32 Shamelessly Bold Predictions for the 2022 Fantasy Football Season

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Another year, another opportunity to get bigger and bolder.

This is now the sixth version of my Bold Predictions article. After giving some of our boldest takes at the Phoenix Live show this past Saturday, I thought I’d finish the drill and go through all 32 teams.

Each year, I take a swing at some big-boy predictions and how each team might surprise fantasy managers.  The past couple of seasons I’ve had a decent hit rate, some home runs, and some misses — but these are meant to be hot and spicy.  Check out some of 2021’s shamelessly bold predictions that ended up in the “win column” from last season:

  • The ping pong between A.J. Brown & Julio Jones makes fantasy managers of both highly irritable
  • CEH just isn’t that good, and the ball is spread around too much.  He doesn’t go over five TDs on the ground… again 
  • The Cowboys run away with the division, winning 13 games
  • Darnell Mooney breaks out
  • The Saints go through multiple quarterback swaps through a difficult offensive year, making fantasy options difficult to come by
  • The Rams win the NFC behind a strong defense and a consistent, efficient offense
  • Tyler Lockett’s consistency once again disturbs fantasy managers, he’s a 6th-round pick in 2022

Grab a rocking chair. Here are my takes for 2022 for your reading pleasure.

AFC East

Bills – Stefon Diggs leads the NFL in receptions
Diggs is set up to dominate this year. He’s currently third in the betting odds (+900) for being the NFL receptions leader but Diggs is the true alpha in Buffalo. Gabriel Davis will have his moments but in PPR leagues Diggs can finish as the overall WR1.

Dolphins –  Tyreek Hill is … mostly Tyreek Hill, an elite fantasy WR with at least one 200-yard receiving game
The change of scenery is causing fantasy managers to sour on the Cheetah. This is still Tyreek Hill, the greatest separator and downfield threat in the NFL. Yes, Tua Tagovailoa is not Patrick Mahomes. But maybe we get 85-90% of Tyreek magic which still can break fantasy football in any given week.

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Patriots –  The offense sputters in reality and in fantasy
Everything in camp screams this team has issues. I did not want to hear that Uncle Bill showed an insane amount of nepotism making his two bone-headed nephews (Matt Patricia & Joe Judge) the offensive play callers. Mac Jones can be a solid NFL QB but in a system that is jumbled without true difference makers at the WR position, we probably won’t see much value in fantasy.

Jets –  Breece Hall fails to deliver any sort of predictable help to your fantasy roster
Jason is pooping in his big boy pants right now. Hall could be a hammer down the stretch but I’m not willing to wait multiple months to figure it out. Michael Carter might be a bigger nuisance than people realize despite all the dynasty hoopla surrounding Breece Lightning.

AFC North

Ravens –  Lamar Jackson & the Ravens finish with the best record in AFC and Lamar wins MVP again
Lamar was so close to being a “My Guy” for me this year. I love his value in fantasy as one of the true difference makers at the position. But in terms of real-life prospects, the Ravens are primed for a major bounce back with a great schedule set up to finish with 12+ wins. He’s going to explode for 1,000+ rushing yards and 40 combined TDs.  Lamar is back.

Bengals –  Tee Higgins frustrates fantasy players with unpredictability

Higgins is being drafted near WR1 territory but the roller-coaster ride in 2022 might not be what you signed up for. According to our consistency metrics, he’s only cleared 10 fantasy points in about half of his career games. He will have his 2-TD games as he showed in the Super Bowl. But there will be weeks where 2-for-28 destroys your team.  He’s being drafted so high, above more consistent players in the fantasy landscape.  It makes me nervous.  

Browns –  David Njoku is surprisingly consistent

That isn’t a sentence we’ve been able to utter five years into the NFL. Njoku secured a 4-year extension this off-season and he can easily end up the No. 2 target on this Browns team. We know Jacoby Brissett targets the TE position heavily with a 25% market share in five starts last year. Njoku might move from late-round flier to streamer to weekly fantasy start.  If he scores 5+ touchdowns, he’ll be one of the best late-round finds.  

