Skip to main content

Fantasy Football Draft Strategy, Rankings & Tiers: Wide Receivers (2024)

Let’s dive into wide receiver fantasy football draft strategy. We’ll take a look at my strategy and advice for how to approach the wide receiver position as well as my rankings, tiers and targets as you prepare for your fantasy football drafts.

2024 fantasy football draft kit

Wide Receiver Fantasy Football Draft Strategy

Every sharp fantasy manager knows that league settings are inextricably tied to draft strategy. The league setting that matters more than any other — even more than the scoring format — is the number of wide receivers you’re required to start every week.

If you only have to start two wide receivers, you aren’t obligated to aggressively attack the WR position, even if you’re playing in a full-point PPR league. It’s acceptable to merely keep up with your competitors at wide receiver as long as you’re building positional advantages elsewhere.

But if you have to start three receivers, investing heavily in the WR position is imperative. In fact, your goal should be to overwhelm your competitors with superior WR firepower. Ideally, your WR4 will be better than everyone else’s WR3 and perhaps even better than some people’s WR2.

Wide receiver is a crucial position in 3WR leagues simply because receivers make up such a large percentage of your starting lineup. Just as the importance of the QB position soars in superflex leagues, the importance of the WR position skyrockets in 3WR leagues. If your league requires you to start 1 QB, 2 RBs, 3 WRs, 1 TE and 1 FLEX, at least 37.5% of your non-defense, non-kicker starters will be WRs. That percentage jumps to 50% if you put a WR in the flex spot.

In 3WR leagues, at least three of your first five draft picks should be wide receivers. Ideally, four of your first six picks will be receivers.

Wide Receiver Depth Is a Myth

I’m fortunate enough to be a regular participant in the Scott Fish Bowl, a giant charity league that includes hundreds of fantasy analysts and hundreds of regular folks who aren’t in the fantasy biz. There are Scott Fish Bowl group chats on Twitter that are arranged by draft slot, so people in those chats can compare notes on drafting from, say, the 1.07 spot and bounce draft strategies off each other.

Every year, I see people in those chats talk about how deep the WR position is. I tend to bite my tongue when people say it, but I wholeheartedly disagree.

The WR position is only deep in the sense that a lot of wide receivers get significant playing time. There are 32 NFL teams, each team starts at least two wide receivers, and NFL offenses frequently use three-receiver sets.

The thing is, not all of the wide receivers who get regular playing time draw enough targets to be fantasy-relevant. The number of receivers who reliably deliver significant point totals is smaller than some fantasy managers think.

For instance …

  • Only 34 wide receivers played at least 10 games and averaged double-digit points in half-point point per reception (PPR) scoring last season.
  • Only 35 wide receivers drew at least 100 targets.
  • Only 27 wide receivers had more than five TD catches.
  • Only 27 wide receivers hit the 1,000-yard mark.

Ideally, in a league where you’re required to start three receivers every week, your roster will have 3 to 4 receivers who reach all four of the thresholds listed above. To get your fair share — or, better yet, more than your fair share — you need to attack the WR position early in the draft.

Wide Receivers Are More Predictable Than Running Backs

If you want to ensure high-quality production from your wide receivers, you need to pay up because what you pay for at the WR position is generally what you get.

We routinely see running backs taken in the mid to late rounds of fantasy drafts emerge as impactful performers. As noted in my overview of the RB position, Kyren Williams and De’Von Achane both finished inside the top five in fantasy points per game last year but had ADPs outside the top 40 at the position. Granted, we saw something similar at the WR position last year with Puka Nacua and Tank Dell, but generally, we get far more late-round gems at running back than we do at wide receiver.

Old habits die hard, and some fantasy managers — particularly those who started playing fantasy football in the bygone era of the workhorse running back — can’t break the habit of starting their drafts RB-RB. But early-round running backs are hardly foolproof.

Consider that in 2022, seven of the wide receivers with top-10 ADPs finished in the top 15 in fantasy points per game (half-point PPR). The only misses were Davante Adams, Garrett Wilson and Cooper Kupp — the last three receivers to sneak into the ADP top 10. Only four of the running backs with top-10 ADPs — Christian McCaffrey, Saquon Barkley, Derrick Henry and Travis Etienne — finished in the top 15 in fantasy points per game.

