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NFC North Wide Receivers (WRs): A Fantasy Football Breakdown

By C. H. Herms 4:42pm EDT 8/5/23

NFC North Wide Receivers: Draft Targets and Fades

The NFC North is home to arguably the best WR in the NFL.

This division also hosts two of the most barren WR corps across the league.

Fantasy managers will find superstar production from Justin Jefferson and Amon-Ra St. Brown, but who else can emerge as a fantasy stud?

Will D.J. Moore produce a WR1 season with the Bears?

Is there a rookie breakout waiting to happen for the Vikings?

We'll answer all of those questions in this team-by-team evaluation of the best wideouts in the division.

Check out how these NFC North WRs stack up in our award-winning fantasy football rankings

Chicago Bears Wide Receivers

Top Fantasy Target: D.J. Moore
Other Draftables: n/a

Nowhere To Go But Up

The Bears were an extremely run-heavy offense in 2022. They ranked first in team rushing yards per game (177.3), landed 31st in pass rate, and recorded the NFL’s lowest pass rate over expectation since 2016 (-14.1%).

QB Justin Fields finished with just 192 completions on 319 attempts, 2,242 passing yards, and 17 TDs. He ranked dead-last in PFF passing grade among 25 QBs who recorded 400+ dropbacks last season.

We don’t believe Fields is that bad a passer, considering he ranked top-10 in Pro Football Focus (PFF) passing grade over his last two seasons at Ohio State, but he’ll need to improve a lot.

Fortunately, the Bears have enlisted some help.

The Moore, The Merrier?

The Bears acquired WR D.J. Moore this offseason from the Panthers.

The former first-round pick has recorded at least 60 catches, 800+ receiving yards, and 4 TDs each of the past four years.

Moore has finished among the top 24 PPR WRs three times in his five seasons.

He has shown flashes of being an elite WR in the league, though poor QB play has consistently held him back. Moore’s career passer rating when targeted is 83.7.

Trading for Moore and WR Chase Claypool (in 2022) makes it clear the Bears want to get Fields some help and increase their pass rate.

But we'll wait for them to prove they can support more than one fantasy WR.

Mooney Back; Role Likely Different

Darnell Mooney, the team's leading receiver over the last two seasons, should fight Claypool for the No. 2 WR spot.

Mooney suffered a season-ending ligament tear in his right ankle in Week 12 but led the Bears in target share (27.9%) and air yards share (36.8%) and finished second in receiving yards (493). 

Mooney also finished as the WR31 in PPR points per game (12.9) in 2021. 

TIP

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Detroit Lions Wide Receivers

Top Fantasy Target: Amon-Ra St. Brown
Other Draftables: Jameson Williams

Ascendant Super Power?

The Lions' offense was tremendous in 2022.

They ranked:

  • top 10 in passing yards per game (251.8) and explosive pass rate
  • top 5 in total yards per game (380.0) and points per game (26.6)
  • and first in drive success rate

We expect QB Jared Goff and company to repeat as one of the more explosive offenses in the NFL this season.

There are a handful of intriguing pass-catching options on the roster who could put up quality fantasy production, but none more appealing than their go-to Egyptian deity.

Praising the Sun God

WR Amon-Ra St. Brown had a tremendous sophomore campaign last season.

He led the Lions in targets (145), target share (27.8%), and weighted opportunity rating (0.57), and finished second in air yards share (25.8%) in 2022.

Among 30 WRs who saw 100+ targets last season, St. Brown ranked fourth in PFF receiving grade, eighth in yards per route run (2.40), and third in yards after catch (544).

St. Brown is about as safe a PPR option as there is in fantasy football.

TIP

Amon-Ra St. Brown is a key target in our 2023 Fantasy Football Draft Guide.

Exercising Patience

Second-year WR Jameson Williams will miss the first six games for violating the NFL’s gambling policy.

That follows a rookie season in which he barely played -- 78 total snaps, 9 targets -- coming off a January ACL tear to finish his college career.

Before that, though, the speedster tied for ninth in the country in receiving yards (1,259), tied for second in receiving TDs (13), and ranked 14th in yards per route run (3.11) as a junior at Alabama.

The 2022 first-round pick could be a quality field-stretcher for the Lions upon his return, but he'll clog up a spot on your roster for a month and a half.

Only consider Williams if you play in a league with a deep bench.

Green Bay Packers Wide Receivers

Top Fantasy Target: Christian Watson
Other Draftables: n/a

What Is Love? (Baby, Don't Hurt Me)

For the first time since 2008, there's a new QB1 in Green Bay.

