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2022 NFL Draft: Dynasty Fantasy Football Winners and Losers from the AFC West

How were the veterans in the AFC West affected by new additions in the NFL Draft?

Clyde Edwards-Helaire

With the 2022 NFL Draft now over, we can accurately re-assess the depth charts of teams around the NFL. In this series, we’ll be taking a look at players who either gained or lost value based on what their team did during the draft.

Next up, the AFC West.

Kansas City Chiefs

Draft Class

  • Round One, Pick 21: Trent McDuffie, CB Washington
  • Round One, Pick 30: George Karlaftis, DE Purdue
  • Round Two, Pick 54: Skyy Moore, WR Western Michigan
  • Round Three, Pick 103: Leo Chenal, LB Wisconsin
  • Round Four, Pick 135: Joshua Williams, CB Fayetteville State
  • Round Five, Pick 145: Darian Kinnard, OT Kentucky
  • Round Seven, Pick 243: Jaylen Watson, CB Washington State
  • Round Seven, Pick 251: Isaih Pacheco, RB Rutgers
  • Round Seven, Pick 259: Nazeeh Johnson, S Marshall

Winner: Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Ronald Jones, RBs

I want you to read this section very carefully. If you regularly watch Ask DLF on the DLF YouTube channel, you know that I strongly dislike both Edwards-Helaire and Jones. However, I have to mention them as winners, as I thought the Chiefs could select a better running back than Pacheco in this year’s NFL Draft. If the Chiefs took someone like Rachaad White, Dameon Pierce, or Isaiah Spiller in the third or fourth round, I would’ve downgraded Edwards-Helaire and Jones relatively radically.

Pacheco is not a great prospect.

Chart courtesy of Sports Reference CFB.

He failed to average more than 5.0 YPC in any season, and his best efficiency came in 2018, four years ago. The Chiefs likely only drafted him because he ran a 4.37-second 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine, giving him elite speed for a running back. However, I don’t expect Pacheco to break into relevant playing time unless Edwards-Helaire or Jones suffers an injury. He’s not even a lock to make the final 53-man roster.

But even though I don’t believe in Pacheco, I still want to sell Edwards-Helaire and Jones in dynasty formats. Jones signed a one-year contract in free agency, and Edwards-Helaire has already played two years of his cheap rookie deal. I suspect the Chiefs will have a new starter in 2023 and beyond, so I want to capitalize on this final selling window on their existing running backs.

Loser: Mecole Hardman, WR

It’s finally time to remove Hardman from the list of dynasty-relevant wide receivers.

Chart courtesy of Pro Football Reference.

As you can see, he’s never averaged even 50 receiving yards per game, and he’s failed to show significant improvement from 2019 to 2021. The Chiefs signed JuJu Smith-Schuster and Marquez Valdes-Scantling in free agency, who will complement Moore in the offense. Hardman may retain a bit-part role, but he’s now the clear WR4 on the depth chart.

Considering that the Chiefs still have Travis Kelce as their top target, Hardman has no value moving forward. His rookie contract expires after the 2022 season, and I doubt the Chiefs will keep him around. I will take any fourth-round rookie pick in exchange for Hardman, as I could use that pick on a dart throw who doesn’t have three bad NFL seasons on his resume.

Los Angeles Chargers

Draft Class

  • Round One, Pick 17: Zion Johnson, G Boston College
  • Round Three, Pick 79: JT Woods, S Baylor
  • Round Four, Pick 123: Isaiah Spiller, RB Texas A&M
  • Round Five, Pick 160: Otito Ogbonnia, DT UCLA
  • Round Six, Pick 195: Jamaree Salyer, OG Georgia
  • Round Six, Pick 214: Ja’Sir Taylor, CB Wake Forest
  • Round Seven, Pick 236: Deane Leonard, CB Ole Miss
  • Round Seven, Pick 260: Zander Horvath, FB Purdue

Winner: Josh Palmer, WR

It isn’t easy to pick a true winner from the Chargers, as Spiller represents their only meaningful fantasy-relevant pick in their entire NFL Draft class. However, I think Palmer deserves at least a cursory mention, as some mock drafts had the Chargers taking a first-round wide receiver. If they had done so, Palmer would’ve found himself completely buried on this depth chart behind Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, and the new first-round selection.

Of course, it’s tough to see Palmer’s path to fantasy relevance. The Chargers just extended Williams this off-season, locking him in through the 2023 season based on his dead cap hits. However, they could easily release Allen after 2022, saving $15 million. As Allen recently turned 30 years old, they may see Palmer as his long-term successor and eventual complement to Williams.

However, I want to caution dynasty managers against getting carried away with Palmer.

Chart courtesy of Pro Football Reference.

