In fantasy leagues, wide receivers are making an impact earlier than ever. Last year Ja’Maar Chase finished as the overall WR5 as a rookie wide receiver, Jaylen Waddle finished as the WR12, and Amon-Ra St. Brown surged to a WR22 finish. Devonta Smith and Elijah Moore also made meaningful contributions to their fantasy teams, so who are the top rookie wide receivers to know for the 2022 season?
Let’s examine each rookie wide receiver selected in the top 100 picks of the 2022 NFL Draft and see who can make a meaningful impact this season.
I’ll use RotoViz’s Prospect Box Score Scout to generate similar comparable players for each wide receiver. If you don’t have a subscription to RotoViz, we highly recommend checking them out.
Estimated Reading Time: 20 Minutes
Drake London, Atlanta Falcons
Despite joining a wide receiver corps at USC with future NFL studs Michael Pittman and Amon-Ra St. Brown, Drake London was involved early as a true freshman. He improved as a sophomore before a massive junior breakout season.
London did not perform at the NFL Combine so we can’t examine him as an athlete, but he’s a solid 6’4” 213 lbs.
As a prospect, he fits #TeamBigWR. You’ll find tantalizing upside when you combine London’s eighth overall draft capital with his size and college production.
|49||Mike Evans||Texas A&M||7||0.29||0.25||0.3||0.92||4.53||231|
|25||Odell Beckham Jr.||LSU||12||0.3||0.23||0.35||0.62||4.38||198|
Sim refers to the sim score for how similar each comparable player is. DP is the player’s draft position. CYMS is each player’s career receiving yards market share. CTDMS is each player’s career receiving touchdowns market share. FYMS is each player’s final year receiving yards market share. FTD/G is each player’s final year receiving touchdowns per game.
London clearly fits in with many of the best first-round picks in the past two decades. His impressive final year market share of receiving yards is behind just Amari Cooper. London’s weight helps attract exciting comparables like Mike Evans and Julio Jones – although his production and athleticism seem a little below the magnificence of Jones.
London slides into a very favorable situation on a team that desperately needs a pass-catching counterpart to future superstar Kyle Pitts. Both players will help each other by keeping defenses honest, as nothing can be expected from Calvin Ridley. The question for this season is can London overcome the underwhelming tandem of Marcus Mariota and Desmond Ridder as a rookie wide receiver?
Garrett Wilson, New York Jets
After selecting Elijah Moore early last year, the Jets drafted Garrett Wilson 10th overall. Wilson was involved as a 19-year-old freshman before a sophomore breakout. Facing significant competition throughout his college career and sharing targets with the next player on this list, Chris Olave, Wilson didn’t reach the level of market share domination that London did. Regardless, he was consistently impressive.
At the NFL combine, Wilson ran a blazing 4.38 forty and was average in the leaping drills.
|100||Garrett Wilson||Ohio State||10||0.23||0.22||0.27||1.09||4.38||183|
|80||Tavon Austin||West Virginia||8||0.24||0.26||0.3||0.92||4.34||174|
|78||Ted Ginn Jr.||Ohio State||9||0.29||0.27||0.28||0.75||4.38||178|
|66||Odell Beckham Jr.||LSU||12||0.3||0.23||0.35||0.62||4.38||198|
|51||Brandin Cooks||Oregon State||20||0.27||0.3||0.36||1.23||4.33||189|
|50||Henry Ruggs III||Alabama||12||0.16||0.21||0.18||0.58||4.27||188|
It’s not surprising that Jerry Jeudy is Wilson’s top comp. Like Wilson, Jeudy is a smaller faster player that never truly dominated in terms of market share during his collegiate career. Like Wilson, Jeudy was surrounded by impressive talent in college that potentially prevented dominant production.
It’s clear there’s a prototype here with smaller, fast receivers who were high picks. Wilson should be a solid player despite potentially not being a dominant one. He also has sophomore stud Moore to deal with but like London, Wilson will have to overcome huge questions at quarterback.
Chris Olave, New Orleans Saints
Although he is the same age as Wilson, Chris Olave played as a true freshman at Ohio State and notched at least a 25 percent dominator rating in each of his final three seasons. Unfortunately, Olave would be statistically more likely to hit had he left after three seasons.
