2023 Fantasy Rankings: WRs 11-20

By Chip Bayless (click Howie for more Chip)

 

 

11) DeVonta Smith

DeVonta Smith easily edges Garret Wilson for the 11th spot in our 2023 rankings for a few reasons.

Basically those reasons boil down to the fact that we’ve at least seen a full year of Smith with his current quarterback, Smith plays with much more talent around him, and while Aaron Rodgers will bolster the Jets offense, I doubt they’ll rank second in scoring to only the Chiefs, which the Eagles achieved just last season.

Smith’s skillset is scarily similar to Justin Jefferson, as his quickness in and out of his breaks and his ability to stop on a dime are top-1o skillsets.

On top of that, Smith has the burners to torch the majority of #1 cornerbacks and the hands to expertly snare anything within his ever-expanding catch radius.

Throw in his ball-carrier vision and knack for beating defenders with angles and jukes, and you’ve got a receiver who will probably outperform his ADP and at least sniff the top-10 WRs in 2021.

Just last season, DeVonta Smith finished (among WRs):

  • 9th in total fantasy points
  • 15th in fantasy PPG (per ESPN)
  • 9th in receptions & targets
  • 8th in yards
  • Tied for 12th in TDs
  • Tied for 9th in catches for 20+ yards
  • 12th in YAC
  • 11th in catches resulting in 1st downs (per ESPN)
  • 20th in yards per target (per Pro Football Reference)



Given that Smith was universally top-20 in most receiving statistics and he plays in an offense that ranked 2nd in total scoring, 9th in intended air yards per attempt (per Pro Football Reference), 4th in completed air yards per completion, 8th in passing yards, and threw the ball on 1st down the 6th-most of any team (per NFL.com), his combination of talent and the Eagles’ offensive production is mouth-watering for fantasy owners.

The variety of the Eagles offensive plays and their ability to force defenses to defend every inch of turf on the field results in some wide-open completions and passes caught in stride that provide substantial opportunities for big gains, as evidenced by the fact that the Eagles were 5th in YAC per completion in 2022 in addition to ranking 6th in percentage of on target throws per pass attempt (per Pro Football Reference).

Finally, Smith is on the field so much and is so productive when he’s targeted that it’s almost impossible to pass on him at this slot.

It was Smith, not Justin Jefferson nor Davante Adams, who led all NFL receivers in snaps last season (per FantasyPros), while also rankings 16th in broken tackles on receptions (per Pro Football Reference), 19th in passer rating when targeted, and 15th in receptions per game.

Smith also accounted for 31% of all his team’s Air Yards last season, good for 17th-most.

 

 

12) Garrett Wilson

Despite essentially having a rusty spoon for a quarterback in 2022, Garrett Wilson was able to crack 1,000 yards even though his Mormon brother Zach Wilson’s complete inadequacy as a football player.

In all seriousness, Garrett Wilson is one of the most talented 2nd-year receivers in the NFL, if not the most talented.

Wilson is able to make mincemeat out of defense with sparse, often off-target looks. In 2022, the Ohio State product showed NFL scouts and fans alike why the Jets drafted him so highly, as the young receiver turned in a rookie season for the ages – using Chad Ochocinco-like quickness, route-running, and body control along the way.

In just his first season (and in a deplorable offense), Garrett Wilson was:

  • 21st in total fantasy points
  • 6th in targets & 15th in receptions (@Zach Wilson)
  • Tied for 2nd in broken tackles on reception to only Deebo Samuel (per Pro Football Reference)
  • 4th in receptions per broken tackle
  • 5th among WRs with 80+ catches in yards per reception
  • 14th in receiving yards
  • Tied for 13th in receptions resulting in 1st downs (per ESPN)
  • 18th in YAC (per ESPN)
  • Tied for 21st for catches for 20+ yards
  • 21st in receptions per game
  • 21st in receiving yards per game

Now with Aaron Rodgers in the fold, Garrett Wilson and the rest of the Jets offense should be poised for takeoff.

Worst case scenario, it’s hard to imagine the Jets passing game could be any worse than it was in 2022 with Zach Wilson at the helm slinging all the footballs he could directly to the few MILFs there were in the Meadowlands’ stands.

