Dynasty Fantasy Football 2022: Deshaun Watson shoots up quarterback rankings, plus more

The month of March is a wild time for Dynasty Fantasy Football managers. Between prep for the NFL Draft and reactions to NFL free agency it can be hard to keep a firm grasp on player values. The same can be said for Dynasty Fantasy Football analysts, especially this year.

To be clear, past Marches have done nothing to prepare us for this month. In a league where trades used to be a rarity, 18 players were dealt in the first eight days of the new league year. And these guys were not nobodies. Davante Adams, Deshaun Watson, Russell Wilson, Matt Ryan, Amari Cooper, Carson Wentz, Noah Fant, and Khalil Mack all changed zip codes in the matter of one week.

If you are having a hard time keeping up, do not feel bad. It is our job, and the past two weeks have had our heads spinning:

  • I speculated on Dan Arnold as the big winner early because of Doug Pederson’s system and Jacksonville missing out on the good free agent tight ends. Hours later the Jaguars gave Evan Engram $9 million.
  • We were still processing just how awesome Kyle Pitts or Michael Thomas would be with Watson when Watson shockingly chose Cleveland over the Falcons and Saints.
  • I wrote earlier this week about how Jameis Winston could be the next big Dynasty winner at quarterback and I am pretty sure he signed before the piece was even published.
  • Oh yeah — and I finished this piece approximately 30 minutes before the Chiefs traded Hill to the Dolphins.

All of that is to say that we have a lot of catching up to do. And for Dynasty purposes, I am here to help with updated rankings at all four positions and a new top 150 and trade chart coming out by the end of the week. Here’s a quick refresher on what has changed at each position since last month. As a reminder, you can find everything Dynasty related on our updated and refreshed Dynasty landing page — from rankings, to trade charts, mock drafts and more.

Watson back in top-10, likely not done rising

Watson climbed to QB8 in my Dynasty QB rankings after he was dealt to the Cleveland Browns. But he is far from settled there. For one thing, we still do not know if, or for how long, he will be suspended. And there’s really not much point in speculating on it. This is pretty close to unchartered territory and it is unclear how the NFL will react to the Browns structuring Watson’s contract in a way that insulates him from losing significant money in 2022.

One way to look at Watson’s value is where he would rank with no suspension. I have peaked at QB2 in my past Dynasty quarterback rankings and still has as much upside as any quarterback in football. In his first 17 starts in the NFL he produced 5,002 yards from scrimmage and 42 touchdowns. In his most recent 17 starts, he has topped that yardage at 5,488 and produced 36 touchdowns. His career 8.3 yards per pass attempt leads all active quarterbacks and he will not turn 27 until after the season starts.

But that No. 2 ranking was before Josh Allen and Justin Herbert turned into superstars. Allen and Herbert are both younger than Watson and currently have better offensive situations. We do not know how much Kevin Stefanski is going to change the offensive system for his new quarterback, but it is unlikely he Watson to throw as often as Allen or Herbert. And while the Browns have talent (and are likely adding more) I don’t expect they will match the weapons in Buffalo or Los Angeles. At least not his year of him.

All of that is to say that Watson would likely be my QB4 today if there were no off-field concerns. And he may be my QB4 once his suspension has concluded. But until we see just how long that suspension is, and how run-heavy Stefanski remains, Watson is an upside QB1 with no shortage of downside.

Other major changes: Did I forget to mention that Tom Brady unretired? Yeah, he is QB15 in the latest update. Winston got a small bump as well, but Mitchell Trubisky and Marcus Mariota were bigger risers because we really were not sure they would ever get this opportunity again. The biggest losers of the past month with Aaron Rodgers, Baker Mayfield, Taysom Hill, Jordan Love, and Taylor Heinicke.

James Conner gets big money and joins a growing crowd of win-now RBs

I was not sure what to make of Conner’s free agency. Just a year ago he could not find a job and settled on a part-time gig with the Cardinals for just $1.75 million. Apparently, the Cardinals liked what they saw because after Chase Edmonds signed with the Arizona Dolphins rewarded Conner with a three-year deal worth $21 million with $13.5 million guaranteed. This deal makes it quite likely that Conner will be Arizona’s lead back for the next two seasons, which vaulted him from RB36 to RB26.

If we get to May and Eno Benjamin is still the No. 2 back in this offense then Conner could rise even higher.

The split in 2021 between Conner with Edmonds and without was stark. In the first eight weeks of the season, Conner played more than half of the snaps just eleven, averaged 11.8 rush attempts per game, and only saw five total targets. In the next five games without Edmonds, CNN averaged 17 carries per game, played at least 77% of the snaps in every game, and had three games with at least five catches. If Conner is that guy for even 14 games then I’m way too low on him still.