Steelers –  The Steelers have zero WRs inside the top 20

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For a team widely known as the best at developing WR talent through the draft, this year might be a muddled mess for fantasy. The combination of Mitch Trubisky plus rookie Kenny Pickett might lower the ceiling for Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool, and everyone’s darling, rookie George Pickens. All three are talented but all three might not give you the top-end fantasy production we’re used to seeing in Pittsburgh.  Throw in high utilization of 2nd-year tight-end Pat Freiermuth, and it’ll get messier for the fantasy wideouts than you’d like.

AFC South

Texans –  Nico Collins emerges as a surprising 2022 breakout

Brandin Cooks will be the WR1 here but Nico Collins entering his sophomore year is next in line for targets. He’s a big-bodied red-zone weapon who should complement Cooks to give better-than-you-think Davis Mills a chance to make defenses respect them. If you got 800+ receiving yards and 6+ TDs from Collins, you’re looking at someone knocking on the top-30 door.  Yes, really.  

Colts –  Nyheim Hines sets a career-high in receptions

I know on our show we sing the praises of Pitty City. But one of the consistent storylines and sound bites from Frank Reich this off-season was Hines’ involvement in the offense. Jonathan Taylor can get his and Hines can still be uber involved. It wouldn’t surprise me if he ends up No. 2 on the team in targets. His career-high is 63 so if he hits 70, rejoicing will be had in the PPR streets.  Matt Ryan is far more reliable to get the ball into the hands of his pass-catching RBs.  Hines is a late-round steal, even if he’s unpredictable on a week-to-week basis.  

Jaguars –  Christian Kirk is worth the money, catches 90+ passes

After Kirk got the bag this off-season, it was easy to make fun of the Jaguars. What if he’s exactly what this team needs: a workmanlike approach and a dependable receiver in the middle of the field… something Trevor Lawrence didn’t have. He can hit 90 receptions and be a solid fringe WR2 for fantasy.

David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Titans –  Derrick Henry stiff-arms the doubters & wins the rushing title again

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My fantasy MVP is set up to smash again. There comes a point where you just get out of the way of a moving train. Last year, he had six RB1 performances in a row including three No. 1 overall finishes. He was on a ridiculous 464 carry pace through Week 7 and somehow still finished the year 3rd in evaded tackles despite playing only eight games. People bring up the age, and the carry count but maybe he’s just a fantasy RB from a different era ala Priest Holmes or Marshall Faulk who were RB1 overall in their age 28 seasons.  Wait let’s forget the maybe — he is.

AFC West

Broncos –  Russ pushes for the #1 spot at the QB spot in fantasy

That might feel like a stretch but he’s already been there/done that (2017), and now he’s in an offensive system that will open things up even more. There’s no reason Russell Wilson, even at age 34, can’t push for that top overall spot. If you waited on QB in your drafts, you could be drafting a fantasy league MVP.

Chiefs – Clyde is a ho-hum RB2 that you can rely on…

It’s year 3 in the CEH experiment. The results are back: it ain’t so good. If you’re hoping for a breakout campaign, this probably isn’t the year. He’s a between-the-20s runner that is better suited for his real-life NFL team than for fantasy. He has one multi-TD game two years into his career.  But here we are, and Clyde is actually going to get enough work to stabilize a fantasy roster.  Think Antonio Gibson, but less talented, from recent seasons.  

Raiders –  Derek Carr supports a strong WR1 season from Adams

Adams migrating from Green Bay to Las Vegas should not deter fantasy managers from the inevitable: this guy is a locked-in WR1. But it’s Derek Carr who gets the bump this year with a healthy Darren Waller and Hunter Renfrow doing work underneath. Book it: he finally finishes inside the top-12 at the position after being top-5 in total passing yards last year.  

Chargers –  Justin Herbert throws for 5,000 yards, 45 TDs

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To put it into context, only four QBs (Mahomes, Manning, Brees, and Marino) have ever hit those marks. Add Herbert to the list. I was pained the other day realizing that I have ZERO Justin Herbert this year…and then I selected him in our League of Record draft.  His draft cost is high but he’s going to absolutely crush. Let my Mike Williams love be evidence for the fact the Chargers are going to be a team to watch every single week, and the evolution of Joshua Palmer will only aid in Herbert’s league-wide domination.  

