The 2022 rookie crop presents a fantasy conundrum at the moment. There will undoubtedly be some difference-makers among this group of freshmen, but picking out the right ones is a tough task. After all, this is a class that did not include any top-15 picks at QB and zero first-round players at RB and TE. The WR crop is in the exact opposite state, as six players had their names called in Round 1 and seven more wideouts were tabbed in Rd. 2.
Let’s take a look at the leaders in the clubhouse for the 2022 All-Rookie team.
Many prognosticators would put Kenny Pickett in this spot, but I like the potential of Ridder to make a fantasy impact sooner rather than later. The Falcons are opening the season with Marcus Mariota under center, but he is unlikely to be their answer at football’s most important position, and they should give Ridder a shot by midseason. Ridder has a pair of elite weapons in WR Drake London (more on him later) and TE Kyle Pitts, and his top RB, Cordarrelle Patterson, is such a dynamic threat in the passing game that he spent much of his NFL career playing WR. And with 2,180 career NCAA rushing yards, Ridder has the speed to be a dual-threat fantasy QB.
Running back: Breece Hall, New York Jets
Hall has the most upside of any player in this article and could be selected in the initial two rounds next year. The Iowa State alum can do it all, possessing enough rushing skills to be a heavy-usage rusher, enough size to be successful at the goal line and enough receiving skills to stay on the field on third down. He will share the backfield with Michael Carter but should slowly slide that timeshare in his favor as the season progresses.
The biggest question mark surrounding Hall is whether or not QB Zach Wilson is ready to lead his offense to the next level.
Running back: Dameon Pierce, Houston Texans
I narrowly chose Pierce over Brian Robinson, who is moving up draft boards of late. Pierce was fortunate to join a Texans backfield that lacks established veterans, with his greatest competition coming from Marlon Mack, who after a couple of productive seasons with the Colts totaled just 127 yards across two injury-plagued campaigns. Pierce has been impressive in training camp and has the potential to rush for 1,000 yards by proving that he is superior to Mack at this point in their respective careers.
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Wide receiver: Chris Olave, New Orleans Saints
One of six first-round WRs, Olave may have the greatest potential to get out of the gate quickly. The 22-year-old joins a Saints team that should pass the ball often, as RB Alvin Kamara is not a workhorse and the team has little depth behind him. The team also lacks a game-breaker at TE and their two veteran receivers, Michael Thomas and Jarvis Landry, may be more chain-movers than dynamic playmakers at this point in their careers. The guess here is that Olave makes some big plays early and is the team’s top receiver by midseason.
Wide receiver: Drake London, Atlanta Falcons
Drake was the top WR in the majority of draft rankings and the first WR to come off the board, No. 8 overall. And he joins a Falcons team with a superstar at TE (Kyle Pitts) but very little talent at the WR position. Marcus Mariota is unlikely to give the team a dynamic passing attack, but there should be plenty of targets available for London to catch 80 balls this year. And his ceiling may be higher if the club puts Ridder under center by midseason.
Tight end: Daniel Bellinger, New York Giants
The 2022 TE group is underwhelming, and no one from this draft class may ever amount to much on the fantasy scene. But Bellinger has a chance to make an immediate impact on a Giants team that is in the process of revamping their passing attack. In fact, to get into the starting lineup, Bellinger needs to only push past Ricky Seals-Jones, who has collected just 1,044 yards since entering the NFL in 2017.
Kicker: Cade York, Cleveland Browns
Although kickers are mostly an afterthought in fantasy football drafts, Evan McPherson reminded us last year that talented rookies can have an impact on the position. Cleveland reached all the way to the fourth round to grab York, who connected on 78.9 percent of his 50-plus yard field goals during his NCAA career. The Browns are unlikely to have a big-play offense this year and could lean on York to help them win close, low-scoring games.
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