2023 Sophomore Wide Receiver Preview

The top-end wide receiver talent that has been added to fantasy rankings in the past 3 years has been unheard of. If you look at KTC’s top 12 dynasty wide receivers today, 11/12 of those receivers have been drafted since 2020, the only one drafted earlier is AJ Brown who was drafted in 2019. And the 2022 wide receiver class has plenty of names contributed to those top 12. 

In this article series, we’re looking at sophomore players position by position and look at what they’ve done in their rookie season, plus their outlook for this upcoming year and the future. For this article, we’ll be looking at the sophomore wide receivers and comparing where I have them ranked now versus where they were ranked for me last preseason. Make sure also to check out the other positional breakdown articles in this series!

Garrett Wilson

The hype train has been going full steam all offseason long for Garrett Wilson, to a point where it might have gone too far. That being said, we could be proven very right in having him as a top 5 dynasty wide receiver before starting even his second season. It’s clear he was an alpha target last year in a, honestly, terrible offense that was in the bottom third in the league in yards per game and points per game. The addition of Aaron Rodgers will at worst give the Jets competent quarterback play if not even better. And competent quarterback play is much better than what they had just last season.

Additionally, once Breece Hall comes back healthy, that offense will have a running game to give that total offense balance. Garrett Wilson is the clear-cut WR1 in this offense and will continue to garner a huge target share over guys like Allen Lazard, Corey Davis, and Mecole Hardman. His near 27% target rate is elite and generally indicative of elite success at such an early stage in his career. It’s wheels up in 2023 and I would not be surprised to see him a regular in the top 5-10 fantasy wide receiver scorers for years to come.

2021 Rookie Rank: WR3

2022 Class/Overall Rank: WR1/WR5

Movement: +2

KTC (Market) Class/Overall Rank: WR1/WR3

PPR PPG GP Tar Rec Yards YPC TD Target Rate ADOT
215.7 (21)
12.7
17
147
83
1103
13.3
4
26.9%
10.7

Chris Olave

Chris Olave had just as successful of a season as Garrett Wilson did but, per KTC, is ranked 5 spots below him. Olave played in 2 fewer games, but on average, had more fantasy points per game, a higher target rate, and a higher average depth of target. All of that with similar quarterback play; we’re splitting hairs on who was worse between Andy Dalton, Taysom Hill, and Jameis Winston vs Zach Wilson, Joe Flacco, and Mike White. The Saints were also bottom half of the league in points per game and yards per game.

While Olave might not have gotten a former MVP as his quarterback upgrade, he did get a significant upgrade with the addition of Derek Carr as the signal-caller. Carr will bring consistency to the Saints’ quarterback position and feed Chris Olave as the main receiver. Even if we get Michael Thomas back this offseason, Olave is the alpha in this room after what he showed last season with almost a 30% target rate on 406 routes. Another top-tier wide receiver out of this class with the wheels up heading into 2023.

Olave was a big riser for me after his rookie season and, as with a lot of analysts, I very much regret being on the wrong side of the Skyy Moore vs Chris Olave debate. That take was always due to being high on Skyy and not necessarily low on Olave. Regardless, we’re course-correcting this take and all in on Chris Olave going forward.

2021 Rookie Rank: WR6

2022 Class/Overall Rank: WR2/WR8

Movement: +4

KTC (Market) Class/Overall Rank: WR2/WR8

PPR PPG GP Tar Rec Yards YPC TD Target Rate ADOT
198.2 (25)
13.2
15
119
72
1042
14.5
4
29.3%
14.0

Drake London

It’s almost the exact same story as the two previous entries. London had an extremely productive season as a rookie but didn’t quite crack the 1,000-yard mark in receiving yards. But he accrued well over 100 targets, was targeted on over 32% of his 361 routes, and was a focal point of this offense. But like the Saints and Jets last season, the Falcons were in the bottom half of yards per game, but somehow were 15th in points per game in 2022. 

But unlike Olave and Wilson, London didn’t get the same level of upgrade at the quarterback position as the Saints and Jets saw. While Desmond Ridder may not be a massive upgrade from last year, with a full offseason under his belt and some live-game action, he has a chance to show real development and at least be more capable than Marcus Mariota was last season. With just competent quarterback play, Bijan Robinson can keep the defense honest and Ridder just has to get it within Drake London or Kyle Pitts’ egregious catch radiuses and let them make plays. 

Because of the situation he’s in right now, London is behind both Olave and Wilson, but his peripherals and what he showed last season shouldn’t be overlooked because of his situation. Bet on the talent of a top-12 receiver in today’s game because situations are always evolving.

