2022 Offseason WR Free Agent Buys

The 2022 offseason is just around the corner, so keen dynasty players will be looking at players that have the potential to rocket in value- here we look at some WR free agent buys. It’s worth noting caution before we get started with my buys and sells. Wide receivers don’t historically produce year one in a new offense after free agency.  If we want proof, just look at the 2021 WR FA class and the bigger contracts.  The most expensive deals by average salary per year were Kenny Golladay, Corey Davis, Curtis Samuel, and Nelson Agholor.  All of these had injury issues, but all disappointed.

The 2022 wide receiver free agency class is an interesting one.  There are a few star names, most of which I would expect to remain where they are.  Davante Adams is the premium name on the list.  His future feels directly tied to Aaron Rodgers and I don’t expect the Packers to be able to re-sign him if Rodgers isn’t staying, although their cap might mean he has to leave regardless.  However, I expect to see a lot of movement too from some interesting fantasy assets. 

Here are my thoughts on three wide receivers you should buy before free agency.

Allen Robinson

ARob was potentially the biggest fantasy bust of the 2021 season.  His ADP saw him drafted around the fourth round, in the same range as fantasy MVP Cooper Kupp.  However, Robinson flopped.  He finished as the PPR WR81, having zero 100 yard games and only scoring 1 touchdown.  If you drafted him in redraft, your team probably lost, and I understand if you blame ARob for it.

However, the future could be bright for the 2022 free agent.  ARob is playing on the franchise tag in Chicago and it seems unlikely that he’ll remain next year.  With a new coaching staff and general manager, I think it would make sense for the Bears to move on, and it would appear Robinson thinks the same.  At this point, we should get optimistic about a player who finished a top 10 PPR WR in 2020 and 2019, both years quarterbacked by Mitch Trubisky.  Robinson has never played with a good quarterback in his career to date. And he might not going forwards, but he’s shown an ability to succeed regardless of QB play. If we take 2021 as an outlier for Robinson, who has mentioned the lingering effect of Covid on his body, this is an obvious buy for a player who profiles as an alpha wherever he goes.

The key here is the cost.  According to KeepTradeCut, Robinson has fallen to the WR45 at the time of writing.  Dynasty managers want rid of him.  I think the best buy window was mid-season, where you could easily pick up Robinson and the stink around him for a late 2022 second.  However, there’s still a window to pick him up now before he (for example) goes to the Patriots and becomes the favoured target of Mac Jones.  We know ARob has the talent and I’d be willing to treat 2022 as the exception to take on the risk.

Potential landing spot: Lions, Patriots, Jaguars

Cost: Mid 2022 second-round pick

Will Fuller

Fuller’s tenure in Miami was one of the biggest disappointments of the 2021 season – if you’re like me and drafted him in your redraft leagues.  A historically injured wide receiver, Fuller started the season with a two-game suspension for PEDs, before getting injured in week four and missing the rest of the season. This was a shame, although it’s an unfortunate pattern for a receiver who has never started sixteen games in his six years in the NFL.

Fuller was an exciting addition to a Dolphins offense who went all-in on speed this off-season, drafting Jaylen Waddle along with this signing.  This was clearly based off Tua’s accuracy in the quick game and RPOs, as well as lacking elite arm strength.  Obviously, it didn’t work out for Fuller in Miami, but that’s not to say his career is over.

As a buy for me, I’m factoring in the incredibly low cost for Fuller, compared to where he could end up in the NFL.  Fuller is a proven talent, shown by his 2020 WR33 finish, despite having missed five games.  Fuller’s pace extrapolated over seventeen games in 2020 would have been enough for WR4, eclipsing his old team DeAndre Hopkins.  We know Fuller can get it done when he’s on the field, the question is just if he can get onto the field consistently.

However, I can see an NFL team taking a shot on Fuller for a cheap deal, which means he could end up at a better landing spot for a team that can afford to take the risk on him.  For example, I can see the LA Rams looking to Fuller to replace OBJ’s production when he leaves.  If this is the case, and Fuller can stay healthy, then he’s worth a flier in dynasty – just in case.

Potential landing spot: Chiefs, Rams, Bills

Cost: 2022 third-round pick

DJ Chark

There’s a running theme between the three wide receivers I’ve chosen as buys before free agency. They all disappointed in 2022 with a new quarterback who we thought they’d have a connection with.  My point with Chark is that we never really got to see him with Trevor Lawrence.  My initial feeling is that he’ll take a cut price deal to remain in Jacksonville next year and give us the year that we thought we’d see as the alpha for Lawrence. 

Exploring Lawrence’s start in the NFL is something which would take too long for this article. However, I think it’s worth noting that he showed potential in a few areas.  For example, Lawrence finished fourth in the NFL in PlayerProfiler’s “Money Throws”, looking at passes thrown with exceptional skills or in clutch moments.  We shouldn’t write a generational quarterback prospect off after one season, as we know that situation is hugely important for rookies QBs, and Lawrence fell into the worst possible situation.  With Byron Leftwich seeming like the most likely candidate for the head coaching vacancy in Jacksonville, there’s room for Chark to explode once again in that offense.

If Chark does choose to move, I could see him being available for cheaper as an outside receiver who can function as the alpha in an offense.  He has elite athleticism, running a 4.34 40 and with a 97th percentile speed score, along with his sizable 6’2 frame.  Chark will appeal to receiver needy teams such as Detroit, Cleveland and New Orleans, and he’s proven an ability to succeed without a star QB.  The upside for Chark is clearly there to take the next step – and it’s all for a low cost for a real life team and your dynasty team.

Potential landing spot: Jaguars, Lions, Browns

Cost: Late 2022 second-round pick

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Image Credit: Mike DiNovo – USA TODAY Sports