How to Find the Fantasy WR1 for 2022

Updated: Aug 9


Everyone wants to know who will finish as the top fantasy wide receiver for 2022, and for good reason. Last season Cooper Kupp was the NFL player on the highest percentage of fantasy playoff rosters. However, Kupp was drafted as only the WR16. I took a look at fantasy WR1s from the past 10 seasons to see if there were any trends we could use to identify the WR1 for 2022.


I found 4 main keys to identifying the potential WR1 in fantasy:


1: Every WR1 from the past 10 years has been between the ages of 26 and 29 years old. This immediately rules out younger players like Justin Jefferson, Ja’Marr Chase and CeeDee Lamb from finishing as the WR1. These 3 guys may have very strong top 10 WR seasons, but they will most likely not finish as the overall WR1.


2: 9 out of 10 WR1s had an ADP of WR7 or higher. The obvious exception to this was Kupp from last year, but typically if you want to draft the WR1, you have to take him in the first 2 rounds of your draft.


3: The WR1 has been on a team with a top 10 offense 8 out of 10 times. The only exceptions to this are DeAndre Hopkins on the 2018 Texans who had the 11th best offense and Calvin Johnson on the 2012 Lions who were 17th. However, The Lions were 4th in offense the year prior.


4: The last 8 straight WR1s did not have another receiver on their team finish with 100 targets. WR1s dominate their teams passing volume, which means that guys like Davante Adams and Tyreek Hill will most likely not finish as the WR1 due to target competition.


After establishing those 4 rules on what leads to an overall WR1 finish, here are the players who qualify for 2022 ranked by how likely they are to finish as the WR1 :


1. Stefon Diggs: Diggs will be 28 this season and is currently going off the board as the WR 5. The Bills will most certainly be a top 10 offense and they let go of 100 target receiver Cole Beasley in free agency. Gabriel Davis looks to step into the Bills number 2 receiver role but has never had more than 63 targets in a season.


2. Mike Evans: Evans has been a top fantasy receiver his entire career but has never been the overall WR1. Like Diggs, he is 28 years old but is being drafted slightly later at WR 9. The Bucs will most likely still be a top 10 offense in 2022. However, Evans has slightly more target competition than Diggs. Chris Godwin has received passing volume when healthy, but will still be recovering from injury to start the season and will most likely not reach 100 targets on the season. The Bucs also brought in Russell Gage who has averaged 92 targets per season his last 3 years.


3. Cooper Kupp: Unlike running backs, there is a good history of wide receivers repeating as the #1 in multiple years (Antonio Brown finished as the WR1 in 4 straight seasons form 2014-2017). However, Kupp’s path is a little more murky than Brown’s. New WR addition Allen Robinson will most likely demand more than 100 targets if healthy (150+ targets every year when he has played more than 12 games).


4. Deebo Samuel: After breaking out in 2021, Samuel will be 26 this season and is currently being drafted as the WR 6. Samuel should still have a very large role in the offense even though there are weapons around him. Brandon Aiyuk has never had 100 targets in his career and George Kittle hasn’t had 100 targets in the last two seasons. The big question for Samuel is if the 49ers offense is top 10 in the league with new QB Trey Lance. In 2018 DeAndre Hopkins was the WR1 in Deshaun Watson’s first full season as the Texans starter. If you believe in Lance, it won't be hard to convince yourself that Samuel finishes as the WR1.


Now let's look at 3 guys going outside the top 10 in ADP who might have a chance to shock the world like Kupp did in 2021.


1. Courtland Sutton: Sutton is being drafted as the WR26 but is the most obvious candidate to follow the same path as Kupp to a WR1 finish. Unlike his counterpart in the Broncos’ receiving room Jerry Jeudy, Sutton is 26 years old and has already had success in the NFL. Like the Rams in 2021, the Broncos offense got a major upgrade at QB in Russell Wilson and the passing attack should be among the league's best in 2022. However, Sutton will need to establish himself as Wilson’s clear number one target over Jeudy in order to have a chance at WR1.


2. JuJu Smith-Schuster: JuJu will be 25 this season and is by far the least targeted player on this list as he is only being drafted as the WR 35. JuJu is going into a much better offense in 2022 as a member of the Chiefs. However, Travis Kelce projects to be the number one target in the offense and it is very unlikely that this changes. Since the Chiefs’ offense is so high powered, it is possible for JuJu and Kelce to co-exist, especially since no one else in the Chiefs’ receiving core will demand a high number of targets.


3. Terry McLaurin: McLaurin will be 26 this season and has an ADP of WR16. In addition, McLaurin should be the only player on the Washington Commanders who receives over 100 targets. McLaurin has been an elite talent his first few years in the NFL but hasn't capitalized on fantasy production because of poor quarterback play. The Washington Commanders brought in Carson Wentz to be their new QB, a clear upgrade from Taylor Heinicke. However, is he good enough to elevate the Commanders’ offense to a high enough level to support a WR1 season for McLaurin. It is possible as Wentz led the Colts to the NFL’s 9th best offense last year, but betting on Wentz to produce at a high level is a scary proposition for fantasy owners.

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