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2022 Fantasy Football Opportunity Tracker: Steelers and Ravens

The 2022 Opportunity Tracker is where fantasy managers come to discover fantasy value and potential sleepers. We uncover value by analyzing team target distribution and adjusting for offseason additions and subtractions. Many players will have new homes in 2022-23, and leading up to the NFL Draft (April 28th-30th), this series provides some high-level insight into the fantasy impact of important offseason moves for each team. Using this insight, we can help managers stay ahead of the curve in dynasty leagues and uncover vacant roles where teams may rely on newcomers and/or rookies to make an impact.

One of the main concepts we use in this series is “Weighted Opportunity“, created by Scott Barrett at Pro Football Focus. Weighted Opportunity (wOpp) is a great way to equalize the value between targets and carries, particularly for running backs. The calculations for this series are done manually, using statistics provided by Pro-Football-Reference.

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Pittsburgh Steelers: That Was Ben, This is Now

Key Additions: Mitchell Trubisky

Notable Losses: Ben Roethlisberger (retired), JuJu Smith-Schuster (Chiefs), James Washington (Cowboys), Ray-Ray McCloud (49ers)

Vacant RB Weighted Opportunities: 18.1

Vacant WR/TE Targets: 156

Rest In Peace, Dwayne Haskins.

The big question for the Pittsburgh Steelers this offseason is: Who will be the starting quarterback in 2022?

The team signed Mitchell Trubisky to a two-year contract worth $14.3 million, which ranks 29th in APY value among quarterbacks – aka starter-money. Pittsburgh also has Mason Rudolph on the roster. Most mock drafts have the Steelers taking Liberty QB Malik Willis, but the offense will benefit most from Trubisky’s ability and experience. He does have a Pro Bowl season (2018), and two playoff seasons 2018, 2020) on his resume, after all.

If you are looking for Steelers running back value, and it’s not Najee Harris, stop looking. Harris averaged an elite 19.1 wOpp per game in 2021. He benefitted from a 70.7% red-zone carry share – the Steelers’ next highest was Big Ben at 12.2%. No other running back gets work in this offense, as long as Harris is healthy.

At the running back position, Harris received a 14% target share – 14.6% in the red zone. This was due, in part, to a lack of time in the pocket for Ben, but Trubisky has targeted running backs heavily in the past – see Tarik Cohen. Trubisky is an excellent runner, but the Steelers have not been a team that uses many RPOs (69-times in 2021) or designed QB runs. We may see a slight reduction in target share, but Harris is still a safe low-end RB1 and a dynasty gem.

The Steelers have two great, young wide receivers in Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool. The two combined for 40% of Big Ben’s targets last season. With fellow receivers James Washington and Ray-Ray McCloud leaving 138 targets behind, Johnson and Claypool figure to have increased roles in 2022. Unlikely to use an early draft pick on a receiver, the Steelers may still sign a free-agent WR – they have $13.4 million in cap space, per OverTheCap. Anthony Miller is a very interesting sleeper, as he and Mitchell Trubisky have prior chemistry from their time in Chicago. He is a deeper-league consideration, for now.

From Week 9 onward, Pat Freiermuth saw 5.8 targets per game and saw the fourth most red-zone targets for a TE in 2021. The second-year tight end is poised for a breakout year and should be a popular sleeper during draft season. In this offense’s current form, Freiermuth is a low-end TE1, given his red-zone usage.

Baltimore Ravens: Three-Eyed Ravens

Key Additions: None

Notable Losses: Sammy Watkins (UFA), Devonta Freeman (UFA), Latavius Murray (UFA)

Vacant RB Weighted Opportunities: 264

Vacant WR/TE Targets: 50

With Lamar back at the helm, this offense should return to form in 2022. The former MVP had a down year by his lofty standards and may go under-drafted as a quarterback with a 23.9% red-zone carry-share.


Ravens wOPP-Gm

It should be noted that Mark Ingram was excluded from this chart for simplicity, as he was relegated to a depth role following his return from an early-season injury. 

The wOpp per-game for the Ravens backfield in 2020 and 2021 (above) shows that the offense likes to operate in a three-“back” rotation. One RB is a straight-ahead runner (Murray, Edwards), one is a versatile back (Freeman, Dobbins) and the third is Lamar. This split should remain the same in 2022, and JK Dobbins is being over-drafted, despite this split. The talent is unquestionable, but consider the running backs he is being drafted ahead of, currently (from FantasyFootballCalculator):

  • Saquon Barkley (RB18 ADP)
  • Leonard Fournette (RB21 ADP)
  • James Conner (RB24!!!! ADP)

The usage needs to improve dramatically for him to pay off that ADP.

Mark Andrews earned a team-high 26% target share in 2021 and is the top red-zone option in Baltimore. There is an argument to be made for Andrews as the top TE off the board in redraft this season:

  • He led the league in TE targets per game, even with Travis Kelce missing a game, and
  • Led all tight ends in red-zone targets (20)

Offseason Hot-Take:

Provided Baltimore does not add another WR, Hollywood Brown will be a top-12 PPR Wide Receiver in 2022. 

Here are some of his opportunity numbers from 2021:

  • 25% target-share
  • 16 red-zone targets (18th)
  • 9.1 targets per game (t-10)

Those numbers came with Lamar missing four games, Brown dropping six passes – two of which were touchdowns (in the same game) – and missing his two top running backs. Brown is currently going in the 8th round.

The Ravens WR-corps featured Marquise (Hollywood) Brown and Rashod Bateman for most of 2021, as Sammy Watkins dealt with injuries. Bateman was a popular sleeper last season but has taken a while to establish himself within the Ravens offense. With Watkins gone, there is some room for Baltimore to potentially add a receiver through the draft, or through free agency. The Ravens have ten picks in the upcoming draft, including the 14th-overall pick. Baltimore has $7.1 million in available cap space, per OverTheCap.

Check back next week for a look at what opportunities are available from offseason moves by the Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys.

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