Every team looks to improve during the NFL Draft. Some franchises look to build a foundation for the future, while others may be seeking to add pieces to have an immediate impact to compete for a title. Whatever the case may be, there are always going to be rookies who affect the fantasy football value of current NFL players. While the NFL Draft is an exciting time to welcome newcomers to the league, it can tense, especially for dynasty league managers, to see where the rookies will be playing this fall.
With that said, there are inevitably fantasy football winners and losers as a result of the NFL Draft. Of course, certain rookies have it better than others based on their landing spot. The purpose of this piece, however, is to discuss which current NFL players’ fantasy values will feel the effects, whether good or bad. With the NFL Draft behind us, the 2022 fantasy football season is that much closer. So, let’s see which quarterbacks we should be getting excited about and who we may feel a bit nervous for ahead of this year.
Fantasy Football Quarterback Winner and Losers Following the NFL Draft
Winners at Quarterback
Jalen Hurts, Philadelphia Eagles
After many believed the Eagles could try and acquire a new quarterback, whether via trade or through the NFL Draft, Jalen Hurts remains the starter. With three first-round picks in this NFL Draft, the Eagles moved one to acquire an additional first-round pick next year and used another to acquire 24-year-old receiver, A.J. Brown, from the Tennessee Titans, who Hurts himself lobbied for.
Hurts has the ability to beat you, and rack up fantasy points with his rushing ability. He will continue to do so with a top-ranked offensive line. Additionally, plugging A.J. Brown into this lineup with DeVonta Smith and Dallas Goedert will elevate his passing game options. The Eagles continue to invest their NFL Draft picks into improving the scoring potential of this offense. As a result, Jalen Hurts is an NFL Draft winner for the 2022 fantasy football season. He will be a top-5 option at the position.
Kyler Murray, Arizona Cardinals
Similar to the aforementioned Eagles acquisition of A.J. Brown, the Cardinals traded their first-round pick of the 2022 NFL Draft for wide receiver, Marquise “Hollywood” Brown, from the Baltimore Ravens. What is significant about this move is the previous rapport Hollywood Brown has with Cardinals quarterback, Kyler Murray. The two are former University of Oklahoma teammates.
The last time these two played together, in 2018, Brown caught 75 passes for 1,318 yards and 10 touchdowns. That’s an average of 17.6 yards per reception. In three seasons with the Ravens, Brown has an average of just 12.1 yards per reception. With Kyler Murray’s arm strength, Hollywood should average closer to his college numbers in that statistic.
Kyler is going to be a big fantasy football winner as a result of this NFL Draft move just by having Brown lining up as a Cardinal. Arizona is known to run the most four-wide receiver sets. Hollywood will stretch the field with plenty of one-on-one matchups while opening up things for Kyler to run or hit one of his many other targets. It does hurt that DeAndre Hopkins is serving a six-game suspension, but that likely motivated the Cardinals to go get Hollywood.
Zach Wilson, New York Jets
Perhaps the biggest winner following the NFL Draft is Zach Wilson and the entire New York Jets organization. They were loaded with draft capital going into the NFL Draft and seemed to nail every pick. Specifically, for fantasy football purposes, the team added two notable players in wide receiver, Garrett Wilson, and running back, Breece Hall. Both players will greatly improve this offense, giving Zach Wilson every chance to shine.
Hall is touted as the most talented running back in this NFL Draft class. He is no stranger to a workhorse role having carried the ball over 250 times in each of his last two seasons at Iowa State, averaging over 5.5 yards per carry each season. Meanwhile, Garrett Wilson provides 4.38 4o-yard dash speed that presents a serious deep threat for Zach Wilson to look for on any given play. Both of these players will increase the efficiency of this entire offense. As a result, the Jets should climb out of the bottom-five in scoring from last season. Zach Wilson has a legitimate chance at finishing in the top-12 this fantasy football season.
Losers at Quarterback
Justin Fields, Chicago Bears
It’s hard to not feel bad for Justin Fields following the NFL Draft. Chicago did not have a first-round pick in this NFL Draft because they used it to trade up in last year’s NFL Draft to select Justin Fields. They did, however, have two second-round picks, at 39 and 48, that they decided to use on two defensive backs.
It wasn’t until pick 71 in the third round of the NFL Draft that the Bears decide to select a wide receiver. Selecting Velus Jones Jr., out of the University of Tennessee, at this spot is a reach, to say the least. He is fast, explosive, and great once the ball is in his hands. However, he turns 25 years old in a few days and is probably going to stand out the most as a special teams focal point. Jones wouldn’t be such a questionable pick if the new Bears regime focused more on providing Justin Fields with weapons in free agency. Failing to do so, then selecting Jones, makes him seem like a bit of a letdown.
For now, it looks to be Darnell Mooney, Byron Pringle, Equanimeous St. Brown, Velus Jones Jr. and Cole Kmet catching passes from Fields after losing Allen Robinson to free agency. This might be the worst group of wide receivers in the league. That will make it hard to put much faith in Fields for the 2022 fantasy football season.
Ryan Tannehill, Tennessee Titans
The decision to trade A.J. Brown to the Philadelphia Eagles is just another move across the league that follows the trend of trading a wide receiver before paying him a big contract. We’ve seen it before, though not at the frequency of this NFL offseason. Following the trade, the Titans use the draft pick they received in return to select Treylon Burks, who compares similarly to A.J. Brown.
No matter which way you try to spin it, the Titans traded away their second-best offensive player. The team will still, quite literally, run through Derrick Henry. In 2021, only Philadelphia ran more than Tennessee. So, for the passing game, you have to hope Burks is as good as Brown to help maintain value in this passing game, though the team did add Robert Woods into the mix.
All things considered, this is all a knock to Ryan Tannehill’s fantasy value following this NFL Draft. Not to mention the team drafted quarterback, Malik Willis, in the third round, starting the clock for the remainder of Tannehill’s Tennessee tenure. I doubt he cracks the top-12 this season in fantasy football with so many other quarterbacks with better weapons capable of scoring.
Jimmy Garropolo, San Francisco 49ers and Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns
A quick blurb on these two. In the last year, the 49ers have invested a serious amount of NFL Draft capital in acquiring quarterback, Trey Lance, while the Browns just traded for and gave Deshaun Watson a full-guaranteed $230-million contract. This leaves both Garropolo and Mayfield in extremely uncertain positions about where they will continue their careers.
So, as the 2022 NFL Draft has come and gone, we’ve now seen multiple quarterback-needy teams add rookies into the mix. This makes matters worse for Garropolo and Mayfield. That’s not to say they can’t, and frankly won’t, end up playing football elsewhere in 2022. However, the opportunities to command a starting role anywhere now are few and far between. This doesn’t have that much of an impact for the redraft fantasy football leagues. If you happen to have either quarterback on a dynasty roster, though, they are pretty much dead weight on your bench until further notice.