Fantasy Football 2022 NFL Free Agency Winners & Losers: Dynasty
Last week’s flurry of player acquisitions and movement in 2022 NFL free agency sent my fantasy football dynasty rankings through quite the whirlwind. Across the board, player rankings rose and fell based on the projected outlooks of reshuffled rosters.
I’ve already hit on some of my early winners and losers from free agency, but more moves have transpired. Here’s how all of these changes played out when it comes to my 2022 dynasty fantasy football rankings.
Check out Erickson’s free agency winners and losers in redraft and best ball leagues >>
When constructing 2022 NFL mock drafts and the NFL team need pieces for the draft, it was so simple to plug in an offensive lineman to the Cincinnati Bengals. Quarterback Joe Burrow was sacked 70 times in 2021 – the next closest quarterback was Ryan Tannehill (QB – TEN) with 48 sacks. Woof.
It’s critical that Cincy goes from bottom to at least mediocre-to-average across the line if they wish to get back into Super Bowl contention. And they did exactly that in free agency by bolstering the offensive line with three new starters: center Ted Karras (OL – CIN), right guard Alex Kappa, and right tackle La’el Collins (OL – CIN).
It’s a godsend for any Burrow dynasty manager that the Bengals quarterback got the help he desperately needed upfront. The former LSU quarterback ranked second in the NFL in yards per attempt when throwing from a clean pocket in 2021 (8.8).
It’s hard to not recognize Jalen Hurts as a massive winner in dynasty in the aftermath of Deshaun Watson‘s (QB – CLE) trade to the Cleveland Browns. Dating back to the start of last season, it appeared that Philadelphia was set to make the blockbuster move for Watson. But ultimately, Philly was not one of the teams that Watson would waive his no-trade clause for, so 2022 is another year of Hurts under center.
And that means another season of Hurts bestowing fantasy gamers with fantasy points galore for a third consecutive season.
The Eagles quarterback ranked second among quarterbacks with 53 rushing yards per game, which fueled him to the fantasy QB6 in points per game (21.3). Week in and out, Hurts’ fantasy performances were uber-consistent.
He strung together 13 straight fantasy QB1 performances (top-12) dating back to his rookie season in games that he was not pulled early.
Hurts also improved as a passer, making strides in completion percentage (52% to 60%) while showcasing his off-script playmaking ability. His PFF passing grade under pressure ranked second behind only Josh Allen (QB – BUF).
Joe Burrow sixth in PFF passing grade at the intermediate level.
Joe Burrow is PFF's highest-graded passer.
Jalen Hurts sixth in PFF passing grade at the intermediate level 👀
— Andrew Erickson™ (@AndrewErickson_) January 12, 2022
With the team committed to him for at least one more season, Hurts has the chance to cement himself as the Eagles’ long-term answer with a solid third-year performance. Only helps his case that Philly boasts three first-round picks, one that will surely be used to draft a dynamic wide receiver in a loaded 2022 draft class.
Trevor Lawrence‘s situation is still far from perfect, but it is vastly improved from where it was a season ago. The Jaguars have been huge players in free agency adding the likes of Cam Robinson (OL – JAC), Evan Engram (TE – JAC), Brandon Scherff (OL – JAC), Zay Jones (WR – JAC), and Christian Kirk (WR – JAC) to build around their second-year quarterback.
None of these players individually move the needle for Lawrence, but their combined efforts – in addition to who else Jacksonville adds with their high-end draft capital – will present a boon to Lawrence’s fantasy value.
Because last season’s atrocity is hard to hold against Lawrence based on what he has to work with, especially at head coach. The Athletic recently released an article revealing the toxic environment set by Urban Meyer last season, and it just makes me want to give Lawrence a pass altogether for a forgettable rookie season.
The Jags quarterback finished with the same expected fantasy points per game average as Joe Burrow in 2021 (17.3) but underwhelmed tremendously amid the poor situation. His -72.3 fantasy points versus expectation were the most of any QB in 2021.
It’s a sign that Lawrence is due for a major bounceback as the quarterback that ranked first in that metric heading into the 2021 season was Burrow.
Lawrence also posted a season-high 85.1 PFF passing grade in the season-finale, offering some hope that he can turn things around in 2022 with a better supporting cast.
