The big wave of Free Agency is over, as is the 2023 NFL Draft. Now it’s time to look forward. Over the next few articles, I’ll be looking at team’s fantasy units by conference, ranking the groups. Today I’m moving on to the pass catchers, which includes receivers and tight ends. Today we’re turning to the AFC and looking at the No. 16 to No. 9 groups. As always, squads appear in ascending order.

No. 16: Tennessee Titans

WRs on the Roster: Treylon Burks, Nick Westbrook-Ikhine, Kyle Phillips, Chris Moore, Racey McMath, Colton Dowell, Jacob Copeland, Reggie Roberson, Jr., Mason Kinney, Kearis Jackson, Tre’Shaun Harrison, and Gavin Holmes
TEs on the Roster: Chig Okonkwo, Trevon Wesco, Josh Wylie, Kevin Rader, Justin Rigg, Alize Mack, and Thomas Odukoya

About: There are a lot of names on that list, but few, if any, that will scare a defense. In fact, a lot of the Titans’ success will be riding on Burks having a breakout in his second year. As a rookie, battling injuries and an inefficient offense, he had 33 receptions for 444 yards and a touchdown. Aside from Burks, the Titans have a few interesting options. Okonkwo was solid down the stretch and becomes a target at tight end, while Westbrook-Ikhine and Phillips had moments last year. But this isn’t a strong top group, and it has little or no depth. It was an easy call for me to place them here on the list.

No. 15: Houston Texans

WRs on the List: Robert Woods, John Metchie III, Nico Collins, Noah Brown, Nathaniel Dell, Xavier Hutchison, Amari Rodgers, Jalen Camp, Steven Sims, Johnny Johnson III, Alex Bachman, Jared Wayne, and Jesse Matthews
TEs on the Roster: Dalton Schultz, Brevin Jordan, Teagan Quitoriano, Mason Schreck, and Jordan Murray

About: The Texans aren’t much better than Tennessee, but they do have more options and a top-tier tight end. Schultz came over from the Cowboys, where he caught 198 passes for 2,000 yards and 17 touchdowns in the past three seasons. He’s a solid passing game weapon. The Texans also added a veteran in Woods. He struggled last year in Tennessee, but Woods was a solid target previously for the Rams and Bills. They also have some young options, including Collins and Metchie, who lost his rookie year to illness. They drafted Dell and Hutchison, who will be developing. It’s not an incredible group, but there’s some potential.

No. 14: New England Patriots

WRs on the Roster: JuJu Smith-Schuster, Devante Parker, Kendrick Bourne, Tyquan Thornton, Kayshon Boutte, Dontario Douglas, Tre Nixon, Matthew Slater, and Raleigh Webb
TEs on the Roster: Mike Gesicki, Hunter Henry, Anthony Firkser, Matt Sokol, Scotty Washington, and Johnny Lumpkin

About: The Patriots have made some strides this off-season, but it’s not incredible. Smith-Schuster gives them a better receiving weapon. For the Chiefs last year, Smith-Schuster caught 78 passes for 933 yards and three touchdowns. In five years with the Steelers, he caught 323 passes for 3,855 yards and 26 touchdowns. In addition, the Patriots added a weapon in Gesicki at tight end. Gesicki didn’t fit with the Dolphins’ new-look offense in 2022, but in the three years prior, he caught at least 50 passes. The hope is those two will give the team some pop. The rest of the group includes veterans like Henry, who has done well as a receiver, Parker, and Bourne. Young players like Thornton and Boutte also have a chance to be a part of the offense. There are some pieces, but it’s not as impressive as with some other squads.

No. 13: Baltimore Ravens

WRs on the Roster: Odell Beckham, Jr., Zay Flowers, Rashod Bateman, Devin Duvernay, James Proche II, Nelson Agholor, Tylan Wallace, Mike Thomas, Shemar Bridges, Andy Isabella, Dontay Demas, Jr., Tarik Black, and Sean Ryan
TEs on the Roster: Mark Andrews, Isaiah Likely, Charlie Kolar, Travis Vokolek, and Brian Walker

About: The Ravens are another team that has taken a step forward this off-season, adding Beckham as a free agent and drafting Flowers. That gives this group a potential boost. The team is also hopeful that Bateman—a First Round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft—can stay on the field and look like the player the Ravens hoped to get when they drafted him. That’s a decent top-three receivers, and the Ravens have some interesting depth with Duvernay and Agholor. But the team is really this high because they have one of the best tight ends in Andrews. He’s caught 336 passes for 4,313 yards and 34 touchdowns in five seasons. He’s a beast. The Ravens also have a good young tight end in Likely, giving them a pair of weapons at that position. There’s some upside for the Ravens but also some questions, which is why I have them here.

