Paths of Least Resistance: Rookie WRs with Immediate Fantasy Impact Potential
Some are more obvious choices than others, but each of these first year receivers have fantasy relevance written all over them…
Treylon Burks, Titans
Burks has the enviable position of possibly entering the season as the no.1 receiving option in an offense that, though predicated on the run, also forces defenses to focus primarily on their dominant backfield. Tennessee’s Derrick Henry is the tour de force that must be stopped at all costs, leaving Burks and a 30 year-old Robert Woods, who is returning from an ACL tear, to lead the Titans receiving corps. Burks is a bullish pass-catcher, who’s built like a running back and will be used as such in addition to his receiving role. A potential asset in PPR formats and otherwise, Burks has built in touches slated from the get-go and a dearth of competition behind him.
Drake London, Falcons
If the Falcons still had Matt Ryan at the helm, I’d say London was the best bet for rookie WR production this season. Marcus Mariota is a far cry from Ryan, but he should suffice in acting as a stopgap until rookie QB Desmond Ridder can get his legs under him. London is a big body with suitable speed and excellent leaping ability, in the mold of a Mike Evans. He and TE Kyle Pitts should garner the most targets in the Falcons offense in 2022, unless Cordarrelle Patterson becomes more of an actual pass-catcher for Atlanta this season. In any case, London is in line for an offensive ROY campaign on a team that will be playing from behind often.
Chris Olave, Saints
Olave is the most NFL ready of this lot of receivers, though he isn’t on a top-tier offense. I truly believe you can line up Olave anywhere on the field and he’ll thrive, a multifacetedness that will pay off on a talent starved Saints offense – at least as far as receivers are concerned. Michael Thomas has only played in 7 games the last 2 seasons, and if he misses more time this season, a very real possibility, Olave will be the de facto no.1 WR for New Orleans. QB Jameis Winston isn’t very accurate, but Olave is a QB’s best friend, as he can adjust to the ball really well, and Winston won’t be afraid to test Olave’s 4.38 speed downfield. Whether or not Thomas is ready when the season starts, Olave will be a major component of the Saints offense from day one.
Christian Watson, Packers
Watson only has Allen Lazard and Sammy Watkins to compete with right now for a starting spot in an Aaron Rodgers led offense. The Packers may add help in the form of Odell Beckham, Julio Jones or Jarvis Landry, but Beckham would be the only one of them I would worry about potentially eating into Watson’s action. An intriguing size/speed combo, we watched Watson get open with regularity at the Senior Bowl with his 4.36 wheels, and his imposing height makes him a primary red-zone option for Rodgers, who will be eager to find a new love connection now that Davante Adams is a Raider.
Velus Jones, Bears
You know the Trashman had to throw a little garbage on the heap, but Jones may not be as much of a longshot as he seems. Well built, but with 4.31 speed, Jones is the only WR help the Bears added in the draft to go along with Darnell Mooney and Byron Pringle out wide. Neither Mooney or Pringle are true no.1 receivers, so there’s room for Jones to make headway there, but the Bears also plan on using Jones in a multitude of fantasy relevant ways. He’ll be implemented out wide, in the slot, out of the backfield and in the return game. Jones stands to return serious value in PPR formats and leagues that give points for return yardage.