There was a time when it was deemed that wide receivers coming into the NFL learned the pro game as rookies, improved in their second year, and reached their full potential in their third season. That timeline has been sped up in recent years, and now the expectation is for a shorter learning curve as a rookie and hitting the ground running in the second year as the NFL becomes more pass-reliant.
We take a look at the fantasy impact of three rookie receivers from the Class of 2022, their strengths and weaknesses and their potential to make an immediate impact – picks Nos. 10 and 11, respectively, in the draft Garrett Wilson (New York Jets) and Chris Olave (New Orleans Saints) as well as Skyy Moore (Kansas City Chiefs), taken with the pick No. 54.
The case for and against Garrett Wilson
- He is viewed as the best route-runner in a deep and talented 2022 wide receiver draft class and has a variety of release packages that allow him to get separation in different ways.
- He had a breakout season as a junior at Ohio State last season, catching 70 passes for 1,058 yards and 12 touchdowns in a star-studded position room.
- He is explosive in a short area with an incredible jab step and the ability to stack a defender.
- He has a ton of natural athletic intangibles, including a big catch radius, the ability to run past defenders and exceptional body
- Any expectations have to be tempered by the fact he is playing for the Jets, where Zach Wilson is still in the formative stages of his career and needs as many weapons as he can get.
- Had too many concentration drops as he looked to make plays before securing the ball – a problem that can be solved with coaching, experience, and a commitment to mechanics.
- He needs to be more physical, because he doesn’t consistently beat press coverage at the line.
The case for and against Chris Olave
- A productive, four-year athlete, who caught 32 touchdown passes in 31 games over his last three seasons. He saved his best for last, catching 65 passes for 936 yards and 13 touchdowns as a senior.
- He’s a smart player who quickly picked up the Saints’ playbook and has looked the part from Day 1 of rookie minicamp by showing his football intelligence.
- He has elite footwork, which creates routine separation from defenders that gives his quarterback open throwing windows.
- Comes to an offense with a lot of firepower if the key component parts can stay healthy, with QB Jameis Winston, wide receivers Michael Thomas and Jarvis Landry and do-it-all running back Alvin Kamara.
- With Landry locked in as a slot receiver, Olave will likely draw a lot of single coverage on the outside if Thomas returns to form and demands added defensive attention that was required before he was slowed by injuries.
- Olave struggled against physical coverage and will need to improve his core strength to become an elite receiver at the NFL level.
- He is viewed by a lot of scouts as a player with a high floor and low ceiling, which has historically been the recipe for a long career but perhaps never being an elite receiver.
- He doesn’t win enough 50/50 balls when in the red zone.
The case for and against Skyy Moore
- In the post-Tyreek Hill era, Moore will be given an immediate opportunity to contribute as Patrick Mahomes deals with a completely revamped wide receiver corps.
- Has an elite quarterback on his side
- Moore has experience playing both inside and outside, which gives him an edge for playing more snaps because of his down-and-distance flexibility to line up anywhere.
- He was the first freshman since 2014 to earn First-Team All-MAC honors and received such recognition twice in three years.
- A prolific receiver who dominated lesser competition in 2021, catching 94 passes for 1,283 yards and 10 touchdowns.
- He has a small frame and will likely need to add bulk to be optimally effective.
- Moore didn’t run a full route tree at Western Michigan and hasn’t shown elite burst out of his cuts to achieve separation, which is a problem that will only be more pronounced in the NFL.
- He is in a crowded receiver room with Mecole Hardman, JuJu Smith-Schuster and Marquez Valdes-Scantling likely starting training camp in front of him.
Fantasy football outlook
All three of the rookie receivers have the ability to make an immediate impact, but they are entering the league in very different situations.
Olave should have the opportunity to make the most immediate impact, because he plays in a division that is poor defensively, and he should step in to a significant role in the Saints offense early on. He is a borderline WR2 but more likely a WR3 with the chance to make the climb as the season progresses.
Wilson has the best chance to get the most reps of any of the three. The depth on the Jets at wide receiver is markedly less than the Saints and Chiefs, so he will get more snaps, which translate into more opportunities. The question is whether the Jets offense can consistently create enough big-play opportunities. He has solid WR3 potential, but in most leagues he will more than likely be a WR4 with strong upside.
Moore is the wild card of the group. He was the 13th wide receiver taken in the draft, so clearly other teams thought more highly of others than him. But, he has Mahomes throwing the ball, and he has made fantasy-relevant players out of a lot of receivers in his short career. Moore is making a big jump to the NFL from the MAC, so he will likely take more time than the others, making him an end-of-the-draft stash player on the back end of rosters in hopes of delivering early in the high-powered Chiefs offense.