2022 Fantasy Football Primer - Part 3 Rookies
With the veterans covered, it's time to look at the players who are set to debut this season.
Most players will get better as their career progresses, but some are stars from the start (see Chase, JaMarr). Every year there will be a few rookies that will be key in winning someone a league championship and I'm here to mine through the garbage and pull out the diamonds for you.
I won't be covering the quarterbacks, with only Kenny Pickett (PIT) as a first-round selection there just weren't many signal-callers that impressed teams. That's not to say that Pickett or Malik Willis won't turn into fantasy gods in a year or two, it just means that they aren't going to offer you much if any, meaningful production this year.
Look at Trevor Lawrence and Justin Fields last year. They were at the very tip-top of the board and were (politely) really bad. They should get better and eventually be starters, but their rookie year wasn't kind to them, and Pickett's won't be either.
Drake London - ATL - Looks like he'll be a good choice as your WR3/FLEX pick week-to-week, but hurt his knee in the Falcons' first preseason game. The upside is that other than TE Kyle Pitts and RB Cordarrelle Patterson, there's no one else to throw to. The downside is that it's either Marcus Mariotta or rookie QB Desmond Ridder throwing to him.
Chris Olave - NO - I feel like if there is going to be a rookie receiver blow-up this year, it's between Olave and another player I'll mention later. Olave made everything look so easy and natural at Ohio and I expect that to transfer to the NFL. He also has the best QB (Jameson Winston) of the top rookie receivers and a huge opening to be as high as WR2 for the Saints.
Garrett Wilson - NYJ - Has more competition for touches than either Drake or Olave and an unproven QB doing it. The upside is that if Zach Wilson gets comfortable with him, the Wilson-to-Wilson connection will be in business for years. I'm not as high on him as a lot of people, but I think he has too much talent to not draft him for your bench.
Romeo Doubs and Christian Watson - GB - If you paid attention to what I said about Watson during the draft process, you know how much I like him already. Doubs made my Top 50 NCAA players list last fall. It may not be this season, but these two are going to be huge for Green bay in coming years. Watson might be (by virtue of his Red Zone abilities) the better play this year, but Doubs has the look of the next Randall Cobb.
George Pickens - PIT - He's been making people talk about him since training camp began and we knew he had the talent, to begin with. I feel like until/when Mitch Trubisky is replaced as the Steelers' QB, none of the Steelers' receivers are a good selection. Take him late or off of the waiver wire and you may have a late-season star on your hands though.
Treylon Burks - TEN - I liked Burkes a lot in the run-up to the draft, he's a big, thick-bodied receiver with strong hands. Acquired (the pick at least) in the trade that sent A.J. Brown to the Eagles, Burks has a real chance to step in as the Titans WR1 given that Robert Woods is still getting back into game shape after his torn ACL.
Jameson Williams - DET - Still healing after the ACL tear he suffered in the National Championship game, Williams has been placed on the non-football injury list and by virtue of that designation will be eligible to return after Detroit's Oct 2 game Vs. Seattle. He may or may not be ready to play at that time but expect Williams to make some waves this season; after all, he was considered a Top 10 pick before his injury.
Breece Hall - NYJ - He doesn't quite have a lock on being the Jets RB1, but as the season progresses I'm willing to bet that he will take over more and more of the carries and force 2nd year RB Michael Carter into more of a passing down role. I think the worst-case scenario is that Hall is a fairly consistent RB 2 as we progress through the season.
Brian Robinson - WSH - Robinson was going to be a player you had to be patient with even before last Sunday when he was shot twice during an attempted robbery. He has since been released from the hospital and is healing. I view Robinson as someone who, when Antonio Gibson misses time can step in and take over as the lead back. J.D. McKissic is also ahead of him on the depth chart, but stash Robinson on your bench.
James Cook - BUF - Cook (younger brother of MIN RB Dalvin) may not take over early as the Bills lead back, but I'm willing to bet that by season's end he's getting meaningful snaps on all downs. Cook's biggest strength plays to the Bills' biggest strength, the passing game. View Cook similarly to how his predecessor at Georgia De'Andre Swift progressed in the NFL.
Dameon Pierce - HOU - At this point, Pierce is the presumptive starter in Houston. Congratulations, I guess? The Texans won't be good this season, and probably not next year either, but we saw Brandin Cooks make hay last year in a bad offense, and Pierce has looked good in the preseason. Worth a flier in the mid-rounds.
Wait and see
These are the rookies that may or may not end up contributing this season. The guys who need an injury or two up the depth chart to happen before they see the field regularly or who are just stuck in a not-so-great situation.
Ken Walker - RB - SEA - Rashaad Penny is ahead of him on the depth chart for now, but I wonder if Pete Carroll will be willing to use Walker as a lead back when (not if) Penny gets banged up.
Sky Moore - WR - KC - Rookie receivers don't always catch lightning in a bottle, but Moore might have a better chance than most. Juju Smith-Schuster is still learning the offense, Mecole Hardman has been just shy of a bust, and Josh Gordon was released Wednesday during roster cuts.
Jahan Dotson - WR - WSH - I'm not sure how well Doson will perform this year mostly because Carson Wentz is his QB. Having Terry McLaurin drawing attention away will help Dotson, it's just a question of how much the Commanders choose to target him.
Zamir White - RB - LV - He'll be limited by the Raiders using Josh Jacobs as their lead back and he's not much of a pass catcher (17 REC in 3 seasons at Georgia). If Jacobs goes down, he could conceivably take over and give you some quality starts.
Rachaad White - RB - TB - Currently sitting as Tampa's RB2 behind Leonard Fournette, White could see a spot start here and there when Fournette gets dinged up (avg 3 missed games a season). He could also take over the third down back role as he catches the ball very well.
There you go, all of the info you need to draft a quality fantasy football team. Pay attention, don't be the guy that constantly whines "You just took my guy", instead, be the guy that TAKES their guy. Don't listen to the other owners bitching about how you're drafting your team, you do it YOUR way. Good luck on the upcoming season and enjoy football being back.