2022 Off-Season Market Report

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2022 Off-Season Market Report

We’re covering all the moves at the official opening of the new league year in the NFL in our Free Agency Hub, which includes our free agency positional trackers, plus Graham Barfield’s Fantasy Fallout breakdowns of the key moves of note. My role here is to focus on the fluctuating fantasy values in what has turned out to be the wildest and most predictable off-season in NFL history. So if you want to cut to the chase and get to the bottom lines of all the activity this year, this Market Report is your one-stop shop.

My views do not necessarily represent the entirety of our staff, but it’s usually safe to say the rest of the guys are with me 90% of the time or more. Just so you know, I tend to try my best to temper my enthusiasm for moves made in March, most of which fail, so I try to take a measured approach. But this year’s been cray-cray.

Note: I’m going through these writeups on a daily basis starting March 16th, and I’ll be updating them as needed over the next 4-5 weeks as the moves come in.

UPGRADES

Players I’m feeling more optimistic about based on free agency and early off-season moves.

Quarterbacks

Derek Carr (LV) — Carr’s connection with Davante Adams is legendary. They’re great friends who routinely worked out in the off-season, so the Adams addition is a massive win for Carr. They played two seasons together at Fresno State in 2012-13 and they lit it up, as Davante led the NCAA in receptions, yards, and TDs with Carr tops in passing yards and TDs. Carr had some Aaron Rodgers in terms of how they snap it off, but Carr’s often failed to pull the trigger on open throws, and he’s very reliant on trust. In theory, with the ultimate trust and chemistry with Adams along with Darren Wallter and Hunter Renfrow, two other major trust guys for Carr, we may be about to see the best of Carr from a fantasy perspective. Our Greg Cosell agreed that Carr could now be fully unlocked by the innovative Josh McDaniels, who should open his career in Vegas as a pass-happy coach. Oakland will return a solid 1-2 punch at RB and solid pass catchers in Josh Jacobs and Kenyan Drake, plus they signed receiving specialists Branden Bolden and Ameer Abdullah, so Carr’s got options galore. Carr’s career high in TD passes is 32 way back in 2015, but I’d bet the over on that this year. UPDATED: 3/18

Deshaun Watson (CLE) — Watson’s fantasy value could only go up in 2022, but he also lands in a good situation, where they have a top OL and running game, two things Watson did not have for most of his time in Houston. Watson’s also a solid fit for Keven Stefanski’s offense, which uses the QBs’ mobility to run bootleg and play-action rollouts, and they will tweak the offense some to suit Watson’s skills. Stefanski won’t have to minimize his QBs’ influence in the offense the way he did with Baker Mayfield, who attempted only 30 passes a game the last two seasons. The Browns have a legit #1 in Amari Cooper along with a vertical threat in Donovan Peoples-Jones and a solid duo at TE, so they don’t need much else to give Watson a solid arsenal of weapons. They also have a guy who can run in second-year WR Anthony Schwartz, who is intriguing. Watson’s off-field issues aside, the guy was absolutely brilliant in 2020, setting career highs in completion rate at 70% with 33 TD passes and an NFL-best 4,823 passing yards. My guess is he’ll be suspended between 0-6 games this year, so his value is still in limbo, but I consider him a top-6 option when he’s playing. And since he’s likely to play football in 2022 in a good environment, he’s an upgraded fantasy asset. UPDATED: 3/21

Russell Wilson (DEN) — I believe Wilson, already 34 in the fall, is a declining player, so I’d be concerned long-term if I were a Broncos fan. Of course, the offense was broken in Seattle and the schism between Wilson and HC Pete Carroll continued in 2021 and ended in a stalemate. Wilson’s middle finger, which actually was broken (fracture-dislocation) was certainly a problem as well. So while I think we’ve already seen the best of Wilson, I expect him to play well in a much better situation this year in Denver. When I read Tom Brolley’s overview of new HC Nathaniel Hackett’s background and philosophy, the addition of Wilson makes a lot of sense, since Hackett has been into the RPO game lately and is generally a run-heavy guy. However, in addition to the outside-zone run scheme (that Javonte Williams is a great fit for), the offense will attack with deep shots on play-action, which is perfect for Wilson. I love Jerry Jeudy in general, and he can go deep, but Courtland Sutton could benefit the most this year in Denver. But it’s an upgrade all around for the Denver receivers, and for Wilson. I think he’s “only” a low-end QB1 here, but it’s still better than in Seattle with Carroll. PUBLISHED: 3/16

Tua Tagovailoa (MIA) — Our Greg Cosell has said for two years that Tua needs to be in a timing-based offense where he’s protected and can operate as a ball distributor. They’ve added to their OL, most notably acquiring LT Terron Armstead to help improve Tua’s poor protection (NFL's worst pass block win rate last season, per NFL Next Gen Stats). Armstead, 31, has had injury problems, but he’s a big upgrade if healthy. Tua now has a pair of deadly YAC weapons with Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle. Tua, like Drew Brees, does not have a power arm, but with good timing and accuracy he can key big plays with these guys after the catch. New HC Mike McDaniel knows all about the value of RAC (run after the catch), as the 49ers have led the league in RAC/YAC in each of the last four seasons with McDaniel on staff. Tua has completed 17 passes with 20+ plus air yards, and per PFF, Tagovailoa had the best adjusted completion percentage on deep passes (20+ yard) last season. It’s a smaller sample of only 29 attempts, but there’s some hope for Tua if he’s protected well. Tua’s definitely looking a lot better for fantasy heading into 2022 with a greater margin for error, but I’ll be careful not to overrate him. There’s are a ton of new moving parts in Miami, including a new HC, offense, #1 WR, and 2-3 new starters on the OL, so this will all take some time to come together. And frankly, my first reaction to the Tyreek trade was that this could be another example of a team trying to hide a flawed players’ deficiencies by stockpiling offensive talent. PUBLISHED: 3/23

