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2023 Pre-Draft Rookie Fantasy Wide Receiver Rankings: Part One

Jaxon Smith-Njigba

Jaxon Smith-Njigba

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Dvorchak breaks down his top 10 rookie wide receivers for dynasty and redraft fantasy football leagues prior to the 2023 NFL Draft.

Dvorchak’s Pre-Draft WR Rankings

1. Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Ohio State

Age: 21.2

Size: 6'1/196

Smith-Njigba didn’t see the field much as a freshman and missed most of his junior season because of an injury. That means his entire profile rests on the shoulder of his second—and functionality his only—collegiate campaign. That’s fine because it was one of the best single seasons for a college player…ever. JSN went for 1,606 receiving yards and nine scores on 95 catches while playing alongside Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave. He accounted for 32 percent of Ohio State’s receiving yards in 2021 and averaged just over four yards per route run. His career YPRR sits at 3.32. JSN only did the agility drills at the combine and came away with a 99th agility score. He played mostly slot in college but has the size to play outside if needed. Smith-Njigba has drawn comparisons to Amon-Ra St. Brown, Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods, and Keenan Allen, among other successful NFL players. He is an NFL team’s future WR1 and a fantasy stud in the making.

2. Jordan Addison, USC

Age: 21.2

Size: 5'11/173

Addison began his career at Pitt and immediately made an impact by logging a 60/666/4 receiving line. That was good for a 30 percent Dominator Rating (his share of the team’s receiving yards and touchdowns equally weighted). He followed that campaign with 1,593 yards and 17 touchdowns en route to a Biletnikoff Award as a sophomore. Addison then transferred to USC for his final season. His numbers took a hit as he went for just 875 yards and eight scores. His advanced metrics still looked good in this season as he averaged 2.78 yards per route run with a 26 percent Dominator. The big concern with Addison is his size. Since 2000, only five receivers have topped 1,000 receiving yards after entering the league under 180 pounds. It’s a legitimate issue, but not one that will prevent Addison from hitting at the next level. Addison is an absurdly talented route runner and has an elite production profile.

3. Zay Flowers, Boston College

Age: 22.6

Size: 5'9/182

Like the two receivers ranked ahead of him, Flowers is a slot receiver with an elite statistical profile. Analytically, he differs in a few key ways. Flowers stayed in college for four years which is a knock on his production, but he could have declared as a junior and been a solid bet for Day Two draft capital. Instead, he stayed in school and topped 1,000 yards for the first time while reaching an absurd, 47 percent Dominator. The 2022 season was his third with a Dominator over 30 percent. It was also the third campaign that saw him top 2.2 yards per team pass attempt. Flowers played primarily on the outside at Boston College but will likely spend most of his time in the NFL as a slot receiver. His counting stats don’t jump off the spreadsheet, but Flowers’ numbers look elite when you adjust for BC’s archaic offense.

4. Quentin Johnston, TCU

Age: 21.6

Size: 6'3/208

Johnston is the one receiver in this class who is a first-round lock and figures to get most of his reps on the outside. As a freshman, he posted a 29 percent Dominator. That number ballooned to 39 percent in his second season but dipped to 26 percent in 2022, Johnston’s final season. Though the drop is notable, it’s hardly concerning. Johnston offset the decreased role with career-highs in yards per team pass attempt (2.47) and YPRR (3.05). The bug in Johnston’s profile is his inability to earn separation. Over a quarter of his targets were contested and he only brought down 40 percent of those looks. He posted a solid forty-yard dash at his pro day (4.52) but was timed at an abysmal, 7.31-second three-cone drill. Johnston has the lowest floor of the top four receivers but a ceiling that matches or exceeds everyone ranked ahead of him

5. Marvin Mims, Oklahoma

Age: 21.1

Size: 5'11/183

Mims was hyper-efficient as a freshman at Oklahoma, averaging 4.07 yards per route run on his way to a 24 percent Dominator. He was only a part-time player as a freshman but his role grew in each of the following two years. His share of the receiving yard also grew, though his reception and touchdown market shares both took a hit as a sophomore. The biggest knock on his profile from an analytics perspective is the lack of a true breakout. He never crossed the elite threshold of a 30 percent Dominator Rating. From a film angle, Mims was a limited player in college and will need to find a team with a role that suits his skill set. He ran mostly vertical routes and hitches, severely limiting his growth as a route-runner. Mims has a lot of similarities to Darnell Mooney. That may cap his ceiling, but he could be an elite WR2 in the NFL.

