Players changing teams happens every offseason in every sport, but this year’s NFL offseason was something we haven’t seen before in this league. Not since the early 2010s of the NBA has an offseason generated so much hype. Players change for a multitude of reasons. Sometimes a change of scenery helps more than a new coach would. But sometimes leaving town hurts more than it helps. Between trades and free agent signings, it can be tough to keep track of who relocated cities this spring. Luckily, NFL.com keeps it all in one tidy place for us. Well maybe it’s not so tidy, but that’s where having me around helps. I’ll be highlighting a few players from the list and separating them into two categories when it comes to their fantasy football value – “Helps” or “Hurts” (more on Jalen later. That’s what they call in the ‘biz a “tease”). Without further ado, let’s get into it.
First article writing for the Fantasy Injury Team and I start off with a player who injured his ankle at the end of last season which led to missed time during the Buccaneers playoff run. I don’t care what my kindergarten teacher said on my report card – I can play well with others! No it’s not pandering, or trying too hard to fit in here (although maybe it helps) – I truly believe this was an ideal landing spot for “RoJo”.
His Time in Tampa Bay
It’s no secret the former 2nd round pick has what most would call “stone hands” and a general lack of security when carrying the football. In his one full-time season with Tampa in 2020, Jones had a 66.7% catch rate (that’s receptions divided by targets) and had 5 drops, leading to an 11.9% drop rate. He didn’t have enough targets to qualify, but if he did, he would have ranked 4th in the entire league in that metric. Those issues landed him in Tom Brady’s doghouse and basically relegated him to a change-of-pace 2 down back for Fournette. His fumble issues (7 in the last 3 seasons) landed him in Bruce Arians’ doghouse.
2022 Fantasy Outlook
Bruce has left Tampa, but so did Rojo. He landed on the Kansas City Chiefs, who possibly had the biggest shakeup of any offense this offseason. No more Tyreek Hill (more on him later, another tease), Sammy Watkins, Byron Pringle, Demarcus Robinson, or Darrel Williams. This means Ronald Jones isn’t the only newcomer as the Chiefs signed JuJu Smith-Schuster, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, and drafted Skyy Moore in Round 2 of the 2022 draft. You’ll note that he is the only newcomer to the backfield, which helps.
While Clyde Edwards-Helaire (CEH) is listed on the early depth chart as the starter, reports out of camp have hinted at a “1-2-3 punch” approach between he, Jones, and Jerick McKinnon. While McKinnon received an uptick in work in the 2021 playoffs, he’s 30 years old which is geriatric for most running backs (not old at all for bloggers or fantasy football players, for the record). McKinnon’s main role in the offense as a pass catcher will cut into CEH’s touches, which as noted earlier, is not RoJo’s forte.
Where Jones helps this Kansas City team most is on first and second downs where he can gash up opposing defenses with chunk plays. In 2020 he ranked 6th in the NFL in yards after contact and first in yards after contact per attempt. Clyde ranked 19th and t-22nd in those categories, respectively. As for the goal line debate, these two ranked very closely in all red zone categories last year and the Chiefs love to run gadget plays when they get in close. So this is more of a coin flip. However, Jones is now the slightly biggest back of the three and profiles similarly to Kareem Hunt in that regard. Here’s a reminder of what Hunt did in his two years in Kansas City:
I haven’t even mentioned ADP yet which should really drive this point home. Clyde is currently going as the RB 26 and 59th overall player off the board. Jones’ current ADP is RB40 and 111th overall. Price discount in an ambiguous backfield on a high-scoring offense? Sign. Me. Up.
As a manager of Allen Robinson in two leagues last year, I can’t believe I’m penning these words to paper (or I guess typing these words to screen? I don’t know). For those of you in a similar situation last year, I know it can be hard to go back to the well on a player that burned you worse than an overcooked Hot Pocket. For those of you lucky souls who didn’t experience what it was like to light your 3rd round pick on fire last season, let me show you a snapshot to get you caught up (TRIGGER WARNING):
Just absolutely abysmal. I hope you took my trigger warning seriously. I want to move on from this as soon as possible. But let’s take one quick stroll down memory lane. We remember who his QBs were last year, right? Andy Dalton, Nick Foles, and a rookie learning on the job in Justin Fields. His head coach/”offensive genius” Matt Nagy certainly didn’t do him any favors either. All of these factors have led to a bargain ADP of WR28 / 69th (nice) overall.
