What follows is the first edition of my 2022 fantasy football rankings. Disclaimers: full point-per-reception (PPR) scoring, one-quarterback leagues and no rookies were considered just yet. Make sure to check out the PFF Draft Guide for analysis on the upcoming class of first-year talents.
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Note that The PFF Fantasy Football Podcast will include quarterback, running back, wide receiver and tight end specific episodes from March 28-April 1 if you’re looking for additional explanation on the following ranks.
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|Free Agent||Cam Newton||36|
The big-five quarterbacks each boast proven upside as passers and rushers alike, but obviously to differing extents. Either way, dual-threat quarterbacks have always been a cheat code in fantasy football land, particularly when they also carry high-end ability when throwing the ball.
Tom Brady, Joe Burrow, Dak Prescott and Russell Wilson make up the next tier. The latter two signal-callers haven't run as much in recent years, and history tells us that we shouldn't expect this to reverse course.
Jalen Hurts is in a tier of his own thanks to his absurd rushing volume; it’s not out of the question that he could take a leap forward as a passer and find his way into the big-five group.
Matthew Stafford gets the nod over Aaron Rodgers thanks to his superior weaponry at the moment; either way, both quarterbacks are better in real life than fantasy due to their lackluster rushing floors.
Deshaun Watson would rank fourth on this list if there was no chance of suspension.
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Trey Lance would be a candidate to jump into the top-12 with confirmation that Jimmy Garoppolo is indeed out of the picture. The 2021 NFL Draft's No. 3 overall pick gets the nod over Justin Fields thanks to his enhanced usage in the designed run game.
Derek Carr, Kirk Cousins and Ryan Tannehill form the next tier. The former two quarterbacks are proven above-average passers who each boast weapons all over the place in familiar offenses. The artist known as TanneThrill hasn’t finished worse than 15th in fantasy points per game since taking over as the Titans’ full-time starter in 2019.
Daniel Jones is my preferred late-round dart throw at the position. He has flashed true QB1 upside over the years, most-recently ripping off QB12, QB4, QB24 and QB7 finishes in 2021 before being concussed. Inexplicably one of the position’s best rushers, Jones enters an offense with an ample number of play-makers and the best coaching staff of his short career. Here’s to hoping PFF’s 30th ranked offensive line from 2021 takes a step forward.
|Free Agent||Melvin Gordon III||42|
|Free Agent||Sony Michel||55|
|Bills||Duke Johnson Jr.||56|
|Free Agent||Jerick McKinnon||58|
|Saints||Mark Ingram II||59|
|Free Agent||David Johnson||60|
|49ers||Jeff Wilson Jr.||66|
|Free Agent||Darrel Williams||68|
|Free Agent||Justin Jackson||69|
Jonathan Taylor has a good case as the best real life running back in the NFL. More targets would be nice, but nobody has a better floor/ceiling combo — particularly with Matt Ryan in town to stabilize the offense.
Yes, Christian McCaffrey has been hurt for most of the last two seasons. Also yes, I'm not going to fade the all-time leader in fantasy points per game because of a sprained ankle and pulled hamstring. CMC, like Austin Ekeler, boasts an absurdly fantasy-friendly workload thanks to the enhanced pass-game role.
Derrick Henry is just about the only running back in the league with an employer willing to feed him the rock 30-plus times on a near-weekly basis. After him, Leonard Fournette, Najee Harris, James Conner, Saquon Barkley and Dalvin Cook represent the final running backs who are seemingly locked into a true three-down role. Still, moving on from the position in favor of high-end WR1 types after Conner is encouraged. Also keep an eye on the latter back’s ongoing legal issues; I love Alexander Mattison thanks to the possibility of a larger role than normal inside of a new offense as well as his ongoing potential to work as a weekly RB1 if Cook is forced to miss any time.
