Wide Receiver Tandems: Passing Attacks with Potential

by Joel Ybarra · Dynasty Leagues

A Self-Perpetuating Fantasy Formula

In these Wide Receiver Tandems articles, we are identifying NFL offenses with two top-notch receiver options. These same-team receiver duos are some of the most exploitable position groups in fantasy football. Pair two-star receivers with a competent quarterback and each member of the trio amplifies the others’ production. Think of the Jalen HurtsA.J. BrownDevonta Smith triumvirate of 2022. Each player reached higher heights than he had in previous seasons, benefiting from the momentum created by the whole passing unit’s success. Fantasy gamers can benefit from perceiving which teams are putting these dynamic QB-WR-WR combos in place ahead of the coming seasons. The fantasy production will follow.

Wide Receiver Tandems with Potential

We have looked at Alpha Wide Receiver profiles and the various team situations comprised by these Alphas and their same-team counterparts. There are some highly drafted Clear Alpha Wide Receivers who are our best bets in fantasy. After that, we are looking for some ascending passing offenses who have linked together a talented two-receiver tandem and a quality quarterback, as mentioned above.

Here, we look at some wide receiver duos who took big steps forward in 2022, then some duos who did not produce as expected. QB play is obviously a major factor in determining the success of a team’s passing game. Analyzing the successes and failures of team passing attacks last season will help us anticipate the units poised to take leaps in 2023.

Adding A Talented Teammate

First, let’s look at some WR duos that ascended in 2022. Below we look at receivers who were Weak Alphas in 2021 and then upgraded their WR counterpart in 2022. Either their teams added another talented receiver to their roster or the WR themselves joined a team with another good receiver. Remember, we are defining Weak Alphas as those receivers who scored 16-plus PPR points in at least 30-percent of their games but not more than 50-percent (Clear Alpha status). Five out of six of the receivers below, Weak Alphas in 2021, improved their production in 2022 after upgrading their WR partner.

A.J. Brown and Devonta Smith

The Eagles’ WR duo is the one we have highlighted most during this Wide Receiver Tandems series. That is because they a stark example of the effectiveness of a solid QB-WR-WR unit. Both Brown and Smith were Weak Alphas in 2021 and then were paired together in 2022 when the Eagles traded for Brown. Both became more productive for fantasy. Smith scored 16-plus PPR points 43.8-percent of the time in 2022 after doing it in just 31.3-percent of his games in 2021. Brown scored 16-plus PPR points 56.3-percent of the time in 2022 after hitting that mark just 33.3-percent of the time in 2021. Both also enhanced Jalen Hurts’ production, as well. Hurts was a questionable passer entering 2022 but benefited from a quality cadre of pass-catchers. He increased his passing yardage by more than 500 yards from 2021 to 2022. He also improved his completion percentage from 61.3 to 66.5-percent and passing touchdowns from 16 to 22.

Jaylen Waddle and Tyreek Hill

It might be hard to believe, but Tyreek Hill traded out Patrick Mahomes for Tua Tagovailoa, added increased WR target competition in Jaylen Waddle, and yet still became more effective in fantasy. His PPR performances from 2021 and 2022 are side by side below. As you can see, Hill produced five monster 27-plus point weeks in both seasons. His top three performances were better in 2021, but he averaged four more points per game (17.3) over his next 13 games in 2022 when compared with his next 13 games in 2021 (13.1).

Wide Receiver Tandems Tyreek Hill Performances

Waddle hit 16 or more PPR points an equal number of times in 2021 and 2022 (seven) but had a better fantasy season overall in 2022 in terms of week-winning performances. See his top seven performances from both 2021 and 2022 below. He hit a higher ceiling and averaged more points (24.2) over his top seven performances in 2022 than over his top seven in 2021 (21.6). He averaged just one less point (8.6) over his remaining performances in 2022 versus his remaining performances in 2021 (9.6).

Wide Receiver Tandems Jaylen Waddle Performances

Deandre Hopkins and Marquise Brown

The final pair of Weak Alphas who upgraded their WR counterpart coming into 2022 was the Cardinals’ WR duo: Deandre Hopkins and Marquise Brown. They represent a little bit different case because the duo only played four games together the whole season. Hopkins was suspended for six games to open the season, and Brown was injured for a spell of games when Hopkins returned. Still, Hopkins achieved Alpha status as he had done for most of his career before that, scoring 16 or more PPR points 55.6-percent of his games in 2022 versus 40.0-percent in 2021. Brown was the only one of these Weak Alphas who got an upgrade to his receiver room and did not increase his production. He hit 16-plus points in only 27.0-percent of his games versus doing it 40.0-percent of the time in 2021.

WR Duos that Didn’t Dominate


There were some disappointing wide receiver tandems in 2022, too. The most surprising may have been the Bucaneers’ WRs. Chris Godwin and Mike Evans took part in a highly prolific passing offense the season before (2021). Godwin hit 16-plus fantasy points in 50.0-percent of his games in 2021, and Evans did it in 46.7-percent of his. Antonio Brown also hit 16-plus points in 57.1-percent of his contests that season.

