One remaining obstacle we still face in the fantasy community as content providers and consumers is understanding that rankings, projections, tiers, and average draft positions are all different and serve different purposes.

My season-long rankings and projections focus on the probable outcomes for a player based on top-down team production and projected game script.

Then player opportunity production is based on that team volume.

We can tweak volume and efficiency for a range of outcomes per player, but that is the simplest explanation of how the projection sauce is made.

While those projections give us a range of season-long numbers and have implications for listing players in a linear format (rankings), the one thing that is missing is that even when those full-season numbers are accurate, they fail to capture the overall weekly impact and the pockets of production that are relevant to our weekly game of fantasy football.

Projecting Davante Adams for 103 receptions, 1,144 yards, and 8 touchdowns (his 2023 totals) paints a nice picture of his season-long outlook, but any gamer that rostered Adams last season will also tell you that there was a lot of weekly variance.

That is an anecdotal example to make a larger point, but there is a litany of other examples we can lay out that fit into the top-down point I am making.

There are very few players at each position that just smash weekly throughout the fantasy season at the highest level, and we are hopeful to be in on the remainder of players when they strike the hottest.

That is where player tiers come in.

2024 Fantasy Football Tiers

A lot of fantasy football tiers that you will find out there are just rankings chopped up into sections.

While the rankings are more focused on a probable tally of season-long output for a week-to-week game, I prefer to structure my tiers based on how similarly players accrue their fantasy points and by their archetypes.

By doing this, it allows me to notice actionable gaps in player pricing per tier which in turn allows for arbitrage in fantasy drafts while also highlighting some longer-odds players who have more potential than originally perceived.

Arbitrage in fantasy football is driven strongest by how production is accrued, and the order of those players (rankings) is driven by the opportunities (on a player and team level) that each player receives.

Our projections are inherently going to be wrong on those projected opportunities often.

Team situations are influenced by a plethora of things.

The game script, injuries to the player himself, injuries to surrounding teammates, ineffective play, player breakouts, and so on. That is just the game through injuries, performance variance, and fluctuation.

Understanding how a player is used allows us to find prospects who target that variance in performance and opportunities. If we are wrong on the opportunity projection, then a lower-tiered player could be an arbitrage opportunity.

While there is not a direct overlap to the individual player rankings, the order of these tiers is how I prioritize drafting the positions from an archetypical stance.

While that may be confusing for a player ranked highly on a linear list versus a specific tier he is in, I will do my best to incorporate detailed thoughts regarding draft capital in those events throughout the player breakdowns.

One final bit of housekeeping, I will be updating and adding analysis to these tiers all summer long,

With that intro to the methodology used with tiers in place, let us roll into the actual player analysis.

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Tier 1 Fantasy Football WRs:

  • CeeDee Lamb
  • Tyreek Hill
  • Justin Jefferson
  • Amon-Ra St. Brown
  • Ja’Marr Chase
  • A.J. Brown

The opening tier is made up of the best of the best.

These are the wideouts who I believe have the best odds to lead the position in overall scoring.

We have not had a player lead the position in overall PPR points in back-to-back seasons since Antonio Brown did so every season from 2014-2017.

Not only have we not had a player go back-to-back as WR1 since that season, but six different wide receivers have been the WR1 overall over that stretch.

CeeDee Lamb

BYE: Week 7

Lamb’s targets, catches, receiving yards, and receiving touchdowns have all gone up from the season prior in each of his years in the league.

If he tops them all again in 2024, he will have a monster season since he is coming off a major campaign.

Lamb led the NFL with 135 receptions last season, turning those into 1,749 yards and 12 touchdowns. He also added a rushing touchdown to his total.

Lamb accounted for 29.9% of the team targets (fourth in the NFL), 31.5% of the receptions (first), and 37.5% of the receiving yards (third).

Lamb had 181 targets last season. The next closest player on the Cowboys had 81. The next closest wide receiver after that had 57.

Not only does Lamb have another clear path to dominating the Dallas passing game again in 2024, but he may also have the best path to complete opportunity in the league.

Lamb plays everywhere and gets every type of target.

Tier 1 WR Usage:

WRTgt/Rt%Air/TgtSlot%Short Tgt%Deep Tgt%
Jefferson27.1%12.624.0%46.0%24.0%
Hill36.6%10.834.1%52.0%20.5%
Brown27.4%11.724.9%60.8%18.4%
Lamb29.0%9.553.3%64.0%13.8%
Chase24.2%8.724.8%64.1%13.8%
St. Brown28.5%7.849.4%71.9%9.1%

Short Tgt%= 10 yards and shorter, Deep Tgt% = 20+ air yards

He played 53.3% of his snaps in the slot, the highest rate of any receiver in this tier. Even Amon-Ra St. Brown, who was at a 49.4% slot rate.

