Fantasy Football Rankings: The top-30 rookies for 2022

·14-min read

Everything related to fantasy football seems to have its season (or SZN). Right now, we are entering the two-to-three-week period in which most rookie dynasty drafts are taking place, which means it's time to rank the 2022 class for fantasy purposes.

Please don't ask me why or how we settled on May as the appropriate time to distribute all the incoming talent in our dynasty leagues, because that wasn't my call and it is definitely not my preference. But these drafts are happening with or without my formal approval, so we need to rate the rookies. Today, you're getting a look at a working draft of the ranks I intend to use.

Please note I am making no promises or guarantees about accuracy. Use or discard these ranks at your own risk.

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(Also: If you happen to be a participant in La Liga, I would ask that you do the honorable thing and stop reading right now. Scroll no further. It's quite rude.)

Here's a provisional dynasty top-30, organized by round and subject to change:

Round One

1. Breece Hall, RB, New York Jets

Hall crossed the goal-line 56 times over three stellar seasons at Iowa State, catching 82 career passes and topping 1,700 scrimmage yards in each of the past two years. He is verifiably good at the game. He also has 4.39-speed and a 40-inch vertical at 217 pounds, so he’s unreasonably athletic, too. Hall has an every-down, all-situation profile and should relegate Michael Carter to a rotational role.

He’s my 1.01 in any format, Superflex included.

2. Drake London, WR, Atlanta Falcons

London was a target magnet at USC, a 6-foot-5 contested-catch dominator. He caught 88 balls for 1,084 yards in only eight games last season, which is absurd. He was simply a huge, unanswerable problem.

Atlanta’s quarterback situation is perhaps not ideal, but London and Kyle Pitts won’t lack opportunities. This team’s receiving corps is looking like a two-man show.

3. Kenneth Walker III, RB, Seattle Seahawks

Seattle's selection of Walker was one of the more confounding picks on Day 2, because most of us assumed the team was set at running back after re-signing Rashaad Penny, fantasy playoff legend. But with Chris Carson returning from neck surgery, clearly the Seahawks saw a need. Walker was a thrilling and effective runner at Michigan State, but he was only rarely used as a receiving threat. It appears his new team is looking to get him up to speed in that regard:

Any sort of meaningful receiving role would, of course, make Walker a contender for top rookie status.

4. Chris Olave, WR, New Orleans Saints

Olave's path to targets in his first pro season isn't quite as wide open as London's (or that of the next guy in these ranks), but he's just so skilled. He made 32 house calls for Ohio State over 31 games in the past three seasons. Olave was my favorite receiving prospect entering the NFL draft and I'm trusting the Saints to feed him. Michael Thomas seemed to be on board with the pick, for what it's worth.

5. Treylon Burks, WR, Tennessee Titans

Burks is perhaps the only receiver likely to challenge London for the target lead among first-year wideouts. A.J. Brown exited the Tennessee receiving corps on the night Burks entered, so there's no way he's gonna lack opportunities. Do I wish his collegiate production and combine measurements weren't so weirdly similar to Laquon Treadwell's? Um, well ... yeah.

But hey, Burks was undeniably a playmaker in the SEC ...

... and he's headed for triple-digit targets. He's a better bet than most to help us in his first season.

6. Christian Watson, WR, Green Bay Packers

So here's a guy who cleared the Treadwell measurables threshold by a mile. Watson is 6-foot-5 with 4.36 speed and a 38.5-inch vertical, placing him among the most impressive athletes at his position. What he lacks, however, is elite collegiate production in a premier environment; he caught 43 balls for 801 yards and seven scores at North Dakota State last year. No disrespect intended to the Bison, but Watson faces a steep learning curve. Of course it helps that he'll be paired with an inventive and deadly accurate quarterback, plus he's joining a team that has over 240 vacated receiver targets.

7. Jameson Williams, WR, Detroit Lions

Prior to the ACL injury, Williams had rare speed and suddenness — of a kind you won't see routinely even in the NFL. Assuming his recovery continues to go smoothly, he should be stressing NFL defenses by November. It's possible the breakout will be delayed until 2023, but he should be worth the wait. Williams is coming off a 1,572-yard season for the Crimson Tide in which he averaged nearly 20 yards per reception.

