After reviewing the dynasty fantasy football prospects of the incoming 2022 NFL running back class last week, we continue our look at incoming 2022 NFL draft prospects with the backbone of any sustainable dynasty fantasy football roster: wide receivers. With the longest shelf life and most consistent year over year production of the major skill positions, this is the position I try to focus on in rookie drafts the most (unless of course you are in a Superflex league). Two important indicators when projecting receivers to the next level are an early breakout age and dominator rating, as defined by market share of a team’s total receiving yards. If a player is garnering a high target share in college, they are more likely to do so in the NFL.
After being spoiled with true dynasty pillars coming through the rookie ranks these past couple years in Justin Jefferson, CeeDee Lamb, Ja’Marr Chase, there are no surefire blue-chip prospects in this year’s draft. It is however a deep position group with plenty of upside. With no particular receiver standing out as a potential “generational” prospect, the result is a tight group of 5 at the top. An argument could be made for any one of them as they possess different skill sets and profiles. Let’s dive in.
2022 NFL Draft Top 10 Dynasty League Rookie Wide Receivers
Treylon Burks, Arkansas
(6’2”, 225 lbs, DOB 3/23/2000, Age 23)
If you are looking for a receiver in this class that checks the most boxes of a prototypical No. 1 receiver at the NFL level, it’s hard to look past Burks and his 6’2” 225lb frame that tortured a talented pool of SEC cornerbacks for the last two seasons (1,924 yards and 18 touchdowns on 117 combined grabs). Burks led Arkansas in receiving in all three years he was there, never averaging less than 16 yards per reception in a season. He carried a feeble Razorback offense on his back from the moment he stepped on campus, resulting in dominator ratings of 21%, 34% and 40% over the course of his career. The latter two are particularly impressive considering defenses were able to key on him with the lack of talent around him.
Burks is excellent against press coverage, exemplified best in his 85-yard touchdown vs. Texas A&M in Week 4 2021. His hand strength at the point of attack pops off his film, and his production was versatile as both a deep threat and YAC player (Arkansas often used him on screens). Burks’ combine measurables were solid for his size (4.55 40, 33” vertical, 10’2” broad). As an older player in this class who played in a mediocre college offense, he does not have the early age breakout we are usually looking for in an elite receiver prospect, but he is an early declare with elite market share numbers and all the physical traits of an alpha. He should get first-round draft capital to further bolster his profile. In terms of upside, for me he stands slightly above the crowded group of top five receivers in this class. I’m excited to see what he can do with an NFL talent at quarterback after years of toiling away with subpar college counterparts.
Drake London, Southern California
(6’4”, 219 lbs, DOB 7/24/2001, Age 20)
Based on informed mock drafts and general buzz from draft analysts, it’s clear that NFL teams value London, which is why he is the current betting favorite to be the first receiver off the board. He has a massive frame and excellent age-adjusted production. He scored 5 touchdowns and averaged 14.5 yards per reception as an 18-year-old true freshman, led USC in receiving over Amon-Ra St. Brown in a lost 6 game 2020 Covid season, then dominated in the first 8 games of 2021 before a season-ending ankle fracture. In those 8 games, he racked up an insane 88 receptions for 1,085 yards (12.3 YPR) and 7 touchdowns, good for an over 40% dominator rating and Pro Football Focus’ highest grade for a receiver when lined up in the slot.
His slot production is indicative of his versatility, as he has alpha receiver size and can also win outside as a jump ball and red zone threat. Like Burks, his production prowess demanded the ball in multiple ways at all levels of the field, and he was often used on designed screens. The college statistics he put up at his age cannot be understated. Unfortunately, his injury has prevented him from participating in most of the pre-draft process, including the Combine (he will run at his Pro Day is April 15th). If he adds strong athletic testing and high-end draft capital to his profile along with his production, size, and age, he may jump to the top of this list by the time rookie drafts start in May. His profile is probably safer than that of Burks if you are risk-averse.
Chris Olave, Ohio State
(6’0”, 187 lbs, DOB 6/27/2000, Age 21)
A pair of Ohio State receivers make this list and both are expected to go in the first round of the NFL draft. Most people seem to lean towards Garrett Wilson, who is neck and neck with London in terms of betting odds to be the first receiver off the board. When sizing the two up, however, I just don’t see how I could put Wilson over Olave, who burst onto the scene as a 19-year-old sophomore in 2019 and led OSU in receiving with 49 catches for 849 yards (17.3 YPR, 23% dominator) and 12 touchdowns. In the shortened 2020 season, Olave led the Buckeyes in all receiving categories with 50 grabs for 729 yards (14.6 YPR, 35% dominator) and 7 touchdowns. His production (19% dominator) took a slight step back in 2021, when OSU had perhaps the best receiver room in the country, but he still put up 65 receptions for 936 yards and a team-leading 13 touchdowns.