If you’re looking for one take-home Garrett Wilson point to throw in anyone’s face who questions you drafting him this summer, he accounted for 31.8% of all the Jets’ Air Yards (per Next Gen Stats) – good for 16th-most in the NFL in just his rookie season with a roulette wheel for a quarterback.

 

 

13) Tee Higgins

Tee Higgins produced once again in 2023 and has quietly turned into one of the league’s most dependable receivers in one of the NFL’s top offenses.

After all, Tee Higgins has had at least 900 yards, 60 catches, and six TDs in every season so far in his career.

Coming into his fourth season improved, healthier, and more experienced (much like the young, elite QB slinging him the rock), Higgins and the entire Bengals offense should only improve if 2023, if not put up their 2022 numbers at a bare minimum.

Higgins possesses unbelievably strong hands, a colossal catch radius, phenomenal ability to make adjustments and back-shoulder grabs, elite body control the sideline, top-notch leaping ability, after-the-catch relentlessness, and his burst off the line of scrimmage will beat the vast majority of NFL DBs game in and game out.

In fact, if you have any doubts about Tee Higgins’ physical abilities, check out this absolutely ungodly touchdown:

 

Here’s how Tee Higgins’ stats compared to 2022’s WR crop:

  • 19th in total fantasy points
  • 19th in receiving yards
  • Tied for 12th in receiving TDs
  • 12th in passer rating when targeted (per Pro Football Reference)
  • 11th in yards per target
  • Tied for 17th in catches for 20+ yards
  • 22nd in yards per reception (per ESPN)
  • 24th in catches resulting in 1st downs
  • 25th in receptions
  • 26th in targets
  • 28th in receptions per game

The fact that Bengals opponents can’t key on Higgins due to Chase, Boyd, and Mixon helps his case tremendously as he sometimes functions as the team’s top receiver depending on game script or injuries – given the fact that choosing between which Cincinnati weapon to focus on is akin to asking defensive coordinators if they’d rather be shot in the face or the genitals.

Additionally, the Bengals offense is so productive and pass-happy that the fact that Higgins sits as the WR2 on their depth chart is enough of a reason to draft him in 2023.

At the end of the 2022 season, the Bengals stood at 7th in pass attempts, 2nd in completion percentage, 9th in yards per attempt, 6th in passing yards, 2nd in pass TDs to only the Chiefs, 3rd in QB rating, and threw the ball the 8th-most of any NFL team (per NFL.com).

Cincinnati was also 8th in completed air yards, 10th in completed air yards per attempt, and had the 3rd-lowest percentage of poor throws per pass attempt while having the 3rd-highest percentage of on target throws per pass attempt, according to Pro Football Reference.

Joe Burrow and the Bengals also recorded the 3rd-lowest pressure per dropback percentage, and plenty of time to throw means a higher likelihood Burrow remains healthy all season, and it also means he’ll have the time he needs to confidently read a defense and hit the open receiver.

Finally, the idea that Chase has a stranglehold on the Bengals’ targets is a huge misnomer and the idea that Chase is insanely more valuable is also unfounded. In part, as evidenced by the fact that while Chase accounted for 30% of all the Bengals’ Air Yards in 2022, Higgins accounted for 28.88% in his own right.

 

14) DK Metcalf

Metcalf is an insatiable talent for the receiver position, and the last time we saw a receiver with this size and speed may very well have been Calvin Johnson.

Metcalf proved last season that regardless of the Seahawks’ QB, his penchant for Mossing and trucking defenders combined with his breakaway speed allows him to produce at a top-20 level.



Geno Smith also turned out to be a pretty decent replacement for Ciara’s husband with his league-leading completion percentage and knack for making the best decision with the football possible, so Metcalf’s stock is arguably higher in 2023 considering he’s had an entire season of actual game play to develop chemistry with the late-bloomer.

In 2022, among receivers, D.K. Metcalf finished:

  • 16th in total fantasy points
  • 10th in receptions
  • 11th in targets
  • 15th in yards
  • 21st in receptions resulting in 1st downs
  • Tied for 17th in TDs

Metcalf added some consistency to his resume in 2022, as he averaged 5.3 receptions a game, rarely had bust weeks, and was constantly peppered with targets.

