FANTASY FOOTBALL: NFL Post-Draft Rookie Risers & Fallers

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    The 2022 NFL Draft live from Las Vegas is finally in the books. Some major trades throughout the 3-day event will have ripple effects on the NFL landscape, especially as veteran WRs are landing such historic contracts coming off their rookie deals. Now that the dust has settled, let’s take a look at the impact of landing spots on the fantasy values of draft prospects as compared to WagerEdge’s Pre-Draft Rookie Rankings.

    NFL Post-Draft Rookie Stock Risers

    Pre-DraftPlayerPickNFL TeamPositionCollege
    WR #3Chris Olave1.11SaintsWROhio St.
    WR #6Drake London1.08FalconsWRUSC
    WR #10Christian Watson2.02PackersWRN. Dakota St.
    RB #2Kenneth Walker III2.09SeahawksRBMichigan St.
    RB #4James Cook2.31BillsRBGeorgia
    WR #4Treylon Burks1.18TitansWRArkansas
    WR #9Skyy Moore2.22ChiefsWRW. Michigan
    RB #3Isaiah Spiller4.18ChargersRBTexas A&M
    RB #6Zamir White4.17RaidersRBGeorgia
    RB #7Rachaad White3.27BuccaneersRBArizona St.

    NFL Early Post-Draft Rookie Stock Risers:
    Chris Olave (WR-Saints) – (4/25) Olave will likely be the 2nd Ohio State WR taken on Day 1, and flashes elite 4.26 speed that has analysts comparing him to former Buckeye Terry McLaurin. His 13 receiving TDs topped teammate Garrett Wilson by 1, and the Buckeyes tandem combined for over 2,000 all-purpose yards in 11 games. Olave should be off the board in the middle of Round 1, and he would be a particularly good fit for the Saints at pick 16 or 19.
    UPDATE: The Saints traded up to snag Olave at pick 11, demonstrating their confidence in him emerging as the WR1 in New Orleans for years to come. Jameis Winston should be the Week 1 starter at QB for the Saints and his downfield connection with Olave should immediately produce some huge fantasy performances this season. I love this landing spot for Olave, and he gets a big boost in my dynasty and re-draft rankings moving forward. The former Buckeye is an elite prospect with as much upside as anyone in this draft class, and all signs point to him being a cant-miss dynasty option for the Saints.

    Drake London (WR-Falcons) – (4/25) London is another big-bodied receiver at 6’4″ 220 pounds, and had a breakout season in his junior year for the Trojans with 7 TDs and over 1,000 receiving yards. London drew a throwback Ed McCaffrey comp from NFL Analyst Lance Zierlein, and is a long-armed possession-type WR. He elected not to run the 40 pre-draft but would project in the 4.5-4.6 range, but his top-tier ball skills make the former Trojans captain an intriguing prospect. London’s size will make him an immediate redzone mismatch against CBs, and his skill set reminds me of Mike Evans.
    UPDATE: London cashed in on being the first WR off the board at 8th overall in this deep, talented WR class and should be an immediate contributor for the Falcons. London and Kyle Pitts have the ability to be a prolific tandem for years to come in Atlanta, and will both showcase an elite catch radius. The Falcons duo will become matchup nightmares for opposing defenses in the redzone. The biggest question mark here is at QB, as the Falcons will be rolling with 2 QBs who profile quite similarly, with 40s in the 4.5 range, in Marcus Mariota and incoming rookie Desmond Ridder.

    Christian Watson (WR-Packers) – (4/25) Watson was a teammate of Trey Lance for 3 seasons at North Dakota State, and the duo connected on 6 TD passes back in 2019. Perhaps a reunion with the Niners is in store, especially with the recent gripes from Deebo Samuel demanding to be dealt. Watson one of the tallest WR prospects at 6’4″ and runs extremely well for his size recently running a 4.36 40 yard dash. He has a bunch of sleeper appeal as a potential Day 2 pick.
    UPDATE: What a dream scenario for Watson here as he should instantly become a favorite target of Aaron Rodgers for the WR-depleted Packers, and should eat into a bulk of the 169 targets vacated by Davante Adams from 2021. Watson is a big-bodied player with freak speed for his size who should become revered quickly by the Lambeau faithful. He has enough upside to leapfrog both Olave and London on this list, and I wouldn’t be shocked to see him finish as the top performing fantasy rookie in 2022.

