When it comes to fantasy football, the kids are much more than all right.
NFL teams have shown a willingness to lean heavily on rookie skill players, and the results are undeniable: In 2021, Najee Harris scored more fantasy points than all but three running backs, while Ja'Marr Chase ranked fifth among all wide receivers in fantasy points. In 2020, it was Jonathan Taylor (fourth among RBs) and Justin Jefferson (seventh among WRs) emerging as breakout stars.
So, which first-year players could be significant fantasy contributors in 2022? Perhaps it's one of six wide receivers selected in the first round, the most of any position. Perhaps it's one of the trio of running backs taken in the second round. Or maybe it's a late-round running back, a few of which have generated considerable buzz this preseason.
In any case, the odds are high that at least one or two rookies will pop in 2022. Here are our rankings of the top 10 rookies in fantasy football this season who would make for strong selections in dynasty/keeper leagues and could contribute right away.
1. Breece Hall, RB, New York Jets
While the Jets drafted a running back last year, Hall is expected to replace Michael Carter as the new bell cow in New York. If the offense improves under second-year quarterback-offensive coordinator duo Zach Wilson and Mike LaFleur, Hall could be a legitimate RB2.
Projected round: Fourth
2. Ken Walker III, RB, Seattle Seahawks
The Seahawks should run plenty with Geno Smith and Drew Lock as their quarterbacks, and the injury-prone Rashaad Penny is the only running back ahead of Walker on the depth chart. Walker was the best RB in college football last year for Michigan State and has a very good chance of leading all first-year backs in carries.
Projected round: Ninth
3. Drake London, WR, Atlanta Falcons
The Falcons made London the highest-drafted wideout for a reason, as they need pass-catchers to fill the void left by Calvin Ridley and Russell Gage. We like London's chances of beating out Bryan Edwards and Olamide Zaccheaus to become Atlanta's top receiver. The only issue is whether Marcus Mariota can get him the ball enough.
Projected round: 10th
4. Treylon Burks, WR, Tennessee Titans
The Titans lost a whopping 351 targets from 2021 with the offseason departures of A.J. Brown, Julio Jones and others. Enter the 6-foot-2, 225-pound Burks, who could emerge as Ryan Tannehill's new Brown-like deep threat. Tennessee doesn't throw a ton, though, so Burks is a high-ceiling, low-floor option.
Projected round: 11th
5. Garrett Wilson, WR, New York Jets
As one Wilson goes, so might the other in New York. Quarterback Zach Wilson should increase his volume and productivity after a rocky rookie season, and Garrett Wilson arguably has higher upside than Elijah Moore and Corey Davis as the 10th overall pick out of Ohio State. He's worth a late-round flier.
Projected round: 12th
6. Chris Olave, WR, New Orleans Saints
Olave may not be as talented as his fellow Buckeye, but there's a path to him out-producing Garrett Wilson in Year 1. The pass-happy Jameis Winston leads a Saints offense whose top two wideouts are Michael Thomas (hasn't played since 2020) and Jarvis Landry (turns 30 in November). Don't sleep on Olave.
Projected round: 13th
7. Jahan Dotson, WR, Washington Commanders
Dotson already looks like the Commanders' No. 2 wide receiver opposite Terry McLaurin. The question is whether you believe in Carson Wentz, who hasn't averaged over 220 passing yards per game since 2019. If Wentz can rediscover some of his early-career production in Washington, Dotson could be a late-round steal.
Projected round: 13th
8. Jameson Williams, WR, Detroit Lions
Williams is expected to miss the start of the season as he recovers from a torn ACL, so he might fly under the radar in your fantasy draft. But the Alabama product is one of the most talented wideouts in this year's class and could be in line for plenty of targets on a Lions team that's thin at wide receiver. Williams is a prime draft-and-stash candidate.
Projected round: 14th
9. George Pickens, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers
Of all the rookie wideouts on this list, Pickens might be enjoying the strongest preseason. The problem is that his quarterback is Mitchell Trubisky (or Mason Rudolph or rookie Kenny Pickett). If you believe in Pickett as the Steelers' QB of the future, then Pickens is worth snagging in dynasty leagues.
Projected round: 15th
10. James Cook, RB, Buffalo Bills
The Bills are going to score lots of points in 2022, and while Devin Singletary and Zack Moss are currently ahead of Cook on the depth chart, the younger brother of Minnesota Vikings star Dalvin Cook is a dual-threat stud who could see action in both the running and passing games out of the gate.
Projected round: 16th
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