Alvin Kamara and D'Andre Swift have as much pass-game usage as any non-CMC back in the league. It'd sure be a lot cooler if Joe Mixon and Nick Chubb were featured in their respective passing games to an even somewhat similar extent, but beggars can’t be choosers. Aaron Jones belongs in this same group from a talent perspective and has some borderline erotic splits without Davante Adams, but A.J. Dillon is more of a 1.B option in Green Bay as opposed to a clear-cut No. 2 backup.
Javonte Williams would rise up to my overall RB7 should the Broncos decline to bring back Melvin Gordon. Cam Akers should feasibly be more efficient after having an entire healthy offseason to get his body right; just realize Darrell Henderson stole plenty of pass-down work away in the Super Bowl, and it’d make sense if Sean McVay utilizes more of a committee in the future in hopes of keeping his starting tailback healthy for a change.
The RB18-28 group consists of lead backs who will unfortunately (for fantasy purposes) probably be forced to split things up between multiple parties. The likes of David Montgomery, Devin Singletary and Michael Carter look to have the best chance to completely take over their backfields based on how each depth chart stands today.
Rashaad Penny is a wild card considering how dominant he was down the stretch in 2022. He's worthy of a mid-round dart should his ADP remain reasonable; just realize the return of Chris Carson (neck) would likely lead to a fairly evenly split backfield
Khalil Herbert is one of my favorite late-round additions at the position. He joins Alexander Mattison as a prime three-down handcuff with the potential for legit FLEX standalone value should their new offensive system decide to lean less on one single back. D'Onta Foreman is another respectable handcuff who is simply far cheaper than most of his peers projected to have a similar role.
Jamaal Williams is a weekly candidate to rack up double-digit touches and could flirt with heightened scoring frequency should the Lions offense take even a minor step forward. He’s a prime late-late round pick for rosters lacking much of a floor at the position.
|Colts||Michael Pittman Jr.||15|
|Lions||Amon-Ra St. Brown||22|
|Rams||Allen Robinson II||31|
|Lions||D.J. Chark Jr.||51|
|Free Agent||Jarvis Landry||54|
|Free Agent||Will Fuller V||57|
|Free Agent||Odell Beckham Jr.||58|
|Jaguars||Marvin Jones Jr.||61|
|Free Agent||Julio Jones||62|
|Jaguars||Laviska Shenault Jr.||64|
|Free Agent||Antonio Brown||74|
|Free Agent||Cole Beasley||79|
Cooper Kupp just scored more fantasy points in a single season than any other wide receiver in the history of the NFL. So, yeah, he's the overall WR1 returning to the same offense with arguably even less target competition than last year.
Justin Jefferson and Ja'Marr Chase could be flip-flopped and it'd be tough to argue; it's scary to think that these young talents could possibly still be getting better. They should be first-round priorities in dynasty leagues of all shapes and sizes.
Both Davante Adams and Tyreek Hill would have been ranked ahead of Stefon Diggs before their respective league-altering trades, but now it makes sense to just take the guy catching passes from Josh Allen. Each has the potential to clear 150 targets with ease in above-average offenses; don’t be scared off simply because of a change of scenery.
A.J. Brown, Deebo Samuel and CeeDee Lamb join Chase and Jefferson as fellow young, yet proven, studs capable of still putting forward their best season. The former receiver would be right there in the top-five with a similar target projection, but life inside of the league’s most run-heavy offense makes it tough to expect too much WR1 goodness. Still, Brown gets the nod over Samuel due to the latter player’s 1.) sneaky volatile workload which featured just 5.3 targets per game upon Brandon Aiyuk fully getting out of Kyle Shanahan’s doghouse and 2.) likely new quarterback under center. Lamb hasn’t quite achieved the same level of success as these peers; just realize he’s firmly in line for a Year 3 breakout thanks to his aforementioned proven high-end ability and the Cowboys’ plethora of available targets.
It's fair to wonder exactly how many elite years the likes of Keenan Allen, DeAndre Hopkins and Mike Evans have left. But for 2022? Sign me up for proven alpha No. 1 receivers attached to some of the league's very best quarterbacks.
