1. Cooper Kupp
After his absolutely monstrous 2021 season, Cooper Kupp is fantasy football’s clear-cut #1 receiver.
His route-running and hands are superb, and his knack for breaking tackles is more impressive than the average football fan might give him credit for – especially considering he’s ranked top-12 in YAC each of the past five years.
Cooper Kupp continues to be a touchdown machine 🤖
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) January 2, 2022
In addition to Kupp’s spectacular play and skillset, he’s got a former #1 draft pick throwing to him whose connection took the Rams all the way to a Super Bowl win.
The Rams offense is ripe with opportunities, and it will be Kupp on the receiving end of too many of them to ignore.
With his role, if all goes well he’s slated to be what Davante Adams was in the Packers offense for years to come with Stafford. He might even be a better considering Stafford and Kupp are both still in their primes.
See this awe-inspiring play where Kupp expertly knifes through helpless defenders for a long touchdown:
COOPER KUPP 70 YARD TD CATCH 👀
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) January 23, 2022
Stafford’s confidence in Kupp borders on addiction, and evidence can be found play-calls like this and the quickness of Stafford’s decisions to trust Kupp on the goal line:
IT'S BEEN COOPER KUPP ALL YEAR.
HE DOES IT AGAIN. #RamsHouse
— NFL (@NFL) February 14, 2022
Last season, Cooper Kupp:
- Led the NFL in receptions and targets by over 20, and receiving yards by 300 (next closest was Jefferson who barely broke 1,600 while Kupp had over 1,900).
- Ranked 1st in receiving yards per game, receiving TDs, snaps, and touches
Kupp also had double-digit targets in all games but three, and he never received fewer than seven targets or six catches in a single game.
The volume and consistency Kupp has shown these past few years – especially last year – warrants undisputed #1 status.
COOPER KUPP CRUNCH-TIME TD‼️
— ESPN (@espn) January 10, 2022
Unless Kupp or Stafford miss time, and unless there are no radical changes to the Rams offense, Kupp will likely finish as the top receiver in fantasy once again in 2022.
2. Justin Jefferson
Justin Jefferson barely beats out Ja’Marr Chase and Keenan Allen for this slot (and I mean barely) for some incredibly minor reasons, and again all these guys are seriously a hair above each other and any of them could compete for the league’s highest-scoring fantasy receiver.
— LSU Football (@LSUfootball) December 10, 2021
Its amazing that Jefferson and Chase are performing at such a high level considering their youth, but Jefferson deserves this ranking especially considering the Vikings showed last season that they’re comfortable making him their undisputed #1 receiver.
Jefferson’s targets and receptions both shot up from last year, and the result was finishing with the fourth-most fantasy points of any receiver.
His explosiveness and playmaking ability are jaw-dropping as he often leaves defenders eating dust and spinning in circles like this play where he torches the entire Ravens secondary for a 50-yard bomb:
Justin Jefferson burnt everyone ✌️
50 YARD TD.
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) November 7, 2021
Justin Jefferson’s combination of speed, acceleration, and agility might be the best on the list, and like Chase his speed and post-catch skills force coaches to creatively think of more ways to involve him.
Jefferson’s 2021 notable ranks were:
- 2nd in receiving yards to only Cooper Kupp
- 4th in receptions and targets
- 6th in yards per reception
- 3rd in yards per game
- Tied for 5th in receiving touchdowns
Jefferson was also an underrated red zone thread as his 15 red zone looks were second in the league.
His week-to-week volume was mostly steady and had a notable uptick towards the end of the season which was an encouraging sight. After Week 8, the speedy wideout had double-digit targets in seven of nine games.
TD ➡️ Griddy
It's the routine for Justin Jefferson ⭐️
— ESPN (@espn) December 21, 2021
Jefferson had some impressive splits as he had five targets or more in every game except a loss against the Cowboys in which he had four, he had double-digit targets in most of his games, and eclipsed the 100-yard mark in seven games.
