Fantasy Football: Wide Receivers who could make the difference

By Martin Richardson

With running backs out of the way, we move on to wide receivers, the most player rich position in fantasy, but perhaps so easy to get wrong. We’ve all said that this season is Rashad Bateman’s year. Or maybe this year is the year that Courtland Sutton will go off for over 1000 yards. But who is a better option this year in your fantasy team in 2023? Not everyone can draft Justin Jefferson and Tyreek Hill, but who would be a potential steal in big leagues and deep in the draft? Who could be a late round sleeper for you to have tucked away on your bench to come in as a potential flex in those tough and often rough bye weeks. 

Let’s take a look.

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Jordan Addison:

Not every target can go to Justin Jefferson, that is plainly obvious, but what makes Addison a worthwhile risk for your Fantasy season?

Well, last year WR2 at the Vikings was Adam Thielen and he had 107 targets, 70 receptions and got 716 yards with 6 touchdowns. Which are decent numbers for any WR2.

Now if I make the very sweeping statement that Addison is better than an aging Thielen, we could see another WR at the Vikings nearing a 1000 yard season. Especially when you look at those college numbers. In his final college season he had 59 receptions in 11 games, with just under 900 yards and 8 touchdowns, which are very similar numbers to Thielen in 2022.

Throughout camp, Addison was turning heads, with Kirk Cousins saying, ‘“He’s a natural catcher of the football, tracks the ball well, so I’m excited about just continuing to do more with him and get him involved.”’ That certainly seems to be the case in the video from PFF in the preseason:

My only reservation on this would be that they also gave a big money deal to top TE TJ Hockenson. In the 10 games he played for the Vikings once he was traded from the Lions, he amassed over 500 yards and 3 touchdowns. Which could mean that he is on for a bigger year than his career best in 2020 where he nearly reached a 1000 yards and had 6 touchdowns. This could well mean that Hockenson is preferred in some cases to Addison, but having Addison as WR2 as well as Hockenson will stretch the field of play and open up the offence in new ways for Cousins in 2023.

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Zay Flowers:

Ok, I know that at some point we’ve all thought the following- Rashod Bateman is the final piece of the puzzle for Lamar Jackson and he will make the Ravens a contender. Or maybe even that a waiver sneaky claim for Devin Duvernay could be a game changer for your championship. And when we cast our minds back to how those two names have fared over the past two years, are we shocked that Lamar Jackson hasn’t got the Ravens deep into the playoffs?

Add that to the fact that the Ravens had an offense that had to rely on DeSean Jackson and Sammy Watkins, no wonder Lamar struggled in fantasy terms and didn’t exactly rush back when he was injured and was in want of a new contract. Once you take out Mark Andrews’ 847 receiving yards in 2022, the next best target had nearly 500 yards less and that is Demarcus Robinson with a mere 458 yards.

Up step 2023 first round draft pick Zay Flowers.

At Boston in 2022, he played 12 games and had 1077 yards and 12 touchdowns. So to snag him at pick 22 in this year’s draft is potentially a bit of a steal in itself. With a 40 yard dash of 4.42s, he is a quick player with clear difference maker qualities as shown in this clip:

With a healthy and contract happy Lamar Jackson, Flowers could be a bit of a steal if you can snag him in your draft around the 8th or 9th round of your draft, you could well be onto a potential FLEX option within a few weeks. I genuinely think he is more of an option for Lamar Jackson than Odell Beckham Jr.

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Tyler Lockett:

DK Metcalf casts a very long shadow at Seattle. To the point that Tyler Lockett may well go under the radar in Fantasy drafts, once you pass those notable second tier players such as Jaylen Waddle, Devonta Smith and Deebo Samuel, people seem to bypass Lockett entirely and aim for players like Christian Kirk and Brandin Cooks. But Lockett should be in the discussion of those tier two guys; and here is why:

  • 4 most recent seasons are successive 1000+ plus seasons.
  • Over 100+ targets per season after 2019.
  • 35 touchdowns in those 4 seasons.
  • Average receiving yards per catch is above 8 yards in those 4 seasons.

Why didn’t I draft him is a question that is going to irritate me for the next 17 weeks. So don’t make my mistake and get him on your team. He is a points monster and often goes under the radar because he isn’t a more glamorous name, with 9 games in 2022 where he scored 10 or more points and had a touchdown in all bar one of those games, which could be vital in any Fantasy championship push. Couple Lockett with one of those elite tier receivers and you could be sailing to your Fantasy playoffs.

Boom or Bust

Who are the people that will either be a top player every week or someone who will only get two or three points for six weeks? There are two names that come to mind, and both are from the NFC South.

Drake London

This is a stretch for me as I think he COULD be a great WR, and in an up for grabs NFC South, he could be the difference between 6-11 and 9-8. But a lot depends on their QB situation. Desmond Ridder has shown glimpses of being a sound QB, and coupled with the many RB they have (Robinson, Allgeier and Patterson), London may well have a different role on the offense. This could bode well for Fantasy because he could become a deep threat that the Falcons need on offense. Meaning one or two big plays and he’s got you near or over ten points a game, which could be crucial in those bye weeks and as a flex option. When you look at when Ridder played, that coincides with a more consistent use of London, with games of 70, 96 and massive 120 yards in the final game of the season. So chemistry was building, but will that translate Red Zone opportunities for the second year wideout? I don’t know if he is worth the risk just yet.

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Mike Evans:

This PAINS me.

It hurts to write this as a Bucs fan, but my head is telling me that Mike Evans will either be superb or absent for weeks. We saw this with Evans and Brady last season, so what are we going to get with a QB that is not the GOAT? He had, by his standards, a poor season with only 6 touchdowns and a gap of 11 games between touchdowns in 2022, which isn’t good for Fantasy games. Compare this to the previous two (2020 and 2021) he had a combined 27 touchdowns; perhaps Evans isn’t the lock he may have been in the past.

Could this be different now Evans has Baker Mayfield as his QB? Let’s not forget that Mayfield was the first overall pick in 2018, but he only has two playoff appearances in his career, with a 1-1 record. Was that solely down to Mayfield? Perhaps not. Looking at his numbers, at the Browns he threw 27, 22, 26 and 17 touchdowns, so clearly he likes to sling it which could be a good sign for Evans in 2023. But with Chris Godwin and breakout candidate Cade Otton at TE, Mayfield has the targets to aim for, it’s just will it always be Evans, or one of the other talented Bucs players? I’d like to think that Evans has a big part to play on the Bucs offence, but I do wonder if it may be a different vertical threat that leads to Mayfield playing it safe with those shorter routes to eliminate the turnovers, which he had plenty of in Cleveland. Which all in all, doesn’t play into the hands of someone who wants to win Fantasy games. 



A Yorkshireman living in Lancashire, Martin is a massive NFL fan but his heart belongs to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Also a huge Fantasy Football enthusiast and spends far too long crunching the numbers! Follow him at @MRBucsFan31