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Should you draft Amon-Ra St. Brown or Garrett Wilson in 2023: Fantasy Crossroads

NFL Fantasy



All summer long, I’m taking a look at the fantasy landscape heading into 2023 and helping drafters make some of the toughest decisions. If two players are close to one another in ADP, who should you choose? That’s the plan here. This is Fantasy Crossroads.


In 2022, Amon-Ra St. Brown had a breakout sophomore season, establishing himself as an elite fantasy wideout. Entering the 2023 season, Garrett Wilson is looking to have a similar breakout year in his second season and has every chance to emerge into one of the best wide receivers in the NFL. 

So who should you draft onto your fantasy team? The Detroit Lion who has already become a top-10 wideout? Or the New York Jet ready for takeoff?

Let’s take a look.

Amon-Ra St. Brown, WR, Detroit Lions

The Case for Amon-Ra St. Brown

I mean, have you watched what he’s done in his first two NFL seasons?

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After a stellar rookie campaign in 2021 when he caught 90 passes for 912 yards and five touchdowns, Amon-Ra St. Brown took his game to a different level in his sophomore year. The emerging star hauled in 106 passes for 1,161 yards and six touchdowns and finished the season as fantasy’s WR7 despite missing a game. My favorite wide receiver in the 2021 draft class, St. Brown inexplicably fell to the fourth round of the NFL Draft, an absolute win for the Detroit Lions and their fans. He wins with precise route-running, fluid movement and tremendous feel, which is why he’s been the focal point of this passing game. This past season, St. Brown was targeted on a whopping 30% of his routes. Only the Dolphins’ Tyreek Hill posted a higher rate at 32%. And according to FTN Data, St. Brown ranked top 12 in first-read targets with 118 while being used in a variety of ways. He lined up from the slot about 60% of the time but was also among the league leaders pre-snap motion, as the Lions used pre-snap motion on 47.3% of their plays, the fourth-highest rate in football. Players tend to see more targets in pre-snap motion, and with St. Brown as the Lions’ clear top wideout, I’d expect Ben Johnson to scheme more touches his way.

St. Brown meshes extremely well with quarterback Jared Goff, who throws the football in the area of the field where his wideout excels. A total of 47.4% of Goff’s pass attempts were between 0-9 yards, the 10th-highest rate in the league, while St. Brown’s 6.7 aDOT was the 12th-lowest in the NFL. Sure, he lacks tremendous top-end speed, but it doesn’t matter when he’s exceptional in running routes and finding the soft spots in zone coverage. St. Brown posted a 28% target share against zone coverage this past season and averaged a healthy 2.6 yards per route run. He can get it done against man coverage, too, sporting a target share north of 28% with 2.5 yards per route run. Simply put, St. Brown has established himself as a star wide receiver in both the NFL and fantasy football.

The Case Against St. Brown

While not many wide receivers project to catch more passes than St. Brown, plenty project to score more touchdowns. St. Brown has 11 total touchdowns through his first two seasons and has seen just nine end-zone targets during that stretch. While that’s a bit of a concern, there’s still plenty of potential for St. Brown to flirt with double-digit touchdowns. He’s actually been a bit unlucky, especially last season, which is sometimes the case with touchdowns. According to FTN Data, St. Brown was tackled inside the five-yard line six times last season, the third-most of all wideouts and tight ends. He was also tackled at the one-yard line twice. Combine that with the fact that Jamaal Williams scored 14 touchdowns on a league-leading 28 carries from inside the five-yard line, and it’s no wonder St. Brown only scored six times last year.


Garrett Wilson, WR, New York Jets

The Case for Garrett Wilson

Arguably the top rookie wide receiver entering last year’s draft, Garrett Wilson left little doubt throughout his first NFL season. The Ohio State product caught 83 passes for 1,103 yards and four touchdowns and finished as WR21 in fantasy. It was an even more impressive season when you consider Wilson played with three different quarterbacks, all of whom were below average. It surely contributed to Wilson’s 56% catch rate, but he showed serious upside during his rookie campaign, especially in games when Zach Wilson wasn’t under center. Per the FTN Fantasy Splits Tool, Wilson averaged 6.3 targets, 3.7 receptions, 49.6 receiving yards and just 8.8 PPR points per game in nine contests alongside Wilson. However, in games with anyone else under center, Wilson averaged 11.2 targets, 6.1 receptions, 81.1 receiving yards and 17.2 PPR points per game. The Jets threw the ball a lot more in those games, but Wilson clearly demonstrated WR1 potential and was treated as such. Per FTN Data, Wilson’s 133 first-read targets trailed only Davante Adams and Justin Jefferson last season, while his 147 total targets were the sixth-most in football.