ARI: Zach Ertz is a top 3 TE
Ertz was the TE5 last year despite switching teams during the season. Now, he gets a full season with the Cardinals and a better understanding of the offense from a full offseason with the team. The tight end position is always a bit sparse at the top so if Ertz can emerge as a red zone threat, especially when DeAndre Hopkins is suspended, and score eight touchdowns he has a good chance to put together a solid season.
ATL: Tyler Allgeier outscores Cordarrelle Patterson
Patterson was the surprise player of the year in 2021, putting together a career season after years of very little production. Unfortunately, he may end up being a one-year wonder with the rookie Allgeier taking over. Allgeier could see a ton of usage this year whether it is due to Patterson struggling to repeat his season or a shift back to receiver for the veteran. Either way, I predict Allgeier will be the more effective runner and the better fantasy asset.
BAL: JK Dobbins is a top 12 RB
Usually, it takes a while for a player to recover from a major injury but Dobbins is in a unique situation. He is still a very young player that doesn’t have a ton of carries under his belt. He also plays next to Lamar Jackson in what could be the best running attack in the league. If Dobbins and Jackson both play a fully healthy season then we could see massive numbers from both players on the ground this year.
BUF: Gabriel Davis is a top 15 WR
The version of Davis that has been on our minds all offseason is the one that caught four touchdown passes against the Chiefs in the Bills’ unfortunate playoff loss. There is a very good chance that Davis can continue that play into this season and have a huge year. Buffalo’s passing attack is as dynamic as it gets and can easily support two legitimate top fantasy wide receivers. With Josh Allen set to have possibly the biggest season of his career, Davis will very likely be a big beneficiary from more passing yards and touchdowns.
CAR: DJ Moore finishes outside the top 25 WRs
Moore is undoubtedly a very good wide receiver but there may be circumstances outside his control that contribute to a lackluster season. The first is Baker Mayfield, who is a better quarterback than has previously been under center in Carolina but is not known for stretching the field with his passes, which is what Moore excels at. The other factor is Christian McCaffrey who, if healthy, will be the number one target in the offense.
CHI: Khalil Herbert is a top 30 RB
Herbert made a big splash when he got a chance to run as the starter for Chicago last year, so he clearly has the talent to produce fantasy points. Whether that has earned him some more snaps in the offense or if he ends up filling in for Montgomery again, it wouldn’t be shocking for Herbert to have a much better season in 2022. There is also a new coach and offense in Chicago so there is the possibility that the new staff values Herbert and wants to get him involved. Plus, who else other than Montgomery and Darnell Mooney is going to get fantasy points for this team?
CIN: Joe Mixon finishes outside the top 12 RBs
Mixon had an amazing season last year, but now it will be the Joe Burrow show. Burrow was coming off a major injury in 2021 and Ja’Marr Chase was coming in as a rookie with a drops problem. Now, those two are amongst the elite at their respective positions, which is great for the team but not necessarily great for Mixon. Expect the running back to still be a productive player but experience a decrease in touches and touchdowns as the young stars continue to ascend.
CLE: David Njoku is a top 10 TE
Somebody needs to catch passes from Jacoby Brissett for the Browns this year so it might as well be Njoku. Brissett is not the most prolific of passers so may use a safer target like Njoku than a deep-threat receiver. Yes, Amari Cooper is also in town but there should still be enough passing volume for Cooper and Njoku to have solid seasons.
DAL: Dak Prescott has his worst fantasy finish in a full season
There are several things not trending in the right direction for Prescott and the Cowboys. With Amari Cooper and La’el Collins both no longer on the team and Tyron Smith suffering a major injury, the offense looks poised to take a step back. Prescott will still have CeeDee Lamb, Dalton Schultz, and Ezekiel Elliott but that isn’t necessarily the most high-powered offense. Prescott hasn’t finished worse than QB11 in a season that wasn’t cut short due to injury, but 2022 could be the year that he finally falls down the rankings just a little bit.
