I wanted to do a multi-part series breaking down a few landing spots for some 2022 rookies that would move the needle (for me) from a fantasy football perspective. I will look at these teams on an intimate level and take into account team needs, financials, and trends from the current regime (if applicable). As we know, landing spots can be critical to the future success of the prospect. I truly believe that coaching, opportunity, and the environment the player is in can write the story for a player’s career. Very few players, in my opinion, can overcome a tumultuous landing spot.
Kevin Harris, RB, South Carolina – Seattle Seahawks
The Seattle Seahawks are an absolute mess right now following a blockbuster trade that sent their pro-bowl QB to the Denver Broncos. The Seahawks are currently a team without much identity. I think getting back to their roots from a few years ago of being a power-run team could be something that would interest them and using a later round pick (like round 5) on Kevin Harris could provide the team a cost-effective player with potential for significant returns on their investment.
Harris is a power back who is a highly effective inside runner. He has violent bursts that often leave defenders wishing they had not stood in front of him. I appreciate the power and vision, but for a back of his size (5’10, 225) he has surprising quickness to his game. He definitely does not have long speed, but his size/speed combination could make him an intriguing option in the 4th or 5th round.
He would fit in with Seattle as Rashaad Penny is a free agent and Chris Carson is a 27-year-old back on the final year of his deal. Harris could step right into a decent timeshare with Carson with potential for more in year one. I think he would help provide some stability to that rushing attack and provide fantasy owners with a cheaper RB option who has long-term upside and a fairly easy path to playing time on the Seahawks.
Desmond Ridder, QB, Cincinnati – Pittsburgh Steelers
Pittsburgh would be such a fascinating landing spot for Desmond Ridder at pick 20 overall. Obviously there is a huge hole at QB following the retirement of Ben Roethlisberger. The Steelers have a championship-caliber defense and a ton of fascinating options on offense. Predictively, I could see the Steelers being more inclined to target a veteran QB, however; if they opted to target a rookie, Ridder makes a lot of sense.
Ridder is a battle-tested player with 50 career college games under his belt including invaluable experience this past season in the college football playoffs. I love the moxy of this kid and he epitomizes the values of toughness and leadership that has defined past Steelers legends. I think his mobility and playmaking abilities will rejuvenate this offense. The thought of Ridder having guys like Claypool and Freiermuth to target could mask some of his accuracy concerns due to their massive catch radiuses and superior athleticism.
Most rookie QBs do not have the supporting cast of Najee Harris, Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool, and Pat Freiermuth, so Ridder could step into an advantageous opportunity that would provide massive fantasy football upside. Being in a stable organization like Pittsburgh, the odds would be more favorable he reached his potential. I would move him back into my top 3 QBs if the draft played out like this.
Christian Watson, WR, North Dakota State – Detroit Lions
Christian Watson is soaring up draft boards and he has the potential to become a 1st round selection in the NFL Draft. He absolutely crushed the senior bowl and then the combine and people are starting to take notice. According to DLF, his ADP is already at 178 and I expect that to continue rising if/when he is selected in the first or second round.
He is a size/speed guy who boasted a 40 time of 4.36 at the combine last week. Sanding at 6’4, he is a tall, lean receiver with incredible speed, but also strength. The limited snaps I did see, he displayed great body control and strong hands. The ball was frequently caught away from the chest with good mechanics. He does well using his speed to beat defenders who may play off the line of scrimmage. He can beat you downfield or big-boy you if you underestimate his strength. My favorite aspect about his game is his yards-after-catch ability. For a man his size, he displays great speed and elusiveness to rack up these valuable yards.
Detroit is in need of help at various area, I like the idea of Watson at the top of the second round. Predictively, I do not expect Watson to be the guy they target with that early 2022 2nd, but it would intrigue me a good bit to see the Lions draft Watson. I think adding his skillset to the mix will provide a necessary weapon to this offense that would really open things up. I like that he is a bigger guy that plays outside and should give Detroit what they are looking for. If you were sleeping on Watson, you better wake up! I have a feeling he will be a top 12 pick in most rookie drafts that are 1QB.
Thank you for staying with me as I process some early thoughts on ideal landing spots for these 2022 rookies. I hope you enjoyed it and will come back for another edition!
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