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Tue Jan 17th 2023

Reranking the 2022 Rookie Class

One of my favorite things to do at the season's end is re-rank the rookie class. At the end of the season, I want to see glimmers of hope on my rosters, especially among the players I most recently drafted.

Another reason I like to re-rank the rookie class is to see how much has changed since rookie drafts last May. It helps me see where I got things right or wrong and which players have moved up or down my rankings after their first season.

Here I present how I would rank last year's rookie class now that the season is complete compared to where they were ranked after the 2022 NFL draft.

1. Breece Hall - previously #1

  • I still have Hall ranked number one after his fantastic start to the season. He only played six complete games before tearing his ACL but finished the year 7th in running-back points per game based on his performance in that short span. He tore his ACL early enough in the season that I expect he'll be recovered and ready to start for the Jets game one of next season. He's still the top player in this class.

2. Kenneth Walker - previously #4

  • I had two receivers ahead of Walker in my rookie rankings last year, but I now believe I'd draft Walker ahead of all the receivers in this class. Rashaad Penny's injury gave Walker a higher workload to start the season than expected, and he took advantage of his opportunity. He did what he was best at in college, making explosive plays, and ended the season with five 100-yard games, including three the last three games of the season, which led to 1050 yards on the year. Bell cow running backs are hard to find, so managers who drafted Walker are thrilled to have him on their teams.

3. Garrett Wilson - previously #5

  • I had a hard time deciding between Wilson and Olave as the wide receiver to rank highest in this class now that the season is done, but I had to put Wilson ahead of Olave since he was the highest-scoring rookie wide receiver this season. He struggled with poor quarterback play throughout the season, but he still became a reliable WR-2 on dynasty rosters with 83 receptions and 1103 receiving yards. He struggled in the touchdown department, only scoring four times (all four in two games), but targets and catches matter most. He's the unquestioned WR-1 on the Jets after clearly staving off Elijah Moore. Once the Jets get a better quarterback, Wilson will improve on his rookie season.

4. Chris Olave - previously #6

  • Olave was my most drafted player in this rookie class because I had him ranked higher than most dynasty managers. Now I moved him up even higher, from 6th to 4th. He finished just behind Wilson with 72 catches for 1042 yards and the same number of touchdowns (four). Olave's had more consistency at the quarterback position, but his future will be brighter when the Saints bring in someone better than Andy Dalton. Olave was an instant starter and replaced Michael Thomas as the WR-1 in New Orleans. Even if Thomas returns to health next season, Olave will hold him off and remain the top target for the Saints. As all receivers do, he had ups and downs, but he scored over ten half -PPR points in seven of the fifteen games he played this season. He'll improve on that in the years to come.

5. Drake London - previously #3

  • I moved Wilson and Olave ahead of London, but he's still in the same tier after having a productive season with below-average quarterback play. Once Desmond Ridder took over for Marcus Mariota, dynasty managers got a taste of what London can be when he's highly targeted. London had the same amount of catches (72) and touchdowns (four) as Olave but failed to hit the 1000-yard mark in receiving yards, ending the season with 886. He was an instant starter on the Falcons, but they were one of the league's most conservative and run-heavy teams. When the Falcons get better at quarterback and open up the offense more, London will be more productive for dynasty managers.

6. George Pickens - previously #9

  • Pickens demonstrated his big-play ability this season and enough chemistry with fellow rookie Kenny Pickett to move up in my rookie rankings. He scored two of his four touchdowns in the last three games of the season as Pickett showed more and more improvement. The Steelers started the season with a pretty deep roster at the wide receiver position, making me think Pickens would take time to earn a starting role. Still, the Steelers traded Chase Claypool midseason, a clear sign that they wanted Pickens starting opposite Diontae Johnson. It was a rough fantasy year for everyone on the Steelers' offense, but things will improve as Pickett does.

7. Treylon Burks - previously #2

  • Burks is the biggest faller in the first round of my rankings. I still believe in his talent, so I was unwilling to move him too far down in my rankings, but he admittedly had a rough start to his rookie year. He had a hard time adjusting to the NFL physically and mentally, but by the end of the season showed his big-play ability enough times to keep my hope alive. Injuries caused him to miss six games and kept him from compiling as many stats as the other wide receivers in this class, but the talent is still there. It's right for me to move him back, but not as far back as other dynasty managers may like to do.