The days of Nick Chubb‘s absurd rushing efficiency going to waste have come to an end. During his four-year career, the Browns running back has never averaged fewer than five yards per carry. But at the same time, he has also never played in a top-12 scoring offense.
The best offense he played was in 2020 – 13th in points per game – which by no coincidence was also Chubb’s best season from a point per game measure. The former Georgia back averaged 17.3 PPR points per game, which would have ranked sixth in 2021.
The 12 rushing touchdowns definitely boosted Chubb's numbers, and scoring double-digit TDs is well within his reach with Deshaun Watson taking charge under center for the long term.
Chubb at just 26 years old should be able to ride out the remainder of his contract until the end of 2024, suggesting he has a path to stack three more RB1 fantasy seasons on his resume before he hits 30 years old.
With the dynasty community sometimes overvaluing youth at the running back position, Chubb might be a sneaky player to target at a value for teams with win-now rosters.
Another big winner in free agency is third-year wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr.
He was treated like a true alpha in 2021, running a route on 96% of offensive dropbacks - third to only Cooper Kupp (WR - LAR) (WR1) and Ja'Marr Chase (WR - CIN) (WR4) through 17 weeks. He also finished the season tied with the league's 8th-highest target share (24%), which was 11 percentage points higher than the next closest Colt, Zach Pascal (WR - PHI) at 13%.
The only reason he didn't finish higher than WR22 was that the Colts ranked 29th in pass-play rate and 27th in pass attempts. If Indy throws more with a trustworthy quarterback - strong possibility with Ryan under center - Pittman has the volume potential to be a top-12 fantasy option.
His 31% target share from Weeks 13-18 is a signal that his dynasty stock will continue to rise. He ranks inside my top-20 dynasty wide receivers.
Don't forget that last season Ridley as the Falcons' No. 1 receiver owned the sixth-highest target rate per route run and ranked second among all wide receivers in expected fantasy points per game (16.5).
Ryan's ability to throw downfield - 11th in PFF passing grade on throws 20-plus air yards - should also gel well with Pittman as a vertical threat. The Colts wide receiver finished 19th in air yards share (29%) in 2021.
It always seemed more probable than not that JuJu Smith-Schuster would find his way to Kansas City in free agency. The Chiefs were interested in him last season, and the landing spot is perfect to revive Smith-Schuster's dynasty stock. He's just one year removed from a WR17 finish in PPR between two injury-plagued seasons.
Let's not forget JuJu had an elite sophomore campaign - 1,400-plus receiving yards - and he is still just 25 years old. With Byron Pringle (WR - CHI) gone to Chicago, and Patrick Mahomes (QB - KC) his new quarterback, 2022 will be a return to form for Smith-Schuster.
He can operate from his natural position in the slot and benefit from playing with elite playmakers around him. After all, Smith-Schuster was at his best as a Pittsburgh Steeler during his first two seasons playing opposite of Antonio Brown (WR - FA).
Just when we thought the Browns were out of the Deshaun Watson sweepstakes, they get right back as they acquire their future franchise quarterback with a blockbuster move. The team traded a lump sum of three first-round picks plus a third and fourth/fifth-round pick swap.
Watson to the Dawg Pound has massive fantasy implications that first and foremost boost the value of newly acquired wide receiver Amari Cooper. He finished last season 27th in half-PPR per game (11.2), which is in line with his career average.
His nine touchdowns represented a career-high, but he was volatile as ever on a weekly basis. Cooper finished as a top-10 fantasy WR thrice, but outside WR3 territory in nine other contests. Part of his boom-or-bust nature was due to the high target competition in Dallas - Cooper commanded just a 15% target share.
There is hope that he can provide a higher floor if with him the clear No. 1 wide receiver in Cleveland. And that floor will be accompanied by an extremely high ceiling with Watson under center.
The ex-Texans quarterback fueled top fantasy WR finishes for the likes of Brandin Cooks (WR - HOU) (WR16, 2020) and Will Fuller V (WR - FA) (WR8/game, 2020) the last time he played. And prior to that, he supplemented DeAndre Hopkins (WR - ARI) as the fantasy WR4 and WR10 from 2018-2019.
