Here we identify players who could be susceptible to major value changes because of the NFL Draft. These players are major winners or losers, depending on the how their teams drafted.
Jalen Hurts, QB PHI
The Philadelphia Eagles had arguably the best draft in the entire NFL. Though they only made five picks, the impact of this draft will be felt for years to come. Most notably for dynasty, the Eagles managed to acquire AJ Brown from the Tennessee Titans and then extend him on a huge contract worth $100m over four years. We can debate all summer long about what this does for AJ Brown’s value, but this move tremendously helps Jalen Hurts more than any rookie receiver could have with the same first round pick.
I really don’t think it’s out of the question that Jalen Hurts can finish as a top-5 quarterback in 2022 with AJ Brown. He nearly did it last year on 15 games played, with only 3,144 passing yards and 16 passing touchdowns. Brown has lived off efficiency in Tennessee, so it’s easy to assume he can do the same in Philadelphia and help Hurts in the passing game, even on limited volume. Any increase is passing efficiency by Hurts while maintaining his rushing ability could cause him to go nuclear for fantasy, like Lamar Jackson in 2019 or even Kyler Murray in 2020. His job security might still be a question as the Eagles have two 2023 first round picks, they could use to upgrade Hurts if he doesn’t perform this year, but there is no denying the fantasy upside he presents in 2022 and possibly beyond.
Gabriel Davis, WR BUF
Perhaps there was no wide receiver who benefitted more from the NFL Draft than Gabriel Davis, after the Bills waited until the 5th round to address the wide receiver position and only bringing in Jamison Crowder in free agency. There is a lot of hype for a receiver who has yet to surpass 600 receiving yards in a season, but there’s no denying the upside he possesses if he becomes the Bills WR2.
His ADP has held fairly steady since climbing at the end of the year while we waited for the NFL Draft, but I would bet the April WR45 sees a spike in value into the 30s, passing Brandin Cooks, Kadarius Toney, Allen Robinson, and perhaps a few more on his rise to dynasty WR3 valuation. This could present an opportunity to sell if you don’t believe in Davis or would rather a shot on a more secure player, but you can’t deny that the off-season has been extremely kind to Davis’ fantasy value.
Rashod Bateman, WR BAL
I’m sorry, I lied before when I said Davis might have been the biggest receiver winner from the NFL Draft. Nope, it’s Rashod Bateman. The 2021 1st round pick is now THE WR1 in Baltimore after the Ravens shipped Marquise Brown to Arizona. To make things even better, Baltimore didn’t touch the receiver position in the draft, which adds even more confidence to Bateman. Yes, they could still sign Jarvis Landry, Julio Jones, or another free agent to have more bodies during the season, but Bateman is their man of the future.
Bateman had a surprisingly better season than you might remember, despite missing the first five games due to injury. 67 targets over 12 games is a 17-game pace of 95 targets, nine fewer than fellow rookie DeVonta Smith. That is including games with only one, two, and three targets. It might have already been reasonable to assume a target increase in year two for Bateman even with Hollywood Brown, but now that he is THE guy, a 120-target season does not seem unattainable, which would all but guarantee him a top-30 PPR finish at least.
Darnell Mooney, WR and Cole Kmet, TE CHI
It might be a sad suggestion to say that Darnell Mooney and Cole Kmet are draft day winners because of the Bears continued incompetence to give their offense much needed weapons, especially for their apparent franchise quarterback. Regardless, this offense has limited targets for Justin Fields to throw to, which gives a massive boost of confidence for Mooney and Kmet as viable weekly fantasy options. Mooney was already the PPR WR24 last season on 140 targets. That target share may not change much in 2022, but at least we have seen solid WR2 production from Mooney already. Kmet is more interesting since he has never finished inside the top-20 at the tight end position.
Kmet was tied for eighth among all tight ends in targets last year with 93, more than Noah Fant, Dallas Goedart, Dawson Knox, and Pat Freiermuth, all currently valued ahead of Kmet. His problem last year was touchdowns, with a massive goose egg in the category. Had he caught one, he would have been top-20, two he would have been top-18, four and he’s inside the top-15. I know this doesn’t sound great for a tight end, but a boost in targets out of necessity and a larger redzone role with Jimmy Graham gone could spell a fantasy breakout season for the TE17 in April ADP.
Michael Carter, RB NYJ
Pour one out for Michael Carter, who had his dynasty value ripped out from under him after the Jets selected Breece Hall in the second round. You can try to spin this any way you want, but this is not good at all for Carter. Hall is a great running back prospect and is as good, if not better than Carter in every facet of the game, including receiving. The Jets may look to limit Hall’s touches overall, but even still the split may only relegate Carter to a strictly third down role. He should be viewed more as a JD McKissic role player with the upside to take early down work if Hall were to get hurt, but it’s not a good situation for Carter managers.
Antonio Gibson, RB WAS
Believe it or not, Antonio Gibson took a hit from the NFL Draft. Yes, the Brian Robinson selection in the third round is significant enough to where we should begin questioning Gibson’s place and role on the Washington Commanders. Gibson has flashed elite production before, including multiple 20+ point games last year. The problem, however, is playing time.
Last year, Gibson only played 70% or more of the snaps in two of his 16 games. TWO! That includes five games he played without J.D. McKissic. Perhaps the reason for his low snap percentages was six fumbles in 16 games, with four of those lost. For more evidence to this, here is a quote from Washington head coach Ron Rivera about selecting Brian Robinson: “This guy breaks tackles – over 800 yards after contact. He has been consistent protecting the football over his career I think is another thing you like.” Washington prioritized Robinson because he takes care of the ball, something Gibson struggled with mightily last year. This backfield might be a gross three-headed committee, which no fantasy player will be happy with, but most especially Antonio Gibson managers.
D.K. Metcalf, WR and Tyler Lockett, WR SEA
It’s honestly amazing how Seattle chooses to run their franchise every year. At this point, we shouldn’t even be surprised, but we always are. We thought there was no possible way that the Seahawks actually believe they can fix Drew Lock, meaning they have to draft someone in this draft, right? Wrong. Not only did Seattle have multiple chances at not only Malik Willis, but also Matt Corral, Desmond Ridder, and Sam Howell. Instead, almost as if to mock us as fantasy players, they do the most Seattle thing to do and draft Kenneth Walker in the second round.
In 21 career games where Lock has thrown at least 20 pass attempts, he has supported nine top-24 wide receiver weeks, with four being top-12. Remember in Jerry Jeudy’s rookie year when we laughed at his insanely low 46% catch percentage? Yeah, that was Drew Lock. I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if neither Metcalf or Lockett were top-24 receivers in 2022. The good news, at least for Metcalf, is that this is dynasty and his situation has to improve next year with a rookie quarterback (right?), but speaking as someone who had way too much Allen Robinson last year, it’s a very, very long year.