Before the 2022 NFL Draft commences at the end of the month, we’re continuing the dynasty fantasy football coverage here with some rankings and tiers to help those dynasty managers sort out their player evaluations and see how players are ranked. Since the Super Bowl, NFL Combine, and NFL’s free agency, we’ve covered the beginnings of joining dynasty leagues and covered some of the finer points of the dynasty format to help you get your feet wet.
We posted our dynasty quarterback rankings and tiers breakdown, and now we’ll be doing the same for the wide receiver tiers!
In these tiers for the wide receiver position, many factors came into play with grouping these receivers into tiers. These tiers are based on several factors, including (in no order):
- Fantasy Football Production
- Future Projections
- Player Contract
- Specific Team Situations
Having that baseline projection of tiers and rankings at your disposal helps you decide between one or more players in your startup drafts.
Note: Listed with each wide receiver is their age in September 2022, when the NFL season begins.
Dynasty Fantasy Football Wide Receiver Tiers
TIER 1 - “The Elites”
- Justin Jefferson, MIN (23)
- Ja'Marr Chase, CIN (22)
Not bad for two LSU teammates. Jefferson and Chase are the top dynasty wide receivers, and for me, it’s not close. You can make a case for either wide receiver at the top, but make no mistake - both are long-term dynasty roster pillars that will be productive for a long, long time.
My preference leans toward Jefferson, who edged out Chase in:
Yards per Route Run (YPRR)
Targets per Route Run % (TPRR)
Air Yards Share %
PPR Fantasy points per game (F/PPG)
Average depth of target (aDOT)
19.4 (WR4 in 2021)
17.9 (WR5 in 2021)
Again, it’s splitting hairs choosing either, but Jefferson plays in a more target-condensed offense without another young alpha. No matter how good Chase is (he’s fantastic), target competition benefits the offense before the individual.
TIER 2 - “The Next Elites”
The receivers have the age advantage and longevity over the next tier of wide receivers while consistently showing WR1 capabilities. Lamb arguably has the highest upside among these wide receivers. With the Cowboys trading Amari Cooper to Cleveland, Lamb can finally realize that potential now that he’ll be slated to run more pass routes and stay on the field.
With one less mouth to feed in an elite (when they want to not #establishtherun) passing offense that should open the door for Lamb to receive the proper routes share to realize his immense potential. Of course, if the Cowboys eschew logic (Jerry Jones) and draft a wide receiver, we’ll have to rethink Lamb’s dynasty outlook.
Brown, Higgins, and Samuel are all right in league with Lamb, showing strong efficiency and production. They are not in Tier 1 because they have some blemishes that may or may not have anything to do with the actual player, but still, it’s enough to slide them down a tier.
Does Samuel retain some rushing work that led him to a whopping eight rushing touchdowns last season? He piggybacked that rushing work with a gargantuan 2.98 YPRR and 25.6% TPRR while staying healthy. It remains what this offense looks like with Trey Lance and not Jimmy Garoppolo under center.
Brown was the unquestioned alpha target last season for the Titans (27.7% target share) once he came back from an early-season injury. There remain questions about how much running the Titans will employ in 2022 after being the second-most run-heavy team in the league behind Philadelphia in 2021. Still, Brown remains a target-dominant, physical force reminiscent of former Texan Andre Johnson.
TIER 3 - “The Veteran Elites”
- Davante Adams, LV (29)
- Tyreek Hill, MIA (28)
- Cooper Kupp, LAR (29)
- Stefon Diggs, BUF (28)
- Chris Godwin, TB (26)
All of these wide receivers are veteran, proven WR1 options that more than likely have reached their apex in value. If you gave me a choice between these wide receivers and the ones in the next tier below in a dynasty startup draft, it would be a tough decision but would need to be determined by how soon I’m looking to compete.
There’s no question about volume, production, and ability here at the current time. But as these wide receivers sit only a couple of years away from turning 30, it’s tough to put long-term stock into them.
Adams and Hill received downgrades to their offensive ecosystems but remain target-dominant. Of course, questions come up about if they can retain the same type of production in their new locations.