Joe Burrow (CIN) — My expectations for Burrow were high entering the league, as I called him the next Tom Brady six months before he took a snap in the NFL. He’s already delivered on my projection and he came incredibly close to winning the SB in just his second season, as Brady did. It’s obvious Burrow’s a star, so a year removed from his 2020 ACL surgery, the only concern was his OL. The line was a big problem last year, as most know, but they attacked quickly in free agency with the additions of veteran interior lineman Ted Karras and Alex Cappa. These guys aren’t considered studs, but they’re clear upgrades. They then plucked RT La'el Collins, whose history in Dallas with Bengals OL coach Frank Pollack was instrumental in Cincy locking Collins down. The Bengals could even still grab an OT with the 31st pick of the draft, which I’d be fine with. Clearly, the Bengals are all over their OL problems from last year and they now have a top-15 OL on paper. So I’ll be on Burrow as a pick despite his elevated cost. He’s currently my #1 QB target in 2021 in a 1-QB redraft league. UPDATED: 3/21

Mitchell Trubisky (PIT) — Trubisky will always have difficulties reading the field, plus he still has issues with his mechanics and ability to maximize the whole field. But in talking to several insiders, it’s a common belief that Trubisky improved in 2021 under a Bills coaching staff that did wonders with Josh Allen’s mechanics and accuracy issues. So there is hope Trubisky can show at least incremental improvement. We have to disconnect reality and fantasy at times, and the reality is that Trubisky will never be a high-level passer, but the same can be said for Jalen Hurts, who was the fantasy QB6 on the season last year. Trubisky won’t run nearly as much as Hurts, but the RPO game will be prominent in Matt Canada’s offense, and Canada likes his QBs to be able to throw on the run, something Trubisky can do. He should have his best season as a runner this year, and this is a guy who added a healthy 4.3 FPG with his legs back in 2018. He’ll have to operate behind one of the worst OLs in the league, but it’s not a sieve, and his legs will help him extend plays, unlike Ben Roethlisberger. Big Ben was still a decent 15th in passing yards despite being washed up, which speaks to the strong and youthful trio at receiver in Pittsburgh with Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool, and Pat Freiermuth, plus a versatile bellcow in RB Najee Harris. My early projection for Trubisky in 14 games played (factoring in injury concerns and a possible position battle) is 3345/23 passing and 60/335/3 rushing, which is a solid 18.9 FPG. A top-20 finish is within reach if he can stay relatively healthy. PUBLISHED: 3/16

Matt Ryan (IND) — This move was easy to predict once the dust settled in terms of Deshaun Watson, who Atlanta tried to acquire. Ryan never moved that well and he never had a gun for a right arm, so whatever dropoff in play he’s experienced has been hard to notice, but he’s obviously not the same player he was 5-6 years ago. His arm strength has weakened and his passes lose steam down the field these days, but he’s still a professional QB who probably represents an upgrade over Carson Wentz in 2021 and Philip Rivers in 2020. He has taken some time to adjust to a new OC/offense in the past, but Ryan will stabilize the offense, which will remain run-heavy, and he’s unlikely to hurt the team by playing hero ball like Wentz. The Colts still need to add a lot of help in the passing game, but Ryan will benefit from playing with Jonathan Taylor, and HC Frank Reich’s scheme and playcalling has proven effective, so Ryan’s move to Indy represents a clear upgrade over the talent-less Falcons. PUBLISHED: 3/21

Ryan Tannehill (TEN) — I was not into Tannehill at his reasonable ADP last summer, since I didn’t see him replicating the 40 TDs he put up in 2020, and I was very down on Julio Jones. Tannehill’s passing TD number dropped from 33 to 21, but he did fall only 85 passing yards short of his total the year before, and he did equal the seven rushing TDs he put up in 2021 and now has a strong 18 rushing TDs the last three seasons. So Tannehill probably would have been a lot better if he actually had some good receivers to throw to. Julio is no longer good and his career is probably over, so Robert Woods, ACL return and all, is an upgrade opposite AJ Brown. Tennessee also made a sneaky-good pickup in Austin Hooper, so Tannehill is worth an upgrade. The guy was the QB12 last year with absolute ass at receiver, and they will likely select 1-2 of the many great receiver prospects in this year’s draft. I think they know they can’t have the same reliance on Derrick Henry, so Tanney may actually throw the ball more than 30-32 times a game this year. PUBLISHED: 3/21

Running Backs

Leonard Fournette (TB) — I want to hate Fournette, since he’s a front-runner, but, well, the guy’s in the front again with Tom Brady, so he’s certainly an upgrade from where he was a month ago. Brady certainly likes him, despite his stone hands, and he was a fantasy star in 2021, finishing 4th among all RBs at 18.3 FPG. Fournette could actually be in even better shape than last year, since Ronald Jones is gone. Gio Bernard is surprisingly back, but he showed poorly last year. There’s a huge three-down role for the taking again for Lenny, and he could easily score 15 TDs and catch 65 balls. The fantasy community, including most here on this site, has quickly anointed Fournette as an RB1 in 2022, which likely means a top-25 pick. I understand why and the proof was in the pudding last year with his production, plus he’s still just 27 and won’t be 28 until January. However, I will be passing. I’m an ageist at RB these days, and Lenny did have that hamstring injury to cut his regular-season short last year, so if I have a chance at an ascending youngster I like, which I will, I’m going that route. I’m talking Antonio Gibson, JK Dobbins, and maybe even rookie Breece Hall if he lands in a good spot. UPDATED: 4/1