The high reliability of early-round wide receivers is a good reason to invest heavily in the position.

Targets & Avoids

Here are some of the wide receivers I’m targeting and avoiding at various price points.

High-end

Target: Jaylen Waddle (MIA)
There’s room for profit at Waddle’s current ADP of WR20. He’s topped 1,000 yards in all three of his NFL seasons despite playing with target hog Tyreek Hill in all but one of them, and Waddle did it last year despite missing three games and playing through pain in others. Waddle has averaged 10.7 yards per target and nearly 2.5 yards per route run over the last two years. He’s a stud who isn’t getting enough love.

Avoid: Michael Pittman Jr. (IND)
Pittman had a career-high 109 catches and 1,152 yards last season as the primary target for Gardner Minshew, who made 13 starts for Indianapolis. The Colts will be run-heavier this year if QB Anthony Richardson and RB Jonathan Taylor both stay reasonably healthy. Richardson had a completion percentage under 60% last year, averaged 6.9 yards per attempt, and had three TD passes in four games, so it’s fair to wonder if Pittman will be able to sniff 100 catches again. Pittman needs volume to pay off because he doesn’t make many big plays or score many touchdowns. He’s averaged just 10.0 yards per catch over the last two seasons and has 15 career touchdowns in 62 games.

Midrange

Target: Diontae Johnson (CAR)
Other than Adam Thielen, who’ll be 34 when the season begins, Johnson is the only proven pass catcher on the Panthers’ roster. Johnson routinely drew big target totals in Pittsburgh, topping out at 169 in 2021, and he figures to be a target magnet in Carolina. It’s worth remembering that Thielen was WR10 in half-point PPR fantasy scoring 11 weeks into the 2023 season before collapsing down the stretch. Johnson has an ADP well outside the top 25 at wide receiver despite the inevitability of a big role. And maybe we’ll get a Year 2 leap from Panthers QB Bryce Young, who should benefit from the tutelage of new Panthers head coach Dave Caneles. The Panthers’ new head coach worked wonders with Baker Mayfield last year as the offensive coordinator in Tampa.

Avoid: Jayden Reed (GB)
Reed was a pleasant surprise as a rookie, but expectations for a 2024 encore may be unrealistic. Reed had a snap share of 70% or higher in only two of the 18 games he played last year, playoffs included. He didn’t play 70% of the offensive snaps in any of the eight games Christian Watson missed last year. Reed will rarely be on the field when the Packers are in two-receiver sets. He’s also due for some TD regression. Reed scored 10 touchdowns last year, reaching the end zone on 13.3% of his touches. Don’t expect double-digit touchdowns this year.

Lower-End

Target: Khalil Shakir (BUF)
Between Stefon Diggs and Gabe Davis, the Bills are losing 241 WR targets. They signed Curtis Samuel in free agency, who’s useful but not a high-volume receiver. They drafted Keon Coleman, who’s an intriguing prospect but has some blemishes on his profile. Shakir only drew 45 targets during the 2023 regular season, but he was highly efficient with those targets, averaging 15.7 yards per catch and 13.6 yards per target. Shakir started playing more snaps down the stretch, and he had a TD catch in each of Buffalo’s two playoff games, with a team-high nine targets and seven receptions in the divisional-round loss to the Chiefs. Shakir seems destined for a greatly expanded role this year, and he’ll be playing with one of the best quarterbacks in the game, Josh Allen.

Avoid: Quentin Johnston (LAC)
He’s cheap in drafts, but Johnson’s rookie season was so dismal that it’s hard to find hope for a second-year breakout even though he was a first-round draft pick. With WRs Mike Williams and Keenan Allen both losing substantial time to injury last season, Johnston had every opportunity to contribute last year, but he finished with 38 catches for 431 yards and two touchdowns and was plagued by drops and other mistakes. Now, the Chargers figure to have one of the run-heavier offenses in the league under new head coach Jim Harbaugh. There are better late-round flyers than Johnston.

dynasty rookie mock draft simulator

Wide Receiver Rankings & Tiers

Here are the top 50 wide receivers in my redraft rankings, sorted into tiers, with thoughts on some of the players from each tier.

