The calendar has flipped to March and NFL free agency is right around the corner. As the league prepares to welcome another group of talented wide receivers in the 2023 Draft, there are a handful of free agent options to add beforehand. Of course, there are some teams in dire need of upgrading the wide receiver position, but money, the ability to win, quarterback play, and plenty of other factors will come into play for these free agents. There is also a chance a few larger names at the position are dealt in a trade, shaking things up either further.
With a lot of available big-name players, the fantasy football landscape is sure to change. While we will have plenty of time to analyze the upcoming moves for redraft league purposes, making educated guesses as to where these wide receivers could be playing next year can help us get an edge in dynasty and best-ball leagues. With that said, I’m looking at the most relevant wide receivers and predicting where they’ll land once the free agency period begins.
Best Landing Spots for 2023 Free Agent Wide Receivers
1. Juju Smith-Schuster
Juju Smith-Schuster is a free agent again after winning Super Bowl LVII on a one-year deal with the Kansas City Chiefs. Statistically, 2022 is one of Juju’s better seasons. After two straight years of averaging 8.6 yards per catch from Ben Roethlisberger in Pittsburgh, Juju averaged 12.0 yards per with the Chiefs. Juju’s 78 receptions on 101 targets are both the third-most in his career respectively. His 9.2 yards per target are second-best to his rookie season. Lastly, thanks to having Patrick Mahomes as his quarterback, his 77.2% catch rate in 2022 is a career-high.
Juju Smith Schuster’s Best Landing Spot: The New York Giants
While there are plenty of teams who would benefit from adding a free-agent receiver like Smith-Schuster, the New York Giants are a great fit. First things first, the Giants currently have the fifth-most cap space. That is, of course, until they reach deals with one or both of Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley. Regardless, their receiving corps needs upgrading.
Sterling Shepard, Richie James, Marcus Johnson, and Darius Slayton are all set to be free agents. After announcing plans to release Kenny Golladay, that leaves Isaiah Hodgins and Wan’Dale Robinson as the only notable wide receivers on the Giants’ depth chart.
Juju Smith-Schuster provides size and a veteran presence to the offense. With expectations that New York could add a significant rookie receiver to play outside, Juju would command most of the snaps out of the slot in New York. That’s good news for Smith-Schuster, assuming Daniel Jones is back under center.
In the Giants’ final five games of the season, including playoffs, but not including Week 18 where they rested starters, Richie James, primarily out of the slot, logged a team-high 49 targets. Overall on the season, James is tied for second-most targets with Darius Slayton, behind only Saquon Barkley.
In six seasons, on two different teams, Juju has 101 targets or more in three of them. He’s only 26 years old and should see longer than a one-year deal wherever he plays ball next. If he does land with the Giants, I think he’s a rock-solid WR2 in PPR formats. Juju will have WR1 upside assuming Daniel Jones throws more than 15 touchdown passes in 2023 and Juju has his fair share of them.
2. Jakobi Meyers
After spending four seasons in New England catching passes from Cam Newton, Brian Hoyer, Bailey Zappe, and, for the majority of his tenure, Mac Jones, wide receiver Jakobi Meyers is likely to sign elsewhere as a free agent. For three straight seasons, Meyers has been the top target for the Patriots in each of them. Unfortunately, it’s amounted to just eight total receiving touchdowns with an average of just under 800 yards per season. He isn’t the fastest wide receiver that could hit the free agent market, but he can make big plays and keep drives alive as a reliable pass catcher.
Jakobi Meyers’ Best Landing Spot: The Chicago Bears
Chicago ranked dead last in pass attempts per game (22.2) in the 2022 season. Justin Fields’ ability to run is a factor in that, but weak protection from his offensive line and a severe lack of wide receiver talent is more to blame. As of now, Darnell Mooney, Chase Claypool, and Equanimeous St. Brown are the only wide receivers worth mentioning on Chicago’s depth chart. That’s not saying much. Plus, Mooney, the best of that bunch, is returning from a season-ending broken ankle.
Remember the 2022 off-season when the Jacksonville Jaguars gave Christian Kirk a hefty deal and NFL fans everywhere went nuts over it? We may see the same thing with Jakobi Meyers. Like last year’s Jaguars, Chicago has the most cap space as free agency nears. They also, as already mentioned, own the top pick in the draft. They’re more likely to bolster their offensive line and add defensive pieces in the draft than a wide receiver. That said, I like Jakobi Meyers’ opportunity to sign with Chicago in the weeks ahead.
The Bears need to open up the passing game. Fields’ career longevity and the offense’s success as a whole depends on it. Meyers is a trustworthy pass catcher who can move the chains. Cole Kmet led this team in targets last season with 69. The next closest pass catchers were Mooney with 61 and Dante Pettis with 41. If a Chicago Bear, Jakobi Meyers should lead the team in targets. We just need that team-leading number to exceed 100 if we want at least WR2 numbers from him in 2023 fantasy football.
3. Robert Woods
Prior to the start of free agency, Robert Woods announced via Twitter (@robertwoods) that he was available simply stating, “Free!” It feels longer than it’s actually been since Woods has been relevant for fantasy football, though.
