With free agency and the NFL Draft clearly in the rearview mirror, we have reached a lull in the NFL calendar. Teams have done some voluntary OTAs in preparation for when veterans will come to camp for mandatory workouts and eventually training camp. While the news is slow, this is when Fantasy Football managers will begin setting up their draft boards.
Savvy owners will get a head start on their league mates, taking in all of the information about players that are standing out early in workouts.
This is prime time for rookies to begin making a name for themselves. Earning a role in the game plan, let alone making the roster, is difficult enough. Putting some good performances on tape, even in shorts and non-contact practices, will help immensely.
Every year some rookies help Fantasy Football managers win their leagues as they are sometimes overlooked by others. Here are five rookies you must target this season in your fantasy football drafts.
5. TE Jelani Woods, Indianapolis Colts
The Indianapolis Colts filled one of their biggest holes on the roster when they selected tight end, Jelani Woods, out of Virginia with the ninth pick in the third round, No. 77 overall. He will likely split time with Mo Allie-Cox early on in the season but is someone to keep an eye on.
Allie-Cox is the only tight end on the roster right now for Indianapolis that has any NFL experience. The other five players are all rookies, but Woods was the highest-drafted one and should receive chances right off the bat.
The combination of size, length and speed that Woods brings to the table provides a ton of upside. In an offense lacking proven weapons beyond Michael Pittman Jr., Woods has a chance to break out despite tight end being notoriously difficult for rookies.
4. WR Jalen Torbert, Dallas Cowboys
The Dallas Cowboys are going to look a lot different at the wide receiver position in 2022 than they did in 2021. Amari Cooper and Cedrick Wilson Jr. are both gone, while Michael Gallup could be sidelined for half the season as he recovers from ACL surgery.
That leaves plenty of opportunities to take advantage of behind CeeDee Lamb for targets. James Washington was signed as a free agent, but the player to keep an eye on for Fantasy Football drafts is Jalen Torbert.
Torbert was a third-round pick out of South Alabama and should instantly find himself in the mix of three-receiver sets. There is a chance that he can even earn a starting spot opposite of Lamb, which would lead to plenty of production for a Fantasy Football manager.
3. RB Breece Hall, New York Jets
Running back wasn’t a pressing need for the New York Jets entering the 2022 NFL Draft, but sometimes value is just too good to pass up. That could very well be the case here, as Breece Hall was available at the top of the second round, so the Jets traded up to select him 36th overall.
Hall is a legitimate three-down back, producing as efficiently as a runner between the tackles as he does out in space or as a pass-catcher. The Jets should be able to manufacture touches for him from the get-go, as he is talented enough as a pass-catcher to be split out wide as a receiver.
There is some competition from Michael Carter at the position, but these two should be able to coexist in the same backfield. Carter would be the one pushed into a complementary role, as Hall has all of the skills to be a workhorse back should the need arise.
2. WR Christian Watson, Green Bay Packers
The Green Bay Packers lost a lot of pass-catching talent this offseason. Davante Adams was traded to the Las Vegas Raiders, while Marquez Valdes-Scantling signed with the Kansas City Chiefs as a free agent.
That leaves a ton of targets for players to pick up and the player who may see the biggest share of those is second-round pick, Christian Watson. Watson has a great combination of size and speed and is someone that Aaron Rodgers should not take long to become a big fan of.
Some aspects of his game are raw, but Watson is oozing with potential. He may be someone that starts slow but will come on as the season goes on. The path to becoming the No. 1 receiver in the Packers’ offense is there as the competition for targets is Randall Cobb, Allen Lazard and Sammy Watkins.
1. WR Drake London, Atlanta Falcons
With the 8th overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, the Atlanta Falcons selected USC wide receiver Drake London. He lands at No. 1 on this list because there may not be a rookie that will have a bigger role than London to start the season.
London will be the No. 1 receiver in the Falcons’ offense from the start. Calvin Ridley is suspended for at least the 2022 season and Russell Gage Jr. signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a free agent. That leaves London as the unquestioned go-to target, along with Kyle Pitts, especially if Cordarrelle Patterson remains at running back.
If Marcus Mariota can play well, London has Offensive Rookie of the Year potential as he will be peppered with targets from the get-go. Opportunity is key when evaluating rookies for Fantasy Football and there aren’t any that will have as many chances to produce as London.