Cooper's ADP is WR22 on Underdog Best Ball. He is also under contract with the Browns until 2025. Ergo, there are going to be lots of Watson-Cooper touchdowns over the next several seasons.
The Jaguars emptied the bank to sign former Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Christian Kirk to a four-year contract worth up to $84 million this offseason. The slot wide receiver is coming off a career year that saw him set highs across the board in targets (112), receptions (83), and receiving yards (1,035) while filling the gap left by an injured DeAndre Hopkins.
Without Hopkins in the lineup, Kirk commanded a 21% target share and averaged 13.8 fantasy PPR points per game - good for WR29 on the season.
Kirk ran 78% of his routes and finished with the second-most receiving yards from the slot.
I'd presume that Kirk maintains his role inside with the Jaguars after their team got little production from that position in 2021.
Marvin Jones Jr. (WR - JAC) and Laviska Shenault Jr. (WR - JAC) both ranked in the bottom-10 with 1.30 yards per route run from the slot. Kirk ranked 13th with 1.80 yards per route run from the slot. He is shaping up to be the new Amari Rodgers (WR - GB) for Trevor Lawrence operating from the inside.
Rogers was Lawrence's go-to receiver during his final year at Clemson, so it makes sense why the Jags would spend so aggressively on a slot WR.
And without too much-established competition on the wide receiver depth chart, it's not crazy to think Kirk can lead Jacksonville in targets, especially if he earns Lawrence's trust early on in the summer.
The new landing spot is also a boon to Kirk's dynasty stock, now that he is attached to a young franchise quarterback for the next four years.
As for Shenault, he looks like the odd-man out entering Year 3 with Christian Kirk, Marvin Jones, and Zay Jones ahead of him in the target pecking order. Viska-stans need a trade to revive his dynasty value.
Because his team-leading 21% target rate per route run on 99 targets does suggest that maybe he's not as bad as the market perceives him.
Allen Robinson II inked a three-year, $46.5 million deal with the Los Angeles Rams that includes $30.7M fully guaranteed, per Tom Pelissero.
The ex-Chicago Bears wide receiver will now catch passes from Matthew Stafford (QB - LAR) - easily the best quarterback he has ever played with in his entire football career. It's a boon to his fantasy football value that cratered a season ago, with Arob posting a top-36 performance only once all season.
I would like to blame Robinson's 2021 campaign solely on outside factors - he had the third-lowest catchable target percentage (59%) - but the veteran wide receiver does have to shoulder some responsibility. After all, Darnell Mooney (WR - CHI) was able to break out amid the same situation.
Part of the reason comes down to Robinson being more of a contested-catch receiver rather than an elite separator. He finished in the 12th percentile in separation rate in 2021, while Mooney finished in the 73rd percentile.
The big-bodied X wide receiver is a dying breed in the NFL, which is why Robinson landing with the Rams was critical to his future success. He gets to reap the benefits of playing with a quarterback who isn't afraid to target him downfield in tight coverage.
That, along with playing in a more efficient offense in general, is his path for recapturing his prior fantasy form. Let's not forget that Robinson was the only player to command 150-plus targets in both 2019 and 2020.
Robinson heading to L.A. also created a slight ripple effect on the incumbent receivers. It makes it less likely that Odell Beckham Jr. (WR - LAR) re-signs with the team. Van Jefferson (WR - LAR) is a less sure-fire bet to produce in 2022. And Robert Woods (WR - TEN) has already been traded to the Titans in wake of the LA-Rob signing.
Before Woods hit the IR, he was the WR17 in half-PPR scoring per game. Jefferson saw elite usage playing on every down as the No. 3 receiver but didn't follow up his playing time with any worthwhile production. Jefferson was WR35 overall on the season and outside the top 40 in points per game despite a top-tier 86% route participation.
The likely scenario for Robinson is that he steps up into the No. 2 role behind Cooper Kupp and operates the way Wood started the year and/or by how Beckham ended the season.
Down the playoff stretch, Beckham Jr. averaged a 19% target share and 12.4 fantasy points per game from Week 12 through the divisional round (fantasy WR2).
