The NFL is a snow globe league and every week and every season is weird, and weird in its own way. You have to be careful with general fantasy themes and takeaways, because we’re never far from a set of unexpected results.
That said, the top wide receivers have certainly been pure in Week 1, and that must have you wondering: will Fantasy Football 2022 be defined by glamorous, marquee passers?
Is this the year of the receiver?
Consider the top seven scorers in the opening week:
• Justin Jeffersondrafted as WR2 in Yahoo drafts
• Cooper KuppWR1 in Yahoo Drafts
• Davante AdamsWR5 in Yahoo Drafts
• Yes’Marr ChaseWR3 in Yahoo Drafts
• Michael Pittman Jr.., WR10 in Yahoo Drafts
• Stefan DiggsWR4 in Yahoo Drafts
• A.J. BrownWR13 in Yahoo Drafts
A position can’t work much cleaner than this.
What sets wide receivers apart from all other Week 1 positions?
Receiving studs were buoyed by opportunities and goals, of course. The five most targeted receivers are all on this list – Adams, Chase, Kupp, Brown and Pittman. The results of the game did not matter much – wins, losses and even ties were represented in this list.
And some of the big names that didn’t finish in the top seven still got off to a favorable start:
• mike evans scored another touchdown, his recurring drumbeat since Tom Brady arrived in Tampa Bay. Since acquiring Brady, Evans has 28 points in 33 games.
• Deebo Samuel kept a heavy rushing workload – something we weren’t sure we were getting into in 2022 – and hit another touchdown. And now the Niners are without Eli Mitchelltheir cork on opening day.
• Tyreek Hill was heavily used in his Miami debut, with 12 targets leading to a solid 8-94-0 comeback.
The limited mark receiver disappointments were mostly injury-related. Higgins t-shirt suffered a concussion. Lamb CeeDee ample Prescott roof Sunday evening. Keenan Allen injured his hamstrings.
Maybe this discussion makes you shrug – top players, of course, should to be the best players. But other positions didn’t come back so cleanly. The top of the running backs table had all sorts of surprises – Cordarrelle Patterson, Kareem Hunt, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Dontrell Hilliard and james robinson all crashed into the top eight in Week 1. Three of those guys weren’t even projected starters, for shouting out loud, and CEH was passively drafted after a lackluster summer.
The quarterback board had a lot of stars, but Carson Wentz, Jameis Winston, Ryan Tannehill and Marcus Mariota all crushed the QB1 cut.
Close end? Forget. Travis Kelce was an easy call for no. 1, but then we look OJ Howard, Taysom Hill, Gerald Everett, Will Dissly and Colby Parkinson. Several of the top 12 projected tight ends did very little.
One of the reasons I prioritized wide receivers in my early rounds (goal was a reverse anchor with multiple brand receivers) is because the wide names start every week. I don’t want to play guessing games, trying to figure out which WR53 rated option might turn into a WR19 type return. And while the Week 1 tally sheet can’t be considered a recurring answer key, it makes me think Big Receiver was the way to go this year.
Running back and wide receiver are generally accepted as the two most important fantasy positions, but true skill level seems to matter less at running back. If you can move into an expanded role at RB, fantasy points usually follow.
Why wide-star receivers seem to be the real key to fantasy success in 2022
Consider: Jeff Wilson Jr. expected to be the starter for San Francisco RB in Week 2. He’s had a respectable but unspectacular career so far. While San Francisco’s overall backfield is nebulous, Wilson is still expected to be RB21 in the PPR leagues by half a point this week, according to projections from Yahoo’s outsourced stats. (In many other cases, an RB promotion will catapult the new starter into high position, inescapable fantasy territory. Think about how we would see Alexander Mattison or Hunt if their backfield teammates were unavailable.)
Compare that to the wide receiver, where Joshua Palmer and Tyler Boyd are exploring possible role extensions after Allen and Higgins were injured last week. I loved both players as inside-out hideouts before the year, and their value rose due to the circumstances. But the new projections aren’t gigantic — the statistical projections simply call Palmer the WR35, while Boyd is the WR49. Neither is an automatic start, while a player like Wilson probably will be.
Maybe you landed some help for a wide receiver on the waiver wire. Curtis-Samuel made a quick debut for Washington, and Robbie Anderson played full snaps at Carolina, catching a long touchdown. Both are welcome on my lists, but initial expectations are low. Samuel projects on WR40 this week, Anderson on WR54. (I’ll probably rank them both higher, and there’s a Man vs. Machine debate to be had at another time. To play fantasy football well, I think you need a mix of stats, observation play and common sense. But even the most optimistic optimist in the room would probably refrain from calling locked fantasy WR2s for Samuel or Anderson right now. These are just consideration games, not slam dunks .)
Every NFL season has a fluttering butterfly nature — the moment we cast our net and think we’ve caught it, things are likely to dip and flutter and weave elsewhere. A week from now, the takeout could easily have a different hue. And any fantasy championship season will likely require a tidy and productive back room racer, regardless of how you allocate your assets to that position.
That said, I’m convinced (a dangerous word for any fantasy analyst) that WR’s heavy builds were a good idea to go into this season. If you have a late draft coming up, I would consider the same reason. And perhaps you can still mold your assembled list to a WR-heavy approach, through transactions and list manipulation.
Because alpha receivers could take over in 2022.