Like Wilson, Olave is fast and light for an NFL wide receiver – although that is now becoming the norm.
|100||Chris Olave||Ohio State||11||0.23||0.27||0.22||1.18||4.39||187|
|85||Tavon Austin||West Virginia||8||0.24||0.26||0.3||0.92||4.34||174|
|35||Henry Ruggs III||Alabama||12||0.16||0.21||0.18||0.58||4.27||188|
|30||Odell Beckham Jr.||LSU||12||0.3||0.23||0.35||0.62||4.38||198|
There are plenty of positive hits for a productive speedy college receiver with high draft capital.
Olave will enter a Saints offense with lots of potential questions. Michael Thomas has barely played over the past two years; will he be able to return as the same player this season? He’s already doubtful for minicamp. How much does Jarvis Landry have left in the tank? And perhaps most importantly, will the Saints let Jameis Winston play YOLO-ball, or should we expect the game manager we saw last season?
Jameson Williams, Detroit Lions
Jameson Williams began his college career at Ohio State, where he played two seasons behind Wilson and Olave. In 2021, Williams transferred to Alabama and exploded for a massive 1,500-yard, 15-touchdown season.
Williams didn’t perform at the combine but he’s a 179-lb. speed demon.
|55||Odell Beckham Jr.||LSU||12||0.3||0.23||0.35||0.62||4.38||198|
|52||Ted Ginn Jr.||Ohio State||9||0.29||0.27||0.28||0.75||4.38||178|
|38||Brandin Cooks||Oregon State||20||0.27||0.3||0.36||1.23||4.33||189|
With Williams, you can see his prototype – a lighter, speedy wide receiver with high draft capital and impressive final year production. Many of his comparable players have had successful NFL careers.
The Lions have admitted that getting Williams ready for the season is “going to be a challenge”. Regardless of when he returns as a rookie wide receiver, Williams showed sky-high upside as a junior, and his draft position all but confirms that he will be the Lions’ WR1 for years to come.
Jahan Dotson, Washington Commanders
A four-year player at Penn State, Dotson had an extremely impressive junior season but decided to stay in school. We prefer early declares, as they’re statistically more likely to hit – but Dotson was again electric as a senior, reaching a 43 percent dominator rating for his second straight season.
At 5’11” 178 lbs., it would’ve been preferable for Dotson to run faster than a 4.43 40-time. When his weight is combined with his speed, Dotson’s speed score is just 42nd percentile. Regardless, it’s promising that the Commanders were confident enough to select Dotson 16th overall.
|100||Jahan Dotson||Penn State||16||0.28||0.34||0.36||1||4.43||178|
|53||Brandin Cooks||Oregon State||20||0.27||0.3||0.36||1.23||4.33||189|
|47||Tavon Austin||West Virginia||8||0.24||0.26||0.3||0.92||4.34||174|
|36||Elijah Moore||Ole Miss||34||0.29||0.3||0.42||1||4.35||185|
|34||Will Fuller V||Notre Dame||21||0.3||0.45||0.37||1.08||4.32||186|
There are several nice comparable hits like Ridley, Cooks, and Lamb so there are reasons for optimism. However, Dotson is the only player here besides Tavon Austin to weigh fewer than 180 lbs.
Dotson will slide in as the WR2 behind Terry McLaurin on a Carson Wentz-led offense. Hopefully, the offense will improve but it’s hard to see Dotson having an immediate, consistent fantasy impact as a rookie wide receiver.
Treylon Burks, Tennessee Titans
Although he was already 20 years old, Treylon Burks had an incredibly impressive 42 percent dominator rating in his sophomore season. As a junior, he bumped that up to 46 percent.
At 6’2” 225 lbs., Burks is big and his 4.55 forty gives him an 86th percentile speed score. His tantalizing size and college production make him easy to marvel at.
|88||NKeal Harry||Arizona State||32||0.31||0.39||0.38||0.75||4.53||228|
|65||Jordy Nelson||Kansas State||36||0.37||0.45||0.47||0.92||4.51||217|
|65||Hakeem Nicks||North Carolina||29||0.39||0.46||0.47||0.92||4.51||212|
|34||Alshon Jeffery||South Carolina||45||0.38||0.4||0.32||0.62||4.48||216|
|34||Brandon Aiyuk||Arizona State||25||0.31||0.31||0.39||0.67||4.5||205|
|30||Allen Robinson||Penn State||61||0.36||0.38||0.46||0.5||4.6||220|
It’s clear that his weight and college production reach a different tier of potentially elite prospects. While there are certainly misses (N’Keal Harry and Jonathan Baldwin), the hits make Burks an easy target.
