ECR stands for “Expert Consensus Ranking,” which means the average rankings of the fantasy football industry and is typically similar to ADP (which differs from site-to-site). This ongoing positional series will highlight some big differences between ECR and my own ranks.
Wide Receivers I like more than consensus
Garrett Wilson, New York Jets (ECR = WR10 vs DDD = WR5)
Wilson was top 10 in expected fantasy points among receivers as a rookie, and now gets a major upgrade at QB. Wilson caught passes thrown by Magic Mike White, 42-year-old Joe Flacco and Zach Wilson last season, the latter being legitimately one of the most inaccurate and worst quarterbacks of all time.
Enter Aaron Rodgers, who’s seemingly on the downside but played through a broken thumb last season and represents a massive upgrade even at this stage of his career. The Jets somehow led the NFL in passing yards last year in games without Zach Wilson!
Garrett Wilson’s pace without Zach at QB would’ve had him leading the league in targets and finishing with 1,380 yards and nine touchdowns. Wilson averaged 1.85 yards per route run last season while all other Jets’ WRs combined to average just 1.10. He now has an inner circle Hall of Famer (who led the league in deep attempts and “Dime Passes” last year) throwing to him. Wilson commanded end-zone looks, led the league in first-read target share inside the 10 and frankly dominated as a rookie despite missing most of the preseason.
I have Wilson ranked as a top-five fantasy receiver in 2023.
Amon-Ra St. Brown, Detroit Lions (ECR = WR9 vs DDD = WR6)
St. Brown isn’t a monster red-zone target standing at 6-foot-0, but his usage should lead to more touchdowns in 2023. He was tackled at the one-yard line three separate times last season (and inside the five multiple other times), helping teammate Jamaal Williams lead the NFL in rushing touchdowns by 24%. The Lions replaced Williams with David Montgomery, who’s been the league’s least efficient back over the last four years and may not be suited for the goal-line role.
Detroit had an elite offense last season that averaged an NFL-high 33-plus points at home, yet the Lions have one of the thinnest receiving groups (including a full season without TJ Hockenson) outside of Sun God until Jameson Williams eventually returns from his suspension.
St. Brown has the most catches over his first two years in NFL history and had a higher first-read target% (33.9) than Justin Jefferson last season. Only Tyreek Hill had a higher target per-route-run rate. St. Brown also had the fifth-most red-zone targets, tied with Davante Adams, so a huge 2023 season is coming.
Calvin Ridley, Jacksonville Jaguars (ECR = WR18 vs DDD = WR13)
Ridley was emerging as one of the league’s best receivers before stepping away and then later getting suspended, and he’ll now get to play with one of the league’s best emerging quarterbacks. Trevor Lawrence saw the biggest Passer Rating increase from Year 1 to Year 2 in NFL history and is likely to develop into a full-blown star this season (with the help of Ridley’s addition). Lawrence attempted the fourth-most end-zone passes last year, and there’s no alpha WR competing for targets in Jacksonville.
Reports have Ridley looking fantastic, and he landed in an ideal spot in Jacksonville on an offense that utilizes wide receivers heavily. I recently bet on The Talented Mr. Ridley to finish with the most receiving yards in the NFL this season at 50/1.
Drake London, Atlanta Falcons (ECR = WR24 vs DDD = WR18)
London had a historically good rookie season, will no longer have Marcus Mariota throwing to him and has the weakest WR2 competition in the league. London is the real deal, and Atlanta is likely to pass more in 2023. Questions remain regarding Desmond Ridder, but London gets to play indoors for a Falcons team that projects to have an incredibly favorable schedule. The Drake is good!
Brandon Aiyuk, San Francisco 49ers (ECR = WR28 vs DDD = WR20)
Aiyuk’s route running has previously been better than his fantasy production, but it’s clear he’s ready to take his game to the next level in 2023. The 49ers enter a run-first team (on paper) and with plenty of target competition, but Aiyuk dominated SF’s air yardage last season when he shared the field with Deebo Samuel and George Kittle. Brock Purdy’s elbow looks fully recovered, and he emerged as an incredibly efficient passer last season when he also led the NFL in TD passes after taking over as starter.
Aiyuk can flat-out get open and is the heavy favorite to become the 49ers’ top receiver moving forward. He has the same wingspan as Calvin Johnson and gets to play in one of the league’s friendliest offenses. And just imagine if Samuel and/or Kittle get injured; Aiyuk had a 28% target share and got 2.81(!) yards per route run (would’ve ranked second in the NFL) with Samuel off the field and Purdy throwing to him last season. Go get him.
