2024 fantasy football position preview: Wide receiver

todayJune 24, 2024 11

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    Matt Bowen, ESPN Staff WriterJun 19, 2024, 07:45 AM ET


      Former NFL safety Matt Bowen is a veteran of four teams over seven seasons, and now provides analysis for ESPN Insider.

In today’s NFL, offenses are built on the pass game, including a focus on creating big plays through the air. And it’s the wide receivers who are cashing in.

Last season, CeeDee Lamb led all PPR scorers with 403.2 total points, and four of the top 10 were wide receivers (Lamb, Tyreek Hill, Amon-Ra St. Brown, Puka Nacua). In fact, there were 33 wide receivers who scored at least 200 fantasy points in 2023, with 18 averaging at least 15 points per game (among those with at least 10 games played).

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Want more evidence that passing games are exploding right now? Think about this: 35 wide receivers saw at least 100 targets last season, while 27 eclipsed 1,000 yards receiving. You want to see the ball in the end zone? A total of 26 wide receivers caught at least seven touchdowns, including six who had 10 or more, led by Tyreek Hill and Mike Evans with 13.

The overall passing volume is up and will remain at a high level. Last season, 24 of the 32 NFL teams attempted 550 or more passes, 11 of which had 600-plus. It’s the dropback pass game, play-action and RPOs, with built-in concepts to attack defensive coverage trends.

NFL defenses played zone coverage at a 57.5% rate in 2023, with split-safety alignments on 44.3% of opponent dropbacks, both of which were the highest marks of the past five seasons. And offensive play-callers have answers to carve out open voids, create catch-and-run opportunities or dial up the vertical shot plays.

There is obviously impressive depth at wide receiver in fantasy football, with multiple tiers of players who can contribute viable production for your lineup. However, when setting your draft board this summer, it’s still best to jump early and target a wideout — in Round 1 or 2 — who can provide consistent scoring and volume opportunities, with breakout-game potential.

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Regardless of your scoring format or whether your starting lineup features two or three wide receivers (or more, if you include flex slots), the value of landing a top-tier pass-catcher has never been greater. Grab one early and then build out the rest of your roster with receivers who play in high-volume/high-scoring passing offenses. The pro game has changed, and it’s not turning back.

We got next: Rookie wide receivers are more developed than ever, with pro-ready skill sets and playmaking traits. Seven receivers were drafted in Round 1 of April’s draft, led by Marvin Harrison Jr. (Arizona Cardinals), Malik Nabers (New York Giants) and Rome Odunze (Chicago Bears). It’s OK to target the upside of first-year wide receivers who landed in positive team/scheme situations, or when looking for that late-round flier.

Written by: Ag Entertainment

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