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. I’m wrapping up with the top eight from the NFC. As always, squads appear in ascending order.

To see the bottom eight, check out Part 1 HERE!

No. 8: Detroit Lions

WRs on the Roster: Amon-Ra St. Brown, Jameson Williams, Marvin Jones, Jr., Josh Reynolds, Kalif Raymond, Trinity Benson, Antione Green, Chase Cota, Tom Kennedy, Maurice Alexander, and Dylan Drummond
TEs on the Roster: Sam LaPorta, Brock Wright, James Mitchell, Shane Zylstra, and Derrick Deese, Jr.

About: The Lions are a team on the rise. They nearly made the playoffs last season, and I think they’re due to make it this season. A big part of the reason why is the passing game. It begins with St. Brown, who is incredible. He’s caught 196 passes for 2,076 yards and 11 touchdowns over his past two seasons. He’s a lock at the top that pulls this group up. The reason they’re in the top half of the draw is the potential of the rest. Williams was a top pick at receiver last year that spent most of 2022 recovering from an injury. LaPorta was a top pick in this draft. In addition, the Lions brought back a solid veteran in Jones and have another solid veteran in Reynolds. The reason the Lions aren’t higher is because the potential is unproven. Williams didn’t do much as a rookie and now has a six-game suspension. So, I like the potential enough to pull them up but not enough to bank on them being at the top of the list.

No. 7: Chicago Bears

WRs on the Roster: D.J. Moore, Darnell Mooney, Chase Claypool, Velus Jones, Jr., Tyler Scott, Equanimeous St. Brown, Dante Pettis, Daurice Fountain, Nsimba Webster, Joe Reed, Thyrick Pitts, and Aron Cruickshank
TEs on the Roster: Cole Kmet, Robert Tonyan, Jake Tonges, Chase Allen, and Stephen Carlson

About: No team has worked harder in the last 12 months to build a receiving group than the Bears. At this time last year, it was Mooney and Kmet and not much else. Now, the Bears have a true WR1 in Moore. As a Panther, Moore caught 364 passes for 5,201 yards and 21 touchdowns in five seasons. The team still has a solid asset in Mooney, who has led the Bears in receptions the past two seasons, and a big weapon in Claypool, who came over from the Steelers mid-season. In addition, the Bears have two good tight ends in Kmet and free agent Tonyan, who came over from Green Bay. Justin Fields has weapons now, so it will be interesting to watch the Bears rise.

No. 6: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

WRs on the Roster: Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Russell Gage, Trey Palmer, Kaylon Geiger, Devin Thompkins, David Moore, Kade Warner, Rakim Jarrett, Ryan Miller, and Taye Barber
TEs on the Roster: Cade Otton, Ko Kieft, Payne Durham, David Wells, Dominique Dafney, and Tanner Taula

About: The Buccaneers have a lot of questions on offense. It’s a new quarterback, an uncertain running back room, and an offensive line that’s a work in progress. But they have weapons at receiver. Evans has been a model of consistency. In nine seasons, he’s never had less than 1,006 yards. Godwin is also a great asset, catching 446 passes for 5,666 yards and 32 touchdowns in his six seasons. Beyond that, the Buccaneers have a great veteran third receiver in Gage and a solid young tight end prospect in Otton. They don’t have much in the way of proven, reliable depth at either receiver or tight end, but that top four is pretty impressive.

No. 5: Dallas Cowboys

WRs on the Roster: CeeDee Lamb, Brandin Cooks, Michael Gallup, Simi Fehoko, Jalen Tolbert, KaVontae Turpin, Jalen Brooks, Dennis Houston, Dontario Drummond, Antonio Callaway, John Stephens, Jr., Jalen Cropper-Moreno, Jose Barbon, and David Durden
TEs on the Roster: Jake Ferguson, Luke Schoonmaker, Peyton Hendershot, Sean McKeon, Seth Green, and Princeton Fant

About: The Cowboys have a good offense, but it’s mostly built on the trio of starters. In particular, Lamb is the rock upon which the Cowboys’ passing core is built. Lamb has caught 260 passes for 3,396 yards and 20 touchdowns in his three seasons. This year, the team brought in veteran receiver Cooks to be his partner. Cooks has caught 630 passes for 8,616 yards and 49 touchdowns over nine seasons for four different teams. That creates quite the duo. I have them here because I think Gallup is poised to bounce back. He’s now a couple of years removed from injury and can hopefully regain the form he had in 2019 and 2020. Beyond those three, the Cowboys don’t have much to make you confident. The tight end position also feels a bit like a work in progress. But Lamb, Cooks, and Gallup were enough for me to have them in this spot.