The problem, as it is with a lot of running backs, is injury. Because Conner did get hurt after that high-usage stretch and missed a couple of games. In fact, he has missed at least a couple of games each of his five years in the NFL. Now that same thing can be said about Dalvin Cook, and all running backs are injury risks, but Conner does feel at least a little bit more susceptible than the average back.

The other side of this is the sudden logjam of win-now running backs in the top-30. Austin Ekeler, Derrick Henry, Dalvin Cook, Alvin Kamara, Aaron Jones, Leonard Fournette, Ezekiel Elliott, and Conner will all be 27 or older at the start of the 2022 season. All have the ability to contribute to a league championship this season. None of them should be on the roster of a rebuilding team because history tells us half of them will be outside of the Dynasty top 30 by this time next year.

Other major changes: Eno Benjamin, Cordarrelle Patterson, and James White look like winners now, I’ll be interested to see if that holds up after the draft. I downgraded both Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt because I can’t imagine the Browns will remain as run heavy with Watson under center and Watson will take a bigger share of the rush attempts than Baker Mayfield did. I haven’t dropped Melvin Gordon yet, but I’m getting a little nervous that going back to Denver might be his best option. Myles Gaskin and Tarik Cohen were two of the biggest losers.

You can find the rest of my Dynasty RB rankings here.

Jeudy, Sutton, and Patrick get the Russ bump

The Broncos’ wide receiver trio got a significant boost with Jerry Jeudy climbing back up to WR21, Courtland Sutton bouncing back to WR36 and Tim Patrick entering the top 70 for the first time in the last year. But don’t let that disparity fool you into thinking we know how the targets are going to work, it’s more an indicator of everything else.

That everything else includes age (Tim Patrick is five years older than Jeudy), pedigree (Jeudy is just two years removed from being a top-15 pick) and production (Sutton is the only Bronco who has even topped 900 yards in a season. I bring all that up because if you were just looking at production the past two seasons, Patrick belongs much closer to Jeudy and Sutton.

In 2021 Patrick led the Broncos in yards per game, yards per target, and yards per reception (minimum 10 targets). Neither Jeudy nor Sutton has been able to separate from him in any real way but injuries have played a part in that.

The first point of talking about it this way is to say that Patrick is the best value play if you want to get a piece of this offense. The second is that all three wide receivers have significant upside beyond where they’re being ranked right now. If Jeudy becomes Russell Wilson’s true No. 1 then he’ll be ranked in the top-12 by mid-season. If it’s Sutton then he probably climbs ahead of Jeudy and into the top-20. And Patrick could make someone a massive profit just by earning the No. 2 role for the Broncos this season.

Other major changes: DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett fell almost as much as the Broncos rose. The Davante Adams trade hurt his value and Hunter Renfrow’s. Amari Cooper and Michael Thomas were boosted back into the top 30 while Mike Williams and JuJu Smith-Schuster aren’t far behind them. Calvin Ridley’s year-long suspension knocked him out of the top 40, he was WR7 last September. Robert Woods and Laviska Shenault lost significant value.

You can find the rest of my Dynasty WR rankings here.

It’s terrifying to say, but the TE position does appear deep right now

It’s an annual joke that I mock people for saying that tight end looks deep in the offseason because we get to the regular season and inevitably, it’s the worst position in Fantasy again. And that’s probably going to happen again. But yet…

In Dynasty there is a clear top-eight of bona fide starters, which is not untypical. Then we have our regular cast of upside youth, starring Noah Fant, Pat Freiemuth, Cole Kmet, and Albert Okwuegbunam. That’s 12 tight ends that anyone could find a reason to be happy rostering. It’s outside that 12 where things are more interesting.

Assuming Rob Gronkowski comes back to Tampa, he has top-five upside for a win-now team and Zach Ertz sure looked like he still does as well considering he was No. 5 per game in the second half of 2021. Mike Gesicki, Evan Engram, Logan Thomas, Hunter Henry, and Tyler Higbee all have top-12 production in their past and the opportunity in 2022 to repeat it. Irv Smith and Brevin Jordan are just a good month away from joining the upside youth tier, and I haven’t even mentioned Dawson Knox, Gerald Everett, or David Njoku yet.

That’s another 12 tight ends, outside of the top-12, that someone could talk themselves into. Even if half of them are complete busts, the position could be deep. I’m really talking myself into it, and considering the point of view I come from I assume that means the vast majority of Fantasy managers will soon as well if they haven’t already.

The takeaway? Don’t overpay for someone you don’t believe is elite. There are at least two dozen guys who could be a starter this year, I’d rather stack a few of the cheap ones as opposed to overpaying for a low-end starter.

Other major changes: Okwuegbunam soared into the top-12 partially because of Wilson, but mostly because Fant was sent away in the trade. Everett landed with Justin Herbert and should get at least one more offseason of hype. Arnold and OJ Howard were the big losers, but they could still pan out by outperforming the presumed TE1s on their team.

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