Hi everyone and welcome to the third part of this free agency fantasy football preview series. Having already covered the quarterbacks and running backs, today I’m going to dive into some of the best free agent wide receivers. Unlike the other positions, this is a flat free agent class with no superstars.
Regardless, receivers today are making more money than ever before, and these are players who will fetch sizeable salaries in the open market. As a result, they will certainly be big parts of an offense and therefore have a fantasy advantage. With that, here are my top free agent wide receivers, potential targets, and their fantasy prospects for 2023.
Jakobi Meyers continues to be overlooked in fantasy football leagues, but he’s turning out numbers year after year. After signing as an undrafted free agent with the New England Patriots in 2019, Meyers has continued to expand his offensive role. He’s been improving his fantasy finish every year, posting a WR30 and a WR28 in PPR leagues for the last two seasons.
Rumor has it that Meyers could command over $12 million a year in the free agent market. He’s probably the best player available at the position, and we saw how much receivers cashed in last offseason. The Patriots remain the favorite to sign Meyers, but the New York Giants and Houston Texans have also emerged as possible targets.
Meyers doesn’t have the athleticism or big game ability to be an elite fantasy football asset. Nonetheless, he has shown he can be a capable possession receiver and will continue to have value depending on where he lands. Meyers falls into my early 2023 rankings as a low WR3 as some of the younger players around him are on the rise. Wide receiver is also the deepest position in fantasy football, so I’d be willing to sell for any second-round dynasty pick.
After falling short in his final seasons in Pittsburgh, JuJu Smith-Schuster had a comeback in 2023 in Kansas City. He maxed out his incentivized contract with 933 yards and three touchdowns en route to a Super Bowl win. That was quite a year for a player who made just over $1 million in preseason base pay.
Finishing as WR27 in the PPR leagues, Smith-Schuster has likely met or exceeded the expectations of most fantasy managers. Despite this, he only finished in the top 30 for wide receivers five times during the regular season. Smith-Schuster had strong periods of production with long dry spells. Especially after his concussion against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
His quiet streak continued in the playoffs through the Super Bowl, where he caught a few timed passes on his way to seven receptions for 53 yards. This will leave a pleasant taste in the mouths of Kansas City Chiefs and Fantasy managers as we head into the off-season. But the Carolina Panthers, New York Giants, Chicago Bears and Baltimore Ravens could also be potential landing spots.
Considering possession slot receivers don’t make much in the open market, my prediction is he’ll end up back in Kansas City. If he doesn’t want to cash in, Smith-Schuster might as well continue to replenish his legacy and play alongside Patrick Mahomes. Here he will be a WR3 with an advantage if he is still the second option behind Kelce on offense.
However, moving to another team would diminish its value in my eyes. Smith-Schuster couldn’t have been in a better position last season and was still producing modest numbers. As a result, he’s not someone I want to win in dynasty leagues or early season drafts. Fantasy recipients like him are a dime a dozen, and if he re-signs in Kansas City, I’d still be willing to move him for a future second-round pick.
Allen Lazard was set to take on the lead wide receiver role for the Packers that year and failed to live up to expectations. The offense was a disaster and Lazard only succeeded in small spurts as he struggled with injuries. His offensive position was also eventually overtaken by Christian Watson, who became a focus after missing most of the first half.
It was a similar story for Lazard, who ranked 34th in fantasy points per game in 2022. Regardless, this was still his most productive season to date, and he will be one of the best free agents at the position. Landing spots discussed include packers, ravens, giants, and bears.
Like the other two players on this list, Allen Lazard has a hard time getting excited. I’m sorry to be such a downer to everyone in this article, but modest wide receiver production is easily the most substitutable commodity in fantasy football. He couldn’t have been in a better position in the last four years he’s played with Aaron Rodgers either.
The Packers were notorious for not addressing the wide receiver position and there was plenty of room to produce over Davante Adams. Even in a starting role in 2023, Lazard is nothing more than a low-upside WR4 for fantasy purposes. If he does rank well in the Dynasty fantasy football leagues, it would be wise to trade him for an early third-round rookie pick in a deep draft class.
DJ Chark is an outlier from the possessors on this list as he will be one of the best pure athletes available. He ran a 4.34 40-yard dash at the NFL combine and posted a 97th percentile speed score (PlayerProfiler). Despite missing seven games through injury, Chark had some strong plays with three 100-yard rushes.
This is a player with a 1,000-yard receiving season under his belt, but injuries have had a significant impact on his career. Chark has missed 21 games in the last three years. Regardless, his speed alone from the coverage he demands makes him a differentiator that will make him a desirable free agent.
With Jameson Williams likely taking on the Deep Menace role in Detroit, it seems likely that Chark will find a new home in 2023. The Ravens and Dallas Cowboys would both be intriguing options as both offenses are wide open after Mark Andrews and CeeDee Lamb. Nonetheless, Chark is just a deeper hide and likely only has value in leagues with multiple flex positions.
The last name I’m going to mention here is Indianapolis Colts unrestricted free agent wide receiver Parris Campbell. After three seasons struggling with injuries, he finally pulled off a healthy season in 2022, hitting a career-best 63 receptions for 623 yards. This included several prolific fantasy games, finishing as a top 36 wide receiver five times.
Campbell is actually one of the more intriguing names on this list, as we haven’t seen what he can do completely sane on a working offense. If he lands as a second or third option on a great team like the Kansas City Chiefs or the Buffalo Bills, he could have great upside potential in 2023. This is still a player who was a second-round pick in the NFL draft and finished with an athletic score in the 97th percentile or better in every category he tested at the combine.
He’s a great player to target with one of your last picks in the draft, or as a buy-low in Dynasty fantasy football leagues. It’s difficult for players like Campbell to negotiate a one-for-one trade because it’s not worth a second-round pick for a freshman. If you’re already working out a deal with the Campbell owner instead, see if it can be acquired as a throw-in.