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Offseason Impact on the NFC for 2022 Fantasy Football

I’ll start with the obvious: The 2022 NFL offseason has been the craziest offseason of all time. It seems like every day there is some sort of breaking news blowing up our phones, televisions, and other devices. There arguably isn’t even an offseason in the NFL as trades, signings, and even rumors dominate the news. The majority of the new league year action is making for a very competitive AFC conference in 2022, but the NFC has its fair share of player additions and departures that will undoubtedly have an impact, as well.

Below, I look at each NFC team to briefly discuss their offseason moves, or lack thereof, specifically pertaining to the recent free agency boom. It can be hard to keep up with every single transaction. I get it. Let this be your guide to staying on top of all of the notable madness so you’re that much more prepared for the fantasy football season. As the NFL Draft quickly approaches, and more signings and trades are sure to take place, be sure to keep tabs on this article as I will update it as the news rolls on.

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Each NFC Team’s Offseason Impact on 2022 Fantasy Football

Arizona Cardinals

James Conner is returning to the Cardinals on a three-year deal. Contrary to Conner’s return, running back, Chase Edmonds is moving on to the Miami Dolphins. I’ll be penciling Conner in as a top-10 running back for the fantasy football season. He should see an increase in snaps and touches competing with only Eno Benjamin and a likely rookie running back addition. Matching his career-high 18 touchdowns from last season will be difficult, however, Conner’s red zone usage should sustain itself.

With multiple free agents to make a decision on this offseason, specifically wide receivers, A.J. Green and Christian Kirk, the Cards elect to pay tight end, Zach Ertz, to stick around in Arizona as a pass-catcher. Since Week 7 of last season, when the Cardinals acquired Ertz from the Philadelphia Eagles, he maintained his TE1 value. Averaging 10.3 points per game, even in Kyler Murray’s absence with injury, Ertz finished as TE6 overall from Weeks 7 to 17. There is no reason to believe he won’t be top-three in Arizona targets next season. Ertz will be a late-round favorite at the position for fantasy football.

Christian Kirk is a Jacksonville Jaguar and A.J. Green has yet to sign anywhere this offseason. If Green does not return, that means they lose the top-two target getters in the Arizona passing game from last season. The two account for 195 of the 359 wide receiver targets. That’s 54.9%. DeAndre Hopkins, Rondale Moore, Zach Ertz, and even wide receiver, Antoine Wesley, should all see a boost in targets as a result.

Atlanta Falcons

You would think the biggest offseason story from the Falcons is the indefinite suspension Calvin Ridley is going to serve for betting on NFL games. No, instead, the decision to trade former MVP quarterback, Matt Ryan, to the Indianapolis Colts is the most impactful news from Atlanta. The Falcons take on an approximate $40 million dead cap hit for the 2022 season in doing so. That’s the largest in NFL history. It puts them in a financial bind, limiting their ability to sign free agents.

To replace Matt Ryan, the Falcons signed Marcus Mariota. He will reunite with Falcons head coach, Arthur Smith, who Mariota is familiar with having played with the Tennessee Titans while Smith was an assistant coach. The offseason addition of Mariota is great news for tight end, Kyle Pitts. From 2015 to 2017, with Mariota under center in Tennessee, tight end, Delanie Walker, saw no less than 102 targets in any given season from Mariota. Furthermore, Walker finished in the top-five amongst PPR tight ends in each of those seasons. Kyle Pitts’ volume alone is going to set him up for a top-five finish himself. He saw 110 targets last year and scored just one touchdown. More to come.

Fantasy football waiver wire superstar, Cordarelle Patterson, is back with the Falcons, as well. Patterson notably lifted fantasy football managers to the playoffs with his dual-position designation at both running back and wide receiver. Without Ridley, and a lack of wide receiver additions this offseason, I expect Patterson to primarily play out wide in 2022. If fantasy platforms still list him as a running back, he will see an increase in his Average Draft Position.

Carolina Panthers

The Panthers’ offseason to this point is one of the more quiet ones not only in the NFC but across the entire league. It’s no secret this team needs a quarterback. After missing out on a Deshaun Watson trade, it’s more than likely Carolina uses the sixth-overall pick to acquire a rookie quarterback.