NFC East

Cowboys –  Dak Prescott quietly puts together an MVP-caliber season in a wide-open NFC

It feels like Dak somehow has drifted into this nebulous world in fantasy football. All he’s ever done is be elite but with the departure of Amari Cooper, he’s now seen as nothing more than a low-end QB1. If the rushing TD totals return, it wouldn’t surprise me if he ends up with 40+ total TDs and is in the conversation for league MVP.  

Giants – Wan’Dale Robinson catches 70 balls & is (very) small bright light in a dark forest of failure in NY

Robinson was one of my recent picks on the Sleepers show. He has the slot role completely locked up and might be the only dependable option in New York among the WRs. I’m not projecting bright days with Daniel Jones but Robinson can have some weekly appeal as a FLEX in PPR leagues.

Eagles –  Dallas Goedert finishes inside the top 5

He gets lost in the shuffle among the elite TEs and the Eagles that have a sexier fantasy name but Goedert is solid. He ranked #1 among TEs in yards per target and yards per route run in 2021 but no one noticed. If the TDs fall in his favor, he might be the Eagle that provides the most draft day value for fantasy this year. 

Washington –  All 3 RBs cannibalize each other… none finish inside Top-24

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It’s been a whirlwind in Washington this summer. It looked like J.D. McKissic was skipping town and Antonio Gibson would have the backfield all to himself. Surprise! McKissic is back (much to the delight of Owl Borland) and 3rd round pick Brian Robinson Jr. seemed to be ahead on the depth chart before an unfortunate off-the-field incident. What if all three don’t really help your fantasy teams and you’re left guessing week-to-week who is the guy?  That would make you sad.  

NFC North

Bears –  The Bears win 3 games & Justin Fields is the martyr

A price needed to be paid but why are we making Justin Fields the sacrificial lamb in Chicago? This offense is going to be underwhelming across the board. It wouldn’t be surprising if they lose 10 in a row at some point. The stench from Matt Nagy is going to carry over. Sorry, Chicago. 

Lions –  Dan Campbell breaks his own kneecap… but the Lions have meaningful fantasy contributors at RB/WR/TE once again

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Someone’s kneecap is going to be bitten off. Seriously, if Guns Mahoney isn’t careful, he’s going to hurt himself putting this much passion and gusto in every speech. The Lions will emerge from the depths and give us legit fantasy options in 2022. D’Andre Swift and Amon-Ra St. Brown should be fantasy stalwarts and T.J. Hockenson shouldn’t be passed over as an ancillary piece. Expect him to come out in Week 1 with a great performance against Philadelphia. Even Jameson Williams may have a second-half opportunity that helps fantasy players.  

Nic Antaya/Getty Images

Packers –  Aaron Jones & AJ Dillon both finish in the top-15 due to relentless usage and consistency

I’ve been pounding this drum all off-season and I’m not going to stop now. Both of these RBs can eat for fantasy and injuries don’t even have to cap their upside from where they are being drafted. Aaron Jones is the name brand, you pay a premium– I love me some Aaron JonesA.J. Dillon is the Kirkland/Costco bulk buy that not only do you get more of, but it might just taste better than the name brand.  You also get a pallet of it for a better price.

Vikings – Adam Thielen isn’t dead yet, posts 7 top-20 weeks, and keeps the clock turned back

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Jason may have dug this man’s grave and placed him in the elderly assisted living home but Thielen didn’t notice. He’s a consistent red-zone threat and one of the better values in fantasy. The Vikings offense should see a major facelift from the ground-and-pound approach Mike Zimmer was stuck on. As an every-down player on an offense that projects to be top-10 in pace of play, count me in. Seven top-20 weeks was as many as Ja’Marr Chase had last year.