This offense is good enough to support more than one weapon, and Robinson should be viewed as the clear fantasy WR2 to benefit behind Kupp. Some might knock Kupp down a notch because of the Robinson signing, but I would be hesitant to do so.
Robinson's highest-targeted seasons have always come when he has been surrounded by little to no competition. And again, he was out-targeted by a second-year wide receiver just last season.
Gerald Everett inked a two-year deal worth up to $13.5M with the Los Angeles Chargers.
He was solid during stretches of the 2021 season, particularly after Russell Wilson (QB - SEA) returned from injury. The ex-Rams tight end ranked as the TE9 in fantasy points per game (PPR) from Weeks 10-16 while running a route on 74% of dropbacks.
Everett proved he can be a featured No. 1 tight end for the Chargers coming off a career year. He achieved career-highs in receptions (48) and receiving yards (478) and wreaked havoc with the ball in his hands, forcing 11 missed tackles after the catch - sixth-most among tight ends.
His peripheral metrics in Seattle's offense - 12% target share, 63% route participation and 17% target rate per route run - were nearly identical to Jared Cook (TE - FA) in the Chargers offense last season.
Cook finished as TE16 overall which seems like Everett's fantasy floor heading into 2022. The tackle-breaking tight end finished the 2021 season just .4 points per game short of Cook's average (8.3 versus 7.9) despite playing in an offense that ranked dead last in pass attempts per game (29.1).
L.A. ranked third in that category last season (39.6).
Breakout tight ends are generally athletic players who earn above-average route participation in high-powered offenses. Everett fits the profile of next season's star at the position.
And considering he signed a two-year deal with the Chargers, his dynasty-specific value also gets a major bump.
Recently franchise-tagged tight end David Njoku has a chance to break out in 2022 with Watson as his quarterback after an encouraging 2021. He set career highs in PFF grade (70.9, 11th), yards per route run (1.54, 11th), and yards after the catch per reception (7.0, fourth) in 2021.
Seals-Jones posted two top-10 performances last season as a starter and offers a legitimate presence in the red zone. He ranked 15th in red-zone targets last season (13). That mark was more than Kenny Golladay's (WR - NYG) (10) and equal to the combined efforts of ex-Giants tight ends Evan Engram and Kyle Rudolph (TE - FA).
Also, keep John Bates (TE - WAS) in the back of your mind in deep dynasty leagues. He could be the Commanders starting tight end with RSJ gone and Logan Thomas (TE - WAS) returning from a late-season ACL injury.
With Jack Doyle officially retired, newly re-signed Mo Alie-Cox TE1 szn could finally become a reality. The towering, 6-foot-5 tight end played in three games last season with Doyle limited or inactive. In those games, Big Mac caught eight of 12 passes for 112 yards - 2.04 yards per route run - and two receiving touchdowns.
Alie-Cox should be the favorite to earn starting tight ends duties over second-year slot/tight end Kylen Granson (TE - IND) after the Colts dished out a three-year $18 million contract to the 28-year-old former college basketball standout.
Putting Aaron Rodgers in the "losers" category feels like grabbing at low-hanging fruit, but it's just so obvious his fantasy ceiling is going to be hindered this year and beyond without his No. 1 wide receiver, Davante Adams (WR - GB).
The one game the Packers signal-caller played without his No. 1 receiver in 2021 was his third-worst fantasy finish of the season. And Rodgers' only healthy season-long fantasy finish outside the top-8 came in a season where Adams missed four games.
The dynamic duo's chemistry was never more apparent in or near the red zone, with Rodgers-Adams combining for 64 touchdowns - double-digits on average - since 2016, 23 more than the next closest duo (Patrick Mahomes and Tyreek Hill (WR - KC)). Thirty-three percent of Rodgers touchdowns have gone to Adams over that period.
Green Bay is still primed to add to their wide receiver room through free agency and the draft, but it's highly unlikely they can make up for Adams' production - especially in the red zone. Returning receivers like Allen Lazard (WR - GB), Randall Cobb (WR - GB), and Amari Rodgers all get small bumps in the WR rankings because they will be tasked with replacing the vacated hole left by Adams.
Without Adams, it's hard to view Rodgers as a top-12 dynasty quarterback.
Running backs just aren't valued the way they used to be. Case in point with Rashaad Penny, who I would argue did everything in his power at the end of last season to boost his real-life stock in free agency.
