The Fantasy Points staff is covering every major offensive transaction from the 2022 off-season in our Off-season Tracker articles. We broke down all the important free agency signings and trades from a fantasy perspective in articles sorted by position. The articles are ordered by players changing teams ("New Homes") and by players sticking with their 2021 teams ("Staying Put"). The players are also ordered by their potential fantasy impact for the 2022 season in each section. Be sure to also check out Graham Barfield’s “Fantasy Fallout” pieces on the biggest transactions of the off-season.
Deshaun Watson (Cle, 27) — In an absolute stunner, the Browns acquired Watson after previously being reported out, for three first-round picks plus more. Per ESPN’s Adam Schefter, he is also signing a $230 million contract over five years… with every dollar guaranteed.
Fantasy Points: Well, there are 230 million reasons why Watson — who previously ruled out the Browns — chose to go play in Cleveland. Let’s call it like it is — the Browns are going to absorb the massive PR hit and likely suspension for Watson because of his age and talent. And there is reason to believe Cleveland still expects him to be suspended, beyond the obvious fact that he still has 22 civil lawsuits against him. According to Ian Rapoport, Watson’s new $230-million contract has just $1 million in base salary for 2022… so Watson’s docked pay for any suspension will come from a number that amounts to .43% of his total contract. Make no mistake, the Browns did not make this move for 2022. Watson will likely play at some point this season, but this is for the future as much for the present. Yes, it’s obvious that Watson raises the floor and ceiling of every Browns skill player, including new WR1 Amari Cooper. But we don’t know how many games Watson will play in 2022. It’s gonna take some time to process this one. As for the Texans, it looks like they’ll go into 2022 with Davis Mills as their QB and a war chest of picks to attempt to rebuild the mess that Watson and Bill O’Brien left behind.
Check out Graham Barfield’s Fantasy Fallout piece for much more on the Watson trade.
Russell Wilson (Den, 34) — The Broncos made one of the biggest blockbuster deals in NFL history, acquiring Wilson and a fourth-round pick from the Seahawks for two first-round picks, a fifth-round pick, QB Drew Lock, TE Noah Fant, and DT Shelby Harris.
Fantasy Points: This move will be analyzed to death, but obviously, Wilson is a massive upgrade for the Broncos, who have been putting Neosporin on a festering wound under center ever since Peyton Manning retired. Wilson obviously has a massive impact on this roster, but especially WRs Courtland Sutton and Jerry Jeudy, plus TE Albert Okwuegbunam. It’s an onion with tons of layers to peel back, especially with regards to how it impacts the Seahawks, but Wilson is now in a loaded AFC West division and on a really good roster. It’s just that his road to the Super Bowl is a lot rockier now. It’ll be fun to watch.
Check out Graham Barfield’s Fantasy Fallout piece for much more on the Wilson trade.
Matt Ryan (Ind, 37) — The Colts acquired Ryan from the Falcons for a 2022 third-round draft pick.
Fantasy Points: Once the Falcons made a deal with the devil in the Deshaun Watson pursuit — only for the devil to stand them up on the altar — it was clear it was time for them to just blow the whole thing up. Atlanta would have been awful with or without Ryan in 2022, so they got something for him. Meanwhile, this is a masterstroke from Colts GM Chris Ballard. Make no mistake, Ballard lost the initial trade for Carson Wentz. But he picked up two picks for Wentz from Washington, more than he gave up for Ryan, who is seven years older but unquestionably a better player than Wentz. Ryan will give some stability to these Colts, and while we wouldn’t expect their run-first tendencies to totally change, Ryan allows Frank Reich the ability to actually put the ball in his QB’s hands late in a close game, something he didn’t do in the second half of the 2021 season with Wentz. The Colts likely have more moves to make to solidify their thin receiving group, but Ryan is an upgrade for the whole offense, including WR Michael Pittman.
Carson Wentz (Was, 30) — The Commanders acquired Wentz from the Colts for two third-round picks and a swap of second-round picks. The 2023 third-round pick from Washington can turn into a 2023 second-round pick under the same condition as the Eagles’ trade of Wentz last year — Wentz needs to play 70% of the offensive snaps.
