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2022 Fantasy Football wide receiver preview: Projections, sleepers, breakouts, tiers and more



Last week, when I wrote the running back preview, I wrote about the internal battle I was having over the No. 1 running back. Jonathan Taylor appeared safer, but Christian McCaffrey (and others) clearly had more upside. Since that time, I’ve moved McCaffrey ahead of Taylor because I decided I didn’t want to use safety as a reason to take a 300-plus touch running back No. 1 overall. Also since then, the No. 1 wide receiver has come into question. 

You would be forgiven for wondering how there could be any debate at all. Cooper Kupp is coming off a season in which he caught 145 passes for 1,947 yards, and 16 touchdowns. He outscored every non-QB by at least three PPR Fantasy points last year. Who could possibly challenge him? The first answer is regression, and the second is Justin Jefferson. We’ll work in reverse order.

Jefferson is now a 23-year-old with 196 catches, 3,016 yards, and 17 touchdowns in his career. In case you were wondering, the catches and yards are both records through an age 22 season and the touchdowns rank fourth behind Randy Moss, Rob Gronkowski, and Larry Fitzgerald. To say he’s had a Hall of Fame start to his career would be an understatement. And we have good reason to believe he’ll keep getting better.


The biggest reason, other than natural development, is his new head coach. Kevin O’Connell was actually Kupp’s offensive coordinator last year and the buzz around Minnesota has consistently been that this is going to be an offense that veers more towards the pass than it has in Jefferson’s first two seasons in Minnesota. Jefferson’s main competition for targets is 32-year-old Adam Thielen, so we should expect that Jefferson will dominate that increase in targets.

Even so, there was a massive gap between Kupp and Jefferson (6.3 FPPG). Can a new coach and natural development make up that gap? No. But we have no real reason to expect Kupp to repeat what he did last year, or even come close.

The second-best year of Kupp’s career would be the third best of Jefferson’s. And Sean McVay has a history of shifting gears year over year. It used to be that the Rams had a pretty flat target distribution. And remember Tyler Higbee month? Or the Todd Gurley years? More than just about any other coach, McVay keeps opposing defensive coordinators on their toes with philosophical changes. Now he’s added Allen Robinson and has Cam Akers back from injury. Who knows what the game plan will be this year?

The one thing I haven’t mentioned yet is the one thing that has driven this conversation lately; Matthew Stafford’s elbow pain. The reason I waited this long is because I don’t want to turn this into another upside (Kupp) versus downside (Jefferson) debate. I’m just not sure their upsides are that different this year. But I would agree Stafford concerns lower Kupp’s floor below Jefferson’s.


The choice ultimately comes down to a 29-year-old coming off of an historic career-year and a 23-year-old generational talent who is still ascending. I’m not sure you can go wrong. For now I have a slight lean to Kupp in the projections and a slight lean to Jefferson in the rankings; they’re both top-five picks for me in full PPR.

Wide receiver draft strategy 

Let’s start with the easy part first: Wide receiver is simply not as big of a priority in non-PPR leagues. Jefferson, Kupp and Ja’Marr Chase should still be first-round picks, but there are only eight other receivers I’d take in the first three rounds. In PPR, that number is 17. In non-PPR leagues, build yourself a stable of running backs then look for big play wide receivers on good offenses. 


In full PPR the question becomes more how many wide receivers you can start. In most of our leagues, you’re required to start three wide receivers and can start up to four. In that format, I’d be happy to draft receiver with my first four picks, assuming my league gives me that option. If the draft falls that way, then I’m not likely taking another until the double-digit rounds and I won’t draft more than six in most formats.

If the draft feeds you running backs early, stockpile a mix of high-upside young receivers and steady veterans. When I say steady veterans, I mean guys with target volume locked up like Allen Lazard, Christian Kirk, and Amari Cooper. Just make sure you lean heavy on the upside. The first- and second-year wide receivers in particular have great upside for their current ADP and a few of my favorites are listed in the sleeper picks below. 

Here are a few more strategy tidbits:

  • In half-PPR, lean slightly more towards non-PPT than full. Everyone else will do the opposite early, but there will be plenty of receivers left late.
  • If you’re targeting receivers late, focus almost entirely on youth and upside. It’s rare for a veteran receiver to fall to the double-digit rounds and emerge as a starting option. 
  • As always, draft Brandin Cooks.