Finally, even with Lockett and their new 1st-round WR courtesy of the 2023 Draft, Metcalf should still yield a significant target share in 2023, as he might be the most talented player overall on Seattle’s roster.

In 2022, Metcalf accounted for a staggering 37.6% of the Seahawks’ Air Yards (per Next Gen Stats), a figure that was good for 8th-best in the league among WRs.

Combine Metcalf’s talent with the Seahawks’ surprisingly-top-1o offense, and you’ve got maybe one of the most underrated players on this list.

It’s worth noting that the Seahawks did lead the NFL in completion percentage last season, were 8th in yards per attempt, ranked 10th in passing yards, had the 6th-most passing TDs, were 4th in QB rating, and threw the ball the 9th-most on 1st down (per NFL.com).

Seattle was also 4th in completed air yards, 8th in completed air yards per completion, 5th in completed air yards per attempt, had the 6th-fewest QB hits, had the 4th-highest percentage of on-target throws per pass attempts, and led the NFL in fewest percentage of poor passes per attempt (per Pro Football Reference).

 

15) Chris Olave

Chris Olave burst onto the scene in 2022, becoming the clear WR1 in New Orleans, regardless of Mike Thomas’ future.

He’s incredibly similar to Justin Jefferson in the way he runs routes, his creativity, decision-making, and his suddenness and change of direction skills.

Olave explodes off the line of scrimmage and is a quarterback’s dream in terms of his ability to get open and create space.

Check out some of his significant stats among 2022 WRs in just his rookie season:

  • 17th in receiving yards
  • 16th in yards per reception (per ESPN)
  • 8th in average depth of target (ADOT) – per Pro Football Reference
  • 15th in yards per reception (per Pro Football Reference)
  • 20th in targets
  • Tied for 18th in catches resulting in 1st downs
  • 22nd in yards per target (per Pro Football Reference)
  • 24th in receptions per game
  • 25th in PRK
  • 26th in receptions

After becoming nightmare fuel for defensive coordinators in just his first NFL season, Olave should takeoff in his sophomore campaign with a full season of game experience and another NFL offseason under his young belt.

With Derek Carr now in the fold in New Orleans, Olave is likely to see an increase in his on-target throws as well, and the entire offense is potentially poised for a passing resurgence considering Jameis Winston and Taysom Hill were NOLA’s previously-hyped QB saviors.

Moreover, even if New Orleans finds themselves down in a game due to early offensive ineptitude, the arrow is always pointing up for Olave as those situations will likely only bolster passing game opportunities due to clock management.

The Saints’ also have plenty of pieces to work with, and while their passing game last year wasn’t exactly a receiver’s Garden of Eden (bottom half of the league in total scoring and 6th-fewest passing attempts), the percentage they passed on first down at least ranked in the top half in the league, and they were actually tied for 2nd in the NFL in passes for 40+ yards with the Eagles and Chiefs – trailing only the Dolphins (per NFL.com).

Their pass blocking should be good enough for Derek Carr to show fans just how much of a massive upgrade his accuracy is over the Saints’ previous options at the QB position, and good enough to provide Carr enough time to hit Olave in stride.

After all, the Saints did record the 4th-lowest pressure per dropback percentage in 2022 (per Pro Football Reference).

If you’re unconvinced about Olave’s talent level then maybe these two stats will convince you: Olave averaged 14.2 air yards per target which was 6th-best among WRs, and he accounted for 38.6% of all the Saints’ 2022 air yards which ranked 7th-best in the league (per Next Gen Stats).

 

 

16) Keenan Allen

Although Keenan Allen was almost as disappointing as Jerome Powell in 2022 as he was injured for much of the season, his talent is undeniable and Allen has been handling his business as a WR1 in the NFL for essentially a decade.

Furthermore, he plays in a much better, pass-happier offense with a far more talented quarterback than Deebo Samuel in addition to many of the other WR options available around and after this ADP range.

