With the NFL Combine behind us and free agency in full swing, it is time to update the 2022 fantasy football rankings. Most rookies projected to go inside the first three rounds are ranked. Free agency moves are current through the time stamp below.
Last updated: March 25
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Current expected draft positions in parentheses per Grinding the Mocks for NFL draft prospects. All references to ages are for the 2022 seasons.
|23||Malik Willis||NFL Draft (11)|
|29||Kenny Pickett||NFL Draft (13)|
|32||Matt Corral||NFL Draft (25)|
|38||Sam Howell||NFL Draft (38)|
|39||Desmond Ridder||NFL Draft (30)|
|40||Cam Newton||Free Agent|
|41||Carson Strong||NFL Draft (89)|
The fifth-year quarterback joins a run-heavy offense under Kevin Stefanski, which could be drastically different from his last season in Houston, where he dropped back to pass on 70% of plays. The Browns dropped back less than the NFL average in all game scripts in 2021:
- Trailing by four or more points: 65% (-5%)
- Within three points: 57% (-3%)
- Leading by four or more points: 49% (-2%)
We could see that change with an upgrade over Baker Mayfield, but the current roster makeup is light on passing-game weapons, and the Browns lack the high-end draft capital to upgrade dramatically. However, Watson's 8.3 career yards per attempt tells us he can win with efficiency, and Stefanski's offense will provide him with opportunities to capitalize off play-action.
We have seen quarterbacks like Russell Wilson manage top-five fantasy finishes in conservative offenses (2014 and 2015) by fusing mobility and passing efficiency. Watson averaged 23.8, 22.0, 21.7 and 25.0 points per game over his first four seasons; Wilson was at 20.8 and 22.1 in 2014 and 2015. Even in a more conservative offense, it is hard to imagine Watson outside the top six quarterbacks on a point-per-game basis in 2022.
Russell Wilson climbs the ranks after a trade to the Broncos, where he will team up with Jerry Jeudy, Courtland Sutton, Tim Patrick and Albert Okwuegbunam. New head coach Nathaniel Hackett isn't likely to go up-tempo, but the former Packers assistant should improve Wilson's passing opportunities. Green Bay averaged 65 regulation plays per game versus 58 for the Seahawks.
Derek Carr posted four top-12 finishes in the first seven weeks of 2021, but injuries to Darren Waller and the loss of Henry Ruggs derailed the rest of the season. However, the arrival of Davante Adams and Josh McDaniels this offseason, paired with Carr's hot 2021 start, provides reasons for optimism.
Adams saw the second-most double or help coverage (26%) in the NFL, and Waller ranked 19th (21%). Renfrow faced the second-highest rate of bracket coverage (2.8%), which only trailed Adams (4.5%). Given Josh McDaniels' propensity to keep his slot receivers on the field over 90% of dropbacks, we can expect to see these three on the field simultaneously on most passing plays in 2022.
Defenses won't be able to allocate additional resources to all three players, meaning Carr should have a favorable matchup on most dropbacks. Additionally, in a conference that boasts Patrick Mahomes, Justin Herbert and Russell Wilson, the Raiders will need to score points early and often to compete.
Mitchell Trubisky lands at QB21 after signing with the Steelers. The former first-round pick has shown an ability to use his legs and now gets to play with the best receiving weapons of his career. Assuming Pittsburgh doesn't spend an early pick on a quarterback, Trubisky is an excellent late-round option that provides the type of upside profile we are looking for in fantasy land.
Malik Willis could land in a backup situation, but he is currently mocking inside the first round. His rushing capabilities provide more upside than the players ranked below him.
Marcus Mariota takes over as the Falcons starting quarterback, but the team's passing weaponry is limited. The veteran quarterback has the skill set to add value on the ground, but his career scramble rate (5.6%) doesn't suggest he is willing to capitalize on his legs. However, we could see more designed-rush attempts from Arthur Smith, where Mariota has a career-high of 9%.