8. Jahan Dotson - previously #7

  • While other rookie receivers struggled to score touchdowns, Dotson did not. He scored a touchdown on every fifth catch he made, scoring seven touchdowns on just 35 receptions. Dotson missed five games with an injury, or his stats could have been even better. I sound like a broken record, but almost all rookie wide receivers were hurt by their poor quarterback play and the number of different quarterbacks that started for their teams this season. Olave and Dotson were my most drafted players last season, and I still have incredibly high hopes for them both.

9. Christian Watson - previously #11

  • Watson infamously dropped the first pass of his rookie career, a pass that would have easily resulted in a long touchdown, but he bounced back to earn the trust of Aaron Rodgers and, Like Dotson, scored seven touchdowns in his rookie season. He scored on every sixth catch he made this year, and the Packers drew up many plays for him in the red zone. His stats were significantly boosted by one three-touchdown, 107-yard day against the Cowboys, but he averaged more than six targets per game after that game. He's the future WR-1 in Green Bay, with targets coming from Rodgers or Jordan Love.

10. Jameson Williams - previously #8

  • Williams has the most room to improve in this class because he barely saw the field this season. His draft capital, college production, and the improvement in the Lions' offense keep him as a first-round draft pick. Jared Goff did enough this season to prove he can make the Lions' skill players productive. I still think Amon-Ra St. Brown will be the most-targeted wide receiver on the Lions in the future, but Williams will have a crucial role too. I'm hopeful that he will become more than just a deep threat. If I redrafted today, I'd still draft him at the end of the first round.

11. Brian Robinson - previously #22

  • Robinson is the first player to jump up my rankings significantly. He moved up eleven spots from 22 to 11. Robinson returned from his gunshot wounds in week five and quickly replaced Antonio Gibson as the lead back on the Commanders. Over the last seven games of the season, he averaged more than 20 touches per game. The Commanders have soured on Gibson and see Robinson as their lead back, making him very worthy of a first-round pick if the rookie draft took place at the end of the season. He was a massive surprise for dynasty managers who drafted him in the second round in May.

12. Dameon Pierce - previously #24

  • Like Robinson, Pierce jumped into my first round by the end of the season. I did not believe the hype on Pierce and had him ranked far lower than other dynasty analysts and managers. I'm not too proud to admit I made a mistake. Pierce stormed out of the gates this season and was an every-week starter from weeks three to fourteen when he got injured. He scored only five touchdowns, but he amassed 1104 total yards in thirteen games. I still have some questions about his future because I would not be surprised to see the Texans add a running back in this year's class with the number of draft picks they have, but I'm willing to consider him as the last pick of a rookie draft if we redrafted today.

13. Kenny Pickett - previously #14

  • Pickett stays right about where I ranked him before in one-quarterback leagues. He didn't win the starting job to start the season but quickly took over for Mitch Trubisky when the team struggled to win games at the start of the season. He had a very modest start to his rookie year, but so do most rookie quarterbacks. He helped the Steelers end the season on a winning streak, giving them playoff hopes into the last game of the season. He'll improve next year and should avoid facing any competition for his job, which cannot be said of the rest of the quarterbacks in this class.

14. Isiah Pacheco - previously unranked and #24**

  • Pacheco was unranked in my rookie rankings last May, but he moved up to 24th in my rankings by Labor Day weekend before the season started when I had my final rookie draft in my Freeks League. The hype on Pacheco was real, and dynasty managers who added Pacheco off the waiver wire last preseason found a gem on the cheap! Pacheco was involved from game one and outplayed Clyde Edwards-Helaire. He was the Chief's most productive running back until Jerick McKinnon burst onto the scene at the end of the season. His draft capital and the Chiefs' willingness to play anyone at the running back position make his dynasty value in greater question than the backs I've ranked ahead of him here. However, he's still a second-round value now that we've seen him do it for a year.

15. Tyler Allgeier - previously #18

  • Allgeier came on strong to end the season, giving the Falcons a chance to believe he could be their lead back of the future. He averaged 120 yards of total offense per game over the last four games of the season when he scored two of his four touchdowns. His production to end the season makes me willing to draft him in the second round if I redrafted the class today, but I am concerned that the Falcons will draft a running back so that Arthur Smith can have a new Derrick Henry as he did in Tennessee.

