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NFL Rookies to Watch in Week 2: Fantasy Football Dynasty and Redraft Leagues

Rachaad White - Fantasy Football Rankings, Waiver Wire Pickups, Draft Sleepers

The NFL regular season is off to an entertaining start in 2022. Incredible finishes in Cincinnati, Houston, Carolina, Atlanta, and more proved that the league is already in mid-season form when it comes to captivating viewers. Even more importantly for our purposes, the fantasy football season is back in full swing. There were certainly no shortages of heartbreaking developments or miraculous comebacks.

Rookies also made positive first impressions across the country. Atlanta's prized rookie wideout, Drake London, had a strong debut with five catches for 74 yards. Washington WR Jahan Dotson also played well in his first game as a pro; his outlook will be discussed in detail below. Other rookies, including Breece Hall, Chris Olave, and Garrett Wilson, had promising starts to their careers.

Whether you're a redraft manager or a dynasty manager, being ahead of the curve with rookie players is vital to your team's success. For that reason, each week I will be breaking down which rookies you should be watching out for. This column will be split into two parts: one pertaining to players most relevant in redraft leagues, and the other for rookies particularly worth watching in dynasty formats.

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NFL Rookies to Watch in Fantasy Football Redraft Leagues

Jaylen Warren (RB, PIT)

Jaylen Warren is an undrafted running back out of Oklahoma State. His first two years in college were spent on Utah State's roster before he transferred to the Cowboys in 2021. That is where he finally broke out, rushing for 1,216 yards and 11 touchdowns on 256 carries, leading the team to a Big 12 Conference Championship Game appearance. His 36.7 percent college dominator ranked at the 86th percentile, and he also saw a solid 8.2 percent target share (67th percentile).

Yet, he went undrafted. His athletic traits don't stand out (4.55-second 40-yard dash, 42nd percentile burst score), and at 5'8", 207 pounds, he doesn't have a large frame to overpower defenders. None of that matters if he manages to get opportunities, however, and that may very well happen this week. Pittsburgh's starting RB, Najee Harris, sustained a foot injury last week against Cincinnati. Harris is good to go for Sunday and will play, but his series of foot injuries dating back to training camp is a cause for concern for him.

That could bode well for Warren. Last week, the rookie had just three carries for seven yards. If his role gets expanded due to Harris's compromised health, though, we could see what Warren truly has to offer. The Steelers have recently given their backs heavy workloads, so Warren is one of the top players in the league to watch this week to see what his volume ends up being.

Jahan Dotson (WR, WAS)

Jahan Dotson spent four seasons with the Penn State Nittany Lions, and he improved each year. His college career culminated in a 91-catch, 1,182-yard campaign in 2021 that also saw him score 12 touchdowns. His excellent production came on an astounding 32.5% target share (96th percentile). His production, as well as his speed-related deep threat ability (4.43-second 40-yard dash), helped him become the 16th overall selection in this April's NFL Draft.

Now with the Washington Commanders, Dotson has quickly turned some heads. The rookie saw five targets in his debut against Jacksonville, catching three of them for 40 yards. Notably, two of those three catches went for touchdowns; the second score ended up being the decisive one in Washington's 28-22 victory. Dotson also carried the ball one time for a loss of 10 yards, but this rushing attempt shows the team's willingness to get him involved in multiple facets of the offense.

With his strong performance last week, Dotson became one of the hottest waiver wire targets on the market. Something to watch for from him moving forward will be if his volume increases. He won't be scoring touchdowns every game, so fantasy managers will need to see him get more targets for him to become a reliable fantasy option. For now, though, Dotson is an intriguing player who made plays from the get-go, suggesting success for the rest of his season.

Garrett Wilson (WR, NYJ)

Despite playing alongside fellow first-round receiver Chris Olave and future-first-rounder Jaxon Smith-Njigba at Ohio State, Garrett Wilson put together a strong 2021 campaign for the Buckeyes. Wilson compiled 70 catches for 1,058 yards and 12 scores last season despite the competition for targets. This, paired with his 94th percentile 40-yard dash time (4.38 seconds) and elite route-running ability, earned him buzz to be the first WR off the board in this year's NFL Draft.

Wilson was ultimately the second receiver drafted, going 10th overall to the Jets. He now joins a squad that looks to be among the worst in the league. While trailing for nearly the entirety of their opener against Baltimore last Sunday, the Jets asked quarterback Joe Flacco to pass the ball a whopping 59 times. While this high mark won't be replicated every week, New York will be in passing situations often. This is good news for Wilson in fantasy football, as he got eight passes thrown his way in his debut, catching four for 52 yards.