Matt Ryan will be the Colts' fifth different starting quarterback in as many years after Indianapolis sent a third-round pick to the Falcons. The Colts are as run-heavy as teams get (44%), but they led by four or more points the fourth-most (40%) in 2021. That could regress some in 2022, but we still shouldn't expect much from Ryan, given the Colts' passing weapons. However, he ensures Michael Pittmam Jr. doesn't experience a severe drop-off in target quality.
Joe Burrow finished 2021 strong with five top-10 outings — including two No. 1 spots — in his last seven games. He is an ascending talent with elite weapons around him. The only question is whether the Bengals offense will resemble the balanced approach we saw most of the year or the pass-happy attack that took over the last two games. If it's the latter, Burrow could push into the top five.
Trey Lance accounted for 44% and 17% of the designed rushing attempts in his two starts for the 49ers and led the NFL in scramble rate (14%). He has room to grow as a passer, but his legs alone make him a viable top-10 option along the lines of Jalen Hurts. If he improves as a passer, the sky is the limit with top-notch playmakers in Deebo Samuel and George Kittle.
Justin Fields posted QB4, QB9, QB9 and QB12 finishes in his last four full games played and was underutilized on designed rushing attempts. His 13% scramble rate was the second-highest in the NFL, and with the right coordinator, he should finish inside the top 12 with headroom to push higher.
Mac Jones flashed spike-week potential over the second half of the season with four top-10 finishes and four sub-10 ranks. The 2021 Patriots were the fourth-most run-centric team, but they could start to loosen the reigns as Jones develops. He needs an upgrade at receiver, but New England may not want to allocate much more of their cap to offensive skill players after overspending on Kendrick Bourne, Nelson Agholor, Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith last offseason.
|2B||15||Breece Hall||NFL Draft (54)|
|3A||23||Kenneth Walker III||NFL Draft (56)|
|4A||35||Isaiah Spiller||NFL Draft (69)|
|4B||39||Melvin Gordon III||Free Agent|
|4B||41||Ronald Jones||Kansas City|
|4C||43||Zamir White||NFL Draft (99)|
|4C||44||Rachaad White||NFL Draft (110)|
|4C||45||James Cook||NFL Draft (106)|
|4C||46||Brian Robinson Jr.||NFL Draft (107)|
|4C||47||Tyler Allgeier||NFL Draft (145)|
|4C||48||Dameon Pierce||NFL Draft (117)|
|5D||61||Mark Ingram II||Saints|
|5D||63||Sony Michel||Free Agent|
|5D||65||Justin Jackson||Free Agent|
|6A||66||Pierre Strong Jr.||NFL Draft|
|6A||67||Kyren Williams||NFL Draft (164)|
|6A||68||Jerome Ford||NFL Draft|
|6A||69||Tyler Badie||NFL Draft|
|6A||70||Kevin Harris||NFL Draft|
|6A||71||Kennedy Brooks||NFL Draft|
|6A||72||Hassan Haskins||NFL Draft|
|6A||73||Tyler Goodson||NFL Draft|
|6A||74||Max Borghi||NFL Draft|
|6B||77||Duke Johnson Jr.||Bills|
|6C||85||David Johnson||Free Agent|
|6C||86||Jeff Wilson Jr.||49ers|
|6C||88||Jerick McKinnon||Free Agent|
OK, so I came out of the gate hot on Javonte Williams with a No. 2 overall rank. However, I still feel the same about a back that will only be 22 years old next season. However, Melvin Gordon could still return (unsigned at the moment). Therefore, I have tempered expectations for those that may be drafting now, moving him to No. 10.
As a rookie, Williams earned playing time in all situations, including passing downs. He handled 48% of the long-down-and-distance (LDD) snaps and 52% of the two-minute offense, and he was active as a receiver out of the backfield with a 19% targets per route run (TPRR) rate. As a rusher, he demonstrated elite ability across multiple key metrics.