Lamb led all wide receivers last season in receptions (69), yards (907), and touchdowns (eight) from the slot in 2023.

While that increased slot rate allows Lamb to access efficient targets that elevate his fantasy floor, it also does not preclude him from accessing the types of targets that can elevate a ceiling as well.

Even though Lamb stacked slot opportunities, he still averaged more air yards per target than three other wideouts here in the opening tier while seeing a deep target rate right in the middle of this group.

Lamb averaged 3.18 yards per route run when he was not in the slot last season, second in the NFL behind Tyreek Hill (4.10).

When we are splitting hairs among the elite options at the position, Lamb checks the most boxes.

He has the best composite outlook here when factoring in where he is on the age spectrum, usage, quarterback play, and target competition.

Tyreek Hill

BYE: Week 6

Hill has been the steadiest fantasy WR1 asset since Antonio Brown.

He has been a top-12-scoring wide receiver in points per game in each of the past seven seasons.

We thought Hill had it made playing in an Andy Reid-led offense with Patrick Mahomes at quarterback.

It turns out that there was an even better offensive climate for Hill’s fantasy outlook in Miami playing under Mike McDaniel.

Hill has been incredible over his two years in Miami.

At one point in 2023, he was pacing to challenge the single-season record for receiving yardage, but a late-season ankle issue caused him to just miss that record.

Hill still ended up leading the NFL with 1,799 receiving yards and 13 touchdown receptions.

He has been so good over his two seasons in Miami that he has even been top-10 in MVP voting in each season as a wide receiver.

Hill has been targeted on 32.0% and 36.6% of his routes the past two seasons, the highest rates of his career, setting a new career-high in receiving yards per game each year with the Dolphins.

He is the only wide receiver in the league to average a 30% target rate per route run against both man coverage (34.6%) and zone coverage (34.8%) over the past two seasons.

He has finished as the WR3 (20.4) and WR2 (23.5) in PPR points per game in those seasons.

Hill gets all of the fantasy-rich targets in Miami.

He led the NFL in targets coming with pre-snap motion (137) and targets coming off play action (56), the two most valuable types of targets for a wide receiver in fantasy football.

In 2023, wide receivers saw a roughly 15% increase in yards per route run with pre-snap motion on the play and a 31% increase with the use of play action compared to a play without motion or play action.

Hill had the most routes (127) and targets (48) with both on the same play.

On those plays and targets, he averaged 4.94 yards per route run, posting 627 receiving yards.

The next closest wide receiver in the league had 364 yards on those opportunities.

Hill just turned 30 this March but has shown zero signs of slowing down.

Justin Jefferson

BYE: Week 6

Jefferson remains a premier talent at this position.

Even with missing seven games last season due to a hamstring issue, Jefferson managed to go over 1,000 yards receiving for the fourth consecutive season.

No player in league history has more receiving yards through four years of their career than Jefferson.

In 2023, he averaged 107.4 receiving yards per game, which was second in the NFL behind Tyreek Hill.

Through four seasons, Jefferson has closed the year as the WR9, WR4, WR2, and WR5 in fantasy scoring per game.

Jefferson has averaged 9.6 targets per game over his career, which is fifth among all wide receivers since he joined the league.

Not only does Jefferson get a lot of counting targets, but he gets the most downfield targets among this front-end group.

He led this tier in air yards per target (12.6) and rate of targets coming 20 or more yards downfield (24.0%) last season.

We know Jefferson is going to see a wealth of targets again in 2024, especially since Minnesota did not upgrade their WR3 position and is expected to be without T.J. Hockenson for a piece of the season.

Jefferson was targeted on 29.2% of his 137 routes run with Hockenson off the field last year, an uptick from the 25.9% rate he had on 232 routes run with Hockenson on the field.

The quality of those targets is the question since he has the shakiest quarterback attachment among the front-end wideouts.

Justin Jefferson with and without Kirk Cousins

QBTgtTgt/Rt%Yds/RtInaccurate%
Kirk Cousins52726.0%2.6511.6%
Without5827.2%2.6315.5%

Jefferson has a small sample size playing without Kirk Cousins.

His yards per route run are just fine, but there has been increased volatility in that sample size.

When Jefferson returned to a Cousins-less lineup last season, he ended those weeks as the WR63, WR22, WR7, WR34, and WR1 in overall scoring those weeks.

We just went through an NFL season where we saw a high number of talented WR1 options impacted by limited quarterback play.