Fantasy Points: On the surface, Wentz’s stats looked significantly better in 2021 than the Colts’ perception of him. He threw 27 TD to just 7 INT, and his turnovers were a huge part of his disastrous 2020 season in Philly. He cleaned those up. But he collapsed down the stretch with two woeful performances, including one of the worst games by a quarterback all season long in the Week 18 loss to the Jaguars, which eliminated the Colts from playoff contention. Despite his overall solid job eliminating turnovers, Wentz still had some major brain farts with bad decisions, and he missed too many easy throws. Wentz is almost certainly an upgrade on Taylor Heinicke, but after the Commanders struck out on a Russell Wilson trade, it feels like a panic move for Washington. Two teams in two years have now given up on Wentz for locker-room reasons, including a Colts team that had Wentz’s hand-picked mentor in Frank Reich in charge. (Reich reportedly apologized to Colts owner Jim Irsay for advocating for a Wentz trade.) Wentz doesn’t seem like a bad person, but it’s clearly a lack of accountability — and, of course, injuries — that has held him back from the massive upside he showed in 2017. It’s unlikely he ever reaches it again.
Check out Graham Barfield’s Fantasy Fallout piece for much more on the Wentz trade.
Mitchell Trubisky (Pit, 28) — The Steelers are signing Trubisky to a two-year deal, likely to be their starting quarterback, multiple sources reported.
Fantasy Points: Perhaps one of the biggest surprise developments of the last few weeks is just how glowing the “inside” view of Trubisky is. Despite Trubisky throwing just 8 passes in the 2021 season as a backup to Josh Allen — one of them being intercepted — the prevailing belief around league circles is that Trubisky’s “career reset” went extremely well in Buffalo behind the scenes. In fact, the market for Trubisky was robust enough that he was able to choose the Steelers over the Giants given the better chance to start without competition, which is probably shocking to many who saw his career flame out in Chicago so spectacularly. Still, Matt Nagy was clearly an issue, and Trubisky does have a 29-21 record as a starter. One thing Trubisky’s time in Buffalo apparently taught him to do was to rely more on his natural athleticism and mobility, which could honestly make him pretty useful for fantasy in the right spot. With Pittsburgh’s offensive coordinator Matt Canada favoring RPOs and the run game in general, Trubisky might have found that spot. The Steelers’ offensive line still needs a ton of work as of Trubisky’s signing, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see him turn in solid QB2 numbers with a set of weapons that includes Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool, and Pat Freiermuth. Hell, he might actually be an upgrade over the mummified remains of Ben Roethlisberger. His signing could help open up the run game for Najee Harris, as well.
Marcus Mariota (Atl, 29) — The Falcons announced a two-year deal with Mariota, shortly after their reported trade of Matt Ryan to the Colts. Per Tom Pelissero, it’s effectively a one-year deal with a team option for 2023.
Fantasy Points: Mariota has spent the last two seasons as a backup to Derek Carr in Vegas. He made no starts, but was used in a “Mariota package” with the Raiders in 2021, using his running ability to give defenses a different look. Mariota attempted just 2 passes in 2021, but posted 13/87/1 as a runner. Unfortunately, as has often been the case for Mariota, he didn’t manage to escape the injury bug despite barely playing. A quad injury cost him a month and a half early in 2021, and it will be fair to question if he has the durability to be a full-time starter. The Falcons are likely signing him as a bridge guy, whether they draft a high-end rookie this year or next. The move reunites Mariota with coach Arthur Smith, who was on the staff in Tennessee that drafted and developed Mariota. However, his only experience with Smith as playcaller was in 2019 — the year Mariota got benched for Ryan Tannehill. As it stands, Mariota will be throwing the ball to perhaps the worst supporting cast in the NFL. TE Kyle Pitts will be heavily targeted, and Mariota has had good numbers in the past throwing to Delanie Walker and, briefly, Darren Waller (Mariota targeted Waller 12 times on 22 throws in his lone full game as a Raider, with 9/150/1 results). But this is likely to be a run-first team, and fortunately, Mariota’s legs make that more dangerous. Mariota will have some superflex/streaming value as long as he’s healthy and Atlanta’s starter, which is no guarantee.
Jacoby Brissett (Cle, 30) — The Browns signed Brissett to a one-year deal. He’ll back up Deshaun Watson.
Fantasy Points: Brissett is an experienced backup QB with some starting pedigree, which is why the Browns are signing him to back up the likely suspended Deshaun Watson. He went 2-3 as the Dolphins’ starter in 2021 for an injured Tua Tagovailoa, throwing 5 TD to 4 INT. Brissett simply doesn’t have the pedigree to be the starting QB on a team with designs of airing the ball out — he’s averaged just 199.6 passing yards per game in 37 career starts with three different teams, mostly with the Colts — but we know the Browns have one of the best running teams in the NFL. And Brissett takes care of the ball, with a very low interception rate of 1.4% in his career, and he’s also excellent on QB sneaks, so much so that teams have put in a specific Brissett “sneak” package behind the likes of Tua and Philip Rivers. In ways, he can be a caretaker in the same way that Teddy Bridgewater is, and that’s what the Browns are counting on if Watson is suspended. Brissett, by the way, comes cheaper than Case Keenum, who would also be a fantastic fill-in option, but the Browns traded him because of a higher cap number.
