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2022 Fantasy Football: Zay Jones and other WRs to target

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NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Jacksonville Jaguars Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

With Week 1 of the 2022 NFL season just around the corner, fantasy football takes are out in full force. Today I’m going to highlight several wide receivers I’d recommend targeting in your leagues this year, including Jacksonville Jaguars wideout Zay Jones.

ADP values are from Fantasy Football Calculator’s PPR data as of September 2nd.

Davante Adams

ADP: 12 (WR4)

I think Davante Adams will finish as a top-two fantasy wide receiver in 2022. That’s admittedly not that fiery of a take since the former Packer already did so in three of the past four seasons. (In 2019 he was slowed by turf toe and missed four games.)

Yes, he’s no longer playing with back-to-back MVP and future first-ballot Hall of Famer Aaron Rodgers, but Adams will still have plenty of chemistry with his former collegiate quarterback and current best friend Derek Carr.

Adams will also have one of the game’s top offensive minds calling plays: new Las Vegas Raiders coach Josh McDaniels. He was a vital part of New England‘s offensive system that was built around creating favorable matchups; though he was mostly scheming plays for guys like Dion Lewis and Julian Edelman. The last time McDaniels coached a receiver close to Adams’ caliber, Randy Moss broke Jerry Rice’s single-season NFL record for receiving touchdowns.

Las Vegas’ offensive line is a viable concern, but at the end of the day I think most reasons to doubt Adams’ ability to produce at an elite level are overblown because he’s simply one of the best football players on the planet. To be able to draft an all-world receiver and red zone ball hog in the second round is a steal to me.

Courtland Sutton

ADP: 47 (WR18)

6’4”, 216lb Courtland Sutton always made sense as the biggest beneficiary of the Russell Wilson/Denver Broncos trade considering how well the big-bodied D.K. Metcalf played with Wilson in Seattle.

Glowing offseason reports of the Wilson-Sutton connection have shot the latter’s ADP up, but not yet to the point that he still can’t produce far above expectation. Sutton is going to earn a lot of deep targets and red zone targets, which happen to be good for fantasy football.

The fifth-year wideout was already a positive regression touchdown candidate after only scoring twice last season. Now two years removed from his ACL tear and playing with by far the best quarterback of his career, Sutton is about to become a household name.

Allen Robinson

ADP: 55 (WR21)

It’s finally happened. For just about the first time ever, our prince Allen Robinson will be playing football with an objectively good quarterback.

It’s hard to tell how serious Matthew Stafford’s elbow tendonitis is, but he’s a tough son of a gun who hasn’t let injuries slow him down before.

It’s also fair to wonder if the recently-turned 29-year-old Robinson has lost a step after a career-worst 2021 season. However, reports throughout the Rams offseason have been high on Robinson and his role in the red zone. The last bit is important, as Stafford ranked third in red zone pass attempts last season and the Los Angeles Rams have consistently ranked at or near the top of the league in red zone plays under coach Sean McVay.

Robinson has officially shot past the Bluth Company into the ‘opportunity’ zone of the Jim Cramer scale. (He’s finally worth an investment for the first time in a long time.)

Adam Thielen

ADP: 64 (WR25)

There’s been a lot of hype surrounding the Minnesota Vikings this offseason with the hiring of former quarterback and McVay understudy Kevin O’Connell as head coach. It’s only a matter of time before Justin Jefferson seizes Adams’ ‘best receiver in the league’ distinction; Dalvin Cook will certainly benefit from lighter boxes and more targets; Irv Smith Jr. is once again a popular late-round tight end pick; and even slot man K.J. Osborn has been earning praise throughout the offseason.

Adam Thielen, on the other hand, seemingly hasn’t received the same level of hype from the general public. He did recently turn 32 and has missed a combined 11 games in the past three seasons, but he’s also had good offseason. Vikings beat reporter Arif Hasan of The Athletic wrote in August that Thielen “looks more like his previous self, and his play is reminiscent of his most productive stretch from 2016 to 2018.”

The Minnesota native should also continue to be an absolute beast in the red zone. (Sensing a theme? Touchdowns are good, folks.) Thielen ranks first among qualified pass catchers in Catch Rate Over Expected in the red zone since 2018 per Next Gen Stats. Plus, O’Connell has reportedly “embraced the ways Thielen can excel in his scheme -- in the red zone, in particular” according to ESPN’s Kevin Seifert.

