Fantasy News & Analysis

McFarland: 2022 Fantasy Football Best Ball Wide Receiver Tiers

Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) carries the ball past Green Bay Packers safety Adrian Amos (31) during the first quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Ranking players by position is an integral part of fantasy football preparation, but grouping them into tiers is crucial to identifying the value you might be leaving on the draft board. For example, if you're on the clock and looking at several wide receivers in the same tier, it could make sense to wait until the next round — someone equally as worthy will probably be available with your next pick.


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Tiers can also help group players with similar expectations based on upside and floor. Most importantly, we don't want to pay more than the next drafter for a similar player.

Last Updated: April 3, 3:00 p.m.

Tier Rank Name Team
1A 1 Cooper Kupp Rams
1A 2 Justin Jefferson Vikings
1B 3 Ja'Marr Chase Bengals
1B 4 Davante Adams Raiders
1B 5 Tyreek Hill Dolphins
1B 6 Deebo Samuel 49ers
1B 7 Stefon Diggs Bills
1C 8 A.J. Brown Titans
1C 9 CeeDee Lamb Cowboys
2A 10 Tee Higgins Bengals
2A 11 Jaylen Waddle Dolphins
2B 12 DeAndre Hopkins Cardinals
2B 13 Keenan Allen Chargers
2B 14 Mike Evans Buccaneers
2C 15 D.K. Metcalf Seahawks
2C 16 Diontae Johnson Steelers
2C 17 D.J. Moore Panthers
2C 18 Elijah Moore Jets
2C 19 Chris Godwin Buccaneers
2C 20 Terry McLaurin Commanders
2C 21 Amon-Ra St. Brown Lions
2C 22 Michael Pittman Jr. Colts
3A 23 Jerry Jeudy Broncos
3A 24 DeVonta Smith Eagles
3A 25 Marquise Brown Ravens
3B 26 Amari Cooper Browns
3B 27 Mike Williams Chargers
3B 28 Courtland Sutton Broncos
3B 29 Allen Robinson II Rams
3B 30 Michael Thomas Saints
3B 31 Darnell Mooney Bears
3B 32 Brandin Cooks Texans
3B 33 Adam Thielen Vikings
3C 34 Garrett Wilson NFL Draft (10)
3C 35 Treylon Burks NFL Draft (22)
3C 36 Drake London NFL Draft (14)
3D 37 JuJu Smith-Schuster Chiefs
3D 38 Tyler Lockett Seahawks
3D 39 Hunter Renfrow Raiders
3D 40 Michael Gallup Cowboys
3D 41 Christian Kirk Jaguars
4A 42 Chris Olave NFL Draft (19)
4A 43 Kadarius Toney Giants
4A 44 Brandon Aiyuk 49ers
4A 45 Chase Claypool Steelers
4A 46 Rondale Moore Cardinals
4A 47 Rashod Bateman Ravens
4A 48 Gabriel Davis Bills
4A 49 Jameson Williams NFL Draft (22)
4B 50 Robert Woods Titans
4B 51 Tyler Boyd Bengals
4B 52 Kenny Golladay Giants
4B 53 Russell Gage Buccaneers
4B 54 D.J. Chark Jr. Lions
4B 55 Jakobi Meyers Patriots
4C 56 Marquez Valdes-Scantling Chiefs
4C 57 Allen Lazard Packers
4C 58 Will Fuller V Free Agent
4C 59 Jarvis Landry Free Agent
5A 60 George Pickens NFL Draft (38)
5A 61 Jahan Dotson NFL Draft (36)
5A 62 Christian Watson NFL Draft (47)
5B 63 Curtis Samuel Commanders
5B 64 Tim Patrick Broncos
5B 65 Corey Davis Jets
5B 66 Odell Beckham Jr. Free Agent
5B 67 Sterling Shepard Giants
5C 68 Jamison Crowder Bills
5C 69 Robby Anderson Panthers
5C 70 Julio Jones Free Agent
5C 71 Marvin Jones Jr. Jaguars
6A 72 David Bell NFL Draft (73)
6A 73 Skyy Moore NFL Draft (62)
6A 74 Justyn Ross NFL Draft (76)
6B 75 Van Jefferson Rams
6B 76 Donovan Peoples-Jones Browns
6B 77 Mecole Hardman Chiefs
6C 78 Kendrick Bourne Patriots
6C 79 Laviska Shenault Jr. Jaguars
6C 80 K.J. Osborn Vikings
6C 81 DeVante Parker Dolphins
7A 82 John Metchie NFL Draft (87)
7A 83 Jalen Tolbert NFL Draft (83)
7A 84 Wan'Dale Robinson NFL Draft (84)
7A 85 Alec Pierce NFL Draft (73)
7A 86 Khalil Shakir NFL Draft (93)
7A 87 Calvin Austin NFL Draft (85)
7A 88 Nico Collins Texans
7A 89 Josh Palmer Chargers
7B 90 Marquez Callaway Saints
7B 91 Deonte Harris Saints
7B 92 Antonio Brown Free Agent
7B 93 Parris Campbell Colts
7B 94 Randall Cobb Packers
7B 95 Braxton Berrios Jets
7B 96 Isaiah McKenzie Bills
7B 97 James Washington Cowboys
7B 98 Cedrick Wilson Dolphins
7B 99 Zay Jones Jaguars
7B 100 Byron Pringle Bears
7B 101 Cole Beasley Free Agent

