As exciting a spectacle as the NFL Draft has become, looking over your dynasty rosters as the day three selections wind down can feel like the ultimate Debbie Downer. Some of those assets you’ve been burning a roster spot on for a couple of seasons aren’t looking so hot anymore. On the flip side, you may have a few not-so-shiny-anymore assets that have new appeal.
In this two-part series, I’ll dig into the biggest dynasty IDP winners and losers following the NFL Draft. The AFC is first up.
Josh Uche, EDGE NE
I’m on record as an Uche stan, so it should come as no surprise that he’s a winner in my book. There are snaps to be had at outside pass rusher in New England though following the release of Kyle Van Noy and the trade of Chase Winovich. The Patriots didn’t add a complement to Matt Judon in the draft or free agency, although Deatrich Wise moves outside the tackle quite a bit and Ronnie Perkins is still here after redshirting his rookie season. After an inconsistent second-year campaign during which he dealt with a severe ankle injury, we might be on the precipice of a third-year leap from Uche.
Chase Winovich, EDGE CLE
Speaking of Winovich, he’s at least a temporary winner post-draft. We could see Jadeveon Clowney sign on to return any day now, but even so, he’s a much stronger run defender than a pass rusher, meaning Winovich is likely set to see the field on passing downs opposite Myles Garrett. And while the Browns did draft promising UAB edge Alex Wright in the third round, Winovich is clearly a winner after falling out of favor in New England.
Taven Bryan, DT CLE
I can’t believe I’m having to list Bryan after watching the former first-rounder flame out in Jacksonville. Unless fourth-round rookie Perrion Winfrey is ready to pay immediate dividends or Jordan Elliott gets remarkably better in year three, Bryan is set for a large role on the interior of Cleveland’s defensive line.
Josey Jewell, LB DEN
Denver is expected to run out just one full-time linebacker under new defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero, and Jewell is more than likely to be that guy after returning to Denver as a free agent. Following a 110 total tackle season in 2020, Jewell tore a pectoral muscle in the Broncos’ second game of the 2021 season, and honestly I thought that might be the last we saw of him as a fantasy asset. The Broncos passed on off-ball linebacker in the draft however, and reiterated that promising sophomore Baron Browning would be converting to the edge, meaning Jewell just has the likes of Alex Singleton, Jonas Griffith and Justin Strnad to contend with for primary linebacker honors.
C.J. Mosley and Quincy Williams, LB NYJ
Other than adding converted safety Marcell Harris for depth in free agency, the Jets did nothing to address the off-ball linebacker spot. They must feel good about Mosley and Williams, who I think is over his head as anything more than a depth guy but seems primed to see fantasy-viable volume. Hamsah Nasirildeen and Jamien Sherwood are two sophomores to keep an eye on, but both were major projects to begin with as college safeties making the move to professional linebacker, and both missed time with injuries (Sherwood an Achilles). In 2022, I’m banking on LB1 production from Mosley, and LB3 or LB4 numbers from Williams. Beyond this season though, their outlooks are murky with Mosley sporting contract numbers that scream cap casualty, and Williams a free agent. But both look locked in for 2022.
Patrick Queen, LB BAL
Based on his disappointing play it’s tough to call Queen a winner, but Baltimore somewhat surprisingly ignored off-ball linebacker in the draft. With Kyle Hamilton joining a good safety group that includes Chuck Clark and Marcus Williams, the Ravens can consider keeping Queen on the field more often and taking advantage of him as a blitzer – something he’s actually pretty good at – rather than dropping him into coverage. Other than soon-to-be 33-year-old Josh Bynes, there’s not much else for Queen to have to compete with for the primary role.
Drue Tranquill and Troy Reeder, LB LAC
There’s no guarantee we’ll see a three-down off-ball linebacker in Los Angeles, as the do-it-all Derwin James could serve as the de-facto linebacker in obvious passing down situations with the Chargers in a five-man front and Nasir Adderley and rookie J.T. Woods handling the deep split. If there is a single full-time ‘backer though, Tranquill is the most well-rounded option following the departure of Kyzir White in free agency. And if it’s not Tranquill, I like Reeder for the job. Following an abysmal 2021, it’s pretty obvious that Kenneth Murray isn’t a fit with Brandon Staley’s Bolts.
