Rookie wide receivers used to not be all that valuable in fantasy football—needing a year or so to truly breakout and dominate. But recently, many are coming out ready to go. There’s plenty of reasons for the strong pipeline of college-to-pro WRs, but as long as the wideouts are in good situations, you could add a gem to your dynasty fantasy football lineups.
This years class isn’t as strong as the past two, but there are still players who are climbing up the draft ladder to be first rounders in real life and in your rookie drafts.
1. Jordan Addison, USC
A new face at the top of the list, Jordan Addison is the most pro-ready WR prospect in a class that doesn’t appear to have a lock or definitive hierarchy. Plenty of these WRs will need to have the benefit the combine to secure a higher draft position. Addison can point to the tape pretty easily and say he’s got the playmaking to succeed.
JORDAN ADDISON GOES THE DISTANCE 😱 pic.twitter.com/sh62Bcomdl
— ESPN College Football (@ESPNCFB) September 11, 2022
The dynamic playmaker is a crisp route runner who frequently knows how to get open. Additionally, Addison is great at catching the ball away from his body and is super twitchy. He’ll have build up strength at the next level, but I don’t think his size is a big enough concern to worry about holding up in the NFL.
2. Quentin Johnston, TCU
Johnston has made a leap up these rankings from the initial way-too-early rankings in September. The big bodied junior (6’4”, 215 pounds) is so good with the ball in his hands and also incredibly good at finding the soft spots in coverage. He has a knack for adjusting his routes when necessary. To be entirely unanalytical: he’s just got a great feel for the game.
Johnston is certainly fast enough and arm tackles just aren’t going to cut it when trying to bring down the big man.
3. Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Ohio State
I won’t knock JSN too much for the hamstring injury that has slowed his junior season. But it hasn’t helped as other players have continued to ascend up draft boards. Smith-Njigba can be a problem from the slot at the next level and could find himself the favorite target of a QB based on his ability to get open, spatial awareness, and how he continues to get open for them when the play collapses.
My #1 WR prospect for the 2023 NFL Draft:
Ohio State WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba
6’0 197lbs 4.4 40
A polished route runner with serious after the catch playmaking ability.
Get this… 94 catches 1,606 yards as the #3 WR behind Olave and Wilson last year..
— Jared Tokarz (@JaredNFLDraft) June 27, 2022
I will knock JSN slightly for his speed. It would greatly improve his draft stock if he could blow the top off of defenses, but that isn’t the case. Great route running and excellent footwork help him create space to make up for this.
4. Kayshon Boutte, LSU
Boutte isn’t having the exact season a potential first-round pick should, but he does continue to show flashes of the guy we expect him to be. He’s a playmaker with the ball in his hands and is very efficient in how he runs his routes. Boutte is a field stretcher with excellent speed, but will need to improve on his concentration down the field. Contested balls can sometimes be an issue.
5. Rashee Rice, SMU
Rice is a quick riser in the dynasty communities as the SMU wideout climbs draft boards and continues to lead the nation in receiving yards. He has great hands and good body control that allows him to put himself in the best position to make a play. At 6-foot-2, his impressive size and speed is evident on tape, even if he’s not playing top-notch SEC opponents week-after-week. Rice is prone to the occasional drop, but the man is going to make plays on the ball and down the field as a legitimate vertical threat.
Others To Keep an Eye On
- Josh Downs, UNC
- Cedric Tillman, Tennessee
- A.T. Perry, Wake Forest
- Zay Flowers, Boston College
- Jermaine Burton, Alabama
- Marvin Mims, Oklahoma
- Dontay Demus Jr., Maryland
- Parker Washington, Penn State