With the 2023 NFL season less than two months away, it’s time to begin fantasy football prep.
While studs like Justin Jefferson, Ja’Marr Chase and Cooper Kupp will be the first wideouts off the board — they rank Nos. 1 through 3 in average draft position (ADP) — we aren’t all lucky enough to hit the jackpot. However, just because a player isn’t considered to be one of the best, doesn’t mean they can’t have major upside.
Here are two receivers to keep in mind that rank outside of the top 20 ADP this season.
Calvin Ridley, Jacksonville (ADP: 21)
Ridley has not played a full season since 2020. He missed most of the 2021 season for personal reasons before being suspended for the entire 2022 season for betting on the NFL. However, he is just outside of the top 20 ADP for a reason. In that 2020 campaign, he dominated with Atlanta. Ridley ranked seventh in target share and fourth in air-yard share during that stretch, finishing top 10 in touchdowns with nine. He tied Davante Adams with the fifth-most receiving yards in the NFL, ranking as WR5 in fantasy.
The former 26th overall pick will have to split targets with Christian Kirk, Zay Jones and Evan Engram, but there will be 81 vacated targets from last season after Jacksonville traded Marvin Jones. Plus, Ridley will finally have someone to trust under center, as Trevor Lawrence should set him up for success. Lawrence took a huge step forward in his first season with Doug Pederson. He improved in completions, yards, produced more than double the touchdowns and had a QBR that improved from 39.1 to 54.5. With expectations that Lawrence will continue that progression this season, Ridley is in store for a high-upside comeback season.
Jerry Jeudy, Denver (ADP: 24)
The Broncos scored the fewest points in the league last season, averaging just 16.9 points per game. I think it’s reasonable to say the Broncos’ offense couldn’t be any worse than it was and should see immediate improvement under Sean Payton. Russell Wilson had a career-worst year in completion percentage (60.5%), touchdowns (16) and passer rating (84.4). The expectation is that he will find and connect with his weapons much earlier and much more often in 2023.
Jeudy led the team with 972 yards and six touchdowns last season on 100 targets in only 15 games. The third-year wideout was Denver’s top playmaker, leading the Broncos with 392 yards after the catch. A more competent system should increase the volume for all of the offensive weapons, especially Jeudy.
There has always been high upside with Jeudy, whom the Broncos selected 15th overall in the 2020 NFL Draft, coming off the board before Justin Jefferson, CeeDee Lamb and Jonathan Taylor. The former Alabama star has had a few years in the league tainted by poor quarterback play and injuries, but the talent has always been there and this could be his breakout season if all goes according to plan.