Javonte Williams in 2021 | Among 41 RBs with 125-plus rushing attempts
|Missed Tackles Forced per Attempt||Yards After Contact||Explosive Run Rate (10-plus yard attempts)|
|0.31 (1st)||3.42 (5th)||12.3% (11th)|
If Gordon exits stage right, Williams catapults back to top-three in the ranks.
James Conner was an absolute beast in games where Chase Edmonds played less than 10% of snaps last season with finishes of RB1, RB17, RB12, RB2 and RB1. Edmonds signed with the Dolphins, propelling Conner into top-12 status.
The veteran back earned the fifth-highest PFF grade at running back (82.9) out of 68 backs with at least 200 snaps in 2021. In addition, he was exemplary in the passing game, delivering the third-highest receiving and second-highest pass-blocking grades for running backs.
We will likely see regression in his rushing touchdowns — which are 4 above expectation — but Conner has shown an ability to earn short-down-and-distance opportunities. That skill set, plus his ability to hold down passing snaps, keep him on the field in high-leverage situations.
Breece Hall is climbing up NFL mock drafts and is looking like an early day-2 selection. He is the No. 1 prospect in my rookie running back tiers. He has a chance to be an every-down back out of the gate, making him worth the risk over other backs in the same range.
Antonio Gibson was briefly a top-six option when we thought J.D. McKissic was going to Buffalo. In the four games where Gibson was able to play at least 50% of snaps with McKissic out, he posted RB6, RB36, RB4 and RB6 finishes. He got over 60% of the routes in three of those games, pushing into Alvin Kamara territory.
Unfortunately for Gibson, McKissic had a change of heart and is staying with the Commanders and will likely continue to steal away passing-down work. As a result, the third-year back falls out of top-six contention down to mid-range RB2 status.
Kenneth Walker III currently mocks as the second running back off the board shortly after Breece Hall. He is the No. 2 option in my rookie running back tiers. The Michigan State product bested the NCAA average in explosive run rate (10-plus yards) by 4% (18%) as a senior while accounting for 42% of the offensive yards.
Cordarrelle Patterson signed with the Falcons for two years, $10.5 million. With Calvin Ridley out (gambling) and Russell Gage in Tampa Bay, Patterson could be the No. 2 option behind Kyle Pitts in the passing game and pick up 150+ touches on the ground.
His 26% TPRR tied Calvin Ridley for the team lead in 2021, meaning a push for a 15% target share is within reach if he can increase route participation (39%). The veteran will be 32 this season, but he doesn't carry the usual wear and tear of a player his age.
Chase Edmonds moves up from low-end RB3 territory to the low-end RB2 range after signing with the Dolphins. The fifth-year veteran has never handled more than 25% of a teams' attempts, and Mike McDaniel could look to deploy a committee similar to his time under Kyle Shanahan. However, Edmonds is a near-lock on passing downs and brings the big-play ability that McDaniel's scheme covets. He finished last season with the fourth-highest explosive rush rate out of backs with at least 100 attempts.
Rashaad Penny — one of my favorite free-agent backs — returned to the Seahawks on a one-year, $5.8 million deal. Penny has delivered 16.8, 18.9, 26.7, 26.8, 6.4, 19.5, 32.5 and 25.0 PPR points in games with at least 12 touches, but Chris Carson could force a committee again in 2022.
The loss of Russell Wilson will impact the quality of touches in an offense already lacking steam in the volume department. Seattle ran 55.6 plays per game in 2021, which was seven below the NFL average. Put another way, the Seahawks played two fewer games than the average offense.
This backfield isn't the type of situation that typically produces multiple fantasy assets. However, there are rumors Carson is still a cut candidate — which would make Penny a value at current ADP (pick 99 on Underdog).
Elijah Mitchell doesn't carry significant draft capital as a sixth-round pick, but 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan remained dedicated to the rookie. He missed six games but regained the lead role each time he returned. Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson Jr. are free agents in 2022.