Basically, the Bucs trio from 2021 represented the extremely rare triple-Alpha receiving unit, powered by Tom Brady. In 2022, the Bucs’ passing offense slowed down, however, despite Brady setting the all-time record for pass attempts. Perhaps we should have expected a dropoff. Brady did announce his retirement after the 2021 season. He then returned to give it another go in 2022, but his performance faded, as did the Bucs’ receivers’. Evans hit 16-plus points just 33.3-percent of the time. Godwin did it in just 28.6-percent of his games.


The Broncos’ receiving duo of Courtland Sutton and Jerry Jeudy inspired confidence in fantasy gamers entering 2022. The confidence was largely due to them being the beneficiaries of a Russell Wilson-led passing game. The whole Broncos offense underperformed in 2022, however. Perhaps we should have known better. Neither Sutton, Jeudy, nor Wilson had a great season the year before (2021). Wilson was just QB19 in fantasy scoring in 2021. Jeudy did not score 16-plus fantasy points in any of his nine games played in 2021. Sutton scored 16-plus in just three of his 16 games played. Projecting the Broncos’ passing attack to reach elite ceilings in 2022 was wishful thinking.


The Jets used significant draft resources to put together a talented WR tandem the past two off-seasons. They drafted Elijah Moore at 2.02 in 2021 and Garrett Wilson at 1.10 in 2022. Both flashed Alpha production in their rookie seasons. Moore scored 20-plus fantasy points in three of his 11 games played (27.8-percent) in 2021. Wilson scored 16-plus fantasy points in five of his sixteen games played. Both did so despite inconsistent play at quarterback. The Jets took a big swing on Zach Wilson in the 2021 draft, taking him at 1.02. That pick turned out to be a whiff and the Jets’ WR unit suffered in 2022.


Wide Receiver Tandems to Watch in 2023

Some NFL teams have put together some skillful wide receiver corps entering the 2023 season and are just waiting on a quarterback upgrade.


As identified above, the Jets already have two high-pedigree pass-catchers online. They have to make a move at quarterback during the 2023 offseason with Wilson benched most likely for good. Aaron Rodgers and Derek Carr would both be upgrades over what they trotted out at QB the past two seasons. With a QB move likely, Elijah Moore is a very gettable trade target in dynasty fantasy football.


The Jags’ passing attack is ascending. They signed Christian Kirk in 2022 and acquired Calvin Ridley prior to the 2022 trade deadline. They gave a 2023 fourth-round pick and a 2024 conditional pick to the Falcons for Ridley. Ridley’s reinstatement by the league and the contract offered to him by the Jags will determine his value in fantasy in the coming seasons. Signing Ridley will not preclude the Jags from spending draft capital on a receiver in 2023, however. They would be wise to build around their franchise quarterback, Trevor Lawrence. They drafted Lawrence first overall in 2021 and he showed poise and development in 2022.


Amon-Ra St. Brown has been a revelation in Detroit after being drafted 4.07 in 2021. He scored 16-plus fantasy points in 25.0-percent of his games in his rookie season (2021) and then 33.3-percent of his games in 2022. He has also demonstrated a high ceiling, hitting 27 points or more in three of his fifteen games last season. The Lions also added Jameson Williams at 1.12 in the 2022 draft. Their offense was effective even without him in 2022 while he recovered from injury. The Lions are building a team who will make the playoffs in the coming seasons. This means the Lions are likely to make a move at quarterback in 2023. Jared Goff’s dead cap number is just $10 million in 2022 and $5 million in 2024.


Washington boasts another wide receiver tandem to watch in 2023. Terry McLaurin and Jahan Dotson were Ambiguous Alphas in 2022, both hitting 16-plus fantasy points in 30-percent or more of their games (37.5-percent and 36.4-percent, respectively). This was all with Carson Wentz and Taylor Heinicke at quarterback. The Commanders are transitioning to Sam Howell and may also make a move on a more experienced quarterback ahead of 2023. They are putting together a young, ascending roster and should get a quarterback who can help them capitalize.


D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett represent the other Ambiguous Alpha duo from 2022. They have been an ambiguous duo for the past four seasons in a row – since Metcalf’s rookie season in 2019. Here are the rates at which they hit 16 or more PPR points over the last four seasons.

Wide Receiver Tandems Metcalf Lockett

Russ cooked in Seattle due to this stable and talented WR pair. These two WRs also made Geno Smith look good, although Smith was no slouch, displaying high passing accuracy. Whether Seattle upgrades at quarterback or Smith takes another step forward in 2023, the Seahawks have a talented WR tandem to target.

Watch the WR and QB Moves

Dual wide receiver talents linked in tandem with an effective QB form a potent passing attack. Teams who pair two talented WRs together also demonstrate that increased target competition can actually enhance the whole passing attack, rather than water down the receivers’ production. 2023 will prove to be an action-packed offseason for QB movement. The teams listed above under “Wide Receiver Tandems to Watch in 2023” could all be looking to upgrade at QB this off-season.

Teams are also going to make moves to secure wide receiver talent, too, after seeing the success of the ascending duos in 2022. Fantasy gamers should monitor the teams investing significant resources in their passing games – at wide receiver and quarterback. After the NFL draft in April, we will be able to discern which passing attacks will be the highest-flying in 2023. Then we’ll watch some freshly assembled, ascending passing offenses go to work.