Our analysts have put together fantasy football outlooks for all fantasy-relevant players. You can find them on our player pages and via our Expert Consensus Rankings (ECR). These will be updated throughout the preseason to help you navigate your fantasy football drafts utilizing our bevy of tools, including our FREE draft simulator and cheat sheet creator. We’ll cover players in different groups to help you identify those to target and others to avoid. Let’s take a look at rookie wide receivers who are likely to have an impact in redraft fantasy football leagues this season.
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Fantasy Football Impact Rookie Wide Receivers to Target
Here are 2023 fantasy football outlooks for impact rookie wide receivers.
Since Jaxon Smith-Njigba was announced as the Seahawks’ pick in the NFL Draft, worries have been circulating about Seattle’s usage of three wide receiver sets and his target share with D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett. These are valid concerns, but before I push back against them, let’s discuss Smith-Njigba as a talent. In 2021 he was first in yards per route run and first in PFF receiving grade (minimum 50 targets per PFF) while drawing a 22.7% target share alongside Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave. Smith-Njigba gets typecast as a low aDOT player, but he has also shown the ability to win downfield. In 2021 he was ninth in yards per route run and tied for first in PFF’s deep receiving grade (minimum 15 deep targets per PFF). Smith-Njigba is an elite-level prospect. With that said, I have a hard time believing the Seahawks burnt a first-round pick on a player they don’t plan to feature, so I believe they will run a ton of 11 personnel in 2023. Regarding the subject of target share, Smith-Njigba can put those concerns to rest quickly and hit the ground running as the second option in this passing attack. While I don’t want to take anything away from Tyler Lockett, he hasn’t been a high-end target earner. Over the last four seasons, he’s never ranked higher than 36th in target per route run rate. The addition of Smith-Njigba can allow Lockett to return to stretching the field. Since 2019 he’s ranked top-12 in deep targets twice. Last year he logged the second-lowest aDOT of his career and the lowest YAC per reception mark. Smith-Njigba should garner targets early and often in 2023. Draft him and enjoy.
Last year Adam Thielen earned a 17.0% target share and 107 targets. He did this while ranking outside the top 55 wide receivers in yards per route run and route win rate (per Playerprofiler.com). Why can’t a talented first-round wide receiver match (or easily exceed) these volume numbers in his first season? Addison can. He absolutely can. Addison has ranked 22nd or higher in yards per route run and PFF receiving grade in each of his last two collegiate seasons (minimum 50 targets per PFF). The Vikings were third in neutral passing rate and second in red zone passing rate last season. I don’t see them dropping outside the top 5-10 teams this season in either category. Addison could be a WR2 in fantasy if he can pass T.J. Hockenson in the target pecking order.
Ok. Deep breath. Here’s the list of injuries Mike Williams has sustained since entering the NFL: herniated disk, knee strain, back spasms, hamstring strain, hip flexor strain, high ankle sprain (twice), and transverse process fracture. I bring this up because Quentin Johnston could be operating as the Chargers’ WR2 sooner rather than later. That type of upside in his rookie season shouldn’t be ignored in an offensive system that could challenge for the league lead in passing attempts and play volume. Even if he doesn’t supplant Williams this season, Johnston offers this offense a different element as a RAC specialist. Last year Johnston ranked sixth in YAC per reception and 11th in missed tackles forced (minimum 50 targets per PFF). Kellen Moore can design looks for Justin Herbert to get Johnston the ball in space and let him do his thing.
Flowers should immediately be starting in three wide receiver sets in Baltimore opposite Rashod Bateman and Odell Beckham Jr. in the Ravens’ new-look passing attack under Todd Monken. With Greg Roman gone, Baltimore should usher in a new era of football with Lamar Jackson‘s arm doing the talking. The drastic changes incoming for the Ravens could open some eyes. The first could be the offensive pace and play volume, which means more passing attempts and targets for these receiving options. In three of Monken’s last four seasons as an offensive mastermind, he’s ranked inside the top 12 (eighth, 11th, fourth) in neutral script pace. Over that span, he was also top-five in passing attempts twice. If Beckham doesn’t look like his old self and Bateman doesn’t fully bounce back from last season’s foot injury woes, Flowers could be the number two target in this aerial attack. Flowers can play inside and the perimeter as a receiver that can win at every level of the field. Flowers is a WR4 that can handily outplay his ADP if things break his way.
Sean Payton traded up in the second round of the NFL Draft to take the talented rookie from Oklahoma. Mims closes his collegiate career with a 94th percentile yards per reception and 96th percentile breakout age. Mims can work underneath and take the top off defenses with his 4.38 speed. He can also play above the rim with exceptional leaping ability and body control. Mims could be fighting for playing time with Tim Patrick from the outset, but it’s possible he hops him on the depth chart and becomes a full-time starter immediately with a strong camp and preseason. Mims is a fantastic WR5 draft pick to stash on your bench. He could be a stretch-run hero and difference-maker in the fantasy playoffs if this offense bounces back from last year’s pitiful showing.
The Green Bay passing attack is wide open after Christian Watson. Reed will be a starter immediately and should have no problems hopping Romeo Doubs in the pecking order. Reed is a good fit for this offensive system with his strong lower half and YAC ability. He should allow easy completions for Jordan Love with the talent to do something with the ball in his hands. He flashed better route running chops at the Senior Bowl in Mobile than I gave him credit for after examining his college film. Grab him at the end of your drafts. He’s worth a stash and hold to see how this Packer offense unfolds. He could easily be a weekly flex play that pays huge dividends as we move through the fantasy season.
He is a talented rookie wide receiver drafted in the second round of the NFL Draft and now finds himself tied to Patrick Mahomes. Where have I heard this before? Oh, that’s right. Skyy Moore stole my heart last year, only to be limited weekly by Andy Reid. Just because I (and many others) were burned last year doesn’t mean I’m shying away from Rice. That worry and recency bias will keep many from pressing the button when on the clock in fantasy drafts. His risk will likely be baked into his ADP, so the worries should be factored in. Rice is a zone coverage destroyer who could take over for Chief JuJu Smith-Schuster‘s role in this offense. He has experience playing both the perimeter and slot extensively. Last year he ranked first in PFF receiving grade against zone and third in yards per route run against the coverage type (minimum 20 zone targets per PFF). Rice produced a 64th percentile college dominator and 96th percentile collegiate target share at SMU. If Kadarius Toney and Skyy Moore aren’t up to operating as Mahomes’ number two target, don’t rule out Rice to seize the opportunity.