Fantasy Free Agency Winners & Losers (2022)

Mar 29, 2022
Fantasy Free Agency Winners & Losers (2022)

The bulk of free agency is over, so I thought I’d compile a list of fantasy “winners” and “losers,” taking into account all of the big signings (and trades) thus far.

John Daigle has been blurbing each major signing as they happen, so check the Fantasy Free Agency Tracker for his take. The 4for4 Staff has also written up individual in-depth profiles of this free agency class—read them all here.

Russell Wilson to the Broncos; Noah Fant to the Seahawks

I broke down the impact of this deal in detail.

Winners: Wilson should benefit from playing in a more pass-friendly offense since he’s been limited by the run-heavy tendencies of Pete Carroll and Co. in Seattle. He has good receiving weapons and new HC Nathaniel Hackett is known as a sharp offensive mind. … Albert Okwuegbunam got the biggest bump of the Denver receiving corps since Fant was moved as part of the trade and Okwuegbunam has shown serious receiving chops in limited duty thus far. “Albert O” is 6’5”, 258 lbs, and has 4.49 speed. Breakout season incoming. … Jerry Jeudy, Courtland Sutton, and Tim Patrick also stand to benefit from Wilson’s arrival, though it remains to be seen if Patrick will continue to outproduce Jeudy and Sutton as he has the last couple of seasons. Patrick seems to be the best value in early drafts and Javonte Williams should benefit from playing in a better offense with Wilson at the helm, especially if Melvin Gordon moves on.

Losers: DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett are currently faced with the prospect of catching passes from Drew Lock instead of Wilson, so the quality of their targets is very likely to decrease significantly. The Seahawks may also lean into their run-heavy tendencies since they no longer have Wilson to generate yards through the air.

Tyreek Hill to the Dolphins; JuJu Smith-Schuster & Marquez Valdes-Scantling to the Chiefs

Winners: Tua Tagovailoa is the big winner here since he has an explosive new weapon to throw to in the speedy Hill. The Dolphins have also upgraded the offensive line and the running game, which should further help Tagovailoa’s chances for success.

Smith-Schuster and Valdes-Scantling join a Chiefs offense that will need them to produce alongside Travis Kelce, though the team is still actively looking for WR help.

Losers: Hill is still a fantasy WR1, but it’s a downgrade from his old role as the Chiefs’ WR1 with Patrick Mahomes to the Dolphins’ WR1 with Tagovailoa throwing him the ball. Jaylen Waddle, DeVante Parker, Mike Gesicki, and Cedrick Wilson are all knocked down a peg on the depth chart with Hill’s arrival.

Mahomes loses Hill and gains Smith-Schuster and Valdes-Scantling—that’s a net loss for him, as it stands.

Davante Adams to the Raiders

Winners: The biggest winner in this trade is Derek Carr, who now gets to throw to (arguably) the league’s best receiver. He has quietly finished as a top 15 fantasy quarterback in three straight seasons and now has Adams (along with Hunter Renfrow and Darren Waller) to throw to. I don’t expect Green Bay to go into the season with Allen Lazard as its WR1, but there is a scenario where he’s the team’s clear-cut WR2, which could mean 90+ targets and fantasy-starter appeal.

Losers: The Packers still have moves to make at receiver, but unless they land someone like Justin Jefferson in the draft, the loss of both Adams and Valdes-Scantling is a serious downgrade for Aaron Rodgers. The Packers now have four picks in the first two rounds and I expect that they’ll use two to shore up the receiving corps.

Adams will see a quarterback downgrade from the reigning back-to-back MVP to Derek Carr, though his collegiate history with Carr should offset that downgrade a bit. Adams’ arrival knocks Darren Waller and Hunter Renfrow down a peg in the targets department.

DeShaun Watson to the Browns

Given the uncertainty of a potential suspension for Watson, the degree to which players are “winners” or “losers” will ultimately depend on how many games, if any, Watson misses due to the many allegations that have been made against him. At this point, I’m guessing that he’ll be suspended for 4-6 games.

Winners: Amari Cooper, Donovan Peoples-Jones, and David Njoku are the primary beneficiaries of Watson’s arrival in Cleveland since he’s clearly been better from a fantasy standpoint than Baker Mayfield. Nick Chubb would benefit from an offense that should be more productive from a real-world standpoint since he should have more red zone opportunities.

The writing has been on the wall for months, but Davis Mills benefits by no longer having Watson’s shadow looming over the franchise. Mills didn’t win many games last year, but he played pretty well given his inexperience and relative lack of receiving weapons. In his 11 starts, he averaged 229 yards, 1.36 touchdowns, and 0.8 interceptions, with 6.95 yards per attempt. In his final six starts, he averaged 261 yards (7.51 YPA), 1.83 touchdowns, and 0.5 interceptions.

Losers: Mayfield is looking for a new home and a starting job is not guaranteed at this point.

Allen Robinson to the Rams; Robert Woods to the Titans

Winners: Darnell Mooney had already moved into the WR1 role last season, out-targeting Robinson by a margin of 7.8-to-5.5 targets per game in the 12 games that both players were active. With Robinson gone, Mooney is now Chicago’s unquestioned WR1 barring a major move by the Bears in the draft or via trade.

