Saturday, August 13, 2022

Fantasy Football Today: Get to know the 2022 rookies with Dave Richard’s rankings and breakdowns

Patience is a virtue, as they say, and that’s never more true in Fantasy Football than it is with regards to rookies. 

I’ll never forget arguably my greatest blunder as a Fantasy manager, when I held on to a rookie Odell Beckham when he started the season with a hamstring injury, only to “sell high” coming off a two-touchdown game in his third career game — he had just 106 yards through three games, so it was the perfect time to move him for a must-start running back like Justin Forsett. Forsett actually wasn’t bad for me — he averaged over 100 total yards per game after the trade — but I gave up way too soon on Beckham, who had 1,199 yards and nine touchdowns over his final nine games. Whoops. 

The point is, if you’re going to invest in rookies in Fantasy, you’ve got to give them a chance to figure things out. It won’t always work out for you — Kadarius Toney teased, but never emerged as a must-start guy last season — but when it does, the rewards can be incredible. Just ask anyone who stuck with Ja’Marr Chase or Jaylen Waddle last season. 

Of course, not all rookie classes are made equal, so you’ll need to do your research before you just go chasing for the next Chase, Waddle, or Najee Harris, because there may not be one. That’s what today’s Fantasy Football Today newsletter is all about, as we’ve got Dave Richard’s rankings and breakdowns of the top rookies to know for 2022 for quarterback, running back, and wide receiver

Dave gives his scouting report of each of the top prospects, along with where they should be drafted in both yearly and Dynasty formats, and you should make sure you check out Heath Cummings’ Dynasty Central page with his latest rookie-only rankings, trade values, and more before you draft. Now, let’s meet the rookies!

Rookie QB Rankings

1. Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh Steelers

Height: 6-3 1/4 | Weight: 217 | Age as of Week 1: 24 

Pickett’s four years as a starter at Pitt helped him develop a smart, fearless demeanor in the pocket to go with his compact release, solid footwork and good arm. But it’s his mobility and moxie that could help him develop into a multi-year starter for the Steelers …  

  • 2022 DRAFT OUTLOOK: Only in Superflex/two-QB leagues will people pick Pickett, probably procuring him after Round 8. 

2. Desmond Ridder, Atlanta Falcons

Height: 6-3 | Weight: 211 | Age as of Week 1: 23 

Ridder went 44-6 as a four-year starter at Cincinnati, frequently blending his mobile style with rhythm passing. He’s adept at reading defenses pre-snap and manipulating them post-snap to create a good opportunity to deliver the ball, though sometimes he would stare down receivers …

  • 2022 DRAFT OUTLOOK: With Mariota expected to be the Falcons’ early-season starter, only patient drafters in Superflex/two-QB formats will look up Ridder starting in Round 9. 

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3. Malik Willis, Tennessee Titans

Height: 6-0 1/2 | Weight: 219 | Age as of Week 1: 23 

Willis has the best combination of arm strength, size and rushing presence in the draft class. Unfortunately, Willis still struggles with accuracy, pocket awareness, decision-making, staring down targets and taking on too many hits …

  • 2022 DRAFT OUTLOOK: Willis deserves a bench space in Superflex/two-QB drafts in case he plays high-value snaps as a part-time quarterback like Taysom Hill. Bank on him going in Round 10-plus. 

4. Matt Corral, Carolina Panthers

Height: 6-1 5/8 | Weight: 212 | Age as of Week 1: 23

Corral is an athletic mover with a quick release and a strong arm, but there’s so much to be concerned about on and off the field. His seeming inability to react to defenses led to a lot of head-scratching decisions and force-feeding throws into impossible coverage … 

  • 2021 DRAFT OUTLOOK: Corral should only be drafted late in Superflex/two-QB formats; chances are someone will get excited and take him sooner than they should. Unless his preseason is incredible, he’s unlikely to play much, if at all. 

Rookie RB Rankings

1. Breece Hall, New York Jets

Height 5-11 1/4 | Weight: 217 | Age: 21 years old

Hall is a stout three-down back who wins with incredible vision, balance and lateral agility. He has the patience to thrive in a zone-scheme run system (like the Jets have) and the shiftiness to avoid oncoming tacklers …

  • 2022 DRAFT OUTLOOK: Hall can safely be counted on as a No. 2 Fantasy running back right away, but his path to being a top-12 guy will depend heavily on how quickly he can convince his coaches to funnel him targets and put him on the field enough for 20 touches per game. Even if he has a couple of outstanding preseason highlights, it’ll feel like a reach if he’s taken in Round 3. 

2. Kenneth Walker, Seattle Seahawks

Height 5-9 1/4 | Weight: 211 | Age: 21 years old

Walker is a stocky, strong-legged running back with excellent lateral agility and very good patience and burst. He also has top-end speed to help him finish his runs … 

  • 2022 DRAFT OUTLOOK: If we believed in Seattle’s offense, Walker would be the top rookie pick ahead of Hall. But the Seahawks are lacking a quarterback and have been pretty hesitant to involve their running backs in the pass game for a long time. It caps his upside, which is why the range to take him in redraft is Round 6. 

