Fantasy WR Tiers 2022: Wide receiver rankings, sleepers, fantasy football draft strategy

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In today’s pass-first league, wide receiver continues to be the deepest position in fantasy football. It’s easy to get amped up about top-tier WRs Cooper Kupp, Justin Jefferson, and Ja’Marr Chase, but most fantasy owners still tend to spend first-round or even second-round draft capital on a running back. So, what’s the best draft strategy? Having an idea of how traditional fantasy rankings differentiate into tiers is crucial at every position, but at receiver, where top options and high-upside sleepers seemingly never end, it’s an absolute must-have for every cheat sheet.

Despite several running backs sitting atop the overall rankings, a lot of the top-tier wideouts will be off the board quickly. According to Fantasy Pros ADP, five WRs are projected to go in the first round of a 12-team standard scoring league.

You don’t necessarily want to reach for your No. 1 receiver when there are still game-changing RBs and elite TEs like Travis Kelce or Mark Andrews on the board. The goal in fantasy drafts is always to maximize value.

2022 STANDARD RANKINGS:
QBs | RBs | WRs | TEs | D/STs | Kickers | Top 200 | Superflex

Unlike other positions, some less vaunted receivers are often capable of top-scoring stretches. Look no further than Lions WR Amon-Ra St. Brown, who ranked as the No. 2 WR over the final six weeks of the 2021 season. St. Brown’s hot play down the stretch definitely helped win some fantasy leagues, and there’s a good chance we see another WR produce at a similar clip this season.

2022 PPR RANKINGS:
QBs | RBs | WRs | TEs | D/STs | Kickers | Top 200 | Superflex

All of this isn’t to say that you should wait deep into your draft to start taking WRs; rather, it’s important to have an understanding of what WRs could potentially produce fantasy-worthy outputs that sit within the lower tiers. Having an idea of a few ADP gems to target in the middle-to-late rounds can help you early in the draft when you’re unsure of how to best assemble your roster.

2022 AUCTION VALUES (Standard & PPR):
QBs | RBs | WRs | TEs | D/STs | Kickers | Overall

Let’s say you’re contemplating drafting Kelce or Andrews in the second round after taking an RB in the first. Are you content with relying on some boom-or-bust WRs who will be available in the later rounds as your fourth or fifth WR? If so, then it’s worth drafting an elite TE early. If you’re not, draft a second-tier WR and turn your attention to, say, Hunter Henry or Irv Smith Jr. at TE later in the draft.

2022 FANTASY SLEEPERS:
QBs | RBs | WRs | TEs | D/STs | One from each team

Each pick sets up another, and it’s important to have a plan for however the dominos start to fall. Drafting wideouts requires less strategy relative to other positions, as numerous pass-catchers offer fantasy-worthy production. Regardless, you want to be prepared for whatever goes down on draft day.

2022 RANKINGS TIERS & DRAFT STRATEGY:
QBs | RBs | TEs | D/STs

Assembling a fantasy championship-caliber roster can happen with just about any approach, but it might be the riskiest to load up on receivers early in your draft. Referencing our tier list can help you develop a plan to make sure you don’t feel overwhelmed and reach too far for a player during your fantasy draft.

We’ll continue to update our WR rankings throughout the preseason, so check back frequently for changes.

Rankings and tiers based on standard, non-PPR leagues. PPR leagues could have different tiers, which may be highlighted throughout the text below.

DOMINATE YOUR DRAFT: Ultimate 2022 fantasy cheat sheet

2022 WR Ranking Tiers: Who are the best fantasy football wide receivers?

Tier 1:

1 Cooper Kupp, Rams
2 Justin Jefferson, Vikings
3 Ja’Marr Chase, Bengals

All three of these WRs are currently being selected in the first round of most fantasy drafts. These guys are low-risk selections who are the bona fide top options in their offenses and command a high target share. Kupp’s dominant 2021 saw him put up 294.5 points as the WR1 while Chase (223.6) and Jefferson (222.4) scored nearly the same amount as the WR3 and 4.

Even at their first-round ADPs, it’s hard to argue against drafting them toward the tail end of the first round, especially if you were unable to snag a top-tier running back.

Tier 2:

4 Mike Evans, Buccaneers
5 CeeDee Lamb, Cowboys
6 Stefon Diggs, Bills
7 Davante Adams, Raiders
8 Mike Williams, Chargers
9 Tyreek Hill, Dolphins
10 Deebo Samuel, 49ers

If you selected a WR in Tier 1, it’s wise to select a running back before considering a Tier 2 wideout.