8. Garrett Wilson, WR, New York Jets

It's easy to appreciate New York's commitment to surrounding second-year quarterback Zach Wilson with weapons. While Wilson certainly had judgement and accuracy issues last season, we definitely saw the traits that made him an early first-round QB. But am I convinced he's going to be able to support multiple viable fantasy receivers either this year or next? Nope, I am not.

Zach Wilson #2 of the New York Jets will need to make a fantasy leap
Garrett Wilson's fantasy ceiling is directly related to Zach Wilson's progression. (Photo by Bryan Bennett/Getty Images)

Garrett is a dangerous receiver with excellent speed (4.38) coming off a quality college season (70-1,058-12). He also delivered a huge percentage of his total production in his final three games at Ohio State (27-371-6), elevating himself in the prospect hierarchy. I'm probably lower on him than most, due largely to his landing spot.

9. Skyy Moore, WR, Kansas City Chiefs

As a Bears fan, I was hoping Moore would be selected by Chicago with one of the team's second-round picks. As a fantasy manager, however ... well, maybe it's better to see him attached to Patrick Mahomes for the foreseeable future.

Moore was outrageously productive at Western Michigan, catching 95 balls for 1,292 yards and 10 scores last year. He's only 5-foot-10, yet he had the biggest hands among all receivers in his draft class (10-1/4"). He also has 4.4 speed with after-the-catch ability:

10. James Cook, RB, Buffalo Bills

Buffalo's selection of Cook was probably a best-case scenario for Devin Singletary, because we basically knew the Bills were taking a running back. The team's GM immediately described Cook as a "sub back," a talented receiver who can fill the role originally intended for J.D. McKissic. It's not difficult to imagine 45 or more receptions in the season ahead, but we probably can't expect significant carries.

Round Two

11. Rachaad White, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

White is an elusive, shifty runner with prototypical featured-back size and he's coming off a 1,000-yard rushing season at Arizona State. But the most enticing aspect of White's game — particularly in Tampa's offense — is his elite receiving ability. He caught 43 passes for 456 yards last season, and several receptions were of the highest quality:

White is fully capable of carving out a serious role as a rookie. He's potentially much more than Leonard Fournette's understudy. White doesn't necessarily give us Cook's guaranteed touches, but his ceiling seems at least as high.

12. David Bell, WR, Cleveland Browns

In theory, Bell can simply slide right into Jarvis Landry's role in Cleveland, where he'll eventually catch passes from Deshaun Watson. Bell was ludicrously difficult to contain at the college level, hauling in 93 balls last year and topping 100 yards in seven different games, including a pair of 200-yard performances. He somehow caught 37 passes for 558 yards and five touchdowns in three career games against Iowa, so some of us are particularly happy to see him leave the Big Ten.

13. Tyler Allgeier, RB, Atlanta Falcons

This rank, clearly, has a lot to do with the fact that Allgeier landed in Atlanta, where he's competing for carries with a 31-year-old kick returner. Allgeier was monstrously productive at BYU over multiple seasons and he absolutely crushed in 2021. He ran for 1,601 yards and 23 scores, adding 28 receptions for another 199 yards. He's much more of a power/vision runner than someone who wins with speed and explosion, but it's tough to find fault with his production.

14. Dameon Pierce, RB, Houston Texans

Pierce was a job-share running back at Florida, averaging only 9.7 touches per game over the past two years, but there's a decent chance he'll see an uptick in work with the Texans. He's battling Marlon Mack and Rex Burkhead for snaps, a situation in which any competent, ambulatory back should be able to find a role.

15. Brian Robinson Jr., RB, Washington Commanders

Ron Rivera is promising/threatening a Jonathan Stewart-DeAngelo Williams-style workload split for Robinson and Antonio Gibson. So that's not ideal if you're holding Gibson in dynasty, but it gives the Alabama rookie a path to immediate value.

16. George Pickens, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers

Pittsburgh sending Chase Claypool onstage to announce the selection of Pickens — a clear threat to his targets — is one of the coldest gestures we've ever seen. Absolutely legendary stuff.

17. Zamir White, RB, Las Vegas Raiders

The Raiders declined to exercise Josh Jacobs' fifth-year option, which communicates a fair amount. White had no receiving role at Georgia, for what it's worth. We can assume he'll be limited to early down work initially.