16. Rachaad White - previously #17

  • White was used sparingly until week ten when the Buccaneers began to involve him more in the offense. He could have run the ball better, but his involvement in the passing game helped his fantasy production. If the Buccaneers commit to using him this way, he could grow into a flex-worthy player in dynasty lineups. That said, Tom Brady loves to throw the ball to running backs, and he may not be with the team next season. White's a player I'd draft in the middle of the second round if I redrafted the class today, but I am worried about his ability to do what he does best if Brady is not a Buccaneer.

17. Greg Dulcich - previously #25

  • Dulcich did enough this season to cause me to rank him as the tight-end one in this class at the end of the season. Tight ends usually take a few years to become productive in fantasy. Still, Dulcich was a viable starter during bye weeks this season when almost all tight ends could have been more reliable. Dulcich had more than five targets five times this season in the ten games he played. The Broncos and Russell Wilson made a big part of the offense, an offense that can't play any worse than they did this season. The Broncos' offense will improve, and Dulcich will help make them better in the future.

18. Romeo Doubs - previously #26

  • Christian Watson proved that he's the future WR-1 in Green Bay, but the Doubs did enough to prove he can be their WR-2 once Allen Lazard leaves the team this offseason. In several games at the start of the season when Christian Watson was injured, Doubs was the WR-1 and the most fantasy-productive receiver on the team. Watson got healthy at the same time Doubs was injured, so we did not see them on the field together much until the end of the season. The Packers, who are always resistant to drafting wide receivers in the first round, have found their future starters in this draft's second and fourth rounds.

19. James Cook - previously #13

  • Cook played well this season but never did enough to overtake Devin Singletary on the depth chart. Cook might become the starter next season unless the Bills choose to re-sign Singletary, whose contract expires this season. Still, the Bills' offense will always run through the arm and legs of Josh Allen, making the Bills' running back a less-than-desirable place to have dynasty shares. I moved Cook down my rookie rankings as a result.

20. Jaylen Warren - previously unranked and #40**

  • Like Isaiah Pacheco, Warren was not in my rookie rankings in May after signing with the Steelers as a free agent. However, after witnessing his first preseason game in August, I moved him to 40th in my rankings. Now I have him ranked 20th! I added Warren in almost all of my leagues when it became drastically noticeable during the preseason that he was better than Benny Snell and would become the backup behind Najee Harris. He's still a backup behind a first-round draft pick, but he'll be very productive if Harris is injured at any time.

21. David Bell - previously #12

  • I remain stubborn in my love for Bell and could only move him down nine spots in my rookie rankings after a modest start to his NFL career. I can't believe his college production was a fluke and that he can't do some of the same things in the NFL when given a chance. Donovan Peoples-Jones improved far more than I thought he would, and he and Amari Cooper dominated touches in Cleveland. They will continue to do so, but Bell will carve out more of a role in the slot next year as Deshaun Watson returns to his prior form, making the offense more productive.

22. Trey McBride - previously #16

  • McBride did not have a breakout game until the final game of the fantasy season, even though Zach Ertz was injured in week ten. Still, he was the top-drafted tight end and can develop in the coming years and earn a more significant share of Kyler Murray's targets. His college production and draft capital keep him a second-round pick, even though he only had one good game this season. Hopefully, the new coaching staff will find ways to utilize his size and talent.

23. Alec Pierce - previously #20

  • Pierce earned a starting role with the Colt immediately and was involved in the offense. Like most of the wide receivers in this class, his quarterbacks did not help his fantasy production this season. However, Michael Pittman has the WR-1 spot locked down. Earning a starting WR-2 role is reason enough to consider him at the back half of the second round, as I did in May. He did about what I expected him to do this season. Give him a better quarterback next season, and his dynasty value will improve.

24. Wan'Dale Robinson - previously #19

  • The Giants and dynasty managers did not see enough of Robinson this season. Robinson only played in six games, but he showed a spark in three of the six. The Giants' wide receiver depth chart is as wide open as anyone in the league. The team needs a playmaker at the position to complement the possession receiver skills of Isaiah Hodgins and the deep-ball skills of Darius Slayton. Given his opportunity and diverse skills, Robinson is a player I'd be willing to take at the end of the second round if I drafted again today.

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