There’s about a 95% chance that Kupp had the best season he will ever have in the NFL. It was already one of the greatest seasons in league history (25.9 F/PPG - WR1 in 2021) from a wide receiver, and certainly the same from a fantasy football perspective. It’s perfectly logical to get what you can for Kupp from a dynasty manager chasing production. It’s also logical to hold on to Kupp and reap the benefits of “breakfast with Matthew Stafford.”
Diggs’ had a disappointing 2021 compared to his breakout 2020, in which he led the NFL in receptions and receiving yards. Averaging almost four less F/PPG in 2021 than in 2020, I’m still very bullish on Diggs compared to his peers. He’s still the top target for Josh Allen and in one of the NFL's best offensive situations.
I kept Godwin in this tier because he’s been nothing but productive over the last three seasons entering his age-26 season. In each of those three seasons, Godwin has finished no lower than WR15 in F/PPG, so production is no question. His ACL injury is concerning, but he still has Tom Brady throwing him the ball for now.
TIER 4 - The "Elite if They Weren't Hampered By Their QB" (and Jerry Jeudy) Tier
- D.J. Moore, CAR (25)
- D.K. Metcalf, SEA (24)
- Diontae Johnson, PIT (26)
- Terry McLaurin, WAS (27)
- Elijah Moore, NYJ (22)
- Jaylen Waddle, MIA (23)
- DeVonta Smith, PHI (23)
- Jerry Jeudy, DEN (23)
These wide receivers have some wrinkle or wart that took them out of the “Next Elites” tier, and most of them involve their offenses or quarterbacks. I have an unabashed love for Moore as a player but wished he could have a better quarterback. Johnson is now in the post-Roethlisberger era of Steelers football, so his connection with Mitchell Trubisky will be something very much under the microscope for dynasty managers.
McLaurin, Moore, Waddle, and Smith all have varying degrees of quarterback uncertainty. In McLaurin’s case, being an older prospect means time is not exactly on his side to capitalize on that upside. Still:
Jeudy was difficult to tier up, but he has immense upside and has the best quarterback of the tier in new Denver Bronco Russell Wilson. I would not be surprised if Jeudy becomes a bit more target-dominant version of Tyler Lockett from Wilson’s days in Seattle. Jeudy will tier-jump his way to dynasty stardom if his big-time upside with Wilson can be realized.
TIER 5 - The "Still-Productive Veterans" Tier
If you’re doing a dynasty startup draft and you see players like Hopkins, Evans, Allen, and Cooper falling, you may not be able to resist. Compared to the “Veteran Elite” tier, this quartet holds less WR1 upside but are still quality assets as they have their blinker on and heading over to the turn lane heading into eventual decline. Looking for avenues of improvement with the older members of this tier is very difficult. It’s still possible but difficult.
TIER 5.5 - The "Plays Much Older" Tier
Pittman and Sutton were hard to tier up because I don’t think they are quite good enough for Tier 4 but much better than the tier below. When trying to find comparisons to both of these players, one name came out: the late Vincent Jackson.
Pittman is much more volume-dependent and a capped asset than people realize thanks to the state of the Indianapolis offense. The quarterback was upgraded from Carson Wentz to Matt Ryan, but there are no other threats to take attention away from him. That hurts Pittman’s trajectory and the fact that this offense just wants to run the ball whenever they can, running at the fifth-highest clip in 2021. With only three top-12 or better weekly finishes and eight games of six or fewer targets last season, Pittman is all over the map but settles into WR2-land.
Sutton was 12th in the NFL in total air yards and first in average depth of target (aDOT) with a minimum of 60 targets and now gets Wilson as the quarterback in a dramatically improved offense in Denver. Thanks to this new connection, there’s a lot of reason to believe Sutton could vault up a tier or two in 2022. Sutton was a dynasty trade target pre-free agency when rumors swirled that the Broncos would land a top-tier quarterback, which ended up coming to fruition.
TIER 6 - The "Capped Upside" Tier
- Rashod Bateman, BAL (22)
- Marquise Brown, BAL (24)
- Darnell Mooney, CHI (24)
- Chase Claypool, PIT (24)
- Brandon Aiyuk, SF (24)
- JuJu Smith-Schuster, KC (25)
- Mike Williams, LAC (27)
These six wide receivers all have a level of upside that makes them valuable to keep or trade, but a limited upside in comparison to other younger receivers. We’ve seen what they can do on the field; they’re known commodities. In the instance of some, the style of offense holds their upside back.
