Better To Receive
2023 Fantasy Football Preview: WR/TE Rankings, Risers, Fallers, Sleepers
With the preseason in the rear view and regular-season looming, most of the focus between now and opening night shifts toward draft preparation and strategy.
In recent years, the receiving aspect has altered the game, with PPR formats becoming the new norm, so we’ve provided our top picks and sleepers for the wide receiver and tight end position.
The third and final segment of the Inside The Birds 2023 Fantasy Football Preview series previews wide receivers and tight ends, with top-five rankings, risers, fallers, and sleepers.
TOP FIVE WIDE RECEIVERS
The Vikings receiver last season led the NFL in targets (184), receptions (128) and receiving yards (1,809). He’s about as sure as it gets from a production standpoint and my No. 1 overall pick. PPR phenom.
This could be the year where Chase dethrones Jefferson to become the league’s top wide receiver. Chase, a multi-faceted Bengals weapon, benefits from playing opposite Tee Higgins, a high-end WR2. A 150-plus target season seems well within reach.
The Dolphins’ offense resembles a track-and-field team, with Hill being the primary weapon. Hill last season garnered a career-high 170 targets, corralling 119 of them for 1,710 yards and seven touchdowns. Even with injury-prone QB Tua Tagovailoa in and out of the lineup, Hill didn’t miss a beat. He’s my third receiver off the board. If you happen to be picking anywhere within the 5-7 range, pounce.
I’m a tad weary of Kupp given his injury history. I’m also not particularly keen on any Rams this season, as I expect the offensive woes to persist, highlighted by quarterback Matthew Stafford’s regression. Still, while Kupp appeared in only nine games in 2022, the Rams’ top wideout managed 75 receptions. He’s obviously a WR1, but I would have some reservations taking him too early.
Diggs, who turns 30 in late November, has seen at least 154 targets in each of the past three seasons. Three-level threat and the primary receiving option on a high-octane Bills offense.
ON THE RISE
As a Saints rookie, he commanded 119 pass targets and will serve as the centerpiece of an improved Saints passing attack, accruing 72 receptions for 1,042 yards and four touchdowns. You would like to see the touchdowns rise in 2023, but I suspect 150 targets could be in store for what might be a top-10 finish.
Metcalf’s production has consistently waned for Seattle the past few seasons and I’m not sure the Seahawks aren’t going to employ a run-heavy approach with its two-headed rushing tandem, Kenneth Walker and Zach Charbonnet.
Metcalf will have good games but I’d feel much more comfortable going with someone like Deebo Samuel, Calvin Ridley or even Christian Watson, who each fall within a similar range.
In 12 games (six starts), Shaheed garnered 34 targets, parlaying them into 32 catches for 488 yards and two touchdowns. With quarterback Derek Carr now at the controls, the Saints’ aerial attack – and Shaheed’s production – figure to trend upward.
A late addition to the 2022 Giants, Hodgins accumulated 33 receptions for 351 yards and four touchdowns, essentially becoming the team’s de facto No. 1 receiver. As long as the Brian Daboll-Mike Kafka offense continues to evolve – and tight end Darren Waller can stay healthy – Hodgins should see enough volume to warrant late-round intrigue.
GETTY IMAGES: Eagles TE Dallas Goedert should push to be a top-3 fantasy football tight end this year.
TOP FIVE TIGHT ENDS
Even at 33, Kelce remains at the head of the class in regard to his position group. The Chiefs tight end, who consistently provides WR1 returns, should be targeted around pick No. 5. Since 2015, Kelce has commanded 100-plus targets and has eclipsed the 1,000-yard receiving barrier for seven consecutive seasons.
The Ravens’ de facto top passing option until proven otherwise, Andrews acts as a security blanket for quarterback Lamar Jackson and perennially yields an enticing baseline production. However, his ADP is a tad rich, so there won’t be many scenarios in which I pull the trigger late in the second round, given premium talent elsewhere.
After being hindered by injury the past couple of seasons, it’s easy to forget just how dominant Waller can be when at the top of his game. The soon-to-be 30-year-old is my favorite fantasy tight end target not named Kelce. If he can stay healthy, Waller could provide WR2-esque production for the Giants.
Put it this way: When this ranking is to be configured next season, Goedert could conceivably wind up second behind Kelce. The sixth-year Eagles tight end in 2022 was on pace for a career season before a shoulder injury halted his ascent. A favorite target of quarterback Jalen Hurts, Goedert has the potential to become the team’s third 1,000 yard receiver, joining A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith.
Hockenson is entering the final year of his rookie deal, which is always appealing. But the Vikings’ tight end was most recently dealing with lower-back stiffness, which can be volatile. So for now, he tumbles a bit in the pecking order. While he remained healthy in 2022, it is also worth noting that two of his four seasons ended prematurely due to injury.
ON THE RISE
Okonkwo doesn’t boast typical dimensions for the position, but his athleticism and run-after-the-catch ability lends itself to becoming a focal point in a relatively anemic Titans aerial attack. With D’Andre Hopkins and Treyon Burks commanding most of the attention from defenses, look for Okonkwo – who averaged 14.1 yards per catch in 2022 – to see an uptick in production. Great late-round value if you’re typically one to wait on the position.
Johnson in 2022 finished third on the Saints in pass targets (65). With running back Alvin Kamara, who finished second, set to serve a three-game suspension, Johnson figures to be a beneficiary. The converted collegiate WR also reeled in a team-high seven touchdowns.
– Andrew DiCecco (@AndrewDiCecco) is a Staff Reporter/Content Producer for InsideTheBirds.com.
Watch Part 3 of ITB’s 2023 Fantasy Football Preview Series featuring Adam Caplan, Geoff Mosher and Andrew DiCecco: