- Terry McLaurin has earned the right to get drafted higher: Each season, McLaurin has overcome poor quarterback play to deliver consistent fantasy production and will have a shot to do so again in 2023.
- Nico Collins could lead the Houston Texans in targets for the first time in his career: With a new coaching staff and quarterback in Houston, Collins has a chance to take a significant leap in Year 3.
- Don’t sleep on Brandon Aiyuk: The San Francisco 49ers’ receiving leader from 2022 is set to outperform expectations once again this season.
Estimated reading time: 8 minutes
July officially kicks off fantasy football draft season, so that means there are some early trends in average draft position to take advantage of, whether it involves fading or targeting a player at their current ADP.
Using ESPN’s live draft trends, this list identifies five wide receivers that are currently getting drafted beyond where I have them ranked, so I make a case to target each player at their current ADP.
- ESPN ADP: 92.0
- ESPN Position ADP: WR34
- My rank: WR25
After highlighting Deebo Samuel as a fade at his current ADP, Aiyuk stands out as a much better value at WR34 after his big 2022 season. The former first-round pick hit new career highs as a receiver in 2022, including yards (1,015), touchdowns (eight), targets (112), receptions (78) and yards per route run (1.91) — all of which led to the best overall fantasy season of his career (WR15). Despite all of the talent and success that Aiyuk put on display in 2022, he is currently being drafted outside of the top 30 players at his position and has a real chance to outperform his ADP again this season.
The 49ers have plenty of weapons within their offense that they can utilize on a weekly basis, and Aiyuk is undoubtedly one of them after he posted a 21.1% target rate last season, which ranked third on the team. While not the clear-cut top target on the team last season, or even this season, he earned enough looks to lead the team in targets by the end of the year and on several occasions throughout the season. When Brock Purdy stepped in at quarterback, Aiyuk led the 49ers’ primary receiving weapons in deep target rate (28.0%), where Purdy ranked top-10 in the league among qualifying quarterbacks in adjusted completion percentage on deep passes (44.4%) and top-five in NFL passer rating (112.3) on such throws.
Aiyuk also became a favorite target, along with George Kittle, in the end zone with Purdy at the helm, even over Samuel, who had been the favorite prior to the change at quarterback. With optimism around Purdy’s availability to start the season, fantasy managers could see similar tendencies regarding those high-value fantasy targets to help Aiyuk outperform his current ADP.