First off, we got some pretty amazing news Thursday, with doctors at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center saying that Bills safety Damar Hamlin is making a "remarkable" recovery since collapsing during a cardiac arrest during Monday's game. That's the best news we could have hoped for this week.
The NFL is moving forward as if Monday's game didn't happen, declaring it no-contest. So, there won't be a make-up game for Week 17's Bills-Bengals game, meaning if you want to settle your Fantasy championships, you'll have to do so with stats from Week 18's games. It's an imperfect solution, but given the circumstances, imperfect solutions are all we have.
And, of course, if you're still playing into Week 18, the FFT team has our weekly preview content right here for you:
- Week 18 Start 'Em & Sit 'Em: QB | RB | WR
- Starts, Sits, Sleepers & Busts
- Position Previews: QB | RB | WR | TE
In the rest of today's newsletter, I'm going to continue the project I started yesterday by finishing up my way-too-early rankings for 2023. These aren't full rankings, of course -- those are coming after the Super Bowl. Like yesterday when I wrote about QB and RB, I've got my top 12 or wide receiver and tight end right here for you, along with thoughts on each of the players I chose, and why I chose them.
We'll have more for you in the coming weeks as we recap the 2022 season and continue to look ahead, and we'll probably be going back to only publishing the newsletter a few times a week. But I will be here all offseason, and we'll have Dynasty rankings, offseason storylines, and coverage of NFL free agency, the draft, and more to make sure you're ready for next season. It'll be here before you know it.
Too-Early WR Rankings
Where at other positions there are clear tiers with significant dropoffs at several points, the drops at wide receiver tend to be a bit more gradual. Partially, that's a function of how the position tends to work -- there's a bit more weekly variance at wide receiver than other positions, so even the best players go through ups and downs more often. But, to be clear, there is a clear top tier here, and perhaps a couple of other drops as you go. .
1. Justin Jefferson – Who else could it be? Jefferson finished as a top-six WR in nine of his 16 games, with six games of at least 30 PPR points – and a seventh of 29.3 for good measure. He had a historically great rookie season and has just kept building on it. He's a ridiculously dominant playmaker entering his age-24 season, in what is now clearly a pass-first offense, so there's no reason to expect him to slow down.
2. Cooper Kupp – You could actually make a case that Kupp could still be the WR1, and I might just make the case for him as a top-three pick next season. He's going to be 30 next season and there are definitely questions about Matthew Stafford's long-term viability, but Kupp played with a clearly diminished version of Stafford this season and was just as dominant as last season. He played eight games before his injury, and finished as a top-six WR in six of them; he was seventh in one of the other two and 22nd in the other. There's a bit more risk with Kupp than Jefferson, so I'm fine ranking him second, but I can't think of a good argument for why he should be any lower than that given the historic production we've seen over the past two seasons.
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3. Ja'Marr Chase – Chase got off to a bit of a slow start, finishing outside of the top 24 WR in four of his first five games and looking like he was going to end up being a pretty massive bust. Then he put together two WR1 overall weeks to put any notion of that to rest, because suffering a hip injury that cost him the next four games. That could've derailed his season, but he came back to average 88.8 yards per game over his last four, so there's no real concern here about that issue lingering. Chase clearly took a step back in his second season, all the way down to WR6 in points per game … so, yeah, he was still pretty good under less than ideal circumstances. Bet on the historically productive 23-year-old.
4. Tyreek Hill – Hill moved on from Patrick Mahomes, had his new quarterback suffer through a bunch of different injuries, and still managed arguably the best season of his career. So, while there are certainly questions about Miami's quarterback situation heading into 2023, I'm not particularly worried about what that's going to mean in Miami's offense. And Hill is no longer a "better in non-PPR" receiver, either – he's second in catches and third in targets this season. Miami funneled a huge share of their offense to their top two WRs and they should keep doing that seeing how effective it was.
