In his 2022 Sophomore Wide Receiver Preview Tyler takes a look at how the values have changed in just a year. This will be a series as we are closing in on the start of the 2022 NFL Regular season. We’re going to be looking at sophomore players position by position and looking 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. If you missed the running back preview, check it out here!
Ja’Marr Chase was considered by many analysts to have “generational” type talent. He was my rookie WR1 and I saw top 12 upside in his game, but I was not expecting the type of season that he displayed last year. He went on to break the single-season receiving yards record (the year after Justin Jefferson set the record), gained the most receiving yards in a single game by a rookie, gained the most postseason receiving yards by a rookie, and was the first rookie in NFL history with multiple 100+ yard receiving games in the playoffs. The only argument is whether he is the dynasty WR1 or WR2 alongside Justin Jefferson. He’s in a high-powered offense with a talented quarterback and is an elite talent at the position. There really isn’t much more analysis that needs to go into Chase’s preview. He’s a stud and a clear Round 1 start-up player.
2021 Rookie Rank: WR1
2022 Class/Overall Rank: WR1/WR2
KTC (Market) Class/Overall Rank: WR1/WR2
Another upcoming sophomore wide receiver that broke a rookie record. Waddle passed the previous rookie reception record set by Anquan Boldin in 2003 with 104 receptions. He showed us right out of the gates that he was a stud wide receiver and showed out for the Miami Dolphins. The wrench in the situation is that Tyreek Hill was added to the wide receiver room this offseason, and Hill will absolutely demand targets. Tua is in a make-or-break season to live up to the potential that Miami and most analysts saw in him as a rookie. If Tua can take a step forward (which I believe he will), he absolutely has the ability to support two top 15 WRs in this offense. Both WRs are more than talented enough and Tua looks healthy for the first time since he’s been in the NFL. I’m fully in on Waddle based on his prospect profile, what he showed us in year one, and this offense taking a step forward.
2021 Rookie Rank: WR3
2022 Class/Overall Rank: WR2/WR3
KTC (Market) Class/Overall Rank: WR2/WR7
Once again, we’re walking into a situation where there are two clear target earners at the wide receiver position, but in this scenario neither are quite as proven as Tyreek Hill or AJ Brown. Who is the WR1 in this offense between rookie Garrett Wilson or sophomore Elijah Moore? This is a very exciting offense as a whole that I want pieces of. The wide receiver core looks very promising with the aforementioned names, plus a dynamic running back room with Breece Hall and Michael Carter. Then there’s Zach Wilson becoming the main beneficiary to this loaded and young offensive core. The question once again is: Can Zach Wilson take the next step forward and reap the rewards of this dynamic offensive unit? There will obviously be growing pains as all these players are in their first or second year, but we need to see flashes and steps towards consistency. Once again, I’m betting on talent and betting that both Garrett Wilson and Elijah Moore can coexist in this offense. Betting on Moore, Smith, and Waddle to coexist with their counterparts and earn enough market share to be consistent, even top-end, fantasy options are going to be like hitting on a parlay. Even adding on Ja’Marr Chase (who is the outlier as he’s the clear WR1 and tied to a proven and high-end quarterback) paired with a top-end talent in Tee Higgins. The odds are high that one of these bets will fall through, but it’s so hard not to want to bet on these guys.
2021 Rookie Rank: WR5
2022 Class/Overall Rank: WR3/WR13
KTC (Market) Class/Overall Rank: WR5/WR27
Smith had a very encouraging rookie season earning over 100 targets and nearing the 1000 yard mark right out of the gates. That also came on a team that was at rock bottom in terms of passing percentage (32nd out of 32 NFL Teams). The future is bright for Smith and the talent is clearly there. The only issue is that Philadelphia made a draft-day trade for a bonafide stud in AJ Brown. I personally have the belief that the AJ Brown signing hinders Dallas Goedert the most in this offense. Both DeVonta Smith and AJ Brown can coexist in this offense and garner over 20% of the target share a piece. Philadelphia has signaled that they want to be more of a pass-heavy team, similar to the way they were at the beginning of 2020. Whether that holds true or not is yet to be seen, and more than likely rides on Jalen Hurts’ performance. Can Hurts take that next step as a passer and support both of these wide receivers to fantasy relevance? Only time will tell, but I’m more than okay betting on the talent here and trusting Smith to produce for dynasty teams.
