After a disappointing 2021 season that was shortened by injuries, Jacksonville Jaguars WR DJ Chark Jr. has been one of the more interesting 2022 free agent topics, knowing his landing spot could impact many dynasty fantasy football leagues. Given the value of the receiver position, how should managers view Chark for 2022 and beyond now that he reportedly has signed a one-year, $10 million deal with the Detroit Lions?
DJ Chark Jr.’s dynasty fantasy outlook
Rewind the clocks back to early 2019, and some fantasy managers would have said Chark would be the next star in the NFL. In his second year in the league, he caught 73 of 118 targets from Gardner Minshew for 1,008 yards and 8 touchdowns. Well, Chark clearly hasn’t achieved his potential yet.
After a letdown in 2020 (53-of-93 for 706 yards and 5 TDs), last season was when things hit rock bottom. Despite the addition of Trevor Lawrence as the No. 1 overall draft pick, Chark, along with the rest of the Jaguars, struggled. Yes, I have scored twice, which helped in the fantasy department. But beyond the scores was a paltry 7-154 receiving line on a dreadful 32% catch rate.
Injury derailed Chark’s 2021 season
The worst part for Chark? A thick ankle fracture in Week 4 left him in an unenviable spot in what could have been a lucrative contract year.
Personally, I feel Chark has the skills to be a No. 2 option and a dynamic field stretcher for an offense. At 6’4″, he can go up and get a ball, and he has the speed to stack and blow past DBs. Those are skills that should translate with Chark on the Lions, as long as Jared Goff can get him the ball. Of course, we know that it could be easier said than done.
Prior to signing, Chark was sitting just outside the top 48 in most WR rankings. I feel more upside is baked into Chark, and there is an injury discount to be had both in the draft and via trade.
If you have a roster that already has three locked-in starters at receiver, I see no downside in adding a 25-year-old explosive receiver at the cheapest he’s been since his rookie season. I would not give a first-round pick for him by any means, but if the price is right, Chark’s dynasty value will only go up.
Fantasy impact on the Lions
Chark should start opposite Amon-Ra St. Brown in a somewhat improved Lions offense ravaged last year by injuries. As constructed in 2021, their roster had little chance of rising above mediocrity. But losing D’Andre Swift, TJ Hockenson, and lesser offensive contributors for moderate-to-extended periods didn’t help their cause.
Entering 2022, Detroit now has four terrific playmakers, each of whom should offer stand-alone fantasy value. There should be no negative impact on Swift. St. Brown’s blow-up toward the end of last season was due largely to a dearth of healthy talent elsewhere. He probably will continue to be the No. 1, though Chark and a healthy Hockenson will eat into his ceiling from him.
Fantasy impact on the Jaguars
Jacksonville’s free-wheeling spending this week will have a bigger fantasy impact than Chark’s departure. The additions of Christian Kirk, Zay Jones, and Evan Engram muddies a sub-par passing attack. For fantasy purposes, this week has proven to be a net positive for Lawrence, who has more receivers than he can comfortably feed.