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Fantasy Football 2022: Evaluating the Impact of Key Players on New Teams

Davante Adams, Las Vegas Raiders

In Las Vegas, DeVante Adams should still be considered a WR1 even if Aaron Rodgers will no longer be throwing passes to him.

For fantasy managers who are just now preparing for their drafts, it’s time to take stock of players that have changed teams either via trade or free agency this offseason. If you haven’t been watching any of the preseason games, here is a list of the (arguably) top three players who have changed teams in the offseason at each position (plus an extended list at the end of each position).

Russell Wilson, QB, Denver Broncos

Fantasy managers that drafted Wilson as their QB1 in 2021 were disappointed as the season went on. He suffered a finger injury in October, which earned him a stint on the I.R. After returning from that, Wilson did not look like Wilson for at least another month, which had to harm fantasy managers as they tried to make a playoff push.

Impact: In moving to the Denver Broncos, Wilson should be healthy heading into the year, but he is 33 years old. Wilson’s arm strength still seems to be there, which is good news for Courtland Sutton. The loss of Tim Patrick will hurt, but look for him to find his tight end (Albert Okwuegbunam), especially in the red zone. Wilson is in the QB1 range, but drops a little as his rushing attempts have gone down over the years.

Matt Ryan, QB, Indianapolis Colts

Even with an extra game in 2021, Ryan failed to reach 4,000 passing yards for the first time since 2010. The offense was sluggish at best, and it was hard to see where the blame should fall. The unexpected extended absence of Calvin Ridley certainly didn’t help, and the running game couldn’t get off the ground, but Ryan threw only 20 touchdowns (and 12 interceptions).

Impact: In Indianapolis, Ryan has a better supporting cast. He has Michael Pittman Jr. as an excellent receiver and Jonathan Taylor as arguably the best running back in the league to take defensive attention away from his receivers. However, he is 37, and it is possible that his arm strength isn’t where it used to be. Ryan should be drafted as a high QB2.

Carson Wentz, QB, Washington Commanders

Wentz has had his fair share of struggles even though, on paper, his numbers don’t look terrible for 2021. He had over 3,500 passing yards, 27 touchdowns and only seven interceptions. He wasn’t always accurate and he did get sacked, but with a new team, fantasy managers are hoping for a resurgence of his 2019 numbers.

Impact: Wentz has Terry McLaurin to throw the ball to in Washington, which is a great target for him. However, he needs some supporting cast members. Dyami Brown and Curtis Samuel are on the roster, but were underwhelming in 2021. Logan Thomas is atop the depth chart at tight end and the running back looks to be a committee. Wentz has his work cut out for him, but he should be a serviceable QB2 in 2022.

  • Drew Lock, QB, Seattle Seahawks
  • Marcus Mariota, QB, Atlanta Falcons
  • Baker Mayfield, QB, Carolina Panthers
  • Mitchell Trubisky, QB, Pittsburgh Steelers
  • Deshaun Watson, QB, Cleveland Browns (suspended for first 11 games)

Davante Adams, WR, Las Vegas Raiders

A first-team All-Pro each of the past two seasons, Adams put up career bests in both receptions (123) and receiving yards (1,553) last season only to be traded to Las Vegas. It breaks up what was the NFL’s most productive QB-WR combination, as Aaron Rodgers will be seeking a new No. 1 target while Adams reunites with his college quarterback, Derek Carr.

Impact: It doesn’t matter what uniform he wears; Adams is a WR1 regardless. Carr obviously isn’t the same caliber of quarterback as Rodgers, but that doesn’t mean that he can’t help Adams put up big numbers (and vice versa). Adams won’t be asked to do it by himself; Darren Waller will require his share of defensive attention, and new head coach Josh McDaniels isn’t going to abandon the running game.

Tyreek Hill, WR, Miami Dolphins

Coming off back-to-back 1,200-yard seasons, Hill is taking his talents to South Beach. It may seem like a curious move to leave Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs’ high-octane offense for Tua Tagovailoa and a rookie head coach, but the Dolphins are giving Hill $120 million over four years ($72.2 million guaranteed) to help him get acclimated.

Impact: Not only is this a significant quarterback downgrade, as Tagovailoa doesn’t have near the arm strength Mahomes possesses, but it’s also tough to know how Hill will be used in new head coach Mike McDaniel’s offense. Jaylen Waddle and tight end Mike Gesicki are in the picture too, so it’s Hill who may have to make the biggest adjustment to fit in with his new team. Hill is still a WR1, but it doesn’t mean there won’t be some speed bumps along the way.

A.J. Brown, WR, Philadelphia Eagles

After three strong seasons to start his NFL career, Brown got his big payday, but it came with the Eagles and not the Titans, who traded him for a first-round pick on the opening night of the draft. Brown took full advantage of the exploding wide receiver market and Tennessee’s financial limitations to leverage a lucrative contract.

Impact: After back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons, Brown’s numbers took a bit of a dip in 2021 even though he had almost the same number of targets (105) as in 2020. He also had just five TD catches after 11 the previous season. Brown is excited to team with Jalen Hurts, and he’ll probably be drafted as a WR1, but he may not offer that level of production.

