In just two years, Chase has proven to be among the elite wide receivers in Fantasy Football. But should he be the first receiver drafted? While he ranks among the top 12 in basic and high-level receiving stats over the past two years, including targets per game (9.03) and end-zone targets (27), he is behind Justin Jefferson in nearly every one. About the only way Chase could catch Jefferson is with a higher target rate, which would mean he'd have to dominate in Cincinnati while Jefferson loses serious volume in Minnesota. That's an unlikely combination. Still, Chase should finish as the second-best receiver in Fantasy, just as he did last season among WRs who played 10-plus games. Expect the Bengal to be taken within the first three picks in all non-Superflex/two-QB PPR format drafts this summer (maybe the first six picks in a non-PPR).
Though injuries temporarily derailed his sophomore season in 2022, Chase has quickly established himself as one of the league’s most electrifying wideouts.
The former LSU standout has gobs to potential to emerge as the WR1 overall in fantasy this upcoming season, catching passes from his college teammate/current QB Joe Burrow.
What We Learned Last Year
Chase finished his sophomore season as the WR11 overall in PPR, scoring 20.2 fantasy points per game.
He found a way to repeat as a fantasy star despite missing four games due to a fractured hip and the Bengals’ Week 17 game vs. the Bills being canceled due to the incident involving S Damar Hamlin.
Chase caught more passes (87) and tallied more receiving TDs (13) last year than he did as a rookie in 2021 – in five fewer games played (12).
Additionally, Chase showed growth in some key receiving metrics from Year 1 to Year 2:
2021: 20.8% target share, 36.3% air yards share, 0.55 Weighted Opportunity Rating (WOPR)
2022: 28.9% target share, 37.6% air yards share, 0.67 WOPR
Chase has a strong case to be the WR1 overall in 2023, given his high concentration of involvement and big-play potential in this Bengals offense.
However, it’s worth noting that Chase only registered five top-12 weekly finishes, three within the top-24, and four games as a WR3 or worse last year.
By contrast, Vikings WR Justin Jefferson concluded 2022 with nine top-12 finishes, three within the top-24, and five games as a WR3 or worse.
It sounds like we’re nitpicking, but we mention this as a partial explanation as to why we have Jefferson ranked ahead of Chase by two spots in our preseason rankings here at Draft Sharks.
Chase also took a step backward in PFF receiving grade, ranking 11th among all WRs (min. 100 targets) in 2022 after finishing 8th in 2021. That’s a negligible difference in the grand scheme of things, but still worth mentioning.
What to Expect in 2023
Barring injury, there’s no reason to expect anything other than another stellar fantasy season from Chase in 2022.
If there’s any shred of criticism to levy in his direction, it would be the relatively boom/bust nature of Chase’s production profile. Even then, his “busts” are relatively benign, and his “booms” are astronomically good.
Fantasy managers should feel great about taking Chase early in 2023 drafts.
Chase is entering his third NFL season following a 2022 campaign in which he missed five games, but he saw a big uptick in usage (24% to 29% target share) and fantasy production (17.9 to 20.2 fantasy PPG) compared to his rookie campaign. The 2021 first-round pick has finished top 5 among WRs in touchdowns, end zone targets and fantasy PPG in both of his professional seasons. The Bengals called the league's second-pass heaviest offense last season, and Chase has separated himself from Tee Higgins as Joe Burrow's clear No. 1 target. The 23-year-old is an elite fantasy option and a candidate to pace the WR position in points this season.