TIER 1A – ELITE WR1 TALENTS WITH HUGE TARGET POTENTIAL

Justin Jefferson will be only 23 years old and already has WR7 and WR4 finishes to his credit, averaging 16.9 and 19.5 points per game, respectively. Only Odell Beckham Jr. and Michael Thomas posted better point-per-game totals in their first two seasons since 2011. His current ADP is 1.08 in FFPC best-ball drafts, according to data provided by fantasymojo.com. He is worth a top-six selection.

TIER 1B – ELITE WR1 TALENTS WITH TARGET COMPETITION

Davante Adams and Tyreek Hill both dropped from Tier 1A after being traded this offseason. Adams has more target competition with Darren Waller and Hunter Renfrow, and Raiders quarterback Derek Carr is willing to spread the ball around — meaning the days of 28%-plus target shares are likely over.

Hill gets a significant downgrade at quarterback, dropping from Patrick Mahomes to Tua Tagovailoa, and the Dolphins will likely roll out a more balanced attack than the pass-centric Chiefs. However, the speedster overcame similar obstacles with Alex Smith at quarterback in 2017 when he registered 16.1 PPR points per game (WR9). Hill's ADP has dipped to the mid-second round since the trade.

TIER 1C – ASCENDING WR1 TALENTS WITH A PATH TO TARGET DOMINATION

CeeDee Lamb, the No. 17 pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, already has two top-24 fantasy finishes and led Dallas in target share (18%), air yards (25%) and YPRR (1.94) in 2021. Since 2011, only 10 other wide receivers put together two top-24 finishes in their first two seasons.

Even if Lamb's targets per route don't climb dramatically, we can expect to see his route participation surge with Amari Cooper and Cedrick Wilson out of the picture. The average top-24 fantasy receiver is in a route on 86% of dropbacks, and 55% of those players eclipse the 90% mark. Lamb's route participation has fallen well below those thresholds over his first two seasons, at 72% and 76%.

If the third-year receiver also takes a step forward in targets per route run (TPRR), we could see an even more significant bump in expected targets for the 2022 season.

Range of outcomes for Lamb's targets on 700 dropbacks
Route Participation 22% TPRR 23% TPRR 24% TPRR 25% TPRR 26% TPRR
85% 131 137 143 149 155
90% 139 145 151 158 164
95% 146 153 160 166 173

Average regulation dropbacks under Mike McCarthy: 728

Lamb's floor is sturdier than last season, and his upside is a top-six fantasy wideout.

TIER 2A – ASCENDING WR2 TALENTS WITH TARGET COMPETITION

Jaylen Waddle eclipsed the critical 75.0 rookie receiving grade on his way to a WR12 finish. However, Tyreek Hill now joins him in an offense that could seek a balanced approach due to a questionable quarterback situation. 

These developments will likely inhibit the second-year receiver from a potential monster target-share season. However, Waddle and Hill could still easily dominate 50% of the passing offense, and I prefer to bet on ascending receivers rather than fade them.

TIER 2B – VETERAN WR2 OPTIONS IN GOOD OFFENSES (PLUS DARNELL MOONEY)

DeAndre Hopkins played through a rib injury suffered in Week 2 and picked up a hamstring knock in Week 9, which basically ended his season. It is hard to isolate which games he might have been fully healthy in, but he managed WR6, WR15, WR12 and WR11 finishes in Weeks 1, 5, 12 and 11.

The Cardinals' receiver room has thinned with A.J. Green and Christian Kirk moving on, leaving Zach Ertz and Rondale Moore as the primary target competition.