James Conner (ARI) — The Cardinals surely won’t go into the season with Conner set to handle 25+ touches every week, so I’d expect them to sign a veteran changeup/receiving back or for them to grab one in the draft. However it shakes out, Arizona’s replacement for Chase Edmonds will likely be a downgrade, so it’s fair to give Conner an upgrade and a bump up the RB ranks for 2022. I missed out on Conner last year, and if he does it again I’ll likely miss out again this year, since his price tag will be pretty hefty as a top-36 pick. But he’s a prime TD regression candidate after he scored 18 times in 15 games last year, and it’s not like he avoided the injury bug, as he dealt with ankle, foot, and rib injuries. He did look very good on tape and via the old eyeball test, and he’ll certainly be productive when healthy in a run-heavy offense that ranked seventh in rushing attempts last year. Conner averaged a gaudy 23.1 FPG in six games without Edmonds last year. PUBLISHED: 3/16

Wide Receivers

JuJu Smith-Schuster (KC) — As pointed out by our Joe Dolan on twitter, the fantasy community, which considered JuJu the 31st-best WR heading into 2021, has a higher opinion on JuJu than the NFL does. JuJu has now been one of the youngest free agents ever available in TWO consecutive off-seasons, yet he’s had to settle for minimal one-year deals both times. Meanwhile, a guy like Zay Jones got a three year deal this month. Part of JuJu’s problem may have been the poor play of Ben Roethlisberger, but while JuJu’s efficiency has dropped the last two seasons, Diontae Johnson has increased his PFF receiving grades and YPRR numbers the last two years. I have not been into JuJu at all the last two seasons, and it’s crazy to think that he may be on the downside already at 25 years old, but he does land in a GREAT situation with the Chiefs, who shockingly traded star receiver Tyreek Hill just after signing JuJu. That leaves a huge hole, and one I can only presume the Chiefs believe JuJu can do a lot to fill. He’s a big and physical slot, and KC has needed another reliable chain mover after Travis Kelce for years. There will now be 200+ vacated WR targets for JuJu and others to absorb, and I don’t see Marquez Valdes-Scantling being a heavily targeted guy, so JuJu, with a massive upgrade at QB going to Patrick Mahomes, looks like a good bet to hold solid WR3 value. UPDATED: 3/27

Amari Cooper (CLE) — With Deshaun Watson added, Cooper is an upgrade for 2022, but here’s the rub: Watson could still face a suspension by the NFL. Watson signed the richest guaranteed money contract in NFL history that will pay him $230 million through 2026, but his base salary in 2022 is only $1 million. That’s a clear sign Watson could be suspended at some point in 2022, since Watson would miss out on only a half a million bucks if he was suspended for eight games, for example. At least Jacoby Brissett is serviceable with starting experience. It’s hard to say Watson is a big upgrade over Dak Prescott, but it’s also fair to say Watson’s clearly a better passer than Dak. Watson is ideally teammed with a #1 who can lift the lid off a defense, but he should do well with Cooper, who is an extremely polished route-runner who consistently gets open. He’ll indisputably be the top target for Watson, so Cooper's targets will be rising. He actually saw five or fewer targets in seven of his 15 games last year. UPDATED: 3/21

Allen Robinson (LAR) — Considering the salary he’s commanded (3 years, $46 million), Robert Woods is expected to be moved, so A-Rob has landed in an ideal spot. He’ll be the #2 for the Rams, but he’s really more of a #1 type than Cooper Kupp, which is perfect for Robinson because he’s an ideal #1 at this point, anyway. The bottom line is he moves on to a very good offense with a major upgrade at QB in Matthew Stafford, and Robinson is a good fit. The Rams aren’t really a vertical passing offense. They do take shots, but they are designed shots. Their offense is based on the intermediate passing game, and that’s Robinson’s game as well. Our Greg Cosell thinks “Robinson can be very efficient in the context of the Rams passing game.” so we’re looking at 80+ grabs for A-Rob this year. There were only 19 guys who hit that number last year. If Robinson can get it done in the red zone, he could flirt with WR1 production. However, they are still interested in bringing Odell Beckham back. I would not expect it, but OBJ may be willing to take a team-friendly deal. UPDATED: 4/1

Michael Pittman (IND) — Pittman was one of my favorite receivers in the 2020 class, and he’s lived up to my high billing. He hasn’t been as productive as Justin Jefferson, Tee Higgins, and CeeDee Lamb, but he’s right where I thought he’d be so far. I felt Matt Ryan was an upgrade over Carson Wentz the moment the move went down, but I was surprised to see proof of how much better Ryan was than Wentz last year, as our Graham Barfield made a strong case for Ryan > Wentz based on data. Wentz does have a stronger arm and more mobility, and he was above average for most of the season, but Ryan’s accuracy, consistency, and poise should elevate Pittman further after a breakout 2021. The key is Ryan’s lucrative history working with his top receivers. Per Graham, Ryan has supported a fantasy WR1 (top-12 finish in points per game) in 13 of his 14 career seasons, and he had a chance to go 14-for-14 last year if Calvin Ridley was on the field all season. Ryan has also supported 24 different receivers to WR35 or better with Ryan under center, which is a huge number. Pittman’s status as the WR20-25 off the board shouldn’t change much, but the Ryan factor is a legit angle that helps him stand out around 60-75 picks into a draft. PUBLISHED: 3/22