2021 Rookie Rank: WR2

2022 Class/Overall Rank: WR3/WR9

Movement: -1

KTC (Market) Class/Overall Rank: WR3/WR12

PPR PPG GP Tar Rec Yards YPC TD Target Rate ADOT
178.6 (31)
10.5
17
117
72
866
12.0
4
32.4%
10.7

Christian Watson

Watson was an incredibly raw receiver with insane physical gifts coming out of the draft last season. I was personally wary of how raw of a talent he was and it took him some time to get going because of that. As evidenced by Romeo Doubs being the lead of the two early in the year. But once Week 10 hit, it was Watson’s show the whole way through the rest of the season. He was pretty consistently over 80% in route participation, garnered at least 6 targets in all but Week 17, and scored all 7 of his touchdowns in this time frame. 

In the back half of last season, Watson proved to be a premier deep threat as a rookie. His deep route tree was devastating as he was moved all over the formation thanks to his unique athleticism and speed. He still has room to grow, but the flashes he showed in 2022 as a rookie gives me a lot more confidence in his ability to develop into a well-rounded wide receiver to pair with his athletic freakishness. This time next year, he could be pushing the top 12 dynasty wide receivers alongside Wilson, Olave, and London.

2021 Rookie Rank: WR10

2022 Class/Overall Rank: WR4/WR17

Movement: +6

KTC (Market) Class/Overall Rank: WR4/WR20

PPR PPG GP Tar Rec Yards YPC TD Target Rate ADOT
164.1 (41)
11.7
14
65
41
611
14.9
7
25.5%
13.8

Treylon Burks

From the get-go Treylon Burks was a polarizing prospect as a player that had clear athletic ability, but played a borderline gimmicky role at Arkansas. Even from the offseason camps, there were reports about him being out of shape and being a limited participant, even though the coaching staff fully backed him. Burks showed flashes of what made him special in college throughout 2022 but wasn’t a consistent presence. Part of his lack of consistency can be attributed to him basically learning a new position in the Titans’ offense. He was primarily a slot player at Arkansas, but with the Titans, he played on the outside over 80% of his snaps. That’s a big adjustment to add to a brand-new rookie. 

Not to mention the impact of Ryan Tannehill’s regression at the quarterback position plus the catastrophe that was that quarterback room after Tannehill’s injury. Once again, a talented wide receiver prospect stuck on a horrid offense as the Titans were bottom 5 in points per game and bottom 3 in yards per game. This year the only bright spot is that Burks has next no competition for targets. But on the downside, the defense can key in on Burks in the passing game and besides taking Will Levis on Day 2, the Titans have done nothing to improve their passing attack. This is a player that didn’t show quite as much as London did, but a talented player nonetheless and I’m still betting on that talent to overcome situations that are ever-changing.

2021 Rookie Rank: WR1

2022 Class/Overall Rank: WR5/WR19

Movement: -4

KTC (Market) Class/Overall Rank: WR6/WR25

PPR PPG GP Tar Rec Yards YPC TD Target Rate ADOT
88.1 (82)
8.0
11
54
33
444
13.5
1
17.6%
12.2

Jahan Dotson

Through the first four weeks of the season, Dotson was on a tear as he scored 4 touchdowns during that time frame. But following that, he came back down to earth a bit. Then in the last 6 weeks, he turned it back on but wasn’t solely relying on touchdowns anymore. He had a target rate of 25.8% in the last six games that he played (which brought his season average up to 17.5%). His stretch at the end of the season bodes well as it proved that he wasn’t on the field running wind sprints and catching touchdowns, he was a focal part of the offense.

Now he’ll have to compete with Terry McLaurin for targets in this offense. But McLaurin and Dotson could combine to be one of the better wide receiver duos in the league. That is a good sign for Sam Howell who is entering his second season but will be the starting quarterback for the first time outside of one game last season. There is a path for Dotson and McLaurin to co-exist as they both become target hogs in this offense. It’s just up to Howell if he can step up and make the pass to make those targets worthwhile.

The Washington Commanders’ offense is very interesting and budding with potential. I’m personally buying Dotson the same way I was last offseason as he was one of my favorite targets early in the second of rookie drafts. Once again, buy into the talent and good things will come from it.

2021 Rookie Rank: WR7

2022 Class/Overall Rank: WR6/WR25

Movement: +1

KTC (Market) Class/Overall Rank: WR5/WR24

PPR PPG GP Tar Rec Yards YPC TD Target Rate ADOT
130.6 (51)
10.9
12
61
35
523
14.9
7
17.5%
13.5

Jameson Williams

Missing basically the entire 2022 season was expected since the NFL Draft due to an ACL tear in the National Championship game versus Georgia. But he actually ended up playing 6 games and was ahead of schedule for his recovery. It was clear though that he was not 100% and was out there to get valuable live reps as he acclimated to the league. It has to be taken into consideration that he didn’t get any practice reps during the offseason and even through the majority of the season. Despite his one lone catch for a long touchdown, because he played the games that he did, it seems to have hurt his value more than if he had not stepped on the field at all. 