    Kenneth Walker III (RB-Seahawks) – (4/25) Walker III transferred to Michigan State after 2 years at Wake Forest, and posted 1,725 all-purpose yards with 19 TDs for the Spartans. Despite the run-heavy approach of Michigan State yielding limited receiving opportunities, he displayed silky hands and finesse in the passing game, and I expect him to be an immediate PPR option as a rookie. Walker III is my 2nd ranked RB in this class and should be highly productive at the next level.
    UPDATE: No RBs went in Round 1, which I have to say surprised me. Early in Round 2, the Jets finally got into the action taking Breece Hall with the 4th pick, and later the Seahawks snatched up Walker III with the 9th pick. This is a great spot for Walker III to lead the youth resurgence for the Seahawks, as they look to rebuild following the loss of long-time franchise QB Russell Wilson. There are certainly some questions at QB, with the QB competition currently between Drew Lock and Geno Smith. But that could change, with Baker Mayfield and Jimmy Garappolo both widely available at the moment. Walker III has the talent and versatility to do it all, and should step in right away as a reliable PPR play in 2022.

    James Cook (RB-Bills) – (4/25) Look out NFL defenses, another Cook is coming! James Cook is 4 years younger than his brother Dalvin, and has flashed potential as a rusher and receiver for the Bulldogs. Cook excels as a one-cut runner and his 6.5 YPC average matched Dalvin’s YPC clip at Florida State. He’s never seen extensive rushing volume collegiately, so while he’s unlikely to take on a bell-cow role, Cook is effective in space and should provide solid PPR value depending on his landing spot.
    UPDATE: The Bills passed on RB at pick 25 in Round 1 but used a late 2nd rounder to nab James Cook. With the inconsistent production from Devin Singletary and Zach Moss, Cook will be thrust into a prominent role for the high-powered Bills, and should become a big-time playmaker out of the backfield for Josh Allen. He’ll be an exciting player to watch in 2022 with so many similarities to his brother Dalvin, and could be Buffalo’s RB1 in short order.

    Treylon Burks (WR-Titans) – (4/25) Burks is coming off 2 highly productive seasons for the Razorbacks against stout SEC competition, and notched 11 TDs with over 1,100 receiving yards last season. Listed at 6’3″ 225 pounds, Burks is one of the bigger WRs in this class and has drawn comparisons to A.J. Brown, despite recording an underwhelming 4.55 40-time. But he is a more physically-imposing player than Wilson and Olave, and should have a high fantasy ceiling with significant TD-upside and the versatility to line up anywhere on offense.
    UPDATE: The Eagles took a behemoth defensive talent in Georgia’s Jordan Davis at 13th, and looked like they were getting antsy after seeing a 5th WR go off the board ahead their 19th overall pick. This likely triggered the Titans-Eagles deal that sent A.J. Brown to Philadelphia for pick 18 and a 2023 3rd. The Eagles gave Brown the whopping 4 year-$100M extension he was seeking, and the Titans were able to secure a more cost-effective option on a rookie contract with comparable physical attributes. Burks will be sure to take a hefty chunk of the 8+ targets per game that A.J. Brown saw last season. The Titans will move him all over the formation and I expect Mike Vrabel to find creative ways to utilize the versatile playmaker from Arkansas.