Other than that, the only notable offseason offensive addition is running back, D’Onta Foreman. Bringing in Foreman doesn’t impact Christian McCaffrey’s value as much as the “CMC is injury prone” crowd wants you to think. Foreman, himself, isn’t too far removed from an Achilles tear. Instead, bringing in Foreman tells us that perhaps the Panthers aren’t willing to plug in second-year back, Chuba Hubbard, as McCaffrey’s clear-cut backup. Foreman will be a top running back handcuff candidate to monitor during training camp. He had a lot of success filling in for Derrick Henry last season with the Titans.

Wide receiver, D.J. Moore is sticking around for a few more years. He will remain in Carolina after signing a four-year extension this offseason. D.J. Moore is the only wide receiver in the NFL with over 1,200 scrimmage yards in each of the last three seasons. Imagine what he would do with a quarterback upgrade. Until then…

Chicago Bears

Justin Fields enters his second season with a new head coach and as the clear-cut starter ahead of this offseason. One would think adding quality pass-catchers for Fields would be a priority, especially with wide receiver, Allen Robinson, walking in free agency. Well, the Bears did add wide receivers, but maybe not the names you would expect. So far, only Byron Pringle and Equanimeous St. Brown have been added to the roster. They have a combined 104 receptions in 84 total games played between the two of them over the last three seasons.

One would think the Bears will use a top pick on a wide receiver in the draft. It will have to wait until pick 39 in the second round, however, as their first round pick was traded last season to acquire Justin Fields. There are still free agent wide receivers available for the Bears to sign. It would benefit Fields, and Mooney, greatly for the team to sign a veteran. Ironically, Allen Robinson fits well, but he is now a Ram.

The Bears will have a new running back in the building after claiming Darryton Evans off of waivers from the Titans. Additionally, Tarik Cohen is no longer with the team after an injury designated release. Evans will compete with Khalil Herbert for touches behind David Montgomery, who I expect to see a very large workload this coming season.

Dallas Cowboys

Wide receiver Amari Cooper is on the move to Cleveland after the Cowboys traded him for 5th and 6th round picks to the Browns. Cedrick Wilson also exits Dallas to join the Miami Dolphins.

That now leaves Ceedee Lamb as the Cowboys’ top wide receiver. Michael Gallup is returning to Dallas on a multiyear extension. However, following a late-season ACL tear, Gallup’s return to the field will take some time.

Lamb should see a healthy dose of targets from Dak Prescott that solidify him in the top-five conversation at wide receiver in fantasy football. Aside from Lamb, newly signed receiver, James Washington, could carve out a role early on in Gallup’s absence.

The Cowboys started the offseason using the franchise tag on tight end, Daulton Schultz. He returns after an overall TE4 finish from the 2021 fantasy football season, averaging 12.1 points per game. He ranks second in Cowboys targets (104) from last season, as well.

Schultz will have top-three potential at tight end, but at a discount behind more notable names like Travis Kelce, Mark Andrews, and a handful of others.

Detroit Lions

Adding wide receiver D.J. Chark is not an offseason move I expected from the Detroit Lions. For starters, Chark has the speed to get downfield for big plays and, therefore, has a career average of 13.9 yards per reception. He notably averaged 22.0 yards per reception in four games last season before succumbing to an ankle injury. Meanwhile, the Lions quarterback, Jared Goff, ranked 23rd last season in 20+ yard pass attempts with just 35 total. That’s three less than even Ben Roethlisberger. Furthermore, Goff ranks 25th in air yards over the 2021 season. I just don’t think Chark fits well in this offense, which leads me to believe they may use the second-overall pick on a quarterback who can air it out for big plays in the future.

The Chark signing will have a lot of people shying away from late-season, fantasy stud rookie, Amon-Ra St. Brown. The Lions were always going to add receivers, so Chark shouldn’t be the reason to fade St. Brown.

