Welcome to the 2022 edition of the Fantasy Football Rookie Snapshot NFL draft series! In this space, fantasy football expert Liz Loza will analyze the incoming class of first-year stars and gauge their impact — be it immediate or latent — on our fake football game.
Liz has profiled the top five prospects at the wide receiver position — Treylon Burks, Garrett Wilson, Drake London, Chris Olave and Jameson Williams — but what about the rest of the talent available?
What do we make of the Wild Card wide receiver prospects?
Meet all five of them below!
Jahan Dotson, WR, Penn State
Size: 5-foot-11 and 181 pounds
Age: 22-years-old (3/22/2000)
Bio: Dotson was born in Jersey but attended high school in Pennsylvania about 40 minutes north of Allentown. He was a three-sport athlete at Nazareth High School where he lettered in basketball, track and football. Ranked the No. 139 prospect overall, Dotson initially committed to UCLA, but changed his mind and decided to stay close to home.
The four-star recruit started four games as a true freshman, but it wasn’t until 2020 that the Lions truly felt his impact. As a junior Dotson emerged as Penn State’s leading receiver and would go on to have his name written all over the school’s record books. He closed out his college career one of just 10 Nittany Lions to clear 2,000 career receiving yards.
Pros: Best hands in the class (only 2 drops on 138 targets as a senior), diverse route tree, productive at all three levels of the field
Cons: Slight frame/build, below-average play strength
NFL Comp: Tyler Lockett
Fantasy Fit: Dotson has the best hands in this year’s class. I imagine there being a thwoom sound each time a ball is plucked out of the air and sucked into the 22-year-old’s grasp. He may not be the biggest or fastest (42nd percentile size-adjusted speed score) prospect, but he is the most refined. Not because he’s overly conservative but because he’s polished. Recording 25 TDs (the second-most by a Big 10 WR since 2019), Dotson successfully worked all three levels of the field at State College.
Given his mistake-free playing style, I think Dotson could make a significant fantasy impact in his first year. He might not be a Week 1 FF starter, but after injuries pile up and depth charts settle, Dotson should have a chance to shine. His 2022 effort could look a lot like Elijah Moore’s did last year. Dotson has the pro-readiness and technical skill to offer flex production … regardless of landing spot.
Jalen Tolbert, WR, South Alabama
Size: 6-foot-1 and 195 pounds
Age: 23-years-old (2/27/1999)
Bio: It’s been Sweet Home Alabama since birth for Tolbert, who was born and raised in Mobile. A three-sport athlete at McGill–Toolen Catholic, he excelled at basketball, baseball and football. Not named a starter until his senior year, the former Yellow Jacket earned a two-star rating out of high school. Despite fetching scholarship offers from numerous schools — including Vanderbilt, Michigan State, and Memphis — Tolbert committed to South Alabama. He spent five seasons (redshirted as a freshman after an early season injury) suiting up for the Jaguars, earning Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year honors in 2021.
Pros: Ideal size for the position, excellent leaping ability, long strider with deceptive speed
Cons: Raw route runner, concentration issues (7 drops in 2021), put up big numbers versus a lower level of competition
NFL Comp: (a faster) Paul McRoberts (if you know, you know)
Fantasy Fit: Tolbert knows how to produce. He recorded seven games over 100 yards in 2021 and averaged 3.16 yards per route run. Utilizing stretch and speed, the 23-year-old shined as a deep threat. He’s a wonderfully fluid player who has the body control and ball skills to make acrobatic catches. While his athleticism is undeniable, his game is missing precision, which will likely prevent him from starting at the onset of his professional career.
Given that he’s coming from a smaller school and noting he’s dealt with concentration issues, I don’t see him making a sizable fantasy splash in 2022. There’s a chance that he could produce in a Josh Palmer-esque way in his first year, working as a sneaky end-zone weapon in the stead of a starter. However, given that the position is so deep and the jump to the pros is so steep, it’s hard to imagine him receiving enough regular meaningful reps to immediately ROI for fantasy purposes.
David (Kyreem) Bell, WR, Purdue
Size: 6-foot-1 and 209 pounds
Age: 21-years-old (12/14/2000)
Bio: Born and raised in Indianapolis, Bell was a standout athlete at Warren Central. He helped lead the Warriors’ basketball and football teams to state championships. In 2018, he was named the Gatorade State Player of the Year and the Indianapolis Star Male Athlete of the Year. Bell received offers from 18 schools — including Ohio State and Indiana — but committed quickly to Purdue.
Bell became an instant star in West Lafayette, starting as a true freshman and being named Big Ten Freshman of the Year at the end of 2019. His production (and the accolades) only continued over the next two seasons, as Bell remained the team’s top target. He wrapped up his college career as a Biletnikoff Award finalist with 232 grabs for nearly 3,000 yards and 21 receiving scores.