The former first-rounder ran hotter than the sun over the Seahawks' final five games after taking over the starting gig. He ranked first in PFF rushing grade (91.1), yards after contact per attempt (5.27) and fantasy points scored above expectation (+48.8).
Penny was a full-blown workhorse who averaged 19.4 touches per game and seems primed to garner heavy interest on the open market at just 26 years old. And apparently, Penny did receive better offers from other teams, but he ultimately settled to re-sign with the Seattle Seahawks on a one-year deal worth up to $6.5million.
I'd presume Seattle's pursuit of retaining Penny forebodes pessimism about Chris Carson's (RB - SEA) status coming off his neck injury. Carson has never played a full season but is under contract in 2022.
Penny also taking less money to return to Seattle tells me that their intention is to make him the bell-cow as he was down the stretch of the 2021 season.
The hope for him in fantasy is that he sees 20-plus touches per game to mitigate the damage of playing in a bottom-10 offense. That makes him a nice option in redraft as a late-round running back, but dynasty is another story.
I'd be looking to sell Penny based on his small sample size of uber-production. Especially with his long injury track record. Running back value tends to depreciate during the offseason anyway, making Penny a prime "sell-high" candidate.
Nobody saw the Cordarelle Patterson ninth-year breakout coming. Unless, of course, you foresaw ex-Chicago Bears passing game coordinator Dave Ragone coming in as the Atlanta Falcons' new offensive coordinator just to install Patterson in a hybrid RB/WR role.
From Weeks 1-14, fantasy football's RB7 - 15.8 fantasy points per game - was a revelation and a player who changed the tide of leagues as a waiver-wire acquisition.
Patterson's only issue is that he stumbled across the fantasy football finish line, failing to eclipse more than nine fantasy points or 30 rushing yards in his last four games. The team also used him more in a committee alongside Mike Davis (RB - ATL).
Nonetheless, the more bizarre part is that Patterson took a backseat in the receiving game despite his wide receiver background, totaling just seven targets in his final four games after averaging nearly five targets per game. Patterson's 25% target rate per route ranked No. 1 among all running backs.
Still, even with the poor end to the season, Patterson's best case in free agency was always returning to the Falcons. He is such a specialized talent who needs to be used in a particular manner, which was executed to near perfection under Arthur Smith's tutelage.
With an overall lack of general playmakers after losing Calvin Ridley and Russell Gage (WR - TB), C-Patt should see a competent role in the Falcons offense. Whether it be as a receiver or rusher (or both), he's a solid bet to lead the backfield with only Mike Davis and newly-signed Damien Williams (RB - ATL) vying for touches.
With Patterson's range of outcomes so wide for fantasy football, he should remain a draft target if his ADP stays in the later rounds. His RB37 ADP on early best-ball is a great value at the moment.
However, in dynasty formats, he's just a hold. At 31 years old, not many teams will be willing to pay much of anything for an older back with a cap on total touches. If I was a contender, I would be looking to acquire Patterson on the cheap - late 2nd round or 3rd round rookie pick - for potential fantasy RB2 production when the season kicks off.
But I'd be hard-pressed to admit that the Marcus Mariota (QB - ATL) signing is not ideal for Patterson's fantasy value. Rushing quarterbacks tend to check the ball down less frequently making it less likely Patterson sees less of a consistent target share.
In Mariota's last stint with the Titans, RBs totaled 4.6 targets per game (17.7% target share). Last year that number was at 8.2 targets per game (26.7% target share).
Considering the Falcons are also in full rebuild mode for 2022, I'm not overzealous with acquiring Patterson unless I can get him pennies on the dollar.
Antonio Gibson's strong finish to the 2021 season was fueled by J.D. McKissic's (RB - WAS) injury. Gibson ran a route on 56% of Washington's dropbacks and owned a 17% target share in the five games McKissic missed. He also averaged 14.9 fantasy points per game in half-point scoring (RB9).
In the other 11 games, the Memphis product owned an 8% target share and ran a route on 36% of the team's dropbacks to go along with 12.1 points per game (RB23).