Ryan Tannehill should benefit from another good receiving weapon and will now have Woods, A.J. Brown, and Austin Hooper to throw to.

Robinson’s situation has improved since he’s now playing in a much more productive offense with a better quarterback. He may serve as the Rams’ WR2 all season since (free agent) Odell Beckham is recovering from another torn ACL that he suffered in the Super Bowl. Even if Beckham is re-signed there’s no guarantee that he’ll be available in the regular season.

Losers: Adding Robinson and losing Woods is probably a wash for Matthew Stafford, but Woods has been better than Robinson recently so it might be a slight downgrade. If Sean McVay can resurrect early-career Robinson, it would be an upgrade for Stafford, who could potentially have two alpha WR1-types to throw to in Robinson and Cooper Kupp.

Chase Edmonds & Raheem Mostert to the Dolphins

Winners: At this point, James Conner is the biggest beneficiary with Edmonds out of the way. The Cardinals will likely shore up the position via the draft or with a cheap free agent signing, but the team looks committed to Conner after he signed a three-year deal worth $21 million. He averaged 20.8 touches in the five games that Edmonds missed in 2021.

Losers: It’s tough to call Edmonds or Mostert “losers” here since neither player was likely to see bellcow (or even lead back) touches in 2022. The Dolphins are actively upgrading their offensive line and now have a sharp offensive mind, Mike McDaniel, running the show. Mostert might lead the backfield in carries while Edmonds handles most of the passing-down work, which will create a frustrating situation for fantasy managers.

Other Winners

  • Mitch Trubisky (Steelers), Marcus Mariota (Falcons), and Jameis Winston (Saints) were able to land starting gigs (in theory), though the Draft will certainly impact their respective outlooks. Through the first seven weeks, Winston was the No. 21 QB in fantasy and was tied for 16th in points per game. He’s capable of more (especially with a healthy Michael Thomas theoretically back), but the Saints will have to let him throw the ball more than the 25.1 pass attempts that he averaged in that six-game span. Trubisky was the No. 15 fantasy quarterback back in 2018 and has some dual-threat ability, though his rushing yards dropped by more than 50% from 2018 to 2019 in roughly the same number of games played.

  • Leonard Fournette looked like he may be headed elsewhere, but the Bucs re-signed him once Tom Brady decided to unretire. Fournette was a fantasy RB1 in 2021.

  • Rashaad Penny finished the season on fire and signed a one-year deal to return for starter-type money. Chris Carson is still in the mix, but Penny’s hot finish has to have him in the driver’s seat for the RB1 job.

  • Christian Kirk got a massive deal to join the Jaguars and this is his chance to turn into a bonafide WR1.

  • Mike Evans and Chris Godwin both benefit from Tom Brady’s decision to unretire, though Godwin suffered a Week 15 ACL tear and his early-season availability is very much in question.

  • Isaiah McKenzie was re-signed and then Cole Beasley was released, opening the door for a much bigger role for McKenzie. Unfortunately, the Bills signed Jamison Crowder, which muddies McKenzie’s outlook a bit.

  • James Washington posted 44-735-3 on 80 targets back in 2019 but fell to fourth in the WR pecking order as Diontae Johnson emerged and Chase Claypool entered the chat. In Dallas, he has a great opportunity to establish himself early in the season as Michael Gallup recovers from a late-season ACL tear. An aggressive nine-month timetable for Gallup would peg his return in early October, so Washington might serve as the Cowboys’ WR2 for four games or more.

  • Dalton Schultz was franchise tagged after a 78-808-8 season. He should have a big role again this season with Amari Cooper and Blake Jarwin out of the picture.

  • Zach Ertz was prioritized in free agency and it looks like both Christian Kirk and A.J. Green will no longer be part of the equation. Rondale Moore should see a big bump in playing time since Kirk played mostly in the slot.

  • David Njoku was slapped with the franchise tag while Austin Hooper joins the Titans. Both players stand to benefit from more playing time and targets.

  • After being pushed aside by Noah Fant, Gerald Everett fills the sizable role vacated by Jared Cook. Donald Parham is still in the mix.

  • Mo Alie-Cox gets a three-year deal from the Colts while Jack Doyle retires. Since 2020, Alie-Cox averaged 4.0 catches for 65 yards in two games without Doyle in the lineup. Kylen Granson remains a factor.

  • Hayden Hurst gets another chance to play starter snaps after giving way to Kyle Pitts last season. Hurst posted 56-571-6 as a starter in 2020.

  • Ricky Seals-Jones was signed to replace Evan Engram and has had his moments throughout his career. In the eight games where he has played at least 40% of the snaps, he has averaged 28 yards and 0.50 touchdowns on 3.4 targets per game.

Other Losers

  • Taysom Hill wasn’t likely to be the Saints’ starter this year, but his chances went down once Winston re-signed and now the Saints are saying that he’s going to focus on playing the tight end position.

  • Antonio Gibson briefly shot into the top 10 when J.D. McKissic appeared to sign with the Bills, but McKissic backtracked and re-signed with the Commanders. Last season, Gibson averaged 4.4 targets per game in the five games without McKissic versus 2.7 targets per game in 11 games with McKissic in the lineup.

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