NFC South

Falcons –  Kyle Pitts has so many big plays he ends up at #1 on the season

I gushed about Pitts at the Phoenix Live Show. I dubbed him “Part Cheetah, Part Pterodactyl” as a 6’6 hybrid WR/TE with the longest wingspan of any player since the turn of the century. Since 1990, 18 different rookies have gone over 1,000 receiving yards. 17 were WRs. The 18th is Kyle Pitts. Kyle Pitts is the only one with fewer than SIX receiving TDs. He had ONE. What if he just breaks the TE position and establishes himself as the TE1 for the next decade starting this year?

Panthers –  D.J. Moore finally finishes as a top-12 WR, if Baker stays the starter

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Finally! Dynasty managers have probably hoped and prayed that this day would come but I think the stars have aligned for Denniston Moore Jr. in 2022. As long as Baker Mayfield is the starting QB and Sam Darnold just goes away from our memory, he can supply Moore with ample targets. He’s averaged 139 targets over the last three years. If the quality of those targets increases even slightly, you could be looking at a bonafide WR1 for fantasy.

Saints –  Chris Olave establishes himself as the obvious future

We’ve slowly moved Olave up our rankings throughout the off-season as the 11th overall player selected in the NFL Draft just keeps on impressing. He was my favorite WR prospect coming into the draft with oh-so-smooth routes and the ability to get behind defenses regularly. New Orleans sorely needed a deep threat for Jameis Winston and Olave can become a WR2 for fantasy right from the get-go. Next year, he’s going to be selected in the first four rounds of fantasy drafts.

Bucs –  Tom finally shows his age.  Yes, really.  

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Listen, betting against Tom Brady has been a losing cause. Jason tried to predict the demise a couple of years ago… Whenever you even consider saying something negative about Thomas Edward Patrick Brady Jr. – the reply is always the same: He’s the GOAT! I’m here to say finally…against all odds and probabilities… he doesn’t quite have it anymore. This is more than the distractions, the unretirement, and the camp absences… this is an inevitability. They ranked 2nd in neutral situation pace…but it’s going to slow down. You can’t play fast and furious with a patchwork offensive line and without Bruce Arians.

NFC West

Cardinals –  Rondale Moore is better than you think, finishes with 5 top-15 weeks as a more integral part of the offense

We pray Kiff Kingsbury wisens up and utilizes Moore further downfield. He broke out as a true freshman in college and he has the speed to make big plays happen. This Arizona offense will need him in the first half while DeAndre Hopkins is out. To put five top-15 weeks into perspective, that was as many as my man Mike Williams had last year. 

Rams –  Allen Robinson finishes as a WR1.  Yes.  

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Yep, I said it. ARob was a My Guy for me and in our League of Record, he’s sitting in my WR1 slot for my team. He’s not over the hill and this is the best QB he’s ever played with. Since McVay became the Rams head coach in 2017, Rams WRs averaged 67% of the targets, the in NFL.  In four of the last five years, the Rams rank also top-4 in red zone completions & total WR fantasy points. There’s room for Robinson to eat alongside Kupp in this offense… just ask Robert Woods.

49ers –  Trey Lance is not all that & a bag of chips

His fantasy numbers should be fine, but the future of SF will be in question, as his dynasty managers get a bit squeamish. The one thing Jimmy G did consistently was win especially when his back is up against the wall. I get the excitement but I also feel completely fine tempering my expectations for the youngest starting QB (22 years old) in the league.

Seahawks –  Metcalf dropkicks the haters & brings in 10 touchdowns

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The D.K. stands for “dropkick” and those in his way better watch out. There is a certain point where this man should impose his will on opposing defenses as he’s just too big and strong to be held in check. Double-digit TDs are kind of a big deal as a clear path to top-15 status for fantasy.

Comments

Tom says:

I’ve been watching the Ballers on YouTube since around 2016. I’m a Dynasty player – don’t play redraft – so I have to take a lot of what y’all say with a grain of salt & refocus it through a dynasty lens. Over the years, I’ve “sighed” countless time as Andy espouses his love for “old” players, ala AJ Green & Ingram . . . but this article, full of younger studs, has given me hope that maybe Andy has started to grow, lol. I do agree that Thielen is not dead yet, btw.

Dave Szymkiewicz says:

Please come back and review these projections at mid and end of season.

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