Tier 1

Tyreek Hill has topped 1,700 receiving yards, has averaged 10 or more targets a game, and has averaged better than 10 yards per target in each of his two seasons with the Dolphins.

CeeDee Lamb had an NFL-high 135 catches last season and should once again be a high-volume producer in what’s likely to be a pass-heavy Dallas offense.

There’s no doubting the talent and the ceiling that Ja’Marr Chase brings to the table. The only concern is the health of his quarterback, Joe Burrow, whose 2023 season was marred by calf and wrist injuries.

With Justin Jefferson seemingly destined to spend most of the 2024 season paired with a rookie quarterback, the star receiver falls out of contention for 1.01 status in drafts, although he may be QB-proof. Jefferson lost seven games to a hamstring injury last year and had to play with backup quarterbacks upon his return after Kirk Cousins tore his Achilles. JJ still rolled up 30 receptions and 476 yards over his final four games.

How consistent is Amon-Ra St. Brown? He had nine 100-yard games in 2023 and had only three games in which he delivered fewer than six receptions and 70 yards.

Tier 2

A.J. Brown has delivered two straight 1,400-yard seasons, but the slippage in Jalen Hurts‘ passing prowess last season is cause for mild concern.

Fifth-round rookie Puka Nacua came out of nowhere to have a triumphant season, with 105 catches for 1,486 yards and six touchdowns. Providing a worthy encore will be challenging, but Puka was splendid last season. Those gaudy rookie-year numbers are no fluke.

Garrett Wilson‘s liftoff was delayed by another year when QB Aaron Rodgers tore his Achilles early in the Jets’ Week 1 game. Wilson has dealt with atrocious quarterbacking in his first two years in the league and has still churned out a pair of 1,000-yard seasons, but his ceiling is so much higher.

Tier 3

Believe the hype on rookie Marvin Harrison Jr., the fourth overall pick of this year’s NFL Draft. Harrison is a gifted prodigy who’s even bigger than his Hall-of-Fame dad. MHJ should immediately command a huge target share in Arizona.

The Raiders’ QB problems hindered the production of Davante Adams in 2023, but Adams still commanded 175 targets and had 103 catches. Now, Adams is likely to be paired with Gardner Minshew, who helped Michael Pittman log a career-high 109 catches last season.

Freed from bad quarterbacking in Atlanta and the quirky playcalling of Arthur Smith, Drake London seems poised for big things in his age-23 season.

Be careful not to get out too far over your skis with Brandon Aiyuk, who has an early third-round ADP. Aiyuk is a terrific player, but he’s never drawn more than 114 catches in a single season while playing in the 49ers’ talent-laden offense. Aiyuk’s 1,342-yard performance in 2023 was driven by sky-high (and possibly unrepeatable) efficiency numbers — 12.8 yards per target and 2.65 yards per route run.

Tier 4

There’s a reasonable case to be made that D.K. Metcalf should be a Tier 3 receiver, but last year, he saw the fewest targets per game (7.4) since his rookie season, and that was with rookie WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba playing a smaller role than anticipated.

D.J. Moore is an abundantly talented receiver who finished WR6 in half-point PPR scoring last year with career highs in receptions (96) and receiving yardage (1,364). However, we can’t ignore the ramped-up target competition Moore faces from a pair of Chicago newcomers: veteran Keenan Allen and top-10 draft pick Rome Odunze.

George Pickens is clearly the Steelers’ No. 1 receiver, with Diontae Johnson no longer in Pittsburgh and no other proven performer in the Pittsburgh WR room. But Pickens hasn’t been able to consistently command targets in his first two NFL seasons. It’s also fair to wonder how much No. 1 receiver status matters with Arthur Smith now calling the plays in Pittsburgh since Drake London didn’t exactly set the world on fire last season as Smith’s clear No. 1 receiver in Atlanta.