Evans is the highest-rated WR among this tier, as he’s in line for a massive season catching passes from Tom Brady. Evans will be Brady’s No. 1 option in the passing game with the retirement of Rob Gronkowski and Chris Godwin (right knee) likely to start the season on the sidelines. When Brady looked his way last season, Evans was one of the most efficient wideouts in 2021, ranking seventh in EPA added (+77.9), QB rating per target (130.7), and fantasy points per target (2.32).

If you select a running back in the first round, grabbing a player in this tier is a smart way to expend your second-round draft capital. If you’re not inclined to select two running backs to begin your draft first, Evans makes a real case to be your pick, but any of the other players can do the trick.

Lamb’s another upper-echelon wideout with an ADP of 18.2 who could potentially end the season as the overall WR1. Now that Amari Cooper’s out of town and Michael Gallup’s going to begin the season recovering from his left ACL injury, Lamb’s a shoo-in to be Dak Prescott’s No. 1 wideout. In PPR formats, Lamb might be a Tier 1 guy, but his low aDOT (9.4) results in a downgrade in standard scoring. Alvin Kamara and Nick Chubb are the two running backs closest to his ADP, so if you decide to go with a wideout in the middle of the second round, look Lamb’s way.

Adams and Hill have the highest ADPs among the Tier 2 wideouts, but they’re our Nos. 4 and 6 players, respectively, in this tier. Adams’ move to Las Vegas results in a fantasy downgrade, as Derek Carr isn’t nearly the same caliber of QB that Aaron Rodgers is. Additionally, running routes alongside target hogs Darren Waller and Hunter Renfrow won’t result in Adams leading the league in target share like he did in his final season with Green Bay.

Hill’s move to Miami causes a hit to his ADP, as Tua isn’t nearly the same QB Patrick Mahomes is. Despite Hill posting the 58th-highest target share a season ago — which could point toward a bigger 2022 season — his appeal just isn’t the same in Miami.

Diggs is a stable entity who should continue to thrive in Buffalo’s efficient offense. His ranking doesn’t see much deviation from standard to ADP formats. Williams and Samuel are big-play threats who saw career years in ‘21 and have the ability to replicate them, though we’re slightly worried about Samuels’ rushing numbers. The duo might not be able to replicate their touchdown outputs, which is why they are ranked toward the bottom of Tier 2.

Regardless of our nit-pickiness in attempting to differentiate these wideouts, all seven of them could very easily finish the season as the overall WR1. At this point, you still can’t really go wrong in drafting one guy over the other.

2022 CONSISTENCY RATINGS:
Quarterback | Running back | Wide receiver | Tight end

Fantasy WR Rankings Tiers: Low-end WR1s, high-end WR2s

Tier 3:

11 A.J. Brown, Eagles
12 DK Metcalf, Seahawks
13 Keenan Allen, Chargers
14 Terry McLaurin, Commanders
15 Tee Higgins, Bengals
16 Diontae Johnson, Steelers
17 DJ Moore, Panthers
18 Michael Pittman Jr., Colts
19 Darnell Mooney, Bears
20 Marquise Brown, Cardinals
21 Courtland Sutton, Broncos
22 Michael Thomas, Saints
23 Brandin Cooks, Texans
24 Jaylen Waddle, Dolphins
25 Jerry Jeudy, Broncos
26 DeVonta Smith, Eagles
27 Amon-Ra St. Brown, Lions

Tier 3 is just another example of how deep this year’s wide receiver position really is. A good chunk of these pass-catchers are still relatively young and poised for a WR2 fantasy output, but WR1 upside is there if things break right. They’re still below the Tier 2 guys, mostly because they’re surrounded by some limiting factors. Chances are, Pittman is the cutoff for a true WR1 in Round 4, but if you get great value on a few RBs and a TE (or Josh Allen, if that’s your thing), you can live with one of the guys lower down the list as your WR1 in Round 5. However, if you do that, you’ll probably want to grab another WR from this tier in Round 6.

