3 Wide Receivers to Remember in 2022 (Fantasy Football)
Continuing our Players to Remember series, let’s dive into three wide receivers to remember in 2022. Check out 3 Running Backs to Remember to get an idea of three mid-late rounds running backs to keep your eye on during your drafts.
I will confess, it is always difficult to narrow down the list of wide receivers to remember to just three. There is so much value at the position and loads of gems you can find in the late rounds of the draft.
These three wide receivers have all found new homes this season and can be drafted in the 7th Round or later.
Average Draft Position (ADP), stats, and scoring are based on the Ballers Prefered half-PPR.
Juju Smith-Schuster – WR Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs will have a brand new look this season without their elite wide receiver Tyreek Hill who is currently with the Dolphins. This offseason saw a huge shakeup around the NFL and Hill was one of those blockbuster moves that left repercussions in his wake.
To help fill the gaping hole, the Chiefs added some veteran talent to their receiving corp including Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Juju Smith-Schuster as well as drafting Skyy Moore in the 2nd Round. It will be nearly impossible for a single player to replace Hill, but these receivers don’t need to do that to be successful this season.
I have highlighted Smith-Schuster here but a case can also be made for both Mecole Hardman (ADP 13.08) and Valdes-Scantling (ADP 11.08). Because of Smith-Schuster’s success in the slot, he may be more likely to see volume compared to the others. He will be lining up alongside TE Travis Kelce, who will be the target monster now that Hill is gone. However, it’s not necessarily a knock against Smith-Schuster’s opportunity.
Let’s first address the obvious. In previous years, there were two big threats defenses had to scheme against. That was Hill and Kelce. Now, only the tight end remains from the tandem and it stands to reason that defenses will start focusing their attention on Kelce. That leaves their corp of pass-catchers with more opportunity for targets if Kelce is double-covered.
Now, allow me to explain why I chose Smith-Schuster instead of Hardman or Valdes-Scantling.
It’s no secret that the Chiefs are a prolific passing offense. They finished second in the league in pass attempts and 20th in rush attempts. Head coach Andy Reid has plenty of faith in Patrick Mahomes’ arm talent, as he should. Mahomes threw the fourth-most yards last season with 4839 behind Tom Brady (5316), Justin Herbert (5014), and Matthew Stafford (4886).
Mahomes has an uncanny ability to release quick, short throws and also hurl a beautiful deep ball. Out of his 436 attempts in 2021, 79 of those were considered “deep”, ranking him fourth in the league.
We saw the experiment in Pittsburgh when the Steelers tried to put Smith-Schuster out wide instead of in the slot. It didn’t go so well. He is not great at creating separation and his skill-set makes him far more dangerous in the slot. This is where Mahomes’ short throws come in. Yes, he can throw the ball deep, but for half and full PPR, we want volume. Despite being ranked sixth-highest in air yards with 4966, he was 23rd in air yards per attempt with 7.5. That means he relied more on the shorter throws more often where he was more successful than throwing deep. His deep ball completion rate was 36.7%, 21st in the NFL.
Due to the nature of the Chiefs’ offense, all of the receivers have a shot at Hill’s 159 vacated targets, but the lions’ share will be distributed on the short and intermediate passes. That is precisely where Smith-Schuster excels.
He is currently being drafted in the late 7th Round in half-PPR formats around players such as Dallas Goedert, Rashod Bateman, and Gabriel Davis. If that is too rich for your blood, or if you are set on the Davis hype train, you can still have a piece of this offense later in the draft with Hardman or Valdes-Scantling.
Robert Woods – WR Tennessee Titans
Having been either competing with or overshadowed by Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods finally has a chance to be the alpha dog in his new home in Tennessee. The Titans released veteran Julio Jones and traded A.J. Brown to the Philadelphia Eagles during the 2022 draft. That leaves Woods at the top of the food chain ahead of Nick Westbrook-Ikhine and rookie Treylon Burks.
Despite the WR1 designation and his ability to perform while on the field, Woods is not being drafted until the middle to late 9th Round. That may be due to recency bias since he missed the end of the 2021 season due to injury. It could also have something to do with the Titans’ offense and their penchant to run their offense through the tank that is Derrick Henry.
In 2021, the Titans ranked first in the NFL in rush attempts with 551, fifth in yards with 2404, and third in rushing touchdowns with 23. Even when Henry missed time, the offense remained on the ground. On the flip side, their passing attempts came in at 25th, yards at 24th, and passing TDs at 19th in the NFL.
Still, there is plenty of opportunity for Woods to become the main target for QB Ryan Tannehill. Jones and Brown vacate 153 targets (Jones 48, Brown 105) and Woods should be the primary beneficiary of those targets if he can stay on the field.
D.J. Chark – WR Detroit Lions
If you want to talk about mitigated risk, look no further than D.J. Chark and his new home in Detroit.
I am well aware that the Lions were a laughing stock, albeit a team that we rooted for, but this may be one of my favorite moves this offseason.
I previously talked about both Kupp and Woods and their fantasy production from seasons past. The quarterback that made happen until 2021 was none other than Jared Goff, current QB for the Lions. This is important to note because while not common, Goff managed to make both WRs fantasy relevant while being rather mediocre.
Chark is now on a team with Amon-Ra St. Brown, who made quite a name for himself last season. He even turned me into a Lions’ WR believer. Honesty: my husband is a Lions’ fan and I am appropriately negative, as is the way. If Goff managed to make Woods a WR10, WR17, and WR13 from 2018 to 2021 and Kupp the WR4 in 2019, I have every reason to believe that Goff can make both Chark and St. Brown fantasy relevant in his second year with the Lions.
You can snag Chark as late as the 13th Round in half-PPR drafts and has that big-play potential, with limited risk, which is exactly what we try to aim for in the late rounds of fantasy drafts.