Ho! Ho! Ho! It’s the holiday season, and it’s time to shake our bellies like bowls full of jelly — or like Booger McFarland trying to get down from his field analyst forklift. Sadly, much of the cheer has passed, and the vast majority of us currently find ourselves broke from the holiday expenditures and measurably fatter than we were one week ago. As you stroll through your local Fantasy Assets ‘R’ Us, you can’t help but notice that the shelves are barren — cleaned out by the festivities of the season. Luckily for you, all you can afford at this point are the misfits, those cast off by the harsh realities of our world. What’s left behind isn’t sexy, but there are some useful scraps scattered about if you look closely enough, which is precisely what you do, being the resourceful scoundrel that you are. 2021 may have been a difficult year, but that doesn’t mean 2022 needs to be. If you play in a dynasty fantasy football league, or are simply looking ahead for 2022 draft intel, it’s never a bad time to begin laying the groundwork for a successful 2022 — which you can kickstart by buying low on rookies who may be discounted heading into their sophomore seasons. What’s done may be done, but as they say, “there’s always tomorrow for dreams to come true.”
1. Travis Etienne Jr. | RB | Jacksonville Jaguars
Does missing one’s entire rookie season really constitute as underperforming? Well, Etienne certainly didn’t return value for owners who used significant draft capital on him, and despite Urban Meyer’s attempts to derail James Robinson, J-Rob is still positioned as a top-20 running back this season. Even with Etienne’s post-draft hype, it would be easy to forget about him heading into 2022, especially considering the regime that used a first round draft pick on him has already been ousted. Those factors should pave the way for Etienne to have a much more reasonable draft value in 2022, assuming something radical doesn’t happen, such as him scoring 12 touchdowns in a single preseason game or Bill O’Brian acquiring him from the college ranks for Bryce Young and eight Nick Saban-signed footballs. However the 2022 preseason unfolds, let’s all hope that it comes accompanied with a healthy Etienne following last year’s season-ending Lisfranc injury. I’m a fan of the player and have faith that his style will translate to success in the NFL. It should all come down to touches, and any preseason uncertainty in that area bodes well for a draft season discount. Depending on how your dynasty league is structured, don’t cut bait with Etienne heading into 2022 simply by default. Look to buy.
2. Justin Fields | QB | Chicago Bears
26. 19. 20. 17. Those are Fields’ fantasy totals in four of his last five starts dating back to Week 8. Across his last-five games, Fields has produced four top-10 quarterback finishes, thanks to averages of 243.8 passing yards and 64.3 rushing yards in those contests. For what it’s worth, I was relatively high on Fields coming out of college — but I’m not sold on him developing into a front-of-the-line NFL signal caller. That being said, he is beginning to develop into a player with a more reliable week-to-week fantasy floor. Paired with his ability to accrue points via his legs, this bodes well for 2022. Based on Fields’ struggles in 2021, it is certainly feasible that he’ll be saddled with a mid-to-late round price tag in 2022 drafts. If that’s the case, there will be numerous redraft leagues where I wait at quarterback, snag Fields, and then pair him with a low-risk, veteran option at the position. Adding some stability around him can only improve the situation in Chicago, as he’s been surrounded by head coaching rumors for the duration of his rookie campaign, and the Bears’ locker room appears to be in need of a makeover. Can I see Fields producing as a QB1 next season? Yes, although I’m not predicting league-winning upside. His bottom-line output could mirror much of what we’ve seen from Joe Burrow this season.
Note: Trey Lance is also an excellent fit here, but I wanted to avoid using multiple players who have seen little or no on-field action in 2021.
3. Rashod Bateman | WR | Baltimore Ravens
After including Bateman in several of my posts already this season, I debated leaving him out of this column in favor of someone like Rondale Moore or Trey Sermon. But when it all comes down to it, I envision Bateman having as productive of a 2022 campaign as any sophomore receiver not named Ja’Marr Chase. For starters, I’m not sure the industry truly understands just how talented of a receiver Bateman is. Perhaps this can be attributed to him playing college football at Minnesota, but after going 27th overall to Baltimore in the 2021 NFL Draft, that low profile should be all-but erased. Maybe it’s the early-season injury woes, which would at least be more logical. However, since debuting in Week 6, Bateman has seen six or more targets in six of nine games. In Week 14 at Cleveland, he went into a tough environment and caught seven of eight targets for 103 yards. That showed a mere glimpse of the degree of upside that’s present with Bateman. Then, he proceeded to catch just one of two targets for five yards in Week 15 with backup Tyler Huntley under center. What’s being overlooked there, besides the quarterback situation? Bateman was on the field for a career-high 93% of offensive snaps in Week 15. Yes, Mark Andrews and Marquise Brown are above-average contributors at their respective positions, but even in the run-heavy offensive scheme deployed by the Ravens, Bateman has the game-breaking ability to be not only a fantasy steal in 2022, but a fantasy star.
That’s all for this week, Razzball fam! As always, I’m happy to take this conversation into the comments section or on Twitter, where you can find me @WorldOfHobbs.
What about Jerry jeudy? His year started off promising until that injury. It looked like he was the clear lead wr. That injury was ugly. I thought he’d be out all year. I wonder if he lost explosiveness and/or if it could be a permanent loss. They should bring in another qb next year. Where do you think ge goes in redraft leagues next year, .5ppr. Thanks
as long as bridgewater/lock get improved on somewhere could be awesome, but it’s gotta be somebody pretty good, as they’ve got all of their current guys locked up for a while and they are probably the deepest long term in the entire league (fant/jeudy/sutton/patrick). if say AAron rodgers went there AND the regime allowed passes, yeah that would kick serious ass for everybody involved. but if it’s like minshew or something could be exactly as bad as this year.
or RW3, he’d be a huge win for DEN too, and he appears to be aware that he probably should’ve gone to somewhere with a functioning offensive coordinator from this preseason’s comments.
I see Jeudy as a mid-round / mid-to-late-round flier. Barring a major QB upgrade, I likely won’t be investing next season, but the talent is undoubtedly there. Still, he posted zero games of double-digit half-PPR points in his second NFL season, which isn’t exactly encouraging, regardless of the caliber of QB play.
He’s an interesting conversation for a list such as this one but he doesn’t warrant being discussed in the same breath as this trio, in my personal opinion.
If you asked me today, I’m not considering Jeudy until at least the eighth round of a 12-teamer in 2022 redrafts.
Thanks for the read!
10 team, 1 qb, 1 pt ppr dynasty.
Give: Keenan Allen/Boyd for Godwin/Cohen?
Cohen is bleh, I’m out of playoffs for this year. Which side you taking?
Nothing here moves the needle so much for me that I’m ecstatic about pulling the trigger, but Godwin will play all of the 2022 season at age 26 while Allen will do so at 30.
You have to prefer the Chargers’ long-term QB outlook to Tampa’s, but then again, TB12.
I’d take Godwin for the LT upside.
Thanks for the read!