Claypool is a deep threat that isn’t target-dominant at this point of his career and will be receiving passes from Mitchell Trubisky. Dynasty managers salivate over Claypool's physical profile, but if it doesn’t turn into fantasy production, what good is it?
Mooney and Aiyuk could experience growing pains with new offensive systems and newer quarterbacks with Fields and Lance. Both have shown flashes, but their dynasty values will hinge on how well they take to their new offensive environments.
Williams got off to an amazing start for the Chargers but then settled back down into his boom-or-bust self after WR14 or better finishes in four of his first five games to start 2021. Coming back to the Chargers was likely the best move for him and his dynasty value with a young quarterback in Justin Herbert.
I’m at least very intrigued by Smith-Schuster’s landing spot in Kansas City and his ability to earn targets from Patrick Mahomes. The other receivers in Kansas City (Valdes-Scantling and Hardman) have shown an inability to consistently earn targets despite playing with elite quarterbacks, so Smith-Schuster should have the leg up unless the Chiefs add a wrinkle in the form of a high-capital drafted wide receiver in the 2022 NFL Draft.
In the case of both Baltimore receivers, the Ravens passed 11% more in 2021 than in 2020, so that kind of passing volume will need to be present for Brown and Bateman. The best-case scenario for each is that the 2021 passing volume remains intact to keep Brown and Bateman fantasy-relevant. Both take a backseat to Mark Andrews in the red zone, and we know how much the Ravens want to run the ball. The team was snakebitten from the start of training camp, losing their top-two running backs J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards before Week 1. That left the team to piece together the running back room with spare parts like the Six Million Dollar Man.
TIER 7 - The "You've Got Something In Your Teeth" Tier
All four of these receivers can carry teams in stretches but have a handful of warts including quarterback issues (Thomas, Cooks, Lockett) and inconsistency (Robinson in 2021).
Cooks and Lockett are both rumored to be traded, but they will likely remain in their current locales for 2022.
Robinson is one of my favorite bounce-back candidates for 2022 as he heads to the Rams and Matthew Stafford. That provides Robinson with the best quarterback he’s ever played with. In 2019 and 2020, Robinson reeled off at least 150 targets and an average of 100 receptions despite receiving passes from Mitchell Trubisky and Nick Foles. Robinson looked very disinterested, and the bottomed-out offensive climate in Chicago couldn’t have helped.
As early as two seasons ago, Thomas was one of the most well-regarded dynasty wide receivers, but now his value is just a shell of what it used to be. Now almost 30 years old and tied to Jameis Winston-led Saints offense, the bloom may be off the rose here with Thomas.
TIER 8 - The "Huge Gamble" Tier
- Calvin Ridley, ATL (27)
Ridley is arguably one of the most volatile players in dynasty to roster, regardless of position. His year-long suspension in 2022 will either allow dynasty managers the opportunity to trade him to get at least something in return for Ridley or allow managers to buy at what is undoubtedly the cheapest trading window to acquire him. We know what Ridley can do on the field, but he may not be taking the field for the Falcons when he returns. His situation is extremely fluid and never playing another down may seem crazy to say, but it's in the range of outcomes for Ridley.
TIER 9 - The "Upside, But Lots of Work To Do" Tier
- Amon-Ra St. Brown, DET (22)
- Christian Kirk, JAC (25)
- Kadarius Toney, NYG (23)
- Gabriel Davis, BUF (23)
- Michael Gallup, DAL (26)
- Rondale Moore, ARI (22)
With flashes shown by each of these receivers at some point in their young careers, this is a grouping that has more work to do to jump up in tiers. It likely has to do with earning targets consistently, continued team rebuilding, or other factors.
St. Brown remains one of the most divisive assets in dynasty as his explanation for his late-season surge can be explained by two things:
- St. Brown’s talent won out, and he’s a diamond in the rough who will continue in 2022.
- The Lions didn’t have T.J. Hockenson or D’Andre Swift while trotting St. Brown out around lesser fringe-roster talent like Trinity Benson and Khadarel Hodge, which explains why Jared Goff would pepper St. Brown with targets.
Both can be true, but if you have him on a roster and you believe the former, you’re loving life. If you don’t have him, you’re likely waiting for a price reduction before even considering acquiring him.
