The Rookie Reactions are officially halfway through! The running backs and the quarterbacks are done, so now it is time for the wide receivers. There are many interesting dynasty fantasy football futures to write about. This article will specifically focus some of the top wideouts.
Garrett Wilson, NYJ
Wilson had nothing short of a productive rookie season, finishing as the offensive rookie of the year. He had just over 1,100 receiving yards, four touchdowns, and was one of the bright spots on the miserable New York Jets offense with Mike White and Zach Wilson as the two main starting quarterbacks. The talent he flashed in his rookie year proved he could be a top-tier wide receiver in this league.
The future of the Jets’ offense looks very bright as well. As long as the recovery process goes to plan, Breece Hall is set up to take a jump in 2023. A new and improved quarterback should be starting for the Jets this coming season as well. Reports suggest it may well be Aaron Rodgers, and we all know what he can do for fantasy receivers. Wilson is put in a position to be the dominant number-one wide receiver in what should be an improved offense next year.
Trading for him is going to be tough. Most managers who own him are going to be reluctant to move him. He has established himself as a top-ten receiver in dynasty, and many managers like myself value him even more than that. The Jets’ quarterback situation is still questionable at the moment. Once we get confirmation on who the QB will be and the upgrade he has gotten, his value in dynasty could be shot up so high that trading for him will be beyond impossible. So if you want to pay up for a share, the longer you wait, the more difficult it will be to acquire him.
Chris Olave, NO
Even while playing in one of the worst offenses in the NFL this past year, Olave was able to put together an impressive rookie season with 72 catches, 1,042 yards, and four touchdowns. He showed some major flashes all over the field throughout his rookie campaign, creating some highlights that dropped jaws. He even put up a 147-yard game in week three against the Carolina Panthers.
Along with that, he also displayed extreme versatility, which in today’s NFL is huge. He took 312 outside snaps and put up 550 yards, and turned 286 slot snaps into 492 yards, according to RotoWire.
The main concern with Olave is the surrounding offense around him. He played with mediocre-at-best quarterbacks and Alvin Kamara‘s fading effectiveness, and his legal situation makes him look more and more concerning by the day.
The offense could potentially be fixed heading into 2023. Former Raiders’ quarterback Derek Carr signed a four-year deal with the Saints. While I do not personally see his long-term deal as the best option for the team, it does give us fantasy football players some real hope for Olave. We know he can stretch the field, and now he has a quarterback in Carr who has proven to be one of the better deep-ball throwers in the entire league. Carr will move this offense better, which keeps Olave out there on the field catching passes, getting first downs, and taking trips to the red zone.
There are a couple of worries due to the likely lacking offense around him, but overall he is a worthwhile dynasty asset. He is a talented, and extremely versatile wide receiver with a quarterback upgrade coming his way as he is stepping into year two. I would see what the Olave manager in your league is willing to do. Some will be reluctant to sell, but if you find the right manager, you may find yourself looking at an opportunity to acquire a great wide receiver in dynasty.
George Pickens, PIT
In week three against the Browns, Pickens ran down the sideline and the ball was up in the air. He jumped backward and made a one-handed catch while positioned horizontally in the air. It was a play that will forever live as one of the best catches in history. Through the rest of the season, he had highs, lows, and more highlight plays, demonstrating tremendous skill and potential, and striking fear into the NFL teams that may have passed on him in the NFL Draft. Not only did he show immense talent, but his attitude and swagger on the field is unmatched. Having that fierce competitor in the locker room is something that will be admired in most cases. He ended the season with 52 catches for 801 yards and four touchdowns.
He clearly showed a relationship with Kenny Pickett, who will likely be the starter for Pittsburgh for at least the 2023 season, and possibly further as well. As I mentioned in the quarterback reactions article, Pickett came on in the last half of the season. He took advantage and put up solid numbers, showing major flashes along the way. He averaged just under 55 yards per game and scored three touchdowns in his last eight games.
He holds plenty of potential, but as I have hinted at, there are also some risks involved in this equation. At times in his football career, he has shown to be extremely inconsistent. There are plenty of games where he made one or two big plays but was otherwise quiet. Adding on, he has only had two games with eight or more catches in his entire college and NFL career so far. He rarely showed up and took over a game like you see the top receivers in this league do.
One more small concern with him to at least keep in the back of your mind is his health, physically and mentally. I do not like to predict injuries, but his fierce and aggressive play style could end up punishing his body if he is not careful enough. We have already seen this in his college career, and it could bleed into his pro career. Adding on, he got in quite a few fights with other players in his college days and was even seen showing frustration with the Steelers’ coaches this past season. I love some attitude, and to an extent, his team will love it too, but being unable to hold that in check at times can lead to problems.
Even with slight concerns, buy into Pickens and the potential he holds. Some managers will not want to trade him away, but if you can find a reasonable deal to be made, pursue it aggressively. You may look back and be very grateful you traded for #14 before a big year two.
Treylon Burks, TEN
After being selected in round one of the NFL Draft to replace AJ Brown, Burks had a rough off-season. He dealt with many breathing issues, missing several practices, and not getting many positive comments from the coaching staff. Even with all of that, he still put together an impressive rookie year showing some major flashes of being an alpha number-one wide receiver in an offense. He dealt with injuries, and never was able to have a full reliable six to eight-game stretch of being truly healthy, so we were only left with small flashes.
While not having much of a rookie year to work with, we can look at the future with a lot of hope. While he did not fully prove it, he did show major flashes of being a true dominant number-one wide receiver in the NFL. Looking at history, those kinds of flashes from a rookie rarely turn into nothing.
Ryan Tannehill seems likely to be the starter this season, but there will be a big question mark on who the quarterback of the Tennesee Titans will be in future years. The Titans are trying to start a bit of a rebuild. They have been cutting and trying to trade veterans on their team, including superstar running back Derrick Henry. It is a possibility that this is happening so they may be able to pick their new franchise quarterback in the 2024 NFL Draft. As long as they hit on that draft pick, Burks could potentially be a huge beneficiary.
The quarterback position is a big question mark, but when looking at dynasty I want to bet on him. The talent he flashed as a rookie was impressive and I would expect a big year-two jump. If Henry is in fact traded, the offense is set up to essentially run through him. If you can buy in for a mid to late first-round rookie pick or a player around that value in a superflex, which I have seen done, that sounds like a good plan to me. The capabilities of being a true alpha wide receiver present a lot of upside in fantasy football, and Burks has shown us that he may just have it.
Thank you for taking the time to read through this article, I greatly appreciate it. Come back next time for more rookie wide receivers.
- 2022 Rookie Wide Receiver Reactions: Part One - March 16, 2023
- 2022 Rookie Running Back Reactions: Part Two - March 6, 2023
- 2022 Rookie Running Back Reactions: Part One - February 20, 2023