Again, due to Dalvin Cook’s wear and tear you can expect either a shift in the Vikings overall offense or more looks for Vikings receivers due to Cook injuries (that will ultimately force a shift in the offense).
Furthermore, the Bengals dominant trio of receivers means more mouths to feed than just Jefferson and Adam Thielen.
3. Ja’Marr Chase
Comes in just a notch below Jefferson because while both offenses are somewhat designed around their backs, for various reasons the Bengals offense has been and will likely be more based around Mixon than the Vikings will be based round Cook.
Dalvin Cook is older and more broken down than the younger Joe Mixon, so again Chase and Jefferson are neck and neck and the only reasons Jefferson ranks above him come down to more injuries for Dalvin which means more throwing for the Vikings, and the fact that Jefferson now has multiple years of proven work while Ja’Marr is coming off his rookie year.
This angle of Ja’Marr Chase’s FIRST NFL TD 🔥
— Overtime (@overtime) September 12, 2021
Moreover, Chase competes with two other incredibly talented wideouts for looks and has significantly less volume than Jefferson in terms of both targets and receptions.
Now, let’s get to what there actually is to love about Ja’Marr Chase.
Chase can do everything a receiver is asked to do and is explosive enough to be one of the top deep threats in the league, is phenomenal after the catch and can shake defenders with ease, and he can go up and steal 50/50 balls away from defenders.
JA'MARR CHASE 72-YARD TD! #RuleTheJungle
— NFL (@NFL) January 2, 2022
Like I said about Swift on the top-10 RB list, Chase has a unique advantage in the sense that he has the capability to take any reception for chunk yardage, leading to the Bengals habitually calling his number in the hopes he just takes it to the house.
Watch on CBS pic.twitter.com/EDohbrWLoq
— Cincinnati Bengals (@Bengals) January 22, 2022
Chase has also displayed a rare awareness for making sideline grabs like he’s Ocho out there for the Bengals, and hopefully all these skills will only improve with another year under his belt in the NFL and in the Bengals offense.
— NFL (@NFL) October 31, 2021
Chase’s explosiveness and efficiency, despite his relatively low 2021 volume compared to most receivers on the rest of this list, translated to a glorious fantasy season – and one of the best fantasy seasons from any rookie ever.
On his path towards being fantasy’s 5th-highest scoring receiver, Chase ranked:
- 4th in receiving yards
- 2nd in yards per catch among qualified receivers to only Deebo Samuel (per StatMuse)
- 5th in receiving YPG
- 3rd in receiving TDs
- 4th in YAC
Other than Chase’s elite play, he also gets to catch passes from an elite quarterback which helps his fantasy stock.
JA'MARR CHASE FOR THE THIRD TIME.
6 CATCHES. 180 YARDS. 3 TDS.
— NFL (@NFL) January 2, 2022
His coaches will likely look to get the ball in his hands more after bursting onto the seam so strongly his rookie year, and unless the Bengals are as dense of an organization as the Browns, Chase will see an uptick in volume and production in 2022.
Chase may have been a little inconsistent at times in the year, but he was well worth keeping in your lineup for his boom games, and his bust games were rare.
JA'MARR CHASE CANNOT BE STOPPED. #RuleTheJungle
— NFL (@NFL) October 24, 2021
In spite of unimpressive target numbers compared to the receivers above and below him on this list, Chase had at least 50 yards in 11 of 17 games, and had over 100 yards in five games while breaking the 200-yard mark twice.
If you avoid Chase in 2022, he’ll make you pay unless either he or Burrow misses substantial time.
4. Keenan Allen
As I’ve lamented above, the entire top 4 here is neck and neck, and Keenan Allen easily could have been in any of the slots above him because he is a route-running genius and one of the most flat-out professional wide receivers this leagues has to offer.