No. 4: San Francisco 49ers

WRs on the Roster: Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, Jauan Jennings, Ray-Ray McCloud, Danny Gray, Chris Conley, Tay Martin, Willie Snead, Ronnie Bell, Shae Wyatt, Dazz Newsome, and Isaiah Winstead
TEs on the Roster: George Kittle, Cameron Latu, Ross Dwelley, Charlie Woerner, Brayen Willis, and Troy Fumagali

About: The 49ers are a loaded team all over the field, including skill positions on offense, the line, and the defense. That includes the passing group. It’s also a group that’s top-heavy. Samuel and Aiyuk are a great duo at receiver. Samuel has caught 223 passes for 3,230 yards and rushed for 782 yards in four seasons. Aiyuk has 194 receptions for 2,589 yards and 18 touchdowns in his three seasons. In addition, the 49ers have one of the best tight ends in the game in Kittle. He has 395 receptions for 5,254 yards and 31 touchdowns in six seasons. The 49ers have some prospects but not much else beyond those three. But those three are good enough to land this team in my Top 4.

No. 3: Minnesota Vikings

WRs on the Roster: Justin Jefferson, Jordan Addison, K.J. Osborn, Jalen Reagor, Brandon Powell, Jalen Nailor, Blake Proehl, Trishton Jackson, Thayer Thomas, Malik Knowles, Lucky Jackson, and Cephus Johnson III
TEs on the Roster: T.J. Hockenson, Josh Oliver, Johnny Mundt, Ben Ellefson, Nick Muse, and Ben Sims

About: This comes down to two players, Jefferson and Hockenson. Jefferson is the best receiver in football right now. He’s caught 324 passes for 4,825 yards and 25 touchdowns in three years. He’s never had less than 88 receptions and 1,400 yards in a season. That’s an incredible record of production. Last year, the team brought in a top-flight tight end in Hockenson. He caught 60 passes for 519 yards and three touchdowns in ten games. They are a great duo. On top of that, the Vikings have an interesting receiver in Osborn and a great young rookie receiver in Addison. That’s a solid group. The Vikings have a few interesting pieces among their depth, like Oliver at tight end and Reagor, a former First Round pick, at receiver. But they land at third thanks to Jefferson, Hockenson, and Addison.

No. 2: Philadelphia Eagles

WRs on the Roster: A.J. Brown, DeVonta Smith, Olamide Zaccheaus, Quez Watkins, Tyrie Cleveland, Brittain Covey, Greg Ward, Devon Allen, Joseph Ngata, Charleston Rambo, and Jadon Haselwood
TEs on the Roster: Dallas Goedert, Jack Stoll, Dan Arnold, Grant Calcaterra, Tyree Jackson, Dalton Keene, and Russell Brady

About: One of the toughest calls on the list for me was picking No. 1 and No. 2. I settled on the Eagles here. They have a fantastic group of pass-catching weapons. Brown came over the last off-season and thrived with Smith and Goedert at tight end. Brown caught 88 passes for 1,496 yards and 11 touchdowns, Smith caught 95 passes for 1,196 yards and five touchdowns, and Goedert caught 55 passes for 702 yards and three touchdowns all last season. It’s a powerful trio that is part of the reason the Eagles are a top contender in the NFC. I don’t love the depth pieces behind them at receiver or tight end, but this is a trio that can’t be ignored. It was good enough for me to cement them at the second spot.

No. 1: Seattle Seahawks

WRs on the Roster: D.K. Metcalf, Tyler Lockett, Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Dee Eskridge, Cody Thompson, Dareke Young, Matt Landers, Cade Johnson, Easop Winston, Jr., Jake Bobo, John Hall, C.J. Johnson, and Tyjon Lindsey
TEs on the Roster: Noah Fant, Will Dissly, Colby Parkinson, Tyler Mabry, Noah Gindorff, and Griffin Herbert

About: Why the Seahawks as No. 1? No single pass catcher here is better than the top receivers on the teams just below them. But this is another case where the sum of the parts is greater than any individual piece. It starts with the fact that Metcalf and Lockett are chronically under-rated. Since 2020, when they were both in the Top 10, Metcalf and Lockett have both finished in the Top 20 each season, often in the Top 15. The team has now added the top WR prospect in the 2023 NFL Draft in JSN and has a pair of strong tight ends in Fant and Dissly. That’s a diverse, strong, and deep group of receivers. Like most teams, beyond that top group, there isn’t much that impresses you. But for me, the Seahawks have the most impressive group of players in the pass-catching room, which landed them at No. 1.

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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