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AFC East Wide Receivers (WRs): A Fantasy Football Breakdown

By Jared Smola 11:35am EDT 8/3/23

AFC East Wide Receivers: Draft Targets and Fades

The AFC East is home to four of the top 13 in our current fantasy football WR rankings:

  • Tyreek Hill
  • Stefon Diggs
  • Garrett Wilson
  • Jaylen Waddle

Which of those guys should you be targeting in fantasy drafts? 

Which AFC East WRs are worth drafting behind those studs?

And is there anything we should care about in New England’s WR corps?

Let’s dig into the fantasy value in AFC East WRs.

Find out where these AFC East WRs (and everyone else) rank in YOUR fantasy league.

  

Buffalo Bills Wide Receivers

Top Fantasy Target: Stefon Diggs
Other Draftables: Gabriel Davis

Despite ranking eighth in passing yards and second in TDs, the Bills produced only one top-25 fantasy WR last year.

That’s what happens when you have one dude hogging 28.3% of the targets.

Diggs a Safe Fantasy Bet

Diggs’ target share ranked 12th among all WRs and followed 29.1% and 26.4% shares in his first two Bills seasons.

His finishes in half-PPR points:

  • 2020 -- third
  • 2021 -- seventh
  • 2022 -- fourth

Diggs is still only 29 and actually registered his second-best Pro Football Focus receiving grade and third-most yards per route run last year. There’s no reason to worry about a decline, making Diggs one of the safest picks in 2023 fantasy football drafts. 

Davis’ Disappointing 2022 Season

Davis, a popular 2022 breakout pick, set career highs with 93 targets, 48 catches, and 836 yards. His 7 TDs tied a personal best.

But despite finishing 28th among WRs in half-PPR points, his season felt disappointing. That’s probably because 20% of his fantasy production came in Week 5. He had just three other top-20 fantasy weeks – and six weeks outside the top 50.

Blame the High-Ankle Sprain

There’s reason for optimism heading into 2023, though.

The Bills didn’t add a legitimate threat to Davis’ role as No. 2 WR.

And he’ll hopefully enjoy a healthier season after suffering a high-ankle sprain in practice ahead of Week 2 last year. Davis recently admitted that the injury hampered him for the rest of the season.

Cheaper this year than last – his ADP currently sits at WR41 – Davis is a nice post-hype target in fantasy drafts.

The Rest of the WR Corps

For now, we’re not drafting any other Bills WRs behind Diggs and Davis for two reasons:

  1. Buffalo figures to run more 2-TE sets this year after adding first-round TE Dalton Kincaid. That means less playing time for the No. 3 WR.
  2. It’s not yet clear who the No. 3 WR will be.

Khalil Shakir looks like the favorite after flashing some as a fifth-round rookie last year. 

But WR Deonte Harty got a surprisingly lucrative two-year, $9.5 million deal from the Bills in free agency and has reportedly had a nice start to training camp.

WR Trent Sherfield is also in the mix for snaps.

One of those guys might be worth targeting at the very end of fantasy drafts come September. But it’s a situation to mostly avoid for now.

  

Miami Dolphins Wide Receivers

Top Fantasy Target: Tyreek Hill
Other Draftables: Jaylen Waddle

A Two-Man Show

No passing game was more concentrated than Miami’s last year. Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle combined for:

  • 49% of targets
  • 53% of receptions
  • 64% of receiving yards
  • 50% of receiving TDs

Hill finished third among WRs in half-PPR points; Waddle seventh.

Run It Back

There’s no reason to expect much different in 2023.

The Dolphins return HC Mike McDaniel and QB Tua Tagovailoa. 

TE Mike Gesicki and WR Trent Sherfield, who finished third and fourth in targets last year, are gone. 

RB Devon Achane was the most significant addition to the skill-position group this offseason. WRs Braxton Berrios, Chosen Anderson, and Cedrick Wilson will battle for snaps behind Hill and Waddle.

Even Better in 2023?

Hill and Waddle could be even more productive this season if they get a healthier season from Tagovailoa.

Both guys posted bigger target shares and yards per target in Tua’s 12 healthy games than the other five.

Tyreek Hill 12 healthy Tua Games 5 other games
Target Share 30.9% 25.4%
Yards Per Target 10.2 9.6
Jaylen Waddle 12 healthy Tua Games 5 other games
Target Share 22.3% 15.3%
Yards Per Target 12.1 9.9

Price Checks

We’re a bit higher than consensus on Hill, who checks in third in both our overall and WR half-PPR rankings. He's a key target in our 2023 fantasy football draft guide.

Waddle, on the other hand, looks a bit overpriced according to our baseline projections. 

He’s 13th among WRs in our half-PPR rankings but 11th in ADP. 

But he’s also just 5 projected points below WR10. And his 247.2-point ceiling projection would have made him WR7 last year. 

Waddle certainly isn’t a bad pick in the back half of Round 2. And he’s a nice pick anywhere in Round 3.

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3D projections show the baseline, floor, and ceiling for every player.

 

New England Patriots Wide Receivers

Top Fantasy Target: JuJu Smith-Schuster
Other Draftables: DeVante Parker, Tyquan Thornton

Should You Care About This Group?

