Fantasy News & Analysis

Fantasy Football: Unluckiest players of the 2022 season

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Diontae Johnson (18) runs off the field at half-time against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

  • The End Zone Gods are pissed: Pittsburgh Steelers WR Diontae Johnson headlines the all-sheesh team with an NFL-record 147 targets without a touchdown.
  • C’mon man: Washington Commanders RB Brian Robinson “won” sheesh of the year after his goal-line plunge was taken off the board because Terry McLaurin didn’t line up right, even though he appeared to check his alignment with the ref directly before the play.
  • So close, yet so far away: Steelers RB Najee Harris was downed at the one-yard line and failed to score a touchdown on an NFL-high seven occasions this season.
Estimated reading time: 8 minutes

Today’s goal will be to summarize the 2022-23 NFL regular season's most memorable “sheesh” moments. Throughout the year, I charted these sorts of near-miss plays in my weekly fantasy fallout column by watching every game and making good use of PFF’s backend tools. Categories included: 

  • Touchdowns that were taken off the board due to penalty.
  • Ball carriers who managed to get all the way to the one-yard line, but didn’t score.
  • Pass-catchers who received an accurate pass that should have resulted in a score or big gain, but the ball was dropped.
  • Pass-catchers who could have scored or picked up big yardage with a more accurate pass.
  • Other random shit happened that tilted fantasy football managers of all shapes and sizes.

Some categories are certainly more subjective than others, but sometimes all you can do is just say, “Sheesh.”

We’ll kick things off with the official 2022-23 all-sheesh team:

2022-23 All-Sheesh Team

Top-5 sheesh moments of the season

  1. Hunter caught it

New England Patriots TE Hunter Henry had a short touchdown taken off the board due to his inability to maintain control of the football while going to the ground. And yet, further replay sure seemed to show that the football never even hit the ground – Henry’s left hand was under the ball the entire time. Yes, Henry lost control of the ball briefly, but the ball sure never looked like it hit the ground, so why was he not awarded possession and a score? Sheesh.

  1. Running backs prioritizing their real-life team’s winning ambitions over their faithful fantasy football managers

I joke, but seriously: Saquon Barkley (shame he had to waste such a cool spin move), Antonio Gibson (hilariously and accidentally didn’t get the first down) and Devin Singletary (warranted but sheesh) all chose to fall down just short of the goal line to kill time instead of scoring. This was a good real-life strategy – look at what happened to the Cleveland Browns against the New York Jets when Nick Chubb scored with under two minutes left – but that doesn’t make the sequences any easier for the fantasy faithful to deal with.

  1. Monster opening touchdowns flat-out dropped

There were plenty of dropped touchdowns this season, but two hit especially hard considering they were of the chunk variety and also came during the opening plays of the game.

First, Green Bay Packers WR Christian Watson received an absolute pearl from Aaron Rodgers on the team’s very first offensive play of the season, only to commit one of the worst drops of the season. He could've scored a 75-yard touchdown on his first career reception; instead, the rookie would total just 88 scoreless receiving yards over the first nine weeks of the season before emerging as one of the year's premiere comeback players.

Second, Tampa Bay Buccaneers WR Mike Evans nearly broke his scoreless streak in style with a 66-yard house call after his primary coverage defender fell down. Alas, Evans let the perfect deep ball bounce directly off his hands up into the air and off his fingertips once more before falling to the ground. Evans’ frustration was echoed by fantasy faithful around the world, but at least he made up for it in style by taking home PFF’s “Best Fantasy Championship Performance” award.

  1. Stop blowing the play dead

Yes, Justin Jefferson’s 11-223-0 Week 14 performance was more than impressive enough on its own. Also yes, he almost added an additional 32 yards and a touchdown to that total when he managed to fend off three defenders down the sideline on what should have been a 71-yard touchdown.

Why are we sheeshing? Because the refs blew the play dead early, leading to Jefferson’s electric catch-and-run score only counting for a 39-yard gain.

The Minnesota Vikings scored fairly quickly afterward, although they would have theoretically had an extra 51 seconds on the game’s final drive had the officials simply let the play continue. Sheesh.

  1. The Washington screw job

Washington Commanders RB Brian Robinson appeared to get the team just a two-point conversion away from tying the New York Giants on Sunday night in Week 15 after punching the ball into the end zone from the one-yard line. Plot twist: The officials threw a flag for an illegal formation, saying Terry McLaurin wasn’t on the line of scrimmage. The problem with accepting this penalty was fair is that McLaurin quite literally asked the ref if he was good on the line of scrimmage, and the official seemed to indicate that he was, leading to “Scary Terry” giving a thumbs up. McLaurin himself clarified after the game that this was what happened. Sheesh.

Touchdowns called back by penalty

There were a whopping 42 touchdowns nullified by penalty last season. And yet, only Cordarrelle Patterson (three) and Brandin Cooks (two) were victims of getting multiple scores taken off the board. C-Patt’s final nullified score was particularly “sheeshful” considering the subjective coolness of the touchdown.

Down at the one-yard line leaderboard

The following leaderboard denotes players with the most instances of being stopped at the one-yard line on drives that did NOT end with them scoring a touchdown. The totals do include occurrences of a player getting stopped just short of the goal line multiple times on the same drive:

Player Total
Najee Harris 7
Dalvin Cook 6
Jamaal Williams 4
A.J. Dillon 4
Travis Etienne 4
Tony Pollard 4
Kenneth Gainwell 4
Leonard Fournette 4
Breece Hall 4
Tyler Boyd 3
Josh Allen 3
D'Andre Swift 3
Justin Jefferson 3
Amon-Ra St. Brown 3
Christian McCaffrey 3
Melvin Gordon 3
Lamar Jackson 3
Rhamondre Stevenson 3
Brian Robinson 3
Antonio Gibson 3
Travis Kelce 3
Justin Fields 3
Joe Mixon 3

Dropped touchdowns

Yards after the catch possibility and the subjective nature of drops make it tough to fully track just how many touchdowns were truly dropped in 2022. Still, PFF backend tools are able to identify every drop that occurred inside the five-yard line and into the end zone. Only six players registered multiple such drops:

The drop the personally felt the most “sheeshful” goes to breakout San Francisco 49ers WR Brandon Aiyuk, who put far more good than bad on tape in 2022. That said, the third-year talent committed one of the more egregious drops of the season considering just how nasty of a route he put on Los Angeles Chargers CB Asante Samuel Jr. before breaking wide open.

Good opportunity, but no dice

Eight players racked up at least 600 unrealized air yards in 2022, meaning they had all sorts of downfield opportunities that ultimately didn’t result in actual receiving yards:

Furthermore, five players had 400-plus air yards on incompletions that were blamed on the quarterback by PFF. Overthrown, underthrow, behind the receiver, these pass-catchers had the most “prayer yards” of anybody last season:

Overall, the Falcons (71%), Jets (73%), Chicago Bears (73%), Houston Texans (74%), Commanders (75%), Los Angeles Rams (75%) and Carolina Panthers (75%) were the clear-cut bottom-seven offenses in terms of having the lowest rate of catchable targets. Sometimes all you can do is just say sheesh.


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