QB Rank: 1
WR Rank: 4
The Bills duo led this fantasy list last season and, after the massive tectonic shifts at wide receiver this offseason — like DeAndre Hopkins’ suspension — Allen and Diggs are essentially the runaway favorite now.
Allen is currently the clear-cut QB1 after two straight seasons of finishing atop the charts. No one brings his insane ceiling/floor combination to the table. He’s developed into one of the most gifted passers in the NFL and while some of his rushing production might turn into checkdowns this year, he’s still a high-end rushing threat.
Diggs has back-to-back seasons of over 160 targets and is the clear-cut top target on one of the best passing offenses in the NFL. All the turnover in Buffalo’s receiver corps should only mean more Diggs. He has a WR1 overall finish in his range of outcomes.
QB Rank: 7
WR Rank: 6
Brady is the first true pocket-statue quarterback in my rankings. Despite some of the turnover and injury concerns in the Tampa Bay pass-catching corps, Brady still has immense passing upside. The Bucs throw the ball at one of the highest rates in the NFL and Russell Gage and Julio Jones can help round out the receiver corps while Chris Godwin gets back healthy. Brady can lead the NFL in passing touchdowns this year.
Evans is the one constant in the receiver corps this year until Godwin is fully ramped up. That’s why I’ve wanted to remain extremely bullish about him despite some of the additional guys added to the room. Evans is an underrated route runner who is a high-end menace in contested situations. He’s a bankable 1,000 yards every year and it would be no surprise at all if he pushed for 20 touchdowns this year.
Dak Prescott and CeeDee Lamb, Dallas Cowboys
QB Rank: 8
WR Rank: 5
Much of Prescott’s own fantasy football value will be tied to whether he gets back some of his old rushing chops. He averaged 9.1 yards per game last year with just a single touchdown when he was consistently over 17 yards per game with three to six scores in years prior. He’s still an efficient passer that will likely land in the top 10 when all is said and done.
Lamb is aggressively ranked as WR5 but is every bit deserving of that distinction. He’s going to get a dominant share of the Cowboys' passing game and has every layer of talent you want from a WR1. He could lead the NFL in targets this year given the lack of other quality wide receivers around him. You can’t draft Lamb at his ceiling because his ceiling is the WR1 overall in fantasy football.
Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase, Cincinnati Bengals
QB Rank: 10
WR Rank: 3
Drafting Burrow is a tough sell for me because I don’t think there’s a huge gap between his and guys like Matthew Stafford’s ceiling compared to other non-rushing quarterbacks in the next tier like Derek Carr or Kirk Cousins. And Burrow goes much earlier than all of those guys. However, he can still offer you steady QB1 production and plenty of spike weeks given the layers of talent on this Bengals offense.
One of those layers is his all-star second-year wideout. Chase displayed his blistering talent as a legitimate No. 1 receiver right away last year. Any per-target efficiency metric regression concerns can be safely waved off. The Bengals showed a willingness to use Chase in a variety of fashions to get the ball in his hands quickly toward the close of last season. We know the week-winning vertical plays will always be a part of the menu along with any expanded duties.
Jalen Hurts and A.J. Brown, Philadelphia Eagles
QB Rank: 6
WR Rank: 13
Our first new pairing on this list; the Hurts-to-Brown connection has been a non-stop feature of the passing game in Eagles’ training camp. Hurts is a smash as a fantasy player even if he doesn’t improve a lick as a passer. He’s simply that prolific as a rushing threat. However, anyone closing the door on him improving as a thrower is being closed-minded. Hurts has shown measurable improvement as a passer over the course of the last four seasons dating back to college. His adjusted yards per attempt jumped from a 9.5 average in Alabama to 12.2 in his 2019 season at Oklahoma. He improved from his 6.8 adjusted yards per attempt as a rookie to 7.1 in 2021.
The Eagles are betting big that Brown’s addition to this passing game provides a transformative effect. It’s a good wager. Brown is as talented as any receiver in the NFL and is a menace as a separator against man coverage and after the catch. Projecting Brown’s raw target total can be a little tricky considering the Eagles were so run-heavy last season. Betting on Brown's talent and the apparent dynamite connection between him and his new quarterback is a reasonable decision after the top receivers are off the board.