DEN: Courtland Sutton has a better season than DK Metcalf’s best season
The entire Denver offense is getting a giant boost from the addition of Russell Wilson, but no one will benefit more than Sutton. With Tim Patrick injured and Jerry Jeudy still finding his footing in the pros, Sutton will be Wilson’s number one target. He also has a chance to be better than Wilson’s most recent lead target, DK Metcalf, who put up 229.8 fantasy points in 2020 in half-point PPR scoring. Sutton won’t have a player as talented as Tyler Lockett to steal targets from him or a coach as committed to the running game in his way, leading to a huge breakout season for the young receiver.
DET: Jameson Williams leads all rookie WRs in PPG
There aren’t a lot of intriguing fantasy options in Detroit this year, but Williams could be a stud once he gets on the field. The only thing holding him back at the moment is a torn ACL that he suffered at the end of the college season. He has just as much talent as any other rookie receiver so if he returns this season at 100 percent then he can easily average the most fantasy points per game out of all the rookie receivers.
GB: Aaron Jones is a top 5 RB
A lot of players from last year’s Packers team are gone, but Jones is still around. That should absolutely lead to him getting a bigger role in the offense and a better finish in fantasy. Jones is already the leading running back, although AJ Dillon can steal some points from him, but he can emerge as a major player in the passing game as well. Jones is incredibly dynamic and has already been a threat in the passing game so more targets and catches will lead to a ton of production for Jones.
HOU: Dameon Pierce is a top 12 RB
There always seems to be one rookie running back that has a huge fantasy season in year one and Pierce could be that guy in 2022. It may be a bit off-putting that he plays for the Texans, who are not great, but a starting running back is still a valuable fantasy asset. Pierce has already won the lead role in Houston so now the next step is to translate that into production on the field. He has looked good so far so he is already on his way to putting together a very good rookie year.
IND: Alec Pierce is the number one rookie WR
Here are the quarterbacks for the other rookie receivers that project to be at least the second option in the passing attack: Zach Wilson, Jameis Winston, Marcus Mariota, Carson Wentz, Ryan Tannehill, Mitch Trubisky, and Daniel Jones. Pierce will have Matt Ryan throwing him the ball, who is probably better than all of those guys. The Colts clearly have a plan for Pierce after drafting him much higher than most people expected so expect a big year from the rookie wideout.
JAX: Trevor Lawrence is a top 10 QB
I’m not sure which will have a bigger impact, the loss of Urban Meyer or the addition of Doug Pederson, but Lawrence will certainly benefit from both. Lawrence has all the talent in the world and is set up for success much more in year two. With Travis Etienne back from injury and the addition of Christian Kirk at wide receiver, Lawrence should have adequate weapons to succeed. With a better coach and offensive system as well, Lawrence could have a massive breakout year and end up in the top 10 at the position.
KC: Marquez Valdes-Scantling is a top 20 WR
JuJu Smith-Schuster is getting a ton of buzz in the Kansas City wide receiver room but I like a different guy in the group. The Chiefs only gave Smith-Schuster a one-year deal while they signed Valdes-Scantling to a three-year contract. To me, that indicates that the team values MVS more. He is the best bet to take over the Tyreek Hill role as the deep threat and benefit from the long bombs from Mahomes. Long touchdowns lead to big fantasy points which leads to a top 20 fantasy finish, the formula just makes too much sense.
LV: Darren Waller finishes outside the top 10 TEs
Waller is still very talented but that doesn’t mean he won’t struggle this year. He has dealt with injuries in the past and might be currently dealing with one, so that could be an issue again in 2022. He will now also have to compete with newly acquired Davante Adams, aka the best receiver in the league, and Hunter Renfrow, who really emerged last year. Even if Waller does stay healthy for the whole year, he could see a decrease in production just based on Adams’ arrival alone.
LAC: Has a top 10 player at QB, RB, WR, and TE
This is definitely the most ambitious prediction of the bunch because this has only happened around 20 times before but I think the Chargers can pull it off. Justin Herbert and Austin Ekeler are locks to finish in the top 10 if they stay healthy. Mike Williams finished as the WR10 last year and Keenan Allen has done it before so as long as those two don’t take away too much from each other, one of them should finish in the top 10. The only question is at the tight end spot where they have Gerald Everett taking over for Jared Cook. Cooks finished a little over 30 points away from the top 10 last year, and Everett is a more talented player so he should have a productive season in a potentially elite Chargers offense.
