Things are moving fast in fantasy football, and we’re just weeks away from having many teams’ depth charts turned upside down based on stellar performances in September. Here are a few situations where it only takes a small leap of faith to imagine a player offering more 2022 fantasy value than his more heralded teammate.
The Vikings have been relying heavily on two receivers for several seasons, but the team plans to open their passing game in 2022. Osborn should be on the field more often than he did last season when he showed a lot of potential by racking up seven touchdowns on 50 catches. Thielen has had a lot of success, but he will be 32 when this campaign starts and last year only averaged 10.8 yards per catch. By the middle of the season, it should be clear that Osborn is the player who best compliments superstars Justin Jefferson.
New Giants coach Brian Daboll is in the process of recreating the Giants’ passing attack, which is good news – considering it couldn’t be much worse than last season. The team has a handful of interesting WRs, led by Golladay, who has a big contract and a couple of 1000m seasons in Detroit on his resume. But Golladay has achieved little in the past two years, has not developed a rapport with QB Daniel Jonesand was not brought into the team by the current coaching staff.
[It’s fantasy football season: Create or join a league now!]
Robinson, on the other hand, was drafted into the second round this year, which is a great sign that the current brain confidence believes he can have a lot of NFL success. It’s easy to see a scenario where Golladay has a few big weeks as a deep threat, but Robinson leads the team in catches and yards by being a dominant final target.
Chris Olave on Michael Thomas
While Thomas is back in action, we really have no idea what to expect from someone who missed last season and most of 2020 with ankle injuries. Sure, there’s a chance the 29-year-old can regain his former glory, but there are also good chances he’s not the player he used to be. Also, Thomas may not have the same rapport with: James Winston that he had with Drew Brees. New Orleans traded to get Olave, who was arguably the most talented WR in the 2022 NFL draft and projects as a future star. We might only need a few weeks to see the page turn in the Saints Pass game, with Olave as the alpha receiver and Thomas as a free piece.
George Pickens on Diontae Johnson
Pickens only needed one preseason game to demonstrate the explosive playability ability that saw the Steelers grab him in the second round of the NFL draw, despite not having an urgent need at WR. The Georgia product has the size and speed to make big plays immediately and demand significant target share, despite Johnson’s experienced presence and Chase Claypool.
Former QB Ben Roethlisberger loved throwing under Johnson as it suited his late career lack of arm strength and his need to quickly clear the ball behind a poor offensive line. But new Steelers QBs Mitch Trubisky and Kenny Pickett may want to throw downfield more often, which would take some of Johnson’s focus away and lead to a more balanced pass attack that could eventually include Pickens.
Rhamondre Stevenson on Damien Harris
There is little doubt that Harris is a good ball carrier. After all, in his three-year career, he averaged 4.8 yards per carry and crossed the goal line 15 times last season. But he contributes little in the passing game and relies on collecting touchdowns to make a remarkable fantasy impact. Stevenson has a more diverse skill set, with the ability to match Harris as a rusher and catch a lot of passes at the same time. And since James White recently retired, the Pats are looking for an RB to step into a substantial hosting role. There is a likely scenario where Harris ends up with more rushing yards, but Stevenson outperforms him in total yards and offers much more value in PPR formats.
Brian Robinson on Antonio Gibson
Robinson is already climbing draft boards and can catch up with Gibson if we arrive within a few days of week 1. The Alabama rookie seems to prefer this management team, which selected him in Rd. 3 of the NFL draft and started him over Gibson in the most recent preseason game. A scenario starts to come into the picture where Robinson leads the team in hasty yards and TDs, JD McKissic outperforms the other RBs in catches, and Gibson eventually finds his way to the fantasy exemption wire.
Zamir White on Josh Jacobs
The Raiders have a new coach in Josh McDaniels who has not drafted Jacobs and has not yet shown any indication that he holds the 24-year-old in high regard. For example, we often see training camp reports that the use of the backfield in Las Vegas will be situational, with Jacobs and White each playing a role. White is the only member of the RB Corps drafted by the current management team, and while unlikely to be immediately involved in the passing game, he could steal most of the hasty opportunities from Jacobs.