    Skyy Moore (WR-Chiefs) – (4/25) Moore won’t be a Top 5 pick like fellow Western Michigan alum Corey Davis, but has plenty of Day 2 appeal and could step into an immediate role in the NFL. His 1,292 receiving yards last season topped all other WRs on this list except Jameson Williams, who posted an absurd 1,572 receiving yards in the SEC. Moore stock takes an obvious hit from his limited collegiate competition in the MAC, but he is a shifty playmaker with great separation skills and sticky hands.
    UPDATE: The Skyy is the limit for Moore in Kansas City…sorry couldn’t help myself. With Tyreek Hill (159 targets) being shipped out to Miami, Moore will compete for targets with a fairly unproven receiving group, headlined by incumbent Mecole Hardman and newcomers Marquez Valdez-Scantling and JuJu Smith-Schuster. The Chiefs landed Moore with the 22nd pick in Round 2, which is a significant draft investment that should lead to a significant long-term role, especially considering that JuJu’s a one-year rental and Mecole’s in the final year of his rookie deal. Patrick Mahomes will have a shiny new toy in the slot, and Moore has showcased great wiggle on tape and the ability to create separation off the line at a high-level. Moore should turn into a PPR monster in Kansas City over time.

    Isaiah Spiller (RB-Chargers)(4/25) No CJ Spiller relation here, but Isaiah was also a highly productive college player starting as a freshman and rushing for almost 3,000 yards in seasons at Texas A&M. Spiller is an elusive RB who handled a heavy carry volume in college. Although there’s some tread on his tires, he’s demonstrated he can be a workhorse by leading the Aggies in rushing yards each of his first 2 seasons and is a solid dynasty prospect.
    UPDATE: There is certainly backfield opportunity available in the Chargers high-flying offense, lead by young QB phenom Justin Herbert, who accounted for over 5,000 passing yards and 41 TDs in his second season. With Austin Ekeler championing being used in a lower-volume capacity to stay healthy, the touches behind him are up for grabs. Both Joshua Kelly and Larry Roundtree III have underwhelmed spelling Ekeler thus far, and Spiller has a great shot to start the season as the RB2 for the Chargers. He could emerge with standalone fantasy value right away in PPR leagues, and could jump to the RB2 level with any injury to Ekeler.

    Zamir White (RB-Raiders) – (4/25) Another Georgia RB on this list, but White is more of a physical, bruising back than former teammate James Cook, and profiles similarly to Marion “The Barbarian” Barber. White has overcome torn ACLs in both knees, which is a testament to his notable work ethic in the weight room that has allowed him to absorb 304 carries in the past 2 seasons. Zamir will be more valuable in standard leagues due to his limited passing game chops, but has high-end TD appeal in the right situation.
    UPDATE: The Raiders just declined the 5th-year option of former 1st rounder Josh Jacobs, which could set up nicely for White to have an extended run as the long-term RB1 in Las Vegas. This is clearly an enticing spot for White, with opposing defenses forced to key on Davante Adams, Hunter Renfrow and Darren Waller. White was a physical, contact-initiating runner for the Georgia Bulldogs and should quickly gain the respect of his teammates. It could take a while to materialize, but White projects as a great dynasty stash that would immediately inherit a large workload if Jacobs is injured or ineffective for the Raiders.

    Rachaad White (RB-Buccaneers) – (4/25) White’s 43 receptions in 2021 was 4th-best in Division 1, and he established himself as a true 3-down runner for the Sun Devils. He was highly productive last season with 1,562 all-purpose yards and 16 TDs, and he easily passes the eye test on film. White is as well-rounded of an RB prospect as there is in this class, and is a big-time sleeper in upcoming fantasy drafts.
    UPDATE: The Buccaneers brought back Leonard Fournette on a 3-year deal which is more likely to translate to a 2-year deal for the RB turning 28 in January. Ronald Jones III accounted for 111 touches last season but fled for Kansas City in free agency, creating a potentially instant role for 3rd rounder Rachaad White, who was the 4th RB off the board. Any RB in a Tom Brady-lead offense is certainly intriguing, and White could vault into a prominent role if Fournette is ever sidelined.