Drafted as the replacement to A.J. Brown, ESPN’s Jordan Reid believes the Titans “are likely to force-feed [Burks] as a rushing and receiving threat” in 2022. Competing for targets with Robert Woods and Nick Westbrook-Ikhine, it’s easy to imagine that Burks will be heavily involved as a rookie wide receiver. Hopefully, Burks can overcome the “breathing issues” that are coming out of Titans’ camp.
Christian Watson, Green Bay Packers
Christian Watson played at North Dakota State, an FCS school. Since he played inferior competition, we’d like to see him truly dominate to show that he’s a superior player. Unfortunately, Watson redshirted as a freshman and didn’t truly break out until his fifth collegiate season. Considering the competition, this is extremely disappointing. Starting his NFL at over 23 years old is also working against his probability of being a hit.
If he didn’t perform in college, why was he drafted so high? Watson dominated the NFL combine. At 6’4” 208 lbs., Watson ran a 96th percentile forty and jumped to a 95th percentile burst score.
Due to playing in the FCS, his college statistics are not easily available, so you won’t find him in most of the RotoViz tools. For this reason, there aren’t comparable players listed for Watson.
Age-adjusted production is what I care about most for a prospect and unfortunately, Watson didn’t perform as early or frequently as I would have liked. His draft position and landing spot are certainly favorable, but if he couldn’t consistently perform in the FCS, why should I expect him to perform consistently in the NFL? I’ve already written about how Aaron Rodgers has treated rookie wide receivers in the past and who I expect to be Rodgers’ top target.
Wan’Dale Robinson, New York Giants
The early, consistent production that we like can be found in Wan’Dale Robinson’s profile. Robinson was productive in his first two seasons at Nebraska before hitting a 36 percent dominator rating in his breakout junior season at Kentucky.
The concern for many with Robinson is, at 5’8” 179 lbs., he’s small and wasn’t overly athletic. He ran a 4.44 forty, disappointed in leaping drills but showed above-average agility.
|74||Elijah Moore||Ole Miss||34||0.29||0.3||0.42||1||4.35||185|
|25||Dyami Brown||North Carolina||82||0.25||0.28||0.33||0.73||4.46||189|
|23||Zay Jones||East Carolina||37||0.26||0.21||0.43||0.67||4.45||201|
Robinson’s production and draft position provide reasons for optimism. His lack of size and athleticism provide reasons for concern. At his current cost, he’s an intriguing player who does have upside in his range of outcomes.
The Giants clearly liked Robinson, considering where they selected him. However, competing with Kenny Golladay, Sterling Shepard, and Kadarius Toney will make it difficult for Robinson to see consistent WR touches as a rookie.
John Metchie, Houston Texans
At Alabama, John Metchie wasn’t overly productive. He hit a 17 percent dominator rating as a 20-year-old sophomore playing behind DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle. He bumped that up to 22 percent in 2021 but wasn’t as productive as Jameson Williams.
After tearing his ACL in December, Metchie did not perform at the combine so all we know is his size at 5’11” and 187 lbs.
|85||Curtis Samuel||Ohio State||40||0.15||0.12||0.31||0.54||4.31||196|
|67||Parris Campbell||Ohio State||59||0.17||0.15||0.21||0.86||4.31||205|
|59||Lynn Bowden Jr.||Kentucky||80||0.23||0.2||0.24||0.08||204|
|57||Keke Coutee||Texas Tech||103||0.2||0.17||0.33||0.77||4.43||181|
|56||Titus Young||Boise State||44||0.24||0.21||0.29||0.69||4.43||174|
It’s disappointing to see that most of his comparable players were misses. In addition, most of the better players on this list were involved as rushers in college, and Metchie unfortunately only had one collegiate carry.