5. Stefon Diggs – Diggs' season kind of petered out over the past month, but he's still WR6 even with a poor closing stretch. He finished as a top-12 WR in eight of his first 12 games, and I'm not sure how much of the slow ending to the season should be held against him. Even with it, Diggs had a better season than 2021, and he's still Josh Allen's clear No. 1 WR heading into his age-30 season. That's an age when wide receivers tend to fall off, and maybe we saw the start of that in November and December – or maybe it was just a cold stretch. I'll bet on the guy with three straight 100-catch seasons.
6. Davante Adams – Having Adams in your lineup this season was a real roller coaster ride – his seven top-six finishes are the second-most in the league, but he also had four games where he finished outside of the top-36. It was a frustrating experience, and he enters the offseason with uncertainty at QB with the Raiders likely moving on from Derek Carr, which makes it tough to trust him. On the other hand, he just finished as the No. 2 WR with Jarrett Stidham in Week 17. Adams will turn 31 during the 2023 season, but he really didn't show many signs of slowing down in his age-30 season, as he still sported a massive 31% target share and hit on a ton of big plays. I might be talking myself into this being too low.
7. A.J. Brown – Playing in a new offense, Brown managed to maintain his ridiculous per-catch efficiency despite seeing 29 (and counting) more targets than any other season. In another offense, he might be able to challenge for the WR1 spot, because I really do think Brown is one of the best receivers in football, equally capable of killing a defense with the ball in his hands after a screen or on a go-route. It's hard to see how things get too much better than they were in 2022, but if the Eagles defense isn't quite as dominant next season, there could be even more volume to go around. We're done putting a ceiling on this guy.
8. CeeDee Lamb – I'll admit, I was skeptical of Lamb's chances of taking a big step forward, but he emerged as the clear go-to option in the Cowboys passing game. In the 11 games Lamb played with Dak Prescott, he averaged 18.6 PPR points, with a 110-catch, 1,433-yard, nine-touchdown 17-game pace. Can he keep growing from there? It's certainly within the realm of possibility.
9. Amon-Ra St. Brown – 100 catches, 1,112 yards, and six touchdowns in 15 games is already a pretty good line, but let's not forget that St. Brown had two games where he played just 32% and 17% of the snaps in Weeks 5 and 7 due to an ankle injury – take those two out, and you've got a 17-game pace for 124 catches, 1,425 yards, and eight touchdowns. Since the final two months of his rookie season, St. Brown has basically looked like a better version of Keenan Allen, and the Lions have shown a willingness to use him in the running game that could help unlock even more upside if they opt to tap into that a bit more. St. Brown stands out among the elite WRs for his lack of physical tools, relatively speaking, but St. Brown is as good as anyone in the league at getting open,and I don't really have any questions about him at this point. Maybe he doesn't have quite as much upside as some of the guys ahead of him, but if that means I can take him as my WR2 when he should be a WR1, I'll be thrilled.
10. Chris Godwin – It took Godwin a while to get his feet back under him after coming back from his torn ACL, and it's going to leave his overall season numbers short of where we've gotten used to seeing them. And I think it's fair to say Godwin never quite got to a place where he was producing like we've come to expect consistently, as the Buccaneers offense never quite seemed to get in sync. Still, from Weeks 10-17 he averaged eight catches for 80.6 yards per game, putting up a very impressive 18.6 PPR points per game. I get the feeling this might be a little higher than some will rank him, given the uncertainty about whether Tom Brady is going to return to the Buccaneers, so we'll have to see what happens there. But I'm going to bet on a Godwin bounce back regardless.
11. DeAndre Hopkins – This is one of the toughest players to rank heading into 2023, honestly. When he came back from his suspension, Hopkins more or less looked like himself, finishing as WR10 in points per game despite playing with three different quarterbacks in a pretty dysfunctional offense – and his numbers are heavily weighed down by a one-catch showing in his one game with Trace McSorley at QB. However, he'll be entering his age-31 season with a QB coming back from a torn ACL and with a lot of questions about whether this Arizona offense is even a good environment for a wide receiver. Still, Hopkins had an eighth-game stretch before that McSorley-led fiasco where he put up a 17-game pace of 134 catches, 1,515 yards, and six touchdowns, so I can't bury that guy just yet.
