Fantasy News & Analysis

2022 Fantasy Football: Atlanta Falcons add big-bodied WR Drake London with the eighth pick in the 2022 NFL Draft

Pullman, Washington, USA; USC Trojans wide receiver Drake London (15) makes a catch in front of Washington State Cougars defensive back Jaylen Watson (0) in the second half at Gesa Field at Martin Stadium. The Trojans won 45-14. Mandatory Credit: James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Falcons selected wide receiver Drake London of USC with the eighth overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. The big-bodied receiver will be among the first few picks in dynasty rookie drafts as the 13th best player on our PFF's Big Board. London is one of many rookie wide receivers that will make an instant impact on his new team, but his raw talent will help him stand out from the pack.

He is the perfect wide receiver by most of his qualities, with speed being his main weakness. The former Trojan ranks in the 85th percentile or better at height, weight and arm length at wide receiver. His physical presence helped him become the only FBS receiver to tally over 15 contested catches and over 15 avoided tackles in 2021. London accomplished this feat despite his season being cut short to eight games with a broken ankle.

PFF's Seth Galina believes London can be the best wide receiver in the class because he is more than just a contested catch receiver. London was one of the best receivers in the FBS against press coverage last season, gaining 3.37 yards per route run in those situations. That physicality at the line of scrimmage mixed with his route running allows him to gain separation despite his average speed.

He spent 2021 primarily as USC’s left outside receiver after lining up in the slot in 2020. Most of his success was found on the outside, but that might not stop a team from trying him inside at times. His closest NFL comparison is Brandon Marshall, who also spent much of his career outside. But some of Marshall's best seasons were with the Bears when he spent half of his time in the slot. Some of London's other closest comparisons are primarily slot receivers.

London ran a diverse route tree in college, which should help him contribute immediately at the NFL level. The 20-year-old’s size should also help him as a blocker, which should help him see over 80% of the offensive snaps in September.

London instantly became the Falcons' best receiving option. He should take the role of X receiver and help fans move past the memories of Julio Jones. Olamide Zaccheaus and free agent additions Auden Tate and Damiere Byrd will fight for the other starting role as well as snaps from the slot. The rookie’s biggest competition for targets will come from second-year tight end Kyle Pitts. Tate is the Falcon hurt the most by this move, as his skill set is most like London's on the roster. 

The situation in Atlanta helps London's rookie-season floor but lowers its upside. The Falcons are expected to have one of the worst offenses with Marcus Mariota at quarterback. Their team has one of the lowest odds of winning the Super Bowl, which means the touchdown opportunities will be limited. London will be a solid mid-round fantasy draft pick.

His future is more exciting, as the Falcons will likely land one of the top rookie quarterbacks in the 2023 NFL Draft. The new quarterback, London and Pitts have the chance to form one of the best trios in the NFL. Calvin Ridley will also be back from suspension next year. It seems likely Ridley will be traded after the suspension, but Ridley might be inclined to stay considering the talent around him. 

Bottom Line: London fits squarely into the WR4 range for 2022. The Falcons likely need an upgrade at quarterback in the next few seasons for him to reach his dynasty potential.

You've got the first pick with your finances. Western Southern Financial Group.
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