Jefferson for the small sample without Cousins, Davante Adams and Garrett Wilson over the full season, D.J. Moore for a run with Tyson Bagent, and Ja’Marr Chase without Joe Burrow, just to highlight a few.

Most of those wideouts still posted strong counting stats last season, but their week-to-week production was a roller coaster ride for fantasy gamers.

If you have followed my work over the years, then you already are aware that I always am hesitant about players attached to rookie quarterbacks, especially with premium capital.

We have seen Hall of Fame caliber talent in Mike Evans, Calvin Johnson, and Larry Fitzgerald (twice) all get attachment to first-round quarterbacks in the 2000s and lose points per game in those seasons.

It is not often we run into C.J. Stroud-type seasons, and that is a lot to ask from J.J. McCarthy.

Now, Jefferson did have success with Nick Mullens compared to Jaren Hall and Joshua Dobbs over that small sample last season.

If all we are doing is setting the bar for McCarthy and Sam Darnold being Mullens, that is not asking for a lot and is largely expected.

Jefferson can still come out of this strongly, but there is just an added layer of volatility in his range of outcomes compared to the other wideouts in this tier.

I am not running away from Jefferson by any means, but his quarterback situation is enough to force you into a hard decision when the other wideouts here have stronger passers to lean on.

Amon-Ra St. Brown

BYE: Week 5

St. Brown was sensational again in 2023.

He pulled in 119 receptions for 1,515 yards and 10 touchdowns.

His targets, catches, yards, yards per catch, and receiving touchdowns have all risen from the year prior in each of his years in the league.

He has gone from WR30 in points per game as a rookie in 2021 up to WR11 in 2022 and climbed up to WR4 in points per game last season.

St. Brown was a target hog again, receiving a look on 28.5% of his routes, fifth at the position.

Detroit is asking Jameson Williams to take a step forward this upcoming season, but St. Brown is once again locked into leading this Detroit wide receiver group by a wide margin.

Sam LaPorta is his primary target competition.

There is absolutely an outcome in which St. Brown can lead the league in receptions this season.

Brown gets a ton of fantasy-smoothing target opportunities in the Detroit offense. We can pick some nits with his usage compared to other wideouts here, but St. Brown has shown that he can win inside and out in the NFL.

St. Brown was second in this tier in rate of snaps coming from the slot (49.4%), but that has trended down to open his career. He had a 74.9% slot rate as a rookie and a 54.0% rate in 2022.

As a byproduct, St. Brown’s deep target rate trickled up to a career-high 9.1% last season.

We would prefer to see that continue to rise, but make no mistake that St. Brown can win outside and after the catch.

Last season, St. Brown averaged 3.09 yards per route run when lined up out wide, which was fifth among all wide receivers with 100 or more routes run outside.

St. Brown’s yards after the catch have gone up each year in the NFL, which helped create more splash plays despite a lower-end deep target rate.

After just 22 receptions of 20-plus yards over his first two seasons in the league, St. Brown had 24 catches of 20-plus yards last season (eighth among wideouts).

St. Brown had eight touchdowns on targets that were not in the end zone, tied for the most in the league with Tyreek Hill.

Yards after the catch and relying on running in non-end zone targets can be volatile, so we would prefer to see St. Brown’s role near the end zone spike.

His 16.7% share of the Detroit end zone targets ranked 57th among wide receivers last season, and that was a career-high rate through his three seasons.

St. Brown has 13 end zone targets through his three NFL seasons, which is the same number that Nick Westbrook-Ikhine has over that span.

Josh Reynolds had eight end zone targets compared to just four for St. Brown in 2023, so hopefully we see St. Brown absorb those opportunities left behind.

While we would prefer to see St. Brown’s downfield and end zone opportunities match his peers in ADP, he still has been a fantasy WR1 without them, which says a lot.

We have already highlighted that Detroit has a sensational game environment outlook when dissecting Jared Goff (Quarterback Tiers) and Sam LaPorta (Tight End Tiers) so far in these tiers.

Detroit will not even play a game outdoors until Week 9, the only outdoor game on their schedule through Week 15.

St. Brown will get two outdoor games to close the fantasy playoffs in Chicago and San Francisco, but we are going to get a full season of the best types of splits from Goff.

St. Brown has followed suit with Goff in those environments, averaging 17.8 PPR points per game for his career indoors compared to 15.4 points per game outdoors.

Ja’Marr Chase

BYE: Week 12

Chase has yet to cash in a WR1 overall scoring season but has opened his career as the WR5, WR4, and WR12 in points per game.