12. Jaylen Waddle – One thing I like to look for when judging young players is how they perform in different types of circumstances, and Waddle has passed that test. He had 100 catches in a primarily quick-hitting, short passing offense as a rookie, and then followed that by establishing himself as one of the preeminent big-play players in the league in Year 2 alongside Tyreek Hill. Waddle enters Week 18 with 70 catches for 1,312 yards and eight touchdowns despite catching passes from three different quarterbacks and dealing with a variety of nagging injuries of his own. This guy can seemingly do pretty much whatever you ask of him, and he figures to only get better with more experience, especially as Tyreek Hill nears 30. He's an exciting young player, especially if you can get him as a WR2.
Too-Early TE Rankings
There are some in the Fantasy community who would tell you we should just get rid of tight end. I'm not one of those people, because I think there's something to be said for how having one clearly weaker position changes your strategy. And, to be clear ... tight end is a weak position and likely always will be. Let's all just promise we won't do the, "Hey, maybe tight end won't be so bad this year" thing. It will be.
1. Travis Kelce – It would be an exaggeration to say that Kelce is the only tight end who actually mattered for Fantasy this season … but only kind of. He finished as a top-six option at the position 12 times. He finished in the top three nine times. He never finished worse than 15th. He outscored the No. 2 tight end (T.J. Hockenson) by 93.7 PPR points, or more than No. 2 outscored No. 16. Kelce would have been WR4; Hockenson would have been WR17. Kelce is going to be 34 early on next season, and he could fall off at any time, but generally speaking, betting on Hall of Fame-level players to beat aging curves isn't a bad bet, especially when he's already destroying them. There's no question who the top option is.
2. Mark Andrews – The questions start at No. 2, and I'm going to default to the guy who was the obvious No. 2 coming into the season. He was well on his way to another elite season, averaging 19.1 PPR points per game through the first six weeks. And then injuries derailed his season – first Andrews' own knee injury, and then Lamar Jackson's ongoing issue. It's been a frustrating season for Andrews, but when he's right and Jackson is active, Andrews still looked like a WR1 you could slot into the TE spot, and that's the goal. I'll bet on a bounceback.
3. Kyle Pitts – Okay, don't yell at me. When it comes to tight ends, I'm looking for upside – that "WR1 you can slot into your TE spot." T.J. Hockenson is a good player, but he doesn't have that. I still believe Pitts does. Sure, he needs a lot to change in Atlanta – they need to get a competent quarterback and then they need to throw the ball more than 22.8 times per game, which is what Marcus Mariota averaged in the games Pitts played. My confidence in Pitts has been shaken somewhat, but he's still only 22, with a track record of historic production at a young age in both college and the NFL. I won't draft Pitts in the third round again like I was this season, but I'll definitely draft Pitts.
4. T.J. Hockenson – I don't want to downplay Hockenson too much, because he was quite good after the trade to Minnesota. But he wasn't, like, great – his 17-game pace with the Vikings included 111 catches on 161 targets, which is incredible, but also 950 yards and six touchdowns, which is … pretty good! He's a pretty good Fantasy option, someone you probably don't ever have to think about if he's your tight end. But he's unlikely to be a difference maker, and that middle-class option tends to get pushed up in drafts. Hockenson is fine, but he's not the kind of player who wins leagues. Pitts at least could be, even if the floor is a lot lower.
5. Dallas Goedert – In another offense, Goedert might be the kind of difference maker worth reaching for at tight end, but it's hard when he usually doesn't get more than six targets per game. That's plenty for him to be a clear must-start option, as he was before his shoulder injury. It's just in that 12-14 PPR-point range than the 15-plus point range that can really start to separate you from your opponents. Goedert is nice to have because you don't ever have to worry about your tight end, and there's value in that. But he probably won't be much more than that.