Toney’s season was a literal rollercoaster, as he broke out with a 10-catch, 189-yard scorcher against the Cowboys, and then an ankle injury derailed his season. Toney has a huge dynasty upside, but until the Giants’ offense gets better, it’s going to be up and down.
Davis and Moore should see increased opportunity heading into 2022, with Davis likely seeing the outside receiver role on the other side of Diggs. Moore showed some flashes, but the Cardinals wanted to keep the genie in the bottle for far too long, choosing to play A.J. Green and Antoine Wesley while running Kirk in the slot. It was befuddling usage, but that should open up a slot role for Moore with Kirk gone.
Gallup and Kirk’s roles improved with Dallas opting to trade Cooper and Kirk heading to Jacksonville in free agency. Both should see expanded target opportunities in their new locales, but Gallup and Kirk are both wait-and-see players for me.
TIER 10 - The "Floor Play" Tier
These aren’t upside plays by any means, but these two are safer PPR targets to have on your dynasty roster.
Renfrow was pretty awesome last season as the top target in Las Vegas, thanks to Darren Waller being hurt for a portion of 2021. Renfrow saw a 21% target share, the ability to earn targets (23.8% TPRR), and a WR17 finish in F/PPG. Davante Adams enters the fray after being acquired in a trade from Green Bay, and just like that, Renfrow’s 21% target share is likely a relic of the past. Like Boyd, Renfrow can still be a quality slot man for the Raiders as a third target.
Defenses will have to key in on Chase and Higgins, so Boyd should be able to put up healthy stat lines for an ascending offense. He’s a solid contributor (just under six targets per game in 2021 - lowest since 2017), but the days of Boyd pacing your lineups with volume are likely gone. Still, a major factor buoying Boyd is the Bengals’ reliance on 11 personnel (second-highest rate of usage in the NFL in 2021) and how personnel-condensed the team is with who they put on the field.
TIER 11 - The "Cliffhanger" Tier
- Corey Davis, NYJ (27)
- Kenny Golladay, NYG (28)
- Odell Beckham Jr., FA (29)
- Robert Woods, TEN (30)
- Adam Thielen, MIN (32)
- Jarvis Landry, FA (29)
Imagine a scene in an action movie where the evildoer is hanging from a rooftop. The protagonist walks up and decides whether to let the person up or let them fall. These receivers are that close to bottoming out as dynasty assets, though some will be let up and continue as productive veterans in the short term.
Whether due to injury, roster additions, declining production, or a combination of those factors, I’d only be looking to acquire these players if I had a competing or championship-level dynasty roster and needed some production or depth.
This is your yearly reminder that Adam Thielen scored too many touchdowns in 2021 and will probably score too many touchdowns yet again in 2022.
TIER 12 - The "Door Is Open a Crack" Tier
This tier is comprised of younger players with reasonable upside but they have clear roadblocks to achieving that. Chark is now in Detroit, which is an offensive downgrade after the 2021 Jacksonville Jaguars Urban Meyer “experiment.” He received a one-year deal from the team, which he hopes to rebuild his value to his dynasty managers.
Jefferson sits in a condensed Rams offense that got him on the field (86% routes share) but failed to deliver in most instances as the defacto deep threat before disappearing when the Rams acquired Odell Beckham Jr.
Meyers’ value reminds me of the Death Star trash compactor scene in Star Wars, where the floor and ceiling keep getting closer and closer for Meyers. He’s a good, professional wide receiver, but he’s just kind of there.
Speaking of “kind of there,” Samuel was an abject failure in his first season in Washington, with injuries being the culprit. Perhaps we’ll see Samuel show why he deserved such a big contract last offseason, but until we see how that goes in 2022, all we can do is shrug in general indifference.
TIER 13 - The "Show Us Something, Anything!" Tier
- Laviska Shenault, JAC (23)
- Nico Collins, HOU (23)
- Terrace Marshall, CAR (22)
- Josh Palmer, LAC (22)
- Donovan Peoples-Jones, CLE (23)
Looking at the names here just leaves you wanting more. These young players are either second or third-year players whose stock has dropped from initial hype or sleeper prospects who are still dormant. Before free agency, Palmer was a very popular trade target, but Mike Williams returning to the Chargers put that matter to bed very quickly.
