15 Rookies Who Can Make an Immediate Fantasy Impact in 2022

May 01, 2022
15 Rookies Who Can Make an Immediate Fantasy Impact in 2022

The 2022 NFL Draft is over, so now it’s time for me to retreat to the rankings cave and develop the first iteration of 4for4’s official projections. But first, let’s run down the rookies that could make an immediate impact this season. For redraft purposes, I’m mainly interested in players who will (or could) start or play a significant part-time role this season.


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I’ll go position-by-position and run down my favorite rookies and landing spots. The first section will be dedicated to those rookies best positioned to make an immediate impact, though I’ll discuss a number of “dark horse” rookies in the section below. I’ll also include an opportunity grade for each player. When discussing receivers, I’ll refer to Matt Harmon’s excellent analysis at Reception Perception.

First, a few notes:

  • In this draft, six receivers were selected between the eighth and 18th pick. Since 2010, receivers drafted in that range who played 12+ games have averaged 52 catches for 742 yards and 4.5 touchdowns. That equates to high-end WR4 production, on average, though there have been some outliers. Odell Beckham (91-1305-12), CeeDee Lamb (74-935-5), and DeVonta Smith (64-916-5) finished with 900+ yards receiving.

  • Since 2010, the 26 rookie receivers drafted in the first round with 12+ games played averaged 57 catches for 801 yards and 5.1 touchdowns, on average. That equates to low-end WR3 production. Ten of the 26 wideouts (39%) cleared 900 yards receiving.

  • In that span, the 32 rookie receivers drafted in the second round with 12+ games played averaged 43 catches for 572 yards and 4.1 touchdowns. That equates to fantasy WR5 production. Just four of the 32 wideouts (13%) cleared 900 yards receiving.

  • Since 2010, the 23 rookie running backs drafted in the second round who played at least 12 games averaged 189 touches for 709 yards rushing, 220 yards receiving, and 5.8 total touchdowns. That equates to low-end RB2/high-end RB3 production. Six of the 23 backs (26%) rushed for at least 900 yards.

Impact Rookies

Quarterbacks

  • Kenny Pickett (A) landed in a very good spot. Mitch Trubisky is penciled in as the starter, but Pickett could start Week 1 if he proves he’s ready this summer. The Steelers' offensive line has been decent in pass protection and he has a solid receiving corps – Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool, George Pickens, Pat Freiermuth, and Najee Harris – to throw to. My rookie quarterback model projects that he’ll rush for 15.9 yards per game as a pro, so he has the ability to raise his fantasy floor by running the ball occasionally. If he wins the starting job he could work his way into the QB2/streaming conversation fairly quickly.

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