With free agency’s most impactful moves winding down (Green Bay please just sign a wide receiver) and teams turning their attention to the 2022 NFL Draft, it’s time we take a look around the NFL and figure out who are the winners and losers at the four major fantasy football-relevant positions for 2022 leagues. Who added or lost value in the first week of NFL free agency?
Wide Receiver Winners
Amari Cooper, Cleveland Browns
Amari Cooper was on the verge of getting cut by the Dallas Cowboys when they traded him to the Cleveland Browns for a pittance. Floods of “Amari Cooper, 2022 loser” articles flood the scene because of his stark downgrade from Dak Prescott to Baker Mayfield. If Dallas did an about-face and kept him, he had to contend with fellow target hogs CeeDee Lamb, Michael Gallup, and Dalton Schultz. Well, the Browns have Deshaun Watson, Amari Cooper, and… not much else in the passing game. His opponents for targets come in the form of Donovan Peoples-Jones and approximately 75 tight ends.
While the Browns will continue to have a run-first offense built around Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt (and throwing Deshaun Watson’s running ability on top of that), teams can’t run the ball 500 times. So, there will still be a ton of pass attempts in this offense, and a ton of those will go towards Amari Cooper.
Allen Robinson, Los Angeles Rams
Blake Bortles. Chad Henne. Mitchell Trubisky. Chase Daniel. Nick Foles. Andy Dalton. An undeveloped Justin Fields. These are the quarterbacks that Allen Robinson has had the unfortunate distinction of getting targets from these players in his career. Now, he goes to the defending Super Bowl Champions with (realistically) only Cooper Kupp as his significant target competition. And that Cooper Kupp guy is pretty good, so his opportunities should be easier.
Robinson is coming off of the worst year of his career, notching 410 yards on 38 receptions. He didn’t want to be a Bear, and they tagged him and made him one anyway. He gave up on the Bears about halfway through the season. He won’t give up on the Rams.
Amon-Ra St. Brown, Detroit Lions
I refuse to give in to the “Amon-Ra St. Brown isn’t that good” crowd, mostly because their models missed on ARSB. He’s #GoodAtFootball, and I said that he had the best chance of being one of the sub-2% of day three rookie wide receivers who have an immediate fantasy impact their rookie year. Detractors talked about how he will get pushed down the depth chart by better players, but the Lions only added D.J. Chark as their big free-agent pass-catcher addition. As of right now, The Sun God is still in line to lead the Lions in targets. I acknowledge the presence of T.J. Hockenson and D’Andre Swift, but I said what I said.
Wide Receiver Losers
Hunter Renfrow, Las Vegas Raiders
Renfrow feasted last season, getting 128 targets, 103 receptions, and 1,038 yards. With the Raiders bringing in Josh McDaniels, many hoped and thought that he could turn Renfrow into the next Wes Welker or Julian Edelman. Instead, the Raiders went out and got Davante Adams. He had the opposite of an Amon-Ra St. Brown situation; he earned a bunch of targets and then the Raiders got the best wide receiver in the NFL to knock him down a peg or two. I still think that Renfrow will get plenty of targets, mostly because a Renfrow target is still the third-most valuable target on the team, but also because Zay Jones weirdly had 70 targets that are now up for grabs and because Bryan Edwards isn’t that good.
But, still, you can’t add Davante Adams to a roster with a release valve player like Hunter Renfrow and not expect him to take a step back. I would still draft Renfrow, but he is purely a WR3 in a twelve-team league, at best.
D.K. Metcalf & Tyler Lockett, Seattle Seahawks
They went from Russell Wilson to Drew Lock. I feel like that’s all I need to say about this one.
Laviska Shenault, Jacksonville Jaguars
The Laviska Shenault Truthers are beside themselves after the Jags went out and spent whatever money they could to jam him down the depth chart. D.J. Chark left, but then Trent Baalke Baalked over the place and brought in Zay Jones and Christian Kirk on big contracts, and Evan Engram on a one-year deal. Suddenly, Shenault finds himself sixth on the target priority list (with Travis Etienne returning) and the odd man out. The latest rumor is that the jack of all trades wide receiver might end up with Kansas City. He can be bad there, too.