Courtland Sutton (DEN) — The addition of Russell Wilson is good news for all the receivers here, but I’m with Graham Barfield, whose focus is on Sutton as the top beneficiary with Wilson now on board. I love Jerry Jeudy, and he can run, but Sutton’s the downfield specialist here. His 16.5-yard average depth of target was second-highest among the 92 WRs that got at least 50 targets last season, but 30% of the looks that went his way last season were uncatchable, per SIS. Wilson is one of the best deep-ball throwers of all time, so unlike last year, I might be willing to get behind Sutton as a pick at his ADP. PUBLISHED: 3/16

Christian Kirk (JAX) — Kirk got paid after setting career-highs in targets (101), yards (984), PFF receiving grade (72.7), and YPRR (1.81) last year, but he actually didn’t even match the 12.9 FPG he averaged in 2019. I loved him as a pick that year, but he was very volatile, so the hope is the contract ensures a steady dose of targets, which it should. Kirk may even deserve that after he averaged an excellent 16.3 FPG, 67.8 YPG, and 8.0 targets per game as Arizona’s No. 1 WR once DeAndre Hopkins went down in Week 14. However, there are way too many red flags here for me to bite on Kirk at his elevated ADP (I’m guessing 60-80 overall). The organization appears clueless, and I’m not a Doug Pederson guy, so despite this upgrade and the forthcoming increased volume, Kirk is a clear avoid for me. PUBLISHED: 3/16

Michael Gallup (DAL) — With Cedrick Wilson and Amari Cooper gone, Gallup is in a great spot playing the #2 role behind CeeDee Lamb. He tore his ACL in Week 17, but the Cowboys must be confident in his health, given the state of their WRs corps right now. There’s a 30% target share for Gallup to absorb, and the last time he was Dak Prescott’s #2 WR, he averaged 15.2 FPG in 2019. Gallup can now line up inside more more often, which is a good situation for production, since Lamb would then spend more time lining up outside gainst the league’s top corners. PUBLISHED: 3/17

Donovan Peoples-Jones (CLE) — We’ll see if the Browns make a considerable move at receiver like adding Deshaun Watson’s guy Will Fuller, so DPJ’s upgrade may be temporary. But if DPJ opens the season as the clear WR2 opposite Amari Cooper, it’s a great spot for Peoples-Jones, who is a little straighline-ish, but who can run and get vertical. DPJ has one of the best aDot numbers in the league over the last two seasons (16.0), and he’s rolling with an incredible 11.6 yards-per-target and 18.8 YPR his first two seasons. If he’s starting with Watson, one of the best deep-ball throwers in the league, it’s a potential boon to his fantasy output. PUBLISHED: 3/19

Auden Tate (ATL) — I’ve always liked Tate, and he’s still just 25 years old. At 6’5, he’s a great red zone option, and he can run for a big man. He moves on to the Falcons, who have a huge need at WR, so Tate’s stock has improved considerably. It’s entirely possible that he emerges as something of a go-to guy on the outside for Marcus Mariota in 2022. As it stands pre-draft, he’s the undisputed top WR on the outside in Atlanta. PUBLISHED: 4/1

Tight Ends

Gerald Everrett (LAC) — I’ve never been a big Everrett guy, but he produced down the stretch last year with some improved volume, and he landed in a very good spot this year on the Chargers. Everett’s yet to reach 50+ receptions, 500+ receiving yards, or 5 TDs in a season, but he came close in ‘21 with career-highs across the board with 48/478/4 receiving (10.0 YPR) on 63 targets (13.3% share) to finish as the TE22 with 7.9 FPG. He also played a career-best 75% of the snaps in 15 games, missing two games with COVID. His slot rate soared to 33.6% under Seattle OC Shane Waldron, and I’d bet he will be used similarly in LA, since Jared Cook was often a big slot for the Chargers last year. Everett will likely be only the fourth option in the passing game, but Cook was in a similar spot last year and finished a solid 14th in TE targets (83). Playing with Justin Herbert in a very good offense, Everrett looks like a solid best ball TE2 or a great TE3, and he’s a low-end-to-mid-TE2 with some upside in redraft. PUBLISHED: 3/21

Irv Smith (MIN) — I love me some Irv Smith, and HC Kevin O’Connell said this week that his recovery from knee surgery (meniscus) is going well. They’re not going to rush him, but it looks like he’s set to have a large role with Tyler Conklin departed. Conkin put up 61/593/3 with Smith out, and given Irv’s previous red zone work (a TD on over 10% of his catches), there’s a top-8 finish within reach for a healthy Smith in 2022. PUBLISHED: 4/1

Harrison Bryant (CLE) — With Austin Hooper released, it’s go-time for my favorite sleeper TE in the 2020 class. And what do I like about him? Ball skills, route-running, and positional alignment flexibility. He also did some nice things in the red zone as a rookie in ‘20. They do still have David Njoku here, and we don’t know how many games Deshaun Watson will play, but Watson’s an upgrade over Baker Mayfield for sure, so the arrow is definitely pointing up for Bryant heading into year three. If they still plan on playing a lot of 12 personnel, Bryant will be on the field plenty. UPDATED: 3/19

Defense/Special Teams

None of note.

DOWNGRADES

Players whom we’re feeling less optimistic about based on training camp reports and injury news.

