Fantasy Football Today - fantasy football rankings, cheatsheets, and information
A Fantasy Football Community!




 Log In  | Sign Up  |  Contact      






There Aren't Any Great Rookie Receivers In 2023



By Steve Schwarz | 8/24/23

This is not your fatherís fantasy football in 2023. In this era, wide receivers get on the field the minute they arrive. There isnít much ďlearning-by-watchingĒ anymore. And thatís because the players are better trained at the college level. No more three yards and a cloud of dust, major college football throws the ball just as much as the NFL.

But 2023 is a mediocre year for receivers.

Quarterbacks are ready. Look at this season where Bryce Young, C.J. Stroud and Anthony Richardson all look to be starters from Day 1. Stroud threw for 4,435 yards in 2021 and 3,688 yards last year at Ohio State and Young threw for 4,872 yards in 2021 and 3,328 last season. Neither was top-10 in yardage last season. Austin Reed, Michael Penix Jr. and Caleb Williams led with 4,746, 4,641 and 4,537, respectively. (While everyone is falling all over themselves about Williams next season, donít sleep on the left-handed Penix Jr., - heís going to be a real player.)

The flood of passers and college coaches willing to use them has made college wide receivers much more ready than they were 20 years ago.

In the first chart below, notice how much better rookie wideout are producing the last five seasons versus the five seasons from 2001-2005.

 Rookie WR Production
Draft Position 2022 2021 2020 2019 2018 Avg.
First Round 9.7 12.4 11.5 8.5 11.7 10.8
Second Round 6.5 6.0 8.7 8.2 6.9 7.3

 Rookie WR Production
Draft Position 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 Avg.
First Round 6.9 8.5 10.2 7.4 5.2 7.6
Second Round 4.3 5.0 7.1 6.3 5.6 5.7

In 2022, five rookies produced double-digit fantasy points led by Chris Olaveís 13.3 FPts/G. JaíMarr Chase led a foursome in 2021 with an elite 18.0 FPts/G which was good enough for a top-four result. And in 2020, six wideouts cracked double-digits led by Justin Jefferson. There were also a few third- and fourth- round picked which also produced; like Amon-Ra St. Brown (14.0 FPts/G), Terry McLaurin (13.7) and Diontae Johnson (10.1).

By contrast, just 11 wideouts combined for double-digits over the entire five-year span from 2001-2005 with the Cardinalsí Anquan Boldin being the best at 18.2 FPts/G back in 2003.

Therefore, you would think it would be easy to find the next star wideout from this yearís class. Unfortunately, you would be wrong!

Letís look at those guys. There are four of them; Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Quentin Johnston, Zay Flowers and Jordan Addison.

Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Seattle

If Smith-Njigba (to be abbreviated JSN from here on out) doesnít produce 10 fantasy points a game, it wonít be for lack of talent. Heís got plenty of that. No, his issue will be targets. Heís joining a team which already has two veteran, highly-skilled receivers in Tyler Lockett (84-1,033-9) and D.K. Metcalf (90-1,048-6).

But the good news is that normally run-first Head Coach Pete Carroll allowed Geno Smith to throw the ball 572 times last season. And early on it was probably before Carroll had developed confidence in his signal caller. Over the first seven games, Smith attempted more than 30 passes just twice. Over the final 10 games he surpassed that mark nine times. In 10 seasons for the Seahawks, Russell Wilson NEVER threw 572 times. Wilson also never threw for 4,282 yards (he was close twice). Carroll has opened up the playbook and by selecting JSN at No. 20, heís obviously looking like he will go further in 2023 (along with being Lockettís replacement when he retires). Also good news for JSN fans, is that the Seahawks donít throw much to their running backs. They targeted all running backs just 84 times last season. By contrast Austin Ekeler, Christian McCaffrey and Rhamondre Stevenson each saw more than that total by themselves. The addition of RB Zach Charbonnet will change that trend only slightly.

JSN missed almost all of last season at OSU, but when we last saw him he led the team in receiving, a team which also had Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave. Still, the bottom line is that JSN will be the third option in 2023, barring injury, and thatís likely to leave him close, but just short of double-digits in 2023.

Quentin Johnston, Los Angeles Chargers

Speaking of third options, Johnston would love to be the No.3 for the Chargers, but heíll start out at No.4, at best, behind Keenan Allen, Mike Williams and Ekeler. However, if heís just patient, the odds are very good that either Allen or Williams, or both, will pull up lame. Between the two starting wideouts, they missed 11 games last season and played at less than 100% in many others.

Johnston is explosive and physical, like a younger, healthier Williams. He averaged 19 yards-per-reception at TCU with Max Duggan at quarterback. No offense to Duggan, heís was a good college QB, but heís not Justin Herbert. (Rookie Duggan is third on the Chargersí depth chart).

Herbert has a big arm and the Chargers like to use it. Despite injured ribs for much of the season, Herbert threw the ball 699 times in 2022 and over his first three seasons has averaged 655 passing attempts a season. But itís likely that Johnstonís production will be tied directly to the health of Allen and Williams. Heís a late round pick with upside and has a great future in dynasty, but for 2023 his value could go anywhere.

Zay Flowers, Baltimore

Flowers has talent, but heís landed in a difficult situation. Heís a receiver on a team which doesnít throw a lot and when they do they look at the tight ends first.