3. Tyler Allgeier, Atlanta Falcons

Height 5-10 3/4 | Weight: 224 | Age: 22 years old

In the mold of grinders like James Conner and David Montgomery, Allgeier welcomes physicality but also uses his patience as a way to find space and win on the ground …

  • 2022 DRAFT OUTLOOK: It’s hard to get excited over Allgeier knowing that he’ll need time to find a large workload. It’s even harder when you consider the uncertainty surrounding the Falcons offense. That’s why he’s safest as solid bench depth with upside around 100th overall. A strong preseason would obviously rocket him into Round 6.

4. James Cook, Buffalo Bills

Height 5-11 | Weight: 199 | Age: 22 years old

Cook’s skill-set as an elusive breakaway runner and nuanced route-runner puts him immediately into a part-time role with the Bills. Not that he’s not a good traditional running back, but he doesn’t appear to have the build or natural power to handle the rigors of inside running at the pro level …

  • 2022 DRAFT OUTLOOK: Cook warrants a selection around 100th overall in PPR leagues but might fall all the way to 120th overall in non-PPR leagues since his potential for a lot of yardage and touchdowns seems low as a rookie.  

5. Dameon Pierce, Houston Texans

Height 5-9 5/8 | Weight: 218 | Age: 22 years old

Pierce isn’t sudden or speedy but has excellent balance and cutting ability to help him find space to pick up good yardage. He’s also better than your typical rookie in terms of receiving and blocking … 

  • 2022 DRAFT OUTLOOK: Without promised opportunities in the Texans’ already-suspect offense, Pierce should be drafted as a bench running back with solid upside. Once it’s Round 8, he’s fair game. 

6. Isaiah Spiller, Los Angeles Chargers

Height 6-0 3/8 | Weight: 217 | Age: 21 years old

Unlike others in the draft class, Spiller is a pretty good blend of power and quickness. He has the strength to push piles and blow through lower-body tackles and the quick burst to evade a defender … 

  • 2022 DRAFT OUTLOOK: Spiller is an attractive late-round stash for those managers who take Ekeler in Round 1. He also fits the bill as a bench lottery ticket for everyone else in the league, but one you might get impatient with after a couple of weeks. 

7. Rachaad White, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Height 6-0 3/8 | Weight: 214 | Age: 23 years old

After a lot of anonymity, White broke out with a big year at Arizona State, rumbling for 1,400-plus total yards and 16 total scores with 43 receptions. He got the job done thanks to his quick feet, effortless hands and good vision … 

  • 2022 DRAFT OUTLOOK: There are only mild hopes of White pitching in on the ground or through the air; a strong preseason would help him. But remember who the Bucs quarterback is – that’s who calls the shots on who plays when at running back. Until White earns Tom Brady‘s trust, he’s unlikely to touch the ball much and is at best an insurance policy for those who take Fournette with an early pick. 

8. Zamir White, Las Vegas Raiders

Height 5-11 3/4 | Weight: 214 | Age: 22 years old

White is a stocky, punch-packing running back with quick burst and patience. He’s a good fit for a zone-running team as a two-down back but doesn’t have much in terms of elusiveness. He also has much to learn about pass blocking and catching the ball (17 receptions in three seasons) …

  • 2022 DRAFT OUTLOOK: White will be a late-round flier, both as an insurance policy for Josh Jacobs but also as a low-end lottery ticket. The worry is that Jacobs starts his season playing well, relegating White to the waiver wire. 

Rookie WR Rankings

1. Drake London, Atlanta Falcons

Height 6-3 7/8 | Weight: 219 | Age: 21 years old

London is a power forward on the football field, perfect to leap up and grab high throws against smaller cornerbacks (which is pretty much every cornerback in the league). But London is also a balanced mover who knows how to use his body to box out defenders on in-breaking routes and pick up yardage after the catch …

  • 2022 DRAFT OUTLOOK: Receiver-hungry drafters in PPR leagues will begin targeting London in the middle of Round 6, but you should expect him to be gone by the end of Round 7. In non-PPR leagues, London should fall at least one round later. 

2. Treylon Burks, Tennessee Titans

Height: 6-2 | Weight: 225 | Age as of Week 1: 22 

Burks is a big, physical, faster-than-you-think receiver with room to develop his game further. At Arkansas, Burks caught an overwhelming number of short-area targets and became well known as a powerful force who would bowl over defenders after the catch …

  • 2022 DRAFT OUTLOOK: He’ll get attention as a No. 3 Fantasy receiver, potentially as a bargain compared to fellow rookie Drake London. The two should go within 12 spots of each other with Burks frequently second.

