WR3s with WR1 Potential (2023 Fantasy Football)

As we approach the Fantasy Football season, we wonder which direction certain offenses might go. There are plenty of teams that could look different than they did a season ago. Some of this may be based on schedule and others will be strictly free of playing time and injuries from other players at the position. To prepare for how fantasy drafts will play out in the coming months, here are five wide receivers to target as they have the potential to become their team’s top receivers and targets for their offense.

WR3 target who could be WR1

Brandin Cooks (DAL)

One of the more underrated moves this offseason was Brandin Cooks going to the Dallas Cowboys. During his 9-year career, Cooks has posted more than 50 receptions in eight of those seasons. In addition to that, he has recorded 5+ touchdowns and 1,000+ receiving yards in six of those seasons. With a move to Dallas, there’s a chance Cooks will reach those totals this season.

Putting Cooks in the Cowboys’ offense gives quarterback Dak Prescott another weapon. While CeeDee Lamb is the number one target in this offense, there is a lot to be desired in having cooks. With tight end Dalton Schultz in Houston, there are more targets to go around. Meanwhile, Cooks appears to be an upgrade over Michael Gallup.

Depending on how the health goes for the three receivers of Lamb, Gallup and Cooks, there is potential for Cooks to have one of the best seasons of his career. Right now, we project Cooks to have 68.6 receptions for 873.1 yards and 5 receiving touchdowns.

On the schedule, there are some good potential matchups for Cooks. He gets to play teams like the Cardinals, Rams, Panthers and Lions. Meanwhile, there is always intrigue with the divisional matchups against the NFC East. With an ADP listed as 100th overall, there are plenty of signs pointing to Cooks outperforming this draft position.

Jordan Addison (MIN)

There is potential for all four receivers who were selected in the first round to have strong rookie seasons. However, this is not always the case. Because this year, I think there are two receivers that could be put in situations to be successful right away.

First, there’s no denying that I was higher on Jordan Addison in the 2023 NFL Draft than most. Regardless of when he was drafted, I love his fit in Minnesota. Being sandwiched between Justin Jefferson and KJ Osborn should do wonders for Addison during his first season in the NFL.

Last year, Adam Thielen had 107 targets, but with him moving on to Carolina, there’s an opportunity for another receiver to try to match the production we’re seeing from Jefferson. While I love the potential of KJ Osborn this season, there is reason to believe that Addison could very well be the next guy in the Vikings offense. His ability in the short and intermediate areas of the field should help him find immediate success. Meanwhile, he will often find himself in 1-on-1 situations with the attention of the defense focused on Jefferson and Hockenson.

Addison is projected to have 58.4 receptions for 789.1 yards and 4.8 touchdowns this season. It wouldn’t be surprising if he beats those projections. After the bye week, he has matchups against the Raiders, Bengals, Lions (twice) and Packers. There are favorable matchups across the board for him. With an ADP of 93. overall, it’s definitely worth drafting Addison, as his potential is through the roof in the Vikings’ offense.

Zay Flowers (BAL)

As the Ravens’ offense undergoes a change, there is potential for Zay Flowers to become the top receiving threat in their offense. The Ravens moved on from offensive coordinator Greg Roman and signed Todd Monken from the Georgia Bulldogs. There is potential for us to see plenty of three-receiver sets in Baltimore.

Looking at the Ravens’ depth chart, players like Rashod Bateman and Odell Beckham Jr. are expected. are the best receivers. However, injuries haven’t been kind to either player and that opens the door for Zay Flowers.

Flowers is a fluid route runner who runs aggressively with every step of his route. In the offseason, we’ve seen Lamar Jackson and Flowers work out together in South Florida. While we think the Ravens are going to be a run-first offense, there needs to be a receiver to step up and take the pressure off tight end Mark Andrews as the lone pass-catcher of this offense.

With an ADP of 131. overall, there is potential for Flowers to be an absolute steal for fantasy owners. His schedule has some very favorable matchups with teams like the Titans, Lions, Cardinals, Seahawks, Rams and Jaguars. Depending on how your fantasy drafts go, there’s a chance you could build your roster with seven or eight picks before topping it off with Zay Flowers.

Richie James Jr. (KC)

Just roll the dice here on a Chiefs pass-catcher not named Travis Kelce. I want to think receivers Kadarius Toney and Skyy Moore are the best receivers when I see it. Last season, Richie James had a career resurgence with the New York Giants. He posted 57 receptions on 70 targets for 569 yards and four touchdowns.

He had a career year with Daniel Jones throwing him the ball. Now he gets to play with Patrick Mahomes. Matching or beating that production looks promising for Richie James. For James, his game relies more on the short and intermediate areas of the field with crossing routes, stick routes and designed screens. But that bodes well for him in an offense where Mahomes is able to make magic happen.

There’s a chance James starts being drafted much higher than his ADP of 262. overall, but he’s definitely worth a late fantasy bet. On the schedule, James will have games against the Lions, Jaguars, Vikings, Bills, Chargers and Raiders. With an offense looking for a way to replace receivers like Mecole Hardman and JuJu Smith-Schuster, there’s reason to believe James can make an impact in Kansas City.

Kendrick Bourne (NE)

This is definitely a gamble, but there is potential for Kendrick Bourne to have more success this season than he did last season. For starters, it’s important to remember that the Patriots have moved on from Matt Patricia to Bill O’Brien for their offensive play-calling. In the meantime, it’s all about opportunities, and I think the opportunities present themselves for Bourne.

Regardless of the contract extension for DeVante Parker, it’s worth noting that he hasn’t played a full season since the 2019 season, and even then he only started 14 games. While the Patriots added Juju Smith-Schuster, he has missed time in his career with a shoulder and knee injury. Again, there should be options for Bourne.

It will be interesting to see how many three-receiver sets we see from Bill O’Brien and this Patriots’ offense. My guess is that we will see plenty of 3×1 sets with switch releases, pack formations and a mix of empty formations and center snaps. More variety in the offense immediately opens the door for the playmakers in this Patriots’ offense, including Bourne.

Depending on how deep your bench is, there’s reason to believe Bourne is worth saving for your fantasy team. In 2021, we saw Bourne catch 55 receptions out of 70 targets during Mac Jones’ rookie season. With how bad the play was last season, he should see an increase from the 48 goals he saw last season. While there isn’t an ADP listed for Bourne, he has good matchups with teams like the Cowboys, Raiders, Bills, Colts and Chiefs on the schedule.

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