EARLY Must Draft Wide Receivers in 2022 Fantasy Football
As we reach the midway point of the NFL offseason and start to prepare for fantasy football drafts, it is the perfect time to look at some early must draft wide receivers.
This year’s WR class is very deep and very difficult to get a good grasp of. There are so many different options at the wide receiver position, and I will highlight three players I am targeting in every draft I have this year. I project these players to perform much better than their consensus rankings and ADPs. Everyone will be looking to draft the Cooper Kupp of this year who was drafted as the WR19 and finished as the WR1. Other players who drastically outperformed their ADP last season were Ja’Marr Chase, whose ADP was WR26 and finished as the WR5, and Deebo Samuel who finished as the WR2 after having a WR35 ADP.
Courtland Sutton (DEN)
Average ADP: WR28 | My Rank: WR18
Denver will have a completely new look offense come next season. This comes after the addition of superstar quarterback Russell Wilson. Last season Denver running backs had 455 carries which ranked 4th in the NFL, while Denver QBs only had 541 attempts which ranked 23rd in the NFL. This should change drastically with an All-Pro quarterback behind center in Russell Wilson who has made the Pro Bowl nine of his ten seasons in the NFL.
Denver’s QB situation last season was abysmal and no player on the team had over 100 targets. Despite having his worst full season in the NFL, Sutton led the Broncos in targets (98) and receiving yards (776). In Sutton’s last healthy season before his ACL injury in 2020, he had 72 receptions on 124 targets for 1,112 yards and six touchdowns. Sutton finished as the WR19 that year in fantasy and averaged 13.9 fantasy points per game.
Courtland Sutton receiving this season
💰 65 targets
💰 0 drops
Most targets without a drop among all WRs
GET PAID 🤑 pic.twitter.com/reNAlvuxul
— PFF Fantasy Football (@PFF_Fantasy) November 22, 2021
One of the major concerns people have when drafting Sutton is the other talent in the Broncos WR room. While the Broncos do have options at WR in Jerry Jeudy and Tim Patrick, these players only had a combined 141 targets last season, and neither has had a season with over 55 receptions in their career. Additionally, the Broncos leader in receptions last season, Noah Fant, has been traded to the Seahawks, and his backup only has 44 career receptions.
In this new look Broncos offense, I could see Sutton having a similar role to what DK Metcalf did in Seattle for Russell Wilson. Sutton and Metcalf have similar physical profiles as they both stand at 6″4, and weigh between 220-230 pounds. In DK’s last season with Russell Wilson, he put up 83 receptions on 129 targets, for 1,303 yards and 10 touchdowns. He also finished as the WR7 this season averaging 17 fantasy points per game. If Sutton’s ADP stays constant he is my favorite WR sleeper by far and is somehow being drafted below guys such as Amon-Ra St.Brown, Damien Harris, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, and even Jerry Jeudy.
Darnell Mooney (CHI)
Average ADP: WR26 | My Rank: WR21
After a breakout season in 2021 which saw Mooney rack up 81 receptions on 140 targets for 1088 yards and five touchdowns. That’s up from 61 receptions and 631 yards in his rookie season. Mooney did not open the 2021 season as the Bears WR1 but eventually took that title from Allen Robinson, amid his struggles last season.
Darnell Mooney had 17 missed tackles forced this season
t-4th most among all WRs pic.twitter.com/AvqQEFytJp
— PFF Fantasy Football (@PFF_Fantasy) February 10, 2021
Mooney will have a ton of opportunity in Chicago’s offense, as the Bear’s third, fourth, and fifth leading receivers all left the team in the offseason. The Bears did not make a huge effort to fill this gap, signing fringe starters, Byron Pringle and Equanimeous St. Brown, and drafting Velus Jones in the third round. Last season, Mooney had a 24% target rate which ranked eighth in the NFL, and in the last four weeks of the season, his 95% route participation was fifth in the NFL.
Mooney’s fantasy value is heavily dependent on two things. First, Justin Fields’ development as a passer, and the connection between Fields and Mooney. Second, how the Bear’s new offense will look under new offensive coordinator, Luke Getsy. Getsy has been with the Packers since 2014 and was their quarterback’s coach and passing game coordinator last season. I believe that these two things will actually go hand in hand, and Justin Fields will take a massive step forward next season in Luke Getsy’s offense. Last season Mooney finished as the WR23, and with an increased role, and improved offense he should only get better this season.
JuJu Smith-Schuster (KC)
Average ADP: WR37 | My Rank: WR27
Kansas City tried to sign JuJu last offseason before he ultimately chose to return to the Steelers. In 2021, JuJu was hurt for most of the season only appearing in five games. His last healthy season was in 2018 when he had 111 receptions on 166 targets for 1426 yards and seven touchdowns. He finished as the WR8 this season averaging 18.6 fantasy points per game.
The reason I am targeting Smith-Schuster in every draft I have this year is because of the potential he will have as the Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes WR1. The guy who has been the Chiefs WR1 for the past five seasons, Tyreek Hill has been traded to the Miami Dolphins leaving a hole in this receiving corps. JuJu is who the Chiefs hope will fill that role as the top receiver, but they also acquired WRs, Skyy Moore and Marquez Valdez-Scantling. That is scaring some people away from Juju as a fantasy option, but Skyy Moore is just a rookie coming from the MAC conference, and MVS has been inconsistent his whole career and has never had over 40 receptions in a season.
Juju Smith-Schuster has been one of the most productive slot receivers since entering the NFL in 2017.
— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) March 18, 2022
The hole Tyreek Hill is leaving in the Chief’s offense is massive as he put up 111 receptions on 159 targets for 1239 yards and nine touchdowns. Smith-Schuster will obviously not be able to put up those kinds of numbers, but if he can even get close he will blow his ADP of WR37 out of the water. JuJu is still just 25 years old and in the prime of his career, if he can cement himself as the Chiefs WR1 he will become one of the biggest fantasy steals of the year.