3. Chris Olave, New Orleans Saints

Height: 6-0 3/8 | Weight: 187 | Age as of Week 1: 22

For the past three seasons, Chris Olave has been the best receiver at Ohio State. His rise to prominence pushed Garrett Wilson into a “1B” role as a receiver and Jameson Williams onto another college program! Olave’s penchant for big plays and end-zone visits is helped by his instant acceleration, incredible agility, savvy route running and incredible awareness …

  • 2022 DRAFT OUTLOOK: There will probably be one or two Fantasy managers in every draft who take Olave before 100th overall, but that’s right around the time to target him. If you like him more than most, it’s not wrong to make him your eighth-round pick. 

4. Garrett Wilson, New York Jets

Height: 5-11 3/4 | Weight: 183 | Age as of Week 1: 22 

The second receiver drafted in April, Wilson gives the Jets a shifty speedster who plays with advanced fluidity, footwork and technique. He’s a handful as a route-runner and uses his supreme agility to get open and his burst and acceleration to stay open and pick up large gains …

  • 2022 DRAFT OUTLOOK: Wilson could end up as the receiver with the most targets in New York, but there’s no guarantee it’ll be a high number, nor will it be that much more than the other top wideouts. For that reason, expect Wilson to fall into Round 8 or 9 as a quality bench receiver. 

5. Jahan Dotson, Washington Commanders

Height: 5-10 5/8 | Weight: 178 | Age as of Week 1: 22

Dotson is a talented, twitchy, speedy wideout who should land an instant opportunity with the Commanders. He has very good footwork that he pairs with good burst and acceleration to separate from defenders and then breakaway with long speed … 

  • 2022 DRAFT OUTLOOK: The best part about Dotson is that some Fantasy managers will dismiss him because he’s on Washington, or because he’s not as high-profile as other receivers. You don’t have to think that way! Most will take him in Round 10, but an aggressive drafter could reach into late Round 9 without looking foolish. 

6. Christian Watson, Green Bay Packers

Height: 6-4-1/8 | Weight: 208 | Age as of Week 1: 23

The North Dakota State standout is an intoxicating blend of speed and height with potential to eventually become a complete receiver. Smooth acceleration helped Watson speed past FCS-level competition, and long, gangly arms contribute to his excellent catch radius …

  • 2022 DRAFT OUTLOOK: Like plenty of others, Watson will get nabbed in Round 9 by drafters who are certain he’ll be Rodgers’ top target this season. He’s a safer bench receiver if he makes it to Round 10. 

7. Skyy Moore, Kansas City Chiefs

Height: 5-9 5/8 | Weight: 195 | Age as of Week 1: 22 

Moore is a shifty, quick-twitch receiver who seems best as a short-area target who will make defenses pay for giving him even a yard of open space. That makes him a great fit for the Chiefs, actually – no quarterback had more attempts against zone coverage last year than Patrick Mahomes … 

  • 2022 DRAFT OUTLOOK: Drafters will take Moore just because he’s on the Chiefs. If he doesn’t appear to have a path to instant playing time, though, the pick could be a waste. The safest time to take him is Round 10 or later. 

8. Jameson Williams, Detroit Lions

Height: 6-1 1/2 | Weight: 179 | Age as of Week 1: 21

We finally get to one of the prized receivers of the 2022 draft class, but one who could miss a large chunk of his rookie season as he recovers from a torn ACL suffered in January. Williams is tall and slender with jaw-dropping, game-breaking speed …

  • 2022 DRAFT OUTLOOK: It’s a mistake to reach for Williams in seasonal drafts since there’s no timetable for his return, nor do we have a good projection for how he’ll do with Goff. He shouldn’t get taken until at least Round 11. 

9. George Pickens, Pittsburgh Steelers

Height: 6-3 1/4 | Weight: 195 | Age as of Week 1: 21

Years ago, George Pickens might have been tabbed as one of the top receivers in the draft class. He still could be, but a combination of injuries and immature moments have hampered how people view him. As a talent, Pickens is tall, long-armed, fast and willing to go all-out to make highlight-reel catches with his athleticism …

  • 2022 DRAFT OUTLOOK: Pickens will be a late pick in every draft as a low-risk bench receiver, though he might get dropped quickly if he doesn’t start the season playing well. It wouldn’t be surprising if the second Fantasy manager to roster Pickens is the one who gets the most out of him.

10. Jalen Tolbert, Dallas Cowboys

Height: 6-1 1/8 | Weight: 194 | Age as of Week 1: 23

Tolbert could find himself as a top contributor for the Cowboys in 2022, especially since Michael Gallup is still in recovery from a torn ACL. Tolbert’s a sudden-moving receiver with good size … 

  • 2022 DRAFT OUTLOOK: He might be a helpful Fantasy receiver for however long Gallup is out, which puts him on the late-round radar. 

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