18. Jahan Dotson, WR, Washington Commanders

If Dotson would have landed in Green Bay instead of Washington, he might be fifth overall on my board. But as one Carson Wentz's secondary options ... um ... ick. This was not the dream spot.

19. Isaiah Spiller, RB, Los Angeles Chargers

Spiller topped 1,100 scrimmage yards in three straight collegiate seasons for Texas A&M, catching 74 balls over 35 games. If he ever falls into a full workload, he could be David Montgomeryish. He's clearly tied to a great offense, although he doesn't do anything as well as it's done by Austin Ekeler. At least we now have clarity on Ekeler's understudy.

20. Alec Pierce, WR, Indianapolis Colts

His collegiate production was modest (52-884-8 as a senior), but his athleticism is almost unrivaled. Pierce ran 4.33 at the combine at 6-foot-3 and 213 pounds, plus he delivered a 40.5-inch vertical. He steps into a situation in which he can reasonably open the season as the No. 2 target in Indy.

Round Three

21. Kenny Pickett, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers

Without question, Pickett is the one rookie quarterback who's likely to actually make a dozen or more starts in 2022. He'd put together an unremarkable resume in his first four seasons at Pitt before breaking out in his fifth year, with a true superstar receiver to feed in Jordan Addison.

We all had jokes during the combine about Pickett's toddler hands, but it's a real concern. The Steelers receiving corps is obviously a talented group, which helps Pickett's cause. Still, it's difficult to imagine him making any fantasy noise in Year 1 at a position so loaded with options.

Not that you asked, but Addison is currently my 2023 draft priority for Chicago. Just look at this nonsense:

I've rarely been so ready to hype a player. Alas, we need to continue with the 2022 class.

22. Desmond Ridder, QB, Atlanta Falcons

It's not difficult to imagine various scenarios that might lead to Ridder getting starts for Atlanta as a rookie, which is enough to give him a small edge over this next guy ...

23. Malik Willis, QB, Tennessee Titans

Willis tumbled to the third round of the draft, which of course means he's not guaranteed quarterback-of-the-future status for Tennessee, nor is he a lock to even see the field in his first year. But his arm strength and athletic traits may have been the best in this year's class, and no QB had put up missed-tackle numbers like Willis' since Lamar Jackson was at Louisville.

24. Matt Corral, QB, Carolina Panthers

Corral was linked to multiple teams in the pre-draft process, yet, like Willis, he slipped to the third round — a range that involves relatively low fantasy expectations. However, he did happen to land with a team that has a glaring, desperate need at quarterback. It doesn't hurt that DJ Moore and Christian McCaffrey will be two of Corral's primary receiving options, if or when he earns an opportunity.

25. Pierre Strong Jr., RB, New England Patriots

Strong was a hugely productive big-play back at South Dakota State and he crushed the combine, running 4.37. Damien Harris is a free agent after this season, so Strong has a clear shot at a significant role in 2023 and beyond.

26. Trey McBride, TE, Arizona Cardinals

Tremendous prospect, brutal landing spot — at least in the short term. But if you have a dynasty roster with a glaring weakness at tight end, feel free to bump McBride up a full round. Serious talent.

27. John Metchie, WR, Houston Texans

Metchie is returning from an ACL injury, which is no small thing, but he's headed to a team with an unsettled receiving hierarchy. He can be a PPR factor by 2023, if that's of interest to you.

28. Khalil Shakir, WR, Buffalo Bills

Shakir is at least a season away from fantasy relevance, in all likelihood, as he's well behind the various vets in Buffalo's receiving room. But he was a productive four-year player at Boise State who put a few wildly impressive catches on tape. Josh Allen is the tie-breaker when comparing Shakir to the rest of the middle-tier receivers in this class.

29. Jelani Woods, TE, Indianapolis Colts

He's a huge human (6-foot-7), a converted quarterback who found a potentially fantasy-friendly spot. The Colts clearly view him as an inviting red-zone option.

30. Velus Jones, WR, Chicago Bears

Jones is turning 25 in a few days, which is a strange thing to write about a player who was recently drafted. At his age, there's only so much further development we can reasonably expect. This pick was a throwback to the days when the Bears kept trying to build a receiving corps out of castoffs and kick returners. Jones at least has elite speed (4.31) and he's joining a team with minimal talent at receiver. Here's hoping Chicago can maximize the one or two years remaining in Jones' peak.

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