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NFL Free Agency Fantasy Football Primer: Wide Receivers

Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA; Green Bay Packers wide receiver Davante Adams (17) during a NFC Divisional playoff football game against the San Francisco 49ers at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL playoffs are in full swing, but many fantasy footballers are already looking ahead to the 2022 season. Nothing marks the start of a brand new year better than NFL free agency, which is sure to involve plenty of player movement, especially at the wide receiver position.

The Indianapolis Colts, Atlanta Falcons, New York Jets, New England Patriots, Jacksonville Jaguars, New Orleans Saints and Cleveland Browns are among the teams that will be in the market to acquire a wideout through free agency or trade.


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I’ll break down the most notable impending wide receiver free agents — in addition to some potential trade/cut candidates to widen the scope — through a fantasy football lens with an eye toward the 2022 season. This primer should also help you make optimal trades in dynasty leagues

DAVANTE ADAMS

One of fantasy football’s greatest wide receivers over the last four seasons could be viewed very differently by the start of the 2022 season. A healthy Davante Adams has finished no worse than WR5 attached to Aaron Rodgers since 2018, and he ended 2021 second in fantasy points per game at age 29. Still, he would undoubtedly take a fantasy hit without his QB1 in 2022.

Adams was the WR12 in fantasy points per game in 2017 with Brett Hundley for half the season. The Packers No. 1 wide receiver also saw 14 targets for a less-than-stellar 10.2 fantasy points in Jordan Love’s lone start back in Week 9. 

The latest rhetoric out of Rodgers’ camp is that he will make his decision whether to return to Green Bay or retire before the franchise tag deadline, so Adams will know who his quarterback will be if he stays in Green Bay. The best-case scenario is both guys return for one more season and continue to produce at a high level. 

The duo teaming up elsewhere is also a strong possibility, especially with ex-Packers offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett heading to the Denver Broncos as their next head coach. That could be the first of several transactions Denver executes to make Rogers its quarterback in 2022. The Broncos have the sixth-most available salary cap space to pay both Adams and Rodgers for at least one season. 

The Packers could be in real trouble if they are unable to retain Adams with secondary wide receivers Marquez Valdes-Scantling (UFA) and Allen Lazard (RFA) also potential free agent casualties.

In dynasty leagues, it's probably worth sending out feelers for 2021 third-round pick Amari Rodgers, who seems slated for an expanded role in Year 2. 

CHRIS GODWIN

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Chris Godwin couldn’t agree on a multi-year contract prior to the 2021 season, so the team placed the franchise tag on their souped-up slot receiver. 

Through the first 14 weeks of the season, the Buccaneers and fantasy drafters could not have been more pleased with Godwin’s production. He ranked second in receptions (92, career-high) and eighth in fantasy points per game (18.1) while leading Tampa Bay with a 21% target share. 

The Bucs’ eventual exit from the playoffs at the hands of the Los Angeles Rams could have been different had Godwin been available, but he unfortunately tore his ACL in Week 15. 

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Godwin is expected to be in recovery mode by the time free agent hits in March, but his last three years of production from the slot — fourth in receptions — will still draw plenty of suitors looking for a wideout that can play inside and out. 

Godwin’s potential departure also opens up the Buccaneers offense to go solely through Mike Evans. Evans crested an elite 27% target share without Godwin or Antonio Brown at the end of the 2021 season. 

Potentially losing Tom Brady to retirement is a massive hit for Evans, but his career accolades — eight consecutive seasons with 1,000-plus receiving yards — suggest he will be fine as the focal point of the offense. 

MIKE WILLIAMS

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