While wide receivers and quarterbacks will likely be the first skill position players taken in this year’s NFL Draft, running backs are usually the first rookies selected in seasonal and dynasty fantasy football drafts.
Where will the top first-year players end up this upcoming weekend? What are the best fits? We take a look at the top levels of the rookie crop from skill position perspectives and consider the most likely and best matches in the top half and middle of the first round.
The 2022 NFL Draft Fantasy Outlooks For The Top Rookie RBs and WRs
Hall Leads The Incoming Fantasy Class
Iowa State running back Breece Hall will likely be the first rookie running back off the board in yearly and dynasty fantasy football drafts. Hall is a major all-around threat who has drawn comparisons to Matt Forte and DeMarco Murray. He has good patience, vision, and makes defenders miss in short space. He can score frequently from anywhere on the field and has the gears to outrun defenses for big gainers and TDs.
The best landing spot for Hall should be Buffalo, which is picking 25th overall in the first round. Hall would fill the only true missing element in the Bills offense and could easily rack up double digit scores as a rookie. While the Bills make sense from a “needs” perspective, Buffalo may still opt to pass on a running back in the first round. If the Bills let Hall slip to the second round, Houston could nab him at No. 37 and make him a major centerpiece of the offense.
Hall would have less competition for touches and would be a bigger part of the game plan in Houston. If the Texans do not take Hall at 37th, he could be a terrific fit in Atlanta, as the Falcons have been searching for a dependable RB since Devonta Freeman was in his prime. If Hall falls any further, Arizona could be a possibility at No. 55, where he could fare very well in an RPO attack with Kyler Murray, but James Conner is also in the picture there.
Do keep in mind that the Bills pick 57th overall in the second round and could take a RB at that point. But Buffalo is where we would like to see him end up fantasy wise in the shorter term, although Houston and Atlanta could be viable landing spots in the longer view.
Ohio State’s Garrett Wilson may be the first wide receiver selected in a deep 2022 class. He could be a top 10 pick, as the Jets have the fourth and 10th overall selections. New York was not able to acquire a veteran wide receiver in the offseason and seems intent on continuing to support Zach Wilson with more playmakers. If the Jets really like Garrett Wilson, they may have to take him at No. 4, because he may not slip to No. 10.
The Atlanta Falcons have a major need at wide receiver after having lost both Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley. Wilson would be an ideal target. He is a versatile wideout with excellent hands and contested catch abilities. Opinions on his route running vary, but it would be hard to pass on a guy who has been compared to T.Y. Hilton and Stefon Diggs.
If Wilson does slip out of the top 10, the Commanders could nab him at 11th overall. It’s hard to see him dropping further than that. The Jets, Falcons, and Commanders do not have ideal QB situations in the shorter term, and seeing Wilson go to one of those three teams could hinder his initial fantasy upside a bit. In the longer-term view, joining the Jets may be the best fantasy fit of the three, as Zach Wilson just needs true playmakers to help him improve, and Garrett Wilson can fit the bill as his ideal No. 1 WR for years to come.
Other Prime WR Options In The 2022 NFL Draft
Teams looking for a big wide receiver may opt for Arkansas’ Treylon Burks. Some were disappointed by his showing at the NFL Combine, but there is a lot on film that will jump out to NFL teams. If Burks does tumble out of the top 15, we’d like to see him end up in New Orleans in the shorter term. Playing with a gunner like Jameis Winston as a rookie could help Burks get off to a good start in his NFL career. Burks has been compared to A.J. Brown and Josh Gordon.
The Packers have the glaring need for a wide receiver at No. 22 and if Burks somehow falls that far, he could be an instant fantasy starter as a prime target for Aaron Rodgers. Fantasy players will be watching closely to see which one of the top wideouts in this season’s class falls to Green Bay.
There are concerns about Alabama’s Jameson Williams’ knee, but he may turn out to be the most explosive WR in this year’s group. He could be a fine complement to Terry McLaurin in Washington, assuming McLaurin does not get traded. McLaurin can be the dependable target, and Williams will challenge defenses downfield.
Another Ohio State standout, Chris Olave, impressed at the combine and has the potential to be picked in the top 12. After Hall, Kenneth Walker will be the second running pack selected in most dynasty drafts. He is not a good pass-catcher, and his pass blocking needs some work, but he should turn out to be a good fantasy RB2 very quickly. He runs with a lot of sheer determination and should be a regular rushing TD producer. Walker can be a good fit for Atlanta as a key part of the offense, where he may have some other young playmakers around him and can find a strong niche in a developing offense.