With the NFL season nearly over, it’s time to reassess the top rookie wide receivers from the 2022 class, and where I stand on these guys from a dynasty fantasy football perspective.
New York Jets / #10 Overall Pick / KTC Ranking: WR5
In my opinion, Garrett Wilson had the most impressive season among the rookie receivers, which is reflected in his KeepTradeCut value. He tallied over 1,100 receiving yards despite playing with a disastrous quarterback cycle, including Zach Wilson, Joe Flacco, Mike White, and Chris Streveler. Wilson’s 837 unrealized air yards (sixth most in the NFL) is a sign of quarterback play holding back even more possible production.
He’s a fantastic route runner with dangerously slippery yards after catch ability and 4.3 speed. His 24.9% target share, 26.9% target rate, 30.4% air yards share, and 2.02 yards per route run are all elite metrics that check out with the “eye test.”
With the Zach Wilson experiment trending south, and many believing this team is a quarterback away from making a serious postseason push, there’s potential for an incoming quarterback upgrade here. Aaron Rodgers is at the top of the headlines, and if that comes to fruition, Wilson becomes a top 12 fantasy receiver immediately.
But remember, we’ve heard Rodgers trade rumors before, and they’ve never blossomed into anything. If New York doesn’t get an elite quarterback this offseason, Wilson is still a fantastic dynasty asset, but his 2023 upside gets capped in comparison to his current WR5 cost.
Verdict: Regardless of the unknowns at quarterback, you can bet on Wilson’s fantastic profile with plenty of confidence, and the public knows it. His WR5 ranking on KeepTradeCut makes it impossible for me to categorize him as a buy-low, but Wilson’s a good hold given the fact that he’s clearly a star receiver for years to come.
New Orleans Saints / #11 Overall Pick / KTC Ranking: WR9
Similar to his Ohio State counterpart, Garrett Wilson, Chris Olave had an extremely productive rookie campaign in a fairly poor offensive environment. I was a bit lower than consensus on Olave heading into the draft, as he was a late declare, a smaller receiver, and he didn’t offer much yards after catch ability.
However, none of that mattered much. Olave’s extremely high-IQ, track star speed, and ability to consistently separate via elite route running absolutely shined. It shows in the metrics, as he tallied a 26.7% target share, 29.3% target rate, 40.8% air yards share, and 2.57 yards per route run. All these numbers ranked Olave within the top 15 of each metric. He may not have alpha size, or a ton of target competition, but this production is alpha stuff.
Verdict: There’s no buying low on Olave given his top 10 receiver status among the dynasty community. It’s tough to envision some crazy leap from him next season given how great he played this year and the unlikelihood of this Saints’ offense getting a whole lot better in 2023, but Olave’s skill set, 11th overall pick draft capital, and high-end rookie production make for a star profile.
Atlanta Falcons / #8 Overall Pick / KTC Ranking: WR13
Drake London was my highest-ranked receiver heading into the 2022 draft, and although he didn’t have the most productive rookie season, he certainly could have done so in a better situation. London posted top five numbers across the entire receiver landscape when it came to demanding targets, with a 29.4% target share and 32.4% target rate. Albeit, he didn’t have much target competition outside of 10 games with Kyle Pitts, but these are still extremely impressive numbers for any receiver, especially a rookie.
~Ohio State does it again 🔥
~Treylon Burks 👀🚀
~Don’t let situation fool you on London’s talent
~Want more data on Christian Watson in this new-found bigger role 🧐
~Pickens / Doubs / Robinson / Pierce cluster
~Context matters, but the jury is still out on Dotson pic.twitter.com/iCr5HxcokO
— Aidan Maher (@Aidan_Maher17) November 23, 2022
Unfortunately, he ran just 21.2 routes per game, as Atlanta operated as a run-heavy offense with extremely poor quarterback play. Both Drake London and Kyle Pitts are extremely talented players that were handicapped by a situation that simply made consistent fantasy production a near impossible task.