Matthew Stafford and Cooper Kupp, Los Angeles Rams
QB Rank: 12
WR Rank: 1
We need to keep an eye on Stafford’s elbow situation all season long but if he’s out there for the full year, there’s every reason to expect he’s even better the longer he plays in Sean McVay’s offense. Stafford isn’t ever going to be a fantasy-league-winning quarterback outside of an outlier touchdown season. But given the addition of another true star-level receiver in Allen Robinson, there’s a small chance that type of campaign exists in his range of outcomes.
Last season was a “feeling it out” year in the inauguration of the Stafford/McVay union and they won the Super Bowl. More fireworks await.
Even as we all get rightfully excited about Robinson’s addition to this team, the hero of the passing game will remain Cooper Kupp. After winning the triple crown last year, Kupp is not likely to be as prolific in his 2022 encore. However, he’s locked into one of the most unique roles in the entire NFL and has been maximized by his quarterback. This duo just makes each other better.
Justin Herbert and Keenan Allen/Mike Williams, Los Angeles Chargers
QB Rank: 5
WR Rank: 15/16
Herbert was the QB2 overall in fantasy football last year and it feels like he still has room to grow. He checks every box at quarterback and is still developing heading into his third season. Herbert is going to remain hyper-efficient as a passer but does sprinkle a bit of rushing (302 yards, three scores) into his upside, as well.
I’m doing the hedge ranking having Allen and Williams back-to-back like this. They win in different ways and I wouldn’t be shocked if either was the better fantasy receiver on the Chargers. Allen is by far the superior real-life player but Williams should continue to receive vertical and end-zone looks that will make him a week-winner in fantasy. Meanwhile, few players present a more rock-solid floor than Allen.
Patrick Mahomes and JuJu Smith-Schuster, Kansas City Chiefs
QB Rank: 3
WR Rank: 23
Mahomes should be higher on this list but he and Lamar Jackson fall victim to the same issue where their top pass-catchers are tight ends and we're just focusing on QB/WR duos here. Regardless, I’m still projecting a big season for Mahomes despite losing Tyreek Hill this offseason. Mahomes is a teammate elevator and the Chiefs provided a variety of new options around him. Kansas City already successfully transitioned to a quick-strike style passing game to end last season — they’ll just be doing it with different receivers in 2022.
One of those new players is Smith-Schuster, who has gone from being one of the most overrated receivers in the NFL to one of the most underrated. He fell off the map with injuries and miserable quarterback play in Pittsburgh the last two years but he can still play. While not a true No. 1 receiver like many fantasy heads thought he was earlier in his career, he’s a strong big-slot option. He’s the lowest ranked receiver on this list but is elevated by his quarterback and is a value in fantasy.
Kirk Cousins and Justin Jefferson, Minnesota Vikings
QB Rank: 16
WR Rank: 2
You’re laughing at Cousins being on this list. I get it. While he might not be a true fantasy QB1, he does deserve to get a bump along with his pass-catchers as this new offense takes hold in Minnesota. Cousins should push north of 600 pass attempts for the first time in years. He will have spike weeks.
Jefferson is on the precipice of a massive season. A truly special individual talent, Jefferson will be in a progressive modern offense for the first time in his NFL career. He can win at all levels, against any coverage and will be schemed into advantageous situations this season. If you want to take him as the first receiver off the board, no one should blink.
Derek Carr and Davante Adams, Las Vegas Raiders
QB Rank: 14
WR Rank: 7
The old Fresno State duo is reunited. Adams will give Carr the best receiving option he’s worked with in the pros by a country mile. Alongside Adams, Carr has a pristine slot receiver in Hunter Renfrow and a gifted tight end in Darren Waller. He doesn’t have the rushing juice we want but Carr is a dark horse to lead the NFL in passing yards with these weapons in Josh McDaniels’ quick-strike, high-volume passing game.
We know Adams is getting a quarterback downgrade after leaving Aaron Rodgers but he remains the best receiver in football. I did break ties in favor of Evans and Lamb at the top of my wide receiver Tier 2 but I don’t want to get too down on Adams. He can do it all and should remain a top-10 fantasy receiver.