The 2022 NFL Draft was heavy on defensive players on offensive lineman early. We then saw a run on wide receivers as there were six drafted in the top 18 who all expect to make an impact on their teams in year one. There were even three running backs taken in the second round. Quarterbacks were far and few between. There was one taken in the first round in Kenny Pickett and just a couple of others who we can maybe expect to play at all in year one. Let’s take a look at the top 30 rookie players (rookies) who can make an impact in fantasy leagues this year.
1. Drake London WR Atlanta Falcons
London was the first wide receiver taken in the draft. He is a big wide receiver at over 6 foot 4. In his last year at the University of Southern California he had 1,084 yards, 88 catches, and seven touchdowns in just eight games. Many people compare him to Michael Thomas from the New Orleans Saints as he is a similar size and player who can rack in a ton of targets and catches each game.
For the Falcons he expects to be the No. 1 target for either Marcus Mariota or rookie quarterback Desmond Ridder down the road. The team will be without Calvin Ridley for the entire year after he was suspended, and they traded away Julio Jones and Russell Gage as well. London could be a PPR monster and one of the best fantasy wide receivers in the entire league next year, not just out of this rookie class.
2. Breece Hall RB New York Jets
Hall was the first running back selected at pick No. 36. He is a true workhorse type of running back that can handle a ton of carries each week for the Jets. In college at Iowa State he averaged more than 20 carries per game in his last two seasons. Those two years he also eclipsed 1,700 total yards from scrimmage and had 23 touchdowns in each season.
The Jets had some success finding a running back in last year’s draft when they got Michael Carter who played pretty well as a rookie. Hall projects to be a lot better than Carter though and may be a true workhorse with Carter taking the third down duties. Expect 15+ carries per week and Hall to get as much work as he can handle in his rookie year.
3. Kenneth Walker III RB Seattle Seahawks
The second running back taken, and another second round running back selection, was made by the Seattle Seahawks when they selected Kenneth Walker III. Walker was a running back like Breece Hall who handled over 20 carries per game at Michigan State. He can be another workhorse type of running back in his first year with the Seattle Seahawks.
His role to start the year will likely be as the lead back for Seattle. They have Chris Carson, who endured a serious neck injury and will likely not be back for the start of the season. He may not even be back at all which would be a big boost for Walker’s fantasy value. Still, the Seahawks have Rashaad Penny, who they like a lot as he had four games in the last five for the Seahawks with 135 or more rushing yards which is very impressive. There is a path for Walker to get a big workload, but it will depend on Carson’s health and how they decide to use Penny going forward this year.
4. Garrett Wilson WR New York Jets
Another top pick from the New York Jets was Garrett Wilson who they selected 10th overall this year. Not many Jets receivers were consistent fantasy players last year, so there is some hesitation with how Wilson can produce with this team in his first year. The Jets also have a lot of wide receivers on this roster who could be ahead of him initially on the depth chart including last year’s standout rookie in Elijah Moore as well as Corey Davis, their prize free agent pick up last year.
Wilson has some game changing abilities though and it could be hard to keep him off of the field if he is making plays. Zach Wilson also could be greatly improved, which would help his fantasy value. The New York Jets haven’t had a 1,000 yard receiver since 2015 though, so expectations should be kept low for Wilson and all the other Jets wide receivers.
5. Treylon Burks WR Tennessee Titans
The Tennessee Titans made a big move when they traded their star wide receiver A.J. Brown in the draft for the 18th overall pick. They used that pick to get a younger, and cheaper wide receiver in Treylon Burks. Burks had a massive last season with the Arkansas Razorbacks racking up over 1,200 yards from scrimmage and 12 touchdowns. He is a big wide receiver standing at 6 foot 4 and weighing 225 pounds, yet he still ran a 4.55 second 40 time. That seems pretty similar to what the Titans gave up for him in Brown.
