The NFL offseason has featured a good number of head-turning moves. Each one has an impact on the fantasy football landscape. Throughout the offseason, our ESPN Fantasy analysts will offer their thoughts on a variety of topics that fantasy managers should be thinking about.
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In this installment, Matt Bowen, Tristan H. Cockcroft, Eric Karabell and Eric Moody address the following question:
Whose fantasy value declined the most this offseason?
Calvin Ridley, WR, Atlanta Falcons; Julio Jones, WR, free agent: Teammates with the 2020 Falcons, and now the former is set to miss the entire 2022 season because of a gambling suspension, while the latter was unceremoniously cut by the Titans after yet another season dealing with injury and underperformance. It is safe to say each career is in a different place today than it was even one year ago. Ridley, 27, might return to past statistical glory in 2023 but only after much missed time. Jones, 33, can no longer be relied upon for big production, though he should find work soon. Fantasy managers should cease expecting big things. — Karabell
Devin Singletary, RB, Buffalo Bills: The Bills ran the most QB-centric offense in the league in ’21 with Josh Allen, which should continue under new coordinator Ken Dorsey. And with the free-agent addition of running back Duke Johnson, who has the receiving traits to give the Bills a boost out of the backfield, there should be some concern with Singletary’s ceiling in ’22. Buffalo’s No.1 back caught 40 passes last year, and I expect that total to decline with Johnson getting some third-down looks this season. As of now, Singletary is in my lower-end RB2/flex range. — Bowen
DJ Moore, WR, Carolina Panthers: Since his rookie season in 2018, Moore has built up a solid statistical body of work. During his 63 active games, he has averaged 68.5 receiving yards and 13.4 fantasy points per game. Over this time period, Moore has had 498 targets, which is seventh most among all players. However, he hasn’t had the fortune of catching passes from an upper-echelon quarterback. This trend will unfortunately continue in 2022 after the 25-year-old receiver signed a three-year, $62 million extension. Poor quarterback play will continue to limit his potential. — Moody
Noah Fant, TE, Seattle Seahawks: You could pick almost any receiver in the Seahawks’ offense and consider it the “right” answer, but I pick Fant because he was the afterthought in the Russell Wilson trade, and now he’s joining a receiver corps that already has plenty of mouths to feed, most notably Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf. Sure, probable starting quarterback Drew Lock has targeted tight ends 26.1% of the time in his NFL career, 6% higher than the 2021 league average, but you don’t succeed by looking Fant’s way at Lockett’s and Metcalf’s expense. Coach Pete Carroll is also notoriously run-oriented, and he has Rashaad Penny back after Penny’s strong finish to 2021. I can’t see Fant being close to a start-worthy fantasy tight end, and he might no longer even be positionally top 15 (he was a disappointing TE12 last season as is). — Cockcroft
DJ Chark Jr., WR, Detroit Lions: We can see the vertical juice on Chark’s tape, plus the playmaking ability to finish at the top of the route tree. However, even with the former Jaguars receiver filling a major need in Detroit opposite of Amon-Ra St. Brown, will Chark be targeted enough down the field to utilize his traits? Last season, Lions quarterback Jared Goff attempted just 43 passes of 20 or more air yards, 23rd in the league, and he completed only 30.2% of those throws. Chark is a WR3 for me at this point, with a higher ceiling in non-PPR formats. — Bowen
Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB, Kansas City Chiefs: Former Buccaneer Ronald Jones II signed in K.C., and let’s remember how good he looked in 2020. Jones is far more likely to handle traditional rushing duties on early downs and in goal-line work, with Edwards-Helaire settling into a third-down role and catching passes. No Chiefs have rushed for 550 yards in two of the past three seasons, and nobody has approached 1,000 yards in the past four seasons. That changes with Jones around and the Chiefs perhaps looking more balanced offensively now that Tyreek Hill is gone. Edwards-Helaire falls to RB3 territory, at best, and Jones looks to be the better option. — Karabell
Chase Claypool, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers: The Steelers’ (probable) choice to replace the retired Ben Roethlisberger with Mitch Trubisky is a bit of a head-scratcher, but it’s particularly disconcerting regarding Claypool’s fantasy value. The team’s top deep threat in his two NFL seasons — Claypool’s 12.3-yard average depth of target is 17th most in the league and more than 3½ yards greater than the league average — doesn’t mesh well with Trubisky’s poor deep-ball accuracy. In his five NFL campaigns, Trubisky has a 46.6 completion percentage and 0.77 TD-to-interception ratio on throws at least 10 yards beyond the line of scrimmage, both well below league average, so he might develop a quick rapport with Diontae Johnson and Pat Freiermuth but struggle to find chemistry with Claypool. I can’t even make a WR3 case for Claypool in standard ESPN formats. — Cockcroft