Players With Difficult Schedules (2022 Fantasy Football)
Another offseason milestone came this past week: the official 2022 NFL schedule release. Much like we needed to see where rookie players landed to evaluate them for fantasy purposes thoroughly, the schedule gives us a window into situations you will want to pay attention to as you prepare for your drafts and evaluate your dynasty rosters.
While a difficult schedule is unlikely to sink an entire fantasy season for most players, it can affect how you use them, especially as the fantasy playoffs approach. The smartest fantasy managers use every bit of information to make good decisions, and this is no different. So here are four players I will be situationally cautious with heading into the 2022 season.
After an overall PPR TE1 finish in 2021, expectations are high for Baltimore tight end Mark Andrews. While you shouldn’t worry too much, the Ravens have one of the toughest schedules for a tight end from a fantasy perspective. Early contests against Buffalo, New England, and New Orleans have them up against three defenses that ranked in the top 10 of fantasy points allowed to tight ends in 2021. The second half of the season doesn’t get easier, with two contests against division-rival Pittsburgh, an improved Jacksonville defense that was tough against the position last year, and a Week 13 matchup against the Denver Broncos.
With questions already surfacing about whether Andrews can repeat his 2021 dominance this upcoming season, the tough schedule for Baltimore is undoubtedly a concern. If teams can gang up on Andrews and force Lamar Jackson to pivot to other targets, namely Rashod Bateman, he could be in for a dip in volume, seriously dinging his value in fantasy football.
It’s hard to imagine Patrick Mahomes isn’t a top-five quarterback in all fantasy formats. However, 2022 has him up against some of the best pass defenses in the NFL, including division rivals Denver and Las Vegas twice. Matchups against Arizona and Indianapolis early on and a three-game stretch on the road against Cincinnati, Denver, and Houston will test Mahomes’ mettle.
His early struggles in 2021 should be a warning heading into 2022. While it is doubtful Mahomes dips out of the QB1 tier in any format, he is heading into the season without his favorite target in Tyreek Hill and a running game with enormous question marks. Six of their first seven games are against teams that finished last season in the top 10 among defenses against the QB position. Mahomes and Co. will figure it out as the season progresses, but given the early difficulty of their schedule, don’t be surprised if he disappoints the first few weeks of 2022.
2021 was supposed to be the year we saw Carolina WR D.J. Moore explode. The first four weeks seemed to signal it was happening, with Moore exceeding 20 fantasy points in three of those contests. However, in Week 5, Carolina came crashing back to Earth. As the season progressed, it became clear that the teams they had faced early on were some of the weaker defenses in the league. Unfortunately, the 2022 season will not do this team similar favors, especially Moore and the passing attack.
In their first five games, they will be facing a vastly improved New Orleans pass defense, a Cleveland squad that allowed the fifth-fewest fantasy points to wide receivers in 2021, Arizona, and San Francisco. Unfortunately, it only worsens with two contests against Tampa Bay, visiting Los Angeles to face the Rams in Week 8, and back-to-back matchups against the Ravens and Broncos. After that, any hope for Moore to put up more than a WR2 campaign in 2022 can probably be extinguished.
Tyreek Hill, the newest member of the Miami Dolphins’ receiving corps, is in for a shock in 2022 if the team’s schedule is any indication. There have already been questions and concerns about how Hill will fit into a Tua Tagovailoa-led offense alongside second-year WR Jaylen Waddle. However, we now know the Dolphins will start their season against New England, Baltimore, and Buffalo, three of the league’s better passing defenses. If those early contests rattle Tua, it could be a long season in South Beach.
This is a team already in a tough division. They will face New England and Buffalo twice each, with the only divisional respite being two games against the New York Jets. They will also be tasked with meeting the Steelers, Browns, Chargers, and 49ers, all stingy teams against the passing game. If Tyreek had any hope of mimicking his production in Kansas City, the schedule’s difficulty has wiped that away. While he should still be in line for a WR1 finish, it will likely be at the back end of the tier.
If you want to dive deeper into fantasy football, be sure to check out our award-winning slate of Fantasy Football Tools as you navigate your season. From our Start/Sit Assistant – which provides your optimal lineup based on accurate consensus projections – to our Waiver Wire Assistant – which allows you to quickly see which available players will improve your team and by how much – we’ve got you covered this fantasy football season.