The Path to a WR1 Fantasy Football Season: DeVonta Smith

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Editor’s Note: This profile is part of our annual Path to a Fantasy WR1 Season series. For our methodology and an outline of the process, make sure you read the 2023 Path to WR1 Series Primer.

One of two players outside of The Ballers’ top-15 wide receiver ranks to have finished as a WR1 in 2022 would be none other than the “Slim Reaper,” DeVonta Smith (the other is Christian Kirk). After torching defenses on his way to a breakout year in 2022, Smith has a realistic chance to have back-to-back top-12 seasons.

While DeVonta Smith did finish as the WR10 overall, one concern worth noting would be that he was only 17th in fantasy points per game. Michael Thomas, DeAndre Hopkins, and Keenan Allen all missed a significant amount of games but had more fantasy points per game. The good news is it’s entirely possible that Smith has an increase in production and makes a run for being closer to the top of the list in points per game.

2022 Recap

The Eagles’ offense had many question marks going into the 2022 season. The Eagles acquired A.J. Brown, and most assumed that meant DeVonta Smith would be an afterthought in the offense. It may seem silly now, but there were also many question marks surrounding Jalen Hurts and his ability to support multiple wide receivers for fantasy purposes.

DeVonta Smith was a great pick in fantasy drafts in 2022, going around the 7th round of drafts but finishing as the WR10. Although, after his Week 1 donut performance, fantasy managers felt like he was a wasted pick. Smith quickly turned his season around and had a breakout year with 136 targets, 95 receptions, 1,196 yards, and seven touchdowns.

The Path for 2023

Now heading into his third season in the NFL, DeVonta Smith has established himself as a big-time contributor to the Eagles’ offense and is looking to build off of the momentum from his 2022 production. Below we will go over certain metrics, how Smith performed last season, and how he will have to perform this season to have another shot at being a top-12 wide receiver.

Target Share

While Smith is typically viewed as the WR2 on his team, which may technically be true, he still had a WR1-like target share in 2022. According to the Ultimate Draft Kit, Smith posted a 26.9% target share (14th highest). The Eagles did not make any significant moves to add pass-catchers to their offense, so Smith will likely reach a similar target share in 2023.

Receptions and Catch Rate

In 2022, Smith had 95 receptions on 136 targets (69.9% catch rate). Luckily for Smith, his situation is not changing, and with Jalen Hurts proving the doubters wrong last season, it’s likely that Smith will have a similar catch rate in 2023.

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Yards and aDOT

The 2022 breakout season for Smith ended with the eighth-most receiving yards among wide receivers (1,196 yards). Per, Smith had a low aDOT at 9.6 yards, 55th (FIFTY-FIVE) among wide receivers in 2022, with at least 50 targets. If Smith has another season with a low aDOT, then Smith’s catch rate will likely stay similar, as I mentioned above. While we would like to see that number rise in 2023, if Smith can have similar production in yards after the catch, it should be fine. Smith averaged 5.2 yards after the catch per reception, the 13th most among wide receivers with 50 targets or more. Smith may post career highs in receiving yards in his third professional season, especially with his ability after the catch.


While touchdowns are difficult to project, Smith is tied to an explosive offense that will score a lot of points in 2023, which is significant for his chances of repeating as a WR1. Smith caught five touchdowns in his rookie season and followed that up with seven in his second year, which makes it seem like he has a safe floor of five-to-seven touchdowns in 2023 with a potential for even more.


Per the Path to a WR1 Fantasy Football Season Primer, below are the averages from top-12 wide receivers over the last five years. These numbers don’t necessarily equal a top-12 season, but it’s a nice visual to see what it may take to finish as a WR1.

Categories 5-Year WR1 Averages
Targets 144.6
Receptions 97.4
Receiving Yards 1,311
TDs 9.5

Smith would need an increase of about nine targets, two receptions, 115 receiving yards, and 2-3 touchdowns in 2023 to meet the criteria. Based on how Smith played in the second half of 2022, these numbers are well within reach.

In Weeks 1-9, Smith saw four or fewer targets in three games and totaled five receptions for 39 yards and zero touchdowns in those games. In Weeks 10-18, Smith saw at least eight targets in each game and had at least 50 receiving yards in eight-of-nine games. During that stretch, Smith was the WR6 in points per game and the WR4 overall, higher than A.J. Brown in both categories. It’s worth noting that Dallas Goedert missed five games during this stretch, but in the final three games of the season in which Goedert returned, Smith still had multiple games of 10+ targets and 100 yards receiving. Also, I am not saying that Smith will out-produce Brown, but if he can have a more consistent 2023 season and produce as he did in the second half of 2022, he could be a WR1 again.

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