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2023 Undervalued / Overvalued: Wide Receivers

By Michael O'Hara | 8/9/23 |

Welcome to fantasy football in 2023, “The Year of the Wide Receiver”. For the first time in recent history (or maybe ever), receivers seem to be valued higher than running backs. Pass catchers are skyrocketing up draft boards and being selected aggressively allowing for some to be overvalued and drafted ahead of where they should be. However, there’s no need to worry. Plenty of receivers are being drafted too low and can provide value for your fantasy team, including one that could be a true league winner.

Note: ADP based on PPR scoring


Diontae Johnson

Diontae Johnson, Pittsburgh Steelers
ADP: 7.05, WR33

The case for Johnson being undervalued: Johnson is one of the league’s premier route runners, a target hog, and due for positive touchdown regression.

The case against Johnson being undervalued: Pittsburgh is a run-first offense that will likely finish below average in scoring.

Verdict: There is simply no other way to put it, Diontae Johnson is criminally undervalued at the moment. At WR33, he is being selected at his absolute floor. In 2022, nothing went right for Johnson and he still finished as the WR28. Johnson being drafted lower than this is comical.

First, there’s the fact that Johnson draws targets at a rate like few players in the NFL. He accumulated 143 targets and drew a target on 26.3% of his routes last season, both among the NFL’s best. Johnson is able to draw targets at this rate because he is an elite route runner and is often open. In fact, Johnson led the league in ESPN’s Open Score metric and has three of the top 12 Open Scores since this metric started being tracked in 2019. This metric measures something pretty obvious, a receiver’s ability to create separation and get open. You’ve heard it before, volume is king in fantasy football and Johnson is once again in line to see 140+ targets. What is significant about the 140-target mark? Per the 33rd Team, 75% of receivers who reach 140 targets score 16+ fantasy points per game (WR12 in PPG last season) and 96% have finished as the WR24 or better. Based on volume alone, Johnson is set up to smash his ADP.

Johnson is also due for positive touchdown regression. Last season, Johnson quite literally set the record for most receptions in a season without a touchdown. To say he is due for positive regression is an understatement. In his two previous two seasons as Pittsburgh’s WR1, he scored seven and eight touchdowns. If he had added six touchdowns last year, he would have finished as the WR20, a significantly better finish than WR28.

Diontae Johnson is a talented receiver who can separate, almost forcing Pickett to pepper him with targets. He had a disappointing season while dealing with a rookie QB and issues finding paydirt. Based on talent and volume alone, Johnson’s price will almost certainly pay off. If Kenny Pickett and the offense can take a step forward, Johnson could be the WR steal of 2023.

Gabriel Davis, Buffalo Bills
ADP: 9.07, WR44

The case for Davis being undervalued: Davis is the vertical option for an explosive offense and is being drafted at what is likely his floor.

The case against Davis being undervalued: Davis was highly disappointing last season and seemed to be a one-trick pony as a big play threat.

Verdict: Similar to Johnson, Gabe Davis was a letdown last season and just about everything seemed to go wrong. Following a breakout performance in the 2021 Divisional Round against the Chiefs, Davis was touted as a breakout for 2022. Unfortunately, he did not deliver, finishing as the WR36.

First, Davis suffered a high ankle sprain in Week 1 and returned after missing just one game. When it comes to skill players, high ankle sprains are incredibly frustrating as they are nagging injuries that can sap quickness and explosiveness. This was evident with Davis as it appeared that he lost a step.

Davis also had an issue with converting his deep targets into big plays. He was regularly targeted downfield, ranking 12th in deep targets and 6th in ADoT. However, these deep targets were not always caught, resulting in 707 unrealized air yards which was the 15th most in the league. Over 50% of Davis’s air yards did not result in receptions, a very large percentage compared to other receivers. This is not shocking given his high ADoT. However, with over half of his air yards being unrealized, there is plenty of room to improve and increase his number of explosive plays.