Metchie will compete with Nico Collins for the WR2 role behind Brandin Cooks. The Texans’ offense likely won’t be good enough to support multiple pass-catchers, but Metchie should see the field early in his career.
Tyquan Thornton, New England Patriots
A four-year player at Baylor, Tyquan Thornton broke out as a 21-year-old senior. We like players who break out earlier, but Thornton only played four games in an injury-marred junior season.
Thornton blazed a 100th percentile 4.28 forty at the combine. He also leaped to a 90th percentile burst score. While he’s only 183 lbs., Thornton is very athletic.
|49||Titus Young||Boise State||44||0.24||0.21||0.29||0.69||4.43||174|
|34||Elijah Moore||Ole Miss||34||0.29||0.3||0.42||1||4.35||185|
Thornton’s comps provide an intriguing list of speed demons. Unfortunately, the better players on this list had a higher career yards market share. Still, Thornton could hit as a late bloomer.
Producing as a rookie is always a difficult task on the Patriots. In addition, the depth chart is clogged by Jakobi Meyers, DeVante Parker, Kendrick Bourne, and Nelson Agholor. Without a Tyreek Hill-like breakout, Thornton will have a hard time being productive as a rookie wide receiver.
George Pickens, Pittsburgh Steelers
After an incredible 30 percent dominator rating in his true freshman season, it’s disappointing that George Pickens was only selected 52nd overall. This is the case because Pickens tore his ACL prior to his final season in a spring practice and played four games in which he wasn’t the same player. Can he return to his prior form?
At the combine, he weighed in at 200 lbs. and ran a 74th percentile forty.
|50||Lynn Bowden Jr.||Kentucky||80||0.23||0.2||0.24||0.08||204|
|43||Derrick Williams||Penn State||82||0.18||0.14||0.15||0.31||4.47||194|
|40||Bruce Ellington||South Carolina||106||0.2||0.23||0.25||0.67||4.45||197|
|33||Amon-Ra St. Brown||USC||112||0.25||0.24||0.25||1.17||4.51||197|
His final year production obviously had a dramatic impact on his comparable players. Regardless, it’s positive to see Robert Woods, Diontae Johnson, and Randall Cobb stand out as hits. We’ve seen Pickens look like a star early in his college career and there’s no reason why he can’t potentially be that player for the Steelers.
Playing with Kenny Pickett, it will hard for Pickens to be productive behind target hog Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool. If Pickens can pass Claypool on the depth chart, we can begin to get excited.
Alec Pierce, Indianapolis Colts
As a 19-year-old freshman Alex Pierce registered a 20 percent dominator rating. He maxed out with a 25 percent dominator rating as a junior.
At 6’3” 208 lbs., Pierce had an impressive combine. His 4.41 forty registered a 95th percentile speed score, while he registered an excellent 94th percentile burst score.
|98||Lynn Bowden Jr.||Kentucky||80||0.23||0.2||0.24||0.08||204|
|93||Chris Godwin||Penn State||84||0.26||0.3||0.28||0.85||4.42||209|
|80||A.J. Brown||Ole Miss||51||0.26||0.26||0.32||0.5||4.49||226|
His comparable players highlight consistent production, solid size, and second-round draft capital.
Behind Michael Pittman, Pierce will certainly receive opportunities. Colts coach Frank Reich said the team is “definitely pushing” Pierce to compete for a starting role. With Matt Ryan at the helm, Pierce could be an underrated rookie wide receiver.
Skyy Moore, Kansas City Chiefs
For those of us who care most about production, Skyy Moore is extremely exciting. Moore was involved early as a freshman at Western Michigan registering a 20 percent dominator rating. In his junior season, he broke out with an excellent 43 percent dominator rating. For three-year college career, an average dominator rating of 31 percent is excellent.
Unfortunately, Moore isn’t the biggest receiver at 5’ 10” 195 lbs. While he ran an impressive 4.41 forty, his leaping and agility drills were not as notable.
|100||Skyy Moore||West. Michigan||54||0.33||0.29||0.41||0.83||4.41||195|
|88||Elijah Moore||Ole Miss||34||0.29||0.3||0.42||1||4.35||185|
|79||Chris Givens||Wake Forest||96||0.31||0.38||0.4||0.69||4.35||198|
|66||Stephen Hill||Georgia Tech||43||0.33||0.36||0.44||0.38||4.36||215|
Comps like Elijah Moore, Rashod Bateman, and Calvin Ridley make it easy to get excited about Moore. Moore checks a lot of boxes for a wide receiver that wasn’t selected in the top-50 picks.
