Best Rookies To Draft in Fantasy Football: Top WR Options Include Jordan Addison, Quentin Johnston, and Others

Just days away from the 2023 regular-season kickoff, who are a few rookie receivers who could have a significant impact for your fantasy teams this year?

Every season, a new batch of rookies becomes the enticing new toys that every fantasy football manager has to figure out. Will these rookies contribute right away? Could they be a useful addition down the stretch of the season? Am I better off with a veteran depth piece that I know has talent over the risk of a rookie?

Let’s dive into these questions as we look at some of the best options among rookie wide receivers in the 2023 class. Perhaps one of these players could be the difference for your fantasy season!

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Which Rookies Should You Consider Drafting in Fantasy?

Whenever we start going down the road of considering rookies in fantasy, we always have to remember that it can take some time to adjust to the NFL. Even Justin Jefferson (now the consensus WR1) had under 45 yards receiving in four of his first seven career games.

But keep in mind that these rookies will adjust and become relied upon by teams as the year goes on. One of the best examples in recent memory is Amon-Ra St. Brown. In the Sun God’s first 11 career games, he had 39 catches on 52 targets for 352 yards and no touchdowns.

But down the stretch of his rookie year, the Lions started to target St. Brown in droves. In the final six weeks, he finished with 51 catches on 67 targets for 560 yards and five touchdowns.

St. Brown finished as the WR2 in the final six weeks of the season, second only to Cooper Kupp in his record-setting receiving season. While you may not get the production right away from a rookie receiver, rostering them and being patient can come up huge for your fantasy playoffs and championship chances.

Let’s take a look at a few of the candidates that could be difference-makers this year.

Jordan Addison, WR, Minnesota Vikings

First up on our list is Jordan Addison. Addison is a Biletnikoff Award-winning receiver who played college ball at Pitt and USC. He was a first-round pick by the Vikings in the 2023 NFL draft.

Addison didn’t wow at the combine, but what you see on his tape is a skilled route runner and a player with great hands. And he steps into an offense that moved on from Adam Thielen, who had 107 targets a year ago. A younger and more skilled option, Addison could see a huge chunk of those vacated targets.

He also gets the benefit of playing alongside the best receiver in the NFL in Jefferson. With Jefferson often drawing double coverage (or at least extra attention), Addison will have the opportunity to be an outlet for Kirk Cousins when Jefferson is blanketed.

If you have worries about two receivers being successful in the same offense, make sure to note this: Thielen was the WR7 and WR14 in points per game (half-PPR) in Jefferson’s first two years in the league.

Cousins is more than capable of supporting two different receivers as fantasy assets. I fully expect Addison to be a target in this offense.

Addison is currently being selected in the seventh round of fantasy drafts as WR38. This seems like a great point in your drafts to take a stab at finding a difference-making WR. If he can take over in that Thielen role from years past, his value is much higher than WR38.

Quentin Johnston, WR, Los Angeles Chargers

Johnston is the wide receiver that we saw fluctuate the most in the draft process this past spring. Once considered by many as the top WR in this class, Johnston started to fall after mediocre pre-draft workouts. At one point, he was listed as the fourth or fifth-best option among wide receivers in early mocks.

But the minute Johnston landed in Los Angeles with Justin Herbert and the Chargers, the intrigue came back. And for good reason. Johnston is a big-bodied receiver that can stretch the field if he has a quarterback that can sling it. He certainly has that now.

The WR room for the Chargers is currently a bit crowded with some highly talented options, namely Keenan Allen and Mike Williams.

But those two receivers, while very talented, have been plagued with injury issues in recent memory. In the last three years, Allen and Williams combined to miss 23 starts for the Chargers, either out or hobbled by injury and on a limited snap count.

Enter Johnston as an added weapon in this offense. Johnston dealt with an ankle issue himself last season, but the wideout will likely have a role early in the Chargers offense, with a chance to expand should either Allen or Williams miss time.

One of Allen or Williams has finished as a top-12 WR in ppg each of the last four seasons. Chargers receivers are consistently fantasy-relevant. And right now, Johnston is being drafted in Round 9 as the WR47 in 1QB redraft leagues. I am absolutely willing to take a shot on a player of his caliber at this point in any of my drafts.

Marvin Mims, WR, Denver Broncos

One of my favorite sleepers in the draft process, Mims has been getting more and more hype as we get closer to the 2023 season. He has had strong camp and preseason performances, but he is also rostered on a team that is in need of his services.

The Broncos already lost veteran Tim Patrick for the second season in a row before the year even began, and Jerry Jeudy is dealing with a hamstring injury that could potentially sideline him for a few weeks at the start of the regular season. The benefactor in all of this is Mims.

Mims had a strong NFL Combine with a 4.38 40-yard dash and solid burst numbers. His tape shows a versatile receiver with impressive route running. At 5’11” and 183 pounds, Mims is not huge but actually was one of the larger receivers in what was a very small WR class in 2023.

Best Rookies To Draft in Fantasy Football: Top WR Options Include Jordan Addison, Quentin Johnston, and Others

And now Mims has a chance to make an impression early, especially if Jeudy is out. The only receiver ahead of Mims on the depth chart currently would be Courtland Sutton. On top of all of this, the Broncos face off against one of the most porous secondaries from 2022, the Las Vegas Raiders, in Week 1.

Mims has something that not many mid-round rookie receivers get early in their career: opportunity. He is a very skilled wideout who now has the chance to make an impression in Sean Payton’s offense. If he can establish himself early, he could pay off big time for fantasy teams down the stretch.

Right now, Mims is being drafted in the 16th round as the WR74 in drafts, behind names like K.J. Osborn, Rashid Shaheed, and Van Jefferson. Mims is absolutely worth a shot over names like this and is a dark horse to be a great option in the WR3/Flex slot for teams in 2023.

Michael Wilson, WR, Arizona Cardinals

This is a deeper sleeper for sure, but one that I am very interested in as we enter 2023. Michael Wilson was a third-round selection in the 2023 draft out of Stanford. While a bit of a surprise selection from where Wilson was projected in mocks, the Stanford Cardinal turned Arizona Cardinal is moving his way up the depth chart.

Of course, some of this has to do with the situation (or team) that Wilson finds himself in. The Cardinals are tanking. It’s obvious to everyone. Kyler Murray is already set to miss at least the first four games of the season. Colt McCoy was the only QB on the roster with more than two starts in the last three seasons, and he was just cut.

Meanwhile, the team has been trading away any player they can for late-round draft picks. S/LB Isaiah Simmons and OT Josh Jones both were moved just last week. The team is in a full overhaul.

With all this said, the team still has to play their 17 scheduled games in 2023. Their current WR room is Marquise Brown, Rondale Moore, Zach Pascal, and Wilson.

Some believe Wilson is already set for a starting spot in Week 1. At worst, you can expect him to have plenty of opportunities as the year moves on, and the Cardinals likely try to move Brown, who is in the last year of his current contract.

MORE: Fantasy Football Preseason Takeaways

Wilson is currently going off the board in Round 20 as the WR89. Again, this is a late sleeper. But receivers like Tyquan Thornton and Allen Robinson are going just ahead of Wilson. Wilson has a solid opportunity to get plenty of snaps and targets this year, even if the QB play isn’t expected to be outstanding.

For this reason alone, he is worth a late-round flier as a possible Flex option for teams late in the season. Even more reason is that Murray could return late in 2023 when playoff games matter for fantasy teams. If Murray returns and targets Wilson, the young WR has a ton of potential.

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