The first two days of this week have seen us answer some of the biggest questions about the wide receiver position and then give sleeper and breakout calls for the position, but maybe you feel like you still need to get a sense of the bigger picture. That’s what today’s newsletter is all about.
I’m going through every team’s depth chart at the position, giving my expectations for how each group will be used, colored by my own projections as well as the latest from training camps around the league. In tomorrow’s newsletter, I’ll go through how each of the top 12 wide receivers in ADP could bust, and Friday I’ll go through my favorite and least favorite ADP values at the position and answer some of your wide receiver questions – send them my way at Chris.Towers@ViacomCBS.com with the subject line “#AskFFT” to be included.
And, of course, you’ll need to make sure you check out Heath Cummings’ wide receiver preview piece, where he goes through his projections, rankings, and tiers, plus sleepers, breakouts, busts and more.
And now, here’s the latest you need to know about every wide receiver room in the league.
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Breaking down every WR depth chart
This one is a bit in flux with Hopkins suspended for the first six games and Brown recently arrested for criminal speeding. It doesn’t sound like a suspension as a result of that is imminent or even necessarily likely, but it’s hanging over him heading into the final few weeks of the preseason. At this point, it’s hard to imagine Green improving on last year’s 92-54-848-3 line much, so we’re going to see if Moore can take advantage of an early-season opportunity. The Cardinals have been playing Moore everywhere and talking him up as a do-it-all weapon, so he remains an interesting late-round sleeper.
- Always on the field: Drake London, Bryan Edwards
- Situational: Olamide Zaccheaus, Auden Tate, KhaDarel Hodge, Damiere Byrd
The Falcons had three or more WR on the field for a league-low 338 snaps last season, though that might be a little bit misleading — Cordarrelle Patterson could line up as either an RB or WR but was listed as an RB. Still, this will probably be an offense that runs relatively few three-WR sets, which makes sense, given the quality of the depth chart. London is going to get all of the opportunities he can manage, and he’s the only WR on this roster worth rostering in most 12-team leagues. Edwards still has some potential, but it’s hard to get excited on a bad offense, given his lack of a track record.
While you can find praise for the likes of Proche or Duvernay in training camp reports, we mostly expect this to be an offense that doesn’t run a ton of three-WR sets or spreads the ball around. The running game will dominate and Mark Andrews will see a target share in the 25% range, and we’re expecting something between 20 and 25% from Bateman. That wouldn’t leave much room for anyone else to matter, though Bateman is enough of a question mark that it’s not impossible we could see someone else emerge.
Cole Beasley had 112 targets here last season despite being hobbled for much of the season and Emmanuel Sanders had 72 in 14 games, so there’s definitely opportunity here. Davis carries the weight of tremendous expectations coming off his four-touchdown performance in the Bills last playoff game, but McKenzie carries some pretty intriguing appeal himself — he’s averaged 19.9 PPR points per game in three without Beasley over the past three seasons. He’s in a battle with Crowder for the starting slot position, and I like his potential to be a PPR sleeper in the later rounds.
Moore is expected to be the primary beneficiary of the expected improvement in the Panthers’ passing game, but Anderson remains a name I’ve been looking at in the later rounds in a lot of my drafts. He still had 110 targets last season despite his struggles, and as long as he doesn’t, you know, abruptly retire, I still think there’s a chance both he and Moore could be viable starting-caliber Fantasy options — though we haven’t seen that duo play alongside Christian McCaffrey for long stretches before.
- Always on the field: Darnell Mooney
- Situational: Byron Pringle, Equanimeous St. Brown, N’Keal Harry, Velus Jones
The worst wide receiver group in the NFL has gotten even worse in recent days with Byron Pringle and N’Keal Harry going down with injuries that sound like they’re more than just a one-or two-day thing. There’s an opportunity for someone here to do something behind Mooney, but Justin Fields still has to prove he’s capable of supporting multiple viable Fantasy WRs, so Jones is the only one I’d be even slightly interested in as a late-round flier. For what it’s worth, Peter King says the Bears have “big intentions” for Jones.
- Always on the field: Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, Tyler Boyd
- Situational: Mike Thomas, Trent Taylor, Stanley Morgan
There are questions about whether Higgins or Chase is the No. 1 here, but there’s no question these two are going to dominate targets, with Boyd taking on a substantial but much smaller share. Expect much the same as what we saw last season.
With Deshaun Watson’s suspension appeal still lingering, it’s hard to care too much about this offense right now either way. If Watson serves his six-game suspension, Cooper is a solid WR2 for the full season while Peoples-Jones becomes a very interesting sleeper, but with a realistic chance of Jacoby Brissett starting 17 games, even Cooper is hard to be too excited about. Bell is a deep, deep sleeper to watch out for in your Dynasty leagues — he has been earning solid reviews since coming back from a stress fracture in the offseason.
