As dynasty fantasy football managers look towards next season, USC WR Drake London is widely regarded as one of the top-ranked fantasy football wide receivers in 2022. Following a successful collegiate career, what are London’s strengths, are there any concerns, and which landing spots would be ideal for his dynasty value in 2022 and beyond?
Drake London’s dynasty fantasy profile
The strength of this class, especially from a fantasy and dynasty perspective, is the wide receivers. Given the diverse ranges of talent in this WR draft class, you can find an archetype that fits what you want in a prospect. If you like your receivers to be big-bodied, physical, and carry themselves as the baddest man on the field, then USC’s Drake London is your cup of tea.
He is 6’4″, 215 pounds of alpha mentality. The comparisons to Vincent Jackson, Brandon Marshall, and Mike Evans aren’t without merit. Accounting for 27.7% of USC’s receiving share, London was as good as it gets in the Pac-12 and the nation. He assumed an even larger role following the departure of Amon-Ra St. Brown.
A right ankle injury ended his season early after eight games, something we will touch on, but the impact London made was unmistakable. London recorded 88 receptions for 1,084 yards and 7 touchdowns in those eight games. He made such an impact that London was voted Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year. London had over 130 yards and a TD in five of his eight contests.
Despite his size, London is more than just a red-zone threat, as his volume would suggest. With volume and opportunity being the driving force for fantasy value, London is a Tier 1 prospect for upcoming 2022 dynasty rookie drafts. In fact, he’s my top-ranked receiver for dynasty. His tape received the highest grade of all receivers, and his measurements and metrics back up everything you see on film. London will receive the coveted first-round draft capital and have the body of work that the analytics community will support. I try not to call rookies bulletproof, but London is darn close.
London is as secure as it gets with his hands. That holds true for not just the easy ones but also in contested-catch situations and in traffic when he knows contact is coming.
London tracks the ball extremely well on deep targets and presents QBs with a notable margin of error due to his catch radius and jump-ball skills. He does not need a precision passer to be effective.
London improved his release in 2021. He has the surprising foot quickness for a player of his size. Also, he has the strength to use his arms to generate separation at the line. Very few DBs will be able to outmuscle him there.
London’s not just a deep threat, and when you dive deeper into his targets by aDOT (average depth of target), this becomes evident. While 23 of his targets in 2021 did come with an aDOT of 20 yards or more, 77 of the 119 total came either behind the LOS or on short passes (0-9 yards).
London can be a boundary receiver or move inside into the slot, an area we see more and more NFL offenses placing their top pass catcher. It’s extremely difficult to double the slot, and it takes away the sidelines from being used to squeeze the receiver.
For a bigger-framed player, London is a surprisingly dangerous receiver after the catch. If he would have competed at the NFL Combine, London would have raised some eyebrows. I suspect he would have tested better than some might realize.
London is far more versatile than given credit. He played in the slot for over 90% of his reps in his first two seasons as guys like Michael Pittman Jr. played the boundary. Then, in 2021, as the No. 1 target, we saw him take the boundary role for over 85% of his snaps.
While I project London as a starting Z or even X receiver, don’t be surprised if creative coaches try to slide him into the slot on plays to generate an easy mismatch.
It’s hard for me to pick holes in London’s body of work as a 2022 fantasy prospect. Being a big-bodied guy, London is also a larger target for defenders as he plays with a high pad level. Is that a “weakness?” I’d argue no. But London isn’t going to surprise any defenders or get lost over the middle.
He also won’t wow you with lateral agility, yet at the same time, no one is asking London to be Jaylen Waddle, Kyle Philips, or Hunter Renfrow and run a whip route from the slot.
At times, London was inconsistent in his blocking. Yet, most receivers are, and honestly, blocking skills aren’t why receivers are being drafted. Hines Ward would be a Hall of Famer if this were the case. The thing you love is London is willing and has the strength to lock on and aid in an RB hitting the edge.
As I touched on earlier, London did have his 2021 season come to a quick end. He suffered a fractured ankle against Arizona, which ended his season prematurely.
All reports suggest London’s rehab process is going well. The fact he was able to hold his own pro day and look good doing it suggests all is well structurally. Personally, the body of work speaks for itself. Also, fractures are freak injuries, they don’t make someone injury-prone. Although it’s on his draft profile, I’m not concerned about his NFL projection. I guess when the NFL Draft rolls around, we will know how teams view his medical records.
Drake London selected by the Atlanta Falcons
Hardley anyone in the NFL media suspected London would be the first receiver off the board. However, they needed a legitimate No. 1 perimeter receiver was too great. At pick No. 8, the Falcons select the former USC standout.
There was no way the Falcons could enter the season with a receiver room of Olamide Zaccheaus, Damiere Byrd, KhaDarel Hodge, Auden Tate, and some guys who likely won’t make it out of camp. Paired with a fellow skyscraper and unicorn in Kyle Pitts, London is the ultimate playmaking duo. Both players are a mismatch nightmare for opposing defenses. I am not even sure it’s not still Pitts as the top passing option, but time will tell.
Marcus Mariota needed additional support after Calvin Ridley gambled away his future and got it in a big way. As I mentioned earlier, London is far more than a contested-catch player. He can win on all three levels of the defense, and given he was selected as the WR1 of the draft, clearly, his medicals checked the requisite boxes.
Everyone knew the ball was going to London on a sub-par USC team, and yet Pac-12 defenses still could not stop him. How will NFL defenses handle this assignment when still needing to give coverage to Pitts? Atlanta now has the ability to switch Pitts and London inside and out, which is something that has been missing. Then in 2023, assuming Ridley comes back, whichever QB is under center has a sensational trio.
London is a fantasy-relevant receiver from year one. That is all you can ask out of a rookie. He was my No. 1 ranked receiver heading into the draft, which is holding so far. In 1QB leagues, the argument can be made where London is the 1.01 depending on Breece Hall’s landing spot. Either way, this is nothing short of a home run selection.