Logan Wilson, Germaine Pratt and Akeem Davis-Gaither, LB CIN
Cincinnati didn’t touch off-ball linebacker in the draft or in free agency, meaning there’s no three-down threat to Wilson, and no immediate threats to playing time for Pratt. As for Davis-Gaither, should he show improvement, he could be in line to assume Pratt’s snaps in 2023 should the fourth-year linebacker not re-sign with the Bengals.
Eric Murray, S HOU
If anyone is going to be productive from an underwhelming safety corps in Houston, my bet would be on Murray, who should provide a decent fantasy depth option. Once plugged into full-time snaps (week nine and onward) in 2021, he posted low-end S2 numbers on a per-game basis. I’m assuming rookie Jalen Pitre or free agent signee M.J. Stewart would be the front-runners to cover a back-end role, so Murray should more often than not get the opportunity to play downhill. There’s no long-term appeal with Murray, and in most leagues he’s an in-season bye week pickup, but he’s probably worth rostering now in 14- and 16-team formats.
Baron Browning and Jonathon Cooper, EDGE DEN
Former teammates at Ohio State, both Browning and Cooper provided reasons for optimism as rookies. Browning had the look of a do-it-all off-ball linebacker who could slide into the single full-time stack ‘backer spot in Ejiro Evero’s Mile High version of the Rams defensive scheme. But Denver seems convinced that he’d be better suited to play on the edge, a move that new coach Paul Hackett confirmed post-draft. The high-effort Cooper, meanwhile, was credited with 23 pressures by Pro Football Focus, and made 11 plays in the backfield on 457 snaps as a rookie.
Denver’s new regime apparently really values depth at edge though, with free agent prize Randy Gregory and second-round draft pick Nik Bonitto joining the oft-injured Bradley Chubb, the re-signed Malik Reed and Browning and Cooper in the edge rusher room. As if that wasn’t enough depth, Denver added Alabama’s Christopher Allen as an undrafted free agent. Someone from this group is probably going to get traded before the season starts as Denver tries to recoup some of the 2023 draft capital it lost in the Russell Wilson trade, but still, Cooper and Browning in particular have taken big hits.
Foye Oluokun, LB JAC
Yes, Oluokun is locked in for two years after signing a huge free agent deal, but with high draft capital in Devin Lloyd (27th overall) and Chad Muma (third round), Oluokun could see his snaps and fantasy stock plummet during the 2023 season before becoming a cap casualty after his second year in Jacksonville. The Jaguars are absolutely going to field two linebackers at a heavy clip, so this is more of an advanced notice that Oluokun would be a good sell-high candidate next off-season.
Vonn Bell, S CIN
The Bengals took to heart the old adage “draft for tomorrow,” hitting the safety spot hard by nabbing free safety/nickel defender Daxton Hill in the late first and then Tycen Anderson in the fifth. It’s worth noting that both picks could be starting in Cincinnati in 2023, as both Bell and Jessie Bates are set to hit free agency next off-season. Bates, who will be playing on a franchise tag, is an excellent deep safety and won’t have any issues retaining his dynasty value even if he’s playing in a new city in 2023. Bell, paired with a deep field presence in Cincinnati, is really in an ideal situation and the unknown of a new landing spot creates volatility in his post-2022 stock. From a dynasty asset perspective, Bell could see his value nosedive next off-season.
Khari Willis, S IND
It’s been a volatile off-season for Willis. His arrow was clearly pointing upward following the hiring of Defensive Coordinator Gus Bradley, who deploys a traditional high-low safety scheme that’s fantastic for strong safety production (see Johnathan Abram in 2021). With Julian Blackmon (or free agent addition Rodney McLeod) in the deep post, Willis looked squarely set for a top-five safety campaign. So when the Colts selected the seriously athletic and heavy-hitting Nick Cross in the third round, my Willis shares took a proverbial kick in the pants, and I’m still smarting a little. Willis, who is in the final year of his rookie contract, could still come through with a nice season, but the indication that Indy is readying itself to move on doesn’t inspire confidence.
- 2022 NFL Draft: Dynasty Fantasy Football IDP Winners and Losers from the NFC - May 24, 2022
- 2022 NFL Draft: Dynasty Fantasy Football IDP Winners and Losers from the AFC - May 20, 2022
- IDP Off-Season Outlook: AFC East - March 9, 2022