6. Josh Downs, North Carolina

Age: 21.7

Size: 5'9/171

Downs was used like a more traditional slot receiver in college, registering an 8.8 aDOT compared to Mims’ 17 in 2022. The former Tarheel also checks a few other important boxes. He broke out in his sophomore season with 1,335 yards on 101 catches and excelled against man coverage. Downs ranked first among Power Five prospects in Pro Football Focus’s receiving grade against man coverage last year and was second in yards per route run versus man. He is incredibly twitchy during the route-running process and with the ball in his hands, making him a nightmare for opposing corners. His size might cap his ceiling in the NFL, but I can see the case being made for him having one of the highest floors in this year’s class.

7. Jalin Hyatt, Tennessee

Age: 21.6

Size: 6'/176

Hyatt is the nation’s most recent Biletnikoff Award winner. He picked up the hardware after posting a 67/1,267/15 receiving line as a junior. Before his junior season, Hyatt was unable to make much noise, tallying 502 yards and four scores in his first two campaigns. The Vols’ offense spreads defenses out, giving its receivers an absurd amount of space to work with. Not only did this boost his counting numbers, but it also allowed him to run an incomplete route tree while playing exclusively from the slot. Hyatt’s ability to transition from this specific role to a standard, pro-style gig is a concern brought up by many scouts. He also falls short of the 180-pound threshold. Hyatt draws a lot of similarities to DeSean Jackson and Will Fuller. He’ll need to flesh out his route tree and find an offense willing to utilize his speed if he’s going to reach the peaks that those receivers did.

8. Xavier Hutchinson, Iowa State

Age: 22.9

Size: 6'2/203

Hutchinson spent two years in JUCO before finding a home at Iowa State. He was productive in all three of his seasons as a Cyclone and got better every year, peaking at a 107/1,171/6 line as a senior. Hutchinson reached a 34 percent Dominator Rating and averaged 2.72 YPRR in his final season. He earns targets on shallow routes and has the agility to shake defenders for added separation but doesn’t show high-end burst or speed on tape. He affirmed this with an uninspiring, 7.26 RAS. Hutchinson can be a quarterback’s best friend like Tyler Boyd in the NFL, but he doesn’t project to be a true No. 1 receiver.

9. Jonathan Mingo, Ole Miss

Age: 22

Size: 6'2/220

Running a 4.46, Mingo has an elite combination of size and speed. He earned a 9.86 RAS at the combine. He flashed this otherworldly athleticism on tape, though not with the frequency you would expect. Mingo only topped a 20 percent Dominator twice and peaked at 28 percent as a senior. In that final season, 41 percent of his receiving yards came against the 130th defense in EPA per dropback allowed (Vanderbilt) and an FCS program (Central Arkansas). Mingo is one of the rare prospects in this class who profiles as a true X receiver, but his production metrics show a player who still has some work to do before he’s ready to be a strong fantasy option.

10. A.T. Perry, Wake Forest

Age: 23.5

Size: 6'4/198

Perry broke out in his third season at Wake Forest with a 71/1,293/15 receiving line and a 36 percent Dominator Rating. His numbers dipped in 2022, but he still topped 1,000 yards and scored 11 times. Perry impressed at the combine with a 4.47 Forty and a 9.62 RAS. He has a solid statistical profile with WR1 size, but draft pundits aren’t enamored with him. If Perry ultimately falls well into the third round, he will begin his career with the uphill task of ascending a depth chart.