A number of rookies from the 2022 NFL Draft landed in ideal spots to succeed in their first year as professionals. Which ones are the most likely to be immediate fantasy football stars?
Rookie wide receivers Ja’Marr Chase and Jaylen Waddle posted two of the better debut campaigns in recent memory in 2021. Chase finished as WR5 and Waddle as WR13 in full-PPR leagues. Both guys had an ADP (or average draft position) of round six or worse, which led to some insane value for the savvy fantasy owners that snagged them. As of today, Chase is going at pick nine in the first round, while Waddle comes off the board at pick 41 in the fourth round of a 12-team draft.
Amon’Ra St. Brown and DeVonta Smith were also factors in full-PPR leagues, especially St. Brown. Over the course of the final six games, the Detroit Lions’ wide receiver caught at least eight passes in each. Now that Smith has a capable counterpart in the wide receiver room with AJ Brown, it’s reasonable to expect a jump in development for the former Heisman trophy winner. At least one of these four guys were consistently found on championship rosters in 2021.
Even though the league is as pass happy as it’s ever been, let’s not forget about the rookie running backs that made waves in their first professional season. This group is led by Najee Harris, the only first-round running back from the 2021 NFL Draft. Harris ran for 1200 yards on the dot, while hauling in an astounding 74 receptions. He scored ten total touchdowns and was the primary reason that the Steelers offense moved the ball at all in 2021. All of this resulted in an RB3 finish in full-PPR leagues.
The Denver Broncos drafted Javonte Williams in the second round of the 2021 NFL Draft, but made it known that Williams would be splitting carries with veteran Melvin Gordon as a rookie. They weren’t kidding, either. Both Williams and Gordon ended the season with EXACTLY 203 rushing attempts apiece. Williams outpaced Gordon as a pass catcher, recording 43 receptions to Gordon’s 28. Adding in his seven touchdowns, Williams finished as RB17.
2022 NFL Draft: Rookies That Will Make Immediate Impact in Fantasy Football Leagues
The tight end position rarely sees a rookie ascend to the top of the rankings, but that happened in 2021. That being said, calling Kyle Pitts a tight end might be a bit of a stretch. Pitts has an athletic profile that makes him a unicorn at the position. He parlayed this athleticism into a TE6 finish, as he led the Atlanta Falcons in receptions (68) and receiving yards (1026). The only other rookie to finish in the top-30 was the Steelers’ Pat Freiermuth (TE13).
Strictly going off of last years’ crop of talent, it is easy to see how impactful rookies can be to the landscape of fantasy football. With that in mind, what rookies from the 2022 NFL Draft can make immediate contributions for your fantasy football team? I have hand picked ten rookies that I believe possess similar upside to the players you just read about. Let’s get things started with tight ends.