2022 NFL Draft – Pre-Draft Dynasty Landmines

by Theo Gremminger · NFL Draft

April 29th, 2021: The NFL Draft started excitingly for fantasy football fans. Three QBs went off the board to start. The Jacksonville Jaguars selected Trevor Lawrence first, followed by Zach Wilson and Trey Lance. Kyle Pitts, arguably the best TE prospect ever, was selected by Atlanta with the fourth overall selection. SEC WRs Ja’Marr Chase and Jaylen Waddle followed suit.

Six fantasy-relevant picks to start the draft. Seven of the first ten picked when Philadelphia selected Devonta Smith. A dream draft for fantasy managers. However, what should have been a night of celebration turned into a nightmare for some towards the tail end of the draft when Jacksonville went up to the podium to make their second selection.

What happened next was a cautionary tale of draft capital, unbelievable personnel decisions, and a warning to all fantasy managers. Shocking picks can and will happen when teams are on the clock. When Jacksonville selected RB Travis Etienne, a fantasyland let out a collective gasp. James Robinson managers received a gut punch that no one saw coming.

Robinson was found money for dynasty managers. An undrafted free agent who, as a rookie, quickly finished as an RB1 with 1,070 yards rushing, 49 receptions, and 10 TDs combined. Robinson was the waiver wire pickup of the season and helped teams win fantasy leagues. With a new coaching staff and Lawrence set to run the offense, the expectation of finishing as a top 15 RB again was a reasonable bet. That excitement went out the window when the words “The Jacksonville Jaguars select running back Travis Etienne” were spoken. Stunned dynasty managers will never forget that night.

As excited as we should be to learn the landing spot for players like Breece Hall, Kenneth Walker, and a slew of solid WR prospects, there is also a separate game of survivor for many players whose values will rise and fall by who their teams select and who their teams avoid selecting. Dynasty managers rostering these potential pre-draft dynasty landmines will have several stressful moments this week during days one and two of the draft.

Michael Carter, RB, New York Jets

Michael Carter is a real litmus test for dynasty managers heading into the draft. Full disclosure, I have traded FOR him in dynasty leagues this offseason. The fourth-round draft capital is not ideal, but he flashed at times last season and displayed the two-way ability we want to see in fantasy football. There was the 172 total yards performance in a win over Cincinnati and a 118-yard rushing performance against Jacksonville late in the season. Jets GM Joe Douglas recently referred to him as “Young MC” and said they love him. If he survives the NFL Draft, he could see an expanded role and potentially be an RB2 this season. He has to dodge several draft bullets as The Jets possess the No. 35, No. 38, and No. 69 picks. If one of those picks is a player like Kenneth Walker, it could destroy Carter’s dynasty value.

Devin Singletary, RB, Buffalo Bills

Devin Singletary played the best football of his career down the stretch and into the playoffs as Buffalo made their run to the AFC title game. Singletary ended the regular season with six total TDs in his last four games and added three more TDs in two playoff games. He also saw at least 14 touches in all six of those games. This offseason, Buffalo attempted to sign J.D. McKissic. But he re-signed with Washington at the last moment. They did add Duke Johnson. But as it stands, Singletary is the primary back in one of the NFL’s better offenses. The Bills have been linked to the draft’s top RB, Breece Hall, with their No. 25 overall pick. This would crush Singletary’s value. The Bills also have picks No. 56 and No. 89, but those two could be less threatening, with Hall and Kenneth Walker most likely off the board.

Antonio Gibson, RB, Washington Commanders

This one is a head-scratcher, but Antonio Gibson dynasty managers should be very nervous. They may want to change the channel and watch something else on Friday night when Washington picks at No. 47. Both Breece Hall and Kenneth Walker have visited Washington in the pre-draft process, leaving Gibson’s dynasty value in a precarious situation. This is a head-scratching potential use of draft capital from a team with several holes to fill. But leave it to Washington to make terrible use of an early pick when they already have a talented backs like Gibson and J.D. McKissic on the roster. If Gibson survives the draft, he is solidly a top 15 dynasty RB. The Commanders will tell us exactly what they think of him this week by who they select.

Amon Ra St. Brown, WR, Detroit Lions

Amon-Ra St. Brown had one of the best ever seasons from a fourth round draft pick this past year. He was scorching down the stretch with at least 10 targets in his last six games, resulting in 51 catches and five TD grabs. The Lions gave him elite usage, and he ran with it. The only rookie WRs to score more fantasy points than ARSB last season were Ja’Marr Chase and Jaylen Waddle.

As the offseason started, The Lions were vocal that they would bring in other options at WR. Many dynasty managers sold high on St. Brown as a result. But as the free agent dominos began to fall, Detroit only brought in D.J. Chark on a one-year prove-it deal. Detroit has two draft picks that could be problematic for Brown: No. 32 and No. 34.

Darnell Mooney, WR, Chicago Bears

Darnell Mooney has exceeded expectations in Chicago in both of his pro seasons. He followed up a strong 61-catch season with 81 catches for 1,055 yards and four TDs. He was one of the bright spots for a Chicago team that finished in the bottom six in Points per Game. Allen Robinson has left for greener pastures with Matthew Stafford and The Los Angeles Rams. Mooney could potentially see an even higher number of targets this season. Chicago has two second-round picks and a third-rounder. They could move into the first to try and add a WR in GM Ryan Poles’ first draft. A player like Chris Olave could cut into Mooney, potentially seeing an even more significant role this season.

Rashaad Penny, RB, Seattle Seahawks

Rashaad Penny, a former first-round draft pick, played the best football of his injury-plagued career to finish last season. He’s now in a great spot to see a ton of volume in 2022. The offense could struggle. A LOT. But Penny will see all the carries he can handle, especially with Chris Carson‘s injury concerns.

If he survives the draft, he should rise up redraft ranks and be a cheap source of RB production in dynasty. This could all change if Seattle drafts one of the draft’s top RB prospects at No. 38 or No. 39.