2022 NFL Draft Prep: Landing Spots

img By: Bart Wheeler / @bartonwheeler

Hello, friends. If you’ve read any of my preseason articles before, you may be wondering where you are because I’m not posting on¬†my usual site. And if you’ve read things on¬†this¬†site before, you may be wondering who the heck I am! While I’m new to posting here on rosrankings.com, I’m definitely not new to the fantasy football game. I’ve been playing for over 20 years, and I’ve been writing for over 10. I’ve been officially doing rankings as part of the FantasyPros accuracy competition for the last three seasons, and I’ve been¬†doing pretty well there. If you’re into fantasy baseball, you may have heard me chatting with¬†@andrew_seifter¬†for the last few weeks on the podcast. But with the NFL draft quickly approaching, I wanted to get some of my thoughts down before the latest crop of college players join the pros.

In previous seasons, I’ve written offseason predictions for each team before free agency happened and attempted first round mock drafts leading up to the actual NFL draft. This year I’m not doing any of that. We’re way past free agency, and if you want a mock draft, just hit the Google machine and you can find a good one by folks who are way better at college player evaluations than I am.

The way I’m going to attack this article is a look at every NFL team and their potential needs related to¬†fantasy-relevant¬†positions: QB, RB, WR, and TE. I’ll mention some offseason moves, take a look back at¬†last year’s draft results, and I’ll likely reference picks each team has in this year’s draft too. I won’t get into “what if player X goes to this team” because I’d rather discuss all of that after the actual draft. Like I said, I’m not digging into player evaluations here. This is all about situations that can impact the fantasy landscape this year, and in some cases I’ll project positions that make more sense in dynasty leagues. Let’s face it. Certain teams are built to win now and don’t have a ton of holes. Other teams need every position.

I realize this is a long article, so if you have a favorite team or one you’re just curious about, feel free to bounce around.

Let’s get to it, shall we?

AFC East

Buffalo Bills: RB (dynasty)
The Bills broke tradition last year after they had drafted a running back in Round 3 both in 2019 (Devin Singletary) and 2020 (Zack Moss). But in 2021, the only fantasy-relevant position they drafted was all the way down in Round 6 with Marquez Stevenson who had¬†more fumbles than targets¬†in his rookie season. Buffalo is built to win now, and the fact that they’re the current favorite to win the Super Bowl shows that. They lost Cole Beasley to free agency but quickly filled that hole with Jamison Crowder. They also added O.J. Howard to complement Dawson Knox at the tight end position. They brought in Duke Johnson this offseason, which leads me to conclude there likely won’t be much value in any Buffalo rookies this year in fantasy. It should be noted that Singletary is in the last year of his¬†rookie contract¬†though. So if they happen to draft a running back this year, he could be interesting for dynasty purposes as he could end up with a clear shot at the role in 2023.

Miami Dolphins: QB
Miami has made some serious moves this offseason, and their RB and WR rooms are completely revamped. They also have the fewest number of draft picks of any team in this year’s draft, so we’re likely not going to have someone interesting for fantasy from this year’s draft class here. The quarterback position is intriguing though. The Dolphins signed Teddy Bridgewater to a one year contract¬†this offseason, and Tua has been the subject of trade rumors including but not limited to Deshaun Watson this time last year. I wonder if they could still try to shop Tua and even trade him and a future pick to move up and grab a guy in this year’s class.

New England: WR (dynasty)
The Patriots got their guy in Mac Jones last year, and they have a nice receiving corps around him for 2022. They have Jakobi Meyers under contract for another season, and they brought in DeVante Parker for a mid-draft pick swap. That being said, all of their WRs are basically under contract through 2022 or 2023, so I could see New England using one of their 8 picks on the position later this month. It’s fairly well known that Belichick hasn’t had the best track record drafting this position, but that doesn’t mean he won’t shoot his shot. He’s going to want to continue to build around his young quarterback.

New York Jets: RB
This time last year, I really thought the Jets would take Justin Fields over Zach Wilson. But here we are. They also snagged Elijah Moore in Round 2 and Michael Carter in Round 4. They went offense early and often last year, so I would think they’d focus a bit more on defense with their early picks this year. But who knows what they’ll do? They actually have 4 selections to make in the first 38 picks, so I’ll be very interested if any of them are fantasy position players. Michael Carter was the Lightning to the Javonte Williams Thunder at UNC, and Carter looked the part in his rookie year as a Jet. They brought Tevin Coleman back for another season and Ty Johnson is there, but neither guy is a workhorse type running back. I’ll be very interested if they drafted a bigger back in the first couple of rounds.