    Honorable Mentions:
    Dameon Pierce (RB-Texans) – (4/25) Listed inside the Top 25 Dynasty Rookie Targets at RB #7.
    Brian Robinson Jr. (RB-Commanders) – (4/25) Listed inside the Top 25 Dynasty Rookie Targets at RB #7.
    Pierre Strong Jr. (RB-Patriots)
    Jalen Tolbert (WR-Cowboys) – (4/25) Listed inside the Top 25 Dynasty Rookie Targets at WR #14.
    Romeo Doubs (WR-Packers)

    NFL Post-Draft Rookie Stock Fallers

    Pre-DraftPlayerPickNFL TeamPositionCollege
    QB #1Malik Willis3.22TitansQBLiberty
    WR #1Garrett Wilson1.10JetsWROhio St.
    WR #2Jameson Williams1.12LionsRBAlabama
    RB #1Breece Hall2.04JetsRBIowa St.
    WR #5John Metchie III2.12TexansWRAlabama
    WR #6Jahan Dotson1.16CommandersWRPenn St.
    WR #8George Pickens2.20SteelersWRGeorgia
    WR #12Bo Melton7.08SeahawksWRRutgers
    RB #10Snoop Conner5.11JaguarsRBOle Miss
    WR #13Khalil Shakir5.05BillsWRBoise St.

    NFL Early Post-Draft Rookie Stock Fallers:
    Malik Willis (QB-Titans) – (4/25) The Auburn-transfer dazzled in his pre-draft throwing display at Liberty, while also showcasing an infectious personality that was palpable to all those around him. Willis possesses the elite arm strength, dual-threat abilities and leadership intangibles that make him worthy of an early first round pick. Willis has more upside than any QB in this draft class and I can see some franchise banging the table to trade up for him. I’d have him higher on this list if it weren’t for his position and the increased value I place FLEX players in dynasty rookie drafts.
    UPDATE: I saw Willis as a great fit in Round 1 fit for Panthers or the Steelers, but he was passed over by both teams and slid all the way to the late 3rd round, where he was finally scooped up by the Titans. Signs likely point to a redshirt year for Willis with incumbent Ryan Tannehill at the helm. He is off the re-draft radar at this point, but could turn into a high-upside dynasty stash as he continues to refine his game. I still like the long-term outlook of Willis, but it’s a bummer he didn’t land in a spot where he had an opportunity to contribute more immediately.

    Garrett Wilson (WR-Jets) – (4/25) Wilson is my favorite WR in this year’s deep draft class at the position. Both he and former Buckeye teammate Chris Olave are projected to go in the first round, but Wilson looks to be the most NFL-ready in this entire class. Wilson is a former five-star recruit who blazed a 4.38 40 at the NFL Combine. His speed, hands and route-running are all elite attributes and I expect him to be taken in the Top 10 of the NFL Draft on Thursday
    UPDATE: My top ranked player is headed to the place where fantasy hopes go to die: the New York Jets. The Jets appear to have dominated the 2022 NFL Draft in terms of analyst talent projections, headlined by picks of Wilson, Sauce Gardner, Jermaine Johnson II and Breece Hall in the first 2 rounds. Wilson’s talent is undeniable, but for me to trust a top-ranked fantasy option on the Jets, I need to see it first to believe it. I’m still very much intrigued by Wilson’s long-term value as a dynasty asset, but am not sold on his placement initially in an offense lead by Zach Wilson.

