About two years ago, Ja’Marr Chase, a newcomer to the Cincinnati Bengals, nearly single-handedly propelled numerous fantasy football managers to victory with his record-breaking entrance into the NFL. This highlighted the remarkable impact rookies can have in this position.
Over the last five seasons, a total of 24 rookie pass catchers have achieved either over 800 receiving yards or seven touchdowns. Ja’Marr Chase stood out by leading this group with an impressive 1,455 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns in the 2021 season. Other rookies like Justin Jefferson and A.J. Brown also brought joy to fantasy managers who had faith in them, showcasing exceptional debut performances.
As we move into the current year, new faces like Zay Flowers and Jaxon Smith-Njigba are poised to gain national recognition among fantasy managers. Based on recent trends, they are likely to be joined by several other rookies who will make a significant impact in the realm of fantasy football.
Here’s a list of the top 10 rookie wide receivers to consider drafting for the 2023 fantasy football season:
Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Seattle Seahawks
Many experts rank Jaxon Smith-Njigba ahead of Flowers as the season approaches, and the reasoning is valid. These two are virtually interchangeable in their positions atop this list. Hailing from Ohio State, Smith-Njigba showcased promise by amassing 95 receptions for 1,606 yards in 2021, despite a hamstring injury impacting his final college year. He’s now fully recovered and ready to reclaim his peak performance.
However, Smith-Njigba starts the year behind reliable receivers DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett in the depth chart. Additionally, quarterback Geno Smith’s offensive orchestration might be slightly less dependable compared to what Flowers will have with Lamar Jackson. Smith-Njigba is likely to have a solid first year, but the question remains whether his potential upside is high enough to make him the premier rookie receiver choice.
Zay Flowers, Baltimore Ravens
Zay Flowers presents an appealing profile for NFL success and finds himself in a favorable situation with the Baltimore Ravens. The team’s top two wide receivers, Rashod Bateman and Odell Beckham Jr., have histories of injuries, potentially providing Flowers with ample opportunities, even when these players are on the field. Flowers can thrive in offensive sets that utilize three wide receivers and cause damage.
Flowers displayed his prowess at Boston College last year, racking up an impressive 78 receptions for 1,077 yards. These numbers are particularly remarkable given his school’s modest offensive ranking. Despite being the primary threat for the Eagles, Flowers consistently produced. Transitioning from a challenging quarterback situation to former MVP Lamar Jackson marks a significant upgrade, potentially unlocking the rookie’s full potential. Ravens’ head coach John Harbaugh expressed excitement about Flowers’ growth and abilities.
Quentin Johnston, Los Angeles Chargers
Having a quarterback like Justin Herbert throwing passes to your fantasy football receivers offers a sense of security on most game weeks. Quentin Johnston, drafted by the Chargers after Smith-Njigba and Flowers, stands to benefit from Herbert’s strong arm. His role as the third-choice receiver for Herbert may evolve positively throughout the season, especially with Keenan Allen and Mike Williams prone to injuries.
At 6 feet 4 inches, Johnston possesses substantial touchdown potential. He secured 16 touchdown receptions during his time at TCU, although one could argue that he could have caught even more in college.
Jordan Addison, Minnesota Vikings
Despite experiencing a challenging offseason, which included a well-publicized speeding incident, Jordan Addison’s potential was recognized by the Vikings, who selected him in the first round. Addison’s remarkable record of 29 touchdowns in just 34 college games, combined with his versatility in also handling rushing plays, demonstrates his potential. Given Adam Thielen’s success as a fantasy standout when Justin Jefferson debuted in the NFL, the question arises whether Addison can now step into the role of Jefferson’s viable co-star.
Rashee Rice, Kansas City Chiefs
Patrick Mahomes’ presence elevates Rashee Rice’s status in the fantasy football landscape. The question lingers: where will Mahomes’ MVP-level passes be directed? With potential absences from oft-injured Kadarius Toney and the departure of other receivers, the outlook becomes uncertain. Despite the unpredictability in how Andy Reid deploys young players, Rice’s opportunity to shine in an elite passing game makes him an intriguing, albeit risky, late-round choice.
Marvin Mims Jr., Denver Broncos
Marvin Mims Jr. faces some uncertainty due to an undisclosed injury. Nevertheless, his situation appears more favorable than that of certain Broncos teammates. With K.J. Hamler off the roster due to a heart issue and Tim Patrick ruled out for the season, Mims Jr. has now obtained a straightforward route to regular opportunities on the field. If Russell Wilson returns to his previous form — a significant condition — Mims Jr. could effectively utilize his rapid 40-yard dash time of 4.38 seconds to effectively stretch defenses.
Jayden Reed, Green Bay Packers
Predicting Green Bay’s performance during Jordan Love’s debut season as the starting quarterback remains challenging. However, amidst this uncertainty lies a chance for Jayden Reed to make a significant impact. When healthy, Reed is expected to feature in almost every snap for the Packers. His destiny is in his hands. If one believes in Reed’s talent, selecting him becomes a reasonable decision.
READ MORE: Who Is Seattle Seahawks Quarterback?
Jalin Hyatt, New York Giants
Enthusiasm about Jalin Hyatt stems from his remarkable performance in Tennessee’s victory over Alabama last season. He secured five touchdown passes and accumulated 207 receiving yards against a defense filled with five-star recruits and All-Americans. Hyatt might embody a boom-or-bust dynamic in the early stages of his NFL career, a trait that can prove valuable as a flex option while navigating bye weeks.
Jonathan Mingo, Carolina Panthers
Even if Jonathan Mingo eventually attains greatness, impressing fantasy football managers during this season could prove difficult, as he stands as the third receiving option within a potentially struggling Panthers offense. Carolina’s decision to start quarterback Bryce Young from Week 1 might be a wise long-term strategy, but it might not provide immediate assistance to Mingo’s NFL debut. However, Mingo possesses the necessary combination of size and speed to excel in favorable matchups, as he demonstrated at Ole Miss.
READ MORE: How Fast Is Ja’Marr Chase 40-Yard Dash?
Cedric Tillman, Cleveland Browns
Confidence in Deshaun Watson’s abilities seems to have waned, leading to a decline in average fantasy draft positions for his receivers. Nonetheless, during Watson’s peak with the Houston Texans, his primary targets registered impressive statistics. Cedric Tillman, who has shown promise in preseason matches, stands as a buy-low candidate for those who have faith in Watson’s potential.
Please note that this information is subject to change based on evolving player performances and team dynamics as the 2023 fantasy football season progresses.