St. Brown’s 2021 breakout took place specifically from Week 13 onward. He logged 12, 12, 11, 11, 11, and 10 targets in the Lions’ final six games. Of those games, tight end, T.J. Hockenson, the team’s second-leading targeted player, played in just Week 13. Running back, D’Andre Swift, the team’s third-leading targeted player, played in just Weeks 17 and 18. Amon-Ra St. Brown greatly benefitted from their absences.

In summary, I like Chark as a player, but am nervous about the fit in Detroit, especially with Goff. Chark doesn’t specfically hurt St. Brown’s value, but adding him into the mix with Swift and Hockenson certainly does. All eyes on Detroit with the 2nd, 32nd, and 34th overall picks.

Green Bay Packers

Aaron Rodgers’ future as the Green Bay Packers quarterback has been very much in jeopardy (see what I did there?) for some time now. It wasn’t until this offseason when Rodgers signed his extension, did the tail-end of his career become a bit clearer. That’s right, Rodgers will indeed be back with the Packers, but without his top wide receiver, Davante Adams.

As stunning as the numbers were for Rodgers’ deal, it was overshadowed by Green Bay sending Adams to Las Vegas shortly thereafter. The deal included the Raiders’ 2022 first and second-round picks in exchange for Adams. In addition to Adams heading to the Raiders, the Chiefs also signed free agent, and former Packer, Marquez Valdes-Scantling this offseason. Those two accounted for 61.5% of the Packers’ 2021 wide receiver target share. Needless to say, if there was ever a time for the Packers to spend a high draft pick on a top-rated, young pass catcher, this would be that time. Meanwhile, Green Bay is bringing back tight end, Robert Tonyan, but it’s unrealistic to expect steady TE1 production from him.

There is still a good chance the team adds a highly-touted veteran receiver, like Julio Jones. They may even add a top slot guy, like Jarvis Landry. The bottom line is that Davante Adams is simply irreplaceable. Rodgers’ fantasy value, as a result, will dip. More than anything, Rodgers lacks the rushing value that a large handful of quarterbacks ahead of him in rankings possess. Now

The next month’s worth of moves for the Pack is extremely important to their 2022 success. As of now, running backs, Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon look like the best bang for your buck in fantasy football drafts.

Los Angeles Rams

One of the most surprising moves of this NFL offseason is the Rams’ decision to sign wide receiver, Allen Robinson, to a multi-year deal. This comes just days before Los Angeles traded Robert Woods to the Titans while Odell Beckham Jr. remains a free agent. The rich get richer with this offseason acquisition for the Rams, but it’s hard not to root for Robinson.

Throughout his NFL career, some of the quarterbacks throwing his way include Blake Bortles, Chad Henne, and Andy Dalton. Now, he gets Matthew Stafford with Sean McVay calling the shots. If you thought OBJ’s turnaround from Cleveland to L.A. was big, wait until Robinson gets going with the Rams.

With Woods moving on to Tennessee, and OBJ, whether he’s back or not, unlikely to play until the winter, if at all, after his Super Bowl ACL injury, that alone leaves behind 117 vacated targets from the 2021 season. Robinson, himself, has seen 151 or more targets four times in his NFL career, logging 1,100 yards or more with that volume. Whether you want to believe it or not, Robinson and Cooper Kupp both have a path to WR1 fantasy football seasons, with Kupp expected to come back down to earth anyway after his historic 2021 season.

Minnesota Vikings

Kirk Cousins is the Minnesota Vikings’ starting quarterback for at least another two seasons. Cousins inks another fully guaranteed contract extension with the team, that includes a no-trade clause, and carries a major dead cap hit in 2022 and 2023 if he were to be traded or released. Whether you are a fan of Cousins or not, he gets the job done for fantasy football. Cousins averaged no less than 18.99 points per game over the last two seasons and finished as QB11 in both 2020 and 2021. Bringing in new head coach, Kevin O’Connell, who Cousins knows from his days in Washington, should keep his value afloat, or better, improve upon it.

Cousins’ return is great news for Justin Jefferson who has 292 targets in his first two seasons as a Viking and with Cousins. Considering his expected volume, obvious talent, and new, offensive-minded coach, among other factors, there is a legitimate argument for Jefferson to finish as the top wide receiver this fantasy football season.