The bad news for London is that the Falcons’ offensive identity will most likely remain similar in 2023. The same coaching staff will remain intact, and I’m not anticipating a notable quarterback upgrade. However, the shakeout of the NFL landscape through an entire offseason can be unpredictable, and my anticipation can easily be wrong. I’d rather bet on the highly skilled 21-year-old receiver with elite peripherals and top 10 draft capital than a shaky situation.
Verdict: Teams looking to go all-in next season should probably fade/sell London at his WR13 price tag, as his 2023 production will be spotty unless Atlanta’s offense undergoes serious change. However, teams with the future in mind should search for buy-low opportunities. London’s price is still steep, but there may be some leagues where managers will be a bit more apt to trade London at a lower price due to inconsistent rookie production and a poor present-time situation.
Detroit Lions / #12 Overall Pick / KTC Ranking: WR16
It’s almost as if Jameson William’s rookie campaign will take place next season. After suffering an ACL tear in the College Football Playoffs last January, Williams didn’t play his first game until Week 13. He tallied just nine targets on 34 routes run, as he transitioned to the NFL post-injury in a small week-by-week role.
With his production at Alabama as an early declare, a lengthy frame, game-breaking speed and vertical ability, plus some yards after catch upside, Williams is a high upside fantasy asset with top 12 draft capital. There are still some concerns that make for a bit of a shaky floor, though. He’s got a slender frame with a lack of physicality, raw route-running, and he still hasn’t proven much off his ACL tear.
I’ve seen plenty of people looking to buy-low on Williams, but that seems to be easier said than done in some cases. His WR16 price tag makes for a risky investment given all the other proven receivers in that price range. However, with that risk comes massive upside, and I’ve seen multiple instances where managers are able to trade inferior rookie receivers (George Pickens, Christian Watson) and other players straight up for Williams.
Verdict: Since we’ve hardly seen Williams in the NFL, his value is a bit all over the place. I believe his value might steadily rise over the offseason, and there are already some leagues where it’s tough for me to trade for Williams when I can get a rookie receiver like Drake London at the same cost instead. Similar to Williams, London has a great profile, but with actual NFL production to back it up. Again, though, know your league. In spots where his value is on the lower side, he’s a nice buy-low upside shot.
Pittsburgh Steelers / #52 Overall Pick / KTC Ranking: WR19
Before he suffered an ACL tear in March 2021, George Pickens was a projected first-round pick with an extremely early breakout at Georgia. However, this ACL tear dropped him to the second round, where the Steelers bought into the injury discount. So far, it’s paid off pretty well. Pickens had an up-and-down rookie season, but the star flashes and connection with quarterback Kenny Pickett is clearly present.
Pickens is a big bodied receiver with incredible body control and ball skills. Reminds me of a younger day Allen Robinson, as a bigger outside receiver that thrives at the catch point. With that being said, there are more holes in Pickens’ profile that all the highlight catches might distract you from.
He’s not superfast, he doesn’t have a very diverse route tree, he doesn’t possess much yards after catch ability, and his 15.6% target share isn’t some high mark to boast about. I don’t envision Pickens ever being a target hog, and he’ll make up for some of that with his downfield play making and red zone prowess, but it’s still not a great peripheral for someone with a near top 20 receiver price tag.
Verdict: I was higher on Pickens than consensus during the 2022 draft process, and I still believe he’ll have a productive fantasy career. I like the player, but not the price. There are too many holes in his profile to be ranked as this hyped-up WR19, and being tied to Kenny Pickett doesn’t bridge the gap. On the bright side, all the hype and exciting plays at such a young age has provided some insulated value, but he’s a sell/fade for me.
Green Bay Packers / #34 Overall Pick / KTC Ranking: WR21
Christian Watson had a quiet start to his rookie campaign, but from weeks 10 and on, he absolutely took off. During this stretch (excluding Week 17 as he played through injury), Watson demanded a 25.8% target rate, with 20.7 PPG in his six fully healthy games. Rookie receivers typically don’t produce with Aaron Rodgers, but Watson clearly bucked that trend. He’s a big-framed receiver with an abundance of athleticism, downfield play making ability, and juice with the ball in his hands. Plus, he still has room to grow, and top 35 draft capital is an encouraging investment.
