There has been a flurry of moves this offseason as teams try to replicate the success that the Rams and Bengals achieved after being aggressive last offseason. Some big wide receiver trades have shaken up the fantasy landscape heading into the 2022 season, and even wide receivers who’ve stayed put have seen changes to their quarterback. Here are the biggest free agency losers at the wide receiver position.
2022 Free Agency Losers: Wide Receivers
After a strong rookie campaign, Jaylen Waddle was poised to potentially become an elite fantasy wide receiver this coming season. Instead, Miami’s unexpected trade for Tyreek Hill made him among the biggest free agency losers at wide receiver. Hill’s presence is by no means a death knell for Waddle’s fantasy value, but it definitely caps Waddle’s fantasy ceiling over the next couple of seasons. Miami’s 60 percent pass rate in 2021 ranked 10th in the league compared to San Francisco’s 51 percent pass rate, which ranked 29th in the league. Waddle can still be an efficient WR2 in fantasy, but it’s hard to project a top-10 ceiling with Hill taking away significant target volume with less overall volume with Mike McDaniel at the helm. In dynasty trades, Waddle is still worth an early first-round rookie pick considering his long-term upside, but temper expectations for his 2022 production.
Coming off an ACL tear from last November, Robert Woods‘s dynasty value takes a big hit with the trade from the Rams to the Titans. Woods will turn 30 years old in April, and the hope was that he could resume his role as the 1B alongside Cooper Kupp in an efficient Los Angeles offense. Instead, Woods is now the no. 2 receiver behind A.J. Brown in a much more run-heavy Tennessee offense. After upgrading from Jared Goff to Matthew Stafford last offseason, the Rams’ pass rate increased from 56 percent (26th in the NFL) in 2020 to 59 percent (14th in the NFL) in 2021. Conversely, the Titans have consistently been among the bottom three teams in pass rate since 2019 with rates of 51 percent, 50 percent, and 51 percent, respectively. The return from injury coupled with being on a more run-heavy team makes Woods at best an iffy flex play in fantasy heading into 2022.
Regardless of what color his uniform is, Hill remains one of the best wide receivers in the NFL. However, target volume is a legitimate concern for 2022 considering that Hill has consistently been among the top-10 wide receivers in total targets in recent seasons. While Hill will still see plenty of targets, it’s difficult to project 150 plus targets for both he and Waddle this season, as the two are likely to cannibalize each other’s fantasy production in Miami. As mentioned above, the Dolphins project to pass less in 2022 compared to last season under new head coach Mike McDaniel, and while Hill still has top-10 fantasy wide receiver upside, a truly elite top-3 or top-5 ceiling is unlikely. At the age of 28, Hill projects for strong production over the next couple of seasons even in Miami, but his dynasty value should reflect his new team situation as well as his age fast-approaching the 30 year old mark.
Like Hill, there’s no doubt that Davante Adams remains one of the most talented wide receivers in the league. But from a fantasy perspective, Adams is also among the free agency losers at wide receiver with a lower fantasy ceiling following the trade from Green Bay to Las Vegas. Adams’s target share has been among the top-three wide receivers in the league both overall as well as in the red zone dating back to 2018. Adams faced little to no competition for targets with a Packers receiver room that was devoid of talent, but Darren Waller and Hunter Renfrow are both capable receivers who will continue to be heavily involved in the passing game, with Waller in particular a threat to dilute red-zone target volume. While Adams still projects to be the no. 1 target for the Raiders now reunited with his college quarterback, Derek Carr, his overall target volume figures to decline.
As with Hill and Waddle, Adams coming to Las Vegas impacts the rest of the Raiders’ receivers. Following Henry Ruggs‘s arrest and with Waller having missed significant time due to injury, Hunter Renfrow became the driving force behind Las Vegas’s passing offense in 2021. As such, Renfrow ranked 17th in targets and sixth in red-zone targets among wide receivers last year. His 103 total receptions also ranked eighth among receivers, and his nine touchdowns ranked 10th among receivers. These totals already figured to drastically fall in 2022 with the return of a healthy Waller, but the addition of Adams will further reduce both target and reception volume as well as scoring opportunities for Renfrow, making him one of the biggest free agency losers at the wide receiver position. Renfrow returns to iffy flex territory with his dynasty value falling back down to the mid to late second-round rookie pick range.
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