    Jameson Williams (WR-Lions) – (4/25) You’ll have to be a bit patient with Williams since he’s returning from a torn ACL in the 2022 National Championship game, but he is an electric playmaker with fantastic straight-line speed and the ability to take the top off the defense. Assuming he can avoid future knee issues, he should put on some more weight at the pro level and be an elite long-term dynasty asset. Williams has as much upside as any offensive player in this draft and is the latest specimen produced by Alabama’s WR factory in Tuscaloosa.
    UPDATE: Williams was my #2 ranked player pre-draft but this is another tough landing spot to be optimistic about. Matthew Stafford left Detroit and immediately won a Super Bowl, largely due to his success throwing downfield with 65 completions of 20+ yards (3rd behind Derek Carr’s 67 and Tom Brady’s 75). For the Lions, Jared Goff ranked in the bottom third of QBs with just 39 completions of 20+ yards the entire season. While Williams clearly excels as the premier deep-threat in this class and should significantly open up Detroit’s offense, I’m not convinced of Goff’s ability to get him the ball deep which caps his early upside. I’m still bullish on Williams’ long-term career outlook but they need to find a QB that can effectively deliver the ball to him downfield.

    Breece Hall (RB-Jets) – (4/25) Hall is the most well-rounded RB prospect in this class, and few can compare to his college production. In 2020, Hall and Najee Harris were the only college RBs to score 20+ TDs, and Hall also lead all of Division 1 in rushing yards. He should have an instant fantasy impact wherever he lands, and I expect him to outproduce Wilson early on. He could be the top overall fantasy rookie in the short term, but I tend to value the WR position over RBs in dynasty formats with career longevities of the positions in mind.
    UPDATE: I initiated my Jets rant above discussing Garrett Wilson, so you already know I’m equally unenthusiastic about where our top RB prospect landed as well. I’m sure Hall will still get high volume touches and produce, it just feels like his ceiling is limited with the Jets compared to a superior offensive team like the Bills, where he was popularly projected to land. Hall will undoubtedly enter training camp with some extra incentive after being passed over for the entirety of Day 1.

    John Metchie III (WR-Texans) – (4/25) Like teammate Jameson Williams, Metchie III also suffered a torn ACL last season, with his injury occurring in the SEC Championship. Metchie III has lined up inside and outside for the Crimson Tide, showcasing his versatility and cerebral ability to learn multiple roles in the offense. He has as much talent as any WR in this class, and his draft stock seems to be getting devalued because of his injury history. Metchie III looks to have significant long-term PPR upside and has all the physical gifts to be a difference-maker at the next level. A reunion with Mac Jones in New England would be a great Day 2 landing spot for him.
    UPDATE: The Texans invested an early 2nd rounder to add to their WR core, selecting Metchie III to play alongside Brandin Cooks, who is coming off his 6th 1,000 receiving yard season in his 8-year career. Metchie III is another favorite of mine out of this draft class, but I’m not fully sold on Davis Mills being able to unlock his true potential, and I fear his fantasy output may be limited in Houston. But regardless, the Alabama product is still a highly-talented fantasy asset that is bound to yield solid long-term returns.

    Jahan Dotson (WR-Commanders) – (4/25) Dotson is one of the most underrated WRs in this draft class, and his athleticism and ball skills make him potential Day 1 draft pick. I could see a team like the Packers pouncing on him late in Round 1, especially in the aftermath of the Davante Adams deal. Dotson has the versatility to play both inside and out, and is a crafty route-runner that does a great job locating the deep ball. Drawing comps to Emmanuel Sanders and Tyler Lockett, Dotson could be a sleeper in dynasty rookie drafts.
    UPDATE: Dotson exceeded draft slot expectations in a majority of league circles coming off the board at 16 overall as the 5th WR selected. It was a well-deserved accolade for the former Nittany Lion, yet his landing spot with the new-look Washington Commanders is less than ideal. He had a shot to be taken later in the 1st round by the Saints, Packers and Chiefs, but instead the Commanders nabbed him earlier than expected. Dotson and Olave will always be linked by this draft as the Redskins and Saints exchanged picks to select these WRs in Round 1. In the short-term, QB options of Carson Wentz and Taylor Heinicke don’t instill a ton of confidence in Dotson’s year 1 outlook, but he has potential for high-volume in 2023 if Terry McLauren hits free agency.