LAR: Allen Robinson is a top 12 WR
Cooper Kupp got all the attention last year, rightfully so, but Robert Woods was also having a very good season before getting injured last year, WR11 through nine games. This offense can clearly support two top-tier fantasy wide receivers, which is great news for Robinson. With Kupp set to get even more attention from defenses this year, Robinson should be able to come in and have a great season in Los Angeles. If he can prove that his lack of production last year in Chicago was because of the Bears and not him, then Robinson should be able to regain his elite fantasy wide receiver status.
MIA: Jaylen Waddle outscores Tyreek Hill
Change can be tough to deal with in life sometimes, and Hill may find that out this year. He won’t have Mahomes throwing him picture-perfect deep balls anymore. He will have to adjust to a new quarterback in Tua Tagovailoa, who I have faith in, so it may take some time for him to settle into the offense. Meanwhile, Waddle has already developed great chemistry with Tagovailoa and will be looking to get even better in 2022. If Hill does get out to a slow start (which is something he is not very familiar with) then it will give Waddle a shot to be the most productive fantasy receiver in Miami this year.
MIN: Kirk Cousins has his best fantasy finish
You may not remember this, but Cousins used to be a pretty good fantasy quarterback, finishing as high as QB5 in 2016. It may seem crazy to think he could get back to that level of production in 2022 but all the signs are pointing toward him having a great year. New head coach Kevin O’Connell brings over the offensive system from the Rams and Cousins has two elite receivers in Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen. The most points Cousins has produced in a season is 306.2 in 2020, so look for him to shatter that number by quite a bit this year.
NOR: Michael Thomas is a top 15 WR in PPG
I don’t blame you if you’ve forgotten about Thomas. He went from having a record-breaking season to not playing at all last year and seemed like his career could be heading downhill. But now he is back and healthy and looks like he could still be the elite player that broke the record for catches in a season. He will also finally get a chance to play with Jameis Winston who will be able to get him the ball much farther downfield than Drew Brees ever was. We could still end up seeing Thomas miss a few games this year but when he is on the field he will be a very good fantasy player once again.
NE: No RBs or WRs finish in the top 20
It doesn’t look like it is going to be a great year for the Patriots in 2022, and it looks like it will be even worse for them in fantasy football. There just aren’t a ton of players to get excited about in New England for fantasy this season. The most intriguing was Tyquan Thornton but now he will miss a large chunk of the season due to injury. Running backs Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson are both talented players, but the Patriots’ penchant for using a committee in the backfield may end up rendering them both underwhelming for fantasy. Mac Jones looks promising at quarterback but his crop of receivers, DeVante Parker, Nelson Agholor, Jakobi Meyers, and Kendrick Bourne, are uninspiring. Even if the Pats do better this season than expected, it won’t be because the offense is churning out useful fantasy players.
NYG: Daniel Jones is a top 12 QB
Call it believing in new head coach Brian Daboll, who was in Buffalo for Josh Allen’s turnaround, or call it very wishful thinking but either way we could see a big season from Jones in 2022. He already has some fantasy value just based on his rushing ability so it isn’t a huge stretch to believe he could produce like a top-12 guy at the position. It would take a massive leap from him as a passer and the offense to actually look competent for a change, but if Daboll is as good as he has looked then he should be able to get it done.
NYJ: Breece Hall finishes outside the top 20 RBs
Hall is the consensus top rookie running back for fantasy this year but there are a few ways that he could fail to live up to the hype. The first would be if second-year back Michael Carter, who looked pretty good last year as a rookie, takes away a significant amount of touches. The second would be if the offensive line, which has already lost Mekhi Becton for the year, struggles to pave the way for Hall. And the third, and most likely, is that the Jets stink and there aren’t a lot of fantasy points to go around. Hall will very likely have a great career because he is an incredibly talented player but it just may not happen in year one.
PHI: Jalen Hurts is a top 3 QB but AJ Brown finishes outside the top 20
Hurts was a top-10 quarterback last year despite playing in only 15 games; everybody ahead of him played more. He was actually the sixth-best quarterback in points per game so it isn’t too big of a leap to get into the top three. If he does, it will be largely due to his production on the ground, where he has a chance to rush for more yards and touchdowns than any other quarterback. He should also be better as a passer thanks to the addition of Brown and the improvement of Devonta Smith and Dallas Goedert. But even if Hurts is better in 2022, it may not lead to more success for Brown. He will still be the number one option like he was in Tennessee, but he likely won’t get as many targets. It may seem counterintuitive to predict a better year for Hurts yet a worse year for Brown but it is highly possible.