Marquise Brown, Arizona Cardinals (ECR = WR33 vs DDD = WR26)
Brown finished top-10 in expected fantasy points per game among pass catchers last season, and he was an actual top-10 fantasy wideout when DeAndre Hopkins was off the field (and before breaking his foot). Brown saw a dramatic increase in usage without Hopkins, who’s now in Tennessee. Brown’s season pace for targets without D-Hop would’ve ranked fourth last year (163 targets), behind only Tyreek Hill, Davante Adams and Justin Jefferson (maybe you’ve heard of them?).
The Cardinals’ depth chart after Brown might be the thinnest in the league (and imagine when/if James Conner goes down too), so he’s going to see plenty of action in 2023. Arizona’s shaky quarterback situation is hardly ideal (and the team’s new OC might run a much slower pace), but Brown already dealt with the most inaccurate target% among all receivers last season.
Hollywood looks like a potential alpha available at a beta ADP.
Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Seattle Seahawks (ECR = WR39 vs DDD = WR25)
When he was last healthy, Smith-Njigba averaged a mere 192 yards and put up a truly historical 2021 college season, when he accumulated 32% of Ohio State’s receiving yardage despite sharing the field with Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave (he also produced 347 yards and three scores in a bowl game they missed).
JSN’s three-cone time was the same as Christian McCaffrey’s, which should play well in the same role Seattle’s OC Shane Waldron utilized Cooper Kupp in Los Angeles. JSN worked almost exclusively out of the slot in college, and Tyler Lockett should have no problem playing more outside, where his yards per route run has increased compared to the slot. Smith-Njigba has put up monster stats while sharing the field with two other elite WRs in college — now just imagine if injuries hit DK Metcalf or Lockett. The Seahawks have a top offensive line and a quarterback who ranked first by a mile in completion percentage above expectation last season, so Seattle should score a bunch of points in 2023.
This is your next superstar at the position.
Nico Collins, Houston Texans (ECR = WR51 vs DDD = WR43)
Collins had quietly intriguing underlying stats last season, and Houston has 350+ vacated targets with Brandin Cooks gone (his replacement is a 31-year-old Robert Woods who just finished outside the top 75 WRs in yards per route run). Collins’ air yardage numbers when on the field last year were elite, and he’s about to see a significantly increased role.
The Texans should also experience a huge upgrade in quarterback play going from the shaky Detective Davis Mills to rookie CJ Stroud, who showed incredible accuracy in college. Collins could erupt during Year 3 while featured in the Julio Jones role in a Kyle Shanahan offense.
Wide Receivers I like less than consensus
Amari Cooper, Cleveland Browns (ECR = WR16 vs DDD = WR22)
Cooper is a fine floor play, but he’s never finished inside the top 15 of fantasy WRs. His ECR/ADP assumes a major bounce back from Deshaun Watson, who struggled mightily after returning last season. Cooper also might once again have to deal with a few extreme wind games while playing in Cleveland, often during the fantasy playoffs. Moreover, the addition of Elijah Moore provides far more target competition, as there’s a non-zero chance Moore emerges as the Browns’ top receiver moving forward.
DJ Moore, Chicago Bears (ECR = WR21 vs DDD = WR33)
Moore is a very good NFL receiver but ranked 28th in expected fantasy points per game last season, just ahead of Brandin Cooks and Jakobi Meyers. He’s been the WR34 and WR28 (per game) in 0.5 PPR leagues the last two seasons. Poor quarterback play can certainly be blamed on Moore never producing WR1 fantasy stats, but he’ll be dealing with the same (if not a worse) situation in Chicago.
The Bears produced an NFL-low 15.4 catchable targets per game last year! Put differently, a 15% target share with the Chargers was worth more than a 30% target share in Chicago. Justin Fields is a fantasy monster thanks to his running and has a real chance of finishing as the QB1 this year, but his passing (in)ability might have Moore pining for the days of Sam Darnold.
Chris Godwin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (ECR = WR26 vs DDD = WR32)
Godwin should be healthier further removed from knee surgery, but the loss of Tom Brady figures to hurt. Tampa Bay provided the most catchable targets in the league last season, but the Bucs will be starting either Baker Mayfield or Kyle Trask at quarterback in 2023. Moreover, Godwin was a disaster against man coverage last season, when he also relied heavily on designed targets — something his new offensive coordinator rarely does. Godwin is the WR23 in Yahoo leagues, mistakenly ahead of Jerry Jeudy and Brandon Aiyuk.