Wide receiver tends to be a fairly deep position when it comes to fantasy football and that looks to be the same this upcoming season. If you’re a person who tends to value running backs in the earlier rounds, there are usually wide receivers in the middle or later rounds that still provide good value. If you do in fact wait to draft a majority of your wide receivers after the earlier rounds, here are four names to keep an eye on.
Even with Michael Thomas making his long awaited return, Chris Olave has a great opportunity to make an impact during his rookie season. Going into this year’s draft, Olave was lauded as one of the best route runners in the class while also having blazing speed to match with it.
New Orleans Saints quarterback Jameis Winston is known for his mentality of attacking defenses downfield (just look at his 2019 stats for a refresher) and Olave figures to benefit from that mentality the most. Olave’s currently listed as WR3 on the Saints’ depth chart, but there’s a very good chance he finishes with the second-most fantasy points among Saints receivers.
Olave is coming into the league as a polished receiver compared to some of his peers, but with teammates like Thomas and Jarvis Landry, he has a chance to learn even more from two receivers who have been regarded as two of the best at their position in the last few or so years. It could take a couple weeks, but Olave has a shot at solidifying himself as a strong flex option in his first year in the league.
If you drafted Brandon Aiyuk last season, you’ll most likely have the urge to fade him in your draft because of his inconsistencies. However, all reports show that Aiyuk has been one of the best players at the San Francisco 49ers training camp and his connection with quarterback Trey Lance has caught the eyes of many.
— OurSF49ers (@OurSf49ers) August 3, 2022
Deebo Samuel still figures to get the most targets out of the wide receiver group, but that doesnt mean Aiyuk won’t be productive. Aiyuk finished as WR35 last year and that’s with the bulk of his production coming in the second half of the season. Since entering the league in 2020, Aiyuk’s talent has been undeniable, but he’s had issues doing the little things consistently.
Nevertheless, all reports show that Aiyuk put in the work this off-season and has improved his route running and ability to create separation. With Aiyuk’s off-season improvements and his connection with Lance, Aiyuk is poised to have a breakout year in 2022.
The Dallas Cowboys were the fifth pass-heaviest team in the NFL last season and even with the departure of Amari Cooper, that’s unlikely to change. The Cowboys drafted Jalen Tolbert with the hope that he could join the illustrious list of Cowboys receivers, and he may have his opportunity to do that sooner rather than later.
With Michael Gallup unlikely to be healthy for the start of the season because of an ACL tear he suffered last season, Tolbert will have a chance to make an immediate impact. In his final season at South Alabama, Tolbert totaled 82 catches for 1,424 yards and eight touchdowns.
The Cowboys have a long lineage of successful wide receivers and Tolbert has a chance to etch his name into that book.
The Jacksonville Jaguars played a big part in shifting the wide receiver market this off-season. They gave Christian Kirk a four-year, $72 million deal and it was partially surprising because Kirk had never eclipsed over 1,000 receiving yards in a season. It was a groundbreaking deal, but the Jaguars lacked offensive talent and needed to give Trevor Lawrence someone he could rely on.
The 2018 second-round pick finished as WR26 last season and is in store for a larger target share with his competition in Jacksonville being nowhere near what it was with the Arizona Cardinals. Kirk’s main competition with the Jaguars for targets will be Marvin Jones Jr., Evan Engram and Travis Etienne. However, the first two mentioned have had consistency issues and we still need to see what role Etienne plays.
Lawrence lacked someone he could trust consistently during his rookie year and Kirk looks to be that guy for him now. With an offense that should be better in all facets next season, Kirk has an opportunity to establish himself as a WR2.