2022 NFL Free Agency Fantasy Football Preview: All wide receiver free agents, ideal landing spots, more

The list of potential wide receivers who could change teams looked a lot better before the league’s franchise-tag deadline.

That’s because on March 8, Davante Adams and Chris Godwin each got franchise tagged. In addition, Mike Williams signed a three-year deal with the Chargers, keeping him off the open market.

That doesn’t leave the kind of scraps you’ll see at, say, the quarterback spot, but it makes the list less enticing.

There is hope. Amari Cooper, as of this writing, is not yet a free agent but she could soon be. Same thing with Jarvis Landry and Cole Beasley. I’m not sure all three will register as top 10 free agents — Cooper figures to be the best free-agent receiver — but they’ll get some attention.

  • FA Previews: RB | QB | WR | TEA

One last thing: The 2022 NFL Draft is full of good-to-very good receivers. A solid dozen wideouts at minimum could further push veteran receivers into minimal roles, if not out of the league entirely. League GMs know this, and it figures to splash some cold water on the free-agent marketplace after the first week, making it tougher for older pass-catchers to regain their prominence in Fantasy Football.

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It felt like Robinson was a forgotten man in Chicago, but some film review showed him being more than capable of sitting down in open spots versus zone coverage and using quick feet to get open on in-breaking routes. He won’t blow past defenders with speed, but if he lands as a starting No. 2 receiver in a precision passing offense, he should fall into more than the 5.5 targets per game he had in 2021 and morph back into a helpful Fantasy receiver , particularly one you could snag at a draft-day discount.

Best destination: Atlanta

Over the past two years, Smith-Schuster has played 78% of his snaps from the slot. Of his 133 receptions from him, only 25 came when lined up out wide, and it resulted in 167 yards (6.8 per catch). The guy has come from his mettle as a route-runner out of the slot, and he’s far from old, but the days of considering him as a bona fide No. 1 receiver have evaporated. If he happens to land on a team with a big need at slot receiver and a quarterback with an accurate arm, Smith-Schuster will have a shot at a resurgence in Fantasy. Short of that, he’s not going to make people chase him in drafts.

Best destination: Jacksonville

Fantasy managers have seen flashes of greatness from Chark — two touchdowns over seven catches last year, eight touchdowns and just over 1,000 yards in 2019 and 8 of 15 career touchdowns coming from 20-plus yards count as evidence. But Chark has also given us plenty of reasons for doubt — injuries including a broken ankle in 2021 and a sub-60% catch rate in three of four years (including seven grabs on 22 targets last year) count against him. The safest outlook for Fantasy managers is to lock onto Chark as a No. 3 receiver or a priority bench option if he lands in an offense with an aggressive passing mindset. That could put him on a path to over 100 targets, if not close to 120. Such teams figure to be chasing Chark in free agency, particularly if his ankle is fully healed and his speed has n’t been compromised. I could see Chark becoming an insta-pick in Round 8.

Best destination: Arizona

It’s a little startling that the Cardinals, a team in need of receiver help, wouldn’t move mountains to keep Kirk. Maybe they recognize he’s best suited for the slot; 63 of his 83 receptions from him came from slot positions in 2021. The Cardinals already have a guy in place in Rondale Moore to handle that slot role. Or maybe they realize they’d have to pay through the nose to keep him and feel like his past season (77-982-5) was as good as he could possibly have. Kirk is a solid contributor but he might be miscast as a priority target in an NFL offense. That’s why I’d be reluctant to draft him if he were pressed into a major role, especially if it’s with an inaccurate quarterback. I’m probably going to be comfortable letting someone else reach for Kirk before Round 8 or 9.

Best destination: Buffalo

You might not think much of Gage, but he did a nice job taking advantage of a big opportunity when Calvin Ridley was lost for much of the Falcons’ season. From Week 8 on, Gage caught 57 of 79 targets for 675 yards (11.8 yards per catch). He didn’t have a deep average target depth (9.78 yards) but he managed to have (mostly) good hands and even work as an outside receiver. He’s certainly a complementary piece and definitely not someone to build an offense around, but he can run routes and battle for contested catches opposite a playmaker elsewhere on the field. I think he could be a great (and not-too-popular) value pick in Round 8 or 9.

Best destination: Washington

Sometimes we call players “lottery tickets” because there’s a clear upside for huge numbers if everything breaks right. Fuller is most definitely one of them. His 2020 season of him was proof that, with a good opportunity, Fuller can be a very useful Fantasy asset. His 2021 season of him? Who knows what went down in Miami, but he was useless. But it’s 2021 that has cratered his 2022 value of him, and as late-round picks go, Fuller has almost no downside and plenty of upside. I think the ship has sailed on him being a No. 1-type receiver, but a “1B” or No. 2 could provide a lot of chances at big plays. He’ll just need a strong-armed quarterback to put it all together.

Best destination: Green Bay

In 12 games with the Rams (playoffs included), Beckham averaged 6.1 targets, 4.0 receptions and 12.3 yards per catch with seven touchdowns. It’s evidence that with good health and an accurate downfield quarterback, Beckham can still play. Unfortunately, both of those things are to be determined. Beckham tore his ACL in Super Bowl LVI and seems like a candidate to miss half of the 2022 season. It could mean he signs to a cheap deal with a contending team that knows it will need a jolt at receiver come Halloween. As interesting as that would be, Fantasy managers would be irritated waiting for Beckham to come back with no guarantee of a locked-in role. At best he’d be a top-120 pick.

Best destination: LA Rams

It feels like Gallup has an uphill climb to find Fantasy relevance. We already know the torn ACL suffered in January means he’s unlikely to play in much if any of the first half of the 2022 season. And when he does return, will he immediately fill a role as a high-volume receiver, or will his target volume get smacked down by guys like CeeDee Lamb and Dalton Schultz taking up too much of Dak Prescott’s attention? Gallup averaged 9.8 PPR points per game last year and 10.8 the year before that. If he stays in Dallas, it’s tough to envision him being significantly better on a per-game basis, and it’s risky to assume he’ll be back any time before Week 7. The only way Gallup could see his value increase is if he winds up elsewhere and has a huge opportunity to be a playmaker as soon as he heals up. That seems unlikely. Gallup is only worth a very late pick if you can stuff him in an IR spot.

Most likely destination: Dallas

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