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TIER 2C – YOUNG WR2 OPTIONS WITH ENVIRONMENTAL OR INJURY QUESTIONS

Elijah Moore rattled off six top-36 finishes — including three top-10 marks — from Week 7 to Week 13 in 2021 before a quad injury ended his season. His 1.75 yards per route run (YPRR) and 24% TPRR mirrored Jaylen Waddle, and he just missed the 75.0-plus receiving grade threshold (73.8). The former second-rounder needs improved play from his quarterback but has the upside to lead the Jets' receiving room.

Amon-Ra St. Brown was a league winner down the stretch in 2021. The rookie registered WR6, WR26, WR6, WR6, WR2 and WR9 finishes over the last six games. For much of that period, the Lions were without tight end T.J. Hockenson and D'Andre Swift, leading many to discount the performance.

The second-year receiver won't match his late-season 32% target share, but don't dismiss the performance too quickly. His ascension also coincided with his largest route participation games of the season, which didn't come from Hockenson or Swift. Most importantly, St. Brown registered an 80.0 PFF receiving grade and a 1.74 YPRR figure, both elite rookie marks that historically signal good things.

Michael Pittman Jr. led the Colts with a 24% target share on his way to a WR18 finish. However, inconsistent quarterback play and leading game scripts (fourth-highest) limited his upside. Matt Ryan isn't a superstar quarterback, but he provides an upgrade over Carson Wentz in the accuracy department.

If the Colts' leading scripts regress to the mean, we could see another nice jump from Pittman in his age-24 season.

TIER 3A – VETERAN WR3 OPTIONS WITH QUESTIONS

Michael Thomas will turn 30 in the 2022 season and hasn't played a down of football since the middle of 2020. However, his last three healthy seasons produced target shares of 26%, 28% and 31%, and the Saints don't have much competition for targets.

TIER 3B – UPSIDE WR3 ROOKIES

You can find an in-depth breakdown of the rookie receivers here.

TIER 3C – VETERAN WR3 OPTIONS

JuJu Smith-Schuster has eclipsed 13.5 PPR points per game in three out of his five NFL seasons. However, his underlying receiving metrics have been questionable since his 2018 breakout campaign, and the 26-year-old receiver didn't demand much attention on the open market this offseason before landing with the Chiefs on an incentive-laden deal.

2018 2019 2020 2021
Targets per Route 24% 18% 19% 17%
Yards per Route 2.08 1.49 1.29 0.88
Receiving Grade 81.2 63.0 67.7 60.8

The veteran will undoubtedly have an opportunity to earn targets in Kansas City's offense, but it is tough to think of him as more than a WR3.

TIER 4A – YOUNG/ROOKIE WR4 OPTIONS

Kadarius Toney didn't play much as a rookie (201 routes) due to injuries, but he flashed in a big way on limited reps. He delivered a 26% TPRR, 2.08 YPRR and a 74.4 receiving grade — all top-notch marks for a rookie.

Rondale Moore‘s routes tethered to the line of scrimmage as a rookie (1.2 ADOT). However, with Christian Kirk gone, Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury indicated his role would grow, and Moore should be the primary slot receiver in Arizona's offense.

TIER 4B – VETERAN WR4 OPTIONS

Robert Woods‘ underlying metrics have dipped over the past three seasons, but he is still a solid veteran receiver. Unfortunately, he lands with a Titans offense committed to running the ball above the NFL average in all game scripts alongside an ascending alpha in A.J. Brown. Woods could surprise, but targets will be hard to come by in 2022.


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via Dwain McFarland


TIER 4C – ENHANCED OPPORTUNITY AND FREE AGENT WR4 OPTIONS

Allen Lazard is the Packers' top remaining pass-catcher, but the team could address the position with one of its late-first-round picks in the NFL draft. There is a chance the 26-year-old veteran will take a step forward, but his underlying career TPRR (16%) suggests he is a complementary option.

TIER 5A – UPSIDE WR5 ROOKIES

You can find an in-depth breakdown of the rookie receivers here.

TIER 5B – STRONG TPRR VETERAN WR5 OPTIONS

Sterling Shepard has played only 19 games over the past two seasons, but quarterback Daniel Jones has peppered him with targets when available. The 29-year-old veteran has back-to-back 24% TPRR seasons.

TIER 5C – ABOVE-AVERAGE TPRR VETERAN WR5 OPTIONS

Jamison Crowder boasts a 21% TPRR average over the past three seasons and has an opportunity to serve as the lead slot receiver on one of the most pass-happy offenses in the NFL in Buffalo.

TIER 6A – WR6 ROOKIES

You can find an in-depth breakdown of the rookie receivers here.

TIER 6B – WR6 VETERANS

TIER 7A – WR7 ROOKIES

You can find an in-depth breakdown of the rookie receivers here.

TIER 7B  – WR7 VETERANS

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