2022 Fantasy Football Wide Receiver Drafting Strategy

by Daniel Johnson
2022 Fantasy Football Wide Receiver Drafting Strategy

In today's installment of the Fantasy Six Pack preseason draft kit, we're back with some more draft tactics. Today's edition: 2022 Fantasy Football Wide Receiver Drafting Strategy.

When was the last time you remember three wide receivers flying off the board in the top five picks? I've been playing Fantasy Football for nearly two decades now, and I fail to remember a consensus Big Three like we've got this year.

It speaks, of course, not only to the extreme shift to a passing-centric offensive strategy league-wide, but also to the way organizations are valuing elite talent at the position. The best wide receivers, anymore, are factored into offensive schemes as an extension of the run game.

I'll take you round-by-round through my ranks, run through some names I think are being over-/under-valued, and cover some late-round targets that could turn into weekly starters.

2022 Fantasy Football Wide Receiver Drafting Strategy

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Rounds 1-3

I'm a big fan, this year, of drafting running backs in these first few rounds. But I know there are those of you out there who live and die by the Zero/Anchor RB strategy. And there's some undeniably explosive receiving talent available in these rounds.

So instead of building a stable of workhorse tailbacks, let's see what our draft would look like if we went the route of building an elite hangar.

Round 1

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Congratulations to those of you who had Cooper Kupp on your teams last year. He likely won you a 2021 championship. And now, if you have any intention of snagging him, you'll likely need to land a top-five pick in your drafts.

I'm pinching my nose a bit here, but I think there are right around six wide receivers you should comfortably snag in the first round of your draft. Listed below in the order I've ranked them.

Kupp won me my legacy league last year, so I'll always have a soft spot for him. But I'm taking Jefferson over him if I can. You'll remember these 2021 Jefferson stats from my Air Yards article: 2,071 Total Air Yards; 12.4 aDOT; 0.78 RACR; 75.89% WOPR.

That's an absolutely gobsmacking share of the Vikings' passing attack, and I don't see much changing this year in that offense. And while I love Kupp, I think Sean McVay wants to take the burden off Matthew Stafford a bit more this year, and establish a more consistent running game. Stafford, too, sounds like he might be dealing with a lingering elbow injury for the first part of the season. Worrisome.

I'd still happily take Kupp, but I don't see him repeating his 2021 campaign. I might even grab Chase (1,617 Total Air Yards; 12.63 aDOT; 0.90 RACR; 60.97% WOPR) over him, just for the big-play potential.

No one seems to be talking about Diggs anymore. What gives? Maybe it's just because it's his third year in Buffalo, and there's a little bit of it-goes-without-saying to his value. But I'd take him over Dalvin Cook, Najee Harris, and Joe Mixon—all of whom are being drafted before him.

If I'm at the back end of the first round, I don't really see a scenario in which I'm taking Adams. Too many questions for me with the Raiders' new offense, and there are some rock-solid running backs there I'd rather grab. But his upside is undeniable.

Round 2

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I'm a little confused here as to why some receivers are hot picks in this round. Mike Evans has been going in the second, and I wouldn't touch him here. Especially not over the receivers I have ranked above him, or Kelce, or some second-round tailbacks.

Here's who I think you should comfortably target in this round, in the order I've ranked them:

Samuel will regress, but I'm eager to get in on the Trey Lance-led 49ers offense this year. Do keep in mind that Samuel did not post any air yard metrics close to the top-ten receivers last year.

Let's all stop undervaluing Keenan Allen. It's just silly. Year-after-year, the guy produces, no matter who his quarterback is. And it's very likely Herbert and the entire Chargers offense takes a step forward. Allen will be a prime beneficiary of that; get out of here with your Joshua Palmer hype.

Health has to be a legitimate concern with A.J. Brown. Whether it's the knee, general fatigue, the runs, etc., he's missed a lot of time in his first two years. But he and Hurts seem to have a great connection in camp; I like him to post WR1 numbers weekly.

Take your pick with Lamb and Hill. I'm leery about both of them. I'll let someone else take that ride.

Round 3

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Here's where I think there's a boatload of real wide receiver value. Listed below in the order I've ranked them.

Some of these are obvious, so I'll skip over my thoughts on them. I'm still nervous about Mike Evans, though. Drops, hamstrings—you name it. Brady's absence from camp (though I do believe that's legitimately for personal reasons).

I'd take Tee Higgins and Mike Williams over him, even though I've got Evans ranked just above them. I'm all-aboard the Higgins train this year, and I'm buying as many shares of the Chargers offense as I possibly can.

D.J. Moore is QB-proof. May I remind you that he finished third in overall air yard metrics last year (1,727 Total Air Yards; 10.6 aDOT; 0.67 RACR; 71.76% WOPR) with Sam Darnold, P.J. Walker, and Cam Newton as his quarterbacks. He will produce.

The Colts generally scare me, and I could see myself taking A-Rob and Courtland Sutton over Pittman, just because the Colts are run-first, and Matt Ryan loves his check-down targets.

I know I'm high on Allen Robinson. Maybe it's a heart-ranking. He'll get his in that Rams offense, though, and I believe he wants to show the world (like OBJ of 2021) that he's still got it.

Rounds 4-6

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If you went with the receiver-all-the-way-down strategy (working title) in the first three rounds like you crazy Zero/Anchor RB kids are wont to do, I'll direct you to my Running Back Drafting Strategy article for some names of backs to jump on in these rounds.

However, it's likely you might have only one or two receivers come the fourth round. So let's try to round out this hangar before the sixth round passes, shall we?

Here's who I think you should be targeting in these three rounds, in the order I've ranked them, with brief asides for most:

Some notable absences here: DK Metcalf, Amari Cooper, Christian Kirk, Gabriel Davis, Jerry Jeudy, Tyler Lockett. I'm out on all these guys. Let someone else take those risks.

Rounds 7-onward

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There's a bit of take-your-pickery that comes into play with wide receivers at this point in your draft. Don't get me wrong—there's still massive value to be had. There are sleepers out there somewhere, right?

My best advice for drafting wide receivers in the second half of your draft is, mostly: take the guys whose value you want to believe in. There probably will only be a very small percentage of them who explode. So why not take the risks on the guys you want to go sicko mode?

Here are the wide receivers I'm looking to round out my bench with, and the guys I think you should target.

You'll notice I'm in on the young talent as opposed to the veterans. Maybe I like shiny new things. But I like to round out my bench with youth and upside.

Happy drafting out there. You do this thing right, you're going to build an airfield that would impress even Howard Hughes.


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2 comments

Cheesesteak22 August 20, 2022 - 7:41 pm

Where does Devonta Smith, The Slim Reaper, fit in this?

Reply
Daniel Johnson August 22, 2022 - 11:10 am

Great question! I had looked at him in rounds 4-6, which is generally where he’s being drafted. I love his air yard stats from last year (16th overall). I’m just not sure I believe there can be two-to-three legit mouths to feed (Brown, Goedert, Smith, maybe Gainwell?) for a QB like Hurts, who, so far, hasn’t given me confidence that he can consistently spread the ball around. But, for reference, I’d value him right around London/Toney.

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