It’s important to know where the value lies during your fantasy football drafts. That’s especially the case at the wide receiver position, where it’s not uncommon for players to jump tiers, preventing discounts so you can focus on building out your championship roster in other areas. Below I list wide receivers that are currently drafted as WR2s that have the upside of landing in the top-12 at the position in 2023. Here are my WR2s with WR1 upside for the 2023 fantasy football season.
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Fantasy Football Draft Targets: Upside Wide Receivers
Chris Olave had a magnificent rookie season as a target vacuuming wide receiver with alpha potential. Olave finished as the WR25 in fantasy points per game, which doesn’t do any justice to his sparkling efficiency metrics. Olave was 15th in target share (26.7%), third in air yard share (40.8%), and tenth in target per route run rate (29.3%). He was seventh in open rate (ESPN analytics), immediately behind Stefon Diggs, and tenth in yards per route run. With Michael Thomas back, Olave will fight Thomas tooth and nail for the WR1 role in this offense. If he can improve on his 11 red zone targets (40th) and four total touchdowns (37th), he could easily finish as a WR1 in 2023.
When Keenan Allen was healthy, he looked like the player we have loved for many seasons in fantasy. He was limited to ten games played. In Weeks 11-18, Allen was the WR4 in fantasy points per game, commanding a 26.5% target share (15th) and a 34.9% air yard share (19th) with 2.24 yards per route run (18th, minimum 25 targets). Overall Allen posted his highest yards per route run since 2018 (2.32), so there are reasons to be optimistic despite his advancing age (30) that he still has 1-2 more top 15 seasons left in him. Allen should be a volume hog again in 2023 in Kellen Moore’s fast-paced offense.
Christian Watson was the talk of the town after blowing up the Senior Bowl and combine last year. Worries about Watson began to mount for many in camp and during the early part of the season as he dealt with nagging injuries. Once healthy, Watson proved that the cream does rise to the top. He emerged as the Packers’ clear number-one wideout. Watson ranked 14th in open rate (per ESPN analytics), 12th in yards per route run, and third in fantasy points per route run. He was fourth in YAC per reception behind only Deebo Samuel, Rondale Moore, and Jaylen Waddle (minimum 50 targets, per PFF). Watson is a strong WR2 that has huge WR1 upside.
Drake London excelled in his rookie season, although fantasy gamers were not elated with his WR43 finish. If we look deeper than the raw counting stats, London’s future is incredibly bright. If earning targets is a skill (it is), then London proved to be among the league’s elite. He ranked 22nd in raw target volume last year (117) with the fifth-highest target share (29.4%) and second-highest target per route run rate (32.4%) among wide receivers. London also blazed in efficiency stats ranking 16th in open rate (per ESPN analytics), tenth in PFF receiving grade, and 14th in yards per route run (minimum 50 targets). London gave a glimpse into his 2023 upside down the stretch last season. In Weeks 13-18, he was the WR20 in fantasy, even though he failed to score a touchdown in this span. London is a target vacuuming WR2 with WR1 upside in 2023.
The last time we saw Calvin Ridley, he was still among the best receivers in the league. In 2021, Ridley was seventh in target share (27.4%), fourth in air yard share (40.0%), and fifth in route win rate. Ridley and Ryan just couldn’t find their old chemistry, as Ryan’s skills were profoundly diminished. Ridley was subjected to backup quarterback-level target quality that ranked 63rd. His catchable target rate was only 71.2% (73rd). While it’s worth pondering what version of Ridley we’ll see returning from hiatus, don’t for a second think he was playing poorly in 2021 despite the fantasy results not being there. With Trevor Lawrence taking a huge step forward in 2022, Ridley will be a WR2 next season with WR1 upside.
Jerry Jeudy weathered the Russell Wilson stink better than Courtland Sutton in 2022. Sutton dealt with a hamstring strain down the stretch and a grossly ineffective Wilson when he decided to chuck it deep. Jeudy parlayed his 20.8% target share (35th) into a WR19 finish and a 16th ranking in yards per route run. Jeudy’s lower aDOT (11.8, 40th) helped shield Jeudy from the atrocious Wilson deep ball. Jeudy was 11th in open rate (per ESPN analytics). Jeudy is a talented player who still has untapped potential in the NFL. With Sean Payton in town, we could have been a year early touting this offense as a breakout unit. Jeudy is a borderline WR2/3.
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ADP – Average Draft Position