QB Jordan Love has served as the primary backup to Rodgers since being drafted in the first round in 2020, appearing in parts of 10 games with only one career start.

We have yet to see Love play a significant number of snaps. But he's likely a downgrade from Rodgers. That makes it tougher to chase his WRs.

Big Changes Beyond QB

On top of the change at QB, the Packers saw a massive overhaul in their offensive personnel this offseason.

The Packers lost WR Allen Lazard, the 2022 target leader, to the Jets in free agency. Between Lazard, TE Robert Tonyan, WR Randall Cobb, and WR Sammy Watkins, 42.5% of last year’s targets are vacated (third-highest total in the NFL behind the Texans and Panthers).

The returning wideout with the most 2022 targets is Romeo Doubs. The 2022 fourth-round pick tied for third among Packers with 66. He also ranked second in target share (16.2%), third in air yards share (18.1%), and fourth in receiving yards (475).

Rookie Challenger Arrives

The Packers spent a second-round pick on Jayden Reed, a 5’11, 187-pounder who looks like the favorite for slot duties.

Though he spent the majority of his last two college seasons lining up on the outside, Reed spent 59 of 68 offensive snaps in the slot at the Senior Bowl in February, and he's seen the majority of his time there at Packers camp this summer.

Reed looks like a nice dynasty option. We'll see whether this year's Green Bay offense can support a second fantasy wideout -- as well as how target shares get split.

Watson Sports Upside

Christian Watson had a rough start to his rookie season but flashed when healthy.

A knee injury in OTAs required surgery. A Week 3 hamstring issue limited his early-season usage and eventually forced him out of the lineup.

On the field, though, he put up nice numbers.

The second-round pick recorded all seven of his TD catches and each of his top-12 weekly finishes during a four-game stretch from Week 9 to Week 13.

Among Packers, from Week 9 on, he ranked:

  • second in target share (19.9%)
  • first in air yards share (33.8%)
  • tied for first in weighted opportunity rating (0.51)
  • first in PPR points per game (15.8)

There's a nearly 100-point gap between Watson's floor (185.6) and ceiling (280.6) in our PPR projections. That would've been the difference between finishing as the WR28 and WR7 in PPR last season.

Watson is an intriguing upside play.

Our 3D projections lay out the baseline, floor, and ceiling for every player.

Minnesota Vikings Wide Receivers

Top Fantasy Target: Justin Jefferson
Other Draftables: Jordan Addison, K.J. Osborn

The Biggest No-Brainer

The Vikings' passing attack took off under first-year HC Kevin O’Connell in 2022.

They finished fifth in pass rate (65%), third in pass attempts (672), and sixth in pass rate over expectation (+2.5%).

Leading the charge is WR Justin Jefferson.

Last season, he became the youngest player in NFL history to lead the league in catches (128) and receiving yards (1,809).

Since entering the league in 2020, Jefferson ranks third in catches (324), first in receiving yards (4.825), ninth in receiving TDs (25), and second in total PPR points (973.3) among all WRs.

What else is there to say? He's the best.

A New Robin to Jefferson's Batman?

With how often QB Kirk Cousins airs it out, there's room for multiple 1,000-yard WRs.

Rookie WR Jordan Addison looks like a good bet to fill the WR2 role vacated by Adam Thielen.

Thielen drew 107 targets last season and finished 30th among PPR WRs with a 70-716-6 receiving line.

If Addison can come close to that, he'll be a solid fantasy asset.

There's a reason he's one of our top late-round WR PPR targets in 2023.

Still the WR3?

K.J. Osborn played roughly the same role in 2022 as he did the year before, going from 68% playing time to 75%. But he didn't need a Thielen injury to help him get targets thanks to the pass-happier offense.

The Vikings ranked eighth in 11-personnel grouping (3-WR sets) in 2022 under the new coaching staff. That helped Osborn reach 80 targets and 600 receiving yards for the second straight year.

We're betting Osborn will remain in a similar role this year, trailing Jefferson and Addison. Of course, he has a shot to fight Addison for target share.

 

When Should You Draft These NFC North Wide Receivers (and everyone else)?

There's no simple answer to that question.

With so many factors to consider (league size, PPR vs. non-PPR, etc.), it can be difficult to get a read on what a player's value truly is...

... unless you have a fantasy football cheat sheet customized to your exact league settings.

Our Draft War Room syncs directly to your league and evaluates every team's picks as the draft unfolds.

You'll receive a specific value for each player that automatically updates throughout your draft to help you make the best pick every time.

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