Olave added elite speed and strong athletic measurables to his age-adjusted production at the NFL Combine: 4.39 second 40, 10’4” broad, 32” vertical. The main knock on him seems to be that he does not generate the same separation or yards after the catch as teammate Wilson and others in this class. His body control and ability to dominate contested catches offset that for me, and I just can’t overlook the career production differences within the same offense (Olave has the Ohio State school record for touchdowns with 30) along with his early-age breakout. Some seem to point out how Wilson is technically an early declare and Olave isn’t as a knock on Olave, but they were born less than a month apart. Their production should be treated on the same scale, and that scale clearly leans toward Olave.
Garrett Wilson, Ohio State
(6’0”, 183 lbs, DOB 7/22/2000, Age 21)
A strikingly similar prospect to Olave in terms of physical stature, athletic ability, and age, Wilson excels as a player who creates elite separation and subsequently yards after the catch with ease. In 2019 while Olave was breaking out as a sophomore, Wilson had a quiet freshman season but still scored 5 touchdowns while averaging 14.4 YPR. He had nearly identical numbers to Olave as a sophomore himself in 2020 before truly breaking out in 2021 with 70 receptions for 1,058 yards (15.1 YPR, 21% dominator) and 12 touchdowns. In his last 3 college games, including rivalry games against Michigan and Michigan State, he put up a combined 27 receptions for 371 yards and 6 touchdowns.
At the NFL Combine his frame measured as essentially the same as Olave minus a few pounds, and he put up a 4.38 40, 36” vertical, and 10’3” broad jump. In today’s evolving NFL, they are both just big enough to not rule them out as future No. 1 receivers. Wilson plays bigger than his size anyway, and he has formational versatility having lined up all over the field for OSU. Watching him on film, it’s clear that his strengths lie in his quick-twitch route running and the juice he has with the ball in his hands. I worry that he sometimes relied too heavily on his raw athleticism; I would not call him a technical route runner and sometimes he even seems out of control when making his swift cuts. I fully admit this ranking could look much too low if Wilson ends up going in the top 10 like many are projecting, but for now I am confident having Olave ahead of him.
Jameson Williams, Alabama
(6’1”, 179 lbs, DOB 3/26/2001, Age 21)
Like Wilson, Williams is another player that will probably be taken higher in the NFL draft than I have him here. There’s just no way I could rationalize putting him above Wilson or Olave, however, when he played with them at Ohio State for 2 years and put up a whopping 15 catches for 266 yards and 3 touchdowns combined in 2019 and 2020. The two aforementioned OSU stars essentially forced Williams to transfer to Alabama, which was perfect timing for him to soak up the vacated targets in the Crimson Tide offense left by recent departures DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle. Williams took full advantage to the tune of 79 receptions for 1,572 yards (19.9YPR, 31% dominator) and 15 touchdowns in the 2021 season before suffering a torn ACL in the national championship game.
Obviously, he has not participated in any of the athletic measurable portions of the draft process as a result. Based on his 2021 film I don’t think there are any doubts about his speed and athleticism anyway, but his slim frame is worth noting. As mentioned with Wilson above and when I wrote about fellow Bama alum Smith this time last year, the dynamics of today’s game make that less of a concern than it would have been in the past. What concerns me more with Williams is the lone year of production as a result of him not being able to garner targets vs. Wilson and Olave at OSU. Still, there’s no question he belongs in the top five group of receivers in this class with a clear tier break at the position thereafter. His game-breaking speed and depth threat abilities are coveted in the NFL and in the right situation I could absolutely see him having an immediate Jaylen Waddle type impact in the fall.
George Pickens, Georgia
(6’3”, 195 lbs, DOB 3/4/2001, Age 21)
Pickens feels like he is in a tier of his own for me as a riskier rookie pick than the top five yet is probably the only player left with the upside of becoming a true No. 1 receiver at the NFL level. Pickens was a 5-star high school recruit who stepped right onto Georgia’s campus and led the team in receiving as an 18-year-old true freshman with 49 grabs for 727 yards (14.8 YPR, 23% dominator) and 8 touchdowns. His production took a step back in 2020, but he still managed a 21% dominator rating and 6 touchdowns in a Covid-shortened season where Georgia had to rotate quarterbacks. He then tore his ACL in March 2020 and only returned for limited snaps towards the end of this past season, granted he had a spectacular diving 52-yard catch vs. Alabama in the National Championship game.
That play was great to see because it showed a flash of who Pickens was prior to his injury: an acrobatic downfield threat who also has the strength and speed to gobble up yards after the catch. He confirmed his athletic ability at the NFL Combine, running a 4.47 40 with a 10’5” inch broad jump and 33” vertical. There isn’t much of a knock-on Pickens other than his durability, which mainly stems from one injury he has already proved to be recovered from. He could be a potential steal for both NFL and dynasty teams alike. I’ll be fascinated to see what type of draft capital a team invests in him. If it’s early Day 2, the wheels are up on his dynasty value.
Jahan Dotson, Penn State
(5’10”, 178 lbs, DOB 3/22/2000, Age 22)
The next 3 players on this list are all more diminutive in stature and inherently less likely to become an alpha wide receiver at the next level, but they still could develop into fantasy contributors in the right situation. Dotson was hyper-efficient in his first 3 years in Happy Valley, averaging over 17 yards per reception with 13 touchdowns on 92 grabs through his junior season. In that junior season, he managed a 38% dominator rating for an inept Nittany Lion offense. He carried that momentum forward to 2021, grabbing 91 balls for 1,182 yards (13.0 YPR, 34% dominator) and 12 touchdowns.