Now let’s get to sleepers, breakouts, and busts. One quick note: ADP here is current Fantasy Pros consensus ADP.

Projections powered by

Projections powered by

Projections powered by

Numbers to know

265 — The Chiefs have 265 targets to replace at wide receiver in 2022, the most in the NFL.
71.2% — Nearly three-quarters of Josh Allen’s pass attempts went to wide receivers last year; only the Rams’ receivers saw a higher rate.
8Deebo Samuel had eight rushing touchdowns last year. Regression and Trey Lance should halve that, at least.
17.9Marquez Valdes-Scantling’s average depth of target last year on the Packers. That could play well for Patrick Mahomes, but makes it hard to project him for a lot of targets unless it comes down a lot. No player above 15 had even 100 targets last year.
11 — Ja’Marr Chase led the NFL with 11 drops last year, just in case you were wondering how little drops matter.
12CeeDee Lamb’s 12 broken tackles in 2021 were second only to Deebo Samuel.
3,525D.J. Moore has 3,525 receiving yards since the start of 2019. Only Cooper Kupp, Davante Adams, Stefon Diggs, and Travis Kelce have more.
29% — Targets per route run for Kadarius Toney in 2021, which ranked fifth at the position. If he can stay on the field, he’s a certain breakout candidate.

Format matters

Most of this piece, including tiers and ADP, are based on PPR leagues. We recognize many of you still play in non-PPR. Here’s a list of players who we expect to be significantly better, and worse, in non-PPR:


Better in non-PPR: Deebo Samuel, Mike Williams, A.J. Brown, Tee Higgins, Courtland Sutton, Treylon Burks, Gabriel Davis, Brandon Aiyuk

Worse in non-PPR: Keenan Allen, Michael Pittman, Diontae Johnson, Amon-Ra St. Brown, Christian Kirk, Amari Cooper, Jakobi Meyers




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Is Phil Mickelson Left-Handed? (Explained)



(Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)


Phil Mickelson is one of the greatest golfers of all time.

If you were not a fan of Tiger Woods when he was in his prime, chances are you were rooting for Mickelson to beat him.


Although Phil was not able to rack up nearly as many wins as Tiger, he has done some great things through the years.

Phil says it like it is and often brings attention to himself, but he has certainly earned his spot in golf history and is still known for being one of the most impressive players of all time.

One of the things that make Phil Mickelson stand out is that he plays golf left-handed.

However, this often brings up the question of whether he is a left-handed person.



Is Phil Mickelson Left-Handed?

Phil Mickelson of the United States reacts
(Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)


Phil Mickelson is a right-handed person who plays golf “lefty.”

Pretty much everything else that Phil does in his life is done with his right hand; he simply plays golf left-handed.

This started for Phil when he was a very young golfer and was learning the game from his father.

Phil saw his dad practicing in the backyard and came out to see what he was doing.

After watching for a few minutes, he grabbed a club and started to copy what his dad was doing.


As most kids would do, he stood across from his father and took swings as if it was a mirror image.

Phil Mickelson learned that he was quite good at golf this way, and he never really considered becoming a right-handed golfer.

Mickelson’s dad never intended to teach him to shoot left-handed, but his dad did have a good swing for Phil to emulate.

The story is interesting, and it helps us see more into the life and history of one of the greatest, most extraordinary left-handed golf professionals.

The question for some golf experts and enthusiast becomes whether or not this is a good idea.


Should a right-handed person play golf left-handed?


Should Right-Handed Golfers Play Left-Handed?

Driving Range Golf


Phil Mickelson learned how to play left-handed golf at a very early age, so it is second nature to him.

However, for a golfer to switch from playing the game left-handed to right-handed or vice versa is a big decision.


Before making the switch to left-handed golf, it’s worth mentioning that this is not always a good thing and can cause issues in the golf swing.

As amazing as Phil has played through the years, we have seen him struggle with his fair share of issues in his game.

Of course, with the game of golf, these could be caused by the mental side of the sport, but there could be some physical issues here as well.

Here are some things to consider before deciding to play left-handed.



