It’s never too early to start deciphering which players to target early in C2C and Devy leagues. Although multiple years from the NFL level, there are certain metrics we can use to identify wide receivers to prioritize in our process both at a collegiate level and as possible NFL producers. Using this analytics process, I’ll detail my favorite targets in the 2023 wide receiver class.
Targeting Early Producers
The 2023 wide receiver class had an excellent 2020 college season with multiple players hitting analytics benchmarks we like to see. From a data perspective, there are two key metrics important for evaluating age-adjusted production. The first weighted dominator (wDR), which values receiving market share (80% weight) over touchdown market share (20% weight). It is one of the better metrics when projecting the hit rate. This piece will also dive into Receiving Yards Per Team Pass Attempt (YPTPA), which goes a step further than wDR because it accounts for efficiency and volume. This metric is crucial when evaluating players in the context of crowded offenses (e.g., Alabama).
Top producers in the 2023 wide receiver class using YPTPA and wDR.
For this article, the cut-offs we’re using are a 20% wDR and a 1.43 YPTPA. This is based on the regression line for a top 24 performer historically. Using these thresholds, we narrow our scope to seven wide receivers that hit both metrics in year one. These performers are my top targets knowing the value of advanced metrics from an age-adjusted perspective.
Kyle Williams, UNLV
Williams had one of the greatest freshman seasons in recent memory. The UNLV former quarterback turned wide receiver, who was recruited as an athlete, smashed all production thresholds. His 37.2% wDR in year one is fourth-best since 2015 – behind only Michael Gallup, Corey Davis, and Stefon Diggs. All successful NFL players, with two of three from Group of 5 conferences as well.
In addition to an otherworldly wDR, Williams was efficient with his targets. Since 2015, his 2.17 YPTPA in year one is the sixteenth best among all classes. Additionally, his 1.0 YPTPA above team average is the ninth-best over the same period.
The risk with Williams in your drafts is that he is from a G5 conference in the Mountain West. Currently ranked as our WR104, I think he’s undervalued. Another season with this type of domination could propel Williams to the high-end rounds of C2C start-ups, but as of now he’s a guy that I’m willing to reach on in later rounds.
Quentin Johnston, TCU
Johnston picked up where Jalen Reagor left off at TCU. The 6’4” 193lb former 4-star wide receiver came out and dominated the second he stepped on the field in Fort Worth. Although lanky and raw, Johnston was able to post an impressive 24.2% wDR, good for third in the class.
Considering his exceptional wDR, it’s no surprise he was efficient with his targets as a downfield threat. His 1.79 YPTPA not only crosses our threshold but was also 0.55 yards over the team average. He was by far the most efficient Horned Frogs wide receiver this past season.
A Power 5 producer and an exceptional athlete with size, Johnston’s ceiling is through the roof. The only remaining question in his profile is can he develop into a complete WR for the next level? Adding size and rounding out his game could put him in rarified company.
Marvin Mims, Oklahoma
A fast riser in the devy community, Mims excelled in his freshman year. Becoming a fast favorite of 2022 quarterback Spencer Rattler, Mims hit some of our favorite production metrics with ease. A 20% wDR crossed the threshold we’re looking for.
Although posting the 20% wDR is fantastic, Mims’s more impressive mark is his 1.69 YPTPA. Oklahoma’s wide receiver room is better than most around the country, making his efficiency even more impressive. He has secured target share while being incredibly productive and has vaulted into the top two rounds of C2C and Devy drafts.
A prolific yet efficient producer is hard to come by, especially when looking at age-adjusted metrics. However, his current size is a cause for concern when looking at his upside. Listed at 5’11” 175lbs, Mims needs to add weight to be considered a high-end prospect at the wide receiver position.