AFC North

Baltimore Ravens: WR
The Ravens picked up the fifth year option on Marquise Brown’s contract this offseason, so he’ll be a Raven for two more seasons. But who is the number two guy in Baltimore? OK, so that’s Mark Andrews. But who else? Rashod Bateman had a fine rookie season. It was¬†fine. A lot of rookies don’t produce a ton in their first seasons, so we need to give him a bit of a break. Still, it’s still unclear if he’ll continue to develop into even a #2 WR for the Ravens. With 10 picks in this year’s draft, I’d actually be surprised if they¬†didn’t¬†select a wide receiver. I mean, they have 5 picks in the fourth round alone! Certainly one of those will be someone to add to this unproven and relatively thin WR room, right?

Cincinnati Bengals: TE
What will the Bengals do for an encore after using the #5 overall pick on Ja’Marr Chase last year? Well, they obviously don’t have a high pick this year after making it all the way to the Super Bowl last season. And with a solid roster returning, I don’t expect them to draft a RB or WR until the later rounds. But replacing C.J. Uzomah with Hayden Hurst isn’t a long term solution, especially considering they signed Hurst to¬†just a one year deal. Drew Sample will also be an¬†unrestricted free agent after the 2022 season, so drafting a tight end who can grow with Burrow makes too much sense to not happen.

Cleveland Browns: WR
This one is easy. The Browns just gave a ton of guaranteed money to Deshaun Watson, so now they need to give him some more weapons. Sure, they brought in Amari Cooper this offseason, but they also let Jarvis Landry explore the market. While it’s possible Landry returns, it’s not a given. And with Donovan Peoples-Jones as the current #2 WR on the roster, you have to think Cleveland uses one of their first four picks on this position.

Pittsburgh Steelers: QB
Last year, it felt like everyone knew the Steelers were going to take Najee Harris (and they did). This year, it feels like that guy is Malik Willis. The question is, will he be available at #20? Will Pittsburgh trade up to get him? If he’s their guy, I think they’ll figure out a way to get him. And it’s also a possibility they add a WR late in the draft too.

AFC South

Houston Texans: RB
There isn’t much to get excited about in Houston, but there’s massive opportunity for touches there if they draft a running back. It doesn’t even have to be in the first two rounds. They have four picks in Rounds 3 & 4 combined, so give me someone in that range and I’ll at least get a little excited. When Rex Burkhead is your #1 RB and your big offseason move was signing Marlon Mack to a¬†1 year deal, there’s a spot here for a rookie rusher to flourish.

Indianapolis Colts: WR
With Jack Doyle retiring, I almost went TE here. But the Colts just committed¬†$8.2 million guaranteed¬†to bring back Mo Alie-Cox for three more seasons, so I think they might grab a WR who could work well with newly acquired Matt Ryan. As of this writing, the 32 year old T.Y. Hilton is a free agent, so the Colts are looking at Michael Pittman and a bunch of guys. Indy doesn’t have a first round pick, but I’ll be keeping an eye on them to see if they grab a receiver in Round 2 or 3.

Jacksonville Jaguars: RB
The Jags spent a lot of money this offseason, but I feel like they don’t have a lot to show for it. For all of the money they spent, they didn’t use any of it on a running back. And you may be thinking, “Well, they have James Robinson and Travis Etienne. Why would they need a running back?” I’ll tell you why: both of those guys are coming off serious injuries! Robinson will be returning from a torn Achilles, and Etienne missed all of his rookie season with a Lisfranc injury. I know it sounds a little crazy to say the Jags will draft a running back, but they have 12 picks in this draft and I’m telling you…the Jags are going to draft a running back!

Tennessee Titans: RB (dynasty)
Tennessee brought in Robert Woods to replace Julio Jones, and I think it’s an upgrade at this point in their careers. There are some rumblings lately about A.J. Brown potentially holding out, but it could be much ado about nothing. So while I think the Titans are fairly set at that position (pending an issue with Brown), they really don’t have a good backup to Derrick Henry. Keep in mind, Henry came back from that Jones fracture to play against the Bengals in the playoffs, but he didn’t look himself. Still, he should be fully recovered to start the 2022 season, but he’s getting a lot of tread on those tires. I could see the Titans using a 4th round pick on a running back who just might become the starter in a couple of years when Henry breaks down.

