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Predicting top 2022 rookie wide receivers using dominator rating and breakout age

Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA; Arkansas Razorbacks wide receiver Treylon Burks (16) carries the ball against the LSU Tigers in the second half at Tiger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Unfortunately, there is no end-all, be-all statistic, grade or metric that can pinpoint the NFL's next great rookie wide receiver. Every college star doesn't make the jump to the next level, and a player's landing spot plays a huge part in how a player develops in the NFL.

Even so, dynasty gamers must try to project which 2022 NFL Draft rookie WRs will break out in 2022 fantasy football leagues. And when it comes down to finding the next Ja’Marr Chase or Amon-Ra St.Brown of the 2022 NFL Draft class, fantasy football managers can lean on two specific metrics when considering which rookie wide receivers to target in drafts: dominator rating and breakout age.

Dominator rating considers the number of touchdowns and receiving yards a particular player commands within his own offense. Breakout age is the age in which a receiver reaches a 20% dominator rating for the first time. Producing at a young age is a solid indication that a player will continue his stretch of production into the pros. After all, when a kid balls out at 19 years old against a bunch of 21- and 22-year-old defensive backs, how can you not be entertained?

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I’ve collected the dominator ratings and breakout ages of 22 rookie wide receivers in the 2022 NFL Draft class hoping to identify some lesser-known WRs to target and others to fade in upcoming rookie drafts.

COLLEGE-CAREER DOMINATOR RATING

Rank Player Class School Career Dominator Rating PFF Receiving Grade
1 Dai'Jean Dixon Senior Nicholls 39% 93.0
2 Treylon Burks Junior Arkansas 32% 91.3
3 Jalen Tolbert Senior South Alabama 31% 85.9
4 Wan’Dale Robinson Junior Kentucky 28% 93.4
5 Skyy Moore Junior Western Michigan 28% 91.5
6 David Bell Junior Purdue 28% 89.6
7 Jahan Dotson Senior Penn State 26% 83.1
8 Khalil Shakir Senior Boise State 25% 92.9
9 Romeo Doubs Senior Nevada 24% 83.7
10 Justyn Ross Senior Clemson 22% 89.6
11 Christian Watson Senior North Dakota State 21% 83.1
12 Drake London Junior USC 21% 86.9
13 Garrett Wilson Junior Ohio State 20% 89.1
14 Chris Olave Senior Ohio State 20% 90.5
15 Makai Polk Junior Mississippi State 19% 68.4
16 John Metchie III Junior Alabama 18% 77.6
17 George Pickens Junior Georgia 18% 85.4
18 Calvin Austin III Senior Memphis 18% 87.7
19 Erik Ezukanma Senior Texas Tech 18% 75.5
20 Devon Williams Junior Oregon 18% 76.3
21 Jalen Nailor Senior Michigan State 17% 70.5
22 Jameson Williams Junior Alabama 16% 77.7

Treylon Burks is the consensus No. 1-ranked rookie wide receiver across dynasty platforms, largely because of his exquisite college production profile. His 32% dominator rating is the second-highest among the 22 wide receivers sampled and falls just short of 2020’s dominator rating king Rashod Bateman (35%).

I agreed with football analytics Twitter — and the numbers-driven Baltimore Ravens — that Bateman would be the next superstar wide receiver because of his elite collegiate output. And although Bateman’s rookie season didn’t confirm his path to stardom, he did show enough for fantasy managers to be excited about him going into his second season.

That same production-based enthusiasm is driving Burks’ rookie ADP. Can’t say I blame the market Burks finished first in yards per route run (3.57) while also leading all receivers in yards per route run when lined up outside (6.08).

But despite Burks’ college triumphs, there was one small-school receiver who actually finished with a higher college dominator rating: Dai'Jean Dixon. The Nicholls State wide receiver spent the last four seasons bullying Southland Conference defenses to the tune of a 39% dominator rating (1st) and 93.0 PFF receiving grade (2nd).

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Dixon finished as a top-six graded wide receiver in the nation twice over the last three years. He achieved a whopping 49% dominator rating in 2019.

Obviously, Dixon’s eye-popping numbers do come with a grain of salt because of the lackluster competition he faced. But anytime the 6-foot-2, 203-pound wide receiver has been tasked to go out and ball, he has delivered. His playmaking ability was on full display in the most recent 2022 NFLPA Collegiate Bowl.

Dixon caught six of seven passes for 131 receiving yards and a touchdown in the all-star game.

Consider Dixon my favorite deep sleeper of the 2022 wide receiver draft class.

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