We have arrived at the top five wide receivers in our annual WR1 analytical model countdown. As you dive into the rankings don’t fret if your favorite is ranked a little lower than expected. The second through fifth-ranked wide receivers are extremely close, separated by only three points.
For those new to the WR1 rating, this is a proprietary formula I developed to provide a data-driven forecast of future dynasty value for incoming rookie wide receivers. The WR1 model scores rookies on nine predictive metrics and then combines those individual metric scores into a single WR1 rating. The goal is to provide a single easy-to-use score for those who don’t want to spend all the time dissecting different metrics.
You may find an in-depth explanation of the process and a glossary of what the metrics mean here.
As in our prior two articles, here are the top 20 all-time prospects in the model so you can see how effective it is at forecasting future fantasy value.
Note: Relative athletic score, NFL.com film grade, and consensus projected draft capital are dynamic and values may change after this article is published.
Updated WR1 Model Rankings
15) John Metchie
14) Alec Pierce
13) Justyn Ross
12) Jalen Tolbert
11) Jahan Dotson
10) David Bell
9) Christian Watson
8) Skyy Moore
7) Wan’Dale Robinson
6) George Pickens
Wide Receivers 5-1
5. Garrett Wilson, Ohio St.
Wilson is only three points in his overall WR1 rating from being the number two wide receiver in this class. That is very low variance. Ultimately, this signals their future dynasty production should be very close. Unlike the results in this model of the next four players, Wilson creates easy separation from the players defending him.
garrett wilson’s separation skills and body control are elite – at the top of this class.
he’s not a freak athlete and it does not matter. he’s one of the few WRs I don’t care where he lands, he’s going to be good early. tier 1 prospect no doubt about it. #2022NFLdraft pic.twitter.com/2CEbXQSTLn
— Ray G 🏁 (@RayGQue) December 30, 2021
Wilson posted solid numbers in a stacked wide receiver group. Most impressive was his 3.21 receiving yards per team pass attempt while sharing targets with two future first-round talents. Wilson is likely to be drafted inside the top 10 and should contribute immediately.
Wilson posted a career average of 16.3 fantasy PPR PPG. For a top-five prospect in the class, this was subpar. This result did not contribute any additional points toward his overall rating.
Wilson received negative points for his overall rating in two of the nine metrics. He did not break out until age 20.1 which subtracted one point from his rating. His dominator was 29.4% which was not even in the top 10 in this class.
4. Jameson Williams, Alabama
*Projected relative athletic score due to lack of testing from ACL injury
Williams shines across multiple metrics. He received maximum scores for being an early declare and playing in the SEC. Williams pops off the screen in his film, especially with his speed. Here he just blows by the Georgia defensive back.
The second gear on this play is insane. pic.twitter.com/Dsekdwix7a
— Nick Penticoff (@NickPenticoff) January 16, 2022
He received the third-highest film grade in this class from Lance Zierlein contributing seven additional points. Williams is the type of field stretcher that NFL teams salivate over to open up the field for teammates as you can see here. This quality enhances his real-life value more than his fantasy value which is something to be cognizant of when you see his high draft capital.
Bryce Young dime to Jameson Williams. pic.twitter.com/aMh99NPzjk
— Nick Penticoff (@NickPenticoff) January 16, 2022
Williams’s draft capital is projected to be first-round contributing 13 points to his overall WR1 rating.
We are in the top five prospects here so we need to have higher expectations for metric performance. For a top-five overall prospect in the class, I would like to see a higher dominator rating than 31.1%. His RYPTPA of 2.75 is also below the top five prospect level.
Jameson didn’t break out until his junior year. Playing behind two projected first-rounders in Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave is a valid reason. However, you would have liked to see him produce at a higher rate despite that fact. This lack of playing time also contributed to his subpar PPR PPG avg. Jameson received negative points for both of these metrics toward his overall WR1 rating.
Lastly, Jameson tore his ACL in the National Championship game vs Georgia. ACLs can take some time before the player is back to their previous form so I would expect Jameson to get off to a slow start in his NFL career.
3. Chris Olave, Ohio St.
Olave is a premier route runner with top-end game speed. He posted a 4.39 at the NFL combine. The NFL loves a good field stretcher to create vertical opportunities and open up space for teammates. This will likely make him a first-round draft selection contributing 13 points to his overall WR1 rating. His speed and route running have made him one of the best separators in the country.