I understand if you want to chase upside with younger players (like the next WR on my list), but it’s hard to ignore a good veteran receiver in an exciting new scheme who feels like a lock to score double-digit touchdowns.

Gabriel Davis

ADP: 67 (WR26)

Everyone’s favorite sleeper of the 2022 NFL season is now being drafted in the first half of drafts, so you’re no longer getting great value by drafting Gabe Davis. There is still value to be had, though, because -- you guessed it -- Davis is going to score a lot of touchdowns this year.

The guy ranked 20th in red zone targets and 15th in expected red zone fantasy points (per Sharp Football) among all wide receivers last year despite also ranking 73rd in offensive snaps. He’s now fully expected to lead all Buffalo Bills players not named Stefon Diggs in snaps, routes and targets on an offense that’s constantly in scoring position.

I’m not totally sure how good Davis truly is, but that doesn’t matter too much in his case. His opportunity gives him an incredible floor and solid ceiling, and in the chance Davis turns out to be a Pro Bowl-caliber player, he has top-five fantasy WR potential.

Zay Jones

ADP: n/a (LOL)

Rotoworld’s Mario Puig wrote a great piece in February about Zay Jones possibly being undervalued in fantasy football. The former second-round pick dealt with off-the-field issues early in his NFL career but recently showed flashes of solid play with the Las Vegas Raiders. Jones began the 2021 season as a backup, was plugged into the lineup following Henry Ruggs’ arrest, and then found consistent production in more of a short-to-intermediate role towards the end of the year.

Now, Jones is a week away from starting in a Trevor Lawrence offense with minimal target competition. Christian Kirk will lead the team in receiving, assuming good health, but Jones is as good a candidate to be Lawrence’s second-favorite target as anyone else on the roster.

In small or standard 10-man leagues you could probably keep an eye on Jones on the waiver wire, but I think he’s undervalued and worth targeting in deeper drafts.

Here's a few quick-hitter honorable mentions:

Jaylen Waddle

ADP: 49 (WR19)

I am buying the Miami Dolphins passing offense this year under new head coach Mike McDaniel. Jaylen Waddle is very very good at football and I trust Tua Tagovailoa to be good enough in McDaniel’s scheme that Waddle’s ceiling will not be limited.

JuJu Smith-Schuster

ADP: 78 (WR32)

Apparently former Pittsburgh Steeler JuJu Smith-Schuster is having some minor knee issues, which makes him an honorable mention rather than a full-blurb guy. But I’m one of those guys that’s addicted to betting on the Kansas City Chiefs offense, and I also like buying low on good football players. Smith-Schuster almost makes too much sense as a post-hype buy.

Elijah Moore

ADP: 86 (WR36)

I’m all aboard the Elijah Moore train. Just watch him play. The New York Jets offense is grotesque but Moore is an outlandishly good wide receiver.

DeAndre Hopkins

ADP: 92 (WR39)

Again: I like buying low on good players. It’s DeAndre Hopkins. He’s not dead yet.

Romeo Doubs

ADP: 140 (WR56)

I attended the Senior Bowl and came away thinking Romeo Doubs was the best player I saw (followed by fellow Green Bay draft pick Christian Watson, coincidentally). Then Doubs got a bunch of hype during training camp, including from an awakened Aaron Rodgers, making him firmly one of #MyGuys.

Rondale Moore

ADP: 147 (WR57)

I feel like Rondale Moore was everyone’s favorite late-round dart last year, but despite Christian Kirk’s departure and Hopkins’ suspension freeing up targets, as well as recent hype from local media, he remains practically free in fantasy football. The presence of Marquise Brown does not worry me in the slightest in terms of Moore’s usage and potential, though I’m not the biggest fan of Arizona Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury (#TeamKyler).

D.J. Chark

ADP: 163 (WR60)

Admittedly a homer pick. Wish we could’ve seen D.J. Chark play more than three full games with Lawrence but I’ll be pulling for him on the Detroit Lions.

Nico Collins

ADP: 165 (WR61)

2021 third-round pick Nico Collins should be second in line behind Brandin Cooks in targets from the new ‘most underrated NFL QB’ king, Davis Mills. Collins had an encouraging rookie season, boasts great athleticism, and has a clear pathway to targets on a Houston Texans team that will probably be trailing a lot this season.

Thank you for reading and good luck this season! A similar article on fantasy football running backs, including Travis Etienne, should be posted within the next 24 hours.