PIT: Najee Harris finishes outside the top 15 RBs
This has nothing to do with the talent of Harris, which is immense. This has everything to do with the state of the Pittsburgh offense, especially up front. The Steelers offensive line figures to be downright bad this year, which would obviously not be ideal for Harris. The offense will also be led by Mitch Trubisky, who doesn’t exactly give off franchise quarterback vibes. If the offense does take a step back, Harris will likely see a decrease in production. The Steelers may have to pass more if they are losing games, which would lead to fewer carries for Harris and therefore fewer fantasy points.
SF: George Kittle finishes outside the top 10 TEs
Kittle is a very unique tight end, possessing a skill set that is unmatched by the rest of the players at the position. But he has also struggled with injuries, playing every game in a season just once. That is one major reason why Kittle could slip outside the top 10 this year but he could also be worse due to a different-looking offense. Although Kyle Shanahan is still running the show in San Francisco, Trey Lance is now under center, giving the 49ers a new look. This will certainly lead to more running plays, which means fewer chances for Kittle to catch the ball. Lance may also be more willing to take shots down the field to the speedy wide receivers as opposed to throwing it short and letting Kittle rack up yards after the catch. There is no doubt that Kittle will still be an important contributor for his team this year, he just may not be as valuable to your fantasy team.
SEA: Rashaad Penny outscores Kenneth Walker
Walker is the shiny new toy in the Seattle running back room after the team selected him in the second round following a phenomenal college season. But when that shiny new toy has a hernia it isn’t necessarily as appealing. That is the case for Walker as he starts out the season recovering from that injury, which shouldn’t be a long process. Yet it may be long enough for Penny to emerge as the best running back for the Seahawks this year. Penny, who is no stranger to injuries himself, was the number one running back in fantasy football from week 12 onward last year. If he can continue that play into 2022 then he can very easily control the starting role for most of the season and outscore Walker by a decent margin.
TB: Julio Jones is the second-highest scoring WR on the team
Five years ago this prediction would have been bold for a different reason, and not just because Jones wasn’t even o the Buccaneers. He is one of the most dominant wide receivers of his generation but has now hit the point in his career where he is no longer one of the best receivers in the game. Mike Evans is the unquestioned number one wideout in Tampa Bay but the number two spot is open with Chris Godwin coming back from a torn ACL. This is Jones’s chance to grab that spot and prove that he can still produce like an elite player. He will get a chance to catch passes from Tom Brady, and if a good connection develops between the two future Hall-of-Famers then there is a good chance Jones finishes with the second-most fantasy points of the Buccaneers’ receivers.
TEN: Robert Woods is a top 24 WR
Woods, or the Invisible Man as I like to call him since everybody in the entire world seemed to have forgotten about him this year, is still a good player. He was having a top-12 season last year before suffering an injury and while he is no longer in the very explosive Rams’ offense, he is still the number one receiver in a Tennessee offense that can’t hand it off to Derrick Henry every play. Ryan Tannehill will have to pass the ball at some point and when he does, it will probably be to Woods. There is very little reason to doubt that Woods can have a season just a little bit worse than former-Titan AJ Brown, which would still place him comfortably in the top 24.
WAS: Terry McLaurin finishes outside the top 25 WRs
You know what is a good quality to have at the quarterback position? Consistency. You know who has been the opposite of consistent in his career? Carson Wentz. You know who is McLaurin’s quarterback this year? If you guessed Wentz then you either keep up on the NFL quarterback carousel or are just good at predicting where I was going with that one. McLaurin hasn’t had very good quarterback play in his career but at least the guys he has played with have been consistent. There is no telling what to expect from Wentz this year but I do expect it to be bad for McLaurin. The receiver could still end up having a good season because he is a very talented player but until we see Wentz actually play some decent football it is hard to feel confident in that offense and the production we will see from McLaurin.