2021 Rookie Rank: WR2
2022 Class/Overall Rank: WR4/WR15
KTC (Market) Class/Overall Rank: WR3/WR21
Bateman was a beneficiary of the offseason as he saw Marquise Brown depart to the Arizona Cardinals, vacating 145 targets. Bateman will be the leader of this wide receiver room that consists of a lot of unproven receivers like James Proche, Devin Duvernay, and Tylan Wallace. Mark Andrews is a name that has remained in Baltimore and is a top-end talent that will continue to demand targets at a high rate. He hit over 150 targets last season, and there’s no indication that that number will go down after the departure of Brown. Bateman has some high upside as the WR1 in this offense, similar to what we saw Marquise Brown produce while Jackson was healthy for the first half of the season. But Bateman was injured for that first half of the season and didn’t get much exposure to a healthy Lamar Jackson. Even so, he flashed at points, but not quite as much as the names above him on this list. He has the opportunity in front of him, but we all know this is a run-first offense with a rushing quarterback, so even if Bateman is the WR1 in the offense, it’ll be an uphill path to high-end fantasy relevance. Unlike the names above him on this list, I don’t quite see a path to becoming a consistent WR1 for fantasy purposes. That lack of upside is why he’s below the rest of the names above him on this list.
2021 Rookie Rank: WR4
2022 Class/Overall Rank: WR5/WR18
KTC (Market) Class/Overall Rank: WR4/WR24
Amon-Ra St. Brown
What an exciting run Amon-Ra St. Brown had for fantasy teams from week 13 on. He was most likely an integral piece to a lot of championship teams down the stretch. The main thing that sticks out during that time is that at least one of Swift or Hockenson was out during that stretch, with most of the games both being out (Swift missed weeks 13-16 and Hockenson missed weeks 14-18). How does St. Brown fair when both of those players are back and healthy, as both of those players work the short area of the field more often than not? All three players averaged less than 8 yards per target and less than 11 yards per catch. There’s no denying what we saw at the end of last season from St. Brown was special and his talent shouldn’t be doubted. What is in doubt is how well he can produce for fantasy with a fully healthy supporting offensive cast.
St. Brown might be a future play with some immediate upside with an injury or a pure breakout. But more than likely, we’ll be waiting on Goff to get replaced, hopefully by Stroud or Young in the 2023 draft or a proven top-end veteran. That is the best-case scenario to support all three of these fantasy options. Oh, and don’t forget about their first-round draft pick in Jameson Williams, the dynamic deep threat who should be healthy towards the back half of the season. This Detriot offense is all of the sudden loaded with weapons and just primed for a top-end quarterback to take the wheel. Lots of mouths to feed, and with St. Brown, it’s probably not a bad idea to wait it out a year and try to buy when everyone in this offense is healthy and production seems sporadic. Again, he’s obviously talented, and it’s always good to bet on talent over the situation. But it’s going to be tough seeing a top-end receiving production with the mouths to feed without injury or someone moving on.
2021 Rookie Rank: WR7
2022 Class/Overall Rank: WR6/WR29
KTC (Market) Class/Overall Rank: WR6/WR32
Toney showed flashes of the dynamic receiver that he can be during his freshman campaign. But those flashes were short-lived, partly due to an injury-riddled season, playing only 10/17 games. I honestly was not a fan of Toney’s profile coming out of college, I thought he was a gadget player and that’s where he would land in the NFL too. He also seemed inconsistent at the college level with questionable hands. But he was unquestionably dynamic with the ball in his hands during his senior season with flashes of special playmaking skills. During his rookie campaign, he continued to be mostly a gadget player, working almost exclusively near the line of scrimmage and working off yards after the catch (239 out of his 420 coming after the catch per playerprofiler). Notably, a majority of his production came from the explosion in Week 5 against Dallas where he went for 10 receptions and 189 yards. I think there is a chance for him to continue to develop into a legitimate NFL receiver, and he has the opportunity with a wide-open receiving room around him in New York. But Toney isn’t a player I’m necessarily betting on at cost.
2021 Rookie Rank: WR14
2022 Class/Overall Rank: WR7/WR55
KTC (Market) Class/Overall Rank: WR7/WR46
The lack of production and impact from Rondale Moore was disappointing by pretty much anyone. He had the opportunity and was utilized in the offense as an obvious gadget player. He lined up predominately in the slot, but also a substantial amount in the backfield. He was used on screens at a very high clip and it showed with an average depth of target at 1.2 yards. With Hopkins’ suspension at the beginning of the season and potentially recourse for Marquise Brown’s recent news about speeding, he will once again have an opportunity in this offense. But he will need to be used as a true wide receiver more than last year to be fantasy relevant. Even then, this offense when fully healthy has two target hogs in Marquise Brown and DeAndre Hopkins to compete with. I’m not sure I see much of a future for Rondale Moore, but there is a dynamic player in there that we saw in college. Not only is he fighting his prospect profile as an incoming rookie (his size), but now also outliers in his usage from his rookie year. The cards are stacked against Rondale Moore.