Skip to the 56-second mark of this video for an unbelievable route and catch by a mic’d up Allen against the Titans starters:
athletic ability: shown pic.twitter.com/gBYbkU4xa0
— Los Angeles Chargers (@chargers) August 4, 2019
Deebo Samuel and Stefon Diggs are right in the conversation as well, but Keenan Allen’s talent level as a receiver and years of success in the Chargers offense combined with his target share and Justin Herbert’s elite QB play vault him a millimeter above them.
Allen’s aptness to make contested catches despite his frame is another feather in his cap that adds to his fantasy resume. Frankly, Allen has a complete skillset as a receiver and can burn corners on the outside in addition to cutting up safeties and backers on inside routes.
Justin Herbert delivers on 4th & GOAL! 🚀 #BoltUp
— NFL (@NFL) December 5, 2021
Last season, Allen managed the following impressive marks:
- 1st in yards per target (7.25) of any receiver with more than 55 receptions (per StatMuse)
- 7th in receptions
- 8th in targets
Allen having the highest yards per target of basically an healthy WR1 from last season hints at his smooth play style and his perfect fit within the Chargers offense.
He also notched those marks despite playing one less game than the rest of last year’s receiving leaders.
It's crazy to think just how force-fed Keenan Allen will be in 2021. In terms of targets, what numerical digit is equivalent to just shy of the moon? 🚀🌕🎯
— Joe O’Leary (@TheHQNerd) June 15, 2021
Additionally, while Allen ranked 11th in fantasy points last season among WRs, he places in the top five because his healthy games were so spectacular, and partially because he played one less game than most of the receivers on this list.
In reference to his top-5 volume in healthy games, look towards the fact that he had double-digit targets in the majority of his games, never received less than five targets, and had more than eight targets in all games except two.
Keenan Allen to Justin Herbert! (Not a typo)
— NFL (@NFL) December 5, 2021
When looking for evidence of Allen’s top-5 production in weeks he suited up, keep in mind he had at least four catches in all his games, had at least 50 yards in 12 of the 16 games he played, and broke the 100-yard mark four times.
For one final statistic to heap on the Keenan Allen top-5 argument pile, his demonstrated steadiness and consistency in production in comparison to many of his compatriots on this is staggering: Allen has caught at least 97 ball in five seasons in a row now and has finished at least 13th in fantasy points each of the past five years.
During tis five-year span, Allen has also amassed the most receptions in the NFL:
Most receptions in the NFL over the last 5 seasons
Keenan Allen 509
Davante Adams 506
Travis Kelce 480
DeAndre Hopkins 472
Stefon Diggs 459
— NFL on CBS 🏈 (@NFLonCBS) February 24, 2022
5. Stefon Diggs
Stefon Diggs slides in just a notch below Keenan Allen, but frankly they could easily be flipped, and its risking a lot ranking a receiving who gets targeted like Diggs does all the way down here instead of in the top 3.
Ultimately, Diggs played one more game than Allen which is why he scored slightly better than Allen in total fantasy points and one reason why Allen is an inch above Diggs.
— Buffalo Bills (@BuffaloBills) December 25, 2021
Another minute reason is Herbert is slightly younger and runs a little less and more conservatively than Josh Allen, leading to the smallest of chances that Herbert is likely to miss less time than Allen – if either do.
Finally, Diggs is lower than Jefferson and Chase because while he’s on their par from a talent perspective he’s not as explosive after the catch, as evidenced by the fact that he only eclipsed the 100-yard mark twice all season, and he only had one multiple TD week.
Josh Allen ➡️ Stefon Diggs ➡️ TD
— ESPN (@espn) November 26, 2021
The reasons Diggs makes the top 5 of this list however are he’s an exceptional route-runner, he may be the most agile player in the league, he gets targeted like Josh Allen’s oxygen is dependent on his receiving yards, and he plays in one of the pass-friendliest offenses in the NFL.
