2022 Fantasy Football: Let's recap a wild NFL offseason of moves

The 2022 NFL offseason took on a life of its own, arguably producing more headline-grabbing stories than the pro sports that were in-season during the winter and spring. For this reason, avid fantasy football managers can be forgiven if some of the transactions slipped through their memories in recent months. Those who need a quick refresher as NFL training camps ramp up should dive into the 10 topics listed below, with the acknowledgment that we have left out the major story of Cleveland trading for Deshaun Watson, due to the incomplete information regarding a possible suspension for some or all of the upcoming campaign.

Two Hall of Fame QBs stay put

Aaron Rodgers debated leaving the Packers for another team before deciding to extend his long stay in Green Bay. Meanwhile, Tom Brady briefly retired before realizing that being a hockey dad is less exciting than it sounds and returning to the Bucs for at least one more year.

Fantasy fallout

Both aging QBs saw their weaponry decrease in the offseason and could lead less potent attacks than they did a year ago. They both profile as below-average QB1s in standard leagues, with Brady perhaps having the higher ceiling because of the presence of Mike Evans and Chris Godwin when he returns. In Green Bay, Rodgers could make a fantasy star out of Allen Lazard or Christian Watson, which makes both receivers exciting late-round options.

Russ gets his wish

Although Rodgers stayed put, one disgruntled QB talked his way out of town, when Russell Wilson convinced the Seahawks it was time to start over by trading him to the Broncos.

Fantasy fallout

Russ could be reborn in Denver, where he has plenty of quality targets and a coaching staff that is committed to building an offense around him. And with the Broncos having made such a massive QB upgrade, WRs Courtland Sutton and Jerry Jeudy could both be headed for 1,000-yard seasons.

Back in Seattle, a run-first approach and with the new QB tandem of Geno Smith and Drew Lock could keep talented WRs DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett glued to fantasy benches.

Lance gets his chance

After letting Trey Lance mostly sit and watch during his rookie season, the 49ers are ready to turn him loose as their starting QB.

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Fantasy fallout

Lance is the biggest boom-or-bust option at the QB position for 2022 drafts. His fleet feet give him the potential to be a high-scoring star, along the lines of Kyler Murray or Lamar Jackson, but he would need to thrive immediately for that to happen. There is also a scenario where Lance struggles mightily and the team needs to significantly limit his opportunities to make plays. Additionally, the ability of Lance to quickly find his footing as an NFL passer will influence the production of stars Deebo Samuel and George Kittle, which makes them less of a sure thing than they were a year ago.

Alpha WR shuffle

Some of the league’s top receivers succeeded in stealing the offseason limelight away from the QB position, with Tyreek Hill (Dolphins), Davante Adams (Raiders), A.J. Brown (Eagles), Marquise Brown (Cardinals) and Amari Cooper (Browns) all being traded by the beginning of May.

Fantasy fallout

At least three of the five stars listed above took a presumed fantasy hit by being traded, as they downgraded the quality of passer lobbing balls their way. Cooper falls the furthest and may be glued to fantasy benches if Deshaun Watson is handed a long suspension. Hill and Adams remain WR1s but by losing their respective connections to Patrick Mahomes and Aaron Rodgers, they are no longer first-round fantasy options. The A.J. Brown trade was largely a lateral move in terms of fantasy potential, while Marquise Brown will benefit from a more pass-heavy offense but will also have more competition for targets.

More WRs on the move

The top dogs at the WR position weren’t the only ones to switch teams, with Allen Robinson (Rams) and Juju Smith-Schuster (Chiefs) joining teams where they will rank No. 2 among pass-catching options.

Fantasy fallout

Robinson could be rejuvenated in Los Angeles. This is by far the best offense and coaching staff the 28-year-old has ever worked with, and the team’s passing attack can easily support superstar Cooper Kupp and another 1,000-yard receiver. Smith-Schuster struggled when asked to be the top dog in Pittsburgh, but he could thrive thanks to the greatness of QB Patrick Mahomes and coach Andy Reid — and the attention-grabbing presence of Travis Kelce.

Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster (9) has fantasy intrigue in 2022
JuJu Smith-Schuster could see his fantasy value reborn in Kansas City. (Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

First Round WR madness

In the span of 11 picks from 8-18 in the NFL Draft, the fantasy landscape was rocked by the selection of six WRs.

Fantasy fallout

Unfortunately for fantasy managers, these high-end draft picks all enter uncertain situations and are currently being selected outside the top-100 picks in Yahoo drafts. Drake London (Falcons) is saddled with an uninspiring QB duo of Marcus Mariota and Desmond Ridder. Garrett Wilson (Jets) joins a crowded offense that includes Elijah Moore, Corey Davis and multiple pass-catching TEs, who all must count on second-year QB Zach Wilson to step up his game. Jameson Williams (Lions) is recovering from a torn ACL and would have been a fantasy question mark no matter where he landed. Chris Olave (Saints) will battle veterans Michael Thomas and Jarvis Landry for targets from inconsistent QB Jameis Winston. And finally, Treylon Burks (Titans) must push past Robert Woods in order to be the No. 1 target in a run-heavy Titans offense.

Hall, Walker and Cook emerge as top rookie RBs

Although no running backs were selected in Round 1 of the NFL draft, Breece Hall (Jets), Kenneth Walker III (Seahawks) and James Cook (Bills) were all tabbed during the second round.

Fantasy fallout

Unlike the situations for the top rookie WRs, Hall has a clear path to a heavy workload. The Iowa State alum will share some passing down work with Michael Carter but should get most of the carries and red-zone touches. Walker may have the highest ceiling of the group if he can push past Rashaad Penny for the No. 1 role in a run-heavy Seahawks offense. And Cook is the least exciting option of the trio, as he initially profiles as more of a third-down back.

Superflex storylines

Although these veterans are unlikely to impact standard leagues, Matt Ryan (Colts) and Carson Wentz (Commanders) were both traded and will be part of Superflex starting lineups.

Fantasy fallout

Both QBs will be low-end QB2s but will have a major impact on teammates at other positions. Ryan has helped a few WRs achieve greatness and could do the same for Michael Pittman. Meanwhile, Wentz is entrusted with giving Terry McLaurin more stable QB play than he has had in the previous three years.

Dolphins dive in on RBs

The Dolphins went with quantity over quality at the RB position in the offseason, adding Chase Edmonds, Raheem Mostert and Sony Michel to a backfield that already included Myles Gaskin.

Fantasy fallout

Although all four of the names listed above have had fantasy success in recent years, there is a good chance that at least one of them fails to make the team. Edmonds should be the top target for fantasy managers, as his ability to produce points on the ground and in the air gives him high-end potential.

Jags throw their money around

In an effort to get Trevor Lawrence a better group of weapons, Jacksonville spent big at the outset of free agency on mid-level options Christian Kirk, Zay Jones and Evan Engram.

Fantasy fallout

Although the Jags threw their money around, they may not be much better. The onus will be on Lawrence to find a couple of go-to targets out of the players mentioned above and holdover Marvin Jones Jr. Outside of second-year RB Travis Etienne Jr., everyone in this offense is capped as being a late-round dart throw for fantasy drafters.

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