The 2023 fantasy football season is in full swing and it's time for another NFL player debate! If you haven’t had your fantasy football draft yet, then you are probably looking over the fantasy football player rankings. You’ve already printed out and studied the Ultimate Fantasy Football Cheat Sheet, right? Good. What about doing some fantasy football mock drafts? Fantastic.
But even with all of that research, you are probably still staring at certain players, wondering if drafting them at their current fantasy football ADP is, not just giving you the proper value, but if they are even right for you or your team. Is the juice worth the squeeze?
This is where we come in with our all-new Fantasy Football Player Debate series where two analysts go head-to-head and give you the pros and cons to help with your decisions.
Today, Colby Conway and Kevin Tompkins go head-to-head on some NFL rookie wide receivers to help you decide whether to draft Seattle Seahawks WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba or Minnesota Vikings WR Jordan Addison.
Why You Should Draft Jordan Addison in Fantasy Football
By Kevin Tompkins
If you know me, you know that I’m no bigger fan of young, athletic, dynamic wide receivers than I am. Both Jaxon Smith-Njigba and Jordan Addison both fit the bill as wide receivers that can transform their new offenses as soon as this season and almost certainly, for the rest of the decade.
Upon checking the updated ADP here on Fantasy Alarm through different fantasy football providers like the FFPC, NFFC, Underdog, and RTSports, you’ll see Smith-Njigba and Addison back to back on most sites with Addison having the slight edge in ADP on Yahoo.
I will happily draft both of these wide receivers and on sites like Underdog, Smith-Njigba comes off of the board in best ball a round earlier than Addison.
It’s easy to make the case for both wide receivers, but as I wrote way back in May after the NFL Draft, Addison was my biggest Day 1 winner after the first round, where he was the last of four consecutive wide receiver selections. That opinion is still held firmly by me as we head towards Week 1 in 2023.
Addison should immediately vault into at least an 85% route share at bare minimum, as the Minnesota Vikings’ offense is so condensed that Justin Jefferson, Adam Thielen, and K.J. Osborn were all top-14 in the entire NFL in routes run, with Jefferson (seventh - 94.3%), Thielen (14th - 92.1%), and Osborn (32nd - 81.1%) all finishing top-35 in routes share last season.
The Vikings also use their starters exclusively and rarely if ever get into their backup players at any skill position. To illustrate this even further, here are the total routes and snaps taken by every Vikings player in 2022:
There’s such a huge disparity between Osborn and Reagor/Nailor that it makes zero sense to even consider any of the fourth or fifth wide receivers in any format because we don’t have to worry about them taking routes, touchdowns, or snaps from any of the guys we love in fantasy.
Will this degree of condensed offense continue? Well, we’ve been seeing this kind of personnel usage going back to 2021, when Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell was the offensive coordinator with the Rams and further back to his first season as an offensive coordinator with Washington:
- The Vikings averaged a league-low 9.6 players per week who earned a snap on offense in 2022.
- The Rams averaged a league-low 8.5 players per week who earned a snap on offense in 2021.
- The Rams averaged a league-low 9.8 players per week who earned a snap on offense in 2020.
- Washington averaged a league-low 9.9 players per week who earned a snap on offense in 2019.
So we’ve established that there is no circumstance outside of injury and catastrophic offensive collapse that Addison would not receive a huge route and snap share, something that Smith-Njigba may have to earn in Seattle over the course of a season. Addison has this immediately.
Another thing that Addison has that Smith-Njigba doesn’t is the scheme and team situation favoring him from the jump. The Vikings’ raw pass rate of 65% and 2.5% pass rate over expected in 2022 trump both numbers from the Seahawks (63%, 1.5% PROE) last season, but Seattle’s league-high 40% usage of 12 personnel (two tight ends in the formation) is a main impediment to Smith-Njigba seeing immediate playing time either over or alongside DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett.
While the drafting of JSN could signal a philosophy change in the Seahawks offense, Addison doesn’t have to worry here. The Vikings ran a healthy 64% of 11 personnel (three wide receivers) last season compared to just 41% for Seattle.
