This is article five of the rookie reactions series. After this one there is only one more to go! In my last piece, I wrote about the first half of the rookie wide receivers and their dynasty futures. This article wrapping up the wide receiver position will focus on the other top names.
Drake London, ATL
The overall passing offense from the Atlanta Falcons this past season was horrific. They were 31st in the NFL in both completions per game and passing yards per game, beating only the Chicago Bears, who were dead last in both of those categories. Even so, when looking at London, you will see he was able to put together an impressive rookie campaign. He showcased some real potential, and managed 82 catches for 866 yards and four touchdowns.
Atlanta’s current starter is likely to be 2022 rookie Desmond Ridder. He and London did show a great bond – he had 36 targets, 25 catches, and 330 yards, finishing no lower than WR36 in PPR scoring in any of those last four games that Ridder started for the team. As both step into their second year, their play will likely only get better.
The Falcons do have a challenger for Ridder: they recently signed former Washington Commanders quarterback Taylor Heinicke. This past year, the veteran was 11th in the NFL in intended air yards per attempt, and fifth in the NFL in completed air yards per attempt. While playing risky as he does can lead to turnovers, for fantasy football, he is very helpful to the wide receiver position. His risky play last season boosted Terry McLaurin’s fantasy football value significantly. He averaged over 16 fantasy points per game in 2022 in the games Heinicke started, while averaging significantly less with other starters.
It will likely be less than optimal this season, but the quarterback position for the Falcons is a huge concern for his fantasy value in the future too. If Ridder does not pan out, the 2024 free-agent quarterback class is extremely weak. Additionally, their team looks like it will be good enough to win six-eight games, which might keep them out of the range of Caleb Williams, or one of the other great quarterbacks in the 2024 class unless they make a big trade up.
If the Falcons are unable to find a great quarterback, we could sadly see London’s career go down the drain similar to how McLaurin’s has. The talent is there, but due to the poor play at quarterback and the monster in Kyle Pitts alongside him, we never get to see the true fantasy ceiling. When looking at dynasty, I think he is valued by most managers similar to an early or mid-first-round rookie pick in a superflex league, which seems very reasonable. Finding a great trade option either way with him may be difficult.
Christian Watson, GB
Coming out of college, Watson was a highly debated prospect. Standing at 6’5”, 210 pounds, and running a 4.36-second 40-yard dash, he appeared to be an extremely gifted athlete. However, he was never able to put up elite numbers in a small school in North Dakota State, never beating 800 receiving yards in a season. As a result, there were major concerns about how much he could really do statistically in the NFL.
In his last eight games played, he was on a 17-game pace of 1,111 yards, and an unsustainable 14 touchdowns. He was able to put this up with Jordan Love and Aaron Rodgers both getting some playing time, competing against some pretty tough NFL defenses. He showed flashes of being a true number one wide receiver with yards after the catch ability, showing elite abilities inside the red zone, and being able to take on a total of 52 targets in his last eight games.
This off-season, Green Bay have clearly shown that they trust him. They got rid of Robert Tonyan and Allen Lazard, both relevant pass catchers in their offense, and have not done anything showing they do not believe in Watson as a number one wide receiver.
Many are worried how Jordan Love will execute the offense in Green Bay if Aaron Rodgers leaves, which right now seems likely. I would not be too worried about Watson there – he is set up for so many targets that even if Love is a step down from Rodgers, it will not matter much. A younger quarterback who may potentially be struggling is going to quickly click with a target like Watson.
He has shown us everything we want to see, and the Packers are showing nothing but full trust in him in their moves so far. That is why I am willing to pay the price for him. Not only would I give a first-round pick for him, I am willing to give up a top-five rookie pick for him in a superflex league, which means I would likely be giving up Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Jahmyr Gibbs, or Anthony Richardson for him. Obviously, shoot to pay less, but he is someone I am willing to take that shot on in dynasty because everything points to him having a massive year two and jumping into the top-tier wide receiver conversation.
Jahan Dotson, WAS
Given the situation around him, Dotson had a very solid rookie season, putting up 523 yards and seven touchdowns in only 12 games played. He had a few really great plays this season, had a 105-yard outing down the stretch, and really showed off potential throughout his rookie season.
He is definitely talented and in the right situation would make a fantasy football impact, but will that situation ever be there? The Commanders are unfortunately set up to be stuck in a mediocre quarterback purgatory for a while. Head coach Ron Rivera and general manager Martin Mayhew are both on the hot seat, and not willing to tank for one year to get that franchise quarterback at the top of a draft because a season like that may cost them their jobs. As a result, they are desperately trying bridge quarterback after bridge quarterback to make it to seven-to-nine wins, and keep their jobs. Just look at their quarterback play over the past three to four years. It has been brutal.
While I get why they are doing it, it is going to kill our fantasy hopes for our talented young prospect in Dotson. Terry McLaurin has been able to produce okay at best fantasy numbers for us through his career with these quarterbacks, and now that he is behind him in the target share, it is hard to say there definitely will be enough effective volume to make him a good fantasy asset.
In dynasty, he is someone I want to keep on my buy radar for during the season. If Sam Howell plays poorly, which at this point would be smart to bet on, Dotson’s dynasty value will definitely be sinking. I’d acquire him then in the hopes that one day he finds himself playing alongside a great quarterback, whether that is as a Commander or on another team.
Jameson Williams, DET
Due to his ACL tear in college, Williams was not able to play much in the season. He caught one pass, but that one pass was an excellent 41-yard touchdown. We can look at his stats and watch his film when he was with the Crimson Tide, and see his clearly a game-changer. His fastest-ever speed in college was at 23 miles per hour, which has only been hit by two players in the NFL since 2016. If he is able to recover well from his ACL tear, he will be able to be a huge difference-maker due to his speed.
Jared Goff has been labeled as a player who cannot and is reluctant to throw deep, but Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson definitely changed that. Goff had his highest yards per attempt since 2018, and was fifth in the NFL in yards per attempt in 2022 with 7.6. Also, the Lions were top five in the league in both 20+ and 40+ yard passing plays this season.
The Lions clearly showed interest in passing the ball down the field, and they did it in the same season they drafted Williams 12th overall in the NFL Draft. After more time off the ACL tear, he will be more ready to make a huge impact as the clear number two option behind Amon-Ra St. Brown this coming season as a dangerous threat down the field. The Lions are going to need him and he is going to be given a big opportunity.
His fantasy value may be a bit up and down weekly due to his explosiveness, but he is definitely a player to be optimistic about in dynasty fantasy football. His opportunity with the Lions and this offensive scheme is massive, so definitely go to the Williams manager in your league and see what you can get. Speaking from experience, it may be difficult to acquire him but it is definitely worth attempting.
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- Dynasty Focus: Trey Lance - April 21, 2023
- 2022 Rookie Tight End Reactions - April 17, 2023