Last season, Tee Higgins actually averaged more expected fantasy points per game than teammate Ja'Marr Chase. The difference was that Chase averaged more fantasy points above expectation than anyone other than Deebo Samuel. Either way: Higgins is more of a 1.B as opposed to No. 2 inside of a Bengals passing attack which only seems to be getting better under the direction of Joe Burrow.
Terry McLaurin, Michael Pittman, D.K. Metcalf and D.J. Moore have each flashed to various extents during their short careers (especially Metcalf). Each looks like their respective offense's projected target leader; the former two receivers receive the boost thanks to their objectively superior situations under center.
Having Tyreek Hill in town will certainly help open up the underneath and intermediate areas of the field for Jaylen Waddle, but enhanced efficiency seldom makes up for losing a good amount of volume. Overall, Waddle's 138 targets were the 10th-highest mark among all wide receivers last season; don’t assume Tua Tagovailoa is already capable of enabling multiple top-12 fantasy receivers.
Diontae Johnson isn't necessarily guaranteed to work as Mitch Trubisky's No. 1 pass-game option; 2022 looks like the first season of Johnson's career that he's priced closer to his ceiling than floor. The latter point doesn't hold true for Chris Godwin or Michael Thomas, who are each discounted at the moment due to their respective recoveries from injury. When healthy, both represent borderline PPR cheat codes thanks to their potential to rack up double-digit targets on a weekly basis.
Amon-Ra St. Brown was one of the bigger winners from free agency after the Lions decided to bring back Kalif Raymond and Josh Reynolds while only signing D.J. Chark. Yes, Brown's obscene stretch run was fueled by injuries to T.J. Hockenson and D'Andre Swift. Also yes, he continues to profile as the No. 1 pass-game option for ever-conservative Jared Goff. Historically rookie wide receivers that ball out in a similar manner as St. Brown don’t turn back into a pumpkin at midnight.
Amari Cooper would have a case inside the position's top-15 with more clarity surrounding Deshaun Watson‘s looming suspension. Regardless of who is under center, Cooper still profiles as Kevin Stefanski's No. 1 receiver — a role that produced an awful lot of fantasy goodness from Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs when the ex-Vikings offensive coordinator was more willing to open up the passing game.
The biggest criticism of Mike Williams seems to be that he was one of the position's more volatile receivers; he seemingly went off when fantasy managers had him on the bench, and duded once started. Ultimately, last season’s WR17 in PPR points per game remains locked in as Justin Herbert’s No. 2 receiver and possesses the sort of boom ability to swing any given fantasy matchup.
Marquise Brown, Elijah Moore, Brandin Cooks and Darnell Mooney are each project to work as their passing game's top option, although none are exactly attached to can’t-miss offenses. Don’t confuse this latter point as Lamar Jackson slander; the Ravens offer just a bit more target competition in a likely more run-heavy offense. Each of these receivers possess true WR1 upside should their respective signal-callers put together big-time 2022 campaigns; they’re excellent values priced as WR3 types which is far closer to their floor than ceiling.
Jerry Jeudy and Courtland Sutton profile as Russell Wilson’s top-two pass-game options, roles that certainly led to plenty of success for D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett in recent history. The uncertainty surrounding Wilson’s preferred pecking order is the only reason why none of the Broncos’ talented receivers are priced higher from an ADP perspective: Denver is easily my favorite stack to target in best-ball land at the moment thanks to this affordable upside.
Allen Robinson finally has an objectively good quarterback for the first time college and NFL career. There wasn't much good from A-Rob in 2021, but as we saw with OBJ in this very same offense last season: A return to something close to the veteran's previous greatness shouldn't be ignored.
