2022 Fantasy Football Rookie Wide Receivers

by Mark Strausberg
2022 Fantasy Football Rookie Wide Receivers

Before we get into the 2022 rookie wide receivers, we need to discuss a "Mark Theory". A "Mark Theory" is a purely speculative opinion that is based not on any statistical evidence, but very hard to argue against its validity.

And quite the relevant and perfect example of a "Mark Theory" is this: the 2014 Rookie WR class completely changed the Fantasy Football landscape. Plenty of rookie WRs became Fantasy studs immediately. (see Moss, Randy and Rice, Jerry as two obvious examples).

But that 2014 WR class was something special. John Brown and Sammy Watkins have both had huge Fantasy weeks here and there over the course of their careers. But they don't even sniff the top five of that class.

That class has seen 16 Pro Bowls already and could easily pass 20 before we have a new president. Those 16 Pro Bowls came via Brandin Cooks, Jarvis Landry, Allen Robinson, Odell Beckham Jr., Mike Evans, and Davante Adams.  The problem is ever since that class, Fantasy owners are convinced that every year there might be four or five rookie WRs worth drafting.

And they're wrong.

The 2022 WR draft class is one of the deeper WR classes in years. I do like this class's long-term chances of success. However, I would be shocked if we see even three rookie WRs in the top 25 this year and even ten worthy of being a WR4.

So keep your expectations low for most of these WRs to make an immediate impact this year. But here are my top ten ranked in my personal descending order.

2022 Fantasy Football Rookie Wide Receivers

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1. Chris Olave, New Orleans Saints

Olave is my favorite WR in this class. But it is with much hesitation. Other options have much higher ceilings than Olave. But I love Olave's floor this year. We'll assume that Michael Thomas will be back at some point this year, but if not, Olave could easily become Jameis Winston's favorite target. Jarvis Landry is a viable WR2 in PPR leagues, but he is more of a complimentary WR at this point in his career.

Olave, meanwhile, is a refined prospect. He finished 11th or better in yards per route run in two of the last three seasons (minimum 50 targets per PFF). He's an absolute lock to be a WR4 and does have the potential to be a WR1.

2. Jalen Tolbert, Dallas Cowboys

My second favorite receiver is not who I would project to finish as the second best WR. He could easily fail to finish even within the top 75 WRs this year.

Unlike Olave, Tolbert's floor is subterranean. But I love the value he presents with an ADP currently outside the first 16 rounds!

I remind you that Amari Cooper has taken his talents to Cleveland and there are tons of health concerns surrounding Michael Gallup. I don't foresee Tolbert knocking CeeDee Lamb out of the number one spot, but if he is the WR2 in Dallas, folks will be sprinting to the free agency pool in leagues where he went undrafted.

Of all FBS wideouts, Tolbert was seventh and sixth in receiving yards each of the last two years.

3/4. Drake London, Atlanta Falcons and Garrett Wilson, New York Jets

I'll admit it, I'm wussing out by having these two WR rookies tied in my rankings. But I feel like if I have one ranked higher than the other say on Monday, by Friday they have flipped. At least once, if not four times.

London might be the only rookie WR who is likely to immediately be his team's WR1. He was the first WR off the board for good reason, as his talent is unquestionable. However, there are a number of quarterback concerns in Atlanta. Furthermore, Kyle Pitts is currently the number one receiving option in Atlanta and I don't foresee that changing this year.

Wilson, meanwhile, was picked just a couple of picks later and had an even more impressive season than London, scoring a dozen receiving touchdowns for the Buckeyes on 70 catches and 1058 receiving yards. Wilson will probably slot in behind Elijah Moore.

But, like London in Atlanta, Wilson should still see plenty of opportunities and playing time in New York. Even with Zach Wilson unproven, Garrett Wilson's ability to separate as well as eat up yards after the catch could lead to him being one of the better rookie WRs in the AFC.

