2022 Fantasy Football: Rookie First Round WR Outlook
Jack looks at the fantasy football outlook for the rookie WRs taken in the first round of the NFL Draft.
Every year rookies are some of the most exciting players to draft in fantasy leagues. While some may not perform well right out of the gate, it is still important to be aware of which rookies are in the best situations to succeed early in their careers. This article will take a look at the first-round receiver class from this Spring’s NFL Draft and provide analysis and projections for them based on their college production and NFL landing spot.
Treylon Burks, Tennessee Titans
In a shocking Draft night trade, the Tennessee Titans traded away wide receiver A.J. Brown for a package of picks that included the 18th overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. The titans used that pick to select Arkansas wide receiver Treylon Burks who ironically projects almost identically to Brown.
In his final college season, Burks caught 66 passes for 1,104 yards and 11 touchdowns. This elite college production gives a promising glimpse into Burks’ potential. The only negative storyline about Burks pre-draft was his subpar combine testing results. However, Burks’ production in college was elite and he will immediately be the WR1 in Tennessee as a rookie granting him the ranking as the top rookie wide receiver for 2022. Even with the Titans’ offense being very rush-heavy, Burks should still remain the top target in the passing game this season for Tennessee. This makes him a solid target in the back half of fantasy drafts.
Drake London, Atlanta Falcons
As somewhat of a surprise, the Falcons made USC wide receiver Drake London the first receiver taken when they selected him eighth overall. During his college career at USC, London was a dominant outside receiver who could seem to overpower anyone he matched up with in coverage. London stands at six foot four and is a dynamic jump ball threat on the outside.
In Atlanta, London should immediately slot in as the WR1 (assuming he is fully recovered from the ankle injury he suffered last season) and be ready to produce solid numbers in PPR formats. The only concerns with London are his quarterback play and having to draw targets away from emerging tight end Kyle Pitts. Regardless of these circumstances, London should remain targeted enough to make him fantasy relevant as a rookie in 2022. London seems to be in prime position for an every-down role as a rookie and should remain a WR3/Flex option at the least throughout the season.
Garrett Wilson, New York Jets
The Jets selected Ohio State receiver Garrett Wilson 10th overall to add him to their wide receiver room. In his final season at Ohio State, Wilson caught 70 passes for 1,058 yards and 12 touchdowns. Wilson excels when he gets the ball in his hands so it can be expected for the Jets to move him around in different formations to allow for him to have a favorable matchup. Even though he has some competition for targets with Corey Davis, Elijah Moore and Braxton Berrios being present, Wilson is talented enough to be able to draw enough targets on his own to be fantasy relevant as a rookie. Expect Wilson and Moore to combine to form a very exciting, young wide receiver duo in New York this season. Wilson should be a safe WR3 or Flex target this upcoming season.
Chris Olave, New Orleans Saints
One pick after his college teammate Garett Wilson went to the Jets, the Saints traded up and selected Ohio State wide receiver Chris Olave 11th overall. Olave’s speed is one of his most exciting traits as he ran a 4.39 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine. With it being unclear when star receiver Michael Thomas will return from injury, there is an opportunity for Olave to contribute on offense right away as a rookie. Olave’s route running should also translate nicely to the NFL level which should allow him to become heavily targeted among the Saints' offense. Olave would start the season as a Flex option but has the clear opportunity to see increased volume if Michael Thomas remains out with injury.
Jameson Williams, Detroit Lions
The Lions traded all the way up from 32nd to 12th overall to make Alabama wide receiver the third straight receiver taken in the 2022 NFL Draft. This was a particularly surprising move as Williams suffered a torn ACL in the National Championship game.
Although he received strong draft capital, Williams has a bit of a tough landing spot. Tight end T.J. Hockenson and running back D’Andre Swift take up a large chunk of the targets in the Lions' passing game already. The emergence of Amon-Ra St. Brown last season now adds another option in the passing game.
Williams’ best trait by far is his game-breaking speed and current Lions quarterback Jared Goff isn't exactly known for his deep ball which could be troubling for Williams as he excels downfield. With it being unclear exactly when Jameson Willaims will make his season debut, it may be best to avoid him in the early weeks of the season.
Jahan Dotson, Washington Commanders
The Commanders made Penn State receiver Jahan Dotson the sixth receiver taken in the first round when they selected him 16th overall. Dotson will likely enter the season as the WR3 behind Terry McLaurin and Curtis Samuel. While McLaurin will remain the established WR1 in Washington, Dotson’s draft capital suggests he will have an opportunity to become the WR2. Especially since the Curtis Samuel signing has not worked out so far for Washington.
During his Penn State career, Dotson was an extremely reliable target as he only dropped 10 passes on 288 career targets. Being a sure-handed option in the passing game should help Dotson move up the depth chart and his draft capital suggests the Commanders are committed to him. Unfortunately, given the uncertainty around his role at the moment, it may be best to target Dotson in the later rounds of fantasy drafts.