  • Marquise Brown, WR, Arizona Cardinals
  • DJ Chark, WR, Detroit Lions
  • Amari Cooper, WR, Cleveland Browns
  • Jamison Crowder, WR, Buffalo Bills
  • Russell Gage, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  • Julio Jones, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  • Christian Kirk, WR, Jacksonville Jaguars
  • Jarvis Landry, WR, New Orleans Saints
  • DeVante Parker, WR, New England Patriots
  • Byron Pringle, WR, Chicago Bears
  • Allen Robinson II, WR, Los Angeles Rams
  • JuJu Smith-Schuster and Marquez Valdes-Scantling, WRs, Kansas City Chiefs
  • James Washington, WR, Dallas Cowboys
  • Sammy Watkins, WR, Green Bay Packers
  • Robert Woods, WR, Tennessee Titans

Chase Edmonds, Sony Michel and Raheem Mostert, RBs, Miami Dolphins

In the offseason, the Dolphins added not one, not two, but three running backs. Edmonds comes over from Arizona, where he rushed for 592 yards and two touchdowns in 2021. He also was used frequently as a receiver out of the backfield (43 rec., 311 yds.), a role that’s likely to continue in Miami. Michel was the last of the three to sign, joining the Dolphins after a successful season with the Rams. Stepping in for injured teammates, he put up 845 rushing yards with four touchdowns while making seven starts. Mostert suffered a season-ending injury on his second carry in Week 1 for the 49ers. He’s been productive in his career (5.7 career ypc) but also has missed a lot of time due to injuries.

Impact: This is a fantasy mess. Besides adding three new pieces to the backfield, Myles Gaskin, Miami’s leading rusher last season, also remains on the roster (although all signs point to him not making the final roster). This situation screams committee, but there’s no telling how it will shake out. Edmonds will probably be the pass-catching back, so his role seems most secure, but that doesn’t mean he’ll be a reliable fantasy producer week in and week out, either. Mostert has familiarity with new head coach Mike McDaniel from their time in San Francisco together, but he can’t stay healthy, while Michel has shown what he can do when given the opportunity. And if he remains on the roster, Gaskin could factor in as well. This is definitely something to keep an eye on, but it also may be a headache to avoid altogether.

Ronald Jones II, RB, Kansas City Chiefs

Jones played a key role in the Buccaneers’ Super Bowl championship run during the 2020 season but was then supplanted by Leonard Fournette as the lead back. He won’t be handed the starting job in Kansas City, either, but there should be plenty of opportunity to produce in a fantasy-friendly offense.

Impact: Even if Jones plays second fiddle to Clyde Edwards-Helaire, he should remain in the flex conversation at least. But considering CEH missed seven games last season and has, by and large, underwhelmed during his brief career, it’s possible Jones could carve out a bigger role, especially if he displays effectiveness as a receiver out of the backfield. However, rookie Isiah Pacheco, a seventh-round pick out of Rutgers, is not only a threat to eat into Jones' touches, but maybe even CEH's after impressing in training camp and the preseason.

  • Mike Davis, RB, Baltimore Ravens
  • D’Onta Foreman, RB, Carolina Panthers
  • Marlon Mack, RB, Houston Texans
  • Damien Willimas, RB, Atlanta Falcons
  • Darrel Williams, RB, Arizona Cardinals

Evan Engram, TE, Jacksonville Jaguars

After a promising rookie season, Engram’s disappointing tenure with the Giants has ended. He did make the Pro Bowl in 2020, but his five years in New York will probably be remembered more for the injuries he dealt with and the passes he didn’t catch. He gets a fresh start in Jacksonville but signed only a one-year deal, meaning he’ll have to prove his worth.

Impact: Even though Trevor Lawrence struggled as a rookie, it’s still an upgrade for Engram from Daniel Jones. Engram should get his opportunities, but the Jaguars also have Dan Arnold at tight end, so the role isn’t solely his. Engram isn’t a starter, but he could be worth a flyer later in drafts because of his upside.

Gerald Everett, TE, Los Angeles Chargers

The Chargers will be Everett’s third team in as many seasons, but for once, he may be the unquestioned No. 1 at the position. He also is coming off his best season yet, catching 48 passes for 478 yards and four touchdowns with Seattle.

Impact: Jared Cook was the Chargers’ top tight end last season, and Everett was signed as his replacement. Donald Parham Jr. is still on the roster, but Everett should see the bulk of the playing time. Everett probably won’t be Justin Herbert’s first or second look most times, but there’s plenty of potential for him to produce in this offense, especially as a red zone target. Everett may flirt with TE1 value.

Noah Fant, TE, Seattle Seahawks

After three solid years in Denver, Fant was included in the megatrade that sent Russell Wilson to the Broncos. It’s too bad Fant couldn’t have stayed with the Broncos, as mediocre QB play has been the one constant during his career, something that will likely continue in Seattle.

Impact: Whether it’s Drew Lock or Geno Smith or even Jacob Eason throwing to him, Fant is going to be hard to trust this season. He’s played with Lock before, so at least there’s some familiarity, but that doesn’t necessarily inspire confidence, either. Fant will remain a solid TE2 with upside, contingent upon his quarterback.

  • Austin Hooper, Tennessee Titans
  • Hayden Hurst, TE, Cincinnati Bengals
  • CJ Uzomah, TE, New York Jets

— Written by Sarah Lewis, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and lives, eats, and breathes fantasy football. Have a fantasy football question? Send it to her on Twitter @Sarah_Lewis32.