With so many great wide receiver options in fantasy football -- especially for PPR leagues -- you'll want to tend to those top-flight running backs at the top of your draft. However, depending on the receiver and the anticipated volume, the points from receptions (half-point and full PPR leagues) can substantially make up that gap.
For example, the RB1 last year was Jonathan Taylor, who finished with 373.1 fantasy points in PPR leagues. The WR1 was Cooper Kupp, who had an all-time season, finishing with 439.5 points. Both players were in the running for NFL MVP and Fantasy League MVP across the world.
This shows how powerful PPR leagues are, but still, the running backs are where you'll want to focus at the top of drafts because this was the first time since 2015 where the WR1 outscored the RB1 in PPR leagues. That said, players in your league have this mentality, which results in finding value later.
So, keeping that in mind, finding "studs" should be easier than "duds", but let's find out.
Stud: CeeDee Lamb, Dallas Cowboys
ADP: WR6; Draft Position: 2.04
Even going as the WR6 and at the top of the second-round, CeeDee Lamb is a player you need to target, especially if you have a later first-round pick. There have only been three players to see over 200 targets in a season, and while Lamb may not quite get there, seeing, at a minimum, 180 targets are not out of the question.
Offensively, the Cowboys drafted rookie Jalen Tolbert and have Michael Gallup, who has his injury history -- remember, there's no more Amari Cooper as he was traded to the Cleveland Browns for next to nothing.
The team has Dalton Schultz, who saw over 100 targets last year at tight end. One could argue we could see that number go up without Cooper, but the same can be said for Lamb, who had just 120 last year. Heading into his third year, Lamb is the No. 1 wide receiver for a team that ran 67.9 plays per game, which ranked second in the league.
It would not be shocking to see Lamb finish as the WR1 in 2022.
Dud: Davante Adams, Las Vegas Raiders
ADP: WR4; Draft Position: 1.11
No matter how good Davante Adams is as a player, this ADP is definitely a reflection of his success during his Green Bay Packers tenure. That's not to say Adams won't be productive, but as the WR4, this leaves very little room for value and quite a mountain to climb to meet this.
Looking at last year's finishes, the WR4 was Justin Jefferson of the Minnesota Vikings with 308.3 points, averaging 19.3 per game. His stat line was 167 targets, 108 receptions, 1616 yards, and 10 touchdowns. No, not every WR4 is created equally -- Adams could very well do less than this and still be the WR4. But with the Raiders, he has Derek Carr at quarterback -- not Aaron Rodgers.
Carr had a solid season last year, throwing 626 times for 4,805 yards and completing 68.4% of his passes. His passing yards were far and away the most he's had in a season. There was one more game, but this was about 700 yards more than 2020. The problem, though, is that Carr had just 23 touchdowns. He hasn't hit 30 touchdowns in a season since 2015.
Adams will undoubtedly help with that, but the Raiders have some other weapons in Hunter Renfrow and tight end Darren Waller that will take up some volume. In Green Bay, that wasn't the case. So, coupling together the less-productive touchdown quarterback and more options, there doesn't appear to be a path for Adams to reach that Jefferson WR4 line from 2021.
Stud: D.J. Moore, Carolina Panthers
ADP: WR16; Draft Position: 4.06
The Carolina Panthers made two quarterback transactions this offseason: trading for Baker Mayfield and selecting Matt Corral in the NFL Draft. In 2021, the quarterback crew featured Sam Darnold, Cam Newton, and P.J. Walker.
Let's look at each of these players' stat lines.
- Darnold: 12 games (11 started), 59.9% completion rate, 2527 yards, 9 touchdowns, 13 interceptions
- Newton: 8 games (5 started), 54.8% completion rate, 684 yards, 4 touchdowns, 5 interceptions
- Walker: 5 games (1 started), 54.5% completion rate, 362 yards, 1 touchdown, 3 interceptions
OK, let's just say it: These guys stink. Flat out. This impacted every skill player around them, including Moore. However, what if I told you that Moore had 93 catches for 1157 yards and four touchdowns. He was the WR18, averaging 14 points per game.
Say what you want about Mayfield and his 2021 season -- it'll be difficult for him to do worse than Darnold, Newton, and Walker. If Moore had that same stat line but added four touchdowns, he would've been a top-10 fantasy wide receiver. Going as the WR16, this feels like a floor for Moore, who would finish around the same area as last year. Moore's ceiling is inside the top 10.
