Projected Free Agent Risers & Fallers (2022 Dynasty Fantasy Football)
After what was one of the craziest NFL seasons in recent memory, I can confidently say many fantasy football managers are ready for a break. I get it. It seemed like we were all scraping the bottom of the barrel to put together a lineup some weeks. Taking a respite from the madness has certainly been earned. If you are a dynasty format manager, however, there is no offseason. It’s a constant work-in-progress to get those rosters in tip-top shape and in contention every single season. It isn’t an easy task, but there are things we can do to get ahead of the pack. One of those things is projecting free agents landing spots and moving them accordingly. A change of scenery can rejuvenate careers, but it can also hold them back if the landing spot isn’t a good fit. For every Randy Moss to New England, there is a DeMarco Murray to Philadelphia. Making an educated guess as to who will rise and fall could set you up for success.
No one is going to argue that last season wasn’t a disappointment from Allen Robinson. The overall PPR WR9 in 2020, hopes were high. The Chicago Bears we’re finally rid of quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, who signed with the Buffalo Bills this past off-season. David Montgomery seemed to be healthy and ready to go, and with new blood at quarterback, whether it be Andy Dalton or Justin Fields, had to be good for him. We were very wrong. In 2021, Robinson finished as the PPR WR83, making him a sell-low candidate for most dynasty managers. Oh, how the mighty have fallen.
Don’t write Allen Robinson off just yet, though. While the Bears could franchise tag him for the 2022 season, that would come at a cost of $22 million. It seems unlikely Chicago would be willing to spend that kind of money with Darnell Mooney under contract through the 2023 season. All signs point to Robinson on the move to another team. If you bought him low this past season, redemption may be in order.
It stands to reason he would benefit from a change of scenery – think A.J. Green in Arizona. In a situation where Robinson doesn’t have to be the alpha wide receiver, he could return to a WR2 relevance in 2022. Places I would like to see him land include Houston alongside Brandon Cooks, Detroit as a veteran presence alongside late-season breakout Amon-Ra St. Brown, and Oakland, where I believe he could be a much-needed voice in the locker room. No matter where he lands, however, I believe we will see a return to relevance for Allen Robinson.
While it isn’t fair to call Marcus Mariota a bust, it is fair to say he has not lived up to the hype as the second overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft. He has never finished higher than overall QB12 over his first seven seasons and as a QB2 only three times. He has served the last two and a half seasons as a back-up, to Ryan Tannehill and Derek Carr, after losing the starting job in Week 7 of the 2019 season. If you still have him rostered on your dynasty squad he is a deep stash or positional handcuff at best. That could all change in 2022.
Mariota is set to become an unrestricted free agent with the coming new league year. He figures to have some interest from teams outside of Las Vegas, and some of the landing spots could boost his dynasty value immensely. The first, and in my opinion most ideal, landing spot for him would be with the Denver Broncos, a team loaded with weapons and a quarterback away from contending in the AFC. Seattle figures to be a solid landing spot as well given that it appears Russell Wilson is on his way out. Don’t count out Pittsburgh either with Ben Roethlisberger set to retire.
What if Mariota doesn’t land in one of these three prime spots? As long as he gets a shot at a starting job somewhere, even if it is back in Las Vegas, I think we will see a return to fantasy relevance for him in 2022. He’s far too talented of a player to not make the most of a second chance. Will we see him skyrocket into QB1 production or regain some relevance as a solid super flex option? Only time and where he lands in free agency will tell.
There might not have been a better story in the entire league this year than the emergence of Cordarrelle Patterson breaking out for the Atlanta Falcons. Through Week 17, he has his highest career season-high for fantasy points scored, logging 230.4 PPR points with a mix of running and passing work. That’s nearly 70 points better than his next closest, 161.7 in his rookie campaign in 2013. It was exciting to see and caused a lot of managers to go out and acquire him in 2021.
Patterson is an unrestricted free agent in 2022 and it appears unlikely Atlanta will re-sign him. With his 2021 breakout, he figures to be someone who will command a larger contract than the Falcons would be willing, or able, to offer. Chances are good that if he does sign elsewhere in free agency, it will be with a team that will not need to rely on him as much as Atlanta did. Regardless of where he signs, even if it is back with his current team, it is unlikely that he can replicate his production from this past season.
Is anyone else tired of waiting for Evan Engram to finally show the world that he is a top-tier tight end in the NFL? It seems that as we head into every season for the last five years the football community thinks THIS is the year. That isn’t likely to stop heading into 2022 as it has become clear the New York Giants and Engram are ready to part ways. Could a change of scenery be what Evan Engram needs? While I suppose anything is possible, I believe it to be a highly unlikely scenario.
While we have seen Engram show some solid red-zone usage in New York, the lack of other targets around him coupled with his fantasy point output is concerning. Over his first five seasons in the NFL, he has never managed to average more than 8.2 fantasy points per game. This past season when the Giants receiving corps was depleted for a good portion, Engram was unable to top double-digit fantasy point output even once. You can make the argument that coaching and poor quarterback play we’re a factor, but at this point, the five-year sample size speaks for itself.
In all likelihood, Evan Engram will sign with a team looking for insurance should their starter go down for any significant amount of time. The days of him having an opportunity to become a lead right end in a relevant system are gone. If you have a squad with a deeper bench and can hold him for now, he might provide some situation spot-play relevance moving forward, but anything past that is a dream.
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