2021 Rookie Rank: WR6
2022 Class/Overall Rank: WR8/WR58
KTC (Market) Class/Overall Rank: WR8/WR51
Nico finds himself in a very interesting situation as he appears to be the defacto WR2 for the Houston Texans. The Texans are going to be a team that will be forced to pass the ball a lot as they are in a full-swing rebuild and will most likely be trailing in a majority of their contests. With the unfortunate diagnosis of John Metchie, Nico slides right into the starting lineup with Brandin Cooks as the only proven competition for targets. While his situation looks promising, I think Nico is probably just a guy that hovers around low-end WR2/high-end WR3 finishes at best with minimal high-end upside. He was very average in terms of success rate against man and poor against zone coverage (per reception perception). He should get an opportunity and will probably produce decent numbers. But I think there is a selling window right now as managers are anticipating a bump in his value that may or may not develop into what we think it will be. Metchie will be back next year and the 2023 class is loaded with talented wide receivers. It’s only a matter of time before Nico is the third or fourth option in this offense. He will most likely become a much better NFL team asset than a fantasy asset.
2021 Rookie Rank: WR12
2022 Class/Overall Rank: WR9/WR60
KTC (Market) Class/Overall Rank: WR9/WR64
Another rookie wide receiver that fell well short of preseason expectations. Marshall never could consistently lock down a starting role at the WR3 spot behind DJ Moore and Robbie Anderson. He ceded work to Brandon Zylstra and Shi Smith at different points throughout the season. Even when he was on the field, he was the third option in an offense that struggled for most of the season. I was lower on Marshall than consensus coming out of college, but I didn’t quite expect this rough of a start. I didn’t see him as a true difference maker, but with fantasy potential. His acquisition price has plummeted, but there have been some optimistic news coming out of training camp. There’s no point in moving any shares dynasty managers have now, and no reason to acquire. It’s best to stash him on a taxi squad for one more year and see if he shows enough this year to hold onto him longer or cut bait.
2021 Rookie Rank: WR8
2022 Class/Overall Rank: WR10/WR75
KTC (Market) Class/Overall Rank: WR11/WR74
Rodgers is a guy that I’m speculatively interested in for basically free in dynasty leagues. Rodgers was out-snapped by Davante Adams, Allen Lazard, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Randall Cobb, and Equanimeous St. Brown. Three out of those five names are off to new teams this year and Randall Cobb isn’t getting any younger. There are of course newcomers from free agency and the draft in Sammy Watkins, Christian Watson, and Romeo Doubs. None of those players are inherently slot players like Amari Rodgers is. Rodgers was a natural separator at the college level and can provide a safety blanket for Aaron Rodgers. He could push for a starting role, but he’s a shot in the dark. He’s worth adding to a watch list or stashing on a taxi squad in deeper leagues for one more year to see if he shows anything to make it worth keeping him on your roster. But if we don’t see a significant improvement, it’ll be time to cut bait off a taxi squad next year.
2021 Rookie Rank: WR11
2022 Class/Overall Rank: WR11/WR85
KTC (Market) Class/Overall Rank: WR12/WR90
The rookie seasons aren’t getting better as we get down this list. It would have been easy to think that Dyami Brown was injured most of this season, but he was buried on a depth chart that isn’t very awe-inspiring, which is concerning. Terry McLaurin (obviously), Cam Sims, Adam Humphries, and DeAndre Carter all out-snapped Dyami Brown by at least over 100 snaps. Brown will have another shot at cracking the wide receiver rotation this year, but it looks like Curtis Samuel will be back and healthy this season and the Commanders just paid Samuel last season to be a contributor to this offense. At best, Dyami is the 3rd or 4th option on this offense behind McLaurin, Samuel, and potentially the starting tight end. At worst, he’s the 5th or 6th option in the offense and buried on the depth chart once again. He has the potential to provide a deep threat to this offense as he did in college at UNC, but it’s an uphill battle to even get on the field at this point.
2021 Rookie Rank: WR9
2022 Class/Overall Rank: WR12/WR86
KTC (Market) Class/Overall Rank: WR13/WR103