Some stats Diggs accrued in 2021 were:
- 8th in receiving yards
- 9th in receptions
- 5th in targets
- 5th in receiving TDs
Diggs also had double-digit targets in eight of 17 games, and received at least five targets in every game. He also was remarkably dependable week-to-week in terms of production and especially yardage as he had over 50 yards in 14 of 17 games.
Who else heard Stefon Diggs? 😂 pic.twitter.com/KBYrdJxBJH
— NFL Memes (@NFL_Memes) December 26, 2021
Digg’s red zone work buoyed his fantasy stock as he had a career-high 20 end zone targets, five more than the next closest player.
In the face of all the upside Diggs has and his target share, his rank towards the end of the top 5 is just considering he played every game last season and finished as fantasy’s 7th-highest scoring receiver.
6. Deebo Samuel
The only real downsides and risk to Deebo Samuel this season are his tumultuous offseason filled with trade rumors and the question mark that is the 49ers QB position.
Whether its Trey Lance, Jimmy G, or someone else it doesn’t seem like Samuel will benefit from catching passes from an elite thrower in 2021. This unfortunate fact is what has Deebo barely outside of the top-5.
Despite possible risks, Deebo’s rare ability as both a receiver and runner in addition to his overall supreme athletic ability should shatter negative expectations.
Deebo Samuel’s threat as a pass catcher AND a runner put defenses on notice. He led the @49ers in rushing in Week 11.
— NFL (@NFL) January 14, 2022
Seriously, ranking Samuel down here is a huge risk, and if you think he should be ranked lower you might be taking an even bigger risk considering he was fantasy football’s #3-scoring receiver in 2021, beating out everyone ranked ahead of him on this list except for Cooper Kupp.
Deebo doing his thing in Duval.
— San Francisco 49ers (@49ers) November 21, 2021
Samuel had the following notable stats in 2021:
- 5th in receiving yards
- 1st in yards per catch (per StatMuse)
- 4th in receiving yards per game
- 1st in rushing yards, rushing TDs, and attempts among receivers
- Averaged 6.6 carries per game
Samuel’s impressive yardage totals and top 5 ranks are eye-popping considering he wasn’t even in the top 15 in targets or receptions, and considering he – like Keenan Allen – played one less game than most of the members of this list.
This man is a PROBLEM! Deebo does it all!
— San Francisco 49ers (@49ers) January 9, 2022
Samuel also had 70 or more total yards in 12 of his 16 games, had at least 50 total yards in all his games, compiled 100 total yards in almost half his weeks (seven of 16 games), and had 14 total TDs on the year.
Deebo is the most physical player on this list, and his intimidating running style scares defenders of all shapes and sizes.
DEEBO FREAKING SAMUEL 🤯pic.twitter.com/dUt5xMzNuE
— 49ers on NBCS (@NBCS49ers) January 31, 2022
Samuel can run over, through, and around defenders with ease. This leads to the Niners frequently using him as both a running back and receiver, increasing his touches and his snaps.
Much like Jefferson and Chase, Samuel possesses the burst that forces his coaching staff to always seek new ways to get the ball in his hands in the hopes that he can take the smallest dump off, screen, or handoff all the way to the house, like this tiny toss of a screen he took for one of the most amazing scores you’ll see this year:
DEEBO SAMUEL. 83 YARDS. #FTTB
— NFL (@NFL) October 31, 2021
7. Davante Adams
Davante Adams was fantasy’s #2-scoring receiver in 2021, but he falls down on the list due to a downgrade in QB play and a less-friendly offensive system.
Derek Carr is not a bad quarterback by any stretch of the imagination and doesn’t deserve some of the negative criticism levied against him; however, he’s not Aaron Rodgers and the Raiders aren’t the Packers.
— Green Bay Packers (@packers) November 21, 2021
The assumption that Davante Adams will just fit in smoothly because he’s talented and played with Carr in college is a dangerous one, especially with the Raiders considering their sorry history of free-agent signings.
