With the NFL Draft in the books, let’s take a look at which rookies will be moving up and down our fantasy football, and specifically best ball draft boards going into the launch of Best Ball Mania III on Underdog Fantasy on Monday May 2nd.
Drake London – Top 10 draft capital and minimal target competition is an excellent recipe for rookie season production. London was the first WR selected in the NFL Draft, going to the Falcons at 8th overall. He and Pitts should both see plenty of targets as the main weapons in the offense. The quality of QB play remains to be seen as the Falcons will rely on some combination of Marcus Mariota and Desmond Ridder to see them through this season. While they don’t project to be an elite offense, I believe Mariota and Ridder should be competent enough to support two productive pass catchers. I expect this landing spot to cement London as a top two rookie receiver in drafts and push him up several rounds compared to his pre-NFL Draft ADP.
Treylon Burks – The Titans traded A.J. Brown to the Eagles and then turned around and selected Burks to fill that vacancy in order to avoid paying the massive extension that Brown was due. This reflects poorly on the Titans salary cap management but reflects very highly on Burks that the Titans think he can fill that role. A.J. Brown saw about 7.5 targets per game during his first two seasons in Tennessee. If Burks walks into that kind of volume right out of the gate he has a real shot to be the most productive rookie WR in 2022. I expect Burks and London to be drafted in a similar range as the top two rookie WRs in best ball now that we know their landing spots.
Skyy Moore – In addition to having the best name of any rookie WR, Skyy Moore also landed in one of the best spots when he was selected by the Chiefs in the second round. There is a good amount of target competition in Kansas City but Moore’s upside is tremendous catching passes from Patrick Mahomes. In the Superflex Big Board contest on Underdog he was the WR56 by ADP but there are plenty of Skyy Moore truthers (I am among them) who will want to take him well above that spot when BBM3 opens. I expect his ADP to rise throughout the summer and it could get out of hand at some point so I will try to have my Skyy Moore bags packed before that happens.
Christian Watson – Green Bay was the other premier landing spot for WRs and eventually they traded up to take Watson with the 34th overall pick. He steps into an offense commanded by back-to-back MVP Aaron Rodgers with boatloads of vacated targets to distribute. I don’t love the idea of a player with a nearly 13% drop rate in college trying to win Aaron Rodgers’ trust, but this offense is so devoid of pass catching talent he may have no choice but to continue to target Watson. Ultimately I trust the Packers to scheme up touches for Watson and for Rodgers to maximize the strengths in his game, but it could take some time for this all to gel. Watson has the makings of a late season breakout who could carry a team in the money weeks of best ball tournaments. He was going as the 9th rookie WR in Superflex Big Board ADP but should overtake several of the rookies ahead of him as well as plenty of veteran receivers as he jumps from a late round pick into the middle rounds.
James Cook – The buzz for James Cook built slowly throughout the pre-draft process and culminated in him being the third rookie RB taken in the NFL Draft when the Bills selected him at the back of the second round. Cook is an excellent pass catcher which fits great with the Bills’ up-tempo, pass-first offense. He is likely to open the season behind Devin Singletary but this pick makes it clear the Bills are looking for more from their RB room and are high on Cook. I expect Cook’s role to grow as the season progresses which makes him a great pick in tournament formats. He was going as the 7th rookie RB drafted in Superflex Big Board ADP but should move way up when BBM drafts open. He even offers sneaky Josh Allen stack potential which is sure to only further boost his value.
Rachaad White – The rumors of Rachaad White’s demise were greatly exaggerated. I have to admit I was very nervous when there was chatter that White could really fall in the NFL Draft. Being drafted by Tampa Bay with a top 100 pick is better than I had dared to dream for. There is not much on the Bucs depth chart behind Leonard Fournette, so White has a real opportunity to earn snaps and touches as a rookie in what is expected to be a high powered offense. He should also carry excellent contingent value should Leonard Fournette miss time. I am a big believer in White’s talent so I will continue to draft him aggressively, but I won’t be the only one. White was already going as the 4th rookie RB in drafts so he may not move up much from that perspective but he was the RB42 overall and I expect his ADP to rise from there.
Rookie QBs – It turns out the NFL disliked this QB class MORE than fantasy football Twitter did, who would have thought? Kenny Pickett to the Steelers at 20th overall was the only QB to go in the top two rounds in what was a clear sign of how the NFL values this group of signal callers. There is no guarantee about how many games Pickett will start this season as he competes with Mitch Trubisky. The next two QBs off the board, Ridder and Willis, went in the third round and also landed with teams who have a veteran QB expected to start this season. Meanwhile, Matt Corral has a real chance to beat out Sam Darnold but that is far from a guarantee for a third round rookie QB. The most likely outcome is that at least one of these guys wins the starting job early in the season but it may not be clear for a while who that is, which should keep all of the rookie QB ADPs suppressed as best ball drafts begin to ramp up.
Garrett Wilson – I actually really like this pick for the Jets but this is far from an ideal landing spot for Wilson’s 2022 production. He was in the mix for the top rookie receiver in pre-NFL Draft best ball contests but he is now expected to be firmly behind Drake London and Treylon Burks. He won’t project well due to target competition from Elijah Moore, Corey Davis, Breece Hall, and Michael Carter which could cause his ADP to slide behind other receivers with projectable volume. In order for Garrett Wilson to have a productive rookie season there will need to be significantly better QB play from Zach Wilson. If he opens BBM3 as the third rookie receiver being selected I will wait to get exposure later in the summer as there is a decent chance his ADP could fall from there.
Isaiah Spiller – One of the biggest fallers of the entire draft process, Spiller was originally considered part of a big three at the top of this class along with Breece Hall and Kenneth Walker. After testing poorly at the combine and his pro day he started to slip in drafts a bit but was still the third rookie RB by ADP on Underdog. Spiller ended up falling to pick 123 in the NFL Draft where the Chargers selected him. It’s a decent landing spot as Spiller could earn goal line touches and the Chargers have been willing to give their second guy a significant workload when Ekeler misses time. However, the lack of draft capital and clear alpha RB in front of him will likely push Spiller further down best ball ADP. He may actually be a nice value in drafts considering his massive contingent value should something happen to Ekeler, but that is still quite the fall for a guy who was once considered in the mix for the top RB spot in this class.
Trey McBride – Rookie TEs are rarely good options in fantasy football but there was some hope McBride could contribute in the right situation. He earned solid draft capital as the Cardinals took him with their second round pick, and he should have a bright future as the eventual successor to Zach Ertz, but this is a truly terrible landing spot for his 2022 production. McBride will be stuck behind a bevy of talented pass catchers in the Arizona offense and may struggle to see snaps, let alone targets, as a rookie. Barring an offseason injury to Ertz I don’t think I will even be taking last round stabs on McBride as there are plenty of other lottery tickets that should have a better chance of hitting in 2022.