6. George Kittle – Kittle reminded us of how much upside he still has with five touchdowns over his last three games, but there's definitely some fun with arbitrary endpoints going on there – he had fewer than 30 yards in four of his final six games heading into Week 18. He still might be the best tight end in football, but he plays in a low-volume passing game with a ton of weapons, which makes it hard for him to produce consistently. Kittle's after-the-catch skills make him a threat to go off in any given game, but the lack of reliable target volume makes it pretty much impossible for him to be a reliable weekly option. That's still enough to justify ranking this high, but he'll be a headache.
7. Dalton Schultz – Schultz took a bit of a step back this season, predictably, but the overall numbers probably overstate how much he stumbled. Remember, Schultz was dealing with a knee injury early in the season, and had two games without a catch in Weeks 4 and 5. From Week 7 on, he put up a 75-catch, 789-yard, eight-touchdown pace – more or less what he did in 2021. That's probably a fair projection for him, which makes him a solid starting tight end, but it's hard to see a path to much upside – and if the Cowboys make a big addition to their receiving corps, he could take a step back.
8. Pat Freiermuth – For a while it looked like Freiermuth might be having a legitimate breakout. From Weeks 4 through 11, he averaged 7.7 targets, 5.5 catches, and 57.3 yards per game – nearly a 1,000-yard pace. However, he would top 40 yards just twice in his final six games, a disappointing step backwards. Freiermuth is still young enough that you don't want to write him off, and Pittsburgh's offense taking a step forward would certainly help. But we haven't seen much more than flashes from him, and not even elite flashes at that, so I'm not holding out for a huge breakout at this point. A solid starter with 900-yard upside? Sure, Freiermuth could do that.
9. Darren Waller – Waller's peak looks like it's going to end up pretty brief, as he'll be 31 early next season and coming off a season with just one game of more than six targets. Yes, hamstring injuries limited him for much of the season, but even when he was healthy, his production was nothing to write home about. We'll see what kind of QB moves the Raiders make, but I'm not expecting a bounce-back to the elite level from him, especially if Davante Adams remains the Raiders No. 1 WR, as expected. Waller might not be finished, but I have a hard time seeing him getting back to must-start territory at this point.
10. Evan Engram – For a few weeks, Engram showed us the kind of upside we've been waiting years for. From Weeks 14-16 – a pretty important stretch! – Engram caught 26 of 33 passes for 337 yards and two touchdowns, one of the best stretches by any tight end this season. In his other 13 games? 43 catches for 402 yards and two touchdowns. Engram enters free agency riding high, and could return to Jacksonville or land somewhere else where he'll be a solid tight end. I don't expect him to ever be a consistently great option, but I could see moving him as high as TE7.
11. David Njoku – Njoku has a lot in common with Engram. The highs weren't as high and the overall numbers aren't as good, but he did take a nice little step forward, at least before a knee injury in Week 7 derailed things. Before then, he was on pace for 83 catches and over 1,000 yards, but the injury and the Browns' offensive struggles with Deshaun Watson brought Njoku's production back down to earth. Njoku is still just 26 until July, so it's not unreasonable to think he could still back into that early-season upside, but you can't go into the season expecting it.
12. Chigoziem Okonkwo – Let's make sure we get one dart throw in there. Trey McBride, Jelani Woods, Isaiah Likely, Daniel Bellinger, and Greg Dulcich all had their moments among this year's rookie class, and I could see any of that group pushing their way into the top 12, but I like what we saw from Okonkwo. Okonkwo's college stats don't blow you away, but it's worth noting that he missed his 2020 season with a bout of myocarditis, so there are definitely some extenuating circumstances. Okonkwo is 243 pounds and ran a 4.52 40-yard dash, and then went out and made big plays at the NFL level, with four of his 41 targets going for at least 30 yards. He's got some real skills with the ball in his hands and his rawness gives some reason to believe he has more room to grow than most players in a similar spot. There's a lot of projection going on here, and someone like Notre Dame's Michael Mayer could go in the first round and knock Okonkwo out of this spot.