Each year, heading into draft season, we start to settle upon players we love and players we hate, relative to ADP. This article will dive into the former portion, my fantasy football wide receiver targets. Every year there are players that outperform their ADP. Identifying these players can significantly help you win your leagues. Here are three wide receivers to target in fantasy football for 2023.
Fantasy Football Wide Receiver Targets for 2023
Before we get into these fantasy football targets, I want to preface this by saying that all these are relative to ADP. These are three guys that go later in drafts than they should and represent excellent values in fantasy football drafts right now. These are all based on Fantasypros PPR ADP data as of this writing.
1. Christian Watson, Green Bay Packers
Heading into 2022, Christian Watson was more of an afterthought and a late-round dart throw than anything. He has a solid prospect profile and a great athletic profile but was considered a bit raw and unpolished as a wide receiver. On top of that, Watson suffered a knee injury in the preseason which then turned into a lingering hamstring injury during the first half of the season. All of this caused him to barely play in the first half of the season. Once Week 10 hit though, Watson stepped into a full-time role and went nuclear. From that point forward, he averaged 17.1 points per game and was the WR8 during that span. The real question is: Is Watson the real deal or is he another case of small sample success that fizzles out?
Top Rookie WR Seasons by YPRR
+ min. 200 routes run, since 2010
1 Odell Beckham Jr., 2014 (2.75)
2 A.J. Brown, 2019 (2.67)
3 Justin Jefferson, 2020 (2.66)
4 Ja'Marr Chase, 2021 (2.51)
5 CHRIS OLAVE, 2022 (2.42)
6 Tyreek Hill, 2016 (2.28)
7 CHRISTIAN WATSON, 2022 (2.26)
— Scott Barrett (@ScottBarrettDFB) July 22, 2023
Heading into 2023, I think the answer to that question is that Watson is the real deal. Diving further into the underlying numbers, there’s so much to like. From Week 10 on, his target share jumped to 23% and his air yards share jumped to an insane 41%. That target share would have been a top-20 mark and the air yards share would have been ranked third-best in the NFL over a full season. On top of that, Watson’s TPRR (25.5%) and YPRR (2.40) ranked 25th and 12th best in the league, respectively. His fantasy points per route run (0.64) and fantasy points per target (2.52) were even more encouraging ranking 3rd and 1st in the NFL among all wide receivers as well. These are some of the most correlative metrics year-over-year in terms of fantasy points so it’s extremely exciting for a possible Watson full breakout season. Watson’s current ADP of 54th overall as the 23rd wide receiver off the board is simply too low as I have him as my WR16 and an easy top-40 overall player. There is no reason that players like J.K. Dobbins, George Kittle, Deebo Samuel, or Justin Herbert should be going ahead of him. Watson is a great wide receiver target in fantasy football for 2023.
2. Diontae Johnson, Pittsburgh Steelers
Diontae Johnson turned out to be one of the biggest steals in fantasy football drafts in 2021. Many fantasy managers were discounting him because he “drops too many passes” and then he went on to finish as the WR8 that season. Last year, he dipped back down and was somewhat of a disappointment as he finished as the WR39 in fantasy points per game. It was almost completely due to a lack of touchdowns. Johnson had the exact same amount of touchdowns as all of his fantasy managers had combined in 2022. He had exactly zero touchdowns, which is obviously a massive fluke considering he had eight and seven the two seasons before. However, fantasy managers still seem to be holding that against him the same way they held the “drop issue” against him heading into 2021.
Heading into 2023, Johnson is a target monster. He’s seen at least 144 targets in three straight seasons. Johnson actually set a career-high last year in air yards with 1,555. The big concern is the lack of touchdowns from last year but that should regress to the mean this year considering Johnson ranked tenth in the NFL among all wide receivers with 18 red zone targets. Quarterback Kenny Pickett should also improve in his second season as well so Johnson should definitely surpass last year’s production by leaps and bounds. There is no reason he should be going as the 75th overall player (WR31) off the board and behind players like Rachaad White, Isiah Pacheco, or Mike Evans. Johnson is in line for a bounceback year and is one of the best wide receiver targets in fantasy football for 2023, especially in PPR formats.
3. Tyler Lockett, Seattle Seahawks
It’s 2023 and Tyler Lockett enters the season extremely underrated for what feels like the 23rd straight season now. He has scored at least 13.8 fantasy points per game in five straight seasons now and finished as a top-24 wide receiver all five years. Lockett has scored at least eight touchdowns in five straight seasons as well. He’s also seen at least 107 targets and caught at least 73 balls for over 1,000 yards in four straight seasons. People tend to consider him a bit fragile, but that’s a false narrative. Lockett has played at least 16 games in seven of his eight seasons and the other season he played 15. Simply put, Lockett is a great wide receiver that fantasy managers seem to fade for all the wrong reasons.
NEW Tyler Lockett 2022 #ReceptionPerception profile is up on the site.
– 78.9% success rate vs. man coverage (96th percentile and career-best)
– 83.4% success rate vs. zone
– 77.8% success rate vs. press
— Matt Harmon (@MattHarmon_BYB) July 20, 2023
Heading into 2023, Lockett is being faded once again, this time because the Seahawks drafted Jaxon Smith-Njigba in the first round. The thing about that is, the Seahawks could easily play more three wide receiver sets in 2023 and they’ve also had a narrow target tree for years now. Geno Smith also showed last year that he can support a high-end, pass-happy offense last year. As it sits right now, Lockett is being taken as the 28th wide receiver, and 70th overall player, off the board. That is way too low for a player that has finished top-24 at the position for five straight years now. I have Lockett as my 25th-ranked wide receiver and an easy fifth-round pick making him one of my favorite wide receiver targets for 2023 in fantasy football.
Main Photo: Sarah Kloepping – USA Today Sports