2023 Fantasy Football: WR bust candidates

For more fantasy football draft fades, check out Dalton's 32 bust candidates from every NFL team.

Chicago Bears: DJ Moore

Moore is a very good NFL receiver but ranked 28th in expected fantasy points per game last season, just ahead of Brandin Cooks and Jakobi Meyers. He's been the WR34 and WR28 (per game) in 0.5 PPR leagues the last two seasons. Poor quarterback play can certainly be blamed on Moore never producing WR1 fantasy stats, but he'll be dealing with the same (if not a worse) situation in Chicago.

The Bears produced an NFL-low 15.4 catchable targets per game last year! Put differently, a 15% target share with the Chargers was worth more than a 30% target share in Chicago. Justin Fields is a fantasy monster thanks to his running and has a real chance of finishing as the QB1 this year, but his passing (in)ability might have Moore pining for the days of Sam Darnold.

Moore should once again produce a strong target share, but an extremely shaky QB situation and a limited Chicago offense make him overvalued in fantasy drafts.

Dallas Cowboys: Brandin Cooks

Cooks has perennially commanded targets, but his competition increased dramatically after joining Dallas. Ceedee Lamb developed into a true alpha last year, and Michael Gallup reportedly looks like his old self after playing through numerous injuries in 2022. Jalen Tolbert has also impressed. Cooks turns 30 soon, and while his floor is fine, he’s going to struggle to match his usual target numbers in Dallas (the Texans even attempted more passes than the Cowboys last season).

Green Bay Packers: Christian Watson

Watson was highly impressive during a dominant rookie campaign (after a rough start!) that included the second-highest Passer Rating when targeted. But there are some red flags for a player going in the top 50 picks on some platforms (78.0 on Yahoo). Watson has incoming TD regression and has never recorded 1,000 receiving yards during any season throughout his football career (and he’s older than Justin Jefferson).

He also battled multiple injuries as a rookie, but Green Bay’s switch at quarterback is most worrisome of all. Aaron Rodgers didn’t have his best season last year, but Watson goes from an inner circle Hall of Famer to a QB with one career start. Meanwhile, Love has reportedly favored Romeo Doubs during the offseason — just like he did last summer. The Packers added rookie WR Jayden Reed in Round two, and the switch in QBs brings a real question as to target preference compared to 2022 (as well as efficiency).

This one will probably come back to bite me, though.

Indianapolis Colts: Michael Pittman Jr.

Pittman is emerging as one of the best NFL receivers, but his fantasy value will suffer during Anthony Richardson’s rookie season. Pittman will likely benefit as the first-read on an RPO-heavy offense, but the volume and offensive environment will hurt. Richardson enters with fewer than 400 career college pass attempts, so he’s as raw as a passer can be. Only one rookie QB has supported a top-12 fantasy WR over the last decade. With Richardson and Jonathan Taylor (when healthy and if he's not traded) also dominating at the goal line, Pittman is going to be a much better player for the Colts than he is for fantasy managers this year.

Jacksonville Jaguars: Christian Kirk

With Calvin Ridley now Jacksonville’s clear alpha receiver, Kirk has only played in 11 personnel during the preseason. While Kirk did plenty of damage out of the slot last season, it’s a concerning development if Zay Jones continues to play in two-WR sets into the regular season. Kirk would still have fantasy value, but the change would certainly limit his ceiling.

Los Angeles Chargers: Mike Williams

Williams can look like an elite receiver at times, but he has a chronic back issue and new competition in first-round rookie Quentin Johnston. Williams should benefit from new OC Kellen Moore, but he’s reached 50 receptions in just one season in his five-year career and could easily fall behind Johnson over the second half of 2023.

Nonetheless, Williams is curiously being drafted ahead of Jahan Dotson and George Pickens.

New York Giants: Wide Receivers

Daniel Jones will benefit greatly from the additions of Darren Waller and much-improved receivers. But the crowded WR group could easily prove a headache, as Isaiah Hodgins, Darius Slayton, Parris Campbell, Wan’Dale Robinson, Sterling Shepard and Jalin Hyatt will all command targets (behind Waller). It’s a better recipe for the Giants than fantasy managers.

Tennessee Titans: Treylon Burks

While he's since returned to practice, Burks suffered an LCL injury that could require some time to fully recover. He admittedly had to learn a new position as a rookie, but he remains a raw route-runner who needs snaps to continue to develop. Moreover, Burks will be behind newcomer DeAndre Hopkins on the target pecking order.

Derrick Henry also has red flags, given his age and career workload while running behind arguably the league’s worst offensive line.