We asked seven analysts to reveal which big-name wide receiver they’re avoiding in drafts for the upcoming fantasy football season — answers listed in order of current Yahoo average draft position (ADP).
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Here’s the thing: I don’t actually feel as if I’m actively fading Higgins. I like the player, love the offense and respect his season-to-season consistency. Somehow Higgins is still only 24 years old, so there’s no reason to think we’ve already seen his best.
And yet when I compare my own rank on Higgins (WR16) to both industry and Yahoo consensus (WR14), I’m clearly not quite as bullish as everyone else. Also, I haven’t yet drafted him in any season-long league, so that tells me I’m at least passively fading him. The primary issue for me is that Higgins is one of those top-of-the-tier guys — a player I genuinely like, but not significantly more than, say, DK Metcalf or Amari Cooper. It’s also worth noting that Higgins hasn’t actually finished higher than WR17 in any of his three seasons and he’s never cracked the top-25 at his position in targets. Generally speaking, I’m not trying to use my early-round picks on players who need to level-up in order to justify their ADPs. — Andy Behrens
Amari Cooper pulled in a mere 21 receptions for 368 yards and two touchdowns across six games with Deshaun Watson under center last season. He also had a 54% catch rate when targeted by Watson.
Overall results? Mid af.
Now, the two appear to be building more chemistry this offseason, but unfortunately for Cooper, the wide receiver room got deeper with former second-round pick Elijah Moore coming over from the Jets and the Browns using their third-round pick of the 2023 NFL Draft on WR Cedric Tillman. David Njoku, David Bell and Donovan Peoples-Jones are still there, too, so while Cooper is still in line to receive the most targets, he’s unlikely to eclipse his 132 targets from a season ago (which tied a career-high).
Cooper is a talented receiver who deserves his fourth-round ADP, but I’d rather wait for Brandon Aiyuk in the late fifth or early sixth round if I’m looking for a WR to top 1,000 yards with 7-9 touchdowns this season. — Dan Titus
Keenan Allen averaged 10.3 targets per game once he fully returned in Week 11 from a complicated hamstring injury that took months to work back from. That volume has plenty of folks quite excited about his 2023 season. I’m a little skeptical it will sustain this year. Allen is still a good zone beater with greater hands who can get open underneath. But it’s troubling that his success rate vs. man coverage rates in Reception Perception has been in steady decline — from his consistently elite finishes from 2015 to 2020 — each of the last few seasons and he finished about average last year.
Allen can still be a useful and productive player for the Chargers because of his skills underneath and against zone coverage as a slot receiver but will he be assigned the same volume of targets we saw last season? That’s tough to square given the way this offense allegedly wants to push the ball downfield far more often. Remember, the 2022 Chargers offense was, at times, a tough-to-watch small-ball unit that fired its offensive coordinator. Either Allen isn’t getting the type of volume he needs at this stage to hit his top-20 ADP or Justin Herbert’s average depth of target will be maddeningly low once again. Both optimistic cases can’t exist together. Honestly, Allen is one of the players I’m worried I am wrong about in 2023 and wouldn’t mind missing this call as he was the most underrated elite wideout of the last decade. I’d just rather get off the age cliff a year early than a year late. — Matt Harmon
DJ Moore, Chicago Bears
Moore is a very good NFL receiver but ranked 28th in expected fantasy points per game last season, just ahead of Brandin Cooks and Jakobi Meyers. He’s been the WR34 and WR28 (per game) in 0.5 PPR leagues the last two seasons. Poor quarterback play can certainly be blamed on Moore never producing WR1 fantasy stats, but he’ll be dealing with the same (if not a worse) situation in Chicago.
The Bears produced an NFL-low 15.4 catchable targets per game last season! Put differently, a 15% target share with the Chargers was worth more than a 30% target share in Chicago. Justin Fields is a fantasy monster thanks to his running and has a real chance of finishing as the QB1 this year, but his passing (in)ability might have Moore pining for the days of Sam Darnold.
The Washington Commanders have made a stunning case for optimism throughout the preseason, particularly with the level of confidence in the passing game at the helm of QB Sam Howell. That should extend to his WR1, Terry McLaurin, too, but unfortunately, a turf toe injury suffered in the preseason has a chance to not just force him to miss time, but also limited his efficiency and explosiveness once he does make a return.
Fade McLaurin in drafts at his current cost of WR23 in favor of players like Brandon Aiyuk, D.J. Moore, and Chris Godwin, who hold similar upside but aren’t managing an injury that could limit their weekly ceiling early on. Rather than draft him, consider a trade to acquire him around Week 4, when the Commanders’ schedule starts to ease up after facing a couple of top defenses between the Broncos, Bills and Eagles. By that point, his toughest matchups are out of the way, and he should be healthier to lead toward a more efficient second half of the season. — Kate Magdziuk
Receiver production and efficiency often start to slip when a player hits his 30s, and it has me worried about Hopkins entering his age-31 season. Hopkins posted a modest 7.5 yards per target last season, his lowest number since 2016, and volume is unlikely to be his friend now that he’s on the Titans. Consider that Tennessee ranked fourth in run-rate percentage last season, while Arizona slotted 26th.
Hopkins has never been a great separation receiver; his game is about contested catches and winning in space. That requires chemistry and trust from his quarterback, and I doubt new-arrival Hopkins will have a crisp rapport with Ryan Tannehill overnight. Hopkins commands an early-60s pick in Yahoo ADP; I see several wideouts in the next round or two that I prefer. Target someone on the up escalator, not the down escalator. — Scott Pianowski
How does a wide receiver catch 99 balls and fail to reach 1,000 receiving yards? That would be Pittman, who finished the 2022 season with a pedestrian 916 yards. That was one reception and almost 600 fewer yards than Davante Adams.
Fantasy managers could chalk up the low yardage mark to a revolving door of poor quarterback play last — Don’t get me started on Sam Ehlinger. Now Pittman gets a raw, yet talented rookie in Anthony Richardson, who completed 53.8% of his passes in his only season starting for Florida. The rookie will have growing pains as a passer, and that will drag down the pass catchers, Pittman most prominent among them.
I like Pittman’s talent, and feel that he’s taking over the mantle from D.J. Moore as a great wideout who isn’t paired with a good passer. Maybe Richardson gets there someday, but in 2023 that could be rough moments. — Jorge Martin