NFC Wide Receiver 1 Battles – Fantasy Football
When it comes to fantasy football, finding as many number 1 wide receivers on your roster can be a great way to win. Even on weaker teams, WR1s are typically pretty viable in fantasy. This is even more important for Best Ball Fantasy as you are trying to predict volume throughout the season. There is no waiver wire or trades to make up for making the wrong choice. For several teams there is no debate as the top wide receiver is locked into the role.
New York Giants: Kadarius Toney (ADP: 84.8) Kenny Golladay (ADP: 121.2)
Toney showed explosive ability in a limited sample last season, but he’s a bit of an enigma heading into 2022. He has been surrounded by some work ethic concerns and there was even a rumor that the Giants new staff and front office were open to trading him this offseason. That doesn’t seem like it will be the case, but it should give drafters some pause. Luckily the investment is limited here as he’s not someone you need to necessarily count on to be in your line-up each week. Toney does offer more best ball upside, particularly on a tournament format like Underdog. He’s not a guy you can rely on each week, but when he hits he could hit big. If one or two of those weeks are in the playoffs you could be very happy with your selection.
Saying all of that about Toney, it’s easy to forget that Golladay still has a pretty decent chance to lead this WR group in fantasy scoring. Golladay still showed some big play ability with a 14.1 yards per catch last season. He had 37 catches for 521 yards in 14 games, despite just terrible QB play and a horrible offensive system. The QB play will still be questionable, but it should be improved as should the new system. Golladay can still command targets and if the Giants throw the ball some in the red zone this season, Golladay should get more than 0 TDs. At about a 40 pick difference you should have some exposure to Golladay in the hopes that he can lead this team in points. He doesn’t have maybe the spike week upside as Toney, but he can still pay off his draft spot.
Philadelphia Eagles: A.J. Brown (ADP: 26.8) DeVonta Smith (ADP: 71.7)
Similar to the Miami Dolphins situation, Smith is a top rookie who is now facing an elite WR being brought in over him. What is different with the Eagles situation is there is a much wider ADP gap between them. With Miami the split between Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle is about a round to maybe a round and a half if you are lucky. With these Eagles receivers, you are talking 3.5 rounds of difference.
A.J. Brown is no doubt a special player, but DeVonta Smith has top WR potential as well. The problem here of course is can the Eagles’ offense support two top 40ish WRs, particularly with TE Dallas Goedert. It’s not going to be easy and the most likely outcome is probably that both receivers siphon enough of a market share that neither end up a great value at their ADP. Brown is still the most likely to lead this team in WR scoring, but Smith might have enough of a rapport with Jalen Hurts. I’m more bearish on the Eagles’ passing attack, but if you do believe in their upside, A.J. Brown has shown the ability to succeed in low-volume offenses.
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Green Bay Packers: Allen Lazard (ADP: 80.6) Christian Watson (ADP: 117.1) Sammy Watkins (ADP: 171.8) Randall Cobb (ADP: 214.9)
With Davante Adams and MVS gone, the Packers’ wide receiver depth chart has very little clarity. Lazard and Cobb return as the only two WRs with any real experience with Aaron Rodgers. Sammy Watkins was signed as a prove-it free agent deal, and the team traded up to grab Christian Watson early in the 2nd round.
In the past, the idea of signing someone like Sammy Watkins or trading up to draft an early 2nd round WR would seem like ideal options to take over as the Packers’ top passing weapon. Watkins though has just never lived up to his draft potential. He’s only ever had one 1,000-yard season in his career and hasn’t cracked 500 yards in the last two seasons. Watson has interesting upside, but he’s a small school rookie, who has 105 career college receptions. He has plenty of long-term upside, but it seems like a stretch that he will be ready to assume a major role as a rookie. Watkins and Watson may end up splitting a role in this offense as the downfield deep threat.
That leaves veteran Randall Cobb and last year’s number 2 WR Allen Lazard. Cobb is not the player he once was, but don’t be surprised if he takes on a larger role this season. Last year in 12 games he had 28 catches for 375 yards and 5 TDs. Lazard has been a solid 2nd-3rd option for the last three seasons, and finished with 40 catches, 517 yards and 8 TDs last season. I would look for Cobb’s role to expand this year, and he could end up the number 2 option on this team.