A lot of this production did come off the back of seven touchdowns over a four-week stretch, which is obviously an unsustainable number. Watson also never posted over eight targets or 110 receiving yards on a team with hardly any target competition. That still leaves a couple question marks for a receiver that I wasn’t very high on during the draft process, but given the unique, versatile upside he has, his impressive production down the stretch, and top 35 draft capital, my optimism has certainly risen quite a bit on Watson over the past couple months.
Verdict: I’m ready to admit I was too low on Christian Watson as a prospect, and there’s lots of tantalizing upside here. His ranking at WR21 is still a bit too high for me, though, so I’d categorize him as a light sell candidate.
Tennessee Titans / #18 Overall Pick / KTC Ranking: WR25
Between turf toe and a concussion holding him to just nine full games, along with this Titans’ offense passing at one of the lowest rates in the NFL, the sample size is fairly limited on Burks. After being pigeonholed into a smaller role to start the season, Burks tallied a 96% route participation in Week Three. It seemed like Burks was quickly establishing himself as Tennessee’s best receiver, but a turf toe injury halted his progress for well over a month.
Once he came back, Burks wasn’t given a full-time starting role, but he had plenty of encouraging flashes in the opportunity he was given. Over his final six fully healthy games, Burks had a 28% target rate, with 100-plus air yards in three of those games. He wasn’t competing with a ton of target competition, but regardless, this production still gets me excited. Burks is a big-bodied receiver with tons of athletic tools. Truly an explosive playmaker that can win both downfield and with the ball in his hands.
Treylon Burks looked fantastic last night
Team-high 8 targets, 7 receptions, and 111 yards…
And there’s more room to grow 👀
Burks ran just 21 of a possible 27 routes. Tennessee’s best pass-catcher will soon be featured in two receiver sets 🔥pic.twitter.com/4eZJAMCS7a https://t.co/YABqGcCifL
— Aidan Maher (@Aidan_Maher17) November 18, 2022
Verdict: Burks may be flying under-the-radar for some, but not me. I was high on him as a prospect, he got top 20 draft capital, and his production when on the field was very encouraging. Don’t forget about Burks, he’s still one of the best receivers in this entire class. A great buy-low target if you’re looking to invest in this 2022 receiver class.
Washington Commanders / #16 Overall Pick / KTC Ranking: WR30
Jahan Dotson was a surprise top 20 pick that cashed in decent rookie production. He went for 13-plus PPR points in 50% of his games this season. The spike weeks were really nice, but I think they’ve blinded some people from the holes within his profile. His 15.9% target share and 17.5% target rate are mediocre marks, and his seven touchdowns on just 61 targets is an unsustainably high touchdown rate that led to many of these spike weeks.
In all fairness, Dotson suffered a hamstring strain that caused him to miss weeks five through nine, and in his first three games back from injury, Washington limited him to a part-time role where he hardly produced. When he returned to a full-time role from weeks 13-18, Dotson was playing his best football of the season. He had all three of his 70-plus yard games on the season over this five-game stretch, with a 24.8% target rate.
He’s got a smaller frame at 5’11”, 178 lbs, but don’t let that fool you. Jahan Dotson’s got a MASSIVE catch radius.
He’s got great ball skills, some of the best hands in the class, and a knack for making fully-extended catches look easy. pic.twitter.com/XP86nBHg66
— Aidan Maher (@Aidan_Maher17) April 6, 2022
As a prospect, Dotson had really nice college production and some of the best hands in this class, but I wasn’t super fond. A senior declare with a small frame (5’11”, 180 lbs), easily re-routed by physical coverage, he struggled to consistently stack defensive backs vertically, and he didn’t offer much juice with the ball in his hands due to such weak contact balance.
Verdict: The jury is still out for me on Dotson, but his strong stretch to end the season was an encouraging sign, and his top 20 draft capital offers a good deal of insulation. There are other receivers I’d rather have within his price range, but due to a lack of media buzz and the cloudy quarterback situation in Washington, it’s tough to categorize him as a sell-high.
