Much like at running back, when I completed the tiers at wide receiver I instantly knew there would be two players I must discuss: D.J. Moore and Brandin Cooks. Thankfully, I got a little practice, discussing these players with Adam Aizer and Jacob Gibbs in our most recent podcast.
Gibbs brought some great stats to the table and our talk actually resulted in my tweaking projections for Cooks, Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy, and Elijah Moore. Sutton was the only one who moved (down) an entire tier, but they'll all move in my next rankings update.
Thankfully, Gibbs' response to my D.J. Moore explanation was "I love everything Heath said"...or something to that effect. So let's start with him. How could he possibly be a Tier 2 wide receiver?
It's because he's a 25-year-old wide receiver who has shown us all the elite ability you could ask for. Last year he became just the 20th pass catcher since 2000 to earn more than 150 targets in a season before his 25th birthday, The year before, he became the 14th receiver since 1992 to average better than 10 yards per target (minimum 100 targets) in a season before his 24th birthday. Since the start of the 2019 season, he ranks fifth in the NFL with 3,525 receiving yards. In that stretch, he's caught passes from Kyle Allen, Teddy Bridgewater, P.J. Walker, Sam Darnold, and Cam Newton.
So yes, I think Baker Mayfield is a for Moore. Chris Towers . This is especially true as it applies to touchdowns, Moore's Achilles heel thus far. Mayfield's 17-game pace for touchdowns over his entire career is 26 per year. The Panthers haven't thrown more than 17 touchdown passes as a team since the 2018 season. I expect them to nearly double their passing touchdowns in 2022, which is huge for Moore because he's scored more than a fourth of his team's touchdowns the past three seasons (the same rate as Stefon Diggs in Buffalo).
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You can probably find Moore in Round 3 of your drafts, but I believe he's worth a Round 2 pick if ADP ever gets that high.
My Cooks tiering shouldn't be as surprising as it is, at least if you've been paying attention. I've made the case for him before. He's an alpha wide receiver on a team that I expect to run more plays in 2022 and pass more efficiently. That should help Cooks improve on the 134 targets he saw last year while also providing a path for his career-worst 7.7 yards per target and his below-average 4.4% touchdown rate.
For his career, Cooks has averaged 9.1 yards per target and a 5.3% TD rate. If you split the difference and project 8.4 and 4.8% across 150 targets you get a season of 99 catches for 1,260 yards and seven touchdowns. Those 267 PPR Fantasy points would have made him WR9 last season.
Cooks should be available in Round 5 of most drafts that don't include analysts, but I'm comfortable taking him as early as Round 3.
Here are the rest of my wide receiver tiers: