1. Calvin Ridley finishes as a top-5 WR in PPR scoring
Ridley has backed up the glowing reports coming out of training camp in his limited preseason action, and despite plenty of target competition in Jacksonville, should be able to cement himself as Trevor Lawrence’s favorite target in 2023.
The last time we saw Ridley, he was averaging 9.4 targets per game across 2020 and 2021 before stepping away from the game for personal reasons and collecting a year-long suspension for gambling. Despite the time away, it appears that Ridley hasn’t lost a step and in a pass-first Jaguars offense, he could push to meet that target-earning threshold once again.
In Ridley’s best season with the Falcons (2020), he registered excellent marks in multiple important metrics highly correlative with fantasy production, including 2.44 yards per route run (5th), an average depth of target of 15.2 on 137 targets (1st), and an 84.7 PFF receiving grade (10th).
On a high-volume Jaguars passing offense (9th most pass attempts in 2022), Ridley should have no trouble earning targets. And while there’s no guarantee he steps in Week 1 and dominates the target share, he does have a history of producing even against quality target competition.
Back in 2020, Ridley (137 targets) was able to out-target Russell Gage (104 targets), Hayden Hurst (85 targets), and Julio Jones (65 targets, but only across 9 games played). A similar distribution could shake out in Jacksonville this year, with Christain Kirk being no slouch and Evan Engram signing a long-term deal with the team.
The offense Ridley is stepping into is easily better than the one he played in the last time he was on the field, and the talent has not faded while he was away from the game. If Lawrence and Ridley can carry their chemistry over from training camp and the preseason into the regular season, top-5 upside is 100% attainable in 2023.
2. Zay Flowers finishes as a top-15 WR in PPR scoring
Baltimore has a crowded WR room on paper, but no Ravens reciever has been able to solidify themselves as the No. 2 target in the passing game behind Mark Andrews. The true pecking order in the regular season will be established on the job, and after a strong camp and preseason, Flowers has an inside track to claiming the Ravens No. 1 job.
The only Ravens WR to register a target share over 20% in the last two seasons was Marquise Brown in 2021 (24.5%). Like Flowers, he was a first round pick and undersized (both receivers stand at 5’9”, 180 lbs). Rashod Bateman has yet to eclipse 17% target share in his career as he’s dealt with injuries, and Odell Beckham Jr. hasn’t played a true WR1 role since 2019.
Bateman also remains banged up while he makes his return from a Lisfranc injury that caused him to miss the majority of the 2022 season. Even if he’s playing in Week 1, there’s a good chance he’ll be eased back into the gameplan while he ramps up to 100%.
That leaves the top spot wide open for the taking, and reports from camp have been overwhelmingly positive regarding the rookie. While Mark Andrews is expected to continue to be Lamar Jackson’s preferred target, in a more balanced offense, Flowers has the potential to see well over 100 targets.
His 6.4 yards after catch per reception with Boston College was tied-4th highest among NCAA wide receivers with over 100 targets in 2022, and his 12 touchdowns ranked 2nd-most among those same 100 receivers. He has the ideal combination of talent, situation, and QB play heading into 2023, which could allow him to surprise as one of the top fantasy wide receivers out of the gate.