2022 Fantasy Football WR position preview: Which mid-round Year 2 receivers should you target?

With the depth and overall quality of this position only getting better with the passage of time, we can say this on an annual basis: Wide receiver is stocked full of quality players. You’ll get down into the 40s in your fantasy receiver rankings and still find guys with viable paths to 100-plus targets. Don’t be surprised if you’re in the later rounds (WR60 and onward) and still stumble onto multiple guys who you like as breakout players this season.

One of the key themes around the wide receiver position this season is projecting players on new teams.

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Even just a couple of years ago it was commonplace to hear fantasy analysts advise you to fade wide receivers who changed teams in the offseason. If you plan on employing that strategy in 2022, good luck; you’ll be wiping out a bulk of the draft board.

The tectonic receiver plates shifted massively this offseason with a variety of guys being traded or moving in free agency. We’re talking big names too.

Three of the top-12 wide receivers in my rankings changed teams via trade: Davante Adams, A.J. Brown and Tyreek Hill.

Several others moved too, including Allen Robinson, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Marquise Brown, Amari Cooper, Robert Woods and Christian Kirk. For the most part, ADP would indicate that all of those guys are players you’re considering starting every single week. At the very least, for some of the latter guys, they’ll be in flex consideration.

Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Allen Robinson II (1) has fantasy value
Allen Robinson was one of the bigger-fantasy-name wide receivers on a new team this season. (Photo by Jevone Moore/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

I didn’t even mention all of the receivers who experienced turnover at the quarterback position even if they’re still with the same team from last season. If you include that group, 19 of the top-40 receivers in Yahoo ADP will be playing with a different quarterback this season. It’s wild.

Quarterback to wide receiver connections won’t be as reliable. Entire ecosystems won’t be as easy to project. Only drafting players with the same quarterback as last year isn’t realistic. You’ll be severely limiting your pool. That’s not an option — you’ll have to lean into the chaos.

With the rare tumult at the position, it’ll be more important than ever to bet on talent.

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That doesn’t mean that we can or should entirely eschew offensive play-caller tendencies and projectable target shares, of course. But betting on proven good players with quality resumes in the prime of their careers can help ease some of the risk. That player going to an ecosystem we know we can trust should make us feel better too. Robinson going to the Rams comes to mind. Smith-Schuster jumping to the Chiefs fees like a clear win. Even Adams with the Raiders largely feels like it should be a good environment, even if Josh McDaniels is a somewhat unknown factor as a player-caller.

Player talent and roles have always been more important at the wide receiver position than any other in fantasy football. That feels more true than ever after this offseason of movement.

Player Highlights

If there’s a secondary theme at the wide receiver position this year, it’s the Year 2 receivers. We know there are established guys like Ja’Marr Chase and Jaylen Waddle but the key figure this year is the potential breakout players going in the mid-rounds. Picking the right guys in those tiers is going to help unlock the rest of your draft.

Let’s run through a few of my favorite targets.

Amon-Ra St. BrownWR27 Yahoo ADP

Ignore the constant fretting over who was in or out of the lineup when he experienced a major breakout to end last season. We know he’s not going to do what he did in the final month of last season. If we were projecting him for 11 targets per game, he’d be going in Round 2. He’s not. So take the reliable floor and big-slot archetype we should want to buy anytime in Round 5 and beyond.

Rashod Bateman WR31 Yahoo ADP

The Ravens aren’t going to throw the ball like crazy this year but there will be enough volume for Mark Andrews and Rashod Bateman to be reliable bets. That duo can own over 50 percent of the target share in this offense, given the state of the rest of the depth chart. Bateman is a true X-receiver prospect who wins at all levels. He is one of the biggest offseason winners following the Marquise Brown trade.

Elijah Moore WR36 Yahoo ADP

There are quarterback concerns but if Zach Wilson — or whoever takes snaps if he misses time — is even average this year, Moore is going to break out. The Jets have added a lot of bodies at pass-catcher but all reports from the offseason hold that Moore is the No. 1 guy there. He deserves that distinction. He is such a gifted player who separates at will and put production on his resume in stretches as a rookie. This is a bit of a “bet on talent” proposition but it’s one I’m willing to make.

Honorable mention fliers: Kadarius Toney and Nico Collins

There’s no question that there is risk with Toney but it’s all baked into his WR51 ADP. He has rare ability in the open field and showed better as a zone-beater than I expected as a rookie. He is the heavy favorite to lead the Giants in targets.

Collins’ ADP is disturbingly low across the industry, routinely going outside the top-200 picks. He could moonwalk into 100 targets on the Texans and Davis Mills looked competent as a rookie passer. Collins flashed legitimate X-receiver traits in 2021.

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TOP-12 Position Rankings

WR1 - Cooper Kupp: Locked into a perfect, heavily targeted role on an awesome offense.

WR2 - Justin Jefferson: Already a special player who can make another leap this year.

WR3 - Ja'Marr Chase: Don’t worry about any “per target” regression nonsense here.

WR4 - Stefon Diggs: Locked in alpha target share, elite separator, tied to great QB.

WR5 - CeeDee Lamb: Could legitimately lead the NFL in targets and receiving yards.

WR6 - Mike Evans: Don’t be shocked if he leads the NFL in touchdown catches.

WR7 - Davante Adams: Should still be a WR1 despite leaving Rodgers and GB.

WR8 - Tyreek Hill: Not going to have the same weekly ceiling but not fully fading him.

WR9 - Michael Pittman: Expecting another level-jump from a rising star with QB upgrade.

WR10 - Tee Higgins: Bengals' passing game has enough juice for two WR1s.

WR11 - Deebo Samuel: Dinging him some but not much for Brandon Aiyuk’s likely rise.

WR12 - A.J. Brown: We need the Eagles to pass more but Brown can do more with less.

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