For example, last season the Chargers were 2nd in pass attempts, 3rd in completion percentage, 10th in yards per attempt, and 3rd in passing yards, per NFL.com.

In spite of playing only 10 of his 17 games last season, Allen showed why he’s still the Chargers’ undisputed WR1 when healthy and achieved these impressive receiver ranks:

Keenan Allen is an absolute PPR and route-running maven, as he often receives productive, double-digit targets when healthy. In terms of Allen’s awareness, body control, hand strength, and route tree, he may very well be the best in the NFL.

Last season, Allen had 60+ receiving yards in 80% of his weeks and saw seven or more targets in 70% of his games – including four games where he received at least 11 targets.

Due to the presence of Mike Williams and Austin Ekeler, defenses are incapable of doubling or keying on Allen, and with another season of experience under Justin Herbert’s belt, next season might end up being the best yet for the Chargers’ core.

 

 

17) Deebo Samuel

Regardless of the absolute question mark that is the 49ers 2023 QB situation, Deebo Samuel is one of the top-10 most-skilled receivers in the league, and is likely the second-best overall player on the entire roster next to CMC.

Samuel is a pure playmaker who often just needs one cut and an open lane to take any touch to the house, and San Francisco has shown throughout his career that they’ll do whatever it takes to get the ball in his hands using a variety of creative play calls whether they be screens, end-arounds, or well-designed play actions.

Among 2022 receivers, Deebo Samuel was:

It is Samuel’s explosiveness, ability to run like an RB (as evidenced by leading all WRs in rushing), and penchant for making defenders of all shapes and sizes look like it’s their first time learning how to tackle that has coaches salivating with how to get the ball in his hands.

Samuel’s strength and athleticism might be top-3 at the WR position, and he’s arguably the most dangerous receiver in the NFL with the ball in his hands.

Deebo can bail out any ineffective, stagnant drive and make any play call look good by breaking tackles and using his speed to turn what would be minimal yards for lesser WRs into long gains – and often touchdowns – for him.




Aside from Samuel’s insane skillset, the star power of George Kittle and CMC prevents defenses from taking Samuel out of the game or even committing any extra focus to him at all. Throw in Brandon Aiyuk and Shanahan’s scheme, and you’ve got a nightmare for defensive coordinators.

Shanahan’s scheme doesn’t change much year-to-year, and for what it’s worth the 49ers were 4th in yards in attempt, 7th in passing touchdowns, 7th in passes for 20+ yards, 11th in completion %, 2nd in QB rating to only the Chiefs, had the 8th-fewest sacks allowed, and passed the ball the 5th-most of any team on first down (per NFL.com) just last season, so Deebo and the rest of the 49ers might have more upside than it appears on the surface.

 

 

18) Amari Cooper

While there’s really nothing appealing on the surface about Amari Cooper’s situation in Cleveland (run first, low-scoring team, with a rapist for a QB who had a 79 QB rating and a 58% completion percentage last season), his route-running ability and 2022 statistics are simply too eye-catching to ignore.

Amari Cooper is a true, dependable WR1 in the NFL, and if he was on a better team (or a more pass-happy one), he would likely be ranked in the top-10 across all formats.

Cooper’s creativity, awareness, vision, and intelligence are elite, and in 2022 he posted these rankings among WRs:

  • Tied for 4th in receiving TDs
  • 10th in total fantasy points
  • Tied for 9th in catches for 20+ yards (per ESPN)
  • 7th in catches resulting in first downs (per ESPN)
  • 18th in fantasy PPG
  • 18th in receptions
  • 17th in targets
  • 11th in receiving yards
  • 19th in yards per catch (per ESPN)
  • Tied for 19th in broken tackles on receptions (per Pro Football Reference)
  • 23rd in yards per target

Amari Cooper also commanded a substantial share of the Browns’ Air Yards and targets in 2022, recording 12.9 yards per target (good for 16th-best among WRs) in addition to 38.7 of all Cleveland’s 2022 Air Yards (good for 6th-best among WRs) – per Next Gen Stats.

Another monumental factor in Cooper’s success is his underrated catch radius and trustworthy hands, both of which were on full display last season as he came in 5th among receivers in catch percentage with 76.5%.