AFC West

Denver Broncos: TE
In case you somehow missed it, Denver brought in Russell Wilson this offseason and fantasy managers of Bronco WRs rejoiced. Yes, even Tim Patrick enthusiasts. But Noah Fant was part of that trade, so he’s now in Seattle and Albert Okwuegbunam is left behind as the de facto #1 TE. Everyone is slating him in as a sleeper this year, and by the time draft season truly hits, he likely won’t even be a sleeper anymore. But if Denver decides to draft a tight end in the first 4 rounds, I’ll pay attention to whoever that is.

Kansas City Chiefs: WR
Like the Bills, the Chiefs are a Super Bowl contender without a ton of holes. At least, that was until they traded Tyreek Hill. I’d be surprised if they go three straight seasons without drafting a wide receiver in the first 4 rounds, and with 8 total picks in those first four rounds, I’d expect them to add at least one. Whoever the lucky guy is to start his career with Patrick Mahomes, you need to pay attention to him.

Las Vegas Raiders: RB (dynasty)
As of this writing, I have not seen that the Raiders have picked up the fifth year option on Josh Jacobs, which means he and Kenyan Drake could both hit the open market after this season. That could make a running back drafted this year quite interesting for dynasty purposes. The silver and black have just five picks in this draft, but take note if one of those picks ends up being a running back.

Los Angeles Chargers: WR (dynasty)
LA brought back Mike Williams on a 3-year deal this offseason, so they now have him and¬†Keenan Allen locked up through 2024. They also signed Gerald Everett to a 2-year deal and Austin Ekeler should be a Charger for at least a couple more seasons. So while I don’t see a path to much fantasy value in redraft for anyone drafted on this squad this season, I suppose with the aforementioned WRs getting up there in age, there should be a changing of the guard there in a year or two. So if I had to pick one position, there could be some dynasty value for a WR here.

NFC East

Dallas Cowboys: TE (dynasty)
This is another team that has most of their positions fairly locked up, especially after they gave Michael Gallup a¬†5-year contract¬†this offseason. But with them only slapping the franchise tag on Dalton Schultz and letting Blake Jarwin walk in free agency, there could be an opening here in 2023 and beyond. So I’ll pay attention if Dallas grabs a TE with one of their 9 picks in this draft.

New York Giants: QB
When I look at this roster and what it did (or rather didn’t do) in 2021, it feels like they need everything. Maybe that’s a little harsh, especially since Saquon is a beast when healthy. But it all starts with the quarterback, and it’s pretty clear to me at this point that Daniel Jones ain’t it. Will the Giants draft a QB in this year’s class? They have the #5 & 7 picks in the draft, so they certainly could. If they don’t love a guy and take him with one of the first round picks, I doubt they will later unless their guy falls into their lap. But this is the only position I’d really be interested in if New York goes in that direction in this year’s draft.

Philadelphia Eagles: WR
The 2020 WR draft class was solid, but it’s looking like Philly didn’t draft one of the good ones in Jalen Reagor. They took Devonta Smith last year with the 10th overall pick, but I could see them going right back to the position again this year. This is not a knock against Smith, as I feel like he’s the real deal. I just think Philly has swung and missed so much lately that they just still need help at this position.

Washington Commanders: WR
Even though they got Carson Wentz to Washington this offseason, I considered going with QB here. But realistically you have to think they’re at least looking at him as the starter this year, and they’re of course hoping for more. But if you look at the WR group, there’s not much beyond Terry McLaurin. Sure, Curtis Samuel was brought in to reunite with his old coach and make some plays, but that didn’t pan out in 2021. Dyami Brown showed flashes at times, but I could see the Commanders using one of their 6 picks on another WR. And if they don’t, then you’re likely looking at no fantasy-relevant rookies with this bunch in 2022.

NFC North

Chicago Bears: WR

I realize I’ve said “WR” a lot lately, but I think that’s just coincidence with how I ordered the teams/divisions. When I look at Chicago’s depth chart, that’s the one position I think they need to address with Allen Robinson now in LA with Matthew Stafford and company. It’s possible Darnell Mooney can be a #1 WR with Justin Fields, but I’m not sure that newly acquired Byron Pringle or Equanimeous St. Brown are actually #2 WR material. I think the Bears will likely draft a WR, and if by chance it’s one of the Ohio State guys, that could be interesting with the Justin Fields connection.

