Technically, we’re a long way from the end of the NFL’s offseason and, by extension, not the start of the fantasy football season either. Games don’t start until early September, but what an offseason it’s been. Seismic movements were the theme, as superstars were seemingly swapped left and right. Franchise icons have been at the center of franchise changes. It’s a lot.
Picking just 10 scenarios to focus on isn’t easy, but we’ve tried to narrow it down to the 10 moves that moved the needle the most in the fantasy world.
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For at least two years, we discussed the potential of the Broncos if they had a star quarterback. Acquire Wilson for a set of picks and players including Noah Fan returning to Seattle gives Denver its best chance since Peyton Manning retired. Although Wilson has had a down and injury-hit 2021, he still has more than enough ability and a fleet of talented passers to regain his top-10 quarterback status. For years, Wilson has been as dependable and consistent of a quarterback as there was in fantasy, a reality that should be back this season. While he’s not quite in my elite level of fantasy quarterbacks, he’s not far off. I would prefer Courtland Sutton as the Broncos’ wide with the best chance of being a WR1, though jerry jedy is not far behind. For the Seahawks, as things stand, DK Metcalf and Tyler Locket are both downgraded.
Tom Brady back in Tampa Bay
The lead singer left and then returned just 40 days later as Brady’s non-retirement put the Bucs back on track as an NFC powerhouse. There’s a case to be made for Brady as the best fantasy quarterback this year given his level of play, the absurd talent surrounding him, and a fantasy-friendly offense. He’ll likely be ranked and drafted a little lower than that because the one thing in life he doesn’t do well is rushing for rushing yards. mike evans enters the season as a clear WR1 in attack as chris godvin is recovering from a torn ACL suffered at the end of last season. Russell Gage got a legitimate three-year contract from Tampa Bay, which reminds us that he’s not just a player who has value if Evans or Godwin aren’t available: he should be drafted into 12 leagues teams or more with the possibility of being a weekly flex.
A lifelong dream has come true for Adams, who can now play for the team he grew up playing for. For Adams, the fantasy twist is pretty simple: he’s still among the best players in the league and should be drafted as such (I’d say he’s no lower than WR3 on the board). His quarterback, Derek Carr, has a much improved chance of being a top 10 QB this season and is one I would feel comfortable having as a starter after a draft. For the Packers, as of this writing, there are more receiver questions than answers. While I stay confident Aaron Rodgers can still be a top 10 QB, he’s slipping closer to 10th than fifth in my ranks, while I’m still wondering if Green Bay’s best wide receiver this season isn’t on the list yet.
Tyreek Hill traded to the Dolphins
The Dolphins now have an athletic team on offense, with Hill as their anchor. The ultimate speedster has been in the top five wide receivers in drafts for years now, though I think his value is going down slightly as he no longer plays with Patrick Mahomes. While Tua Tagovailoa threw a high percentage of throws on passes 20+ yards down the field, the volume of throws and the unscripted brilliance between Mahomes and Hill is hard to replicate. But Hill remains in the top 10 for fantasy. Mahomes doesn’t fall too far down the quarterback rankings, but this trade has solidified further Josh Allen like my QB1 entering the fantasy season. Marquez Valdes-Scantling saw his stock increase after signing with Kansas City, but for now Travis Kelce (TE1) is the Chiefs’ only wide receiver that I’m certain is a weekly fantasy starter.
It’s impossible to have a conversation about Watson without acknowledging the 22 civil lawsuits that remain open against him and the possibility of him being suspended by the NFL for part of this season. When Watson plays, few will dispute that he is as gifted a player as he is in the league and will have tremendous fantasy value. He has the footballing talent to be the best fantasy quarterback. New Browns wide receiver amari cooper has a chance of reestablishing himself in the top 10 at wide when Watson is under center, especially with a young group around him as he is currently constructed. Meanwhile, the quantum leap I planned last season for Lamb CeeDee could be even more likely this season in Dallas with the top five wide receivers on the rise. Michael Gallup should be in the top 25 once he fully recovers from a torn ACL.
The Rams moved quickly to secure Robinson’s services on a three-year deal, underscoring their belief that his 2021 composure was a byproduct of inconsistent quarterback play and injuries. Robinson will play a starring role in an offense that plays three receivers on the majority of its snaps. While Cooper Kupp is the undisputed primary target of this offense, Robinson is in line for a major restart in his value, especially with Odell Beckham Jr. currently unsigned. Even though OBJ returns to Los Angeles, he’s far from ready for the start of the season after tearing an ACL in the Super Bowl. That means Robinson is a potential top-20 receiver until Beckham returns (and for the entire season if Beckham signs elsewhere). Robinson’s bullish red zone is hard to ignore, and Matthew Stafford is by far the best quarterback he’s ever played with.
Robinson’s signing made more sense days later when Woods was traded to the Titans. The incredibly dependable, versatile and talented Woods just tore his ACL but should be ready for the start of the season and in position to play a major role in Tennessee. The Titans begged for a second passer to work in front A.J. Brown, and Woods – a target void who’s great after the catch – should prove a brilliant match. As Tennessee plans to once again be a heavyweight offense that thrives on the power of Derrick Henry, Brown and Woods should dominate the passing game looks. It should come as no surprise that Woods ranks in the top 20 wide receivers. Hopefully Tennessee taps into some of the engineered runs that added a fantastic little value to Woods during his time in Los Angeles.
Matt Ryan traded to the Colts
Matty Ice will play for a new team for the first time in his career, as Indy turns to another new starting quarterback. Ryan provides the Colts with a capable and respected pocket passer who they believe can help them qualify for the playoffs. However, for fantasy, I see Ryan in a light comparable to the way he was last season in Atlanta: capable of the occasional boom week, but more likely a replacement week than a regular starter. Indy plans to be a much more race-focused team than Atlanta, Ryan isn’t adding value with his legs, and there are questions within the receiving corps. So while I understand Indianapolis’ motivation for making the trade, strictly for fantasy football purposes, there are better, high-potential options to consider in your draft.
While not a star-studded group of free-agent running backs, Edmonds is the one who earned the biggest deal to switch teams, leaving for Miami on a two-year, one-year deal. worth $12.6 million. It’s an indication of Miami’s belief in the sneaky Edmonds, but he’s not alone in South Florida, as the team also added. Rahim Mostert on a one-year contract and still has Myles Gaskins and salvon ahmed in place. The biggest beneficiary of fantasy in all of this is James Conner, who remains the Cardinals’ best running back with little established competition in the backfield as things stand. I consider Conner a candidate for regression from last season, when he continued to find the end zone despite averaging just 3.7 yards per carry, but his volume and pass-catching potential give him value. top 15 so far.
Jaguars attack intensifies
Jacksonville went on what became the biggest single-team free-agent spending spree in NFL history, with notable offensive additions including wide receivers. Christian Kirk and ZayJones and tight end Evan Engram. Although I am both optimistic about the progress of Trevor Lawrence and I think each of these additions is solid, I’m not convinced that a Jaguars sleight of hand is a strong bet to be a weekly lineup item. I’m going to follow the money ($18m/yr) and predict that Kirk is in line for a big target share, so if there was a wide range of Jaguars to target, he would be my pick. While Kirk is a rising player and should be pretty busy in Jacksonville, he has just 17 touchdowns in four pro seasons and isn’t shaping up to have major touchdown equity in his new digs. The Jaguars are improved, but the focal point of the fantasy will remain in the backfield.