7 Surprising Players on the Roster Bubble (2022 Fantasy Football)
Training camp is in full swing and while our fantasy roster decisions pale in comparison to the realities of the decisions general managers make, the decisions affect one another often. In the coming weeks, many players will have their lives dramatically changed as teams cut down to prepare for the regular season, and for fantasy managers who are keeping their ears to the ground, this can present opportunities to see values rise or fall before the wider audience catches wind. I’ve scoured the beat reports across the league to bring you players that could be on the roster bubble.
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If you’ve been playing fantasy football for a few years, you’ll be well-versed in the annual Week 1 tradition of Sammy Watkins having a big game before fading quietly away as the season goes on and injuries catch up to him. Watkins left Baltimore after a quiet season where despite coming up clutch with some big catches, he failed to make a lasting impression. The Green Bay Packers still look to be in need of some help in their receiving room, but Watkins started camp on the Active PUP list and hasn’t been making an impact in training camp. Meanwhile, rookie Romeo Doubs has been lighting it up. Watkins signed a one-year, $1.1 million contract, and if the Packers aren’t impressed, they might decide that saving almost that amount by cutting Watkins is in their best interest.
New England’s running back depth chart is always a bit deeper than fantasy managers would like, and this year is no different. Behind Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson, there is rookie Pierre Strong Jr., J.J. Taylor, and veteran James White. White has been a part of some truly brilliant moments for the Patriots during the Tom Brady era, but now aged 30 and entering his ninth season in the NFL, White is fighting back from a right hip subluxation that he suffered in September 2021 and all reports suggest White is still struggling through the injury. The Patriots would no doubt be hesitant to cut a player such as White, but it doesn’t seem outlandish to suggest through White’s choice or the Patriots, he may not make the final 53-man selection.
There's still no clear timetable for RB James White's return from hip surgery, per source. It's possible he remains on PUP to start the season, but the Patriots still have a few more weeks to evaluate his recovery and decide if he's ready to practice before the end of preseason.
— Jeff Howe (@jeffphowe) August 3, 2022
When the Jets selected Denzel Mims with the 59th overall pick in the 2020 draft, they expected more than 31 receptions for 490 scoreless yards in Mims’ first two seasons. Many of the decision-makers who made that selection have now moved on, and with a new coaching staff seemingly finding better options in Elijah Moore and Garrett Wilson through the draft, Mims is faced with fighting Corey Davis for a shot at the WR3 role. According to reports out of camp, it was never really a fight to begin with. Mims has predominantly practiced with the second- or third-string offense, and while he’s performed well in camp, it remains to be seen if it’s too little too late.
Denzel Mims says he is open and willing to play special teams, but he wants to be a starting receiver.
“I show it everyday. It’s up to them whether they want to play me or not.” #Jets
— Connor Hughes (@Connor_J_Hughes) August 5, 2022
Much has been up in the air in Cleveland this offseason and it extends to a lesser note to the running backs room. Nick Chubb remains the unquestioned RB1 regardless of the quarterback situation, but then it becomes a little hazy. Kareem Hunt has requested a trade after being unhappy with the Browns in regards to his contract, which is heading into the last year. D’Ernest Johnson was tendered as a restricted free agent this offseason and as such given a contract worth just over $1 million. Johnson impressed when Hunt missed time with injuries in 2021, but the Browns are well-stocked at the position with Jerome Ford and Demetric Felton behind Johnson. Should the Browns decide they are overstocked, Johnson might make for an interesting trade candidate.
When the Patriots entered the free agency period of 2021, they did something they hadn’t often done in recent years and opted to splash the cash. Agholor was supposed to be the wide receiver to lead this team, or at least the Patriots certainly paid him like it, giving him a two-year deal with $22 million in total and $16 million guaranteed. A year from that and the team signed DeVante Parker and drafted Tyquan Thornton, who is having a solid rookie training camp. Cutting Agholor would result in $10 million in dead cap hits, but it would free up $4.8 million in cap savings (according to Overthecap.com). For a team who has other options, this feels like a fairly easy choice after Agholor ranked second to last on the offense in targets per route run in 2021, with his 0.17 only ahead of N’Keal Harry.
ah well, at least Mac Jones and the Patriots have the #5 most expensive WR in the NFL vs the cap
it's crazy but Nelson Agholor's $14.9M cap hit this year is 5th most expensive in the NFL
and NE is spending $70M on their receiving corps this yr (WR+TE)
by FAR #1 most in the NFL
— Warren Sharp (@SharpFootball) August 6, 2022
The Chiefs looked set to retool their running back room when Darrel Williams and Jerick McKinnon departed in February. The Chiefs made Ronald Jones a free-agent signing and it appeared Jones might see his fantasy value climb, but then McKinnon was re-signed to the team and things became a little more muddled. Clyde Edwards-Helaire still seems to be the RB1, and McKinnon impressed in limited touches during 2021 and has had a steady start to training camp. Seventh-round rookie Isaih Pacheco looks set to overcome the odds and force a way onto the final roster, which might leave the Chiefs with decisions to make. Jones does bring between-the-tackles qualities that Edwards-Helaire and McKinnon lack, but ultimately, if the Chiefs value the skill sets of the other backs more, Jones may be left looking for his third team this calendar year.
When Washington drafted Brown in the third round of the 2021 draft, they were drafting a player arriving into the NFL hot on the heels of back-to-back 1000-yard seasons in college. Washington’s depth chart opened up for Brown when Curtis Samuel struggled with injuries, and it felt like Brown would have a real chance to stake a claim as the WR2 in Washington. Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be and Brown’s snaps decreased steadily over the season as he struggled to earn playing time and targets. Brown’s 2022 has started slowly with injuries hampering the start of his camp, and if he can’t get going soon, he might find the hole he’s found himself in a little too large to climb out of.
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