Quarterbacks

Patrick Mahomes (KC) — I was extremely impressed with how Mahomes handled the adversity last year when the offense hit a rough patch and defenses consistently played with two deep safeties to guard against the chunk plays the deadly Mahomes is capable of making. In a way, 2021 helped him prepare early for the loss of Tyreek Hill, since the big plays to Hill weren’t as frequent, which forced Mahomes to stay patient. Things were going well in the second half of the season - until the second half of the AFC Championship game when he was horrendous. That’s the last we’ve seen of Mahomes, and now he’s lost Tyreek. No matter how you slice it, he’s a downgrade right now, even with JuJu Smith-Schuster (in the Byron Pringle role) and Marquez Valdez-Scantling (in the DeMarcus Robinson role) added. I’m still expecting them to add another high-impact receiver to replace Hill, so we’ll see what they do in the draft. UPDATED: 3/27

Aaron Rodgers (GB) — Uh, oh. For man I lovingly call the “complicated fella,” things just got…complicated. Davante Adams is in Vegas and Marquez Valdez-Scantling is in KC, so Rodgers is now left with, quite literally, the worst receiving corps in the NFL. Obviously, the Packers will be making moves at receiver, so stay tuned. But replacing Adams is a tough ask - even if they manage to add two high-quality receivers in the draft. Rodgers is just fringe QB1 until further notice in my opinion, but if he’s playing inspired, he can definitely still post strong digits. UPDATED: 3/27

Running Backs

Cordarrelle Patterson (ATL) — When it comes to Patterson’s fantasy value, it’s probably ideal that he returned to the Falcons, who are seriously lacking talent at the skill positions. Atlanta is where Patterson was finally unlocked after eight years of inconsistent usage and moderate fantasy production, thanks to HC Arthur Smith. The Falcons were a mess last year, but that helped Patterson grab hold of a large role and rack up 1166 yards from scrimmage and 11 TDs, good for 9th among all RBs in total fantasy points. He wore down considerably in the second half of the season, so they need to find another RB option who can handle more of the workload than the other Falcons backs in ‘21, but the continuity Patterson will have this season is a plus. However, I view the addition of Marcus Mariota as a downgrade for Patterson. It’s possible that HC Smith finds a good formula in terms of utilizing these two, but Mariota represents a downgrade from Matt Ryan in terms of his passing, and Mariota could easily vulture short 4-5 rushing TDs from Patterson. Patterson’s cost will be low this summer, but I’m still going to avoid him because I usually avoid RBs coming out of nowhere and getting love the next season (like Mike Davis in 2021). UPDATED: 3/27

JD McKissic (WAS) — McKissic is back, and considering the ballerism that he displayed as a receiver and as a sneaky-productive runner, we should presume his role will be unchanged from 2021. I could see Antonio Gibson getting a handful of extra snaps in obvious passing situations, but the bigger issue for JDM is Carson Wentz, who is not much of a checkdown charlie. In Indy last year, Colts’ RBs got only 6.6 targets per game, down from 8.3 in 2020. Indy’s Nyheim Hines went from 63/482/4 receiving and 12.1 FPG with Philip Rivers in 2020 to only 40/310/1 and 6.7 FPG, so I won’t be very interested in McKissic. UPDATED: 3/16

Chuba Hubbard (CAR) — He got nearly 200 touches as a rookie, but his tape and the old eyeball test wasn’t great with Hubbard, who showed himself to be “just a guy” in his inaugural NFL campaign. He’ll probably hang around in Carolina a little while longer, but we know they had concerns with him in pass-pro, and now that they’ve added D’Onta Foreman, which was a surprise, Hubbard looks undraftable. The Titans really wanted Foreman back because he projects well as a Derrick Henry handcuff, but assuming Christian McCaffrey is still here, it would appear they want to work the bigger and more powerful Foreman in liberally as a changeup to CMC. PUBLISHED: 3/16

Wide Receivers

Tyreek Hill (KC) — An obvious downgrade moving from KC’s offense and Patrick Mahomes to Miami with a programmed QB in Tua Tagovailoa. Tua does not have the height, build, arm talent, second-reaction ability, and durability Mahomes has, obviously, so it’s a big downgrade. I’m also wondering why the Chiefs would trade Hill while he and Mahomes are in their primes. Hill did seemingly have a beef with the coaching staff last year. He’s also been banged around quite a bit in 114 games for the Chiefs and he’s dealt with hamstring, quad, and heel injuries dating back to 2020. I do not have a good vibe on Hill, and while some on staff may disagree, we’re all in agreement that he’s a downgrade this year for fantasy. With defenses taking away the deep balls to Hill last year, he had five-year lows in YPR (11.2), YAC (4.0), and aDOT (11.0), so he needed volume to come through, which he got with career-highs in catches per game (6.5) and targets per game (9.4). But Tua’s going to be throwing to a stable of running backs, a couple of TEs, a solid target in Cedrick Wilson, and of course Jaylen Waddle, who was one of only nine wideouts to haul in 100 or more passes last year (Hill was another). I’d like to avoid potential landmines early in drafts, so I’ll be viewing Hill as a WR2 only, which probably means I’ll draft him zero times. In a keeper/dynasty league, even though his value has taken a bit hit, I’d look to sell. Despite lowered returns, I think that would be profitable long-term. PUBLISHED: 3/23

DK Metcalf (SEA) and Tyler Lockett (SEA) — Obviously, it’s a major downgrade from Russell Wilson to Drew Lock, but this is still a fluid situation and Seattle could certainly make a splash move at the position, such as draft one in the first round. PUBLISHED: 3/18