Adam Thielen has scored 24 touchdowns in his last 28 games. Age and injury issues have him priced cheaper than just about ever before. Thielen would be ranked far higher in a Week 1-specific study; there remains plenty of upside to go around inside this Kirk Cousins-led passing attack. Throw Gabriel Davis and JuJu Smith-Schuster in the same group: affordable fantasy receivers inside of objectively great offenses who have a chance to post a season in their upper range of outcomes if their projected No. 2 pass-game role comes to fruition.
DeVonta Smith didn't do much wrong as a rookie; unfortunately, the Eagles figure to again be one of the league's most run-heavy offenses with Jalen Hurts under center. Tyler Lockett unfortunately has similar quarterback and volume concerns despite his proven status as an objectively dope receiver.
Hunter Renfrow and Michael Gallup are potential No. 2 pass-game options in offenses that figure to vie for top-10 scoring status in 2022; it just remains to be seen exactly how much volume their offense's respective No. 1 receivers will leave for everyone else.
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Chase Claypool is one of my favorite buys in dynasty at the moment. It shouldn't be assumed that Diontae Johnson will post the same sort of dominant target share without Ben Roethlisberger under center. Don't hold one short-sighted decision to celebrate a first down against a 23-year-old talent who has already proven capable of scoring double-digit touchdowns in a single season.
Russell Gage could feasibly work as Tom Brady‘s No. 2 receiver for a chunk of 2022 if Chris Godwin‘s recovery doesn't go smoothly. Or Gage will slide in as the No. 3 option inside of the league's most pass-happy offense. Another example of a player being priced closer to their floor than ceiling, Gage is the exception to the rule that typically the grass isn't greener for free agents that change teams.
More late-round receivers I particularly like: Kadarius Toney was truly special with the ball in his hands as a rookie and might be fantasy's cheapest wide receiver that (arguably) projects as their offense's No. 1 pass-game option. … Rondale Moore is safe in the slot with the Cardinals choosing to not match Christian Kirk‘s gargantuan contract. It's tough to find another offense with more available opportunities than this Kyler Murray-led group. … Curtis Samuel was PAID last offseason, but unfortunately was never healthy enough to make any sort of impact on the field. Fast forward to 2022, and the 25-year-old receiver with the ability to moonlight as a running back *should* work as one of the Commanders’ top-three options on offense. … Tim Patrick was received a gaudy contract extension just like Courtland Sutton last offseason, yet is a fraction of the cost because the world simply refuses to recognize Patrick as the borderline great receiver he's functioned as over the past two seasons. … Look, all I'm saying is that Will Fuller was born to catch 60-yard missiles from Patrick Mahomes. This longtime Fuller stan would settle for Aaron Rodgers, too. … Parris Campbell joins Samuel as former Ohio State receivers with the potential to play some snaps at running back projected to work as their offense's No. 2 wide receiver if healthy enough to suit up. … The price discrepancy between Robby Anderson and Marvin Jones compared to their team's respective No. 1 targets in D.J. Moore and Christian Kirk is probably far too wide. … It's tough to run an efficiency study from the 2021 season without seeing Deonte Harty‘s name pop up near the top of the leaderboard. Jameis Winston‘s No. 2 wide receiver if the season started tomorrow, Harty (formerly Harris) is worthy of a late-round dart in best-ball land.
|Free Agent||Rob Gronkowski||6|
|Vikings||Irv Smith Jr.||14|
I've been a proponent of chasing an early-round tight end in past years, but suddenly each of the position's unanimous big-five options seems to have at least one red flag:
- Travis Kelce will have to adjust to life without Tyreek Hill opening up the field; the potential for extra targets is nice, but it's not like volume has ever been an issue for the future hall of famer.
- Mark Andrews was exceptional in 2021 largely regardless of the quarterback, although the second half surge with Lamar Jackson sidelined was notable. There’s certainly an (understandable) chance that last season winds up as his most featured campaign if his offense’s younger wide receivers wind up taking leaps forward.