In five seasons, quarterback Lamar Jackson has never attempted more than 401 passes. Even if Jackson increases the total to 450 thatís a big problem for Flowers, because TE Mark Andrews has averaged 133 targets over the past two seasons. And his backup Isiah Likely saw 60 targets (that should be cut in half in 2023). Meanwhile, the Ravens signed free agent Odell Beckham Jr., and have talented 2021 first-round pick Rashod Bateman returning from an injury which saw him miss 10 games last season. Assign 60 targets to the running backs in total (they saw 63 last season) and OBJ, Bateman and Flowers are sharing 227 targets. Can Flowers average 10 fantasy points on 4.4 targets per game? Unlikely.

Jordan Addison, Minnesota

Jordan Addison

Addison was drafted last of the four first-round receivers, at No.23, but might be the most likely to produce double-digits. USC has always been a good training ground for receivers all the way back to Keyshawn Johnson. Current pros include; Nelson Agholor, Drake London, Amon-Ra St. Brown, Michael Pittman Jr., Juju Smith-Schuster and Robert Woods.

Addison joins a Vikingsí offense which since has moved away from the run and to the pass after Head Coach Mike Zimmer was let go. Cousins threw a career-high 643 times in 2022. True, most of them went to the superstar wideout Jefferson (184), but Addison is a direct replacement for Adam Thielen (107 targets). Addison should start the season as the No.3 guy behind Jefferson and tight end T.J. Hockenson, but ahead of K.J. Osborn. All four should see a minimum of 90 targets as this team didnít throw much to their backs and should throw to them even less in 2023 with Dalvin Cook (56 targets) no longer the starter in the backfield.

Despite the usage, Addison still has a mediocre ceiling due to the dynamic Jefferson and if he reaches double-digits it will be just barely.

Bottom line

The bottom line for the 2023 rookie receiver class isn’t up to recent standards and it will be difficult for any of them to average 10 fantasy points a game. None of them are a Jefferson, Chase or Bolden.

 2022 Rookie WR Class
Top Rookie WR Rd Rec Yds TDs FPts/G
Drake London 1 72 866 4 10.7
Garrett Wilson 1 83 1103 4 12.8
Chris Olave 1 72 1042 4 13.3
Jameson Williams 1 1 41 1 2.5
Jahan Dotson 1 35 523 7 10.7
Treylon Burks 1 33 444 1 8.0
Christian Watson 2 41 611 7 11.7
Wan'Dale Robinson 2 23 227 1 8.6
John Metchie 2 0 0 0 0.0
Tyquan Thornton 2 22 247 2 5.5
George Pickens 2 52 801 4 9.7
Alec Pierce 2 41 593 2 7.0
Skyy Moore 2 22 250 0 3.3

 2021 Rookie WR Class
Top Rookie WR Rd Rec Yds TDs FPts/G
Ja'Marr Chase 1 81 1455 13 18.0
Jaylen Waddle 1 104 1015 6 15.5
DeVonta Smith 1 64 916 5 10.9
Kadarius Toney 1 39 420 0 9.1
Rashod Bateman 1 46 515 1 8.6
Elijah Moore 2 43 538 5 12.6
Rondale Moore 2 54 435 1 7.9
Dee Eskridge 2 10 64 1 3.5
Tutu Atwell 2 18 298 1 3.5
Terrace Marshall Jr. 2 17 138 0 2.6

†2020 Rookie WR Class
Top Rookie WR Rd Rec Yds TDs FPts/G
Henry Ruggs III 1 26 452 2 6.8
Jerry Jeudy 1 52 856 3 9.7
CeeDee Lamb 1 74 935 5 13.2
Jalen Reagor 1 31 396 1 7.2
Justin Jefferson 1 88 1400 7 16.9
Brandon Aiyuk 1 60 748 5 15.4
Tee Higgins 2 67 908 6 12.3
Michael Pittman Jr. 2 40 503 1 7.6
Laviska Shenault 2 58 600 5 11.2
K.J. Hamler 2 30 381 3 6.9
Chase Claypool 2 62 873 9 13.6
Van Jefferson 2 19 220 1 2.9
Denzel Mims 2 23 357 0 6.5

†2019 Rookie WR Class
Top Rookie WR Rd Rec Yds TDs FPts/G
Marquise Brown 1 46 584 7 10.5
K'Neal Harry 1 12 105 2 5.6
Deebo Samuel 2 57 802 3 12.6
A.J. Brown 2 52 1051 8 13.6
Mecole Hardman 2 26 538 6 7.3
JJ Arcega-Whiteside 2 10 169 1 4.1
Parris Campbell 2 18 127 1 5.7
Andy Isabella 2 9 189 1 2.4
DK Metcalf 2 58 900 7 11.9

†2018 Rookie WR Class
Top Rookie WR Rd Rec Yds TDs FPts/G
D.J. Moore 1 55 788 2 10.2
Calvin Ridley 1 64 821 10 13.1
Courtland Sutton 2 42 704 4 8.5
Dante Pettis 2 27 467 5 8.6
Christian Kirk 2 43 590 3 10.3
Anthony Miller 2 33 423 7 8.0
James Washington 2 16 217 1 3.1
D.J. Chark 2 14 174 0 2.9

 





Draft Buddy - Fantasy Football excel draft spreadsheet