When the NFL Draft wraps up, fantasy players have information overload. Dynasty players will be diving deep into landing spots and potential opportunities and weighing the Lifetime Values of incoming rookies as they get set to make essential rookie draft selections. This article focuses on dynasty values for returning veterans, specifically the biggest veteran winners and losers. Roster size is finite in the NFL. It means one less spot for a veteran when you read about an exciting incoming rookie. Player values change throughout the season and the offseason, but some of the most significant changes occur immediately following the NFL Draft.
Draft Day Winners
Saquon Barkley, RB, NY Giants
Saquon Barkley was a slight worry in the pre-draft process. New coaching staffs can take teams in new directions, but it appears to be another chance for Barkley. This new coaching staff is intent on using him as a receiver. Barkley participated in mini-camp, and looks to be back to full health. The Giants made no actions during the NFL Draft that show they are anything less than fully confident in him.
Now another season removed from an ACL tear, can Saquon Barkley play above expectations in 2022?🤔
RB Expected YPC
1. Saquon Barkley – 4.49💪
2. Tony Pollard – 4.47🤠
3. D’Andre Swift – 4.47🦁
4. Nick Chubb – 4.43🍆
5. Rashaad Penny – 4.41👀#nfl #football #FantasyFootball pic.twitter.com/lHrW1o5OfU
— PlayerProfiler (@rotounderworld) April 19, 2022
Antonio Gibson, RB, Washington
Wait, hold on- didn’t Washington draft an RB in the third round? Despite the selection of Brian Robinson, Antonio Gibson managers can consider the draft a win. In the pre-draft process, Washington was linked to potential fantasy star RBs Breece Hall and Kenneth Walker, having both in for top 30 visits. Robinson has two-way ability, but he projects more as a backup in the NFL, especially for this season. He will undoubtedly have pressure to perform, but this could have gone way worse this past weekend for Gibson. For deeper league dynasty players, Jaret Paterson is dust.
Rashod Bateman, WR, Baltimore
Baltimore made one of the biggest trades of the evening, moving Marquise Brown for the No. 23 overall pick. Rashod Bateman, a 2021 first-round pick, now becomes the unquestioned WR1. He profiles as a potential alpha, and his ascent should be rapid. Mark Andrews will still command a large Target Share, but Bateman will have every opportunity to succeed. There was arguably no bigger NFL Draft winner among returning veterans than Bateman.
“Bateman was as stellar a draft prospect as anybody in last year’s stacked class and now has the chance to show it.”
2022 NFL Draft Winners – @ShervonFakhimi
✍️https://t.co/dRKUwMUoME#nfl #nfldraft #football pic.twitter.com/IKoEvQIeg2
— PlayerProfiler (@rotounderworld) May 3, 2022
Terry McLaurin, WR, Washington
Staying in Washington, it was another positive night for a returning player in Terry McLaurin. Instead of adding a traditional X receiver like Drake London, Washington traded back and added Jahan Dotson. He should see his fair share of targets, but his skillset and 178-pound size projects differently than the 6-0, 210-pound McLaurin. F1 still needs a contract extension, but he should maintain his value in dynasty.
Leonard Fournette, RB, Tampa Bay
Rachaad White is an exciting round three draft pick for Tampa Bay, but he projects more as a high-end handcuff than an every down back threat like Kenneth Walker or Breece Hall would have been. Expect another season of Leonard Fournette finishing as a top 15 PPR scorer. The Bucs gave him a new contract with a guaranteed $12 million, so Fournette should have a two-year window.
James Conner, RB, Arizona
James Conner has had nothing but good vibes all offseason, and that continued during the NFL Draft. The Arizona offense got better, trading the No. 23 overall pick for Marquise Brown and drafting TE Trey McBride in the second. The only RB drafted was sixth-rounder Keaontay Ingram. Second-year back Eno Benjamin and Ingram are the only other backs of note in Arizona. Conner has a shot at a career year and should be treated as an RB1 in redraft.
RB Receiving Yard Differential Leaders
(Actual Receiving Yards minus Expected Receiving Yards)
1. James Conner: +117.6 🏜️
2. Darrel Williams: +114.9 👀
3. Cordarrelle Patterson: +112.1 💨
4. A.J. Dillon: +90.7 🧀
5. Christian McCaffrey: +74.8 ⭐#nfl #FantasyFootball pic.twitter.com/kanQapwVkb
— PlayerProfiler (@rotounderworld) April 26, 2022
Darnell Mooney, WR, Chicago
The Bears had a head-scratching approach to the offseason, but Darnell Mooney is looking like a very safe bet to lead them in targets. His competition is TE Cole Kmet, free agent signee Byron Pringle and 38-year-old third round draft pick Velus Jones. Mooney has a chance at 160-plus targets this season. I would expect him to rise in both redraft and dynasty startups. Target Share-wise? He could be north of 25.0-percent.