Hunter Renfrow (LV) — I agree with Graham Barfield’s assessment that Renfrow is a loser in the Davante Adams trade. Renfrow was great last year, but a lot of his production was by necessity due to Darren Waller’s various injuries. In the 10 healthy Waller games, Renfrow dipped to 13.7 FPG, down from the 17.7 FPG in the seven games without Waller. So Renfrow’s volume was going down no matter what. And now with Adams immediately locked in as the go-to guy, Renfrow will go from being mainly the top option in the passing game to the third option. Renfrow’s value obviously jumps if either Adams or Waller missed time, but he looks like a 11.5-12 FPG guy in the WR35-40 range in PPR. PUBLISHED: 3/18

Robert Woods (TEN) — Woods is a downgrade moving to the run-heavy Titans, but with Allen Robinson added by the Rams, it’s not a considerable downgrade for Bobby Trees. Woods needed some time to get on the same page as Matthew Stafford, but Stafford was also locked in on Cooper Kupp from the moment he became a Ram. I’d expect the consistent Ryan Tannehill to get him the ball, and Woods is expected to be ready for training camp coming off his ACL. He certainly landed on a roster devoid of WR talent behind A.J. Brown, so unless the Titans add one of the money quality receivers in this draft, Woods should be in a very good situation working on Brown while lining up in the slot and at the Z receiver position. He’ll be hard pressed as a Titan to match his 8.3 targets per game from the last four seasons, but I might still be very interested in Woods this summer if his recovery is going well and he’s affordable in drafts. PUBLISHED: 3/21

Cedrick Wilson (MIA) — Back in early March at the Combine, I asked Cowboys HC Mike McCarthy about Wilson’s recent growth and he said he “loved him as a player and person” and that he was “extremely professional.” But Miami was pretty aggressive with their contract offer, so he will now mostly man the slot, which is ideal for him and also sets up Jaylen Waddle to move outside more, which could untap his full potential as a big-play threat. Of course, they also added Tyreek Hill, who like Wilson and Waddle can lineup anywhere. Wilson met or exceeded 17.4 fantasy points in his final three games with a snap share over 45%, but his snaps may not rise much in Miami now that Hill has been added. Hill has to be considered the top target with Waddle second, and I’d have to say Wilson will fall in line behind TE Mike Gesicki in the pecking order, so we’re looking at Wilson as the fourth option, which isn’t great. Honestly, with Tyreek added, Wilson would have been better off staying in Dallas. UPDATED: 3/25

Bryan Edwards (LV) — Edwards has underwhelmed as a former third-round pick (2020). The Raiders were very high on him last summer, but Derek Carr never established enough confidence and chemistry with Edwards last year. He flashed at times, but it was a rough year. And now, with Davante Adams added, you have to wonder if Edwards will be traded. The guy is averaging 17.0 YPR for his career so far with a very decent 61% catch rate, so I’m not totally bailing just yet in case he manages to emerge in Year Three, but he’s screwed if he doesn’t get moved. UPDATED:3/17

Tight Ends

Kyle Pitts (ATL) — It looks like the Falcons may draft a QB in April but let him sit behind veteran Marcus Mariota for at least most of 2021, which is not good for Pitts, who can only be considered a downgrade. Pitts’ final rookie numbers were terrific last year, but he was much less reliable for fantasy than his digits would indicate. Pitts was the TE9 on the season, but if you took away his three big weeks (9/119/1 Week 5, 7/163 Week 6, and 6/102 Week 7), he was only TE18 with only 8.9 FPG. Pitts will lose some upside due to the downgrade at QB from Matt Ryan to Mariota, and he should be a marked man on a team void of offensive talent. UPDATED: 3/27

Noah Fant (SEA) — Welp. He’s at least familiar with the current projected starter in Seattle this year, Drew Lock. HC Pete Carroll claims he was high on Lock coming out and it’s possible Lock’s overall play improves in a run-heavy offense. He’s had some success with Lock and could easily top his career-highs in targets per game (6.2) and routes per game (27.6), but Lock’s uneven play will probably remain prohibitive. The Seahawks also brought back Will Dissly on a three-year, $24 million contract, so he’s a threat. It’s a solid spot overall, as Gerald Everett ran a route on a strong 80.1% of Seattle’s pass attempts (356 of 444) in his 15 games last season, but I’m still voting a thumbs down for Fant’s 2022 fantasy value unless they land another QB who is better than Lock (not hard to do, mind you). PUBLISHED: 3/16

C.J. Uzomah (NYJ) — Uzomah moving on to the Jets made sense and appeared solid for fantasy - until they also signed former Viking Tyler Conklin, which is a major fantasy problem for both players. It’s a huge QB downgrade for Uzomah, who posted career-highs across the board with 49/493/5 receiving with Joe Burrow last year. I’m fairly optimistic on Zach Wilson, but that’s still a massive drop-off. And with Conklin in the mix, not to mention a solid trio of WRs, I can’t even say Uzomah’s volume will rise significantly from the 63 targets he saw last year (21st). This move is a downgrade from Uzomah as the fourth target in the excellent Bengals pass offense. PUBLISHED: 3/16

Defense/Special Teams

None of note.

Holding Steady

Players who we’re not ready to upgrade or downgrade, but whose values should notability remain relatively unchanged from 2020.