I’m even a victim of this thought process as I had him as my WR4 in this class and he’s now dropped to my WR8 from this class! But I will say that is mainly because of what others have done this past season more than how I feel about Jameson Williams in general. Williams still has an incredible ceiling with his speed and ability to separate. I stand by that he is more than just a deep threat if used correctly. But there are a lot of mouths to feed in this offense just like last season with Amon-Ra St. Brown, Jahmyr Gibbs, and Sam LaPorta. 

Jameson Williams will start off the season suspended for violating league rules for gambling (which seem questionable, but that’s a whole different conversation). This is another reason for the depression in his ranking as well. This is just even more time away from the team and not getting live game reps. And most of that time fantasy managers are sitting with a mystery box having no idea what they have. He’s an interesting player that could be a top 24 dynasty wide receiver or barely included in analysts’ 2024 dynasty wide receiver rankings come next offseason.

2021 Rookie Rank: WR4

2022 Class/Overall Rank: WR7/WR31

Movement: -3

KTC (Market) Class/Overall Rank: WR8/WR30

PPR PPG GP Tar Rec Yards YPC TD Target Rate ADOT
15.1 (156)
2.5
6
9
1
41
41.0
1
26.5%
16.6

George Pickens

It’s clear from last year that Diontae Johnson is still the target hog in this offense with more receptions than Pickens had targets. But Pickens made the most of his targets with some spectacular catches, highlight reels on ESPN, and memorable games. He was used almost exclusively as a deep target with a 15.6 average depth of target, 28 deep targets (7th in the league), with an impressive 57.1% contested catch rate to add. 

Pickens showed a solid foundation last season to build upon to become an even better all-around receiver, specifically becoming more successful over the middle and on short routes. He obviously came into the league with an exceptionally high ceiling that I am still wary about him hitting. But at the very least, he’s proved he has a solid floor of a starting receiver on the outside. It’ll be interesting to see how Diontae and Pickens co-exist this season with Kenny Pickett entering his second season.

2021 Rookie Rank: WR8

2022 Class/Overall Rank: WR8/WR35

Movement:

KTC (Market) Class/Overall Rank: WR7/WR28

PPR PPG GP Tar Rec Yards YPC TD Target Rate ADOT
166.5 (40)
9.8
17
85
52
801
15.4
4
16.3%
15.6

Skyy Moore

Skyy Moore took the league and the Twitter fantasy community by storm last offseason. I too was caught up in this storm and that wasn’t all because of his landing spot with the Kansas City Chiefs. He was an excellent route runner with great hands and a knack for separating while at college. But none of those things quite translated right away in the NFL as it took him time to make his way on the field and he never was able to earn a consistent role in this offense. 

But when he was on the field, he demanded targets at a solid clip with a 22.1% target rate, on an albeit small sample size of 34 routes. But this offseason, he’s been making headlines once again as both Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes have raved about the progress he’s made and the impact he’s going to have in 2023. His price has dropped drastically, and I regret to inform you all that I am right back in on the hype train. He’s a talented player and this wide receiver room, if anything, has gotten worse from last year. The opportunity is there.

2021 Rookie Rank: WR5

2022 Class/Overall Rank: WR9/WR51

Movement: -4

KTC (Market) Class/Overall Rank: WR9/WR49

PPR PPG GP Tar Rec Yards YPC TD Target Rate ADOT
43.4 (121)
2.7
16
33
22
250
11.4
22.1%
8.5

John Metchie III

Metchie is the final wide receiver on this list and a player that comes with a very interesting story. He was taken in the second round of the NFL Draft last year but sat out the entire 2022 season due to a battle with acute promyelocytic leukemia. But he is back this season and participating in the offseason workouts. This wide receiver core is lacking any proven talent with Nico Collins and Tank Dell the headliners outside of Metchie. But they have a rookie quarterback that was one of the most accurate passers in college football last year. Metchie has a strong case to be the WR1 in this offense and Stroud’s favorite target, but the risk is that Collins and Dell have just as good of a chance as well.

2021 Rookie Rank: WR11

2022 Class/Overall Rank: WR10/WR54

Movement: +1

KTC (Market) Class/Overall Rank: WR10/WR52

PPR PPG GP Tar Rec Yards YPC TD Target Rate ADOT
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-
-
-
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Image Credit: Ken Blaze – USA TODAY Sports