This isn’t an exciting group for fantasy purposes.

The 2022 Patriots ranked 20th in passing yards and 19th in TDs. WR Jakobi Meyers ranked 29th at the position in half-PPR points, but no other Patriots WR finished better than 66th.

The arrival of a legitimate OC in Bill O’Brien should help this season. But New England still doesn’t project as a highly productive passing game.

JuJu the Likely Leader

Smith-Schuster is the top name in the WR corps. He arrived in free agency via a three-year, $25.5 million contract and figures to do a lot of the stuff Meyers did for the offense over the past three seasons.

But JuJu could only muster a 27th-place finish in half-PPR points as the Chiefs’ WR target leader last year, so it’s tough to see him ascending beyond WR3 status with the Patriots.

That said, with a WR46 ADP, he’s a fine value in fantasy drafts.

Who Else Will Emerge?

Parker, Thornton, Kendrick Bourne, and Demario Douglas are battling for snaps behind Smith-Schuster.

Money and camp reports have Parker as the favorite for the No. 2 WR job. He inked a three-year extension in June with $14 million guaranteed and up to $33 million in total value. And he’s reportedly had a much stronger start to camp than Thornton or Bourne.

Parker, though, hasn’t reached 800 receiving yards in a season since 2019 and turned 30 in January. He’s no more than a late-round bench stash.

Thornton remains on the fantasy radar because he was a second-round pick last year and boasts sub-4.3 speed. 

But he mustered only 22 catches on 45 targets for 247 yards and two TDs as a rookie, ranking 95th among 96 qualifying WRs in yards per route run. And he’s reportedly had a quiet start to training camp.

At this point, it’s tough to like Thornton as more than an end-of-draft consideration in best ball leagues.

Dynasty players should keep an eye on Douglas. The sixth-round rookie has already earned some first-team work in camp. His 179-pound frame will limit his NFL deployment, but Douglas is a shifty route runner with 4.4 speed.

  

New York Jets Wide Receivers

Top Fantasy Target: Garrett Wilson
Other Draftables: Allen Lazard, Mecole Hardman, Corey Davis

Aaron Rodgers, Here to Save the Day

The big story here is the QB upgrade.

Last year’s Jets, piloted by Zach Wilson, Joe Flacco, and Mike White, ranked 27th in yards per pass attempt and 31st in passing TDs.

Both marks should climb significantly with Rodgers now at the helm. His numbers were down last year, and he’ll turn 40 in December. But it’s worth remembering that he played through a broken right thumb for most of last season. Even if Rodgers is no longer a top-5 NFL QB, he’ll be a major upgrade on last year’s QB play.

Wilson Could Explode

That’s good news for all the WRs, especially Wilson. His 63.9% catchable target rate last year ranked 92nd league-wide.

That makes his rookie season even more impressive. Wilson posted an 83-1,103-4 line to score the 13th-most PPR points by a rookie WR over the last 10 seasons.

He averaged 1.85 yards per route run – a strong number for a rookie, especially when you consider that all other Jets WRs combined for just 1.10 yards per route.

Wilson looks like a good bet for top-12 fantasy production this season. And it wouldn’t be surprising to see him develop into an elite WR. He’s worth considering in the back half of Round 2.

Lazard the Likely No. 2

Lazard looks like the favorite for the No. 2 WR job based on two things:

  1. The four-year, $44 million contract he got in free agency, the biggest deal signed by any free-agent WR this offseason.
  2. His rapport with Rodgers. The pair spent the last five seasons together in Green Bay.

Lazard posted career highs last year in targets (100), catches (60), and yards (788). He added six TDs to finish 33rd among WRs in half-PPR points.

His ceiling probably doesn’t reach much higher than that this year without a Wilson injury. But that’s fine considering Lazard’s ADP sits outside the top 45 WRs.

Lazard is a worthwhile – albeit unexciting – value pick at that cost.

TIP

Mining for value is a key tenet of our fantasy football draft strategy.

Davis Hanging Around

For much of the offseason, it looked like Davis was destined to play elsewhere this year.

But he has remained on the roster and could push Lazard for that No. 2 job. Davis is still just 28 and clearly has gas left in the tank, averaging a career-best 16.8 yards per catch last season.

Going near the end of fantasy drafts – if he gets drafted at all – Davis is an interesting flier.

New Digs for Hardman

The Jets also added Hardman in free agency, although he got just $4.5 million on a 1-year deal. 

That reflects his disappointing production in Kansas City, where he maxed out at 59 catches and 693 yards across four seasons. Hardman never finished better than 49th among WRs in half-PPR points as a Chief.

Consider him more of a potential spike-week player for best ball teams than a reliable option in lineup-setting leagues.

 

When to Draft AFC East Wide Receivers (and everyone else)

Exactly how valuable all these AFC East Wide Receivers are in YOUR fantasy league depends on myriad factors, including:

  • Scoring system
  • Team needs
  • ADP
  • Upside
  • Injury risk

We factor 17 value indicators into the rankings on your customized fantasy football cheat sheet.

 

Learn More About Customized Cheat Sheets Powered by the Draft War Room

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