2022 Fantasy Outlook
Besides the obvious that it simply cannot get any worse than last season, there are a few factors in Robinson’s favor which I believe helps him outperform his ADP this season. First, the offense is flat out better. I truly apologize for mentioning the 2021 Bears again, but they ranked bottom 3 in the entire NFL last season in passing touchdowns per game with 0.9. The Rams were tied for 2nd most with 2.4 per game, slightly trailing the Chiefs’ 2.5 output. The Bears ranked 30th in the league with 188.6 passing yards per game, while the Rams ranked 5th with 277.5 passing yards per game. I can write ad nauseam about the drastic differences between the two offenses, but I think you get the point.
We know “ARob” was signed to a huge deal in LA, which is important for his fantasy value and the team’s commitment to him. But even more important is who is no longer with the Rams. Odell Beckham Jr., Robert Woods, and Sony Michel are all gone, resulting in 166 vacated targets. Vacated targets are any that went to players in 2021 who are no longer on that team in 2022. I will admit that Allen Robinson’s best seasons have been when he’s seen 150+ targets. With Cooper Kupp receiving 191 last season, Robinson is going to struggle to get to that 150 number. However, in a hyper-efficient, high scoring offense like the Rams, I think Robinson could post a top 24 season with just over 100 targets. For reference, last year’s WR24 was Tee Higgins who posted a 74-1,091-6 line on 110 targets. Robinson could easily fall into the end zone 8+ times, making yards and receptions not as important for his fantasy success.
This first blog could very well be my last since Tom is a noted Eagles fan. I’m not entirely sure he shares the same views about Brown as I do. Knowing what I know about most Philly fans though, I’m sure he has a very reasonable take.
I’m going to start with the obvious here – Arthur Juan Brown is an absolute beast of a football player. A 6-1, 226 lb wide receiver with a 4.49 40 time is a big play waiting to happen. And in order to return fantasy value, he’s going to need a lot of big plays. Brown is currently going as WR11 and the 27th player off the board. I just don’t see that happening for a number of reasons.
A.J. Brown has had his history of injuries in his three year career which never helps. He’s missed a total of 6 games and has been hobbled or had to leave early from several others. The possibility of missing a couple of games per season must be considered when drafting Brown. The other issue facing the former Titans wideout is his new quarterback. No one can deny that Jalen Hurts was a great fantasy QB last season, but the jury is still out on the former Alabama star as a real-life NFL Quarterback.
At first glance, comparing Hurts to Brown’s former QB, Ryan Tannehill, the difference in passing statistics are not significant. Hurts had just 37 less yards passing per game and 5 fewer passing touchdowns overall. Doesn’t sound so bad, does it? Well it kind of is, because 5 less TDs than Tannehill last season was 16.
The biggest issue for Brown is Hurts is too good around the goal line, and that probably won’t change this season. I’m not prognosticating for another 10 rushing touchdowns from Jalen, but it shouldn’t fall that much. This is a problem as the only top-12 finish Brown has ever had came in 2020. That season Tannehill threw 33 TDs with 11 of them going to Brown, en route to a WR11 finish. The only way Brown returns top-12 WR value is double digit touchdowns and we haven’t seen Hurts support that type of projection for single receiver. I’m not doubting Brown’s talent, just his situation.
The trade of Tyreek Hill was one of the more shocking moves of the offseason, mainly because it happened so quickly. In what seemed like hours, it was leaked that the Chiefs were shopping around their WR1 and the Dolphins and my Jets were the front runners. Hill eventually chose Miami over East Rutherford although I can’t see why! We have seasons, Tyreek! Don’t you LOVE seasons! Just kidding, I would have chosen the warm state without state income tax too.
The former Chiefs speedster is currently going off the board at WR8, or 20th overall. While this is a discount from past seasons, he no longer has Patrick Mahomes attached to his fantasy value. His new QB is Tua Tagovailoa, the third year QB who has yet to throw for as many yards in two seasons as Mahomes did in 2021 alone. Despite finishing as only WR6 last year, Hill actually had one of his better statistical campaigns. He set a new high in receptions (by far) with 111 of them on 159 targets. He was used more in the short, quick passing game than in year’s past. This may fit into what new head coach Mike McDaniel installs in this offense, but we can’t be certain.
My main issue with this thought process is that Jaylen Waddle made a living on short, quick throws last season. I don’t envision a world where both receivers will be asked to do the same thing on a consistent basis, especially with Tyreek’s game-breaking speed. Tua actually ranked pretty highly in deep ball accuracy last season, so he may surprise me. However, I could easily see this being the first full season of Hill’s career where he does not return top-12 WR value.