It's beyond frustrating for dynasty managers that they were so close to seeing a locked-and-loaded three-down role for Gibson after McKissic initially signed a deal with Buffalo, just to turn his back on Bills Mafia and return to the nation's capital for the same amount of money.
It's a two-year deal, which means McKissic won't hit free agency until 2024 - the same year Gibson's rookie contract expires. Ugh.
Devin Singletary narrowly escaped disaster after it looked like he lost the pass-catching role in the Bills offense to McKissic. However, he is not out of the woods quite yet, as the team instead added Duke Johnson Jr. (RB - BUF) to the backfield after the failed attempt at McKissic.
Buffalo's front office clearly has its eyes set on adding a premier pass-catcher since the start of the offseason. This even dates back to last year when they were rumored to be in the market for Travis Etienne Jr. (RB - JAC).
The fact that they are sniffing around for other running backs constantly despite having Singletary on the roster suggests that his last season surge - RB3 over the last six weeks - might not be sustainable.
The time to "sell-high" on Singletary is now.
Piggy-backing off Rodgers' fantasy breakdown comes Adams also falling in the dynasty rankings. Landing with the Las Vegas Raiders and old college quarterback Derek Carr (QB - LV) isn't a bad spot, but it's not better than what he already had in Green Bay.
Adams has been one of fantasy football's greatest wide receivers over the last four seasons. A healthy Adams has finished no worse than WR5 attached to Aaron Rodgers since 2018, and he ended 2021 second in fantasy points per game at age 29.
And a big part of that production has been tied to red-zone efficiency as alluded to earlier.
Adams' high level of play won't stop in Sin City, but his fantasy stock does get slightly dented going from Rodgers to Carr. It's unlikely that Carr hyper-targets Adams to the length of a 28% target share as Rodgers has done for so many seasons. Incumbent Raiders pass-catchers Darren Waller (TE - LV) and Hunter Renfrow (WR - LV) represent more target competition than Adams has ever played with since becoming the alpha in Green Bay.
Adams falls to WR10 in my dynasty wide receiver rankings as the newest member of the Black Hole.
I don't love the D.J. Chark fit with the Detroit Lions. Sure the wide receiver depth chart is barren behind Amon-Ra St. Brown (WR - DET) and Josh Reynolds (WR - DET), but the style fit with Jared Goff (QB - DET) 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.
Chark screams like he will be used more like a vertical field stretcher decoy that will open up targets for St. Brown, running backs, and tight ends underneath.
With Chark slated to hit free agency again in 2023, I am concerned that he won't post the stats warranted to earn a lucrative contract that will help his dynasty value.
Robert Woods was traded to the Titans after the Rams signed Allen Robinson in free agency. The move was less about Woods' ability, but rather his salary cap hit that the Rams were looking to free themselves from.
Still, entering his age 30-season fantasy managers should question whether Woods has the juice left to continue producing for fantasy. Often viewed as a safe fantasy WR2 during his time in L.A. - he was WR17 before his injury in 2021 - Woods might be subject to some poor game conditions in the Titans' run-heavy approach that could nuke his weekly fantasy appeal.
Over the past two seasons, production has not been kind to WRs over 30 years old. Only three receivers over 30 - Cole Beasley (WR - FA), Adam Thielen (WR - MIN), and Marvin Jones Jr. - finished as top-40 fantasy options. If he stays healthy, Woods could easily beat his ADP.
But I'm just not sure how high his fantasy ceiling is based on the situation.
Cedrick Wilson inked a three-year $22.8 million deal with the Miami Dolphins, putting him in a position to man the slot in South Beach until 2024.
The former Dallas Cowboys wideout was an absolute monster filling in for an injured Michael Gallup (WR - DAL) last season, commanding at least five targets in each of his last seven starts. He capped off his stellar 2021 season with five catches for 62 receiving yards on 10 targets during wild-card weekend. The Boise State product finished 20th in yards per route run (1.95) dating back to Week 8.
Wilson did almost all of his damage exclusively from the slot - 90% slot snap rate, highest among all WRs in 2021 - a role that doesn't project to change with the Dolphins.
However, Wilson will be facing an uphill battle when it comes to demanding targets in an offense with Waddle, Parker, Chase Edmonds (RB - MIA), and Mike Gesicki (TE - MIA). Injuries lit the path for Wilson to be productive last season and may be required for a second straight year.