With the departure of Tyreek Hill, the Chiefs badly need wide receivers to step up. JuJu Smith-Schuster will be involved – but is he the same player who lit the world on fire in his first two seasons?
Velus Jones Jr., Chicago Bears
When evaluating prospects, production has the second-strongest correlation with PPR points, behind only draft position. This is precisely why we care so much about production. When it comes to Velus Jones Jr., his production is lacking, to put it mildly. Jones’ highest dominator rating prior to his senior season was 8 percent. As a 23-year-old senior, he reached a 20 percent dominator rating at Tennessee. Ideally, he would’ve performed early in college, before he was older than most of the competition.
Like most overrated rookie wide receivers, Jones ran well at the combine – finishing with a 4.31 forty time. He performed poorly in the leaping and agility drills.
|100||Velus Jones Jr.||Tennessee||71||0.13||0.12||0.25||0.58||4.31||204|
|28||Keshawn Martin||Michigan State||121||0.15||0.13||0.24||0.31||4.42||188|
|22||Gary Jennings||West Virginia||120||0.2||0.17||0.23||1.18||4.42||214|
Most of Jones’ comps were selected after him – quite frankly, this is likely because he was a reach. In their collegiate career, nearly every comparable player on this list had a higher percentage of their team’s receiving yards. At best, Jones makes a Marquise Goodwin-like impact as a field stretcher.
While Jones is likely to receive opportunities on an offense that lacks talent behind Darnell Mooney, it’s hard to imagine fantasy relevance from a player who struggled to make an impact in college.
Jalen Tolbert, Dallas Cowboys
Jalen Tolbert didn’t break out early but had an extremely impressive 35 percent dominator rating as a 20-year-old sophomore. In his final two seasons, he reached a magnificent 42 percent dominator rating but Tolbert played four collegiate seasons and will begin his rookie year at 23 years old.
At 6’1” 194 lbs., Tolbert ran a solid 4.49 forty. He was slightly above average in terms of leaping ability and slightly below average in terms of agility.
|100||Jalen Tolbert||South Alabama||88||0.36||0.36||0.48||0.67||4.49||194|
|99||Tylan Wallace||Oklahoma State||131||0.35||0.34||0.42||0.67||4.48||194|
|72||Tyler Lockett||Kansas State||69||0.36||0.41||0.41||0.85||4.4||182|
|44||Stedman Bailey||West Virginia||92||0.3||0.44||0.38||1.92||4.52||193|
Tolbert’s fantastic career yards market share helped him find impressive comps like Tyler Lockett, Eric Decker, and Stefon Diggs. While Diggs left college after three collegiate seasons, Lockett and Decker were both four-year players who highlight Tolbert’s potential upside.
Behind CeeDee Lamb, Tolbert will compete with Michael Gallup and James Washington. While Gallup’s recovery from his ACL injury may allow Tolbert additional opportunities, he’ll have to play well to consistently see the field as a rookie wide receiver once Gallup is back at full strength.
David Bell, Cleveland Browns
At Purdue, David Bell was impressive as a true freshman finishing with 86/1,035/7. He was even better as a sophomore reaching a 44 percent dominator rating. Unfortunately, he was slightly disappointing a junior but that was mainly due to a lack of touchdown scoring.
At the NFL combine, Bell dramatically underwhelmed, not finishing above 19th percentile in any athletic test.
|75||Isaiah Hodgins||Oregon State||207||0.29||0.34||0.38||1.08||4.61||210|
With comps like Jarvis Landry and Keenan Allen, there is upside for extremely productive wide receivers who disappointed in athletic testing. If the public is down on a player who doesn’t meet the criteria of being an electric athlete, this can be a worthy buying opportunity.
It appears the Browns really like Bell – Akron Beacon Journal’s Nate Ulrich reports Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski wanted to draft WR David Bell “no matter what.” Per The Athletic, Bell is already repping with the first-team offense. Behind Amari Cooper, Bell will have the opportunity to make an immediate impact.