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A fantasy draft is all about obtaining the most value with each selection. Value is available throughout a draft, and grabbing it is one of the most important keys to a successful fantasy team. To point out this value, we asked our staff to look through the Top 150 and identify players that should outperform their draft position.
While lots of names were brought up, our staff came to a pretty good consensus on these six receivers:
Keep ready to discover how many votes each player got and the reasons why.
Player Receiving 5 Votes
Brandon Aiyuk, San Francisco 49ers
Jeff Haseley: Brandon Aiyuk had an impressive third year in the league, ranking among the top 15 wide receivers with 78 receptions, 1,015 yards, and 8 touchdowns. This was no small feat considering the presence of Christian McCaffrey, Deebo Samuel, and George Kittle. Aiyuk played in all 17 games last year, finishing 22 spots ahead of teammate Deebo Samuel, who only played 13. His reliability as a receiver for the 49ers has earned him praise from teammates and staff, and he is expected to continue his success in the upcoming season.
Gary Davenport: Aiyuk had a breakout season in 2022, catching 78 passes for 1,015 yards and eight touchdowns on the way to a WR15 finish—over 20 spots higher than teammate Deebo Samuel. However, Samuel is coming off draft boards three full rounds later than Aiyuk by fantasy managers living in the past. Samuel’s huge 2021 campaign was born of a “hybrid” role that included a lot more rushing and downfield throws than last season. Last year, Aiyuk’s average depth of target was just under 10 yards—higher than star wideouts like Devonta Smith and Ja’Marr Chase. Samuel’s was less than half that—his 4.3 ADOT ranked 160th in the NFL. Aiyuk is the 49ers wideout to target in 2023, especially given his price tag relative to Samuel.
Christian Williams: Deebo Samuel's down year in 2022 looks like an anomaly, but Brandon Aiyuk quietly took over as the top option in the receiving room last year. He led the team in targets and showed an incredible ability to earn visible separation. On a per-game basis, Aiyuk finished as the WR25 last year. During OTAs, many suggested that Aiyuk was ready to take an even more significant leap. With quarterback uncertainty, managers are skeptical. But the combination of George Kittle and Christian McCaffrey's health with the potential decline of Deebo Samuel could make Aiyuk one of the best values at an ADP of WR32.
Dan Hindery: Aiyuk has improved every season he has been in the NFL. Last year, Aiyuk’s third NFL season ended with 78 catches for 1,015 yards and 8 touchdowns. If he simply maintains that level, he will be a rock-solid WR2 and worth his current draft cost. However, we also should factor in the possibility that the 25-year-old takes another step forward and emerges as a true fantasy difference-maker. Early reports from OTAs have been encouraging in this regard, with Aiyuk described by beat writers as the best player on the field.
Kevin Coleman: Aiyuk is the best wide receiver on the 49ers roster. Yet he is being treated as the third option according to our latest draft ADP. Last year, he had a career season in targets, yards, and touchdowns. Again I look for the cheapest option in wide receiver rooms like this one, and Aiyuk fits those parameters. He was top-12 in open rate and consistently created separation. Managers must monitor the 49ers' quarterback position as the off-season progresses. Still, overall AIyuk remains a value at his current ADP regardless of who starts the season at quarterback.
Players Receiving 4 Votes
Jordan Addison, Minnesota Vikings
Dave Kluge: The second wide receiver selected in this year’s Draft should be the first rookie wide receiver drafted in season-long fantasy formats. He’ll play Robin to Justin Jefferson’s Batman and should see a significant role right out the gate. The departure of Adam Thielen leaves a gaping in the passing game. Thielen’s 621 routes last year were the second-most in the league. And no one on the roster could step into that role, leaving the Vikings in a position where they had to spend a first-round pick on Addison. The Vikings play indoors and have an uptempo and pass-friendly scheme. Jefferson will pull the attention from defenses, giving Addison a chance to smash his eighth-round ADP.
Daniel Harms: The Vikings are currently listening to offers on their best pass rusher, Danielle Huner, after trading their second-best pass rusher, Za’Darius Smith, earlier in the offseason. The Vikings defense could be very bad, and they will likely find themselves behind in a lot of games this season. After releasing Dalvin Cook a few weeks ago, the Vikings need players not named Justin Jefferson and T.J. Hockenson to step up on offense. Enter Jordan Addison. A likely benefactor of defensive gravity going to the previously mentioned offensive weapons, Addison is the logical choice to see a ton of single coverage. A first-round pick, stepping in as the WR2 in the offense, and could see a lot of volume. Addison should SMASH his current ADP of 86th overall (WR39).
Phil Alexander: Addison's slight frame (5-foot-11 and 173 pounds.) and sketchy athletic profile make this an off-brand pick for yours truly. But what Addison lacks in size and speed, he more than makes up for with target opportunity. The Vikings play fast (seventh in plays per game in 2002) and pass-heavy (third in pass attempts). With Justin Jefferson commanding the opposing defense's attention on every dropback, Addison is in the cat bird's seat for PPR fantasy production. And it can't hurt that most NFL Draft analysts agree that Addison has enough Tyler Lockett to his game for his skills to translate at the pro level.
