Buyer Beware: Low-Floor Wide Receivers and Tight Ends


Upside is king in fantasy football, but plenty of managers like to mix in high-floor options to limit their team’s risk. But, what is a high-floor option? Are those players always as safe as they seem? 


Here, I’ll explain why the floor for these wide receivers and tight ends might actually be a lot lower than drafters are accounting for. This shouldn’t be interchangeable with a “do not draft” list, but it should shed light on the downside that fantasy managers can become blind to when searching for upside or stability. (On Monday, I covered the low-floor quarterbacks and running backs.)

(ADPs based on FTNFantasy’s ADP Report)

Wide Receivers

Tyreek Hill, Miami Dolphins

(ADP: 22nd overall, WR8)

After spending the last four seasons catching passes from Patrick Mahomes, Tyreek Hill will have to build a rapport with Tua Tagovailoa in 2022. Tua is a clear step down from the former MVP, but first-year head coach Mike McDaniel’s offensive scheme might prove to be the biggest hurdle for Hill.

Kansas City passed at the fifth-highest rate last season while the McDaniel-led 49ers’ offense threw the ball at just the No. 29 rate. It’s likely McDaniel draws up more pass plays in Miami considering the investment the team has made in its receivers, but it almost certainly won’t be as many as the Chiefs.

When Miami does pass, Tua will look Jaylen Waddle’s way quite a bit, too. Waddle ranked ninth in the NFL in first read targets per game last season and Tua led the league in first read throws as a percentage of total attempts.

The last few seasons, Hill was being drafted somewhere between the back of the first round and top of the second. Now, he gets a downgrade at QB in a worse offense that projects to throw the ball less than he’s used to, but his ADP only dropped by about a round. Hill is an elite talent, but he’s being drafted closer to his ceiling than his floor this season.

A.J. Brown, Philadelphia Eagles

(29th overall, WR12)

According to PFF, A.J. Brown has been a top-four real-life wide receiver over the past three seasons. Unfortunately, that has only translated to fantasy-points-per-game finishes of 24th, fifth and 25th. As someone who’s never eclipsed 1,100 receiving yards, Brown brings value through his physicality and elite career touchdown rate as opposed to big yardage totals.

That could spell a bit of trouble for Brown’s fantasy outlook in 2022. From 2019 to 2021, the Titans – Brown’s former team – ranked seventh, ninth and 19th in passing touchdowns per game despite their run-heavy offense. Since Jalen Hurts took over in Philly, the Eagles have ranked 24th and 28th. That’s not a great sign for someone who somewhat depends on touchdowns to produce for fantasy.

While the arrow for Philadelphia’s passing efficiency is pointed up thanks to Brown, there’s no guarantee the team elects to pass more. During the first seven weeks of last season, the Eagles went 2-5 and ranked 19th in rush rate at 39%. From weeks 8-18, Philly went 7-3 and ran the ball an astounding 59% of the time (next closest was NE at 52%).

Brown has the talent to be a top-10 fantasy wide receiver. Nobody is denying that. He just plays in an offense that severely limits its wide receivers’ upside which could result in a disappointing finish. He’ll likely need double-digit touchdowns just to live up his ADP, let alone return serious value. If the touchdowns aren’t there, he could again rank close to 30th in points per game.


Adam Thielen, Minnesota Vikings

(72nd overall, WR33)

In 2022, Adam Thielen is now three full seasons removed from his last 1,000-yard season, but he’s been maintaining fantasy relevance with 24 combined touchdowns in the last two seasons. There’s a lot of hype surrounding the Vikings new look offense, but Thielen might not be the biggest beneficiary.

Adam Thielen 2022 Fantasy Football Buyer Beware WR and TE

Head coach Kevin O’Connell comes over from the Rams, who hyper-targeted Cooper Kupp and otherwise spread the ball around. Justin Jefferson is undoubtedly the alpha receiver in Minnesota, so he’ll be the biggest beneficiary of any increase in passing volume, but K.J. Osborn could have a role as well.

Osborn scored seven touchdowns on just 82 targets last season, and he’s seven years younger than Thielen. Thielen’s cost is fairly low at WR33, but considering his age and the other more explosive weapons around him, there’s a chance he ends up as a player that managers hang onto because of his name rather than production.

DeAndre Hopkins, Arizona Cardinals

(75th overall, WR35)

Obviously, DeAndre Hopkins is suspended for the first six games of the 2022 season, so his floor shouldn’t be judged solely by his end-of-season ranking. Still, there’s a real chance Hopkins fails to live up to expectations when he returns to the field.

When Hopkins does return, he won’t necessarily be the unquestioned No. 1 receiver. The Cardinals traded for Kyler Murray’s former college teammate Marquise Brown to fill the void left by Hopkins’ suspension. In addition to Brown, second-year wideout Rondale Moore, tight end Zach Ertz and running back James Conner figure to be integral to the passing game.

At 30 years old, it’s also possible that Hopkins isn’t quite what he once was. Last season, he earned his lowest PFF receiving grade since 2016, lowest yards per route run since 2016 and his lowest targets per route run since his rookie year. Hopkins also would have ranked just 35th among WRs in fantasy points per game if points were calculated without including touchdowns (it’s another way to identify high-risk players or regression candidates).

Of course, touchdowns are a massive part of fantasy football, but I don’t want to use an early seventh rounder on a 30-year-old who will miss six games and whose most recent output was that of a WR3.

Tight Ends

Dawson Knox, Buffalo Bills

(100th overall, TE10)

Last season, Dawson Knox tied for the most touchdowns by a tight end with nine despite ranking 15th in yards, 18th in receptions and 20th in targets. The Bills’ new offensive coordinator, Ken Dorsey, served as the passing game coordinator and QB coach in 2021, meaning the offense will probably look very similar. That’s not great news for Knox.

Dawson Knox 2022 Fantasy Football Buyer Beware WR and TE

Buffalo also targeted tight ends at the third-lowest rate in the NFL last season and added two short-yardage pass-catchers in Jamison Crowder and James Cook. At best, Knox will be the third option in the passing game, but he could be as low as fifth. Without a clear path to a high target share, Knox will most likely rely exclusively on touchdowns again.

Even with his impressive touchdown efficiency, Knox only finished ninth in points per game at the position. If he doesn’t duplicate that in 2022, he could easily fall into the TE2 range, making him a waste of a pick in the ninth round.

Pat Freiermuth, Pittsburgh Steelers

(113th overall, TE11)

Pat Freiermuth put together a solid rookie year in 2021, especially for a tight end. His 60 receptions and seven touchdowns were impressive, but his failure to reach 500 receiving yards was disappointing. That can largely be attributed to Ben Roethlisberger’s noodle arm and a Swiss cheese offensive line that forced him to throw it quick and short, but things won’t necessarily get better in 2022.

The Steelers offensive line still projects to be one of the league’s worst, and while Mitch Trubisky should be a step up from Big Ben with regards to arm strength, he was a backup quarterback last year for a reason.

Last season, Freiermuth finished 17th in fantasy points per game among tight ends even with a great touchdown rate. He’ll need to replicate that or see an increase in volume to return value on his ADP, but he’s still low on the receiving totem pole in Pittsburgh. At best, he’s the third option on an average passing offense. At worst, he’s the fifth option on a bad passing offense. That risk isn’t worth the reward, even in the 10th round.

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