Several aspects of Wilson's showing are promising for the remainder of the season. His eight targets were the second-most on the team among WRs, behind just Corey Davis's nine (and ahead of Elijah Moore's seven). Three of Wilson's targets were in the red zone; only Cincinnati's Ja'Marr Chase saw more across the entire league. Wilson remains a bench player for most fantasy formats, but he has the potential to blossom into something more very quickly. Wilson and the Jets take on Cleveland on Sunday.


NFL Rookies to Watch in Fantasy Football Dynasty Leagues

Jordan Mason (RB, SF)

Like the Steelers' Jaylen Warren, San Francisco's Jordan Mason is also an undrafted rookie tailback. Mason spent his four college years at Georgia Tech, although he did not accumulate many statistics during that time. He was most productive as a sophomore, totaling 179 touches for 942 scrimmage yards and seven total touchdowns. His college dominator of 19.7% was at just the 34th percentile, and his college YPC (5.1) was merely a 38th percentile figure.

Despite this, Mason sees an opportunity to make a name for himself as a professional. In Week 1, Mason was active for the 49ers' matchup against Chicago. With fellow rookie Tyrion Davis-Price, a third-rounder, inactive for the game, this status was notable. Moreover, Mason will shift up a slot in the San Francisco backfield with starter Elijah Mitchell now sidelined with a knee issue. Mason will likely remain behind Jeff Wilson Jr. on the depth chart, but the fact remains that the undrafted rookie suddenly has a path to production.

With just a 40th percentile SPARQ-X score, Mason's not the greatest athlete in the NFL. Between that and him being undrafted out of college, dynasty managers should temper their expectations. Still, head coach Kyle Shanahan is renowned for making use of running backs with low draft capital; namely, Mitchell was just a sixth-round pick last year. If he continues to affirm his position above Davis-Price in the backfield, including this week against Seattle, his dynasty stock will rise further.

Rachaad White (RB, TB)

For a different type of dynasty prospect, consider Tampa Bay RB Rachaad White. A third-round selection from Arizona State, White was the fourth running back to be chosen. The former Sun Devil had a short college career, but he made the most of it; his 88th percentile college dominator and his 18.9% target share demonstrate just how productive he was in 2021. His 4.48-second 40-yard dash is also impressive, as is his 87th percentile burst score. White has talent that can be demonstrated both on the ground and through the air.

Now with the Buccaneers, White has garnered a fair amount of hype as a rookie. He has already established himself as the clear backup behind Leonard Fournette. His six carries for 14 yards in the opener against Dallas may have been unremarkable, but even so, he is still receiving praise from the coaching staff. Offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich in particular enjoyed the performance.

Outside of injury scenarios, White will continue as Fournette's backup. His receiving experience in college will help him carve out a substantive role despite being the number two back. His agility and acceleration are excellent, and he is on a star-studded offense at the moment. White is a strong asset in dynasty formats who may still be undervalued by his manager in your league. His showing against New Orleans this Sunday will go a long way in determining how aggressive you should be in trading for him.

Romeo Doubs (WR, GB)

The Green Bay Packers have a receiving room in flux in 2022. Davante Adams starred for Green Bay for years, but he now plays in Las Vegas after being traded to the Raiders. Marquez Valdes-Scantling was also productive for the Packers, but he too departed this offseason. These absences have created vacancies that quarterback Aaron Rodgers desperately needs players to fill. One such player is fourth-round rookie Romeo Doubs.

Doubs was very productive at Nevada, putting up consecutive 1,000-yard seasons in 2020 and 2021 as the number one option for the Wolf Pack. Now in the NFL, he was the top wide receiver for Green Bay in his debut. Doubs led the Packers' wideouts with four catches and five targets in a loss to Minnesota. While starter Allen Lazard was injured, this is still a good sign for Doubs in what should be a better offense than what they displayed. Notably, he outproduced fellow rookie Christian Watson, who also had a nasty drop on a wide-open deep route.

Doubs also drew glowing reviews from Rodgers throughout training camp, a gift that no other Green Bay receivers were afforded to such an extent. Further developing a rapport with Rodgers would result in incredible fantasy performances, and Doubs has given promising signs that he's on that track. While Rodgers won't be in the league forever, the impressions that Doubs makes now will stick with him for the rest of his career. Keep an eye on how he is targeted against Chicago on Sunday night and see if he continues to upstage Watson.

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