Dud: Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
ADP: WR9; Draft Position: 2.12
Finishing as the WR9 last year, one could argue that there'll be fewer opportunities for Evans in 2022. The headline for this receiving group is that the Bucs may be without Chris Godwin for a bit. Greg Auman of The Athletic reported that he participated in 7-on7's, so he's trending positively.
Last year, Evans had Godwin in the lineup, but outside of that, the options were limited. Yes, Antonio Brown was there, but he only played five games before returning in Week 15 and then fled the team in Week 16. They also had Gronkowski, and he accounted for 89 targets.
For Evans, Godwin could be back sooner than expected, but the Bucs also brought in Russell Gage and Julio Jones. At best, this seems similar to last year's situation, if not worse. Can he finish higher than WR9? That may be a bit of a stretch -- you're drafting for closer to the top of the ceiling.
Stud: Elijah Moore, New York Jets
ADP: WR36; Draft Position: 8.04
In 11 games in 2021, Moore posted 138.2 points in PPR leagues, which resulted in a WR50 finish. Extrapolating his production on a point-per-game basis (12.6) across 17 games, Moore is looking at closer to a WR24 or WR25 finish.
Jets quarterback Zach Wilson recently underwent surgery on his knee. Still, all signs appear positive and shouldn't impact his game. The team also has Corey Davis and rookie Garrett Wilson on the roster, but Moore is slated to be the No. 1 guy in this offense, so don't worry too much about target share in East Rutherford. It could take Wilson some time to come along, and Davis isn't exactly a threat.
The Jets also drafted running back Breece Hall, who could cut into the number of snaps in which Moore has an opportunity, but going as the WR36 presents plenty of value for a player with the talent and skill profile.
The quarterback situation could be better, but the Jets should be better in 2022. This will only help Moore; he could be a solid WR2 option in your PPR leagues.
Dud: D.K. Metcalf, Seattle Seahawks
ADP: WR15; Draft Position: 4.03
Finishing as the WR14 in 2021 with Russell Wilson at quarterback for most of the year, Metcalf is now drafted as the WR15. Wilson played most of the season, but backup -- and now projected starter in 2022 -- Geno Smith started four games. In those games -- Week 5 to Week 8 -- Metcalf had 19 receptions for 295 yards and zero touchdowns.
Averaging nearly 74 yards a game and close to five receptions isn't bad, but the lack of touchdowns is concerning, especially since Wilson's now in Denver targeting Broncos wideout Courtland Sutton. A big part of what generated WR14 numbers for Metcalf was 12 touchdowns. In those four games starting, Smith did throw five touchdowns, but even across an entire season, if he manages 20 to 25 touchdowns, can Metcalf reasonably expect another dozen?
Let's say he had the exact stat line but six touchdowns instead. This would be closer to WR27. Not a huge gap, but noticeable in terms of ADP and assuming Metcalf will have the same receptions and yards.
With Smith at quarterback, or Drew Lock if things change, unless Metcalf is peppered with targets going into the 160s or more, the touchdowns just won't be the same, and it'll be challenging to live up to that ADP.
Stud: Robert Woods, Tennessee Titans
ADP: WR41; Draft Position: 9.04
The days of Woods finishing as a WR1 are over, but that doesn't mean that value can't be had that'll make him a stud. A WR41 ADP is criminally low for a guy who could be your Day 1 starting FLEX player. The WR41 in 2021 was A.J. Green, who had just 54 catches for 848 yards and three touchdowns.
Coming from a long-stint with the Rams, Woods joins a Titans team that'll utilize the running game and Derrick Henry more, but Woods is the No. 1 guy, especially after the departure of A.J. Brown to the Eagles. Some are fans of Treylon Burks, but that's not a sentiment we share. No matter, it's unlikely he'll be a fully developed go-to guy in year 1.
This opens up plenty of opportunities for Woods to be inside the top 30 in PPR leagues, assuming he stays healthy all season long after coming off a torn ACL he suffered last season.
- Stud(s): The Miami Dolphins Receiving Corps (Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle)
- Dud: Ja'Marr Chase, Cincinnati Bengals
- Stud: Michael Pittman, Indianapolis Colts
- Dud: Stefon Diggs, Buffalo Bills
- Stud: DJ Chark, Jacksonville Jaguars
Statistics are courtesy of Pro Football Reference, Team Rankings, Stat Muse, and FantasyPros.
ADP data is courtesy of Fantasy Football Calculator.