Day 1 of the 2022 NFL Draft was a wild one! We saw four wide receivers selected inside the top 12, and six wideouts went in the first round in all. That wasn't the only Fantasy-relevant change to occur at the WR position, as two blockbuster trades involving number one receivers went down on Thursday night. 24-year-old star wideout A.J. Brown was shipped to the Philadelphia Eagles, while the Arizona Cardinals traded away their first-round selection to acquire burner Marquise Brown -- also 24 years old -- and a third-round pick from the Baltimore Ravens.
Days 2 and 3 of the NFL Draft brought us clarity on the Fantasy outlook for the rest of our favorite rookie prospects. The conclusion of the draft also solidifies the projected workload for some potentially highly Fantasy-relevant players whose teams did not use an early-round pick to add a player at their position.
The following players are whose Fantasy value I believe to have benefitted the most from the outcome of the draft.
2022 Draft Winners:
Skyy Moore, WR, Kansas City Chiefs
On the surface level, Moore checks all of the analytical boxes -- he boasts a young breakout age, an excellent dominator rating, elite yard per route run and explosive play efficiency, and dominant target shares. However, a deeper dive into his route data and splits vs. different coverage types suggest that the NFL game might be a bit too big for Moore.
With those concerns in mind, the ideal landing spot for Moore seemed to be one where he could work from the slot and not be the primary focus for opposing secondaries. In Kansas City, Moore will be far from the center of attention with defenses focused on Travis Kelce and complementary pieces such as JuJu Smith-Schuster, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, and Mecole Hardman. It's unclear what type of role Moore will play as a rookie -- Smith-Schuster may stand in his way of regular slot reps for now -- but Tyreek Hill's absence does leave behind a 25 percent target share, 35.4 percent air yardage share, and a team-high 400 routes from the slot.
If the ability to pile up targets that Moore showcased in his time at Western Michigan will translate at the NFL level, there are targets to be had in Kansas City's offense. This landing spot is about as good as it gets for Moore's Dynasty value, and he has a chance at finding Fantasy relevancy as soon as 2022 if the inconsistent and oft-injured Smith-Schuster or Valdes-Scantling falter. He's my WR7 for Dynasty rookie drafts and I have him ranked as the 1.08 overall.
Treylon Burks, WR, Tennessee Titans
Is Burks more Laviska Shenault or A.J. Brown? I posed that question in Burks' advanced analytical profile, and now the Titans have given us an opportunity to see just how closely Burks can mirror the aforementioned and recently traded star wideout. Only Cooper Kupp and Davante Adams were targeted at a higher per route rate than A.J. Brown in 2021, so a massive target void is left behind with Tennessee's former top target now a member of the Philadelphia Eagles.
Burks is often compared to Shenault -- both players are big-bodied receivers who were scripted touches by their teams as weapons out of the backfield and slot. From what I can tell, that's where the similarities stop. Burks was far more efficient on downfield targets, vs. press coverage, and from the perimeter than Shenault. His overall body of work is more impressive, and his peak efficiency outclasses anything we saw from Shenault.
If his success in limited opportunities as a perimeter receiver and downfield route runner translates at the NFL level, it will be no surprise for Burks to end up as the most productive receiver from the 2022 class. He has the potential to join A.J. Brown, Deebo Samuel, and Cooper Kupp as one of the NFL's most unique playmakers -- capable of turning opportunities from the slot or perimeter into big plays with his exceptional yardage after the catch creation. You shouldn't draft him with such lofty expectations -- his profile includes plenty of red flags -- but that type of upside is within his range of outcomes. Drake London is the only player I would draft ahead of Burks in rookie drafts.
Drake London, WR, Atlanta Falcons
Pre-draft, I wrote this about London's Fantasy outlook: "If London ends up in a situation where he's likely to be schemed touches -- Atlanta or Green Bay, for example -- I'd be less concerned about his USC route tree data. However, if he lands in a more neutral situation -- let's say with the Jets, Texans, or Patriots -- London's resume would present enough risk to likely bump him down to the bottom end of what I believe is a five-player Tier 1 at the WR position."
Beautiful. The eighth pick was as early as London could have reasonably been expected to be selected, and barring a Green Bay trade-up, Atlanta was the best possible landing spot for him.
Coming off the second-highest single-season target per route run rate recorded over the past five seasons, London enters an Atlanta offense where he will have the opportunity to reach the top of his range of outcomes as a target hog. It's easy to get excited about his outlook, and I wouldn't blame anyone for moving him to the WR1 spot in the 2022 rookie class. This landing spot should secure his spot as a top-three selection in rookie drafts.
He is far from a sure thing, though. The overall passing volume in Atlanta is likely to be low with Marcus Mariota at the helm. And while London's statistical profile brings plenty to like, there are red flags as well.
Christian Watson, WR, Green Bay Packers
Kansas City and Green Bay were the two dream landing spots for Christian Watson entering the draft. Not only did Watson land in Green Bay, but the Packers traded two top-60 picks in order to move up and secure his talent. That type of investment would seem to imply that Green Bay believes that the 34th overall pick is ready to step into a significant role right away.