Teddy Bridgewater (Mia, 30) — Bridgewater is signing a one-year deal with the Dolphins, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Fantasy Points: Bridgewater is a serviceable NFL QB, but teams that have him have constantly looked for upgrades, and now it’s looking like he’s being signed as a traditional backup without a camp competition. Despite coaxing good seasons out of DJ Moore, Robby Anderson, and Curtis Samuel with the Panthers in 2020, Carolina moved on from Teddy given some late-game meltdowns and poor TD production (probably a mistake, given what they ended up with), and Bridgewater landed in Denver. However, despite a strong receiving group while throwing more TDs (18) and fewer INTs (7) than he had with Carolina the year previous, his tape was poor. Teddy has four seasons with 12 or more starts at QB, on three different teams, and still hasn’t had a 20-TD-pass season. Meanwhile, injuries have been a huge factor — we know about the knee, but more concerningly a horrifying concussion ended his season in December. As an NFL QB, he’ll keep your boat afloat, but you better not expect that boat to go anywhere while you wait for rescue. He could possibly get some starts if Tua Tagovailoa gets benched, but that is certainly not the expectation right now. He’s a quality backup for the youngster.
Tyrod Taylor (NYG, 33) — The Giants are signing Taylor to a two-year deal worth $11 million, according to Adam Schefter.
Fantasy Points: Tyrod has been a solid starter and useful fantasy player in the past, but injuries have been a huge issue for him. A hamstring problem popped up for him in Week 2, costing him six games, and then an injured wrist in December left Davis Mills as the Texans starter. As it turns out, he was the Giants’ backup plan to Mitchell Trubisky — they wanted Trubisky to come in and compete with Daniel Jones, but Trubisky chose to go to Pittsburgh, where he will almost certainly start. The details of Tyrod’s contract make it pretty clear he is Jones’ backup, though the two-year nature of the deal is interesting given the Giants could, in theory, use him as a “bridge” starter in 2023 if they move on from Dimes. As it stands now, he’s one of the better backup QBs in the NFL.
Drew Lock (Sea, 26) — Lock was acquired by Seattle as part of the massive package for Russell Wilson.
Fantasy Points: In Lock, the Seahawks have a young QB with starting experience in the event they need someone to hold down the fort this year for a rebuilding squad. But make no mistake, he is not going to be a part of their future as anything more than a backup. If he qualified, he would have ranked 31st in PFF’s passing grade in 2021, and he ranked 26th in that department in 2020. His QBR has plummeted since his rookie season. He has 25 TD to 20 INT in his career, has completed fewer than 60% of his passes in his career, and struggles with accuracy and decision-making. He has tools, but little else. DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett are down bad.
Case Keenum (Buf, 34) — The Bills acquired Keenum from the Browns for a seventh-round pick.
Fantasy Points: The Browns traded Keenum in a cost-cutting move following the acquisition of Deshaun Watson. The Bills were a willing vessel, as they lost top backup Mitchell Trubisky to Pittsburgh, where he’ll likely be the starting quarterback. The Bills place a high value on having a top backup behind Josh Allen, and Keenum certainly qualifies as such, having quarterbacked the Vikings to the NFC Championship Game in the 2017 season and going 2-0 in two starts for an injured Baker Mayfield last season. In the event he has to play, he can do enough to get the ball to the likes of Stefon Diggs — you might remember them connecting on a famous play.
Others Changing Teams
Kyle Allen (Hou, 26) — Non-tendered by the Commanders, Allen is signing a one-year deal with the Texans, where he will ostensibly back up Davis Mills.
Garrett Gilbert (LV, 31) — The big-spending Raiders had to move on from high-paid backup Marcus Mariota, so they signed Gilbert to a one-year deal to compete to back up Derek Carr.
Josh Johnson (Den, 36) — One of the NFL’s all-time journeymen, Johnson is signing with his 14th different NFL team. He made two significant appearances in 2021 — in true Johnson fashion, with two different teams. He threw 3 TDs in relief of an injured Mike White with the Jets, and then made a start for the Ravens at the last minute because of a positive COVID test for Tyler Huntley. He threw for 621 yards and 5 TD in those two games. He’ll back up Russell Wilson.