Mitchell gave way to other backs and Deebo Samuel on passing downs, although that role could expand in his second season. Even if it doesn't, the 49ers' offense is centered around running the ball in all game scripts, which insulates his value.
49ers' rushing rate vs. NFL average by game script in 2021
|Trailing by four or more points:||+1%|
|Within three points:||+5%|
|Leading by four or more points:||+4%|
Assuming San Francisco doesn't use draft capital or sign a significant name in free agency, Mitchell belongs among the top 12 backs.
Saquon Barkley had a terrible 2021 while battling back from injuries in a terrible Giants offense.
Saquon Barkley in 2021 | Among 41 RBs with 125-plus rushing attempts
|Missed Tackles Forced per Attempt||Yards After Contact||Explosive Run Rate (10-plus yard attempts)|
|0.12 (36th)||2.69 (28th)||4.6% (40th)|
However, he will be only 25 and the Giants are moving on from Joe Judge. Barkley has every-down pedigree on his resume and is still young enough to bounce back in a big way in 2022.
Leonard Fournette‘s rank is 100% tied to him and Tom Brady returning to the Buccaneers and Ronald Jones walking away as a free agent. The former first-round pick has demonstrated every-down ability in consecutive seasons with Tampa Bay.
After taking over the passing-down work in Week 11, he promptly rattled off RB16, RB1, RB5 and RB6 finishes before missing the rest of the regular season due to a hamstring injury.
Devin Singletary took over an every-down role in Week 14 for the Bills and posted RB14, RB7, RB10, RB5 and RB3 finishes to round out the season.
Singletary in 2021 | Among 41 RBs with 125-plus rushing attempts
|Missed Tackles Forced per Attempt||Yards After Contact||Explosive Run Rate (10-plus yard attempts)|
|0.24 (5th)||3.12 (13th)||10.6% (16th)|
The former third-round pick will be only 25 next season and belongs among the top 24 running backs in a top-10 offense in Buffalo.
|19||Amon-Ra St. Brown||Lions|
|20||Terry McLaurin||Football Team|
|23||Michael Pittman Jr.||Colts|
|26||Allen Robinson II||Rams|
|34||Garrett Wilson||NFL Draft (15)|
|35||Treylon Burks||NFL Draft (21)|
|42||Drake London||NFL Draft (19)|
|49||Chris Olave||NFL Draft (22)|
|52||Jameson Williams||NFL Draft (23)|
|55||Jarvis Landry||Free Agent|
|56||Odell Beckham Jr.||Free Agent|
|57||Curtis Samuel||Football Team|
|58||Will Fuller V||Free Agent|
|61||George Pickens||NFL Draft (44)|
|63||Antonio Brown||Free Agent|
|64||David Bell||NFL Draft (80)|
|66||Marvin Jones Jr.||Jaguars|
|68||D.J. Chark Jr.||Lions|
|70||Marquez Valdes-Scantling||Free Agent|
|72||Jahan Dotson||NFL Draft (37)|
|73||Skyy Moore||NFL Draft (51)|
|74||Justyn Ross||NFL Draft (79)|
|75||John Metchie||NFL Draft (80)|
|76||Christian Watson||NFL Draft (50)|
|77||Jalen Tolbert||NFL Draft (84)|
|80||Julio Jones||Free Agent|
|85||Laviska Shenault Jr.||Jaguars|
|86||Wan'Dale Robinson||NFL Draft (65)|
|94||Alec Pierce||NFL Draft (54)|
|95||Khalil Shakir||NFL Draft (123)|
|96||Cole Beasley||Free Agent|
CeeDee Lamb, the No. 17 pick in the 2020 NFL draft, already has two top-24 fantasy finishes and led Dallas in target share (18%), air yards (25%) and YPRR (1.94) in 2021. Only 10 other wide receivers have two top-24 finishes in their first two seasons since 2011.
