There are a lot of upside wide receivers available throughout the middle to late rounds of fantasy drafts, but it’s impossible to get all of them. Sometimes, it can be advantageous to pivot to a quarterback, running back, or tight end instead of adding wide receiver depth just because of roster need. Here are a couple of wide receivers to consider passing up in drafts for their Wish versions. These counterparts are archetypes who have similar strengths and fantasy upside but at much later ADPs (Underdog ADP).
Who are the Wish Versions of These Upside Wide Receivers?
Zay Flowers (WR46) is the Wish Version of Jaxon Smith-Njigba (WR32)
The Seahawks drafted Jaxon Smith-Njigba 20th overall in the 2023 NFL Draft as the first wide receiver off the board, but Zay Flowers wasn’t far behind. Baltimore drafted Flowers just two spots after JSN as the third rookie wide receiver selected. And yet, these two rookie wide receivers are being drafted more than two rounds apart in fantasy. JSN was an excellent route-runner coming out of Ohio State and can work all levels of the field, but he’s entering a crowded receiving corps in Seattle alongside D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett. Although the Seahawks could part ways with Lockett after the 2023 season, he and Metcalf still figure to each see large target shares this coming year, so JSN may not even crack 100 targets as a rookie.
Volume is also a question for Flowers, who will be vying for targets with Mark Andrews, Rashod Bateman, and Odell Beckham Jr. in Baltimore. However, Bateman is returning from a foot injury that cost him most of last season, and the 30-year-old Beckham hasn’t stepped foot on an NFL field since Super Bowl LVI in February of 2022 due to a twice-torn ACL. Despite similar target concerns, Flowers may have an easier path to opportunity than JSN. Additionally, while Flowers displayed similar success at all levels of the field in college as JSN, he has more burst and speed to create yards after the catch. Both rookie wide receivers have challenges to break out in their first year in the NFL, but Flowers, the Wish version of JSN, is a much less risky pick in the eighth round of drafts than JSN in the sixth round.
Robert Woods (WR88) is the Wish Version of Adam Thielen (WR64)
No fantasy GM ever really feels great about drafting unsexy, veteran wide receivers in the late rounds, but adequate depth can help win leagues. Adam Thielen will turn 33 years old in August, and Robert Woods is 31 years old this season. Both signed with new teams in free agency and will be catching passes from rookie quarterbacks selected in the top two overall picks of the NFL Draft. It’s unclear who will lead the Panthers in targets in 2023 between Thielen, fellow free agent signing D.J. Chark, rookie Jonathan Mingo, or even Terrace Marshall or Hayden Hurst. However, Thielen will face an uphill battle after declining efficiency over the last two seasons in Minnesota. Thielen’s 1.74 yards per route run (YPRR) in 2021 and 1.15 YPRR in 2022 ranked 53rd and 88th, respectively, among wide receivers.
Woods will also compete for targets with younger wide receivers Nico Collins and John Metchie as well as fellow free agent signing Dalton Schultz. On the surface, Woods is also on the decline after an inefficient 1.27 YPRR rate in 2022, which ranked just 78th among wide receivers. However, he at least has a mitigating factor, which is that he was returning from a major ACL injury last year. In 2021 before his injury, Woods’s 1.90 YPRR ranked 37th among wide receivers. With older players taking longer to return to form from ACL tears, Woods could bounce back in efficiency in 2023 now two years removed from the knee injury. Woods is the Wish version of Thielen, a veteran wide receiver with uncertain target share and efficiency with a rookie quarterback. However, Woods is far cheaper, available for pretty much free in the 18th round or going undrafted altogether, and he arguably has a better chance to lead his team in targets in 2023 than Thielen does.
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