8 Wide Receivers That Could Finish as the WR1 in Fantasy Football
In this article, I will be discussing the eight wide receivers who could finish as the WR1 in Fantasy Football. It is very difficult to predict who will be the WR1, but I have selected the eight players who have a much better chance than everyone else. In the past five seasons, a different WR has finished as the WR1 every year, and only two of those players made my list.
The last player to win back-to-back WR1 titles was Antonio Brown in 2015-2016. Could Cooper Kupp become the next player to do that? There are many things that go into having a WR1 season including having the talent and skill to put up 1,200+ receiving yards and 10+ TDs, but also having the pieces and the offense around you to elevate one’s fantasy value. A perfect example of this is Cooper Kupp, who never had a top-three WR season before QB, Matthew Stafford, and OC, Kevin O’Connell joined the team.
Cooper Kupp – Los Angeles Rams
This should be the most obvious one on the list as he was the WR1 last season, averaging an absurd 25.9 fantasy points a game. Kupp led the league in just about every important receiving stat, receptions (145), receiving yards (1947), and touchdowns (16). He even led all receivers in targets (191) and target share (31.7%). Now, regression will certainly be the question for Kupp, but if he can maintain even part of what he did last season, he should finish as the WR1.
Justin Jefferson – Minnesota Vikings
I don’t think it takes a ton of explanation why Justin Jefferson could finish as the WR1, but I’ll do it anyway. Firstly, he is already a top-3 WR in the NFL at only 22 years old, and he has the most catches (196) and receiving yards (3016) in a player’s first two seasons ever. Secondly, he ranked number one last season in both air yards (1996) and air yard share (43.9%). Additionally, he ranked second last season in red zone targets (34) and had the fifth most targets (164).
Furthermore, Adam Thielen has been declining for the past few seasons and Jefferson should see even more targets because of that. The reason I think he will finish as the WR1 this year is because of his new head coach, Kevin O’Connell, who wants to use Jefferson in different roles and in a similar way to Cooper Kupp. O’Connell was the Ram’s offensive coordinator last season and was the main reason Cooper Kupp was so effective. So if Justin Jefferson, who I believe is much more talented than Kupp, can emulate what he did last season there is no reason why he won’t finish as the WR1.
Ja’Marr Chase – Cincinnati Bengals
Last season, Ja’Marr Chase broke Justin Jefferson’s record for most receiving yards by a rookie and finished as the WR5 overall. He also had the second most fantasy points ever for a rookie WR behind only Randy Moss. Only Deebo Samuel and Cooper Kupp had more yards after the catch than Chase last season, and his 18 yards per reception ranked second best in the NFL.
Chase's abilities after the catch are otherwordly. If he sees a target bump in 2022, he will break fantasy football.
— Dave Kluge (@DaveKluge) July 14, 2022
In the Bengals four postseason games Chase commanded a target share of 27%, a 5% increase from his regular season share. This shows that Chase is the alpha dog WR and he is who they will go to when it matters most. Lastly, Joe Burrow and the Bengal’s offense ranked seventh last season in passing attempts, and with Burrow, Chase, Higgins, and Boyd getting another year in the offense that number should only go up.
Stefon Diggs – Buffalo Bills
2021 was an odd season for Stefon Diggs. His fantasy production took a major step back from his WR3 finish in 2019, and he only finished as the WR7. Additionally, his target share fell from 29.1% to 26.4%, but that is expected to rise again next season. Additionally, Diggs ranked second in air yards last season at 1,828 behind only Justin Jefferson.
He also had the most red zone targets last season (25) which was five more than the next closest receiver. Diggs has a fairly straightforward plan to finish as the WR1. He is the top receiver and main red zone target in one of the NFL’s best offenses with one of the best QBs.
Davante Adams – Las Vegas Raiders
Last season, Davante Adams finished as the WR2, and the year before that he was the WR1. This year, Adams is in a new spot with a new QB as he leaves the Packers and Aaron Rodgers behind. Adams had the second highest target rate last season at 31.65%, but that should be expected to go down slightly on the Raiders. Despite that, I still think he should command a high target share as the most talented WR in the league.
He has not finished worse than the WR5 since 2018 and if he and Derek Carr’s chemistry is legit, he has a very good chance to be the WR1. He’s the WR8 in our fantasy football wide receiver rankings.
Looking through some stats and I noticed Davante Adams has 3.85 yards per route against zone coverage.
I can’t stress… how outrageous that is.
Nobody else is higher than 2.76. Last year’s best was 2.74. Julio’s the only other player to crack 3.0 but even he never surpassed 3.5
— Daire Carragher (@DaireCarragher) November 4, 2021
CeeDee Lamb – Dallas Cowboys
Amari Cooper and Cedrick Wilson departing in the offseason can only spell great things for Lamb in 2022. The biggest issue with him in past seasons was that he never saw the target volume of a true WR1. Last season Lamb boasted just an 18% target rate which was not even in the top 30 WRs.
The Cowboys have the 8th most vacated targets left to be distributed, and with rookie Jalen Tolbert opening the season as the WR2, most of those targets should land on Lamb. With more targets expected to come his way in an offense that threw the 6th most passes in 2021, I expect a breakout All-Pro type season from Lamb. The only question will be if it is good enough to finish as the WR1.
Deebo Samuel – San Francisco 49ers
Deebo had one of the most bizarre fantasy seasons last year. To begin his average draft position was in the seventh round as the WR35. Despite this, he finished the season as the WR3 averaging 21.2 fantasy points per game. Last season Deebo put up 1405 receiving yards on 121 targets, 77 receptions, and 6 touchdowns. Additionally, he added 365 rushing yards and 8 rushing touchdowns.
He has one of the most unique roles in the NFL as he almost plays as a hybrid WR/RB. He had over 500 snaps at outside receiver, 200 in the slot, and over 100 at running back. In the 49er’s three playoff games he averaged 9 carries a game. His value and potential to finish as the WR1 is heavily reliant on him against playing that hybrid role and amassing 1200+ receiving yards and 400+ rushing yards. If he moves back to being a traditional receiver like he said he wanted to be in April, he would not make this list.
Mike Evans – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Mike Evans is one of the most consistent WRs in the NFL, as he has gone over 1000 yards in all of his eight NFL seasons. He also has 27 receiving touchdowns in the last two years and averages 9.4 touchdowns a season for his career. The Buccaneers led the NFL last season in passing attempts (731) by a wide margin, and that is not expected to change in 2022.
Mike Evans’ stats by season
‘14 – 68 rec | 1,051 yds | 12 TDs
‘15 – 74 | 1,206 | 3
‘16 – 96 | 1,321 | 12
‘17 – 71 | 1,001 | 5
‘18 – 86 | 1,524 | 8
‘19 – 67 | 1,157 | 8
‘20 – 70 | 1,006 | 13
‘21 – 74 | 1,035 | 14 pic.twitter.com/NHH2cLdCte
— NFL Stats (@NFL_Stats) May 29, 2022
The Bucs No. 2 WR Chris Godwin is coming back from an ACL tear and his timetable is up in the air. Additionally, they lost Antonio Brown and Rob Gronkowski in the offseason, which leaves a lot of targets up for grabs which I think Evans will capitalize majorly on. I believe for Mike Evans to finish as the WR1 this season he will need to have the best season of his career, and that would mean breaking his career high in touchdowns (14) by a wide margin.