Davante Adams and Marquez Valdes-Scantling combined for 39.2 percent of Green Bay's targets and 58.1 percent of the air yardage in 2021, and that was with a combined seven missed games. So far, Green Bay's plan for replacing those two apparently only involves Sammy Watkins, Watson, and fourth-round selection Romeo Doubs. If their current receiver room is indeed the one they enter the season with, Green Bay seems quite likely to send enough receiving volume Watson's way to make him a highly Fantasy-relevant player. He's my WR4 for Dynasty rookie drafts and projects as a top-40 Fantasy WR for 2022.
James Cook, RB, Buffalo Bills
Devin Singletary has been running some of the most empty routes of any player in the NFL for the Buffalo Bills. In 2021, Najee Harris, Ezekiel Elliott, and Austin Ekeler were the only running backs who ran more routes than Singletary. He ranked fourth at the RB position in routes run but was just 23rd in targets and 31st in receiving yards!
Among 200 players with at least 350 routes run across the past two seasons, Singletary ranks 180th in target per route run rate and 198th in yards per route run.
The Bills tried to address the issue by signing J.D. McKissic, but McKissic ended up backing out of the deal and returning to Washington. So, instead, Buffalo made Georgia RB James Cook the third running back selected in the 2022 NFL Draft with the 31st pick in the second round.
Among 110 RBs with at least 350 routes run across the four seasons Cook spent at Georgia, only 14 drew targets at a higher per route rate. Check out how Cook compares to some of the most prolific pass-catching RB prospects during that time:
Cook only ran 368 career routes, so his data should be taken with a grain of salt -- these rates do not mean that Cook is a better receiving prospect than Travis Etienne or D'Andre Swift. They are exciting, though! And so is Buffalo's second-round investment -- there's a real chance that Cook steps into a regular role on passing downs as a rookie. He moved up to the RB3 and 1.10 spot in my Dynasty rookie draft rankings following the conclusion of the NFL Draft.
J.K. Dobbins, RB, Baltimore Ravens
The Ravens have been linked to a handful of free agent running backs and were expected to address the position in the NFL Draft, so for them to enter the month of May with sixth-round selection Tyler Badie as the only addition to the RB room is certainly noteworthy. J.K. Dobbins could have seen his Fantasy value take a big hit at any point along the way this offseason, but it appears as if he has made it through unscathed. He should lead the way and assume as heavy of a workload as he can handle in 2022.
Dobbins' complete lack of involvement as a pass-catcher put a cap on his Fantasy ceiling, but he still projects as a top-20 Fantasy RB after Baltimore invested minimally in the RB position this offseason.
Mark Andrews and Rashod Bateman, TE/WR, Baltimore Ravens
The rookie season data was not encouraging for Rashod Bateman, and it came on a 409-route sample size that is plenty large to draw speculation from.
Bateman's collegiate data was extremely encouraging, though -- enough so to excuse a disappointing rookie season in which injury caused him to get off on the wrong foot. His data profile indicates that Bateman has what it takes to succeed as an NFL-level WR1. And with the Ravens trading away Marquise Brown and not adding another receiver in the draft, it appears as if Bateman will be given the opportunity to fill that type of a role in 2022.
Brown's departure also should mean even more targets for Mark Andrews as Baltimore's clear-cut top receiving weapon.
Darnell Mooney, WR, Chicago Bears
It was somewhat by necessity, but still, Darnell Mooney's ability to completely dominate the volume in Chicago in his second pro season was shocking and extremely exciting for his outlook.
Mooney finished with a 26.7 percent target share and 36 percent air yardage share in 2021. Over the past 15 seasons, there have been only 12 other receivers to hit both of those marks at the age of 23 or younger:
Brandon Marshall (2007)
Calvin Johnson (2008)
Josh Gordon (2013)
Kelvin Benjamin (2014)
Josh Gordon (2014)
Mike Evans (2015)
Odell Beckham (2015)
DeAndre Hopkins (2015)
Mike Evans (2016)
Odell Beckham (2016)
Justin Jefferson (2021)
DK Metcalf (2021)
Few receivers improved their rates from 2020 to 2021 as drastically as Mooney did on his way to his first 1,000-yard season. Mooney's 18.7 percent target per route run rate as a rookie was respectable -- especially when you consider that it came on an average depth of target of 11.6 yards. He upped that rate to 22.8 percent in Year 2, marking a 21.9 percent increase from his rookie campaign. Mooney's yard per route run improvements were even more drastic, increasing by 43 percent from Year 1 (1.20) to Year 2 (1.72).
Mooney's rates with Robinson mostly sidelined in the second half of the season provide even more reason to be giddy about his WR1 potential with Robinson out of the picture in 2022. His target per route run rate climbed all the way to 24.3 percent over Chicago's final eight games. Chicago funneled 27.7 percent of the team targets and 37.9 percent of the air yards Mooney's way during that eight-game stretch; Justin Jefferson and D.J. Moore were the only two players to hit both of those benchmarks during the 2021 season.
With Robinson now a member of the Los Angeles Rams and the Bears only WR addition in the draft coming in the form of special teams prospect Velus Jones, Mooney appears poised for one of the highest target shares of any player in 2022. He projects as a clear-cut top-24 Fantasy WR with the potential to push into the top-15.