1. Dominant Hand Golf Swing

smiling Man playing golf


When you are playing golf as a left-handed player with right-hand dominance, you can struggle with some issues in your swing.

Having right-hand dominance can make it harder for players to release the golf club.

The result when you cannot release the golf club well is a shot that travels from left to right in sort of an uncontrolled matter.

The dominant hand issue must be considered when deciding to bring up a youth golfer as a lefty if they are right-handed.


Most experts would agree that there is no set advantage to bringing up a golfer to swing in a way that is anything but natural.

We all know how difficult this game of golf is, and it seems as though the right- and left-hand dominance issue can bring about swing flaws for years to come.


2. Equipment Access

golf player choosing the golf club from the bag


Although access to equipment for left-handed golfers is getting better, it is still nowhere near what it could be.


Equipment access can be difficult because of the number of people in the market for gear combined with the fact that companies make clubs mostly for right-handed golfers.

Unfortunately, everything about a right-handed golf club is different than a left-handed golf club.

This means that the manufacturing process is different.

Some manufacturers will make six or seven sets of irons, but they will only make about two or three in a left-handed version.

The lack of access to quality equipment is even more reason to skip switching a right-handed golfer to a left-handed one.



3. Natural Feel/Ability

Golfer hitting golf shot with club


Most people who are even somewhat familiar with golf understand how difficult the game is.

However, every player has a natural strength in their game.

These natural strengths that help improve feel and ability will make it much easier when the game is tough or you are just in a rough place with your golf swing.


The problem here, however, is that when you switch a person from left-handed to right-handed or vice versa, they lose some of their natural feel and ability.

Of course, in the case of Phil Mickelson, this was done at the very beginning of his golf career, and that certainly helped.

This is one of those situations where Phil did not know any other way, so it became incredibly easy for him to pick up the game like this.

In addition, the left-handed or right-handed decision does not affect children who are learning very young.

Kids start to show their hand dominance as they get a bit older and exit the toddler years.


Since they have been using both of their hands to function for several years, they are likely less bothered by swinging with a club that is not set up for their hand dominance.

It does not feel as unnatural.


4. Experience In Golf

Golf player


Last but probably the most important thing worth mentioning is a player’s experience with the game.


If you have a young child who has been playing righty for several years and you decide you are going to switch them to lefty because of Phil, that is a mistake.

The ability to learn the game over again and start back at the beginning can be a major issue.

Take the time and effort you have put in during the first few years and keep investing it in the swing your child already has.

In the case of an adult, the same holds true.

Even after your worst day on the golf course, if you were to suddenly decide to become a left-handed golfer, the process would be incredibly difficult.


Instead, work on practicing your current game, take some lessons, and figure out the main issues.

Don’t start from square one if you don’t have to; the learning curve in the game of golf is much too long.


Why Does Phil Mickelson Swing Left-Handed?

Phil Mickelson of the United States plays a shot on the driving range
(Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)


Phil Mickelson would likely not have started swinging left-handed had he not been trying to mirror what his dad was doing.

Most kids like to watch what their parents are doing and take part in activities that their parents do.


Phil simply saw his dad standing across from him practicing his short game and decided he would do the same.

Something very interesting is the fact that Phil Mickelson is known for being one of the best short game experts in the game of golf.

If you look at footage of Mickelson through the years, he knows how to quickly get the ball up in the air and stop it on the green.

Phil Mickelson does not struggle to hit the green from almost anywhere on the course.

Many of us have wondered if this has to do with his right-hand dominance while swinging left-handed.


One thing we know for sure is that it’s obvious Phil Mickelson is talented as a left-handed golfer, but he can also do lots of things right-handed.

Therefore, he sets the example that having some ability with both hands helps to ensure you have control and feel in the short game that others may not have.


Are Any Pro Golfers Left-Handed?

Left Hand Golfer Tee Off with Driver


Even though Phil Mickelson will likely be considered the best left-handed golfer of all time, his not actually being left-handed may make him seem less impressive to some.


However, there have been other professional golfers on the PGA Tour who are left-handed.

Players like Mike Weir and Bubba Watson were both left-handed and learned how to play the game righty.

Typically speaking, it can be seen as a disadvantage to try and make the PGA Tour as a left-handed golfer.

