The Perfect Landing Spot for Rookies in 2022
Just as it’s essential to pick the perfect Championship Trophy to adorn your trophy case, it’s also crucial for NFL teams to find the optimal players to fit their roster. With the 2022 NFL Draft just around the corner, now is the ideal time to look at what rookies and NFL teams are a match made in heaven. So which three rookies could find a perfect landing spot for fantasy?
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These fits are based on the player’s strengths as well as the team's needs.
Rookies and the Perfect Landing Spot
Breece Hall, Running Back to the Buffalo Bills
Some fits are just no-brainers. Breece Hall to the Bills is one such fit. Despite never settling on an actual lead back until Week 15, the Bills still ranked 13th in rushing attempts per game in 2021. Following Week 14 - when the Bills gave up on the Zack Moss experience - Devin Singletary averaged 19.8 opportunities (rushing attempts + targets) over six games.
Though neither Singletary nor Moss are prolific receivers, the Bills targeted their running backs on over 15-percent of targets, which perfectly fits Hall’s skill set. Hall maintained a 10.7-percent target share with 27 receptions per season in college, placing him in the 81st percentile of all college running backs. When scouting college running backs for receiving chops, 20 per year is the magic number you want to see.
If you’re looking for touchdowns, the Bills also offer scoring opportunities. Though Josh Allen will continue to see goal-line attempts - he had seven last year - the 12 combined attempts from Moss and Singletary would have ranked seventh-most in the league. Again, this falls right into Hall’s wheelhouse, as he was an elite touchdown scorer at the college level.
The Bills averaged the fifth-highest yards per game last year, target the running back in the passing game, run at a high rate, and provide their running backs with rushing attempts at the goal-line. Hall excels in all of those areas and just happens to compare athletically to Jonathan Taylor. Nothing could be more perfect than the Bills becoming the landing spot for Hall, although the same could be said for a few rookies. Hall and the Bills are a match made in fantasy heaven.
Christian Watson, Wide Receiver to the Kansas City Chiefs
When I think of explosive offenses, I think of the Kansas City Chiefs. Their 457 offensive yards per game led the league in 2021. From 2018 through 2021, the Chiefs 238 explosive passing plays (pass plays of at least 20 yards) led the NFL. While a good bit of those plays belonged to Tyreek Hill, who now resides in Miami, these plays also speak to the Chiefs offensive mindset.
In 2021 the league decided to lock down the Kansas City offense with two high safeties, but the Chiefs still had the third most explosive plays (75), while their nine-percent explosive play rate still ranked 13th. The best way to beat this defense is by forcing the safeties to cover both vertical and underneath routes. With the signing of Juju Smith-Schuster, the Chiefs have the underneath part of this equation down and just need the vertical threat to complete the solution.
The Chiefs signed Marquez Valdes-Scantling to a “three-year” $30 million contract this off-season, but it’s only guaranteed for one year. The Chiefs can move on from MVS after the 2022 season. Even if MVS were to stay with the Chiefs, he is just an okay player who wouldn’t truly stand in the way of an elite prospect.
That elite prospect?
Christian Watson. Watson is a 6’4”, 210-pound mountain of a man who also happens to run a 4.36 40-yard dash, placing him in the 98th percentile for speed score. Explosive. Watson’s career of 18.6 yards per reception in college places him in the 89th percentile. Explosive. On 32% of Watson’s career touches, he gained at least 20 yards on the play. Explosive.
Check out some of Watson’s highlights below and tell me what word comes to mind when you watch him (hint, it’s explosive).
Smith-Schuster manning the short and intermediate routes and MVS stressing safeties as a vertical threat is a step in the right direction. However, the addition of Watson is massive and could get the Chiefs back to their explosive ways.
Garrett Wilson, Wide Receiver to the Green Bay Packers
Being a wide receiver for Aaron Rodgers can be incredibly fruitful as Jordy Nelson, Greg Jennings, James Jones, Randall Cobb, and Devante Adams can attest. Or you could end up as a complete afterthought like Equanimeous St. Brown, Geronimo Allison, and J’Mon Moore did during their careers in Green Bay—Rodgers is known to be just a tad ornery.
If you’re going to excel as a receiver with Rodgers, especially as a young receiver, you’ll need to be a technician of your craft. If one wide receiver fits that mold from this draft class, it’s Ohio State’s Garrett Wilson.
Wilson didn’t dominate the entirety of his college career. However, he did exceed the 30-percent dominator rating as a 20-year-old sophomore, and he still produced above-average receiving totals. Moreover, the production came despite sharing a receiver room with future first-round NFL draft picks Chris Olave and Jaxon Smith-Njigba.
Nearly every scouting report notes that Wilson is the most complete receiver in this class. He has good speed, with a 4.38 40-yard dash, thrives in contested catch situations (61.5-percent rate), and is the best route runner in the class. Please enjoy nine minutes of Wilson just washing dudes below:
Vacated targets aren’t a thing, but they are a thing when a good wide receiver/very good wide receiver like Wilson lands on a roster with the number of vacated targets in Green Bay. Between Adams and MVS, 224 (40-percent) of last year's targets are unaccounted for, allowing Wilson the opportunity he’ll need to succeed in year one. Green Bay could be a nice landing spot for multiple rookies, but none quite as perfect as Wilson.
The Packers need to put in some work if they want Wilson to succeed, but anything good worth having is worth working for, right?
The Packers currently own the 22nd and 28th picks in the draft. Wilson is the WR1 of this class with an expected draft position of ninth overall, per Grinding the Mocks, so they obviously need to trade up to draft Wilson. If the Packers want to make Aaron Rodgers happy (no small feat), they should do everything in their power to move up and grab the most complete wide receiver of the class.
Not All Rookies Have a Flawless Landing Spot
With adaptation to the NFL and team needs, the hope that one of your favorite rookies will find a perfect landing spot. However, players like Skyy Moore, Jahan Dotson, and Zamir White, could land with an ideal team and still have a chance to fail.
With the players above, the risk of failure with one of those teams is almost non-existent—barring injury.
If you don't want to end up with a Participation Ribbon at the end of 2022, find a way to get at least one of these guys if they are in the situations mentioned. You can't go wrong.
If you want to hear more about this rookie class, follow Shane on Twitter @ShaneistheWorst!
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