Wide Receivers to Avoid (2022 Fantasy Football)
With free agency shaking up NFL rosters, there is now a better understanding of how things might pan out next year. Though the league is not done trading, adding, and drafting, the clues of the first week of free agency tell us the teams that have pushed to be competitive in 2022 and those that have fallen back or even further behind.
With this in mind, here are a few wide receivers that, for right now, I would consider avoiding at their current Average Draft Position (ADP) as things stand.
D.J. Moore was a winner in free agency. He got himself a new eye-watering contract extension of three years, $62 million, following the Carolina Panthers missing out on the Deshaun Watson sweepstakes.
Moore is currently going in drafts between pick 43 and 53 in drafts, putting him at WR18. Moore’s last three season finishes have been WR18, WR25, and WR16. Considering his quarterback play, it doesn’t sound too bad on the surface.
However, Moore had a 28.4% target share last year, which ranked him fifth amongst all wide receivers. Without that volume (162 targets in 2021), Moore likely finishes as a top-24 WR for the second straight season.
This isn’t to play down Moore’s playing ability. He is a talented receiver. But with Christian McCaffrey returning to the starting lineup, his target share will go down. Also, since Robby Anderson got paid last summer, and they drafted highly-rated Terrance Marshall Jr. out of LSU last year, they are more likely to cut into Moore’s target share.
Carolina also wasn’t a high-powered offense in 2021 with Sam Darnold at the helm. Moore was 73rd amongst all wide receivers in terms of fantasy points scored per target, at just 1.47 points (Deebo Samuel led the category at 2.82 points per target).
With the growing likelihood that Sam Darnold will be the starting quarterback in Week 1, it is tough to draft D.J. Moore on the four/five turn. At that point of the draft, players will want to be looking for value or upside, something Moore doesn’t represent in his current situation.
Everything was looking rosy for Hunter Renfrow managers before free agency. He got offensive genius as a head coach in Josh McDaniels and faith that things would improve in 2022. However, the team has traded for Davante Adams, giving up a first and second-round pick for his services to Green Bay. The Raiders then gave Adams a fresh five-year, $140 million contract to make him the highest-paid receiver in football.
It’s not all bad news for Renfrow. He will still have a role to play in this offense. And, likely, he will still draw some red-zone looks from Derek Carr. However, with Adams being a target hog, it is unlikely Renfrow is someone who is going to garner enough looks to be a top-30 wide receiver. Given that he was going as the WR22 before the Adams trade, it is unlikely Renfrow has value before the double-digit rounds.
Renfrow goes back to being a secondary receiver in this offense. We have seen this before, but not with McDaniels at the helm. Given the balance McDaniels is likely to want in his playcalling in year one, it is unlikely Renfrow will offer any upside, barring an injury to Adams in the season. Fantasy players are probably best suited to pass on Renfrow and reach for the moon with other players.
It’s hard to argue for a bigger loser in free agency for fantasy football managers than Tyler Lockett. Over the years, Lockett became Russell Wilson‘s go-to guy and a steady fantasy asset, finishing as the WR16, WR8, and WR13 in the last three years. In 2020, when targeting Lockett, Wilson has a perfect QB passer rating.
But with Wilson traded to Denver and Drew Lock coming back in his place alongside the picks and players, it is hard to see that kind of production repeated in 2022 for Lockett. There is also the new wrinkle of having Noah Fant on the team. He is a former first-round tight end who has chemistry with Lock already. Fant is also the best tight end Seattle has had since Jimmy Graham in his prime.
Therefore, there are two areas where there are immediate regression concerns for Lockett. First, his 24% target share appears under threat due to the new weapons acquired and the style of the new quarterback under center. It might only take a minor hit. However, regression is still regression, and that will yield fewer points.
The second area of regression is Lockett’s 20 air yards per reception last year. Lock is not Wilson. It will take him time to get up to speed in this offense and get on the same page as his receivers. This adjustment period will see Lockett’s air tards take a significant hit in 2022.
What all of this means on the bottom line is fewer receptions, fewer yards, and therefore fewer points. With a current ADP of WR23, it’s too soon for a player who we are likely to see the bottom drop out of in 2022.
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