New Orleans Saints

The New Orleans offseason got off to a rough start following news that running back, Alvin Kamara could face charges for his involvement in an assault that took place during Pro Bowl weekend. It’s yet to be determined what consequences, if any, Kamara will face for his involvement, but definitely something to monitor.

Meanwhile, as far as roster construction goes, it appears Jameis Winston will open the 2022 season as the starting quarterback. The Saints, too, were involved in trade talks for Deshaun Watson before he ultimately landed with the Browns. Winston, who returns from a season-ending ACL injury, is probably not going to carry much fantasy football relevance. While the team should have wide receiver, Michael Thomas, back on the field, the rest of the offensive roster is uninspiring to count on in redraft leagues especially.

New York Giants

Tight end, Evan Engram, is the big offseason exit for the New York Giants ahead of the 2022 season. The disappointing pass-catcher heads to Jacksonville on a one-year prove-it deal as one of quarterback, Trevor Lawrence’s, new weapons as he looks to turn things around. In his place, the Giants bring in Ricky Seals-Jones who averaged 6.3 PPR points per game compared to 7.2 from Engram last fantasy football season.

Seals-Jones shouldn’t be a focal point of the Giants’ passing game. He’s never recorded more than 34 receptions in a season in his five-year career. Instead, new head coach, Brian Daboll, needs to find a way to get the ball to the wide receivers. Health continues to be a factor in limiting the New York Giants offense.

This season may look like a different team, but it’s really the same players from the 2021 roster, just actually (hopefully) on the field. Saquon Barkley, Kadarius Toney, and Kenny Golladay should all come at a discount in fantasy football drafts. Daniel Jones, with his rushing ability, will have more upside than most people are willing to give him credit for.

Philadelphia Eagles

Throughout all of the offseason madness, specifically surrounding the quarterback position, Jalen Hurts remains an Eagle and is projected to be the Week 1 starter. Hurts is one of 10 quarterbacks last season to average over 20.0 fantasy points per game. He finished as QB8 even though he only threw for 3,144 yards and 16 touchdowns. His biggest fantasy football asset is his legs and should continue to be, as of now, given the lack of additions to the team’s wide receiver corps.

The Eagles recently added wide receiver, Zach Pascal, on a one-year $1.2 million deal. They’ve also declared Quez Watkins as the WR2 behind DeVonta Smith. With this in mind, it’s probable that Jalen Reagor gets traded or released sooner than later. Not to bury the lead, but the Eagles also have picks 15, 16, and 19 in next month’s draft. I wouldn’t put it past Howie Roseman to add one of the top receivers in the draft with one of those picks.

As far as the rest of the offseason, offensive moves are concerned, Boston Scott is back on a short-term deal. If Miles Sanders can remain healthy, he should see the bulk of the carries. Of he, Scott, and Kenneth Gainwell, Sanders is the only running back from last season to have played 58% or more snaps on multiple occasions, of which he did seven times. For the most part, though, Hurts’ rushing tendencies cap any potential for a lead back, and specifically an RB1 in fantasy, to emerge from this backfield.

San Francisco 49ers

Is it finally Trey Lance season? Well, since Jimmy Garropolo still remains on the roster, it’s hard to buy in to that concept just yet. Jimmy G has now led this team to two NFC championships in the last three seasons, with one Super Bowl appearance. With as much quarterback movement as there has been this offseason across the league, trade partners for Garropolo are now extremely limited. As long as he is on the team, Lance’s fantasy stock looks bleak for the 2022 season.

Regardless of who’s under center, there’s no doubt head coach Mike Shanahan will continue to focus on running the football. With Raheem Mostert heading to Miami, that leaves San Fran with Elijah Mitchell, Trey Sermon, and Jeff Wilson Jr., who was just resigned, to handle the majority of the workload. I expect Mitchell to lead the way considering he has more carries in 2021 (207) than Wilson, Sermon, and even Deebo Samuel combined (179). All three backs are under 25-years old so I don’t expect any additions to the roster that will impact any of their roles.

Seattle Seahawks

Seattle is going to look a lot different after this offseason mainly because Russell Wilson is now a Denver Bronco. In probably the most significant trade of the offseason, the Seahawks acquired a large package of picks, tight end, Noah Fant, and quarterback, Drew Lock, in the deal. I know what you’re thinking, and, yes, this move kills Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf’s fantasy football value.