- Kyle Pitts has to adjust to life without Matt Ryan. Yes, Marcus Mariota was very good in his *checks notes* one extended appearance with the Raiders over the past two seasons. Also yes, 2021 demonstrated that Pitts isn’t exactly ready to take over games in an offense without any other big-time playmakers at receiver to speak of.
- Darren Waller suddenly doesn't have the chance to lead his own team, let alone the position, in targets with Davante Adams in town. Hopefully improved health leads to a boost in efficiency, but the face-melting ceiling he possessed over the past two seasons is a thing of the past.
- There's an argument to be made that George Kittle will finish behind both Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk in targets inside of a Trey Lance-led offense that figures to embrace the run more than ever before. My pick for the game’s best real life tight end, Kittle can’t do much if his offense doesn’t throw him the ball (shocking, I know).
Rob Gronkowski‘s ranking obviously assumes that he'll be back in Tampa Bay catching passes from Tom Brady. The arguable GOAT tight end was a true top-five option at the position whenever healthy enough to suit up last season; take advantage of the momentary “uncertainty” surrounding his 2021 status and scoop him up in best-ball drafts of all shapes and sizes.
Dalton Schultz might not look like a top-tier fantasy tight end, but that's largely all he's done over the better part of the last two seasons. Now franchise tagged and set to potentially work as Dak Prescott‘s No. 2 pass-game option depending on Michael Gallup‘s recovery, and Schultz is deserving of priority in fantasy land thanks to his high target floor and double-digit touchdown upside.
T.J. Hockenson joins George Kittle as great real life players whose blocking ability almost works against them when it comes to fantasy projections. There's a true top-five ceiling here, although ultimately I'm comfortable prioritizing guys like Gronk and Schultz — arguably lesser talents with similar workloads, but in far better offenses — ahead of the former No. 8 overall pick.
Dallas Goedert would be higher on the list if not for volume concerns inside of the Eagles' extremely run-heavy offense. His status as a locked in top-two option gives him the nod over former teammate Zach Ertz, although the recently #paid veteran shouldn't be brushed aside after returning overall TE4 production upon being traded to Arizona last season.
The offseason has gone absolutely swimmingly for Albert O, who was great at both earning targets and making good use out of them in a limited sample last season. His potential to be *the* undisputed No. 1 tight end is enough to receive a slight boost ahead of Dawson Knox and Pat Freiermuth, who could quietly be in something closer to a two-TE committee with O.J. Howard and Zach Gentry, respectively.
Irv Smith is my favorite late-round tight end option. The former second-round pick flashed while forced to split reps alongside Kyle Rudolph during the first two seasons of his career before missing all of 2021 due to injury. With Tyler Conklin now a member of the Jets, Irv (still just 23) profiles as the potential No. 3 pass-game option inside of the Vikings' high-floor offense.
Mike Gesicki received the franchise tag and has proven capable of putting up extended TE1 production; just realize he was used as a big slot receiver in 2021, a role which 1.) might not exist in new head coach Mike McDaniel's offense, and 2.) could be reduced depending on who are the odd men out at wide receiver between Tyreek Hill, Jaylen Waddle, Cedrick Wilson and DeVante Parker.
It's almost scary how doable the late-round tight end scene looks this year. Yes, we tend to say this every offseason, but truly: Each of Logan Thomas, Tyler Higbee and Evan Engram project to play near full-time roles, David Njoku and Robert Tonyan have flashed during their short careers and are suddenly rising up the pecking order offenses led by great quarterbacks; Mo Alie-Cox, Noah Fant, Gerald Everett and Hunter Henry are each receiving-first tight ends with the potential to work inside their passing game's top-three or four options; hell, even guys like Cole Kmet, Austin Hooper, Hayden Hurst, Brevin Jordan and Ricky Seals-Jones tentatively look like starters in offenses with either targets or touchdown upside to give. Just remember: If an offense has multiple real life tight ends heavily involved in the passing game, there’s a good chance neither player will have enough volume to truly compete with the top-12 fantasy options at the position.