After all, Wilson is a 27-year old wide receiver that has yet to total 1,000 total receiving yards since being drafted in 2018.
Leaving a high-powered Dallas offense for a Miami offense led by an unproven quarterback makes it less likely Wilson delivers as many spike weeks as he did in 2021 - even as a more full-time player.
Evan Engram needed to find a new team to resurrect his NFL career. His PFF receiving grade has declined over the last four seasons, bottoming out in 2021 at 54.9 - 40th among 44 qualifying tight ends.
Engram hasn't underwhelmed due to a lack of opportunities, either. He finished top-15 in route participation (68%) and had almost zero competition for targets with injuries to the likes of Kenny Golladay, Kadarius Toney (WR - NYG), and Sterling Shepard (WR - NYG).
Alas, Engram failed to command any worthwhile target share with his abysmal 14% target rate per route run.
So consider me slightly hesitant to buy into Engram breaking out in 2022 because his new head coach has a history of featuring tight ends. Sure, it definitely works in Engram's favor, but last I checked Dan Arnold (TE - JAC) is still on the team. And Doug Pederson has also been known to heavily feature two tight ends in his offense, which doesn't always translate to fantasy success.
I was hoping Engram would land in an above-average offense as the clear-cut No. 1, but the murkiness of how efficient Jacksonville will be on offense in addition to factoring in the variance of how targets will shake out amid an all-new receiving corps have me not super excited to invest him if his ADP inflates.
I'd be looking to post him up on the dynasty trading block with hopes of cashing in on the coach speak narrative.
C.J. Uzomah's sprained MCL wasn't severe enough to keep him out of Super Bowl 56, let alone influence his free agency status entering the 2022 offseason. The former Cincinnati Bengals tight end signed a three-year deal worth $24 million with the New York Jets.
Uzomah's 78% route participation ranked fourth-highest among tight ends in 2021, but there's no guarantee he sees the same usage with Gang Green. Only on occasion did last year's tight ends like Tyler Kroft (TE - NYJ) (free agent) and Ryan Griffin (TE - NYJ) (under contract) ever see high-end usage, let alone turn out any worthwhile fantasy production.
Uzomah is an upgrade over two replaceable tight ends after his showcased decent fantasy production in 2021 - at least five targets in his last seven games before his injury - but it remains to be seen who, if anybody, can be reliable in a Zach Wilson (QB - NYJ)-led passing attack.
His 13% target rate per route run - last among tight ends with at least 40 targets in 2021 - doesn't exactly inspire confidence that Uzomah is the late-round tight end to targets in 2022.
It's a shame that both these tight ends had to end up on the same team in a committee because I had high hopes for Conklin after his TE15 finish in 2021. My best advice is to draft whichever is going later in best ball drafts if any and hope it pans out.
Conklin is still my preferred target in a vacuum and in dynasty - he's younger and generated a higher target rate per route run than Uzomah did in 2021 (17%). Uzomah is also the superior pass-blocker, making it more likely Conklin serves as the primary receiving tight end.
The Buffalo Bills signed O.J. Howard to a one-year $3.5 million deal, which hardly signifies the team will feel a need to feature him in the offense. Howard has at times performed at an elite level in the NFL - he was PFF's second-highest-graded tight end in 2018 - but carving out playing time amid other tight ends has been an issue.
His perceived presence in an offense that has traditionally operated with only one tight end at the helm also makes me more interested in Dawson Knox.
Count me in on Dawson Knox if he enters the late-round TE conversation.
Didn't like his early cost in the mid-range where TEs usually don't return value.
OJ Howard probably more a backup then featured tight end with Buffalo
— Andrew Erickson™ (@AndrewErickson_) March 16, 2022
Obviously, Knox already has major red flags on his profile from his impending touchdown regression to super-low target rate per route run (14%), so Howard coming in to take away even 25% of the routes is a problem.
But if these details are all factored into a suppressed ADP for Knox as a potential every-down player attached to quarterback Josh Allen, I'll be more than happy to oblige.
I don't mind the idea of selling Knox either, just based on the principle that it's smart to get "sell high" after an outlier TD season.
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