Carson Wentz (WAS) — If you took away the Hero Ball and isolated dumb plays from Wentz last year, he was considerably better on tape than he was in 2020, and his stats tell that story with 27 TD passes versus just 7 INTs (compared to 16/15 in ‘20) this past year along with a 62.4% completion rate versus only 57.4% the year before in Philly. The offense in Washington will be undoubtedly better than it was in Philly two years ago, but the move represents a slight downgrade with Wentz leaving his guy HC Frank Reich and moving onto a team with a lesser OL and running game. Still, Wentz and his Hero Ball is an upgrade over Taylor Heinicke and his hospital balls in DC, and Washington’s group of skill players is better than Indy’s (as of publication, at least). Wentz’ apparent lack of accountability and poor locker room presence is a concern, as are injuries, but he gets it done for fantasy more often than not as long as his coaches aren’t trying to hide him (as they seemingly were late in 2021), and I’d expect his rocky but relatively solid fantasy production to continue in D.C. I’m certainly not targeting him unless he’s dirt cheap in a 2-QB or deep league, though. PUBLISHED: 3/16

Rashad Penny (SEA) — As expected, Penny is back in Seattle, but in a dry RB market, he could command only a one-year deal. It’s at least another “prove it” year for Penny, who would likely bring in a solid payday and multi-year contract if he balls out in 2022. Of course, injuries remain a problem for Penny, as we saw last year with a calf and then a later hamstring issue. Through Week 12, he was worthless, but then he was a league winner. From Weeks 13 through 18, Penny scored the most PPR points in fantasy history over the final six games of the season. The man averaged 6.9 yards per carry on 102 carries during this run, and with Pete Carroll sticking and Russell Wilson gone, we know Seattle will be all about the run. I’d like to see a guy like Baker Mayfield land here to upgrade the QB spot, but I’m not that worried about veteran Chris Carson, despite the positive reports on his recovery. As long as Penny is going off the board as around the RB25-30, I’m okay with him as a pick, especially if it’s Round 6 of a 12-team draft or later. PUBLISHED: 3/21

Chase Edmonds (MIA) — Edmonds hasn’t handled more than 116 carries in a season, and new HC Mike McDaniel’s 49ers last year ran the rock a whopping 499 times last year, fifth-most in the league. Edmonds is a complementary back whose production can pop in PPR leagues with a solid showing of RB28 with 12.0 FPG last year, but his lack of short-yardage and goal line success is a problem in non-ppr leagues, where he was only the RB38 with 8.4 FPG. Edmunds has scored on only 2.7% of his 333 career carries, which is extremely low. Oh, and now TD enthusiast Tyreek Hill is here. Edmunds does have a solid 96 receptions over his last two seasons in 28 games (3.5 per game), and Raheem Mostert isn’t a huge threat at this point, but I don’t think they’re done adding to their backfield. They do have the redundant Myles Gaskin under contract, so this is a lateral move for Edmunds compared to being the RB1B in Arizona last year. However, if they opt not to draft one of the many quality “bigger” backs in this year’s draft, Edmunds will be looking solid based on being paid starter’s money in 2022. UPDATED: 3/27

James White (NE) — I was very high on White at his ADP of around 135 last summer because I was convinced that Mac Jones could support Brady-like production when it came to White, and through his first two games, White was the RB15 with 15 FPG while catching 12 of his 13 target from Jones. He’s a year older and will be 30 this season, and injuries are officially a concern, but NE looks poised to split up its backfield into threes as they did last year, and a healthy White has that passing down back role on lockdown. PUBLISHED: 3/16

Davante Adams (GB) — At first blush, even though Adams’ usual volume will take a hit on the Raiders, I’m inclined to place him as a holding steady entry due to his long relationship with Derek Carr. Adams has been top-2 in the league in targets/game and target share the last four years, which will be tough to equal in Vegas. The Raiders were 8th in pass rate (63.6%) last year and new HC Josh McDaniels is smart enough to build his offense around his best players, so I think they will be even more pass-happy. I believe Carr’s about ready to be fully unlocked and is a good bet to let it rip when it comes to throwing it to Adams. He’s not the arm talent Rodgers is, but I’m still viewing Adams as a top-5 WR. That’s slight enough of a downgrade that I consider Adams to be holding steady. PUBLISHED: 3/17

DJ Chark (DET) — Chark gets a downgrade at QB going from Trevor Lawrence to Jared Goff (and a rookie?), but he’s a change-of-scenery guy all the way. Things didn’t go well for him in Jacksonville, and he did briefly flash well in 2021 before going down with a broken ankle in Week 4. Chark posted a solid 11.5 FPG in three healthy games and was one of just six WRs with a perfect PFF receiving grade (99.9) on deep throws in 2019. He has a chance to be their top perimeter receiver over Josh Reynolds, with 2021 rookie star Amon-Ra St. Brown in the slot. Goff is a poor downfield thrower at this point of his career, so expectations need to be in check, but this is a solid landing spot for him overall in terms of target share and their need for a vertical outside receiver. PUBLISHED: 3/16

Gabriel Davis (BUF) — There’s been a lot of change in Buffalo, but it’s all just fine for Davis and his role this year. Jamison Crowder is an upgrade over Cole Beasley, but Crowder’s had availability problems. Emmanuel Sanders will not be back, so if anything, Davis’ value is ticking up. It doesn't hurt that Stefon Diggs has been cryptically tweeting lately. PUBLISHED: 4/1

Austin Hooper (TEN) — Hooper hasn’t been high on the fantasy radar the last two seasons in Cleveland, posting 84 receptions for 780 yards and 7 TDs in what was basically a timeshare situation. He had his moments over the last two seasons, but his efficiency dropped considerably from his days in Atlanta with Matt Ryan. But he lands in a good spot in Tennessee, where the solid Ryan Tannehill can get him the ball. Hooper won’t get a ton of targets on the run-heavy Titans, but his savvy in the red zone (17 TDs the last four seasons) could put him in the streaming conversation, especially if veteran Anthony Firkser remains unsigned. PUBLISHED: 3/19

Watch List

Players who we’re not ready to upgrade or downgrade but their situations demand monitoring based on training camp reports and injury news.

