41. Jakobi Meyers – Meyers is currently being drafted in the 12th round as WR59. He finished last season as WR29 and that’s with a zero in Buffalo when Mac Jones literally threw the ball three times. It’s also maybe the worst touchdown luck, ever. The Patriots did not do anything to replace him this offseason, bringing in a big-bodied wideout DeVante Parker and rookie wideout Tyquan Thornton to play the X and Z roles, but only 7th-round WR Tre Nixon was brought in to back up Jakobi. This is still the WR to roster in New England. Fight the temptation to get the shiny new toys.
42. Michael Thomas – This is a conservative rank for Michael Thomas because, after all that missed time, he comes back to a lot of turnover. Camp reports seem to indicate he looks as good as ever, but time off from the field creates difficult adjustments, especially when it’s an injury that affected lower body movement. The lone positive note may be that the system will still be the same as they retained Pete Carmichael for his 14th year as offensive coordinator. When MT was on the field he was as good as there is in the league, but at 29, this will really depend on how much you trust his recovery and preparedness to start the year. He’s currently being drafted in the middle of the 7th round which is an appropriate spot. He’s the tier break by ADP since it’s wideouts like Russell Gage, Allen Lazard, and Kadarius Toney that are being drafted after him.
43. Kadarius Toney – In weeks 4, 5, 11, and 16, Toney combined for 43 targets. He earned 14 more targets for the remainder of the season. Though 59th in overall target share, he was 7th in target rate or targets per route run. Unsurprisingly, he was also 17th in yards per route run. That didn’t translate to as many fantasy points as managers would have liked as was just 41st in fantasy points per route. He was electric with the ball in his hands. He posted the #1 juke rate in the league. It’s clear that there’s a lot of talent here, but the off-the-field issues and bizarre 2021 storylines make the situation murky. If it was clear that Toney would be working 1st team reps consistently, it would easier to move him up the board.
44. Allen Lazard – The reason Allen Lazard did not command more targets last year had, I hope you’re ready, NOTHING to do with Davante Adams. It had to do with being unable to separate, win routes, or really do anything a featured player should do. That is not a knock against Lazard, he shouldn’t even be in this spot. Lazard is a solid WR3 and glue guy. Need a tough first down, he was great in contested catches. Need someone to earn 100+ targets, you better have a backup plan. This is just vacated targets being applied to the next guy up, but the next guy up, is probably Aaron Jones and whoever finds a way to get open between Lazard, Sammy Watkins, Christian Watson, Robert Tonyan, Randall Cobb, and maybe even Romeo Doubs. In an offense set to handoff and play closer to the line of scrimmage, it’s nearly impossible to trust any Green Bay WR outside of Best Ball leagues.
45. Chase Claypool – Claypool had almost the exact same season in 2021 as he did in 2020. In 2020, he earned 103 targets that resulted in 62 catches, 873 yards, 14.1 yards per catch, and 9 Touchdowns. In 2021, he earned 103 targets that resulted in 59 catches, 860 yards, and 14.6 yards per catch but only 2 touchdowns. Although Diontae Johnson looks to be leaving town next year, George Pickens and Calvin Austin step in to fill his shoes in 2023. With such a crowded WR group and lackluster QB room this year, redraft looks dicey for Claypool, though his stock in dynasty still holds value.
46. Tyler Lockett – Lockett’s role in the current Seattle offense boils down to an occasional big game and lots of mediocrity if Geno Smith is running the show. Two of Lockett’s three worst games were in Geno’s four-game stretch, though he still earned targets at the exact pace you would expect for a system that features two very good wideouts and nothing else. If Dee Eskridge is healthy or Noah Fant helps expand the role of the Tight End in the 2022 iteration of the Seahawks, Lockett is again going to be on the wrong side of the WR pairing and struggle to put up consistent fantasy games.