Although the Browns run the ball like Nick Chubb’s life depends on it and Watson still has signs of obvious rust from sitting out a season for sexually assaulting multiple massage therapists, Cooper proved last season that he should produce when healthy regardless of Cleveland’s QB situation.

 

 

19) Diontae Johnson

One of the last receivers available after this ADP range who’s the clear-cut WR1 on his team, Diontae Johnson gets peppered with targets like Berlin was peppered with bombs in 1945.

In 2022, Johnson accrued about a third (33.6%) of all the Steelers’ Air Yards, a mark that was good for 13th-best in the NFL among WRs (per Next Gen Stats).

Moreover, Johnson has the athleticism and agility to create space against almost any cornerback, and there’s a reason he’s been seen as the go-to-guy for several seasons now in Pittsburgh – regardless of the transition to Kenny Pickett last season.

Despite an occasionally ineffective offense at times, Johnson still managed to achieve the following statistics among receivers:

  • 7th in targets
  • 13th in receptions
  • 19th in receptions per game
  • Tied for 6th in broken tackles on receptions (per Pro Football Reference)
  • 9th in receptions per broken tackle
  • Tied for 25th in catches for 1st downs (per ESPN)
  • 27th in receiving yards
  • 28th in PRK

The Steelers offense was terrible in 2022, as they were well within the bottom half of the league in passing yards, yards per attempt, total scoring, passing TDs, and completion percentage (within the worst three teams in half of those stats too).

The fact that Johnson played all 17 games and didn’t break 900 yards or score a single touchdown is incredibly concerning and a major factor in his low ranking on this list, but another year of experience will likely only help Kenny Pickett, Najee Harris, the offensive line, and the rest of the young Steelers’ core improve in 2023 in terms of their individual production as well as their collective chemistry.

Finally, since we haven’t seen the Baker Mayfield-led Bucs yet, Johnson is arguably a less risky pick in 2023 than either of the Buccaneers receivers – even though both Bucs receivers are very close to this ranking and frankly either one could have made this list at #20.

 

 

20) Chris Godwin

Although the Buccaneers’ offense is a bit of a wildcard in 2023 considering they are going from a quarterback many consider the greatest of all time in Tom Brady to Baker Mayfield, both Bucs receivers could easily make a case for this spot considering their supreme talent levels, hulking size, and consistent dominance.

However, Chris Godwin barely edges Mike Evans simply because Godwin is younger and more explosive.

Godwin has virtually every trait a coach or scout could ask for in a wide receiver. He has a virtually ideal size/speed combination, can leap up and yank 50/50 balls away from nearly any defender, is a savvy route-runner, and has after-the-catch skills that rival the best in the NFL like Tyreek Hill and Ja’Marr Chase.

Throw in Godwin’s awareness on sideline grabs, knack for finding the soft-spot in the zone, and ability to box-out defenders with his hulking size and the only thing holding back Godwin from pushing towards top-1o status would be health or the lack of Tom Brady.

Despite missing two games, among WRs last season Godwin finished:

  • 6th in receptions
  • 10th in targets
  • 3rd in YAC (per ESPN)
  • 16th in fantasy PPG (per ESPN)
  • 18th in total fantasy points
  • Tied for 18th in broken tackles on receptions (per Pro Football Reference)
  • 20th in yards
  • Tied for 15th in catches resulting in 1st downs (per ESPN)
  • 14th-lowest drop % (per Pro Football Reference)

While Mayfield is brand-new to the Bucs, you have to figure that he’ll be looking for Evans and Godwin early and often as security blankets considering the dearth of other receiving options and the lack of a dominant tight end, to go along with Godwin and Evan’s unignorable size.

Godwin’s catch radius and hands were top-notch last season, as he recorded the 9th-best catch rate among receivers with 73%, and he showed no signs of wear and tear as he was as relentless as ever breaking tackles, going for the 16th-best YAC per reception among receivers (per Next Gen Stats).

Want one final stat for your Godwin confirmation bias? He ranked 6th among all wideouts in receptions per game as well as yards per touch last season with a healthy 9.6, according to Pro Football Reference.

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