A.J. Brown, Metcalf, McLaurin, Johnson, Moore, Mooney, and St. Brown all might have to contend with questionable QB play. That being said, these seven pass-catchers are expected to be No. 1 options, and a top-15 finish isn’t out of the question for any. The jury is still out on Jalen Hurts, but his inconsistency in the vertical passing game could result in a disappointing fantasy season for Brown. Metcalf is the second-highest ranked player of these seven wideouts and is one the most physically gifted WRs in the game, but the departure of Russell Wilson raises a big red flag. Higgins, Jeudy, Waddle, Smith, and Marquise Brown are expected to be the No. 2 options in their teams’ passing games, and their constant competition for targets limits their fantasy ceilings. Brown’s the only exception, as he’ll begin the season as the Cardinals’ No. 1 receiver with DeAndre Hopkins suspended for six games, but he likely won’t command the same target share from Weeks 7-to-18 with Hopkins back in the fold.

Waddle and Smith are two second-year WRs who put forth promising rookie seasons, but their ceilings are now more limited as No. 2 options with Tyreek Hill and A.J. Brown in tow. Waddle’s early ADP is a bit high, but if he falls in your draft, he’s worth a pick. Smith’s looking like an ADP bargain at his early number and is someone who has appeal in both formats after a 2021 season that saw him rack up an impressive 14.4 aDOT.

Allen and Sutton are two value plays given they’re arguably the No. 1 passing option in their teams’ offense and are running routes for upper-echelon QBs. At their current ADPs, Sutton’s looking like the better value play, as the addition of Russell Wilson will likely lead to the highest receiving and touchdown output of his career.

Thomas is the biggest wild card among the Tier 3 WRs, as he returns to the field after missing all of ‘21 with a right ankle injury. Thomas led all WRs in fantasy points per game (23.4) and target share (33.2 percent) in his last full season catching passes from Drew Brees with Sean Payton still calling offensive plays. If he’s two-thirds of what he was then, he’ll be a steal at his early ADP.

2022 FANTASY DRAFT STRATEGY:
Snake drafts | Auctions | Dynasty | Best ball | IDP

2022 Fantasy Draft Strategy: Should you ‘wait’ on WR?

Tier 4:

28 Gabriel Davis, Bills
29 Allen Robinson II, Rams
30 Elijah Moore, Jets
31 Chris Godwin, Buccaneers
32 Rashod Bateman, Ravens
33 Robert Woods, Titans
34 Amari Cooper, Browns
35 Brandon Aiyuk, 49ers
36 Tyler Lockett, Seahawks
37 Hunter Renfrow, Raiders
38 JuJu Smith-Schuster, Chiefs
39 Adam Thielen, Vikings

Tier 4 once again showcases the depth at the WR position, as there are numerous wideouts who will become viable fantasy options with lower ADPs. If you’ve waited to draft your WR2 and WR3, you need to select someone from this tier in the early middle rounds. With some of these wideouts sitting in this tier due to injury and/or being on a new team, it’s tough to pinpoint exactly when your leaguemates will realistically key on drafting them. All of these wideouts are auxiliary pieces in their offenses, but their solid skill sets could lead to an effective fantasy season. Since there are capable fantasy producers available in this tier, utilizing your earlier draft capital on other positions seems like the wisest proposition. If you have three receivers from our first 39 by Round 7, you’re likely building a solid, well-rounded roster.

Bateman could be the highest upside pick of this tier now that he’s fully healthy entering his second season. With Mark Andrews as his main target competition in Baltimore, Bateman has a real shot to see a high target share, leading to a WR2 type of finish now that Marquise Brown is with the Cardinals.

Davis’ divisional round performance (201 yards, four TDs) gave fantasy owners hope he can produce at that type of level over the course of a full season. He’s obviously not the No. 1 option in the passing game with Stefon Diggs running routes alongside him, but the Bills’ elite offense can lead to two-plus fantasy-worthy pass-catchers.

Godwin and Woods are trending towards being available for Week 1, and when back healthy, both have a shot to potentially lead their teams in target share. It’s always tough to decide when to expend draft capital on a player who won’t be a Week 1 starter, but sometimes having a long-term view is the most beneficial. If you’re keying in on selecting either Godwin or Woods, you better have a reliable WR1 and TE to combat not having them at full health to begin the season.

Robinson II and Smith-Schuster are the buy-low candidates in this tier. Both wides have since changed teams, but their new offenses provide much brighter fantasy outlooks. Robinson hauled in just two TDs in ‘21, and now that he’s thrust into the Rams’ offense, fantasy owners can realistically expect a much higher TD output. Smith-Schuster joins a Chiefs offense with the most vacated targets following the losses of Tyreek Hill, Byron Pringle, and Demarcus Robinson. Both have early ADPs that are the lowest they’ve been in the past couple of years, giving them a shot to outperform their draft projections, especially in PPR leagues.

