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Fantasy Football: Darkhorse candidates to finish as the overall WR1 in 2023

2K62NJN East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA. 9th Oct, 2022. New York Jets wide receiver Garrett Wilson (17) during warm-up prior to a NFL game against the Miami Dolphins at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey on Sunday October 9, 2022. Duncan Williams/CSM/Alamy Live News

  • Year 1 was just a taste of what Garrett Wilson can do as a fantasy WR: With Aaron Rodgers at quarterback, Wilson’s high-end skillset will be put to much better use helping him reach WR1.
  • It’s within the realm of possibilities that Jaylen Waddle overtakes Tyreek Hill in 2023: Waddle is in his prime and already showcased elite talent in the NFL, but he has stiff competition on his own team.
  • Can the Denver Broncos’ offense bounce back?: If Russell Wilson can get back on track under Sean Payton, then Jerry Jeudy could end up being the main beneficiary.
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Much like with the running back position, fantasy football’s WR1 is often already drafted within the first five players at their positional ADP. However, as evidenced by Cooper Kupp in 2021, it isn’t impossible for someone else to emerge, which is going to be the emphasis of this article as we look beyond the top-five wide receivers drafted in order to find the next darkhorse WR1.

Understanding all of which makes up a fantasy WR1 is going to be important, so let’s start by looking back at past seasons to determine the recipe for success that led them to fantasy glory.

Season WR1 Total PPR Points PPR PPG PPG Rank ADP
2022 Justin Jefferson 368.9 21.7 2 WR1
2021 Cooper Kupp 440.3 25.9 1 WR16
2020 Davante Adams 358.4 25.6 1 WR2
2019 Michael Thomas 374.4 23.4 1 WR4
2018 DeAndre Hopkins 332.8 20.8 3 WR2
  • High-end consistency, like at the running back position, is king for the top overall fantasy wide receivers. Being able to deliver close to an average of 23 PPR points per game while also staying healthy for a full season allowed these WR1s to separate themselves.
  • Only Davante Adams in 2020 missed games and still finished as the WR1, but he did so with unreal touchdown numbers, averaging 1.3 touchdowns per game that season.
  • DeAndre Hopkins is the last wide receiver to repeat as the overall WR1.
  • Only Cooper Kupp was being drafted outside the top five at his position (WR16) but that ADP changed to WR2 in 2022.
Season WR1 Targets Receptions Receiving yards Receiving TDs
2022 Justin Jefferson 176 128 1,809 8
2021 Cooper Kupp 189 145 1,947 16
2020 Davante Adams 146 115 1,374 18
2019 Michael Thomas 180 149 1,725 9
2018 DeAndre Hopkins 159 115 1,572 11
  • The minimum requirement for receiving touchdowns is about 0.5 per game, with only Adams and Kupp coming close to or exceeding one per game.
  • The more difficult threshold to reach will be the minimum of 115 total receptions, which only Justin Jefferson (128) and Tyreek Hill (119) accomplished last season. This will be key, especially in PPR leagues.
  • To get the receptions, the targets have to be there as well, and every one of these receivers averaged at least 10 targets per game.
  • Each past WR1 also finished inside the top five in the league in receiving yards, most of the time leading the league.


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