The issue with Burks for fantasy owners will be how much the Titans run the ball with Derrick Henry. Henry can eat up carries, the clock, and games with how much he runs when he is productive. The Titans also were not that productive through the air last year as Ryan Tannehill had only two games all year with over 300 yards passing. He also ended the year with just 21 passing touchdowns. That’s not a lot to go around for wide receivers in Tennessee.
6. Christian Watson WR Green Bay Packers
The Packers scared a lot of people when they were not taking a wide receiver with their first two picks. They quickly made up for it though when they got Watson early in the second round. He was an option that many people thought they could have taken with their first two picks, but they still managed to get their guy later. Green Bay also traded their star wide receiver Devante Adams in the offseason which left a massive hole in their offense. Even if the Packers didn’t trade Adams, they probably still needed another wide receiver on the roster.
Currently they have Watson, Sammy Watkins, Allen Lazard, Amari Rodgers, and Randall Cobb, all guys who either haven’t produced lately or ever in their careers. Watson could very well be Rodger’s No. 1 weapon as early as week one. If he indeed is, he should be a lot higher on this list. Even if he is the third option in his first year he still should be a decent fantasy option.
7. Chris Olave WR New Orleans Saints
The third wide receiver went to the New Orleans Saints when Chris Olave was taken off the board at pick No. 11. New Orleans is getting excited for this year as they have a healthy Jameis Winston, Michael Thomas, and now signed Olave and also Tyrann Mathieu. Thomas will undoubtedly be the No. 1 option in New Orleans, but Olave could easily be the No. 2 wideout in his first year. Olave will have a big opportunity to show he can be one of the best rookie wide receivers in the league his rookie year.
Olave was a touchdown monster at his time with Ohio State. He racked in 13 his senior year and 12 in his sophomore year. He should pair nicely with Michael Thomas and could be a good fantasy option if this offense takes off behind Winston.
8. Jameson Williams WR Detroit Lions
With the 12th pick in the 2022 NFL Draft the Lions selected wide receiver Jameson Williams from Alabama. Williams was the wide receiver who tore his ACL in the College National Championship game this year. He has elite speed at a 4.39 40 time. The biggest question for fantasy owners will be if he will play in week 1 or when he will be back for the team. Williams has talent and should fit in nicely with the Lions when he is back though.
For the Lions, they will have a nice wide receiver group when Williams is back. Their rookie showed promise last year in Armon Saint-Brown and they also signed DJ Chark Jr., who has been a good receiver in this league before. Williams will likely be the third option when he is back for the Lions.
9. James Cook RB Buffalo Bills
The brother of Minnesota Vikings star Dalvin Cook’s brother James fell into one of the best possible situations in the draft. James Cook is an elite pass-catching running back who could even fall into being the starter for this team at some point. Still, with the way the Bills like to pass the ball they have needed a good pass-catching running back on this offense. They now have two with Cook and the recently signed Duke Johnson.
Cook should have some big fantasy days next season and then also some complete duds, but you should want to have him rostered on those games when he gets his shot.
10. Skyy Moore WR Kansas City Chiefs
If Moore was drafted earlier he probably would have been higher on this list, but this rookie wide receiver from Western Michigan was a late-second round pick who went to a veteran Kansas City team. The Chiefs lost Tyreek Hill, but they made up for it with depth, as at the position they added Juju Smith-Schuster, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, and Moore. Unfortunately for Moore, those two are ahead of him on the depth chart along with Mecole Hardman and maybe even Josh Gordon. Moore could have some big games, but they will be few and far between.
11. Kenny Pickett QB Pittsburgh Steelers
Pickett was the first quarterback selected and the only first round quarterback taken when the Steelers got him at pick No. 20. He has everything you could want in a quarterback but doesn’t stand out in any one spot particularly. Still, with the Steelers he could get his chance as early as week one in a QB competition with Mitchell Trubisky. He could also replace him as the starter if things begin to go bad in Pittsburgh early. Pickett has some good weapons to throw to in Pittsburgh, so if he gets in there he could be a good fantasy option. Expect him to make at least a couple starts this year and maybe even a lot more if an injury or poor play from Trubisky occurs.