Even if Lamb's targets per route don't climb dramatically, we can expect to see his route participation surge with Amari Cooper and Cedrick Wilson out of the picture. The average top-24 fantasy receiver is in a route on 86% of dropbacks, and 55% of them eclipse the 90% mark. Lamb's route participation has fallen well below those thresholds over his first two seasons at 72% and 76%.
If the third-year receiver also takes a step forward in TPRR, we could see an even more significant bump in expected targets for the 2022 season.
Range of outcomes for CeeDee Lamb's targets on 700 dropbacks
|Route Participation||22% TPRR||23% TPRR||24% TPRR||25% TPRR||26% TPRR|
Average regulation dropbacks under Mike McCarthy: 728
Lamb's floor is sturdier than last season, and his upside is top-six.
Amari Cooper climbs back inside the top-24 after the Browns trade for Deshaun Watson, but he is still a mid-range to low-end WR2 option. Cooper is a fantastic separator, creating a step or more of separation the eighth-most (66%) against single-man coverage. However, he has never been able to parlay that skill into a target share of over 21% in his career.
Some will point to the enormous target-share seasons DeAndre Hopkins had with Watson. However, Hopkins garnered those large shares before and after playing with Watson — an important distinction between him and Cooper. Additionally, the soon-to-be 28-year-old receiver will likely play some games without Watson in an offense that drops back to pass less than the NFL average in all game scripts.
Allen Robinson II should be Matthew Stafford's No. 2 option after the trade of Robert Woods to the Tennessee Titans. Cooper Kupp remains the alpha, but Robinson could push for a top-24 finish, playing with the best quarterback of his career. The 29-year-old battled injuries in 2021 but registered back-to-back top-10 seasons before that.
Jerry Jeudy and Courtland Sutton both move up seven spots due to a massive quarterback upgrade. After playing with Drew Lock and Teddy Bridgewater for two seasons, the duo now gets to play with Russell Wilson. We may not see monster target volume in an offense with multiple weapons, but expect efficiency to improve drastically.
Garrett Wilson projects as the top receiver off the board in mocks and grades out as the No. 1 option in my rookie wide receiver ranks. He finds his way into the 36 along with Treylon Burks. Drake London isn't far behind, just outside the top-40.
Christian Kirk figures to lead the Jaguars' passing attack, but we haven't seen him dominate targets despite opportunities in his career. His big-play ability is something Trevor Lawrence didn't have last season after losing D.J. Chark early. The former second-round pick should see plenty of work from the slot, with Laviska Shenault rumored to be on the trade block. Kirk posted a 1.75 yards per route run (YPRR) over the last two seasons from the slot.
Hunter Renfrow moved inside the top-24 after the arrival of Josh McDaniels, but the addition of Davante Adams drops him to low-end WR3 territory. The former New England coach has consistently found a way to keep his slot receivers on the field in heavier personnel packages. Wes Welker, Julian Edelman and Jakobi Meyers enjoyed 90%-plus route participation under McDaniels. As a result, Renfrow will play more than ever in 2022, but the upside for 150 targets is no longer realistic with the addition of Adams.
Robert Woods is an excellent fit for the Titans' offense in real-life football, but targets will be hard to come by in a run-first attack behind A.J. Brown in the pecking order.
Rondale Moore didn't run many routes downfield last season as he played in a niche role for Kliff Kingsbury. However, the former second-round pick should get an opportunity to stay on the field in 2022 with Christian Kirk leaving for the Jaguars. Moore figures to battle Zach Ertz for the No. 2 spot in the target pecking order behind DeAndre Hopkins.
Michael Gallup is recovering from a late-season ACL injury, or he would move higher. He signed a significant deal with the Cowboys and could see a more extensive workload with Amari Cooper dealt to the Browns. Last year, the fourth-year receiver was Dak Prescott's favorite option against single-man coverage with a 32% TPRR and 2.04 YPRR.