Those huge factors coupled with the fact that the Vikings’ defense should be just awful, which likely puts the team into plenty of shootouts. We could even see the Minnesota pass rate in 2023 come up even further now that the Vikings released Dalvin Cook. If Alexander Mattison continues his backslide in efficiency over the last couple of seasons and the backfield is in a state of flux and unable to find any sort of consistency from Mattison, Ty Chandler, DeWayne McBride, or whoever the Vikings bring in, then the Vikings could live and die by the pass.
Also, if it’s not Week 1 when Addison leapfrogs K.J. Osborn, it’s going to be soon. Osborn’s 2022 profile is mediocre at best with a 15.2% targets per route run percentage, where he was 53rd of 54 pass-catchers with at least 90 targets, besting only Parris Campbell. Osborn was also 52nd in that grouping in yards per route run with 1,09, only beating former teammate Adam Thielen (1.06) and the aforementioned Campbell at 1.03 YPRR. Addison has a top-22 mark in yards per route run over his last two collegiate seasons, so his efficiency pops and should translate to immediate production the NFL — at least certainly better and more efficient work than Thielen and Osborn showed last season.
Why You Should Draft Jaxon Smith-Njigba in Fantasy Football
By Colby Conway
Remember the days when rookie wide receivers weren’t expected to be fantasy stars until they hit that “third-year breakout?” Well, long gone are those days, and rookie wide receivers can come in and be fantasy-relevant right away in their rookie seasons. In fact, it feels like we expect it at this point, especially for those with premium draft capital. That’s the hope for the Seattle Seahawks, as they took Jaxon Smith-Njigba 20th overall in this year’s draft, making him the first receiver selected. He becomes just the latest Ohio State receiver to enter the league with big aspirations and remember, he shined in 2021 at Ohio State when Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave were in their junior and senior seasons respectively.
Yards per Reception
|Garrett Wilson (JR)|
|Chris Olave (SR)|
The big question surrounding Smith-Njigba in his rookie year in Seattle is what his role is going to look like. He was primarily a slot guy in college, and while it’s not that he’s unable to play out wide, he profiles as a guy who will take the majority of his reps out of the slot. In three-receiver sets, he’ll be out on the field, and there are no questions there. However, how early can he carve out a role in two receiver sets? This is the biggest question that needs answering when evaluating Smith-Njigba’s breakout chances in 2023.
Per Pro Football Focus, in his first preseason action, he saw 12 snaps and was aligned out wide for four of those. Of those 12 snaps, eight were pass plays, and he was lined up out wide for just one of those eight snaps. This was his first NFL game action, so just because he didn’t get a ton of snaps out wide doesn’t mean he’s doomed this year and has zero chance of playing in two receiver sets. Talent wins out and Seattle is going to get him out on the field, whether it be giving him some snaps in two receiver sets, or increasing their 11 personnel usage. Given the investment in Smith-Njigba, I can see both coming true. Additionally, Tyler Lockett is the deep threat and will work downfield, so Smith-Njigba can carve out a nice role as the possession receiver in the short-to-intermediate passing game alongside DK Metcalf. Furthermore, where Smith-Njigba actually has an advantage over fellow rookie Addison is that the depth of competition for targets is deeper in Minnesota than in Seattle:
- Seattle: DK Metcalf, Tyler Lockett, Noah Fant, Will Dissly
- Minnesota: Justin Jefferson, K.J. Osborn, T.J. Hockenson
Dating back to June 1, he’s the WR38 off the board, per NFC data, going just a handful of picks above fellow rookie Jordan Addison. Smith-Njigba is a supreme talent and with first-round draft capital, the Seahawks aren’t going to be able to keep him on the sidelines for long. He’s a quick, shifty receiver who presents a different type of weapon for Geno Smith and this Seattle offense, and don’t fret, he’ll get plenty of chances in two receiver sets as the year goes on. At this WR38 price point, he’s going off the board as a WR4 in 12-team formats, but he figures to end the year as a low-end WR2/high-end WR3.
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