No. 12: Indianapolis Colts

WRs on the Roster: Michael Pittman, Jr., Alec Pierce, Isaiah McKenzie, Josh Downs, Ashton Dulin, Mike Strachan, Vyncint Smith, Malik Turner, Ethan Furnea, Juwann Winfree, Kody Case, Xavier Scott, Tyler Adams, and Johnny King
TEs on the Roster: Mo Alie-Cox, Will Mallory, Jelani Woods, Kylen Granson, Andrew Ogletree, Kaden Smith, and Pharoah Brown

About: The Colts have more depth than the other teams on this list, but what do we make of the group? That’s the big question. Pittman is the alpha at receiver, and he has plenty of talent and potential. He has 227 receptions for 2,510 yards and 11 touchdowns in three seasons. There are options behind him, starting with second-year man Pierce. He carries a lot of weight to step up as the No. 2, while veteran McKenzie, who came over from Buffalo, and rookie Downs compete at the slot position. The Colts also have a group of potential assets at tight end, including Woods, Alie-Cox, Mallory, and Granson. But who will step up? Will it be a committee? That’s among the questions with this group. I like the potential, but that’s most of what it is right now, so I have them at No. 12.

No. 11: Kansas City Chiefs

WRs on the Roster: Kadarius Toney, Skyy Moore, Rashee Rice, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Justin Watson, James Ritchie, Justyn Ross, Cornell Powell, Ihmir Smith-Marsette, John Ross, Jerrion Ealy, Ty Fryfogle, and Nikko Remigio
TEs on the Roster: Travis Kelce, Noah Gray, Jody Fortson, Blake Bell, Kendall Blanton, Matt Bushman

About: Ah the Chiefs. They have the best quarterback in the NFL and one of the best offenses. But when you look at the receiving corps, it’s hard to get too excited. Smith-Schuster and Mecole Hardman left this off-season. That puts plenty of pressure on Toney and MVS, while young receivers in Moore and Rice will be asked to step up. Beyond that, the Chiefs have a lot of guys on the roster, most of whom profile as projects. Toney was a First-Round pick two years ago by the Giants, but he’s struggled to stay on the field. He’s managed to appear in just 19 of a possible 34 games over two years. For the Chiefs, he came over mid-season in 2022, catching just 14 passes for 171 yards and three touchdowns in seven games. MVS, a veteran who came over from the Packers, caught 42 passes for 687 yards and two touchdowns. So, why are the Chiefs this high? It’s because Kelce is the best tight end in football, a passing game weapon like no other. He has 814 receptions for 10,344 yards and 69 touchdowns. He’s an incredible weapon, good enough to pull the Chiefs to this spot on his own.

No. 10: Buffalo Bills

WRs on the Roster: Stefon Diggs, Gabe Davis, Deonte Harty, Khalil Shakir, Justin Shorter, Trent Sherfield, Isaiah Coulter, KeeSean Johnson, Dezmon Patmon, Bryan Thompson, Tyrell Shavers, Marcell Ateman, and Jalen Wayne
TEs on the Roster: Dawson Knox, Dalton Kincaid, Quintin Morris, Zach Davidson, and Joel Wilson

About: Some might argue the Bills are too low. I get it. I love Diggs, who is a Top 12 receiver. He’s caught 338 passes for 4,189 yards and 29 touchdowns in three seasons in Buffalo. I love Diggs and have no questions about him. But after Diggs, it’s nothing but questions. Many hoped to see Davis step up as a solid WR2 last year, but it didn’t quite materialize. He caught 48 passes on 93 targets for 836 yards and seven touchdowns. Not bad, but not incredible. Beyond those two, the receiving corps has mostly questions and little depth to get excited about. The Bills have a decent tight end in Knox and drafted Kincaid in the First Round. Kincaid could be the new slot receiver, but that’s pinning a lot of hopes on a pair of tight ends. The Bills are far from the worst receiving group, but they aren’t as great as you’d think because of Diggs.

No. 9: Cleveland Browns

WRs on the Roster: Amari Cooper, Elijah Moore, Donovan Peoples-Jones, Cedric Tillman, Anthony Schwartz, Marquis Goodwin, David Bell, Jakeen Grant, Jaelen Darden, Daylen Baldwin, and Mike Hartley, Jr.
TEs on the Roster: David Njoku, Harrison Bryant, Jordan Aikins, Zaire Mitchell-Paiden, and Thomas Greaney

About: My final entry on the first part of this list is the Browns. This is another team that has better weapons than you might realize. It starts with Cooper, a true No. 1 who came in a trade last off-season. Cooper caught 78 passes for 1,190 yards and nine touchdowns in a lower-volume offense for the Browns last year. Now, he gets a full season of Deshaun Watson. The Browns went and got Moore, a good young receiver from the Jets. They have decent speed options in Peoples-Jones, Schwartz, Goodwin, and the rookie Tillman. So, the team has some top-end talent and depth. That’s true at tight end, too. Njoku is an underrated weapon at tight end. He caught 58 passes for 628 yards and four touchdowns in 2022. I like him as a low-end TE1. Behind him is a veteran in Aikins and a good prospect in Bryant. I like the Browns’ group, and I like their potential to take a step forward in 2023.

Matthew Fox is a die-hard NFL fan and Broncos’ homer. He’s a member of the FSWA. You can find more from him on Twitter @knighthawk7734 or as co-host of the Fantasy Football Roundtable Podcast, a part of the Campus2Canton Network

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