The one thing we can say for sure is that left-handed pro golfers certainly get a lot of attention.

There are unique characteristics of professional golfers that should be considered, and the left-handed/right-handed factor is one of the biggest.



Who Is The #1 Left-Handed Golfer In The World?

Phil Mickelson of the United States tees off
(Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)


Phil Mickelson is the best left-handed golfer in the world.

For a few years, it seemed as if Phil’s career was on hold as he wasn’t playing in as many events and certainly not winning like he once did.

Then he came back and won the PGA Championship at Kiawah, and it certainly helped us all look at Phil in a completely different light.

Recently, Phil left the PGA Tour and joined LIV Golf.


He was very outspoken about his feelings regarding how the PGA Tour is running its events, and he was ready for a change.

There has not been much information released as to how he is playing with LIV Golf, but speculation is that he was paid a large sum of money to move to another tour.


Is Jordan Spieth A Natural Left-Hander?

Jordan Spieth of The United States tees off
(Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)


Jordan Speith is another very famous golfer who is often mentioned when discussing the right-handed/left-handed issue in the game.

Jordan plays golf as a righty, but he plays many other sports as a right-handed player.


This is not necessarily rare because some athletes are dominant with both their left and right hands.

Jordan Spieth has been playing golf as a righty his entire career, and he has done very well with it.

However, if you play baseball with him, expect him to bat lefty.

The great thing about the game of golf is that there are no set rules for a golfer like this.

If Spieth had wanted to, he could have easily learned how to play the game of golf left-handed.


Spieth still writes with his right hand, which may play into why it was decided he would be a right-handed player.


Is Golf As A Lefty Harder?

Male Golfer Lining Up Tee Shot On Golf Course


We know that Phil Mickelson made his way to professional golf and became the greatest lefty to play the game, but was his journey to the top harder.

Is golf harder as a lefty?


Many people would argue that it is, and here are a few reasons why.


1. Golf Course Design

When golf course architects create a golf course, they typically design it for right-handed players.

Most of the time, the architects know that most of the golfers that play the course will be right-handed, so the design is set up for them.

This can be both an advantage and a disadvantage for a left-handed golfer.


Sometimes traps and obstacles are put in places where right-handed players are likely to hit the ball, and this can help with a lefty as they will likely hit it away from the trouble.

However, there are also times when holes are made easier for a righty to help keep the course more manageable, but the lefties are ignored and often struggle to get the ball in the right spot.

Most great golf courses will work regardless of which side of the ball you stand on.

Of course, there could be a few tricky shots that come up here and there, but for the most part, the playability is not anything that a lefty golfer can’t handle.



2. Equipment

Equipment issues are another problem.

Yet, there are times that a lefty golfer will end up getting a great deal on leftover equipment.

However, the better you get as a lefty, the harder it is to find great golf clubs to suit your game.

Very few manufacturers make all their clubs in a left-handed model.

This seems to apply particularly to clubs like blade irons.


If you hope that top companies like Miura and Mizuno will produce more blade-style left-handed irons, you may be disappointed.

Although they offer a few choices, it is generally not enough to keep everyone happy and meet the needs of all left-handed players.


3. Teaching Professionals

Some teaching professionals struggle to teach left-handed players.

The game is different from a mechanics standpoint, and many right-handed teaching professionals can struggle to get a lefty swing straightened out.


Of course, this is just a matter of finding the right match for your game, but it could take some time and some work to get there.

Teaching professionals with several years of experience should be able to help.


4. Golf Writing And Instruction

Last but certainly not least is that left-handed golfers are going to have to constantly transpose everything they read about the game of golf.

If you are reading an article about a grip, chances are it was written for a right-handed player.


This requires carefully changing this information in your head and making sure that you are not reading the tips backward.

If this is not done correctly, expect that you will be making some incorrect motions in your golf game.

Golf writing and instructions are not always geared toward left-handed players simply because there are not as many of them.

If more lefties begin to play the game, there would be more great resources for them to use.

The post Is Phil Mickelson Left-Handed? (Explained) appeared first on The Cold Wire.


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Serena Williams to retire after U.S. Open



Williams, 40, wrote that she is ready to step away from the sport to focus on her family and career.

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