Aiyuk, Lockett, and Thielen are the unquestioned No. 2 wideouts on their teams, but they still possess the skill sets of a WR1. They won’t command the highest target shares on their teams, but all have big-play ability and remain threats in the red zone. Selecting any as your third wideout could lead to a championship-caliber season, but you can live with them as your No. 2 if you choose to stock up on other positions first.

2022 Fantasy WR Tiers: Potential wide receiver sleepers & breakouts

Tier 5:

40 Julio Jones, Buccaneers
41 Michael Gallup, Cowboys
42 Christian Kirk, Jaguars
43 DeAndre Hopkins, Cardinals
44 Drake London, Falcons
45 Allen Lazard, Packers
46 Treylon Burks, Titans
47 Chase Claypool, Steelers
48 Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Chiefs
49 Garrett Wilson, Jets
50 Jakobi Meyers, Patriots
51 Chris Olave, Saints
52 DeVante Parker, Patriots
53 Tyler Boyd, Bengals
54 Skyy Moore Chiefs

Tier 5 is mostly comprised of back-end starters and top-end bench pieces. There’s still value here with some uncertainty surrounding a few of these wideouts, and given their mid-to-late-round price tags you likely won’t regret drafting them at their current ADPs. You’d rather have them as backups in Week 1, but you know several will finish as WR3s or higher.

Gallup and Hopkins sit among Tier 5 due to both beginning the season on the sidelines. We know exactly how long Hopkins will be out as he serves his six-game PED suspension, but Gallup’s timetable is relatively unknown as he recovers from a left ACL injury. Once each wideout is back logging snaps in regular-season action, they’ll become weekly fantasy starters in both standard and PPR formats. Hopkins could very well produce at a WR1 clip from Weeks 7 to 18, which is why someone will likely reach for him in the draft, especially if they got their first three WRs early.

The Tier 5 rookies – London, Burks, Wilson, Olave and Moore – are all unknown commodities in the fantasy world, and as a result, they have upside at their current ADPs.

London was the top wideout selected in the 2022 NFL Draft and will be Atlanta’s top option in the passing game outside of Kyle Pitts. Burks could also contend for the highest target share of this group with Robert Woods still recovering from a torn ACL and A.J. Brown now in Philly. Wilson and Olave will likely log a good number of snaps in three-WR sets, as the ex-Ohio State pass-catchers have WR3 upside in standard and PPR formats due to their run-after-catch and big-play ability. Moore has a chance to see a respectable snap count in Kansas City’s offense with the Chiefs losing three key wideouts from last year’s roster, and he’ll likely have more value in PPR leagues.

Kirk, Lazard and Valdes-Scantling could be the real ADP gems of this year’s draft. All three pass-catchers could realistically consume their team’s highest target share, but because they’re not big names, their ADPs haven’t budged much. At this point in your draft, you need to key in on players with boom-or-bust potential (at least in standard leagues), and frankly, these three players seemingly have a better shot to boom than bust. Kirk ranked 10th among WRs in EPA added (+63.1) last season, while Lazard sported the sixth-best QB rating per target (132.8). Valdes-Scantling remained a big-play threat, posting the league’s highest aDOT (17.5).

Julio Jones, Crowder, and Boyd are more PPR ADP gems who are being overlooked. Jones’ move to Tampa Bay’s offense could lead to an effective overall fantasy season. Crowder and Boyd are the No. 3 options on their teams, but Buffalo and Cincinnati are two offenses that are good enough to support three wide receivers in fantasy. If one of their fellow wide receivers were to go down with injury, they’d have weekly WR2 upside.

Fantasy WR deep sleepers and bounce backs

Tier 6:

55 Kenny Golladay, Giants
56 DJ Chark, Lions
57 Rondale Moore, Cardinals
58 George Pickens, Steelers
59 Romeo Doubs, Packers
60 Nelson Agholor, Patriots
61 Van Jefferson, Rams
62 Jameson Williams, Lions
63 Mecole Hardman, Chiefs
64 Joshua Palmer, Chargers
65 Jarvis Landry, Saints
66 K.J. Hamler, Broncos
67 Marvin Jones Jr., Jaguars
68 Kadarius Toney, Giants
69 Isaiah McKenzie, Bills
70 Sammy Watkins, Packers
71 K.J. Osborn, Vikings
72 Jahan Dotson, Commanders
73 Robbie Anderson, Panthers

If you’re not in a particularly deep league, this tier may have little to no importance to you, but for most, these wideouts are late-round fantasy prospects who are worthwhile bench stashes. Some will likely emerge as fairly reliable every-week plays, but it’s tough to predict who exactly will make that leap. There’s still some talent in this tier, pointing to another reason why you should hold off stacking wideouts early in drafts.