As Woods enters his 11th NFL season, where he decides to sign as a free agent could boost his fantasy value in a big way. After playing in Cooper Kupp’s shadow towards the tail end of his time with the Los Angeles Rams, Woods’ 2022 season yielded an extremely underwhelming WR85 finish in PPR scoring. There’s nowhere to go but up for Woods in 2023 fantasy football and he should come at a massive discount.
Robert Woods’ Best Landing Spot: The Buffalo Bills
I know the idea of Woods returning to the Los Angeles Rams is popular on social media, but I’m more interested in him returning to the team that drafted him. A reunion with the Buffalo Bills gives Woods a legitimate chance for his career to come full circle and win another Super Bowl.
Woods will be 31 years old by the season’s start. More importantly, he will be nearly two years removed from a November 2021 ACL tear that prevented him from actually playing in the Rams’ Super Bowl LVI win. Though he did make it back onto the field in time for Week 1 of the 2022 season with the Titans, he didn’t quite look himself for the majority of it.
While I wish to ignore his 2022 stats with Tennessee, it’s worth noting he did play in every game. He also led them in targets (90), but again, on an offense that ranks in bottom-five in attempts, completions, passing yards, and passing touchdowns.
Returning to Buffalo almost guarantees Woods as the WR2 behind Stefon Diggs. His ability to play on the outside and in the slot will give him more opportunities than Gabriel Davis or Isaiah McKenzie. Davis looks more and more like a boom-or-bust option in fantasy after the 2022 season. His 93 targets are second to Diggs’ but he averaged just 3.2 receptions, though 17.4 yards per, which ranks second in the league.
Stefon Diggs is averaging 161 targets per season since joining the Bills who are also a top-10 offense in pass attempts per game in that time. If Woods were to sign with Buffalo as a free agent, I’m upgrading him in my rankings to a high-floor, high-ceiling WR3. As a result, just about every other Bills pass catcher gets stashed on the bench just in case.
4. Allen Lazard
After a Week 18 loss to the Detroit Lions, bouncing the Packers from the playoffs, Green Bay’s top target from 2022 looks to be on the move. Lazard made claims that it was his last game as a Packer as he prepares to test the market as a free agent. After seeing 100 combined targets from Aaron Rodgers and Jordan Love, Lazard just barely finished ahead of rookie Christian Watson (66 targets) in fantasy PPR scoring. His 60 receptions and 788 receiving yards are career highs that he will look to surpass with a new team in 2023.
Allen Lazard’s Best Landing Spot: The Baltimore Ravens
Lazard isn’t the biggest free agent name amongst wide receivers, but he’s one of the better options for the Ravens in some time. If Baltimore is to commit to Lamar Jackson long-term at quarterback, it’s downright irresponsible not to bring in at least one veteran receiver of significance for him to throw to. Allen Lazard’s 6’5″ 225-pound size is just what Lamar needs.
Rashod Bateman, assuming he’s healthy for training camp and the 2023 season, is a threat to get downfield exemplified by his 16.29 yards per catch average in college and 19.0 average from last season. Adding a player like Lazard into this offense gives Lamar Jackson a bigger, physical presence, that pairs nicely with tight end Mark Andrews, in more intermediate passing situations that should create mismatches week-to-week.
Assuming the Ravens can continue to establish the run as successfully as they have in recent years, there should be plenty of opportunities for Lamar to move the ball through the air. The 2022 fantasy football season is a career-best for Lazard, though finishing as just WR37, even in the absence of Davante Adams. Any receiver that ends up in Baltimore, assuming Lamar stays, will likely draft heavy interest for fantasy football. Lazard is more likely to finish as a WR3 than anything so don’t overpay too much, even if he’s seemingly the only option on whichever offense he’s playing for.
Odell Beckham Jr. should return to the field in 2023. After tearing his ACL twice, signing OBJ shouldn’t break the bank. The Dallas Cowboys will remain contenders in the NFC and need another receiver alongside Ceedee Lamb. While there is a heavy focus on the run game in Dallas, Odell can probably average double-digit fantasy points as a Cowboy. Otherwise, if Lamar Jackson signs a deal with Baltimore, OBJ would be the Ravens WR1 if given the opportunity.
D.J. Chark has a career average if 14.4 yards per reception. He’s a tall receiver who has the serious speed to get downfield and make big plays. Assuming the Houston Texans trade Brandin Cooks, signing a free agent like Chark as a replacement makes a lot of sense. He’s likely off of the redraft radar if that’s the case with more appeal in best-ball leagues.
Darius Slayton, like Chark, adds speed and big play potential to an offense. The Carolina Panthers are missing that element which would further open up the run game and create more space for D.J. Moore. Slayton is a WR3 in this scenario especially if Carolina adds a big arm free agent or rookie quarterback for Frank Reich to work with.
Parris Campbell has just 97 receptions in four seasons, 63 of them in 2022 alone. After a career year, proceeded by three seasons full of injuries, Campbell’s size and speed make him an enticing free-agent target. Perhaps familiarity with Philadelphia Eagles’ head coach, Nick Sirianni, from their time together in Indianapolis could come into play. Campbell would be the fourth option in the passing game there, though, and tough to trust week-to-week in fantasy football.