2022 Fantasy Football Primer - Part 2 Old faces in New Places
Welcome back for part 2 of my fantasy primer for 2022! We covered the vets who were returning from injury and suspended/facing suspension in part one.
In this article, we'll be taking a look at players who have changed teams and how they'll be affected, and how they will affect their new teammates.
There's no use in waiting around, may as well get right to it.
Deshaun Watson - QB - CLE - I'll pass on my thoughts on Watson's off-the-field problems, but it really doesn't matter, he's suspended until Week 11 when he'll get to face his old team Houston. Watson is immediately in a better situation than the one he left. The line is better, the backs are better, the receivers are. . . well, the line is better. Unfortunately for Watson, none of his receivers (WR/TE) would be a starter in a standard 12-team league; Amari Cooper (WR29) and David Njoku (TE17) are the best they have to offer him for now.
On the other hand, I think that Njoku and RB Kareem Hunt (assuming he's still with the Browns) will benefit from Watson being under center. Cooper may benefit as well. It sounds cliche, but getting traded to Cleveland might be a wake-up call for him; Watson would also be the best QB he's played with in his three stops.
Verdict - Pay attention to how Cleveland's Week 16 and 17 opponents' (NO and WSH respectively) defenses perform, you may get a championship QB very late in the draft (or undrafted).
Russell Wilson - QB - DEN - When it was first reported that Wilson wanted out of Seattle during the Summer of 2021, both the Seahawks and Wilson called it ridiculous, after all, why would you trade a Super Bowl winner and easily the best QB the franchise had ever had? OK, fair enough. Then the season happened, and outside of the opening game and a pair of pretty meaningless games in Weeks 17 and 18, Wilson performed like someone who wanted out of town.
Well, he's out now, in Broncos' Country, and he's got himself a pretty good supporting cast. Both Jerry Jeudy and Cortland Sutton are viewed as starters in a 12-team league (ADP of 21 and 23 respectively). While I expect Javonte Williams to take over as Denver's lead back in 2022, Melvin Gordon will continue to get meaningful carries and goal-line opportunities. As a Mizzou fan, I want to say that Wilson's arrival in the Mile High City will boost Albert Okwuegbunum's career, but Wilson's history with TEs hasn't been great. Outside of 2017 when Jimmy Graham had the last gasp of a once-promising career (57 RECs, 98 TGTs, 10 TDs) numbers for Wilson's TEs have been extremely pedestrian.
Verdict - Everyone should be better with Wilson under center. Expect the major players to set career highs in receptions (except maybe Sutton, though nothing is certain) and a slight uptick in TDs, though TDs can be tough to predict. Wilson may not set career highs, but he should rebound from last season's statline.
Marquise Brown - WR - ARI - After a season in which he set career highs for targets, receptions, and yards, it was a small surprise to see Brown traded. Fortunately, it was to the team where his college QB plays (a repeating theme as you'll see) and his role should change along with his jersey. After playing primarily as a dink-and-dunk receiver in 2021 (where he also set career lows with only 6 TDs and an 11.1 YPC average), Brown will get to stretch the field once again in the desert.
Verdict - Expect something close to Brown's 2018 Oklahoma statline (75 REC, 1318 YDs, 10 TDs) which was (coincidentally) the last time he played with Kyler Murray.
Davante Adams - WR - LV - Another WR who has reunited with his college QB this offseason (they combined for 38 TDs at Fresno State) and will be looking to rekindle that magic. While the dropoff in talent between Carr and Packers QB Aaron Rodgers is nothing to sniff at, Adams is elite even if I'm throwing to him.
The Adams/Carr connection also has their coach weighing in their favor. During Josh McDaniel's time with the Broncos, Brandon Marshall and Brandon Lloyd were both HEAVILY featured. Marshall caught 101 passes for 1120 yds in 2009 and in 2010 Lloyd caught 75 for 1448yds; both finished with double-digit TDs as well.