But the assumption that Davante Adams will completely fall off the map is an equally dangerous one, and it would be extremely surprising to fantasy experts and fans alike if he did not at least finish among the top-20 receivers in fantasy points in 2022, especially considering in 2021 Adams finished:
- 3rd in receiving yards
- 2nd in receiving YPG, targets, and receptions to only Kupp
- 4th in receiving touchdowns
When Adams is on the field, his route-running, hands, change of direction, and ability to snare 50/50 balls are maybe the best in the league, and unquestionably top-5.
— Green Bay Packers (@packers) October 24, 2021
After all, Adams did break 100 receiving yards in half his games played last season, and never had less than 40 yards in a game.
The faith Aaron Rodgers showed in him year after year was part of the equation in Adams’ sky-high fantasy production in recent years, but you’ve got to figure confidence like that from a future Hall of Fame QB wasn’t just because Rodgers likes him.
Never forget when Davante Adams burned Jalen Ramsey off the line and Ramsey’s ego was hurt so much that he dropped off into zone coverage after the catch 😭 pic.twitter.com/0muOjffoKk
— Daire Carragher (@DaireCarragher) November 28, 2021
If you watch Adams play, you’ll realize you would have that kind of confidence throwing to him as well. Adams has creative ways of snaring seemingly every ball thrown in his direction combined with a Kupp-like penchant for cutting up defenders on the inside and by the sidelines.
8. CeeDee Lamb
With no Amari Cooper and Jerry Jones’ offseason comments about Lamb being an upgrade over Cooper, you better believe he’ll get force-fed the ball in the Cowboys offense.
This force-feeding is one reason Lamb cracks the list, and one reason he and Tyreek Hill are ahead of Chris Godwin and the field.
CeeDee Lamb AGAIN! #DallasCowboys
— NFL (@NFL) November 14, 2021
Beyond Lamb’s target share, he beats out Tyreek Hill for the eighth slot because he’ll benefit from better QB play and an offensive system that lends itself to multiple-receiver sets and passing abundance.
Lamb is a unique playmaker and might be the second-most fun player to watch on this list after Chase. His college skills have transitioned perfectly to the NFL, and he’ll be the Cowboys undisputed #1 receiver in the upcoming season.
CeeDee Lamb with the acrobatic touchdown catch.pic.twitter.com/GOQq6pLtTR
— Pro Football Network (@PFN365) November 22, 2020
Lamb has the skills to rip balls away from defenders, easily adjust to bad throws, and fearlessly run around and through defenders with a tenacity few might expect from a receiver.
Check out this play where Lamb runs a crisp route, makes a leaping grab and adjusts to a bad ball, and sticks the landing while evading defenders for extra yardage:
CeeDee Lamb is ABSURD 😳 pic.twitter.com/vyVJ1KbinT
— PFF (@PFF) January 9, 2022
Lamb is capable of putting fear in even the top NFL corners despite his youth, and his fast-twitch propensity leads to astonishing grabs and eruptive plays.
Lamb’s 2021 statistics aren’t much to rave about when compared to the rest of the pass-catchers listed here as he wasn’t even top-15 in any significant categories.
CeeDee Lamb. WHOOP.
— B/R Gridiron (@brgridiron) December 3, 2021
Although, one must keep in mind that Amari Cooper often functioned as the Cowboys top receiver and often saw double-digit looks. Without Cooper in the picture, Lamb’s volume and production will increase one way or another due to Jerry Jones’ demands.
With Gallup also nursing a torn ACL, its almost impossible for Lamb to not have a career-high season – or at the very least career-high volume.
CeeDee Lamb waved bye to him 😭
— PFF (@PFF) October 17, 2021
While Lamb wasn’t a high performer in many of the significant receiving categories, he has been phenomenal when Dak Prescott looks his way. When Lamb’s targeted he ranked 80th percentile or better in YPT, YPRR and RAC last season (per ESPN).
