One of the top rookies in the NFL and fantasy football, Atlanta Falcons WR Drake London projects to be a high-upside pick as his 2022 fantasy outlook suggests he could break out as a rookie. With the NFL season and fantasy drafts closing in, what is London’s fantasy outlook in 2022, and could he prove to be a value at his current ADP?
Drake London’s fantasy outlook for 2022
Drake London can do it all. During his first two seasons at USC, London lined up in the slot 96% of the time, but he flipped to 85% perimeter in 2021 and had a breakout campaign. Accounting for 27.7% of USC’s receptions, London was as good as college football had to offer last year.
While a right ankle injury ended his season early after eight games, London made such an impact that he was voted Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year. London recorded 88 receptions for 1,084 yards and seven touchdowns. He had over 130 yards and a TD in five of his eight contests. By that time, his draft stock was set.
London has a big body (6’3 3/8″ and 219 pounds), can win over the top, and generates separation at all three levels of the route. Do not listen to those who say he cannot separate. They’re flat-out wrong.
If you look back at recent history, of the 12 receivers selected inside the top 10 of the NFL draft since 2012, all seven who missed three or fewer games saw over 100 targets. Three of those came last year with Chase (128), Jaylen Waddle (140), and DeVonta Smith (104). The others are Amari Cooper (130), Sammy Watkins (128), Mike Evans (122), and Justin Blackmon (132).
London can do precisely the same thing thanks to the Falcons’ wide-open receiver room. As Calvin Ridley serves his one-year suspension along with the departure of Russell Gage to Tampa, Atlanta heads into 2022 with 287 of its targets (51.8% – third-most) vacated along with 48% of the air yards up for grabs (1,940 – sixth).
Now vacated targets are not some be-all-end-all metric. Most of the time, when you bring it up, you are met with an eye roll but what it does is point to opportunities. As a fantasy manager, it’s your job to determine if the players set to take on those roles have the talent to capitalize and make them count.
I’m here to tell you London absolutely does. He is my WR1 of this class and has been proving he deserves the hype in camp. If London can hit 120 targets or even 130, we’re looking at a potential league winner.
How the Falcons’ depth chart impacts Drake London’s fantasy projection for the season
London’s fantasy upside, regardless of ADP, comes down to the play of Marcus Mariota or Desmond Ridder if we see a midseason change at QB. Usually, it’s rarely a good thing to have a QB battle. As the saying goes,” if you have two, you really have none.”
Mariota did look solid when filling in for Derek Carr, but can he do the same in Atlanta behind one of the worst offensive lines? He’s certainly got the leg up and is expected to start Week 1, but Ridder has looked poised in the preseason.
Ridder was 10-of-22 passing against the Lions in Week 1 for 103 yards with two touchdowns and posted an 89.8 passer rating. While that might not look the best on paper, this doesn’t show the four drops by Falcons pass catchers or his throw-away. Against the Jets, he went 10-of-13 for 143 and got the Falcons in the red zone twice.
Is he ready? No, he’s not. Ridder is talented, and we saw that at Cincinnati as he took them to the College Football Playoff. But he is a project and someone who needs to sit a year behind Mariota and learn the game. Then, when the coaches feel he’s ready, they might have the future franchise leader to hand the keys over to at that time.
As far as who will be competing with London for targets, it’s really only one person, or well, a unicorn in Kyle Pitts. At receiver, the Falcons have the newly added Bryan Edwards, Olamide Zaccheaus, and KhaDarel Hodge. None of them are really even draftable in 12-team leagues.
London and Pitts could go toe-to-toe for targets in 2022, and both maintain must-start status. While HC Arthur Smith will want to establish a balanced attack, likely led by rookie Tyler Allgeier, the game script might dictate otherwise. That is why last year’s breakout Cordarrelle Patterson is the more desirable RB for fantasy as he will dominate the targets out of the backfield.
London’s ADP for 2022
With an ADP of 95, London is coming off the boards as the WR40 in PPR formats at the moment, placing him around the end of the seventh round in 12-team fantasy leagues.
In PFN’s 2022 fantasy football redraft rankings, London is the WR29 and 70th overall ranked player. While PFN’s rankings are a consensus, I have London as my WR34, my 82nd overall player in my rankings. Be sure to check back, as rankings will fluctuate between now and the start of the season.
Having him at 34 is an exercise in patience while trying to manage expectations. Every part of me wanted to put him in the mid-20s, but I try not to rank at a player’s ceiling too often as it leads to so/so value if it doesn’t hit.
With that said, I’m all-in on London and have taken above his ADP fairly often. There have just been a few players who have slid ahead of him who I feel are either safer or have progressed to where I feel injuries are less of a concern for their season-long value, such as Chris Godwin and Adam Thielen. In this same tier are Jerry Jeudy, Brandon Aiyuk, Elijah Moore, Kadarius Toney, and JuJu Smith-Schuster.
I wouldn’t be surprised at all if London leads this entire group in targets, but they have the upper hand with their offenses and some with more touchdown upside, leaving it up to the manager on which path they want to take for their WR3/4.