As we continue our series of recaps of the 2022 NFL draft and how incoming rookies are implemented, today’s episode of PFN’s Premier Fantasy Football Podcast becomes the first in our two-part breakdown of rookie WRs and their predictions for 2022 be. How the first round recipients match their new offenses and how should fantasy football Managers see these WR prospects for the 2022 season?
In this episode, PFN Fantasy analyst Jason Katz and I go over the recipients selected in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft. This was a deep class, but also very top-heavy. Given the transition and adjustment required for the NFL game, it was common in the fantasy to expect a sophomore or even third-year breakout from receivers.
That’s not quite the case anymore, as WRs like Justin Jefferson and Ja’Marr Chase have recently erupted in the Fantasy as rookies. Now it’s all about finding the next player to continue this trend into 2022. Could it be one of those receivers, or someone who slipped in the draft?
Drake London, Atlanta Falcons
The board’s first wide receiver in the NFL draft happened to be my class WR1. Drake London can do it all. He has played in the slot for several years but also dominated as a perimeter receiver for USC last year. While London isn’t someone with fire speed, it creates separation at all three levels of the route and can take you home if open space is available to it.
London will undoubtedly have every opportunity he can dream of to succeed in Atlanta, which had the single worst wide receiver room in the NFL. London pushes itself into the race as the best receiver. The top pass catcher sits between him and Kyle Pitts, but that’s a debate for another day. Even so, they will both eat when it comes to production.
The recent trade for Bryan Edwards is probably a better NFL move than a fantastic opportunity as I don’t see Edwards impacting London or Pitts. London is currently in the mid WR3 range in my rankings and is the top ranked fantasy WR rookie of 2022. However, there is room for him to achieve WR2 status this season, although the top 12 could be a stretch given Atlanta’s predicted passing volume.
Garrett Wilson, New York Jets
As we’ve seen, draft capital means a ton in the NFL as it represents how long you have a lease until a team is ready to move in a different direction. I’d say the 10th pick overall certainly checks the draft capital box for Garrett Wilson.
A jack of all trades, Wilson can win in any situation, both mid and deep, along with contested situations. His hands are as soft as they come, and Wilson’s selection sparked a phenomenal draft for the Jets. There’s certainly some debate over who the WR1 will be between Wilson and 2021 second-round pick Elijah Moore.
My initial lean based on volume is for Moore, but this is probably more of a 1A/1B scenario as I predict that both Wilson and Moore will be the top two in targets. It all comes down to QB Zach Wilson’s development.
Volume shouldn’t be an issue as the Jets were #2 in overall pass rate (63%) and threw the ball 55% of the time in neutral game scripts (19th). As the Jets improve, they will likely still be out in games. The addition of Breece Hall improves their running game along with Michael Carter, but this is a passing league. Wilson comes as a low-end fantasy WR3 but looks like the No. 3 WR rookie for 2022 compared to the capabilities and situations of others.
Chris Olave, New Orleans Saints
If we had discussed this about a week ago, Chris Olave would have been able to dominate, especially in PPR formats. A prolific receiver from Ohio State, he was a perfect match for New Orleans, who even traded in the first round to select him. He was the locked No. 2 behind Michael Thomas.
Things are a bit cloudy following the signing of Jarvis Landry, a proven veteran who now plays for his hometown team. Barring an injury, Olave slips down the pecking order as No. 3 behind Thomas and Landry. However, there should be enough volume to keep him engaged. But enough to keep him in the starting area barring an injury on the depth map? That’s a question that can’t be answered until the beginning of the season. Olave is closer to a boom-or-bust WR4 than a reliable top 36 option right now.
Jameson Williams, Detroit Lions
Were it not for his late-season ACL tear, Jameson Williams could have been the No. 1 receiver drafted in 2022, both by draft and fantasy. Williams recorded 79 receptions and was arguably the nation’s best wideout with 1,572 yards and 15 touchdowns.
The problem is that Williams is a candidate to start the season on the PUP (physically unfit) list. That brings with him a mandatory six-game absence, meaning he can’t be played until Week 7 at the earliest if you draft Williams. He then enters a rather crowded room with DJ Chark, Amon-Ra St. Brown and TJ Hockenson at the end. I love Williams’ long-term trajectory, just not so much in 2022 with Jared Goff interfering with his verticality and explosiveness. Williams is a candidate who will be overdrawn in ADP but could prove to be a midseason takeover if he starts to break out.
Jahan Dotson, Washington Commanders
As a talent, I love Jahan Dotson. But I’m less enthusiastic about a landing pad and a fantasy outlook for 2022. Washington needed a WR2 to pair with Terry McLaurin and they got a great one in Dotson. However, Curtis Samuel is still in town, and his $19.6 million dead cap hit suggests he will be a factor in that offense. Add in Logan Thomas and both Antonio Gibson and JD McKissic from the backfield, and we’re probably asking too much of Carson Wentz to keep all the fantasies relevant. Dotson is in WR5/6 territory for 2022 but could surprise us if Samuel struggles with injuries again.
Treylon Burks, Tennessee Titans
Treylon Burks didn’t light up Lucas Oil Stadium while running at the NFL Combine. You know who didn’t care? The Tennessee Titans. Not only did they move up to select Burks, they also traded AJ Brown to the Philadelphia Eagles in the process.
Let’s just examine the role that Burks fills. In Brown’s three years with the Titans (43 games), he recorded a 23% goal percentage and 26.5% in the last two seasons. He also saw 44% of WR targets since 2020 with 45% of yards. That equated to almost 3,000 yards and an average of 15.1 PPR/game along the way.
The common comparison for Burks was Brown, and coincidentally, he slips right into his role. Well, Burks isn’t a 1-on-1 match. Brown was a better prospect coming from Ole Miss than Burks is from Arkansas. But the ability to dominate is there for the imagination. His rivals for goals are a 30-year-old Robert Woods, who has torn his cruciate ligament, fellow UCLA rookie WR Kyle Philips and Nick Westbrook-Ikhine. That’s it.
The dream floor for Burks, barring injuries to himself or Ryan Tannehill, is a Mid WR3. Similar to London, the upside potential lies within the top 24 and even the upper bounds of WR2 status. I’m all with Burks for the 2022 fantasy football season.