NFL Kickoff is just over one hundred days away and training camp is just weeks away. The newcomers from the 2022 draft will look to continue to prove themselves and earn more reps on the field, and fantasy football managers will be looking to see which rookies are worth taking a shot on this season. It's never too early to prepare for the fantasy season, so let's take a look at my top ten rookies for fantasy football for 2022.
1. Breece Hall, RB, New York Jets
The Jets selected Hall with the thirty-sixth pick in the draft, showing that they don’t expect 2021 fourth-rounder, Michael Carter, to be able to carry the load in the running game going forward. Hall’s ability to have an impact in both the running and passing game will allow him to see plenty of touches per game, and dominate the snap count in the Jets’ backfield. By selecting Hall, the Jets have essentially buried Tevin Coleman on their depth chart, expect Breece Hall to receive anywhere from fifteen to twenty touches per game with the potential for even more. The expectations are high for Hall, as he’s viewed as the consensus number one rookie in fantasy football, and a top-twenty running back in the majority of leagues for 2022.
2. Treylon Burks, WR, Tennessee Titans
Burks was selected in the first round by the Titans after they decided to trade away their young star A.J. Brown. Burks landed in a perfect situation as the departure of Brown puts him in the position to potentially be the number one option for Tennessee in the passing game. Burks will be competing with offseason acquisition receiver, Robert Woods for targets. However, after Woods, there aren’t many threats to Burks’ potential snap count or targets as the talent in the Titans' receiver room suffers a large drop-off after Woods and Burks. The tremendous positive for Burks is also his ability to gain yards after the catch, an area in which he excelled while at Arkansas. Burks is seen as a consensus top-five rookie, and a top forty receiver in leagues going into the 2022 season.
3. Drake London, WR, Atlanta Falcons
London is similar to Burks, in that he was placed in the perfect situation for him to produce right out of the gate as a rookie. Atlanta took London as the first wideout off the board in the 2022 draft, and with Calvin Ridley suspended for the entire season, he’s likely to have Kyle Pitts as his biggest threat to targets and overall production. London is already listed as the number one receiver on Atlanta’s depth chart, although we’re in the early stages of the offseason. The only major concern for London from a fantasy standpoint is the potential for subpar Quarterback play this season, as Atlanta is likely to have Marcus Mariota or rookie Desmond Ridder as the starter under center in 2022. London has been ranked very similarly to Treylon Burks for this upcoming season.
4. Garrett Wilson, WR, New York Jets
Wilson was viewed by most around the league as the best receiver in the class and was expected to be the first pass-catcher taken off the board. However, as Atlanta went with Drake London over Wilson, he fell right into the lap of the Jets. Wilson was explosive at Ohio State, putting up over one-thousand yards and twelve touchdowns in 2021 and averaging around fifteen yards per catch (15.1). Wilson however, joins a receiver room in New York with multiple other young wideouts who will also be competing for targets and snaps. Receivers like: Elijah Moore, Corey Davis, Braxton Berrios, and Denzel Mims could harm Wilson’s fantasy potential, as well as the play of second-year Quarterback, Zach Wilson. Garrett Wilson may not have an immediate fantasy impact in the early portion of the season, but the potential is undoubtedly there. Wilson is being ranked just behind fellow rookies Treylon Burks and Drake London in most leagues.
5. Kenneth Walker III, RB, Seattle Seahawks
Walker exploded onto the scene in 2021, winning the Doak Walker award and even finishing sixth in the final Heisman voting. Seattle selected Walker in the middle of the second round in the 2022 draft, likely setting up the opportunity for him to compete with former first-rounder, Rashaad Penny for snap share and touches this season. However, Walker’s situation is not as ideal as some would hope. Walker enters a system in Seattle where they typically use multiple backs, and their ‘lead back’ notoriously splits carries with anywhere from two-to-three other backs. Furthermore, the passing game hasn’t been kind to running backs as of late, as Seattle ranked last in the NFL in targets to running backs in the passing game. Walker is an incredible talent, however, I think he’ll have more value in dynasty leagues where owners can wait on his development, rather than standard leagues where owners will want instant production from the rookie back. Walker is viewed as the consensus number two rookie running back and is being ranked just inside the top thirty for running backs for 2022.
6. Jameson Williams, WR, Detroit Lions
Williams would be much higher on this list, had he not suffered a torn ACL in January’s National Championship game. Although Williams is still recovering from that injury, he’s stated multiple times that he is ahead of schedule in his rehab from the injury. Williams was taken twelfth overall by the Lions, in hopes that he can rejuvenate their passing attack and provide a deep threat for Jared Goff. Unfortunately for Williams’ fantasy stock though, Jared Goff hasn’t thrown the ball down the field often as of late, averaging just thirteen completions of twenty yards or more in the last two years (via FantasyPros). However, Williams can offset that due to his ability to make plays after the catch, which he was so good at a season ago with Alabama. Williams is expected to be ready for training camp, but the Lions are likely to be conservative with Williams before the regular season, as Williams has a legitimate shot to be ready for week one. Williams is ranked right around the top five for rookies, and just inside the top sixty for wide receivers in standard leagues, however, I would rank him much higher.
7. Christian Watson, WR, Green Bay Packers
Watson was one of my favorite prospects going into the draft and is one of my favorite rookies due to the team he landed with. Green Bay’s receiving core is subpar after the departure of Davante Adams, which means the second-round pick could see plenty of snaps and targets from day one. Watson is the total package at 6’5” as he ran a 4.36 forty-yard dash, and is one of the best route runners in this rookie class. Watson has great value towards the middle and end of round one in rookie drafts and is ranked just a few spots behind Jameson Williams in redraft leagues.
8. Chris Olave, WR, New Orleans Saints
New Orleans had a massive hole at the receiver position in 2021, especially with Micheal Thomas missing the entirety of the season. Olave will come in and be the second or third option in the passing game behind Michael Thomas and potentially Jarvis Landry. Olave does a great job of creating separation and getting open using his smooth route running but doesn’t have the same after-the-catch ability as some of his rookie counterparts. Olave seems to be more of a boom-or-bust type of fantasy player going into 2022, and I think he’ll offer more value in dynasty leagues rather than redraft leagues.
9. Skyy Moore, WR, Kansas City Chiefs
Some had Moore graded with first-round potential, but he ultimately was the thirteenth receiver taken in the draft and was selected towards the end of the second round. Moore’s versatility as a receiver will give him an advantage in a receiver room full of newcomers in Kansas City, hopefully allowing him to get more snaps and targets in his first year. Moore also had the advantage that many other rookie receivers do not have, which is having Patrick Mahomes as his Quarterback. Moore has extremely underrated value in dynasty leagues, as his teammates Juju Smith-Schuster and Mecole Hardman both have just one year remaining on their contracts.
10. James Cook, RB, Buffalo Bills
I struggled here on deciding if I would go with Buffalo’s James Cook, or Pittsburgh’s second-round pick, George Pickens. I ultimately decided to go with Cook, as I feel he has more value due to his versatility out of the backfield as a receiver along with his rushing abilities. Devin Singletary had a strong finish to the 2021 season once the Bills started to lean on him more to carry their rushing attack. I’d expect Singletary to continue to carry the load from a running standpoint, however, I believe Cook will be the back that the Bills look towards in the passing game, and to relieve Singletary when necessary. Cook could have his value sky-rocket going into the 2023 season, as Singletary will be slated for free agency after this year.
*All stats were received from ESPN Stats & Info. Department and FantasyPros.com