Some smaller factors that led to Davis not living up to his potential included his eight drops (7th most) and only 73.8% of his targets being deemed catchable (68th). Both of these can certainly be improved and lead to better fantasy performances.

Everyone knows the talent that Gabe Davis possesses. He has the ability to get past defenders for chunk plays. Unfortunately, everything seemed to go wrong for him last season, leading to a WR36 finish. Yet, he is being drafted later than this as the WR44. This is likely the result of Davis being incredibly hyped-up last season and not delivering. With his price plummeting to WR44, this is the perfect time to grab his value.


Davante Adams, Las Vegas Raiders
ADP: 1.12, WR7

The case for Adams being overvalued: Adams heavily relied on explosive plays last year to succeed and has a less than ideal quarterback in Jimmy Garoppolo.

The case against Adams being overvalued: Adams has been an incredibly reliable fantasy option over the last several years and is drafted as the WR7 despite being the WR3 last year.

Verdict: Davante Adams has been one of the most dominant receivers in both fantasy and actual football over the last seven seasons. Things didn’t seem to be much different in 2022. Adams finished with 1516 yards and 14 TDs on 100 catches, enough to finish as the WR3. However, looking closely you’ll see that Adams required deep touchdowns to find fantasy success, something he had never needed before. Adams had ten TDs that were 25 yards or longer. Prior to last season, Adams never had more than three touchdowns of this length in a single season. These ten long scores accounted for a whopping 33% of his fantasy points last season, truly absurd. This is simply not reproducible, even for Davante Adams.

Another reason Adams is unlikely to reproduce the big plays he had in 2022 is due to a quarterback change. Last season, Davante’s good friend Derek Carr regularly pushed the ball down the field to him throughout the year. This manifested in Adams finishing 2nd in deep targets and 3rd in air yards per target. However, 2023 brings Jimmy Garoppolo into the picture. Throughout his career, Jimmy G has been known to dump the ball off and be hesitant to go deep. In fact, Garoppolo has never ranked higher than 24th in air yards per attempt. This is problematic for a player who so heavily relied on explosive plays.

Adams’ performance last year was nothing short of flukey. Given the difficulty of reproducing these big plays and his new QB situation, Adams is a clear candidate for regression and should be passed on at his current price.

D.J. Moore, Chicago Bears
ADP: 5.04, WR22

The case for Moore being overvalued: Chicago will throw the ball at one of the lowest rates in the NFL and quarterback Justin Fields has yet to establish himself as a passer.

The case against Moore being overvalued: Moore will likely command an elite target share now that Chicago finally has an alpha receiver.

Verdict: The fact that D.J. Moore is being selected in this range is incredibly confusing. Across his career with the Panthers, Moore has finished as the WR23 or worse in fantasy points per game in four of five seasons. On top of this, Moore has finished as the overall WR24 or worse in three seasons and has never finished as a WR1.

As part of the Chicago offense in 2023, this is arguably his worst fantasy situation of his career. In the past, Moore had been able to ride high target volume to consistent WR2 performances. he had at least 118 targets in every season aside from his rookie campaign and averaged 133 targets across these four seasons. Unfortunately for Moore, his raw target number will take a hit with the Bears.

Chicago threw the ball at the lowest rate in the NFL last season and will certainly increase their pass volume in 2023. However, even if their pass rate increases by 15%, Justin Fields will only attempt 415 passes. If Moore maintains the approximately 25% target share he saw in Carolina, this translates to 104 targets. It is incredibly difficult to find success in fantasy with this volume. Last season, only two receivers had fewer than 110 targets and finished as a WR2 or better. These players were Cooper Kupp (no explanation necessary) and Jerry Jeudy, who overcame low volume on the back of seven trips to the endzone. Considering Moore has never scored more than 7 TDs in a season and Fields will likely not throw for more than 25 TDs, Moore will not be able to overcome low volume with touchdowns.

Fields has yet to establish himself as an accurate or reliable passer, to the detriment of his receivers. With the unknown quality of QB play, combined with low overall volume, Moore is an easy fade as a WR2.

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