Detroit Lions: QB
I don’t think the Lions will select a quarterback with the #2 overall pick, but they might with the #32 or #34 pick. This isn’t the strongest QB class, and it’s very possible one of the “top” guys falls to that range. If it’s the QB the Lions like anyway, the Jared Goff era could be over.

Green Bay Packers: WR
If you say it every year, it has to eventually be right…right? I mean, they traded Davante Adams for crying out loud. They¬†have to use one of their first round picks at the WR position.¬† Right now their #1 WR is either Allen Lazard or Sammy Watkins. Whoever Green Bay drafts is going to have an opportunity to shine from Day 1 with still one of the best QBs in the league.

Minnesota Vikings: RB (dynasty)
While Dalvin Cook is¬†under contract¬†through the 2025 season, Alexander Mattison is in the final year of his rookie deal and will be an unrestricted free agent after this season. It’s time for the Vikings to grab a running back to learn for a year and potentially be a threat to Dalvin Cook in 2023 when he’ll be 28 years old.

NFC South

Atlanta Falcons: QB & WR
The Falcons are kind of a mess. They took Kyle Pitts with the #4 overall pick last year, and then they traded Matt Ryan to Indy for a third round pick. They brought in Mariota and now Anthony Firkser who are obviously familiar with head coach Arthur Smith, but these guys are not long term pieces for this franchise. They may not draft a QB with the #8 overall pick, but I’d look for Atlanta to select one with one of their two second round picks. And they should draft at LEAST one WR with one of their 9 picks (6 of which are in the top-114). With Calvin Ridley suspended indefinitely and Russell Gage now in Tampa, this WR room is wide open for a new #1.

Carolina Panthers: QB
I could literally put “QB” for every team in the NFC South to be honest, but it makes a lot of sense for the Panthers. They have the #6 overall pick and then no more selections until Round 4. They likely will have their pick of any quarterback they want in that 6 spot, and I think they’ll pull the trigger. Sam Darnold is in the¬†last year of his contract, and it’s pretty clear at this point he’d make a better ghostbuster than NFL quarterback. It’s time to switch professions, Sam.

New Orleans Saints: WR
With two first round picks, I could see the Saints selecting a QB as well. But with a seemingly disgruntled Michael Thomas returning from injury, I think the WR position could be interesting here for the Saints. You can’t guard Mike…especially if he’s not on the field. But seriously, the Saints could really use a legit #2 WR.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: RB (dynasty)
Tom Brady can’t play forever, right..? I’m resisting the urge to talk about a QB with every NFC South team, so I’ll mention that while Leonard Fournette was brought back on a 3 year contract, it’s very possible it turns into a two year deal. And with RoJo off to KC and not much production from Ke’Shawn Vaughn, I could see another RB drafted in Tampa this year. It’s something to keep an eye on as a dynasty stash.

NFC West

Arizona Cardinals: QB
Please don’t laugh. I realize Kyler Murray was the #1 overall pick just a few years ago. But the dude wants a new contract, and I don’t know what the Cardinals are going to do. This is admittedly kind of silly, but what if Arizona drafts a QB with the #23 or #55 overall pick…?

Los Angeles Rams: TE (dynasty)
I’m going tight end with both of the Super Bowl teams from last year. Like the Bengals, the Rams have an aging tight end in Higbee who is under contract for just two more seasons. If they draft a TE this year, I can’t imagine they’d have an instant impact. But he could be someone to keep an eye on in 2023.

San Francisco 49ers: WR

I was all set to go with “RB” here, and then Deebo Samuel decided to say he wants a trade. Well who am I to deny him such a request? This is obviously great news for Brandon Aiyuk supporters, but it would also be good news for a 3rd or 4th round pick if that happens to be a wide receiver in San Francisco this year.

Seattle Seahawks: QB
I’m not convinced Drew Lock is a bad thing for DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett in 2022. The guy will sling it. But he’s obviously not a long term solution. Seattle has the #9 overall pick in this draft, and that could certainly be used on the QB of the future for this franchise. But they also have the #40 and 41 picks, so I could more realistically see them waiting until then and double tap a QB with a player they probably like way more. It’s like picking at the end of Round 3 in a fantasy draft and making sure you get two players you really like!

That’s it. That’s all of the teams, ladies and gentlemen. Thanks for reading!

“Draft Day movie poster” by theglobalpanorama is marked with CC BY-SA 2.0. To view the terms, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/?ref=openverse

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