47. Marquez Valdes-Scantling – MVS comes over to Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs from Green Bay where he’s been playing with Aaron Rodgers since he came into the league. Somewhere Allen Robinson has his picture on a dart board. The problem is that although he is playing with Hall of Famers, he is just not any good. He struggles against coverage, none that are specific, just all coverage as he is in the bottom 10% in most route running statistical categories. He doesn’t separate, nor does he make contested catches; actually, sometimes he misses the wide-open catches too. He would not make this list if not for his one strength, running straight. Mahomes needs a vertical threat and they just paid MVS about $10 million a year to do so. Plan on drafting him to your Best Ball teams and leaving MVS for someone else to handle for weekly starts.
48. Skyy Moore – Moore checks a lot of boxes. Great separator that can play across the formation. Per PFF, he graded over 80 against man coverage, he’s an early declare, and although he may not have faced SEC level talent at Western Michigan, he won the game he was supposed to win, in a way. Now he joins Patrick Mahomes in Kansas City where the number two role behind Travis Kelce is up for grabs. Having MVS ranked higher in no way reflects their talent levels and more the opportunity to earn targets that MVS will have instead of Moore to begin the year. If Skyy starts the year in a complementary role, it’s going to take him too long to ramp up his production, thus the lower rank.
49. Garrett Wilson – Strong hands, quick feet, a 3.0 yprr, plus score against man coverage, annihilates zone coverage, and has a nose for the endzone. He had a 1,000-yard Junior season on 70 receptions while playing alongside both Chris Olave and Jaxon Smith-Njigba. Sign me up. Now he takes that talent to New York to team up with Zach Wilson, Elijah Moore, and a need for a slot receiver after not being able to solve that issue with anyone better than Braxton Berrios last season.
50. Russell Gage – Russell Gage is not a uniquely gifted wide receiver. He is a good route runner and has above-average speed in his cuts, but that’s where the story ends. Gage was Atlanta’s best route runner and earned the most targets; this is true. Also true, his main competition for WR targets was future journeyman WR, Olamide Zaccheaus. (I apologize to the Olamide stans out there, he will not be featured here.) Gage averaged 11.6 points per game and scored 163 points overall. That was good for 37th and 38th respectively. For the nothing he cost to acquire last season, Gage’s de facto #1 role paid serious dividends. At his current price of WR37, he is being drafted at his exact ppg finish. While true that he is playing with Tom Brady, he’s also playing with Chris Godwin, Mike Evans, and Julio Jones. This is also ahead of Christian Kirk, Brandon Aiyuk, Chase Claypool, and all the rookies. The market may adjust his price with the Julio Jones signing, but if it survived Chris Godwin being cleared for camp, I’m not sure how further it will go.
51. Tyler Boyd – Tyler Boyd has been one of the better, underrated slot receivers in the NFL since he entered the league. Like a lot of slot receivers, Boyd struggles with man coverage which is why he is better when he has an alpha on the outside to secure his inside work against zone. Hayden Hurst shouldn’t affect the target distribution so you’re still looking at Joe Burrow’s third target in an offense that should provide even more volume than last year. Boyd is a safe play to fill the last flex in deep starting lineups or as a top depth option for shallower leagues.
52. Donovan Peoples-Jones – DPJ has been getting a lot of positive headlines this offseason and part of it has to do with his specific talent matching his future QB’s arm. In Kevin Stefanski’s offense, with Baker Mayfield, his aDOT of 15.6 was good for 4th and his yards per reception ranked 3rd in the league at 17.6. Again, this was done with Baker Mayfield in Kevin Stefanski’s offense. Now you presumably put DPJ in the “Will Fuller Role” and there’s a possibility that he could be a weekly WR3 on your team. Ultimately, his potential will be whatever the QB role can provide.
53. Treylon Burks – Treylon Burks was a man among boys in college. Playing a big slot role with Arkansas, he was number one in yards per route run among all the draft prospects at 3.57. Initially, there were concerns about his floor as his 40-yard dash score was only a 4.5, ignoring of course that Burks is 6’3”, 225lbs. Burks’ speed builds as he runs with the ball in his hands. It’s why despite his 40 being slower, his burst and speed scores are better than Chris Olave, the star of the combine with a 4.39 speed. Burks has the highest ceiling in dynasty, but in redraft, he may need to acclimate to the league as he further develops his Big Slot role. As long as you don’t need to reach, he should provide an equitable return by the season’s end.