Lazard in Rodgers own words is the number 1 option on this team, and honestly there isn’t much reason to disagree. Perhaps the Packers sign a free agent or trade for someone, but chances are it won’t be someone who is a big threat to Lazard’s role. Lazard is a good route runner and he is a big target in the red zone. Most importantly he has Rodgers trust. He won’t come close to producing on the same level as Davante Adams, but if he gets 120+ targets with his TD equity, he will smash his ADP value.
New Orleans Saints: Michael Thomas (ADP: 81.2), Chris Olave (ADP: 92.9) Jarvis Landry (ADP: 132.2)
This is another confusing depth chart with three guys vying for likely two fantasy relevant roles. Michael Thomas is coming off a foot injury and its unclear when he will be back, but if he’s healthy its tough to not get excited about him as the WR1 on the team. Thomas was simply dominant from 2016-2019, and should have every opportunity to get back to the top of the depth chart.
The Saints added Chris Olave in the first round and Jarvis Landry in free agency and both can make a strong case to be the WR2 and potentially the top WR on the team if Thomas has any setbacks. The problem is if Thomas doesn’t have a setback, and he assumes the top WR role, one of these two will end up struggling to produce. Olave has more upside, but Landry is the veteran here and might be the safer option.
From a best ball standpoint you should consider some exposure to all three, but Thomas is the guy who could massively outperform his ADP. Landry also can offer a lot of value later as a steady floor player.
Arizona Cardinals: Marquise Brown (ADP: 36.3), DeAndre Hopkins (ADP: 73.3)
Now in this case its pretty much a lock that Brown will score more fantasy points over the course of the season than Hopkins, given that the latter is expected to serve a 6 game suspension this season. The real question is how does the WR production look when Hopkins returns.
The general thought is that Hopkins will take over as WR1 and go back to his dominant target share that he had in 2020 with the Cardinals. Even last season with injuries he still had a good target share. Hopkins is 30 years old and he could need to start transitioning into more of a good number 2 WR, versus an Alpha 25%+ market share guy.
Marquise Brown is a deep threat WR, who struggled to match-up well with Lamar Jackson who is more of an intermediate thrower. Murray on the other hand is one of the better deep ball QBs in the league. Brown also played with Murray in college so there is a connection there as well. Even when Hopkins returns, I don’t think its that unrealistic to have Brown out produce him on a weekly basis. Brown last year showed he could handle a massive target share as well, as be the deep threat option.
While I think Hopkins still carries plenty of intrigue for Best ball, if he isn’t the primary target when he returns, he’s going to be tough to pay-off his price tag. I actually think you can point to Brown being the better value as an end of the 3rd/early 4th round guy. Brown is a better fit for best ball and if he does end up as Arizona’s top target he should be going a round earlier.
Seattle Seahawks: D.K. Metcalf (ADP: 51.8) Tyler Lockett (ADP: 99.7)
D.K. Metcalf is clearly the more phyisically gifted WR and he’s 5 years younger than Tyler Lockett, but this seems like the market is ignoring how good Lockett has been the past few years. Lockett has averaged 12.8, 13.5 and 12.1 fantasy points per game in .5 ppr over the last three seasons. In that same time Metcalf averaged 12.2, 14.4 and 9.9 points per game. So it’s not a stretch to think that Lockett can outscore Metcalf this season. Not only should this be considered basically a coinflip, but in terms of value you are getting a 4 round difference in value with Lockett.
Yes there is going to be a major downgrade at quarterback for the Seahawks, but that is already baked into their current prices. Sure they aren’t likely to compete for top 15-20 WR spots this season, but they are going at a spot where you can get value. Lockett especially is just getting totally overlooked despite his consistent production. He might actually not see the same drop off concerns that Metcalf has with the QB question mark. Lockett is a better natural route runner and could find more open windows for these QBs to target.