5 Wide Receiver Draft Targets: WR3s with WR1 Potential (2023 Fantasy Football)

As we approach Fantasy Football season, we’re speculating on what direction certain offenses might go. There are plenty of teams that could look different than they did a season ago. Some of this could be based on scheme, and others will be strictly off playing time and injuries from other players at the position. Preparing for how fantasy drafts will go in the coming months, here are five wide receivers to target as they have the potential to become their teams’ top receivers and targets for their offense.

WR3 Targets That Could Be WR1

Brandin Cooks (DAL)

One of the more underrated moves this off-season was Brandin Cooks going to the Dallas Cowboys. During his 9-year career, Cooks has posted 50+ receptions in eight of those seasons. In addition to that, he’s recorded 5+ touchdowns and 1,000+ receiving yards in six of those seasons. With a move to Dallas, there’s a chance that Cooks reaches those totals this season.

Putting Cooks in the Cowboys’ offense gives quarterback Dak Prescott another weapon. While CeeDee Lamb is the number one target in this offense, there’s much to be desired by having Cooks. With tight end Dalton Schultz in Houston, there are more targets to go around. Meanwhile, Cooks seems destined to be an upgrade over Michael Gallup.

Depending on how the health goes of the three receivers of Lamb, Gallup, and Cooks, there’s potential for Cooks to have one of the best seasons of his career. As of now, we’re projecting for Cooks to have 68.6 receptions for 873.1 yards and 5 receiving touchdowns.

On the schedule, there are some good potential matchups for Cooks. He’ll get to play teams such as the Cardinals, Rams, Panthers, and Lions. Meanwhile, there’s always intrigue with the divisional games against the NFC East. With an ADP listed at 100th overall, there are plenty of signs pointing to Cooks outperforming that draft position.

Jordan Addison (MIN)

There’s potential for all four receivers that were selected in the first round to have strong rookie seasons. However, that’s not always the case. For this year, I think there are two receivers that could be put into situations to succeed right away.

For starters, there’s no denying that I was higher on Jordan Addison in the 2023 NFL Draft than most. Regardless of when he was selected, I love his fit in Minnesota. Being put between Justin Jefferson and K.J. Osborn should do wonders for Addison during his first season in the NFL.

Last year, Adam Thielen had 107 targets, but with him moving on to Carolina, there’s an opportunity for another receiver to try and match the production we see from Jefferson. While I love the potential of K.J. Osborn this season, there’s reason to believe that Addison could very well be the next guy up in the Vikings’ offense. His ability in the short and intermediate areas of the field should help him find immediate success. Meanwhile, he’s going to get put into 1-on-1 situations frequently with attention from defenses focused on Jefferson and Hockenson.

Addison is projected to have 58.4 receptions for 789.1 yards and 4.8 touchdowns this season. It wouldn’t be surprising if he beats those projections. After the bye week, he’s got matchups against the Raiders, Bengals, Lions (twice), and Packers. There are favorable matchups across the board for him. With an ADP of 93rd overall, it’s certainly worth drafting Addison, as his potential is through the roof in the Vikings’ offense.

Zay Flowers (BAL)

As the Ravens’ offense goes through a change, there’s potential for Zay Flowers to become the top receiving threat in their offense. The Ravens moved on from offensive coordinator Greg Roman and brought in Todd Monken from the Georgia Bulldogs. There’s potential that we see plenty of three-receiver sets in Baltimore.

When looking at the Ravens’ depth chart, it’s expected that players such as Rashod Bateman and Odell Beckham Jr., to be the top receivers. However, injuries haven’t been kind to either player, and that opens the door for Zay Flowers.

Flowers is a fluid route runner that runs aggressively with each step in his route. This off-season, we’ve seen Lamar Jackson and Flowers working out together in South Florida. Even if we think that the Ravens are going to be a run-first offense, there will need to be a receiver to step up and take pressure off tight end Mark Andrews as the lone pass-catcher of this offense.

With an ADP of 131st overall, there’s potential for Flowers to be an absolute steal for fantasy owners. His schedule has some very favorable matchups with teams such as the Titans, Lions, Cardinals, Seahawks, Rams, and Jaguars. Depending on how your fantasy drafts go, there’s a chance that you could build up your roster with seven or eight picks before topping it off with Zay Flowers.

Richie James Jr. (KC)

Simply rolling the dice here on a Chiefs pass-catcher not named Travis Kelce. I’ll believe that receivers Kadarius Toney and Skyy Moore are the top receivers when I see it. Last season, Richie James had a career resurgence with the New York Giants. He posted 57 receptions on 70 targets for 569 yards and four touchdowns.

He had a career year with Daniel Jones throwing him the ball. Now he gets to play with Patrick Mahomes. To match or beat that production seems promising for Richie James. For James, his game is more reliant on the short and intermediate areas of the field with crossing routes, stick routes, and designed screens. But that bodes well for him in an offense where Mahomes is able to make magic happen.

There’s a chance that James starts to get drafted much higher than his ADP of 262nd overall, but he’s certainly worth a late-round gamble in fantasy. On the schedule, James will get matchups against the Lions, Jaguars, Vikings, Bills, Chargers, and Raiders. With an offense that is looking for a way to replace receivers such as Mecole Hardman and JuJu Smith-Schuster, there’s reason to believe that James can make an impact in Kansas City.

Kendrick Bourne (NE)

This one is certainly a gamble, but there’s potential for Kendrick Bourne to have more success this season than he did last season. For starters, it’s important to remember that the Patriots have moved on from Matt Patricia to Bill O’Brien for their offensive play-calling. Meanwhile, it’s all about opportunities and I think the opportunities are going to present themself for Bourne.

Regardless of the contract extension for DeVante Parker, it’s worth noting that he hasn’t played a full season since the 2019 season, and even then, he only started 14 games. While the Patriots did add Juju Smith-Schuster, he has missed time in his career due to a shoulder and knee injury. Again, there should be opportunities for Bourne.

It’ll be interesting to see how many three-receiver sets we see from Bill O’Brien and this Patriots’ offense. My assumption is that we’ll see plenty of 3×1 sets with switch releases, bunch formations, and a mix of empty formations and snaps from under center. More variety in the offense immediately opens the door for the playmakers in this Patriots’ offense, including Bourne.

Depending on how deep your bench is, there’s reason to believe that Bourne is worth stashing for your fantasy team. In 2021, we saw Bourne earn 55 receptions off 70 targets during Mac Jones‘ rookie season. With how poor the play-calling was last season, he should see an increase from the 48 targets he saw last season. While there’s not an ADP listed for Bourne, he does have favorable matchups with teams such as the Cowboys, Raiders, Bills, Colts, and Chiefs on the schedule.

SubscribeApple Podcasts | Spotify | Google Podcasts | Stitcher | SoundCloud | iHeartRadio