- Always on the field: CeeDee Lamb, Jalen Tolbert, Michael Gallup
- Situational: James Washington, Noah Brown
We know the Cowboys are going to throw the ball a ton. They’ve ranked sixth, second, and 10th over the past three seasons in pass attempts. Lamb is going to get a lot of them, though it’s worth noting that no player has had a target share over 21% during Kellen Moore‘s time as offensive coordinator. There’s an opportunity for someone like Tolbert, the team’s third-round pick out of South Alabama, to step up, especially with Gallup looking extremely unlikely for Week 1. Tolbert is an interesting late-round sleeper.
Chark is coming back from a torn ACL but has been coming on strong lately according to camp reports. I like St. Brown quite a bit based on how he finished last season, but you have to acknowledge that much of his production came when he was effectively the only viable option in the passing game. With Chark (and eventually Williams) added plus D’Andre Swift and T.J. Hockenson healthy to start the season (at least), it’s going to be a tougher test for St. Brown.
- Always on the field: Allen Lazard, Sammy Watkins
- Situational: Randall Cobb, Christian Watson, Romeo Doubs, Amari Rodgers
There’s a lot of debate in Fantasy Football circles about which of the Packers wide receivers we should target, and my answer might be … none of them. Look, they’re tied to an elite quarterback and there’s no clear hierarchy that we can see, so there’s certainly an opportunity. But I’m just not sure any of these guys are all that good. Watkins has been a perpetual disappointment, Cobb is old and mediocre, and Lazard has been efficient, but never as anything more than a low target volume guy despite playing 75% of the snaps in the majority of his games last season. Doubs is garnering a lot of training camp hype, but it’s not clear if he’s actually worked his way into the starting lineup — or if he’d be getting as many reps if Christian Watson wasn’t recovering from knee surgery.
Collins has some sleeper appeal, but he’s coming off a pretty discouraging rookie season where he had just 60 targets in 14 games despite playing 60% or more of the snaps most weeks. He could still turn into something, obviously, but he isn’t a high-priority add anywhere.
Pierce has good size and speed to go along with second-round draft capital, but he was also not all that productive in college, maxing out at 884 yards as a senior. He has a real opportunity to emerge as the No. 2 target in this offense, though that was only worth 69 targets in this offense last season, so he isn’t a must-draft in the later rounds. But, if we think Pittman is a borderline WR1 with Matt Ryan replacing Carson Wentz, then there could be room for Pierce. I’m less excited about Parris Campbell, who has managed to average 24 yards per game across 15 appearances in three seasons since being a second-round pick back in 2019.
- Always on the field: Christian Kirk, Marvin Jones
- Situational: Zay Jones, Laviska Shenault, Laquon Treadwell
The Jaguars spent a lot of money to upgrade their wide receiver group, but don’t hold that against them when you actually look at this group. I mean … it’s fine. Probably not in the top half of the league in terms of talent, and it’s not entirely clear how targets are likely to be divvied up — tight end Evan Engram and the running backs figure to play prominent roles in the passing game, too. Which makes it possible none of the wide receivers tops 110 targets here. By the way, that would be a career-high for the soon-to-be 26-year-old Kirk, entering his fifth NFL season.
- Always on the field: JuJu Smith-Schuster, Marquez Valdes-Scantling
- Situational: Skyy Moore, Mecole Hardman, Josh Gordon
This is like the Green Bay situation except I like the talent here a lot more. Hardman and MVS are speedy but haven’t given much reason to think they can be Fantasy contributors of note — Hardman has played five games without Tyreek Hill active and his 17-game pace for those isn’t even 1,000 yards. Smith-Schuster is still young and has high-level production in his past, so it becomes a question of how much you want to blame his lackluster performance the past few seasons on Ben Roethlisberger. Moore might be my favorite of the bunch to draft coming off a college career where he earned targets at a very high rate and was productive. He and Smith-Schuster are the two I’m most likely to draft.
Tim Patrick getting hurt makes it a little easier to buy into Jeudy and Sutton, because this looked like a potentially very crowded receiving group before that. It’s still not clear whether Jeudy or Sutton is more likely to be the No. 1 target here, but I’m betting on Jeudy for this reason: Sutton averaged just 4.6 targets per game in the 10 he played with Jeudy last season.
- Always on the field: Davante Adams, Hunter Renfrow
- Situational: Mack Hollins, Keelan Cole, Demarcus Robinson
Renfrow was a lot like St. Brown with the Lions last season, and he arguably has even more meaningful competition with the addition of Adams. Between those two and Darren Waller, nobody else here really matters, so the biggest question is whether Renfrow can still get, say, 110-plus targets and be a viable PPR WR2 or 3. I think he’s a fringe starter.