As an outspoken member of the “Viska hype train,” Shenault is an almost TOO physical wide receiver. He received some work on the outside after Chark went down for the season early in 2021. As a primary slot receiver for much of his early career, Shenault has never produced consistently. Now, the Jaguars have added a bunch of pass-catchers in free agency, which makes Shenault a post-hype sleeper that we’re either hoping finds a way to produce or Shenault gets traded.
Collins and Marshall have quarterback issues to contend with, and Peoples-Jones is a deep threat on a potentially low-volume passing offense in Cleveland. While Watson does improve the outlook of the Browns' offense, commanding targets is a big hill to climb, especially if Cleveland lands a rookie receiver with Day 1 or Day 2 capital in the NFL Draft.
At worst, these are buy-low options that you can trade for, considering their perceived values.
TIER 14 - The "Limited Veteran" Tier
- Russell Gage, TB (26)
- Robby Anderson, CAR (29)
- Marquez Valdes-Scantling, KC (27)
- Will Fuller, FA (28)
- Jamison Crowder, BUF (29)
This tier has utility with flashes of productivity, but the upside they had at one point is all but gone. Valdes-Scantling may get the “Clyde Edwards-Helaire” treatment in dynasty circles as somebody whose perceived value shoots up because he joins an explosive offense.
Gage has the best chance to bump up a tier here if he can form an immediate connection with quarterback Tom Brady and the Buccaneers. He’ll get an opportunity to do so if Godwin’s injury absence bleeds into the 2022 regular season.
TIER 15 - The "Conditional Upside" Tier
- Cedrick Wilson, MIA (26)
- Mecole Hardman, KC (24)
- Bryan Edwards, LV (23)
- Marvin Jones Jr., JAC (32)
- Julio Jones, FA (33)
- K.J. Osborn, MIN (25)
- Tim Patrick, DEN (28)
- Jalen Reagor, PHI (23)
- Sterling Shepard, NYG (29)
- Allen Lazard, GB (26)
- Amari Rodgers, GB (22)
- James Washington, DAL (26)
- Parris Campbell, IND (25)
- KJ Hamler, DEN (23)
- Darius Slayton, NYG (25)
- Dyami Brown, WAS (22)
- Quez Watkins, PHI (24)
These players could find their way into weekly lineups as hole patchers. By that, I mean if somebody gets hurt, they’re players who are at the very least involved in their team’s offenses enough to provide some utility. Some of the younger players (Edwards, Reagor, Hardman, Campbell) are reclamation projects that have been busts so far but are a decent stretch away from reclaiming at least enough value for their current team and potentially on to the next one.
Relying on these players for long stretches means you’re likely in a rebuild, but they’re too good to just up and drop from your roster. Let’s call them “high-end roster-cloggers.”
TIER 16 - The "Tier of Dust"
- Zay Jones, JAC (27)
- Anthony Schwartz, CLE (21)
- Tylan Wallace, BAL (23)
- Kendrick Bourne, NE (27)
- Nelson Agholor, NE (29)
- Tre’Quan Smith, NO (26)
- Braxton Berrios, NYJ (26)
- Randall Cobb, GB (32)
- A.J. Green, ARI (34)
- Denzel Mims, NYJ (24)
- Cole Beasley, BUF (33)
- Tyler Johnson, TB (24)
- Laquon Treadwell, JAC (27)
- Jalen Guyton, LAC (25)
- Josh Reynolds, DET (27)
- T.Y. Hilton, FA (32)
- Emmanuel Sanders, FA (35)
My final tier and one that is a true “land of the misfit toys” tier. These receivers are the bottom of the barrel for me as far as players I would roster and that I could trade in the potentially unlikely scenario that they have a few things break right to gain value in 2022. Berrios has the best shot of this group out of this tier, with Jamison Crowder off to greener pastures in Buffalo. Berrios can rack up opportunities and targets in dynasty PPR formats to be a quick flip to a manager needing cheap production in their lineup.
Aside from that, the tier is players who have fizzled and are either free agents or clinging to roster spots. In the case of younger players like Schwartz, Wallace, Mims, and Johnson, there are numerous roadblocks to them gaining value, like competition at the position, the tendencies of each offense relating to how much they pass, inability to get the players ahead of them the ball, or some combination of the three.
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