Rookies to Know: Day 2/3 Prospects

With the NFL Draft rapidly approaching, Adam Nardelli helps fantasy football managers catch up on the rookie class. Next in the series are three players outside of the first round to keep your eye on.

The 2023 season was a great example of how rookies can have a significant impact in fantasy football.  If you just look at the teams that made it to the conference championships this past season, the likes of Jahmyr Gibbs, Sam LaPorta, Zay Flowers, and Rashee Rice all played roles in helping their teams make deep playoff runs.  They also could have been key contributors to fantasy football managers who came away with championships of their own.  To prepare you for the 2024 NFL Draft and which players may help you find success in fantasy football, I’m starting a series on which rookies you should know well ahead of your fantasy football drafts.  Maybe you don’t follow college football as closely as you do the NFL, or the draft just isn’t your thing.

Don’t worry.  This series will help you get to know the skill position players that will likely be taken high in the upcoming NFL Draft, and as a result, will have some buzz heading into fantasy draft season.  I’ll also discuss their most likely landing spot in the draft based on betting lines and expert mock drafts, and how that will possibly help or hurt their fantasy prospects.

Until now, I zeroed in on one player,  but with the draft so close, let’s do some quick hitters on a few day two and three prospects that should be on your radar.


Jaylen Wright: RB, Tennessee


The Durham, North Carolina native played all three of his collegiate seasons for the Volunteers, with his last year as the starter.  Checking in at 210 pounds, Wright has a sturdy frame to go along with his explosive speed (4.38 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine).   His three 50-yard plus runs and his 4.35 yards after contact, which was third best in FBS-level college football of all running backs with 130-plus carries (according to Dane Brugler of The Athletic),  shows the big-play upside he would add to an offense.   He doesn’t have significant tread on his tires after touching the ball less than 400 times in college.  Don’t expect him to handle 20-plus carries in his rookie year, but he did make the most of his chances at Tennessee, averaging 6.24 yards per carry between 2022 and 2023.  As a running back, his fantasy football relevance will be greatly tied to his landing spot, but the second/third-round prospect has the explosive traits to be a name to know.


Ricky Pearsall: WR, Florida


The 6’0 191 pound pass-catcher started his college career at Arizona State before transferring to Florida ahead of the 2022 season.  Attention to detail and exceptional ball-tracking skills are a few of the best ways to describe Pearsall.  He can find the gaps in zone coverages and shrewdly finds his way open.  Between Pearsall’s 4.41 speed and his velcro hands (as Dane Brugler writes of Pearsall), along with his ability to make difficult catches, he has enough in his toolbox to potentially become a reliable and impactful receiving option in the NFL.


Devontez Walker: WR, North Carolina


Picture Scott Hanson on NFL Redzone having a panic attack over a blazing-fast rookie who got behind the defense for an 80-yard touchdown.  Devontez Walker might be the guy Hanson is glowing over come the fall.  The 6’0 193-pound Charlotte native with 4.36 speed played his final year of college at North Carolina after spending time at North Carolina Central and Kent State.  Good ball-tracking ability, a big catch radius, and deep threat potential highlight Walker’s strengths, while his minimal route tree and unpolished route running are areas where he can grow.   A good comparison is Giants WR Jalin Hyatt, who is a bit slighter than Walker but similarly was a raw route runner with high-end speed coming into his rookie year. Hyatt had his share of flashes and fantasy relevance as a rookie, and if a team gives Walker opportunities down the field, he should have his own flashes of highlight plays.


Photo by Bryan Lynn/Icon Sportswire | Feature Image by Justin Redler (@reldernitsuj on Twitter)

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