Allen, Williams, and Austin Ekeler split 380 targets between the three of them last season despite each missing a game, so there isn’t a ton of room for anyone else to do much in this offense. Palmer has some sleeper appeal, but it’s not clear if he’s ahead of tight end Gerald Everett for No. 4 in the pecking order, so he’d probably need an injury to really get much of a chance coming off a rookie season with one game of more than 50 yards.
- Always on the field: Cooper Kupp, Allen Robinson
- Situational: Van Jefferson, Tutu Atwell, Ben Skowronek, Jacob Harris
It still seems possible, maybe even likely, that the Rams will sign Odell Beckham at some point. However, he’s not expected to be ready to go until November, most likely, so reinforcements probably aren’t coming for a while. Robinson is garnering strong reviews in Rams camp and sounds like he’s going to have a very strong role as the No. 2 in this offense, and with Van Jefferson having knee surgery that puts his Week 1 status in doubt, it could be largely a two-man show here — especially if Matthew Stafford‘s elbow injury causes them to dial back on the passing game. Atwell has some deep, deep sleeper appeal, and the coaches are talking him up in camp, but he also didn’t touch the ball on offense as a rookie, so I probably need to see him in action before I even consider buying.
- Always on the field: Tyreek Hill, Jaylen Waddle
- Situational: Cedrick Wilson, Trent Sherfield, Mohamed Sanu
The addition of Hill simplifies this receiving corps, but it also raises the question of what the Hill/Waddle combination is going to look like. This could be a pretty run-heavy offense if Mike McDaniel carries over a similar philosophy to what he worked with in San Francisco, which could mean we’ll need a highly concentrated target share and a highly efficient offense for both to live up to top-15 WR prices. I think both are possible, maybe even likely, but both also carry some risk that they’ll disappoint. Nobody else here is likely to matter except for Mike Gesicki.
- Always on the field: Justin Jefferson, Adam Thielen, KJ Osborn
- Situational: Bisi Johnson, Ihmir Smith-Marsette, Albert Wilson
This has been a pretty easy offense to figure out for a while because Mike Zimmer ran so much that there really wasn’t much room for more than one or two wide receivers to matter. However, we’re expecting Kevin O’Connell to run more three wide-receiver sets — perhaps as their base offense — and they’re going to throw the ball more, so there might actually be room for him to be a useful Fantasy option. Jefferson is a top-three option and Thielen remains a viable starter when healthy, but Osborn has a chance to thrive here as well — especially with Irv Smith recovering from thumb surgery.
- Always on the field: Devante Parker, Jakobi Meyers
- Situational: Kendrick Bourne, Nelson Agholor, Tyquan Thornton
I can’t help but feel like this offense might be an outright disaster. Bill Belichick opted not to name an offensive coordinator this offseason, and it’s become clear in camp that Matt Patricia — primarily a defensive coach in his career — and Joe Judge — a special teams coordinator — are running the offense together. That duo doesn’t exactly inspire confidence — ask Lions or Giants fans, respectively — and apparently it’s been an incredibly difficult start to camp. Parker has some bounce back potential, but this figures to be a pretty conservative offense even if it does click, while Meyer has mild PPR appeal, but not much more than that. I’m mostly fine passing on this passing game.
- Always on the field: Michael Thomas, Chris Olave
- Situational: Jarvis Landry, Marquez Callaway, Tre’Quan Smith
Michael Thomas is healthy, and while he isn’t doing everything in camp yet, he’s progressed to positional drills and seems well in line to be ready for Week 1. Assuming he doesn’t have any further setbacks in his recovery from an injury that has been defined by setback after setback. I don’t want to be pessimistic or fatalistic, but I think a healthy skepticism is the only way to view Thomas’ value at this point. He could be right and rediscover the form that made him the best WR in Fantasy three years ago, but I’m going to be putting Olave and Landry on my teams in the later rounds just in case. Because the question with Thomas isn’t just, “Is he healthy right now?” It’s, “Can he stay healthy in September, and then October, and then …” Hopefully Jameis Winston‘s foot injury is as minor as the team believes.
- Always on the field: Kenny Golladay, Kadarius Toney
- Situational: Wan’Dale Robinson, Collin Johnson, Sterling Shepard
Toney represents the high-upside piece of this passing game, and if he’s healthy it’s hard not to see him being the top option for Daniel Jones. I’m not saying Toney is or even can be anywhere near as good as Stefon Diggs, but his more varied profile and skill set makes him a better match for that analogy than Golladay, who wins contested targets on vertical routes when he wins. Robinson is starting to garner some buzz in camp, though it’s not enough to put him on draft boards in 12-team leagues. However, a few more weeks of buzz and some first-team reps would help.