He only produced 33 receptions and 353 yards as a rookie, although he did score an impressive four touchdowns. But he failed to supplant Jalen Guyton as the Chargers’ WR3, and he will need to do so in 2022 to see any fantasy value. Luckily, Justin Herbert can support multiple fantasy weapons, and it’s not a given that Gerald Everett will replace Jared Cook’s 2021 production. Either way, Palmer survived the NFL Draft, so he’s a definite winner.

Loser: Joshua Kelley and Larry Rountree, RBs

The Chargers don’t have any real losers from the NFL Draft, but I wanted to mention Kelley and Rountree very quickly. No complementary running back emerged behind Austin Ekeler in 2020 or 2021, as the Chargers rotated multiple players in and out of the lineup. Both Kelley and Rountree had their chance to emerge as a viable RB2, yet the Chargers chose Spiller anyway. I’m not saying Spiller will necessarily become fantasy-relevant, but that selection means it’s safe to cut Kelley and Rountree in all formats.

Las Vegas Raiders

Draft Class

  • Round Three, Pick 90: Dylan Parham, OG Memphis
  • Round Four, Pick 122: Zamir White, RB Georgia
  • Round Four, Pick 126: Neil Farrell Jr., DT LSU
  • Round Five, Pick 175: Matthew Butler, DT Tennessee
  • Round Seven, Pick 238: Thayer Munford, OT Ohio State
  • Round Seven, Pick 250: Brittain Brown, RB UCLA

Winner: None

The Raiders spent their draft capital to trade for Davante Adams, giving Derek Carr a potent top three weapons in Adams, Darren Waller, and Hunter Renfrow. Nobody else matters in their receiving room, and their running backs appear in the losers section. Honestly, the big off-season winner for the Raiders is Derek Carr, who reunited with his college teammate Adams and received a massive contract extension.

Loser: Josh Jacobs and Kenyan Drake, RBs

The Raiders’ existing running backs had a brutal weekend. First, they declined Jacobs’ fifth-year option, making him a free agent after the 2022 season. Additionally, they picked White in the fourth round, who should supplant Drake as the backup. It seems like the Raiders envision White as a depth piece this year and as part of a future committee in 2023 and beyond.

Of course, the Raiders hired Josh McDaniels as their head coach this off-season. McDaniels comes from the Patriots’ coaching tree, and they typically deploy three running backs. White is a classical bruiser who offers nothing as a pass-catcher, which parallels how the Patriots used Damien Harris. If the Raiders use all three backs this year, none of them will be reliable for fantasy football, especially if they pass the ball more.

Denver Broncos

Draft Class

Winner: None

Like the Raiders, the Broncos already made their big move this off-season, trading for Russell Wilson using the ninth overall pick. Additionally, they prepared their team for a star quarterback, as they extended Courtland Sutton and Tim Patrick to long-term deals before trading for Wilson. They also have Jerry Jeudy, Javonte Williams, Melvin Gordon, and even KJ Hamler on the roster. Therefore, they were never going to take a significant quarterback, running back, or wide receiver in this year’s NFL Draft. All of their receiving weapons are off-season winners, though, as Wilson is a massive upgrade from previous starter Teddy Bridgewater.

Loser: Albert Okwuegbunam, TE

The Broncos included Noah Fant in the Wilson trade, leaving Okweugbunam as the presumptive starter. However, it seems like dynasty managers thought he was a guaranteed fantasy asset, but that’s not true. The Broncos only spent a fourth-round pick on him in the 2020 NFL Draft, where he was the seventh quarterback taken.

He also didn’t produce any significant numbers throughout the first two years of his career, although that isn’t surprising considering Fant was on the roster.

Chart courtesy of Pro Football Reference.

He only played four games in 2020 due to various injuries, including a torn ACL, limiting him to only 11 receptions for 121 yards and a touchdown. Even in 2021, he rarely made an impact. He did step into an every-down role in the one game Fant missed, and he caught four of five targets for 25 yards in that contest. But he hasn’t done much yet in the NFL outside of a few flashes.

The Broncos added competition in Dulcich, who received superior draft capital to Okweugbunam. I still expect that Okweugbunam will serve as the Broncos’ starter, but Dulcich is a solid prospect with a decent receiving profile.

Chart courtesy of Sports Reference CFB.

He was UCLA’s second receiving option in 2021, behind fellow draft pick Kyle Philips. Unfortunately, he doesn’t boast Okweugbunam’s elite athleticism and speed, but he ran a 4.69 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine, fifth among tight ends. At the very least, Okweugbunam comes with increased risk now.

2022 NFL Draft: Dynasty Fantasy Football Winners and Losers from the AFC West
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Chad Gorick
3 months ago

Appreciate the knowledge Justin. Curious of your take on Justyn Ross. Great story, can’t help but pull for him, but can he make the squad and get any targets this season?

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