JuJu Smith-Schuster will serve as the No. 3 option behind Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce after signing a one-year, prove-it deal. The sixth-year receiver appeared to be coming on strong in his second season, securing a 23% target share, but never returned to that form. Missed games due to injuries were part of the equation, but his TPRR data (18%, 19% and 17%) also suggest he is a complementary option at this stage.
Of course, fantasy managers can do worse than the No. 3 option on a pass-heavy team with elite quarterback play, but be sure not to overestimate Smith-Schuster's ability based on 2018.
Russell Gage‘s 35% TPRR and 2.91 YPRR against man coverage in 2021 were elite — especially considering he didn't work exclusively from the slot (49%). Now he looks to replace Antonio Brown — Tom Brady's favorite target against man coverage last season. He should be able to provide spike-week production in the pass-friendly offense, and if Chris Godwin is slow to heal from his ACL injury, Gage could start fast in 2022.
Justin Jefferson posted a 30% target share in his second season at 22 years old. Only eight receivers did that between 2011 and 2020, and DeAndre Hopkins was the youngest at 23. He edges out Cooper Kupp — who is heading into his age-29 season — for the top spot in the ranks and should remain a perennial top-five option for years to come.
Ja'Marr Chase finished fourth in receiving yards (1,455) and third in touchdowns (13) in his rookie season. He is one of those rare difference-makers who can win with separation, at the catch point and after the reception.
From 2011 to 2020, only four rookies age 22 or younger eclipsed the 20% target-share threshold: Justin Jefferson (23%), Mike Evans (22%), Odell Beckham Jr. (21%) and Sammy Watkins (21%). Chase registered a 23% target share as a 21-year-old rookie.
Paired with an ascending young quarterback in Joe Burrow, Chase could finish as the No. 1 receiver overall in 2022 if the Bengals choose to center their offense around their passing attack as they did in Week 17 and Week 18.
D.K. Metcalf didn't turn into the elite receiver many hoped for, but he still salvaged a top-15 season in a poor-volume offense. He will be only 24 next year and now has WR30, WR8 and WR15 seasons on his resume. He remains a talent to bet on despite the loss of Russell Wilson.
Elijah Moore started the season slowly but posted WR36, WR26, WR1, WR27, WR3, WR40 and WR8 finishes after the bye week. His 24% TPRR tied Jaylen Waddle for the highest among rookies for receivers participating in at least 40% of routes, and he led the Jets with an eye-popping 32% TPRR against man coverage — an alpha receiver trait. With any progress from Zach Wilson and the Jets' offense, he could hit in a big way in 2022.
|9||Rob Gronkowski||Free Agent|
|16||Irv Smith Jr.||Vikings|
|17||Logan Thomas||Football Team|
|31||Trey McBride||NFL Draft (60)|
David Njoku climbs into the mid-range TE2 range after the release of Austin Hooper. The Browns could still deploy a two-person committee with Harrison Bryant, but Njoku could be the No. 2 option behind Amari Cooper in Cleveland's low-volume pass attack.
Gerald Everett could be the No. 4 option in a passing attack led by Justin Herbert, making him worth a dart throw.
Austin Hooper could lead the Titans' tight end group in routes, but the run-heavy offense has fancied a rotation at the position over the last two seasons. Anthony Firkser remains a free agent, but Geoff Swaim already re-joined the team.
Mark Andrews has always demanded targets when on the field, but he ran a route on just 45%, 58% and 71% of pass plays in his first three seasons. In 2021, that number surged to 84% (elite), and his No. 1 fantasy finish followed.
The Ravens' dropback rate climbed from 50% in 2020 to 63% in 2021. However, the team battled multiple running back injuries, and the defensive secondary was also compromised. We can probably expect a figure between that of 2020 and 2021 next season, and the offensive efficiency could improve.
Next season, Travis Kelce and Rob Gronkowski will be 33, Darren Waller will be 30 and George Kittle will be 29. However, Andrews will be only 26, pushing him to the top of the ranks.