Dak Prescott connects with CeeDee Lamb for their first TD of the season 😤
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) September 10, 2021
Regardless of Lamb mostly playing Robin to Cooper’s Batman last season and missing a game, Lamb still managed to grab at least two balls in every game, had at least 50 yards in 12 of 16 games, and had 100 or more yards in three games.
9. Tyreek Hill
Tyreek Hill edges Godwin because he doesn’t have a Mike Evans to compete with (yes Waddle is a phenomenal receiver as well, but he has less years of demonstrated success than Evans and Tom Brady).
On top of that, Tyreek’s enormous contract alone will dictate he receives top-5 volume every week. Tyreek is the fastest player in the NFL in terms of game speed and is a meatball and scary after-the-catch receiver.
Tyreek Hill is a human highlight reel💪 pic.twitter.com/XdfQb4jpwD
— PFF (@PFF) May 19, 2021
He’ll experience a regression with the Dolphins uncreative, unaggressive offense in comparison to the Chiefs’ high-flying offense with creative motions and big plays galore.
In addition, Tua’s arm is a joke compared to Mahomes in terms of strength and overall arm talent, and Hill will have to do more of his damage after the catch versus blowing the tops off of defenses.
— NFL (@NFL) March 23, 2022
That’s not to say Tua is a joke of quarterback, but I’m certainly not his biggest fan. It seems like most fantasy players do worse with Tua at the helm, and he doesn’t seem like he possesses the high-level decision making or arm talent to be a franchise, highly-compensated quarterback.
TYREEK HILL PUT THE CHIEFS ON HIS BACK 🤯
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) January 24, 2022
While Hill’s talent could vault him back into the top 3 like he was on the Chiefs, a very likely possibility to me is that he performs closer to Waddle did last year than Hill’s previous seasons of fantasy glory.
10. Chris Godwin
Chris Godwin barely beats out some of the receivers yipping at his heels here like Higgins, Waddle, A.J. Brown, and Mike Evans because he’s in a more pass happy offense with a better QB than all of them except obviously Evans since they share the field.
He makes it over Evans ultimately because he’s much younger so theoretically has less injury risk and the franchise is more invested, and because he’s more explosive and can do just a little more after the catch than Evans.
Evans is no slouch after the catch and any of the receivers mentioned could have made the list, but again Godwin will likely receive higher volume than all of them due to his offense.
Godwin also makes this list due to his combination of finesse receiving skills and his physicality and toughness. Godwin can play outside or in the slot, and he can be a deep threat as well as a top red zone target.
Tom Brady connects with Chris Godwin for his 5th TD pass of the day🙌 pic.twitter.com/hFpay7CmUP
— PointsBet Sportsbook (@PointsBetUSA) September 19, 2021
With his body and size/speed combination, Godwin plays almost like a mini Calvin Johnson out there and he has obviously earned Brady’s trust. Godwin is probably the second-most physical receiver on this list after Deebo Samuel.
After only playing 14 games last season, many of Godwin’s statistics are lackluster when looked at next to the rest of this list, but in the Bucs pass-happy offense the top-10 talent will receive ample opportunistic looks and scoring opportunities.
While Godwin did only play 14 games, he still finished 7th in receiving yards and 11th in receptions.
Godwin was his usual, awe-inspiring self before his injury (7th at WR in fantasy PPG in that span) and he’s finished 15th in PPG or higher each of the past three years.
— Chris Godwin (@CGtwelve_) December 16, 2021
He’s also been fourth or higher in catch rate each of those three years, and as long as he stays healthy in 2022 he’ll at least push for top-10 ranking.
Finally, Godwin’s 2021 healthy splits were up there with the rest of this list in terms of production and usage: he had at least five targets and three receptions in every game he played, had 50 yards or more in 11 of the 14 games he played, and compiled over 100 yards in five of 14 weeks (roughly 36% of games).