Verdict - Expect a slight downtick in Adams' numbers this season. He won't be catching 120+ passes and putting up 1500 yds, but a 100REC/1200YD season is well within reach. TDs are hard to predict, but these two had a serious connection in college.
Tyreek Hill - WR - MIA - When Kansas city decided they didn't want to pay Hill what he believed he was worth, Miami was right there to scoop him up and give Tua (in a do-or-die season) a weapon to go with Jalen Waddle and Mike Gesicki. Most people are down on Tua, they feel that he has a noodle arm, and when Hill is open behind the defense, Tua simply won't be able to get him the ball. That's crap. I can find twenty plays on YouTube that shows Tua's arm strength in the NFL. Not OTAs, not workouts, game film.
My concern is that Waddle is already a very similar receiver to Hill and will they continue to use them in that manner or will one be asked to do something else? Couple that with the fact that, at 28, Hill is still relying mainly on his speed to make plays. It might not be this year (almost certainly won't), but it's going to happen eventually when Hill tries to go to another gear and it simply isn't there.
Verdict - If the top receivers are gone and it's between Hill, Ceedee Lamb, and Keenan Allen, take one of the other two. I feel this season will be a disappointment for Hill with a few very good games mixed in.
Juju Smith Schuster - WR - KC - When the Chiefs traded Hill, they had to replace him with someone, meet that someone. After five seasons with the Steelers he moved on and not a moment too soon, Ben Roethlisberger retired and left the team to decide between Mitch Trubisky and rookie Kenny Pickett. Instead, he gets a top 3 QB throwing to him and it looks like he's taking over Tyreek Hill's spot as WR1.
It would be silly to think that Juju is going to step in and put up numbers close to what Hill was putting up in the Chiefs offense. . . or would it? While Hill has averaged 84 REC, 1207 YDs, 10TDs over the last five years, Smith-Schuster has put up a fairly respectable 66 REC, 734 YDs, and 5 TDs over the last four (I did not include either player's rookie numbers). Not quite as good, but two things play against Juju. First, he has missed almost three times as many games to injury, and second, While "Big Ben" is Canton-bound, his play the last several years has been good, not great, while Hill has benefitted from the emergence of Patrick Mahomes.
Verdict - Draft Smith-Schuster with the idea that he will be your WR3/Top Flex option but understand that he may well develop into a top-level WR2.
A.J. Brown - WR - PHI - Another player who was traded because his team chose not to meet his demands, Brown is a solid player and has made himself into one of the better receivers in the league. His trade to PHI gives me pause, however. He's going to a team with a pair of very good receivers already (DeVonta Smith and Dallas Goedert) and a QB who, while he should be a Top 6 fantasy QB, is a middling good passer who needs to grow.
Verdict - Expect what you have gotten from Brown in TEN this season in PHI. He's missed a few games each of the last couple of years, so he should be around 70 REC/1000 YDs/8 TDs. He's being drafted as a top WR2, so be aware of where you're picking him.
The Best of the Rest
Matt Ryan - QB - IND - The Colts snapped up Ryan for a mere third-round pick and the improvement over 2021 starter Carson Wentz should be obvious from Week 1. Look for Ryan to be a fringe QB1 or quality injury replacement, he'll have OK receivers and the best running game he's ever had backing him up.
Allen Robinson II - WR - LAR - After being a Top 10 fantasy receiver in 2019-20, nothing went right in 2021 for Robinson (or Chicago, for that matter). He's not going to be his team's WR1 but should see better looks with Cooper Kupp on the other side of the field. Matt Stafford is also the best QB he's ever played with too.
Jarvis Landry - WR - NO - While Landry's stop in Cleveland wasn't what a lot of people thought it would be, Landry continued to be a solid receiver, but never performed at the level he did in Miami. He signed with New Orleans in the off-season, returning to Louisiana where he played his college ball. It's possible he plays well, but I feel his prime has been over for a couple of years at this point.
I'll see you Friday for our rookie rundown and the last bits of info you need to consider before your fantasy draft.