Pros: Physical player with dukes after the catch, has the balance and body control to break tackles and elude defenders, versatile player with experience producing at all levels of the field
Cons: Lacks high-end speed, inconsistent route runner
NFL Comp: Mohamed Sanu at his floor and Davante Adams at his ceiling
Fantasy Fit: It’s trite to say a prospect just plays “tough,” but Bell … well … just plays tough. He doesn’t have sky-high measurables but he makes up for it in grit and effort, as evidenced by the 41 contested catches (WR1, ahead of Drake London) he’s recorded since 2019. In constant motion — effectively utilizing head fakes, stutter steps and stiff arms — Bell efforts his way into regular production, breaking arm tackles and side-stepping ankle tackles along with way.
While the 21-year-old projects to be a possession receiver at the next level, he’s only 21-years-old, leaving plenty of room for his game to evolve. In the right spot, he could thrive as a high-floor No. 2, maybe even growing into a Z-receiver role, a la Anquan Boldin.
His style of play is on-brand for the Bears. Were he to land in Chicago, his projected volume would put him inside the top-35/40 fantasy players at the position.
Christian Watson, WR, North Dakota State
Size: 6-foot-4 and 208 pounds
Age: 22-years-old (5/12/1999)
Bio: Football is in Watson’s blood. His father, Tim Watson, played safety in the NFL from 1993-1997. His brother, Tre, played linebacker at the collegiate level (Illinois and Maryland). That explains why Christian began his career on the defensive side of the ball, playing safety before converting full-time to receiver. While at Henry B. Plant High School, Watson also excelled in track and field, running a 4.44 40-yard dash (speed remains a massive part of his game). Still, the Tampa Bay native only received a two-star rating and a single scholarship — to North Dakota State — which he took.
Watson spent five seasons with the Bisons (redshirting his first year in ND). In 2019, he emerged as Trey Lance’s favorite target, leading the team in catches and yards (34-732-6) and earning second-team All-Missouri Valley Football Conference honors. The following season, Watson continued to dominate, being named All-Missouri Valley Football Conference first-team wide receiver and second-team return specialist. In 2021, with Lance in the NFL, Watson recorded his most productive effort, managing 43 grabs for 800 yards and 7 TDs while finishing fourth in NDSU history with an average of 20.38 yards per reception.
Pros: Ideal height and build for the position, excellent in contested situations, added value on special teams (ranked ninth in NDSU history with 686 kickoff return yards, two kickoff return TDs tied the school record)
Cons: Lacks polish/nuance, limited route tree, struggled with drops (career drop rate of 12.7%)
NFL Comp: Marquez Valdes-Scantling
Fantasy Fit: Watson has the burst to effectively climb the ladder, and the length to dominate 50/50 balls. He showed out at the Senior Bowl and crushed the Combine, earning a max-99 athleticism score from Next Gen Stats. From jaw-dropping testing numbers to undeniable growth over his college career, the Tampa native’s stock is on the rise.
That said, he’s a bit of a project. I’d imagine his initial contribution to a pro squad would be via special teams (he averaged 26.38 yards per kickoff return at NDSU). Even if the stars align over narrative street and Watson reunites with his former QB in San Francisco … the reps won’t be consistent enough for him to produce for FF on a weekly basis. Even if he lands in Green Bay (which my colleague Eric Edholm said was likely on the Rookie Snapshot Pod earlier this week) the drop issues will likely stifle his immediate ascent.
Skyy Moore, WR, Western Michigan
Size: 5-foot-10 and 190 pounds
Age: 21-years-old (9/10/2000)
Bio: Moore isn’t just a multi-sport athlete — dominating as the point guard on his high school basketball team — but also played numerous positions on the same team. From QB to DB, the Pennsylvania native was utilized in a number of ways before arriving at WMU. Upon becoming a Bronco, he made a final switch to WR and the rest is, as they say, college football history. In 2021, with just two years of experience at the position, Moore beasted with a 95-1,292-10 stat line and earned All-MAC first-team honors.
Pros: Excellent ball tracker with the quicks and body control to catch on the run, natural hands (only 7 career drops), electric and tough after the catch
Cons: Below average height/size, limited route tree, faced a lower level of competition
NFL Comp: Golden Tate
Fantasy Fit: Moore seems to take everything in stride. With sticky hands and quick feet, he is reliable at the catch point and after it. That dependability is why he’ll hear his name called before the weekend. His best-case scenario — from a fantasy perspective — is to land on a team that’s already fairly stacked. For example, he’d be a perfect fit for a team like the Bills that has playmakers at the perimeter but needs a technician to fill the Emmanuel Sanders role (and eclipse Jamison Crowder), bringing stable cohesion to the corps.
Were that to happen, Moore would be worth stashing with a later-round fantasy draft pick.
Engage with Liz on social @LizLoza_FF