Matt Barkley (Buf, 32) — Barkley, who spent last year with the Panthers, is signing a one-year deal with the Bills. He’ll be the #3 QB behind Josh Allen and Case Keenum.
Jameis Winston (NO, 28) — Winston is signing a two-year, $26-million deal with the Saints, per Ian Rapoport.
Fantasy Points: Winston was 5-2 as the Saints’ starting QB in 2021, with 14 TD passes to 3 INT, before tearing his ACL and undergoing surgery in November. While he averaged just 25.2 pass attempts per game in his six full performances, note well that Winston was working with, potentially, the worst set of receivers in the NFL. The fact that he chucked just 3 picks was a huge positive step for him. A popular teammate, Winston returns to the Saints following their failed pursuit of Deshaun Watson, continuing his relationship with OC Pete Carmichael. Despite Sean Payton’s retirement, virtually the entire staff under new head coach Dennis Allen remains. Winston should also have the services of WR Michael Thomas this year, something he lacked a season ago. Nonetheless, his presence is a positive for RB Alvin Kamara, as Kamara was targeted on over 20% of Winston’s throws last year when active.
Tyler Huntley (Bal, 24) — The Ravens tendered Huntley as an exclusive-rights free agent.
Fantasy Points: Huntley started four games this year for an injured or sick Lamar Jackson, and played the majority of another game. In those contests, Huntley averaged 17.7 FPG, despite throwing just 3 TD to 4 INT, which would have ranked him a respectable QB14 on the full season. That’s because he managed 44/284/2 rushing in those games. At 56.8 rushing yards per game in those five games, Huntley ranked in between Jackson (63.9) and Jalen Hurts (52.3), the two most productive runners at the QB position in 2021. His season fell apart a little bit late, throwing 3 INT with no TDs over his final two games with the Ravens falling out of the playoff picture (Baltimore lost its final six games, with Huntley playing the majority of snaps in four of them), but he did plenty of good things that would make him an attractive fantasy starter if pressed into action again. Given his solid backup play, there was no reason for the Ravens to move on from him.
Mike White (NYJ, 27) — The Jets extended a restricted offer to White at the original-round tender.
Fantasy Points: White developed cult hero status for Jet fans in a four-game run filling in for the injured Zach Wilson, throwing for over 400 yards in his first career start. At that point, he was actually outplaying the rookie Wilson, but Wilson made strides late and obviously will be the Jets’ starter headed into 2022. However, Joe Flacco is also back, so while White has been tendered a contract, it’s possible the Jets let him walk if another team shows interest.
Others Staying Put
Colt McCoy (Ari, 36) — McCoy is signing a two-year deal with the Cardinals worth up to $7.5 million, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter. McCoy is a top backup and will continue as the #2 behind Kyler Murray.
Chase Daniel (LAC, 36) — The American Dream is at it again. Daniel re-signed with the Chargers on a one-year deal worth $2.2 million, per Adam Schefter. He has earned $42 million in his career while attempting 268 passes.
Brian Hoyer (NE, 37) — Hoyer will sign a two-year, $4 million deal with the Patriots to back up and mentor Mac Jones, per ESPN’s Mike Reiss.
Sean Mannion (Min, 30) — Mannion is back with the Vikings on a one-year deal. While Mike Zimmer is no longer there, it remains relevant that Zimmer essentially said Mannion was way more ready to play than 2021 third-round pick Kellen Mond.
Joe Flacco (NYJ, 37) — Flacco is back with the Jets on a one-year deal, per his agent Joe Linta.
Brandon Allen (Cin, 30) — Retaining Allen as Joe Burrow’s backup — on a one-year deal — was a priority for the Bengals. They like him as their #2 and he’s filled in capably when needed.
Chad Henne (KC, 37) — Henne is back with the Chiefs as Patrick Mahomes’ backup yet again, on a one-year deal for 2022.
Tim Boyle (Det, 28) — Boyle, a coaches’ favorite, was retained on a one-year deal worth up to $2 million, per NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo. His signing does not preclude the Lions from taking a QB in the NFL Draft.
PJ Walker (Car, 27) — Tendered as a restricted free agent.
Jeff Driskel (Hou, 29) — It’s a one-year deal. Driskel will apparently be moving back to QB after a brief tight end experiment in 2021.
Dwayne Haskins (Pit, 25) — Haskins will compete to be the backup to Mitchell Trubisky.
Brett Rypien (Den, 26) — Tendered as a restricted free agent.
Logan Woodside (Ten, 27) — Tendered as a restricted free agent.
David Blough (Det, 27) — Blough is back on a one-year deal in Detroit. He is no guarantee to make the roster.