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Fantasy Football: 3 rookies who can finish as WR3s, including Vikings' Jordan Addison

2RH8ER1 Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Jordan Addison (3) runs down the field during an NFL pre-season football game against the Seattle Seahawks, Thursday, Aug. 10, 2023 in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ben VanHouten)

Estimated reading time: 8 minutes

Rookie wide receivers prove to be league-winning difference-makers every year. The unproven floor often associated with this player pool results in easily exploitable mid-to-late-round average draft positions (ADPs), and it is crucial for savvy drafters to target these ascending pass-catchers as frequently as possible.

Below are three rookie wide receivers with great odds of finishing as top-36 scorers in points-per-reception (PPR) scoring formats.

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WR Jordan Addison, Minnesota Vikings

Addison (81.5 PFF college-offense grade) offers fantasy managers an accomplished college receiving profile with startling similarities to the Pittsburgh Steelers No. 1 wide receiver Diontae Johnson (67.9 PFF rookie-season offense grade). Addison’s route to a PPR WR3 finish is laid bare following the path set by Johnson’s 2019 rookie season. 

Both men played three college football seasons, with Johnson missing his sophomore 2016 campaign due to a foot injury. The two highly productive stars rely on toolsy route running and angular savvy, working within their diminutive yet sufficient physical profiles.

The table below compares Addison and Johnson’s second- and third-college-season receiving production:
2nd & 3rd Season Receiving Jordan Addison: 2021 – 2022 Diontae Johnson: 2017 – 2018
PFF Receiving Grade 88.6 – 82.4 89.3 – 71.8
TPRR 26.6% – 25.1% 30.0% – 26.9%
YPRR 2.94 – 2.78 3.68 – 2.30
Catch % 69.4% – 74.7% 71.2% – 55.1%
aDot  12.4 – 10.7 13.3 – 12.2
Yards After Catch/Rec 6.5 – 7.0 7.6 – 8.4
MTF/Rec 0.21 – 0.10 0.15 – 0.20
15+-Yd Pass Plays % 40.0% – 39.0% 40.5% – 34.7%
The table below compares Addison and Johnson’s physical profiles:
Physical Profiles Jordan Addison Diontae Johnson
Height – Weight 5-foot-11 – 175 pounds 5-foot-10 – 183 pounds
Arms – Hands 30.875” – 8.75” 30.75” – 9.0”
10-Yd Split 1.57 Sec. 1.59 Sec.
40-Yd Dash 4.49 Sec. 4.53 Sec.
Vertical – Broad 34.0” – 10’2” 33.5” – 10’3”
20-Yd Shuttle 4.19 Sec. 4.45 Sec.
3-Cone 7.05 Sec. 7.09 Sec.

Pittsburgh’s long-time starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger suffered a season-ending elbow injury in Johnson’s rookie year, leaving Johnson to catch passes from dreadful backups Mason Rudolph (53.5 PFF 2019 passing grade) and Devlin Hodges (49.4 PFF 2019 passing grade). He narrowly missed a WR3 finish (PPR WR41) despite the debacle.

Johnson’s negative quarterback situation was positively balanced by his access to the No. 1 pass catcher role. Addison finds himself in the inverse and likely superior situation, playing alongside an efficient quarterback in Kirk Cousins (77.7 PFF passing grade) while competing against the league’s 2022 target champion (185) in wide receiver Justin Jefferson (90.2 PFF receiving grade) and capable tight end T.J. Hockenson (76.4 PFF receiving grade). 

Hockenson earned a respectable 23.4% targets per route run rate following his Week 9 trade to Minnesota, winning the No. 2 pass-catcher role from dusty wide receivers Adam Thielen (66.3 PFF receiving grade) and K.J. Osborn (65.3 PFF receiving grade). Addison’s elite target-earning ability helped land him the 2021 Fred Biletnikoff Award for college football’s top wide receiver. He should handily relegate Hockenson to No. 3 in the pecking order prior to Minnesota’s Week 13 bye. 

Addison crucially fills a Minnesotan need in the intermediate field depth, freeing Jefferson to prowl the deep. Among 47 NFL wide receivers with at least 25 targets 15-plus yards downfield, Jefferson’s 7.75 yards per route run led the position by 0.70.

The offense is protected by PFF analyst Sam Monson’s No. 15-ranked offensive line. 

Operating in a far safer situation than what was afforded to Johnson, the remarkably similar Addison has a clear path to a PPR WR3 rookie-season finish in 2023. His talents importantly accentuate Jefferson’s strengths, incentivizing head coach Kevin O’Connell to utilize Addison as an intermediate-depth focal point.


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