Jameis Winston (NO) — Jameis is back on the Saints, but for now he’s still only a watch list guy because New Orleans is a good bet to draft a top QB now, and also because their receiving corps stinks and Sean Payton is retired. OC Pete Carmichael has been with Payton and the Saints since 2006, and the offense was more than fine in 2012 with Payton suspended all year, finishing third in the NFL in points for. Of course, that was with Drew Brees, Darren Sproles, Jimmy Graham, Marques Colston, and Lance Moore, among others. We’ll have a better feel about Jameis after the draft and once we get the skinny on Alvin Kamara’s off-the-field situation. We’ll also want to check in on Michael Thomas. Winston is at least employed now that the QB carousel is winding down, so his stock has risen. But we’re a long way from Week 1. PUBLISHED: 3/21

Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Ronald Jones (KC) — I understand why the Chiefs wanted to add a younger back in Jones, who has flashed in his young career, mainly as a runner between the tackles. I’ve never been a Jones fan, and that’s mainly because of his inferior receiving ability, but his poor protection and hands could open up a huge role for CEH in the passing game, since Jerrick McKinnon and Darrel Williams won’t likely be back. Edwards-Helaire has clearly flashed the last two seasons, but he’s also struggled with injuries and in short-yardage, so the Jones signing makes sense. But if CEH is competing mostly with Jones only for snaps and touches, that’s not bad. Williams and McKinnon combined last year for 77 targets, which is CEH’s career total in two seasons. CEH improved his catch rate to 83% last year, up from 67% in 2020, and if he can get those 77 targets and haul in 75% of them, he’d be in the 55-60 catch range. Only five RBs hit 55 catches in 2021, so Edwards-Helaire could be a sneaky value with an ADP of around 60-70 overall. One thing to note on Jones’ contract: it has VERY little guaranteed money, so they won’t be obligated to play him because they’re paying him. UPDATED: 4/1

Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson (NE) — Both players are under contract in 2021, and we’re right back to where we were last summer with James White in the mix on passing downs. If White is his usual self, he’ll own the receiving and hurry-up role, thus capping both player’s upside. Of course, drafting both Harris and Stevenson will likely net you 15+ TDs, plus there’s upside with either of them if either misses time. PUBLISHED: 3/16

Devin Singletary (BUF) — He avoided the JD McKissic move to Buffalo, but he’s not out of the woods yet. The Bills have been seriously considering RB in the first round of this month’s draft, so Singletary’s value is very much in limbo. PUBLISHED: 4/1

Russell Gage (TB) — I watched Gage closely last year because I had him on my top fantasy team, and he was mostly outstanding, averaging a near-elite 15.6 FPG and 8.5 targets per game the second half of the season. Typically a slot guy, Gage was forced outside for more than half his snaps, and he surprisingly won against some of the league’s best corners. Gage is essentially replacing Antonio Brown, and he’s in a great spot, but he’s not nearly as talented as AB even at Brown’s advancing age. Still, he’s a good pickup for the Bucs, who have soured on a trio of young receivers (Tyler Johnson, Scotty Miller, and Jaelon Darden), and may be easing Chris Godwin back from his torn ACL. I may have prefered him back in Atlanta for more volume, but Gage could certainly wind up being quite sneaky in drafts this year. PUBLISHED: 3/16

Byron Pringle (CHI) — Pringle was very solid for the Chiefs last year, moving ahead of Mecole Hardman and Demarcus Robinson in the pecking order and posting a career-best 42/568/5 receiving (13.5 YPR) on 60 targets (9.5% share) for 7.5 FPG on a 49% snap share in 17 games. He also had 12 catches and three touchdowns in three postseason games. The Bears are extremely thin at receiver this year, so even if they use a day two pick on a wideout in Rounds 2-3, Pringle should be locked into a large role. He was very solid on film last year, and while he’s facing a downgrade at QB, Justin Fields does have a very good arm and can make excellent throws. Pringle is still a little bit of a wait-and-see guy for 2022 until we see what they do in the draft, but he’s still worth a late-round pick in Best Ball formats because of his potential workload, which could be substantial on the receiver-poor Bears. PUBLISHED: 3/21

Andy Isabella (ARI) — I know some Cardinals fans want the team to cut Isabella, and maybe they will. But with Christian Kirk gone and AJ Green’s status in serious question, he could actually get a chance to play a lot, and he does have talent. Or, the Cards give up on him, and then someone like Sean McVay eventually turns him into a 1000-yard receiver. PUBLISHED: 4/1

Dan Aronold and Evan Engram (JAX) — What a mess. Engram last year had the league’s worst yards per route run average (.86), and he had the second-shortest aDOT (5.4) among 35 TEs who saw 40+ targets. He flashed a couple of times, but he mostly looked like dog dirt. Doug Pederson loves the TE position in his offense, and Engram should be in the Zach Ertz/big slot role. But unless he blows my doors off this summer, I’ll consider Arnold the better player and will be avoiding both. PUBLISHED: 3/16

Fantasy Sports Writers Association Hall of Famer John Hansen has been an industry leader and pioneer since 1995, when he launched Fantasy Guru. His content has been found over the years on ESPN.com, NFL.com, SiriusXM, DirecTV, Yahoo!, among others outlets. In 2015 he sold Fantasy Guru and in 2020 founded FantasyPoints.com.

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