Gabriel Davis, WR, Buffalo
Buffalo was linked to players like Jameson Williams and Chris Olave in mock drafts, but they ended up ignoring the WR position until Round 5, when they drafted Khalil Shakir. Gabriel Davis looked like a sell in dynasty for much of the offseason as dynasty managers hoped to cash in off a bigtime playoff performance, but now he is looking like a hold. This season, Davis has a chance to be second in targets to Stefon Diggs.
Draft Day Losers
Justin Fields, QB, Chicago
Many fantasy football players, including myself, really like Justin Fields. But do The Bears? Sure the roster is devoid of talent and needs upgrades elsewhere, but the Bears lost Allen Robinson and replaced him with Velus Jones and Byron Pringle. Since last year’s NFL Draft, compare what The Bears have done to The Jets. New York has done everything possible to surround Zach Wilson with weapons. It is now not out of the question that Wilson could be worth more than Fields by mid-season just by functionally running an increasingly talented offense. Fields can do a lot for his fantasy production with his rushing ability, and he will need to do so to keep the Bears offense above water.
At least the Ravens and Falcons have Andrews and Pitts. Cole Kmet gonna have to step the hell up. No clue how you get a proper evaluation of Justin Fields with this.
— JJ Zachariason (@LateRoundQB) May 1, 2022
Mitchell Trubisky, QB, Pittsburgh
In a draft where QBs fell and fell and fell some more, Pittsburgh drafted local Pitt product Kenny Pickett at No. 20 overall. It was a lot of fun galaxy braining Mitchell Trubisky having a Ryan Tannehill like renaissance in Pittsburgh, but the sell window in SuperFlex quickly closed this weekend. Whatever YOU think of Pickett is inconsequential. It is what the Steelers think. Short of Trubisky starting the year on a magical 5-0 run, Pickett will be handed the keys to the offense, possibly as early as the preseason.
Michael Carter, RB, NY Jets
Dynasty carnage. In last week’s article, I viewed Michael Carter as a player whose dynasty stock could rise and fall significantly with who the Jets picked in this weekend’s draft. Carter was a player with possibly the widest range of outcomes among all returning RBs. The best case scenario is that he is a headache for Breece Hall managers and retains the third down passing role. I would bet against this. Hall checks off all the boxes and could be a dynasty star. Carter should be treated as a capable backup/rotational back.
Devin Singletary, RB, Buffalo
The same logic I applied to Antonio Gibson and Leonard Fournette is flipped with Devin Singletary. Buffalo passed on Breece Hall in the first round, but added James Cook in the second with the No. 63 overall pick. The younger brother of Vikings star RB Dalvin, Cook will have an immediate role as a receiver out of the backfield. Last season, he had 27 receptions and four receiving TDs for a loaded Georgia offense and averaged over 6.0 yards per carry. Singletary is in the final year of his contract, and it is easy to see Cook as a player who will gain a lot of value throughout the season.
James Cook will OWN passing downs for Buffalo & could cut into early down work for Singletary. pic.twitter.com/KSLwUS8yZU
— Derek Brown (@DBro_FFB) May 3, 2022
Amon-Ra St. Brown, WR, Detroit
Amon-Ra St. Brown is a good player and should remain a solid contributor. He is the player you want on your dynasty roster and is a reliable option in redraft leagues. But what he is not is a WR1, and the Lions showed that with their actions during the draft. Trading up to get Jameson Williams, a burner who profiles more like a modern Jaylen Waddle/Tyreek Hill WR1 type, helps the entire offense, but ARSB should take a slight step back in dynasty. He could settle in as a WR2 type, which would be a big hit for a fourth-round pick, but the dream of ascending to WR1 status went out the door this past weekend.
Devonta Smith, WR, Philadelphia
I love Devonta Smith and have him on multiple dynasty teams, but his dynasty value takes a step back with the Eagles’ acquisition of A.J. Brown. I still believe Smith will remain a dynasty asset, but he was the unquestioned WR1 in town a few days ago. Now he moves to the Z role and is a WR2 competing for targets with both Brown and TE Dallas Goedert. The Eagles are a classic “the pie should get larger” team, and glass half full fantasy managers may see this situation differently. Still, we would need to see the Philadelphia passing volume increase dramatically for Smith to take a giant second-year leap forward.
Chase Claypool, WR, Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh is one of the best at identifying skill position talent in the draft process. We can usually mark a Steelers player’s future exit by their draft picks. JuJu Smith Schuster‘s ascent eventually opened the door for Antonio Brown‘s ugly exit. Diontae Johnson‘s emergence paved the way for JJSS to take a backseat role. Now third-year pro Chase Claypool faces the looming threat of second round draft pick George Pickens.
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— PlayerProfiler (@rotounderworld) May 3, 2022
Claypool is a talented player whose antics occasionally became a distraction and whose TD scoring went from last season. Combine that with Diontae Johnson‘s upcoming contract situation and we could see Pittsburgh being faced with a Johnson vs Claypool decision in the near future.