New York Giants / #43 Overall Pick / KTC Ranking: WR40
Between a knee sprain from weeks two through five, and a season-ending ACL tear in Week 11, Wan’Dale Robinson spent a majority of his rookie season on the injury report. He’s a dynamic playmaker with the ball in his hands and a good outlook as a slot receiver. Robinson’s peripherals in college were great; early-declare, young breakout age, a near 40% college target share, and over 1,300 yards as a junior in the SEC. He then got selected top 45 in the draft.
Robinson had just three games with 20-plus routes run in his small sample size, and the production was solid. All three of these games came against teams that struggled against slot receivers (Detroit Lions, Jacksonville Jaguars, Seattle Seahawks), but regardless, his 29.2% target rate and 55 yards per game marks over these three games were nice marks.
Of course, the ACL tear is a concern many will have, especially for a smaller player that’s so reliant on quickness and change of direction. Luckily, outside of some small meniscus damage, it was a clean tear, making the road to recovery a bit smoother. His lack of size at 5’8, 180 pounds really limits his upside and full-scale versatility. Still, Robinson should have a nice career as a slot receiver, with enhanced 2023 value given the creative play-calling in New York’s offense and the lack of talent in this receiving core.
Verdict: I’d categorize myself as a bit higher on Robinson than his WR40 ranking, but nothing crazy. There’s lots to like about Robinson, but temper expectations and understand that he’ll probably never be an elite asset.
Indianapolis Colts / #53 Overall Pick / KTC Ranking: WR50
Alec Pierce had a pretty quiet rookie campaign. He had three straight 12-plus PPR point games from weeks four through six, but as the Colts offense crumbled throughout the season, Pierce had just one double-digit fantasy performance after Week Six. He had just a 14% target share, 17.5% target rate, and 1.35 yards per route run on the season.
This doesn’t inspire confidence in me considering I wasn’t huge on Pierce in the first place (senior declare from the American Athletic Conference, mediocre college target share), but I am willing to offer a bit of leeway. This Colts’ offense was dysfunctional, making it hard for an outside receiver to consistently produce. Plus, his second round draft capital is a nice team investment to bank on.
Verdict: Pierce will be a relevant fantasy name in a better offense with spike weeks as a downfield playmaker. With that being said, be prepared for some inconsistency, and understand that he’ll probably never be an elite, difference-making dynasty asset. I’m not targeting Pierce in startups or trades. If he’s on my roster, I’m probably looking to tier up, but given he’s valued outside the top 50 receivers, holding on to him isn’t a terrible option.
Green Bay Packers / #132 Overall Pick / KTC Ranking: WR51
Romeo Doubs put himself on the map early on in his rookie campaign, with over 13.5 PPR in weeks three, four, and eight on a 21.7% target rate over this stretch. Unfortunately, a high-ankle sprain caused him to miss weeks nine through 14. Doubs wasn’t a very consistent producer, but thanks to a couple of solid weeks as a rookie in a weak receiving room, he remains a relevant dynasty asset.
His profile is pretty fragile, though. A 15.7% target share and sub-18% air yard share are mediocre marks, especially given the lack of target competition Doubs was playing with. And as a fourth round pick, he doesn’t have the ideal draft capital either.
Verdict: Doubs is a fourth-round pick with very replaceable production this past season. If he’s the top receiver on the board in a startup, that’s probably a round where you should be targeting another position. And if he’s currently on your roster, look for an opportunity to package him with another player/pick to tier up.
Kansas City Chiefs / #54 Overall Pick / KTC Ranking: WR52
Skyy Moore had one of the most disappointing seasons among all the rookies. Expectations were high, as many loved him as a prospect, and getting inserted into one of the league’s best offenses with second round draft capital only raised the hype.
Unfortunately, production was far and few. Moore had just 250 receiving yards on 22 receptions, tallying an abysmal 5.6% target share. His role as an extreme part-time piece of this offense was apparent all year long, as Moore failed to crack 16-plus routes run in a single game.
Verdict: Moore’s face planter rookie campaign stacks the odds against him towards becoming a valuable fantasy asset. With that being said, Moore was extremely productive in college, a really solid prospect, and he’ll have some insulated value as a second round pick tied to Patrick Mahomes. I’d definitely be willing to accept some sunk cost on Moore if a decent trade offer arises, but if that’s not the case, just hold on and hope.