Sigmund Bloom: Addison's production dropped off a little last year at USC, but with Minnesota, he should return to his previous role of playing inside more than outside, filling the vacated spot created by the release of Adam Thielen. Defenses will be preoccupied with Justin Jefferson, which will give Addison a chance to make an immediate splash in an established pass offense that will be in year two under Kevin O'Connell. He has the clearest path to 100+ targets of any of the first-round rookie wide receivers.
Nico Collins, Houston Texans
Jason Wood: We’ve grown impatient in the fantasy community. Years ago, we would actively target third-year receivers because that was typically when they ascended to peak form. But recent years have us convinced a receiver needs to be dominant as a rookie, or they’ll never be a star. But perceptions don’t match reality. Plenty of receivers continue to break through in Year Three and beyond. Collins could be that kind of player, considering he gets a new, competent coaching staff and a promising young quarterback in C.J. Stroud. Unless you think an elderly Robert Woods or Cowboys backup Noah Brown are going to emerge as alpha receivers, Collins still has every opportunity to be a high-target option. If he has a strong start to camp, target Collins before the rest of the fantasy community wakes up to his potential.
Dave Kluge: Nico Collins projects to be the Texans’ WR1 this year and is being drafted in the 12th-13th round. The title “Texans’ WR1” might not mean a ton. They’ve got a first-year head coach and a rookie quarterback. Historically, rookies struggle to feed meaningful production to wide receivers. But Collins usurped the WR1 role from Brandin Cooks last year and averaged 9.0 targets per game in between injuries from Weeks 10-13. The downside with Collins is steep, but with a cheap acquisition cost, he’s worth a look in all formats as a potential sleeper.
Jeff Haseley: The departure of Brandin Cooks to Dallas has left the top wide receiver position in Houston open for competition, and it seems that Nico Collins is leading the pack. Collins is poised to flourish under the accurate passing of C.J. Stroud, particularly on intermediate and deep throws. Additionally, he has already demonstrated his ability to be a reliable possession receiver, with two games of 10+ targets and two more with 9+ targets. As such, he is likely to see an expanded role in the Texans' receiving lineup. With a competent quarterback to work with, Collins has the opportunity to take his game to the next level.
Chad Parsons: Collins has avenues to being one of the top-12 producers at the position. Step one is being the WR1 for his own depth chart. Houston brought in ho-hum veteran Robert Woods in free agency but also lost Brandin Cooks. John Metchie was a second-round selection last year but had a redshirt year one and is still an unknown NFL entity. Collins has the edge to be the leading receiver. Step two is seeing competent quarterback play from rookie C.J. Stroud. Collins is a quality bet to surpass his fantasy cost even by solely winning the WR1 job with top-12 upside coming by way of mid-QB2 (or better) play from Stroud.
Diontae Johnson, Pittsburgh Steelers
Chad Parsons: Johnson has the roughed-up fantasy profile of a wide receiver who failed to score a touchdown last season, the rare case for a pass catcher of his volume. Earning targets is a vital cog to a wide receiver's success, and Johnson has collected at least 140 in each of the past three seasons. George Pickens is overrated as an ancillary point and doubtful to challenge Johnson for the WR1 role in Pittsburgh. If Kenny Pickett takes any step forward, Johnson is one of the best values on the wide receiver board.
Daniel Harms: Kenny Pickett might not be a great or even good NFL quarterback, but he throws the football to Diontae Johnson a lot. Volume is an easy thing to look at for projecting players to outperform their expectations. Johnson, being drafted 71st overall (WR31) on MFL, has seen over 140 targets in each of the last three seasons and over 80 receptions in that time as well. Last season, Johnson saw career lows in yards per target, yards per reception, and touchdowns. He’s too good a player to have that trend continue. Looking for a huge bounce back from the soon-to-be 27-year-old wide receiver.
Corey Spala: Over the last three seasons, Johnson has averaged over 140+ targets and 85+ receptions. His WR30 season in 2022 (PPR) is fresh in our minds, but it is important to remember he scored zero touchdowns. Kenny Pickett had a rough start but finished his rookie season on a high note. A full offseason to work with Johnson will be beneficial. I will take a bet on the hyper-targeted wide receiver in line for positive touchdown regression for an assumed bounce-back season in 2023.
Ryan Weisse: Johnson came up as one of the 10 Players I'm Rooting For in 2023. Last year, Johnson ranked sixth among wide receivers in targets and 13th in receptions but 27th in yards and failed to score a single touchdown. Remarkably, even without any touchdowns, he still finished as the No. 28 wide receiver in fantasy. If he had achieved his career average of six touchdowns, he would have easily cracked the Top 20. Furthermore, if he matched his 2021 total of eight touchdowns, he would have ranked as the WR15. This will be a bounceback year for Johnson.
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