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7 Early Free Agency Winners & Losers (2022 Fantasy Football)

Mar 17, 2022

NFL free agency always drastically changes the fantasy football landscape and this year has been no exception to that! We have seen Russell Wilson head to Denver in a massive trade, Mitch Trubisky go to Pittsburgh, the Jags spare no expense to upgrade their receiving corps, Tom Brady unretire, Carson Wentz sign with Washington, Cincinnati bolster their offensive line and Amari Cooper land in Cleveland. With all these big changes (and many others we didn’t mention), we’ve brought in our featured experts to share their insight on who the biggest winners and losers are after the first few days of free agency! There are also more signings to come, so stay on top of all the latest news with our Fantasy News and Scores app, which is on both the App Store and Google Play.

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Q1. What player has seen his fantasy value increase the most as a result of a recent transaction and why?

James Conner (RB – ARI) 
“Conner is the big winner in free agency. The Arizona Cardinals re-signed their RB1 from a season ago to a three-year, $21 million dollar extension, locking him in as their guy for the foreseeable future. It’s an awesome signing for fantasy football because it puts Conner firmly in the top-12 running back conversation, especially with Chase Edmonds landing in Miami. The ex-Steelers running back finished the 2021 season tied for second in goal-line carries and third in touchdowns (18). Conner received extensive work in the passing game with Edmonds out of the lineup from Weeks 9-14 and Week 18. In those six games, Conner averaged 26.2 fantasy points and 5.5 targets per game while running a route on 61% of the Cardinals’ dropbacks.”
– Andrew Erickson (FantasyPros)

James Connor’s fantasy value has jumped with him re-signing with the Cardinals. This time, he will be the lead rusher in this high-scoring offense. When Connor was the lead dog in 2021, he was the RB4 due to his touchdown upside in the offense. He’ll need to do a better job rushing next season (3.7 YPC), but if he continues to see the red zone work, the double-digit touchdowns could repeat. Connor is a borderline RB1 heading into 2022.”
– Steven Pintado (The Fantasy Coaches)

Christian Kirk (WR – JAC) 
“Despite being somewhat of an afterthought in Arizona heading into the 2021 season, Kirk led the Cardinals in receiving yards, targets and receptions. Injuries played a part in Kirk’s success, but he just signed a massive contract to be the No. 1 wide receiver in Jacksonville. Doug Pederson will overhaul the offense, and the Jaguars have emphasized adding weapons for second-year quarterback Trevor Lawrence. Whether or not the Jaguars will actually be a good team is up for debate, but their offense should be improved with the addition of Pederson and more firepower at the skill positions.”
– Mike Maher (FantasyPros)

CeeDee Lamb (WR – DAL) 
“The runway is clear for Lamb in Dallas now that the Cowboys have traded Amari Cooper to the Browns. Cooper’s departure coupled with the Dolphins’ signing of Cedrick Wilson puts Lamb in line for a smorgasbord of targets. Michael Gallup re-upped with Dallas, and we know Jerry Jones is going to add more talent at WR, but Lamb is poised to be an alpha receiver for the first time in his career, and I think he’ll wear it well.”
– Pat Fitzmaurice (FantasyPros)

Q2. What player has seen his fantasy value decrease the most as a result of a recent transaction and why?

D.J. Chark (WR – DET) 
“I don’t exactly love the Chark fit with the Detroit Lions. Sure the wide receiver depth chart is barren behind Amon-Ra St. Brown and Josh Reynolds, but the style fit with Jared Goff does not project well. Goff’s average depth of throw has decreased over the last four seasons, with his most recent 2021 mark (6.8) ranking dead last among 38 qualifying quarterbacks. During Chark’s fantasy WR17 season in 2019, he ranked sixth in the NFL in catches of 20-plus air yards (13) before his injury. Goff has averaged 13 completions of 20-plus air yards the last two seasons.”
– Andrew Erickson (FantasyPros)

“This may be an unpopular pick, but D.J. Chark signing with the Lions was not ideal for his fantasy value. The hope was that he might land somewhere more appealing like Kansas City, Green Bay, Dallas, Washington or even Philadelphia. In Detroit, he is likely to be stuck with Jared Goff or a rookie quarterback from a lackluster class. It’s only a one-year deal, so dynasty managers should be patient while Chark attempts to stay healthy and rebuild his value. Redraft and best ball managers, however, should pay close attention to how Detroit fills out their offense over the next several weeks.”
– Mike Maher (FantasyPros)

Antonio Gibson (RB – WAS) 
“Gibson investors were head-faked in the cruelest way possible this week when it was initially reported that J.D. McKissic had agreed to sign with the Bills. Washington has used McKissic as its designated pass-catching back the last two seasons. His departure would have cleared the way for Gibson, a former college receiver, to get more work on passing downs, and the subsequent bump in receiving stats could have given Gibson high-end RB1 upside. Alas, McKissic apparently had a change of heart and decided to re-sign with Washington, where he’ll continue to be a pebble in the shoe of Gibson’s stakeholders.”
– Pat Fitzmaurice (FantasyPros)

Damien Harris (RB – NE)  | Rhamondre Stevenson (RB – NE) 
“The New England Patriots’ running back core takes a hit with James White returning to the team. We all thought we would get away with just a Harris/Stevenson backfield, which would have been lovely. Unlike Brandon Bolden, White is a trusted running back in the offense. This could lead White to see the passing work and the critical drives during games. We are heading to another season of an annoying backfield logjam.”
– Steven Pintado (The Fantasy Coaches)

Thank you to the experts for sharing their thoughts on free agency. Be sure to give them a follow on Twitter and for more great advice, subscribe to our podcast below.

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