It’s yet to be determined if Lock will really be the Seattle starter for the 2022 season. I still believe they will look to acquire a more trustworthy veteran to run their offense, perhaps even plucking Jimmy G from their divisional rival 49ers. Regardless, the team ran a league-low 56.1 plays per game last season. That was with Russell Wilson on the roster for the majority of games played. If it is Drew Lock under center, then I expect an even less efficient offense limiting time on the field and touches for notable Seahawks fantasy assets.

We know head coach, Peter Carroll, loves to run the football. So, the decision to resign Rashaad Penny on a one-year deal, having spent their 2018 first-round pick on him, isn’t too surprising. Especially with Chris Carson returning from a season-ending neck injury, I do like Penny to be the workhorse back on this offense. He is one of the biggest late-season fantasy football heroes of 2021 having averaged 18.5 PPR points from Week 13 on. Specifically, Penny averaged 19.5 points per game throughout the fantasy football playoffs. That may cause a few biased fantasy football managers to reach for him in drafts.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tom Brady is back. Chris Godwin is back. Leonard Fournette is back. Just when things looked a bit doom and gloom in Tampa Bay, following Brady’s initial retirement announcement, all of the sudden 2022 should provide us with similar fantasy football goodness to the 2021 season. The only concern, as of now, is a slight downgrade in their offensive line after two big departures, but, with Brady back, it will be a focus of theirs in the draft, at least.

The biggest winner in all of this is wide receiver, Mike Evans. He has yet to record fewer than 1,000 receiving yards in eight NFL seasons. Since Brady came to town, Evans has broken his career-high touchdown total in each of the last two seasons with 13 then 14 respectively. Additionally, Evans leads the team in total targets (222) over the last two seasons combined. Chris Godwin, who is just behind him with 212 total targets, will be working his way back from an ACL tear. Fire up Evans for yet another WR1 fantasy football season.

Bringing back Leonard Fournette this offseason is huge for the Buccaneers, but also his fantasy football outlook. Since emerging as “Playoff Lenny”, and eventually “Lombardi Lenny”, throughout the 2020-21 playoffs, Fournette has had complete command of this Tampa Bay backfield. While the Buccaneers’ offense centers mostly around Brady and the passing game, Fournette encouragingly enough dominates the running back target share. He commanded 84 of 138 total targets to Bucs backs averaging six per game. He’s a capable pass catcher that Brady clearly trusts out of the backfield. He should be drafted as a top-10 running back ahead of the 2022 fantasy football season.

Washington Commanders

New name, new quarterback, but hopefully different results. Yes, the Washington Football Team is no more as the team changed their name to the Washington Commanders. Along with the name change is the addition of quarterback, Carson Wentz, who they acquired from the Indianapolis Colts this offseason. While Wentz is now on his third team in three seasons, this is an upgrade for the Commanders over Taylor Heinicke.

Terry McLaurin should benefit from the arrival of Wentz based on his arm strength and consistency alone. Those are two things quarterbacks throwing McLaurin’s way the last few seasons have lacked and he’s still managed 910, 1,1118, and 1,053 receiving yards in the last three seasons.

Tight end, Logan Thomas, will also benefit from the offseason acquisition of Wentz. Though he did not target tight ends often with the Colts, mainly because the offense ran through Jonathan Taylor, Wentz is known to heavily target the tight end position from his days in Philly. Thomas is a late-round sleeper for fantasy football that you can wait to draft.

The biggest impact on fantasy football for Washington this offseason is the decision to resign running back, J.D. McKissic. Originally, McKissic reportedly was going to sign with the Buffalo Bills before pivoting back to the Commanders. He will remain a flex option in fantasy football and should be drafted for bench purposes, at least, in all PPR formats. More importantly, his presence does limit Antonio Gibson’s ceiling as a top running back. Even with McKissic on the team last season, Gibson logged 300 touches. However, McKissic figures to remain on the field for mostly passing down work, which knocks Gibson’s value down a few pegs.

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