Chris Olave has generated a step or more of separation on over 87% of targets since 2019
The highest rate in the country 💨
— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) July 6, 2021
This is further confirmed when you look at his reception perception profile.
Today's prospect profile for early-release week: Chris Olave.
Without question the best route-runner in the draft who brings much more to the table than his technical precision. Absolutely love this guy's game.
— Matt Harmon (@MattHarmon_BYB) April 13, 2022
He utilized these skills to break out (+20% share of yards+td’s) as a freshman at the tender age of 18.7 earning him four points to his overall score.
A 31.8% dominator only gives Olave three points towards his overall score. We do need to bear in mind he was playing alongside two of the best wide receivers in the nation in Garrett Wilson and Jaxon Smith-Njigba.
Olave doesn’t have many red flags but the fact that he is not an early declare is a big one. Five points were deducted from his overall score due to this as the hit rate of non-early declares is far less than early declares. He needs to get stronger to handle the physicality of NFL corners. That is likely one of the things he was told last year and why he ended up not declaring.
2. Treylon Burks, Arkansas
Burks excels in several of the predictive metrics I look at to predict future fantasy success. In particular, his receiving yards per team pass attempt (RYPTPA) of 3.52 was the third-best in the class. His dominator rating was second-best overall to Jalen Tolbert. These two metrics contributed 17 points toward his overall WR1 score.
Burks also received the highest film grade in the class, from Lance Zeirlein, at 6.50.
Burks 20.5 breakout age was a 50th percentile score. You want to see an earlier breakout from a top prospect in the draft class.
One of the big surprises of the pre-draft process was his lackluster performance at the combine. The 5.79 relative athletic score was his worst performance across the metrics in the WR1 model. His game tape showed more burst as you can see from the clip below:
Have been harping on this for a while: just because a guy runs a poor 40 time doesn't mean he's slow. Context matters, especially for a 6'3", 200
Watch who Treylon Burks runs away from here. He's not slow. pic.twitter.com/lpnEA0ktOm
— Khari Thompson (@kdthompson5) April 6, 2022
This brings us to number one. The top prospect in the WR1 rating model for 2022 is none other than Drake London.
1. Drake London, USC
Drake London was on his way to a historic season before being derailed by a broken ankle his junior year. He has been consistently mocked in the top 15 picks in the NFL Mock Draft database throughout the past three months.
London was a two-sport college athlete for the Trojans’ basketball and football teams. Coming out of high school he was the number nine rated shooting guard in the freshman class. He broke out as a freshman wide receiver with 567 yards receiving and seven touchdowns. This is more impressive when you consider he had to reach the 20% yardage/TD share breakout threshold while playing alongside Michael Pittman and Amon-Ra St Brown.
London’s production climbed steadily throughout his college career, peaking in his junior year with 88 receptions, 1,084 yards, and seven touchdowns in only eight games. Through the eight games, London achieved a receiving yard per team pass attempt of 3.27.
There is a narrative that London doesn’t get tremendous separation due to a shortcoming of long speed in the vertical downfield game. If you believe this I encourage you to watch this video and realize that with his combination of physicality, high football IQ, and crisp route running Drake London gets plenty of separation.
Is Drake London a BEAST or a BUST??
You don't want to miss out on a potential stud, but you also don't want to draft the next N'Keal Harry. Not sure what to do with Drake London? Let's get into the film and find out! ⬇️⬇️⬇️https://t.co/R8O34l3huQ
— Matt Cooper (Devy to Dynasty Film Room) (@Devy2DynastyFR) March 10, 2022
London is an elite ball tracker with elite hands. His 21.2 fantasy points per game career average were second in this class to David Bell. He is the best bet in this class to be a consistent top-24 fantasy producer with top-12 upside. Expect to see a lot of London in FanDuel DFS lineups this upcoming season.
London’s faders point to his high contested catch rate as a reason to push him down the ranks. He doesn’t create separation in the same way a Jerry Jeudy does but he has some Brandon Marshall to his game.
I don’t like that he didn’t go through any of his athletic tests on his Pro Day. It likely means he and his agent didn’t think he would test well and it would lower his draft stock. I plugged in a projected athletic score of six which gave him negative three points toward his overall WR1 score.
I hope you enjoyed reading my article. My goal is to provide actionable advice you can utilize to improve your dynasty team. You can follow me on Twitter @force_fantasy.