Nico Collins‘ ADP has him going around the 2-3 turn in drafts, and Stefon Diggs has a third-round ADP. As good as Texans QB C.J. Stroud was last year as a rookie, it’s hard to imagine the Houston passing game being good enough in 2024 for both Collins and Diggs to provide a satisfying return on investment at their current prices.

Tier 5

Coming off a season in which he was plagued by hamstring issues and facing the prospect of free agency in 2025, Tee Higgins is a tough evaluation for fantasy managers. There’s little question about Higgins’ talent, but how high is his ceiling with Ja’Marr Chase hogging targets in Cincinnati?

Cooper Kupp has lost 13 games to injury over the past two seasons, and Puka Nacua has seemingly displaced Kupp as the Rams’ No. 1 receiver. Kupp is too good to ignore, but as he enters his age-31 season, it seems unlikely he’ll ever again approach the splendor of his 145-catch, 1,947-yard season in 2021.

Marquise “Hollywood” Brown has finished with fewer than 800 receiving yards in four of his five NFL seasons. His 2024 outlook is bright nonetheless since he’ll now be paired with the best pure passer in the game, Patrick Mahomes, and will be running plays devised by playcaller extraordinaire Andy Reid.

Tier 6

This tier includes two Chiefs wideouts: rookie Xavier Worthy and second-year man Rashee Rice. Worthy set an NFL Scouting Combine record with a 4.21-second 40-yard dash, and it will be fun to watch Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid utilize that blazing speed. Rice is coming off a fine rookie season, but he’s a risky investment for 2024 now that he’s facing increased target competition and a possible suspension for a reckless-driving incident.

As talented as Jordan Addison is, drafting him aggressively seems risky. Touchdown regression is coming for Addison, who scored 10 TDs on 70 catches last year. Also clouding the outlook for Addison is the likelihood that he’ll be playing most of the season with a rookie quarterback, J.J. McCarthy.

Tier 7

It’s not far-fetched to think that second-round draft pick Ladd McConkey could lead the Chargers in most receiving categories this season. McConkey is a sublime route runner who should immediately become Justin Herbert‘s favorite target.

Injuries have limited Jameson Williams over his first two NFL seasons, and he’s unlikely to be a high-volume receiver in 2024 when he has to share targets with WR Amon-Ra St. Brown and TE Sam LaPorta. But the speedy Williams oozes big-play potential and has very little target competition among Detroit’s outside receivers.

Keon Coleman is a polarizing prospect who didn’t put up big numbers during his college career but has shown remarkable contested catch skills. Maybe it will take some time for Coleman to pop, but he’ll have ample opportunity to contribute as a rookie with WRs Stefon Diggs and Gabe Davis having left Buffalo.

Fantasy Football Draft Rankings: Wide Receivers

Here are my updated wide receiver fantasy football draft rankings. And here are our Expert Consensus running back fantasy football draft rankings.

FantasyPros Discord Community (Live Chat)

Subscribe: YouTube | Spotify | Apple Podcasts | iHeart | Castbox | Amazon Music | Podcast Addict | TuneIn

More Articles

Dynasty Startup Draft Pick Trade Advice (2024 Fantasy Football)

Dynasty Startup Draft Pick Trade Advice (2024 Fantasy Football)

fp-headshot by Andrew Hall | 3 min read
Fantasy Football Mock Draft: How to Approach Pick 1.01 (2024)

Fantasy Football Mock Draft: How to Approach Pick 1.01 (2024)

fp-headshot by Tom Strachan | 3 min read
FantasyPros Fantasy Football Discord: Josh Allen, Malik Nabers, Jayden Daniels

FantasyPros Fantasy Football Discord: Josh Allen, Malik Nabers, Jayden Daniels

fp-headshot by Pat Fitzmaurice | 2 min read
10 Fantasy Football Risers & Fallers (2024)

10 Fantasy Football Risers & Fallers (2024)

fp-headshot by Tom Strachan | 4 min read

About Author

Hide

Current Article

8 min read

Dynasty Startup Draft Pick Trade Advice (2024 Fantasy Football)

Next Up - Dynasty Startup Draft Pick Trade Advice (2024 Fantasy Football)

Next Article