54. Michael Gallup – Gallup was ruled out for week 1, by himself. There’s a real chance he misses most of the first half the season while rehabbing his ACL injury. When he returns, he’s the unquestioned WR2 and at worst 3rd target in a high-powered offense. If you can plan for his early season absence, he’s being drafted well outside the top 125 players but could crack your starting lineup come fantasy playoffs. At that stage in the draft, it isn’t easy to find a solid 100 target per game pace, let alone someone that had to earn those targets behind Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb.
55. Chris Olave – Olave has collected far too many red flags along the path to the draft to make him a comfortable pick. He was also a late declare hauling in 65 of his 175 career receptions as a senior. He was the third most targeted Buckeye behind teammates Garrett Wilson and JSN and not once did he break 1,000 yards. Olave is a classic Z that can get behind the defense, struggles against man coverage, but to his credit, can run a smoother route with a deadlier release than most. Now he goes to New Orleans, a team that moved up to get him, presumably to match his downfield skills with Jameis’ free-swinging arm. He may have to compete with Michael Thomas and Jarvis Landry for targets and if he couldn’t fend off college wideouts, there’s less of a chance he does so at the next level.
56. Jahan Dotson – One of the pure slot receivers in the class, Dotson has the pros and cons you would expect. He struggles against man but is better against zone. He had a low yards per route run, but had a 91st percentile dominator score and a massive target share in the Big10. His late declare is a negative which lines up with his middling breakout age. Ultimately, there’s risk, but in the slot, he should have room to grow. Washington does not have an elite target in the middle of the field to steal targets, but a combination of Dotson and Curtis Samuel could be fun to watch on Sundays.
57. K.J. Osborn – Osborn bounced around the formation last season for the Vikings. He played at a nearly 50/50 split between the slot and the boundary. In doing so, he earned over 70 targets and became one of the best tertiary sources of production that Minnesota has seen in years. He managed to keep pace in the end zone catching seven touchdowns to Jefferson and Thielen’s 10 apiece. Now that he has separated himself from the pack and solidified himself as the Vikings’ WR3, he should offer an occasional spike week and, if should Thielen miss more time in 2022, have a solid floor. Osborn is definitely a target to acquire in dynasty before the season begins.
58. Van Jefferson – Van is securely locked in as Matthew Stafford’s 4th target when all members of the offense are healthy. However, 4th target at 14% in that offense equated to 89 targets, almost triple what he earned the year before. If Van can continue to improve, there is a chance he could break 100 targets and at his aDOT, he could easily break 1000 yards in the process. Jefferson scored over 10 points in 10 of 17 games last season and at WR60+, could be a massive steal.
59. Rondale Moore – Rondale is already the king of the gadget role. He plays a 2-to-1 ratio between the slot and backfield but on the few routes he actually ran, he did so very poorly. He ran the majority of his “routes” against zone coverage but when your tree is 30% screens with a 1.3 yard aDOT, there’s not much actual coverage. Having little to no ability to beat man coverage, it’s going to be hard for him to carve out a role away from the line of scrimmage. Rondale’s spot on this list is more about the Cardinals needing to use him with DeAndre Hopkins being suspended and less about his abilities as a WR. The one positive is that the NFL is a copycat league and despite not having the size for it, he may simultaneously end up the WR3/4 and the RB2/3.
60. Parris Campbell – IF Parris could have managed to stay healthy for even one season, the narrative around the Colts would be very different right now. Parris is a day 2 pick and one of the fastest players in the NFL. He’s your classic downfield Z that can beat defenses over the top and steals safety help for his fellow wideouts. In week 6, the last time he played until the final game of the season, Parris was able to get behind the Texans’ defense for a 51-yard touchdown. It was the Colts most explosive play of the season. Without Parris, the Colts lacked a true 2nd option and any playmakers to speak of. Enter Alec Pierce, the WR drafted to replace Parris. It’s a smart move as they now have insurance to not end up with Matt Ryan throwing to a similar group to last year, but Parris is now playing for a contract next season.
Photos by Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Justin Redler (@reldernitsuj on Twitter)