    George Pickens (WR-Pittsburgh) – (4/25) Pickens is one of my favorite players in this draft, but his injury history is the main reason his draft stock isn’t higher. He missed a handful of games in 2020 and then tore his ACL in training camp last year. But Pickens returned to the Bulldogs just 8 months later in heroic fashion and had a big catch in Georgia’s Championship win. That’s as impressive of a recovery timeline as I’ve heard of for an ACL tear, which showcases the grit and toughness of this kid. At 6’3″ Pickens profiles similarly to Burks and London, but is 20-25 pounds lighter with better speed, and should be nabbed in the late 1st round of rookie drafts.
    UPDATE: For Pickens the talent is undeniable, but his draft stock has taken a hit due to injury and off-the-field concerns. He’ll enter a crowded WR room competing for targets with Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool and fellow rookie Calvin Austin III, among others. QB play is another potentially mediocre spot for the Steelers, who will feature a competition between Mitch Trubisky and 20th overall pick in former Pittsburgh Panther standout Kenny Pickett. For 2022, it’s I’m expecting a limited target share initially in the run-first offense of the Steelers.

    Bo Melton (WR-Seahawks) – (4/25) Melton comes from a highly athletic and accomplished family tree and exploded with a 4.34 40 at the NFL Combine. Dealing with consistently poor QB play throughout his college career at Rutgers, his draft stock has been downgraded, but he has breakout talent if he lands in a favorable NFL spot. Melton will be an intriguing sleeper pick in rookie drafts this year with an opportunity to reach his full potential with the right player under center.
    UPDATE: I was surprised to see Melton fall all the way to the 7th round, and with that small of an investment from the Seahawks it’s hard to predict any sort of early fantasy relevance. The uncertainty around D.K. Metcalf’s future will have a big impact on his day one value, as he’d gain a major boost in the event that Metcalf was jettisoned out of Seattle. Not only is his QB play underwhelming, but he’ll need a strong training camp to carve out any type of role behind Metcalf and Tyler Lockett. For now, Melton is an intriguing flier that is one to monitor on waiver wires.

    Snoop Conner (RB-Jaguars) – (4/25) Listed inside the Top 25 Dynasty Rookie Targets at RB #9.
    UPDATE: The Jaguars dealt two 6th-rounders to select Conner in the 5th round, but despite the devaluing of the RB position in the draft, I expected him to be taken higher. While it’s certainly a good sign that Jacksonville packaged assets to land the Ole Miss product, his initial outlook looks bleak. Travis Etienne was taken by the Jaguars at 25th overall last season and is primed for a major role after recovering from a Lisfranc injury, while undrafted stud James Robinson is bound take on significant carries once he returns from his Achilles tear. Conner has long-term appeal, but his ascension will be limited by his low spot on Jacksonville’s RB totem pole.

    Khalil Shakir (WR-Bills) – (4/25) Shakir is touted as a great locker room guy that any coach would love to have. He also runs a 4.43 40 and is a cerebral, technician at WR that hauled in 77 catches for 1,117 yards for Boise State, while also excelling in the return game. His high character grade makes him a valuable dynasty asset alone, but he also possesses the talent to be productive in the NFL for an extended period of time.
    UPDATE: This is a player I value far more highly in dynasty leagues than re-draft formats as he projects to open 2022 buried on the depth chart behind Stefon Diggs, Gabriel Davis and Jameson Crowder. But Shakir is just an injury away from immediate fantasy relevance and remains a tantalizing prospect with impressive route-running for Josh Allen to add to his arsenal. Shakir’s long-term fantasy outlook is bright in Buffalo, and he’s only on the Fallers portion of this list due to the talent of the veterans ahead of him that could stunt his short-term production.

    Dishonorable Mentions:
    Jerome Ford (RB-Browns)
    Alec Pierce (WR-Colts)
    Wan’Dale Robinson (WR-Giants) (4/25) Listed inside the Top 25 Dynasty Rookie Targets at WR #12.
    Erik Ezukanma (WR-Dolphins)
    Sam Howell (QB-Commanders)

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