Dotson had a ton of highlight grabs over the course of his college career. He lined up all over the formation for Penn State, primarily serving as a deep threat that got open downfield through a combination of strong route-running and superior athleticism, while also using those traits to dominate after the catch. That dynamic ability was confirmed at the NFL Combine, where he ran a 4.43 40 with a 36” vertical and 10’1” broad. Like all undersized players, landing spot will be important. Ultimately, his target volume in the NFL will likely be limited, but his floor as an NFL contributor is high and he could thrive with a creative coaching staff that designs plays for him.
John Metchie, Alabama
(5’11”, 187 lbs, DOB 9/21/2000, Age 21)
Metchie made the most of his time in the Crimson Tide’s crowded receiving room, operating as more of a possession receiver to complement the barrage of deep threats Alabama has churned out the last couple of years while still managing to be an occasional deep threat himself. That role garnered him a team-leading 96 receptions in 2021, which he parlayed into 1,142 yards (11.9 YPR, 23% dominator) and 8 touchdowns before tearing his ACL in early December. He was much more efficient with his targets the year before when he broke out as a 19-year-old sophomore with 55 grabs for 916 yards (16.7 YPR, 20% dominator) and 6 touchdowns, partly because he was filling the deep void left by Jaylen Waddle’s injury.
The variety of roles and places he has lined up in Alabama’s formations make him a versatile talent that could fit into just about any NFL offense. Like teammate Jameson Williams, he has not participated in the pre-draft process due to his injury, but he doesn’t have the surefire NFL athletic measurables that have made Williams a first-round lock despite his health. Metchie is looking more like a late Day 2 pick, which is still solid NFL draft capital but combined with his size diminishes the probability of him becoming a true long term dynasty asset. He’ll still be worth a dice roll for receiver-hungry dynasty owners in the mid to late second round of rookie drafts.
Skyy Moore, Western Michigan
(5’10”, 195 lbs, DOB 9/10/2000, Age 21)
Moore has become something of a draft season darling in both analytics and film watching circles. His production profile is strong, but of course needs to be taken with a grain of salt given his level of competition at Western Michigan. He had 51 receptions for 802 yards (15.7 YPR, 25% dominator) and 3 touchdowns as a 19-year-old true freshman before a truncated 5 game 2020 season due to Covid. His box scores in 2021 were filled to the tune of 1,292 yards and 10 touchdowns on 95 grabs, including a strong showing against Power 5 opponent Pittsburgh (11 catches for 124 yards and a score).
He followed that up with a good showing at the NFL Combine, running a 4.41 40 with 34.5” and 10’5” vertical and broad jumps. Watching Moore on film, he consistently wins with clean releases that enable him to leverage his athleticism to get open downfield. This ability to get open early in his routes, especially on slants, could help make him a strong slot receiver at the next level. His rookie draft value as a smaller school prospect will be heavily determined by the level of draft capital invested in him by his NFL team, but he checks a lot of boxes.
Justyn Ross, Clemson
(6’4”, 205 lbs, DOB 12/15/1999, Age 22)
If you had told me 4 years ago Ross would be this far down a rookie draft list I would have called you crazy. In 2018 he had one of the most dominant true-freshman seasons in recent memory as an 18/19-year-old, putting up a ridiculous 21.7 yards per reception as part of a 1,000 yard, 9 touchdown season where he captured a 24% dominator rating in an offense that included Tee Higgins and Hunter Renfrow. That season was capped off by a College Football playoff where he put up a combined 12 catches for 301 yards and 3 scores in those 2 games, showing off on some truly legendary plays in the National Championship game win over Alabama.
His production dipped slightly as a sophomore when his volume rose but efficiency fell with 66 receptions for 865 yards (13.1 YPR, 20% dominator) and 8 touchdowns. During the following offseason, it was discovered that a rare condition required him to have spinal fusion surgery that would force him to miss the entire 2020 season and led to questions whether he would ever be able to suit up again. Thankfully, he was able to return to the field in 2021, but he simply did not look like the same explosive player with career lows in every significant statistical category. He did not participate at the NFL Combine and then proceeded to put up underwhelming numbers at his Pro Day: 4.63 40, 31.5” vertical, 9’8” broad jump. Given what it should cost to acquire him in rookie drafts, I’ll still be very intrigued by his pedigree as a potential alpha if he gets round 3 or 4 NFL draft capital.
Keep on the Radar
David Bell, Purdue
Christian Watson, North Dakota State
Jalen Tolbert, South Alabama
Alec Pierce, Cincinnati
Tyquan Thornton, Baylor
Wan’Dale Robinson, Kentucky
Romeo Doubs, Nevada
Calvin Austin, Memphis
Slade Bolden, Alabama
Bo Melton, Rutgers
Danny Gray, SMU
Khalil Shakir, Boise State