Blue Rated Wideouts Week 1 2023

By KC Joyner
KC Joyner

The volatile scoring nature of the wide receiver position may cause more start-sit headaches for fantasy managers than any other position, but when things go well wide receivers can post point totals capable of winning fantasy games.

How does one know which wide receivers are capable of posting those game-winning point totals? My player grading system (a full version of which can be found at aims to identify these players via an overall/upside/downside approach. A player's overall grade measures his likely performance, the downside the grade indicates how a player is apt to fare if things go poorly for him that week, and the upside grade measures the scoring ceiling of a player if things go well in a given contest.

This grading system also uses five color-coded categories: blue (indicating someone who can post elite point totals), green (a strong starter), yellow (a solid backup or a potential starter in bye weeks or deep leagues), orange (a desperation play), and red (someone who should not be started).

This means fantasy managers who are looking for big scoring potential at wide receiver should aim for someone who has a blue-rated upside grade (which is 90-100 in my system). This weekly article series will identify all the blue-rated upside wideouts in a given week and then provide details on a few of the unexpected candidates on this board. It will also detail the strength of the matchup each of these receivers is facing via a matchup points total of 1-100, with 100 being most favorable.

Week 1 wide receivers with blue-rated upside

Calvin Ridley, Jacksonville

The big question regarding Ridley is will he be the elite 2020 version who led the league in targets, receptions, and yards at the vertical pass depth level (passes thrown 11+ yards downfield) or be the wideout posted an abysmal 5.4 YPT in 2021? This preseason seems to indicate the 2020 edition is the answer, as Ridley has seemed at the top of his game according to Jaguars beat writers. The Colts also have some untested players in their secondary, so this is a week to get Ridley into lineups for that blue-rated upside.


Deebo Samuel, San Francisco

Samuel was too boom or bust last year in large part due to posting terrible numbers at the vertical and stretch vertical levels. He's certainly capable of doing much better in those areas, having ranked fifth in vertical PPG in 2021, and could hit that level again in a matchup against the inconsistent Patrick Peterson. Kyle Shanahan will want to get Samuel going early this season so expect this to be one of Samuel's boom days.


Amari Cooper, Cleveland

Cleveland has been one of best rushing teams in the league during Kevin Stefanski's tenure, but the Browns didn't bring Deshaun Watson in to keep the status quo. That factor by itself could push Cooper to hit his blue-rated ceiling, but there is also the potential for Cleveland to go pass-heavy to try to test Joe Burrow's calf injury. Combine those two paths to success with Cooper likely to face second-year cornerback Cam Taylor-Britt in coverage (who may be the weak link in this secondary) and it should result in a strong fantasy point total for Cooper in any scoring format.