While Chase may not have a WR1 overall trophy yet, he does have the highest-scoring game for any wide receiver since he entered the league. He also has the second-highest-scoring game for any wideout over that span as well.

His 2023 season went along for the ride with the Cincinnati quarterback situation.

Joe Burrow opened the season with a calf injury that impacted his play.

Over the opening four weeks, Burrow was dead last in the NFL with 4.8 yards per pass attempt and had completed only 57.6% of his passes (32nd) with two touchdowns.

Over that stretch, Chase was the WR21 in fantasy scoring despite being the WR8 in expected points.

Burrow got on track and completed a league-high 74.1% of his passes for 7.5 Y/A (10th) with 12 touchdowns over the next five games.

Chase was the WR3 in overall points and expected points during that run.

Burrow then suffered a season-ending wrist injury in Week 11.

From Week 11 on, Chase was the WR33 in fantasy points and the WR35 in expected points.

With Burrow on the field last season, Chase was targeted on 26.0% of his routes run.

With Jake Browning on the field, that rate dipped down to 20.8% of his routes run.

An interesting component of Chase’s production to kick off his career is that he has seen a steady transition from deep-ball asset to more of a full-field type of role.

With Burrow on the field, Chase’s air yards per target have gone from 12.9 as a rookie, down to 9.1 yards and 8.6 yards downfield the past two seasons.

Chase had a career-high 24.5% of his targets at or behind the line of scrimmage from Burrow last season.

His rates over the previous two seasons were 9.8% and 12.7%.

His slot rate has continued to rise with Burrow on the field, going from 14.3% as a rookie up to 20.6% in 2022 and then 28.0% last season.

With Tyler Boyd now gone and only Charlie Jones profiling as a true slot asset on a team that inherently runs 3WR sets at the league’s highest rates, I would anticipate that Chase sets another career-high in slot usage this season.

For a player that has averaged 7.3 and 6.3 catches per game the past two seasons, that can provide Chase an opportunity to also contend for the reception crown in 2024.

There is reason to believe that Chase can have a season like CeeDee Lamb had a year ago in terms of full-field usage.

That usage opens the door for Chase to have a higher floor through what appears to be a rough gauntlet on the surface for the Bengals this season.

We covered this with Burrow in the QB Tiers, but the Bengals have our toughest passing schedule in the NFL.

That means more for Burrow than Chase at their positions and how the game is scored for each (especially if Chase is stacking receptions), but Chase has tailed Burrow’s AFC North splits that we covered in that post.

Chase has been a WR1 in just five of 15 inter-division games since entering the league with nine of those games outside of the top 30 scorers.

He has just nine other weeks over his entire career outside of the top 30 scorers in 30 games outside of the division.

A.J. Brown

BYE: Week 5

Brown has closed his two seasons with the Eagles at WR6 and WR5 in overall scoring.

He has now been the WR8 or better in per-game scoring in three of his past four seasons.

After topping out 405 pass routes run as a high over his three seasons with the Titans, Brown has run 576 pass routes in each season with the Eagles, which has led to him receiving 145 and 158 targets in Philadelphia.

There was a stretch last season in which Brown appeared as if he would rival Tyreek Hill as the WR1 in fantasy.

Through nine weeks, Brown was the WR2 in overall scoring and the WR3 in expected points per game.

The Eagles then had a team-wide collapse over the back half of the season that was impacted by play calling, schedule, and a knee injury to Jalen Hurts.

From Week 10 on, Brown was the WR33 in overall scoring and was the WR19 in expected points per game.

Brown went from 3.04 yards per route run over that front split down to 1.84 yards per route run over the back half.

His inaccurate target rate increased to 12.1% over that latter period after a 10.9% rate before.

Despite the uneven splits from last year, Brown still totaled a career-high 106 catches for 1,456 yards.

The only other wide receiver with over 1,400 receiving yards in each of the past two seasons has been Hill.

One thing we talked about with Hurts in the QB Tiers was the transition of going from Shane Steichen to Brian Johnson created a stale element to this passing game.

The Eagles saw their use of play action dip from 30.0% in 2022 down to 25.8% last season.

They went from a 33.1% rate of pre-snap motion in 2022 down to 27.9% last season.

Kellen Moore has had mixed results as a playcaller, but we should see more passing creativity from this offense in 2024.

Moore’s Chargers were fourth in the league at a 57.5% rate of pre-snap motion.

In 2022 with Dallas, the Cowboys were 10th at 44.8%.

Brown has averaged 2.80 yards per route run on plays with motion since he entered the league, which is fifth among all wideouts.

Tier 2 Fantasy Football WRs:

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