DJ Chark To Sign With Lions: Fantasy Football Takeaways & Implications (2022)

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DJ Chark is headed to Detroit on a one-year deal that could be worth up to 12 million per early reports. With the Chark signing, the big topic on everyone’s mind is how this will impact last year’s stretch run darling Amon-Ra St. Brown. Don’t worry, we’ll get to that, but first, let’s discuss Chark. It seems like ages since Chark burst onto the scene as a second-year breakout receiver (2019) as the WR19. The last two seasons have been mired by poor quarterback play, injuries (ankle fracture, finger fracture, shin, and ribs), and ineffectiveness. Yes, pitiful signal-caller status has played a role for Chark with catchable target rates of 54.5% and 71%, but his 1.40 and 1.48 (per PFF) yards per route run since 2020 also illustrates that some of the blame should be laid at his feet from him as well.

Chark will slide in opposite Josh Reynolds on the outside while St. Brown works out of the slot. Chark has worked from the slot on 21.9% of his snaps in his career, but his 1.12 and 1.43 yards per route run (per PFF) from the slot in 2019-2020 illustrates that he’s better served operating on the boundaries. St. Brown will still own the inside role. St. Brown exploded in Weeks 13-18 last season. He ranked second in targets (67) behind only Justin Jefferson among wide receivers with a 33.5% target share and 33.8% of the team’s air yards as the WR2 in fantasy football. St. Brown contended with Josh Reynolds, Kalif Raymond, and a host of backup level players for weekly targets. TJ Hockenson was sidelined with injury after Week 13, and D’Andre Swift only played a part-time role in his return (54-57% snaps) in Weeks 17-18 as he missed Weeks 13-16.

The biggest concern for St. Brown repeating his outstanding performance in 2022 isn’t Chark singularly, but the sum of Swift, Hockenson, and Chark and Detroit’s anemic passing volume. Last year the Lions were fourth in neutral rushing rate (48%), but their passing volume was aided by a 68% negative script passing rate (15th) as they ran the third-most plays (523), trailing by seven points or more . If the Lions can hang tight with teams more in 2022, the entire passing offense could see a drop in volume. Yes, I know it’s a big if, but it’s in the range of outcomes for this team. After Week 10, three of their five losses were by four points or less. St. Brown is best viewed as a mid to high-end WR3 with upside, while Chark falls into WR4 territory.
–Derek Brown

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