Things seem pretty set here, as the Jets have made a point of giving Zach Wilson weapons. All accounts indicate Moore remains the most productive pass-catcher here, and he showed significant upside in putting up 459 yards and five touchdowns over his final six games last season. Wilson has plenty of upside of his own, though I’m not sure he’s a better prospect than Moore, either coming out of college or especially after seeing Moore thrive at the NFL level. In an ideal world, those two would be the clear top options, but I’m guessing Davis still plays enough of a role to make it tough for both to break out. I’m taking Wilson in the later rounds, but I’m targeting Moore in the mid rounds.
Reagor has actually earned some praise for his performance in camp lately, but he’s fighting for a spot on the Eagles roster, not our Fantasy rosters. Brown and Smith represent the clear top two here, and while I expect the Eagles to throw more, that probably won’t be enough to make a third WR relevant unless something happens to Dallas Goedert. And, even then …
- Always on the field: Diontae Johnson, George Pickens, Chase Claypool
- Situational: Calvin Austin, Miles Boykin
Pickens is starting to garner some frankly unfair comparisons for his play in camp, and Pittsburgh‘s track record of finding and developing wide receivers can’t be ignored. It sounds like three-wide sets will feature Johnson, Claypool, and Pickens, with Claypool potentially spending significantly more time in the slot than he has in years past. That’s an interesting wrinkle — it gives Claypool more chances to get the ball in his hands in space rather than trying to win one on one, something the more agile, technical route runner in Johnson can probably do more ably. However, if it means some of those short, easy throws that Johnson has relied on go to Claypool, it could shift the balance of the offense. Alongside the change in QB from Roethlisberger to Mitchell Trubisky, this is just one more unknown wrinkle thrown into an offense … that might just not be good enough to be worth the hassle.
- Always on the field: Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk
- Situational: Jauan Jennings, Malik Turner, Ray-Ray McCloud
The 49ers are going to run a lot of plays with just Samuel and Aiyuk on the field because they like having multiple tight ends and running backs on the field. That’s just fine because concerns about how much they’re going to throw with Trey Lance already make this passing game crowded enough. Samuel has indicated he’s more OK with being used as a running back than offseason reports indicated, and Aiyuk has been the unanimous star of camp, so there could be room for both of them to thrive. But there is a very narrow path to both being must-start Fantasy WRs, and it’s not clear there’s room on that path for someone like George Kittle, too.
The questions in Seattle don’t revolve around the wide receivers. It’s all about the quarterback battle between Drew Lock and Geno Smith, though it’s probably fair to say that the results of that battle probably won’t necessarily matter all that much – neither is likely to be very good. I will say, given that Lockett had a higher catch rate, yards per game, and yards per target than Metcalf last season, I’m not sure the four-round gap in their ADPs makes much sense right now.
- Always on the field: Mike Evans, Chris Godwin
- Situational: Russell Gage, Julio Jones, Cyril Grayson, Tyler Johnson
When healthy, Godwin and Evans will be on the field for nearly all pass plays, with everyone else revolving around them. That should still lead to plenty of opportunities in the very pass-friendly Bucs offense for Gage and Jones, but if they’re going to make an impact for Fantasy, it’s going to come before Godwin is fully up to speed. He’s still in question for Week 1, but he was recently cleared to return to practice — though in a still-limited fashion. Evans is dealing with a minor hamstring injury that isn’t expected to linger, though hamstring injuries have a way of doing just that. Gage and Jones remain interesting targets in PPR formats, with Gage more likely to emerge as a starter, in my eyes, at least.
- Always on the field: Robert Woods, Treylon Burks
- Situational: Nick Westbrook-Ikhine, Dez Fitzpatrick, Racey McMath
Woods is working his way back from a torn ACL, and he’s still hoping to be ready for Week 1. That’s not a guarantee at this point, though Woods was listed as the starting wide receiver on the team’s first depth chart. That wasn’t true of rookie first-rounder Treylon Burks, though it’s worth remembering that is an unofficial depth chart and a lot can change between now and Week 1. Burks is similar in build and skillset to the departed A.J. Brown, but Woods figures to be the more likely replacement as the top option in the passing game. Both are question marks, but both also go outside of the top-100 in most drafts, so they can afford to be question marks.
McLaurin is the sure thing, but Dotson has been garnering a lot of strong reviews in training camp so far, to the point where former NFL tight end Logan Paulsen said he’s been the Commanders best wide receiver in camp. I don’t expect Dotson to usurp McLaurin as the team’s No. 1 option, but it’s possible he could play a big enough role to impact McLaurin’s upside. The bigger question is clearly the level of play from Carson Wentz, which has been concerning enough in camp to garner comment from head coach Ron Rivera that he is not “overly concerned” about Wentz’s inaccuracy in camp. Two different teams have decided to move on from Wentz over the last two seasons, so I’m skeptical he’s going to represent a big upgrade for Washington. Given the level of play here the past few years, that’s a bad sign.