12. Matt Corral QB Carolina Panthers
The Panthers waited until the third round to take Corral, but that doesn’t mean he won’t see the field this year. If Carolina is done making moves at the quarterback position, Darnold looks like he would be the starter in week one. That didn’t go well last year as he was replaced in the starting lineup and only started 11 of their 17 regular season games. It’s possible Corral could start in the scenario where Darnold underperforms again. Corral is a quarterback fit for fantasy and if he is given the chance, he will make plays with his big arm and running ability.
13. John Metchie III WR Houston Texans
John Metchie III will likely start the year on the bench after coming off of an ACL tear and being buried in the depth chart to start the year. Those players he is currently behind are Brandin Cooks, Chris Conley, Nico Collins, and Phillip Dorsett. It is very likely that he passes some of them aside from Cooks and maybe even all of the others by the end of the year. This rookie wide receiver from Alabama has a chance to be special, but it seems he will have to wait for his chance at least early in the year.
14. Trey McBride TE Arizona Cardinals
The top tight end taken in the draft was so productive in college and has the size and athletic ability of George Kittle. He could quickly turn into one of Kyler Murray’s favorite targets early in the season. Since the Cardinals also have Zach Ertz and just gave him an extension, McBride doesn’t have a path to an immediate large role with the team, however. With Deandre Hopkins now suspended for six games in 2022, McBride could be used even more.
15. Jahan Dotson WR Washington Commanders
It remains to be seen how the Commanders will do with Carson Wentz at quarterback as he relied heavily on the run game with the Colts and wasn’t very productive in the pass game with the Eagles. The Commanders also have Terry Mclaurin as their top guy and Curtis Samuel, Cam Sims, and Dyami Brown, who could all be ahead of him on the depth chart. If Dotson can crack the top three on the depth chart he could be somewhat fantasy relevant, however.
16. George Pickens WR Pittsburgh Steelers
Pickens was the 11th wide receiver taken in the NFL Draft, but he could be in line to be the third wide receiver on the Steelers. That doesn’t necessarily translate into fantasy points though as last year the third wide receiver on the Steelers had less than 300 total yards. Now, they also have a new quarterback who is unproven
17. Alec Pierce WR Indianapolis Colts
Pierce has a chance to be the third wide receiver in Indianapolis. He could provide some value in that position. It is a stretch but with an injury he could be fantasy relevant
18. Desmond Ridder QB Atlanta Falcons
Ridder seemingly doesn’t have a chance to start immediately for the Falcons. In the scenario that Mariota severely struggles, he could step in as the starter and get some immediate fantasy value. Atlanta isn’t expected to be good, so knowing that, they may just ride Mariota the whole year and stash Ridder as well.
19. Jalen Tolbert WR Dallas Cowboys
Tolbert would have to surpass newly acquired James Washington as the third wide receiver in Dallas to have any fantasy value this year.
20. Wan’Dale Robinson WR New York Giants
A talented receiver buried on the depth chart would need a trade of another Giants wide receiver or an injury at the position to have fantasy value most likely.
21. David Bell WR Cleveland Browns
22. Malik Willis QB Tennessee Titans
Willis is the least likely of the quarterbacks on this list to make a start this fantasy season. An injury to Tannehill would be really the only way he sees the field unless the Titans somehow are completely out of the playoff race, which is unlikely.
23. Velus Jones Jr. WR Chicago Bears
24. Isaiah Spiller RB Los Angeles Chargers
25. Dameon Pierce RB Houston Texans
Pierce is a wildcard here as the Texans just signed Marlon Mack as their supposed every down back. He could very well pass Mack at some point, but running backs in this offense will struggle regardless of who is starting.