5. Treylon Burks, Tennessee Titans

Burks and his "asthma issues" caused him to fall in some preseason rankings. Could it be this year's version of Jamar Chase "drops"? Perhaps. I'm not convinced either way. On the plus side, Burks was at the top of his class in yards per route run (3.57) as well as first in yards per route run when lined up outside (6.08) among all receivers. His combination of speed and size had scouts drooling.

But when he was drafted by the Titans, he immediately dropped in my rankings. For one, the Titans run through Derrick Henry (pun intended). Even when the Titans do pass the ball, I don't have a ton of faith in Ryan Tannehill, as I easily have him outside my top 20 QBs this year.

Burks could easily end up being the best WR in this class, but it won't be this year.

6. George Pickens, Pittsburgh Steelers

Whether you like it or not (and I don't like it), we can't deny the fact that the Steelers rarely miss when it comes to picking Day 2 WRs. Pickens’ college profile looks astoundingly like many true WR1s, and early camp reports echo that sentiment as he continues to impress:

Pickens's ADP seems to be steadily rising and could easily be one of the better 2022 Rookie Wide Receivers.

7. Skyy Moore, Kansas City Chiefs

Moore is a YAC monster, he tied for first in 2021 with 26 forced missed tackles. That should come in quite handy when catching passes from Patrick Mahomes. He will have to compete with a bunch of initials--JSS and MVS, also known as Juju Smith-Schuster and Marquez Valdes-Scantling.

But Moore's ability to play inside/outside should keep him on the field, giving him the chance to put up a huge season. The Chiefs, unlike the Steelers, have a spotty track record of late when it comes to WRs, but I suspect Moore might improve the trend.

8. Christian Watson, Green Bay Packers

Watson could easily fall out of my top ten if the Packers sign another WR between now and the opening kick-off. But Watson has the possibility to become the new Davante Adams. Or something like that. There seems to be far less talent in the Green Bay WR room than there once was. Watson is a workout warrior, who notched a 98th percentile speed score and 95th percentile burst score.

Add in Watson’s immediate YAC ability (per our friends over at PFF, he finished 12th, 7th, and 17th in the last three seasons in YAC per reception amongst FCS and FBC WRs with a minimum of 50 targets), he could make sweet music with the seasoned virtuoso, Aaron Rodgers this year. My biggest concern with Watson however is that fellow rookie Romeo Doubs might turn out to be the GB WR rookie you want.

9. Jahan Dotson, Washington Commanders

Dotson is not unseating Terry McLaurin, but could easily start opposite him this year. Should the Washington coaching staff come to the same conclusion that the Colts did with Carson Wentz last year, the volume might not be there. But Dotson suffered through poor quarterback play when he was in college, so he might be able to overcome that.

He has some of the best hands of any WR in this rookie class. Ron Rivera has already likened him to Steve Smith, who like Dotson was on the shorter size, but played "bigger than his size". When you are already being compared to Smith, that's pretty strong accolades.

Dotson could be a sneaky pick to end up as the offensive rookie of the year.

10. Alec Pierce, Indianapolis Colts

Unlike Dotson, Pierce has a 6'3 211-pound frame that quarterbacks often look for in the end zone. And Matt Ryan has made rookie WRs household names before (see Ridley, Calvin for one).  I have already mentioned some concerns about some of the rookie WRs' quarterbacks.

However, Ryan is "getting a little too much shade thrown his way", as the kids like to say. The Colts have one of the better offensive lines, which should give Ryan the time necessary to find Pierce streaking down the field.

Because Pierce is more than just a big body. During the Combine, he ran a 4.41 40-yard dash. That placed Pierce in the 96th percentile for speed score, and he also was in the 94th percentile for burst according to PlayerProfiler advanced stats.

The Colts will likely run the ball more than most teams again this year. However, I would not be surprised to see Pierce score half a dozen TDs or more this year. That alone could make him worthy of a late-round pick and why I like him more than some other 2022 Rookie Wide Receivers.

Get more great advice by checking out our 2022 Fantasy Football Draft Kit

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