Of this tier, the guys with the highest upside are Golladay, Moore, Palmer, and Dotson. Despite catching passes from Daniel Jones, Golladay is in line for a bounce-back season after logging just 521 yards without a score in 2021. Golladay’s early ADP is extremely low for a player who could lead the Giants in target share if he has reasonable health. Just like Marquise Brown, Moore’s in line for an effective start to the fantasy season with DeAndre Hopkins suspended the first six games. Palmer could emerge as the WR3 in the Chargers’ pass-heavy offense, while Dotson’s pegged as the slot man in Washington.

Chark, Bourne, Landry, Jefferson, and Hamler aren’t the flashiest guys, but they’ll log a high snap count and put forth fantasy-worthy weeks during the season. Their inconsistencies lead to them sitting within Tier 6, but they could still become matchup-dependent plays.

Pickens and Williams are two highly touted rookies who project to have effective NFL careers, but year one could still to be an adjustment period for Williams as he’s still recovering from an ACL tear. Pickens is on track to be a day-one starter and could very well end the season with the second-most recepetions  on the Steelers behind target monster Diontae Johnson. 

Hardman, Hamler, and Osborn are their team’s No. 3 WRs, but they have big-play ability that could result in all three guys outperforming their ADPs. An injury to one of their teams’ top-two pass-catchers could result in a solid fantasy year for these three.

Tier 7:

74 Jauan Jennings, 49ers
75 Jalen Tolbert, Cowboys
76 Alec Pierce, Colts
77 Christian Watson, Packers
78 Corey Davis, Jets
79 Curtis Samuel, Commanders
80 Jamison Crowder, Bills
81 Laviska Shenault Jr., Jaguars
82 Parris Campbell, Colts
83 Marquez Callaway, Saints
84 Sterling Shepard, Giants
85 Nico Collins, Texans
86 A.J. Green, Cardinals
87 Russell Gage, Buccaneers

The majority of these pass catchers won’t be rostered to begin the season, even in deeper leagues. Outside of rookies Alec Pierce and Jalen Tolbert, there’s not much to get excited about from the Tier 7 WRs. Tolbert’s on track to become a Week 1 starter with Michael Gallup (left knee) still hurt and James Washington hurting his foot, but who knows what his role will develop into once Gallup is back healthy. Pierce is running routes in the first-team offense and could emerge as Matt Ryan’s No. 2 option in the passing game.

Davis and Shenault are the highest upside guys in this list due to their playmaking abilities, but their potentially subpar quarterback play won’t help.

Campbell, Shepard (when healthy), and Collins make for decent late-round fliers, as the trio is likely to log respectable snap counts. However, banking on consistent fantasy weeks from them isn’t the most realistic thought. Could be solid bye-week streaming options, though.

Tier 8:

88 Bryan Edwards, Falcons
89 James Proche II, Ravens
90 Olamide Zaccheaus, Falcons
91 Velus Jones Jr., Bears
92 David Bell, Browns
93 Keelan Cole, Raiders
94 Donovan Peoples-Jones, Browns
95 N’Keal Harry, Bears
96 Tyquan Thornton, Patriots
97 Terrace Marshall Jr., Panthers
98 Nick Westbrook-Ikhine, Titans

There’s not much to get excited about from Tier 8, as this is a de facto best-of-the-rest list. The top-four ranked players in Tier 8 could emerge as bye-week streamers, but the rest of this list is littered with free agent pass-catchers.

Edwards is likely to produce the best fantasy season out of the bunch, as Atlanta’s WR room is as barren as they come. Marcus Mariota has to throw passes to someone, and with the Falcons likely to endure numerous negative game scripts, Edwards has the chance to put forth a decent season. Velus Jones Jr. could also emerge as the Bears’ No. 2 WR behind Darnell Mooney.

The rest of these guys are worth keeping your eyes on and could become effective injury replacements if one of their fellow WRs were to go down with injuries.