Kayshon Boutte, LSU
The consensus 2023 WR1 finally makes his appearance. The top wide receiver recruit in his class, Boutte impressed down the stretch. After Terrace Marshall opted out, it was the Boutte show (*Austin Powers* yeah baby). In his final three games, he posted stat-lines of 8-111-0, 5-108-1, and 14-308-3. A 22% percent wDR is impressive, even if most of his production came post-Marshall opt-out. As a freshman, becoming the undisputed alpha on an SEC offense is near-impossible, yet Boutte assumed that role when called upon.
Boutte still managed a YPTPA breakout at 1.66 yards, even though he was the WR2 in the offense most of the season. Securing the 22% wDR in a top conference is impressive but doing so efficiently puts all eyes on Boutte.
In 2021, he will be the man, and it’s wheels up. Boutte’s production to end the year was nothing less than spectacular. Although he rode shotgun to Marshall, he should enter the 2021 season as the undisputed alpha. I’m in on Boutte as the 2023 WR1 and a locked-in first-round C2C pick.
Rakim Jarrett, Maryland
Jarrett was a late flip in the 2021 recruiting class, choosing to return to his home state of Maryland over Alabama and LSU. The overall WR4 in the 2021 class and a 5-star in his own right, Jarrett only played in four games due to Maryland’s disrupted schedule. In that small sample, Jarrett thrived. After struggling in week one against Northwestern, Jarrett posted back-to-back lines of 6-68-0 and 5-144-2. Despite the limited opportunity, Jarrett adjusted quickly to the college game, securing a 20% wDR in year one.
Possibly more significant than Jarrett’s wDR was his ability to produce efficiently despite being schemed for targets as a true freshman. His 1.61 YPTPA crossed the 1.43 threshold, a rare feat for true freshmen. Competing with Dontay Demus, Jarrett was able to be productive and efficient early in his collegiate career. Jarrett made the most of his opportunity posting two impressive finishes, highlighted by the game at Penn State.
A tumultuous year for Jarrett due to Maryland’s COVID situation, he managed to impress regardless. Moving forward, Jarrett should still be considered a high-end asset worthy of being drafted within the first three rounds of a C2C or Devy startup.
Parker Washington, Penn State
Washington, a 5’10” 205lb multi-dimensional wide receiver, had a surprisingly impressive season. The WR45 in his class, according to 247, he surprised his freshman year alongside Jahan Dotson. Posting a 24.1% wDR, good for third in the class, piqued interest in Happy Valley. Like Jarrett, crossing that mark as a freshman in the Big Ten is not an easy feat.
Competing with an established player in Dotson and succeeding is notable but again, doing so efficiently is just as impressive. Unable to secure an alpha position, Washington dominated his competition from the slot with physicality. 1.6 YPTPA points to his ability to be efficient, considering his versatility in roles and the ability to win at the catch point.
In C2C drafts, I’m willing to be aggressive with Washington. An early producer on a good offense, Washington fits the modern WR bill with his stout stature. An efficient but prolific producer with an entrenched alpha, Washington should be a riser heading into next season.
Jordan Addison, Pitt
The final wide receiver profiled in this article is another ATH turned WR. Recruited as a 4-star and the tenth-overall athlete, Addison settled into the wide receiver position quickly and dominated throughout the season. He secured the WR1 position immediately for the Panthers and posted the second-best wDR in the class at 24.4%. Although Pitt is not considered a wide receiver powerhouse, Addison’s quick ascension and dominance as a true freshman is simply hard to ignore.
Again, the final player to cross the YPTPA threshold, Addison was efficient in his role. Combined with the second-best wDR, Addison’s 1.56 YPTPA was above his team’s average. Pacing the Pittsburgh wide receivers by 0.29 yards, Addison was comparably more efficient than his teammates.
A riser on the C2C scene, Addison has quickly risen in ADP and justifiably so. Addison’s 2020 season paints a good picture of his current value, an efficient player amongst teammates with early age-adjusted production.
It’s hard to go wrong with any of the wide receivers detailed above. All were prolific yet efficient producers their freshmen year and deserve recognition. Using a data-centric approach, all wide receivers above are targets in C2C drafts.