-handed Lazard, though his ceiling doesn’t figure to be high.

Marvin Jones was the most surprising name on this list, as the veteran was a fantasy non-factor in 2022. A rebound is possible, but don’t count on it if he’s still with Jacksonville, as he’d be deep on the depth chart with Calvin Ridley joining Zay Jones and Christian Kirk as the primary options. If Jones lands in a good situation, he could be worth a flier, but his 7.5% drop rate doesn’t inspire confidence.

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 – which 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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