Coach: Kyle Shanahan 6 PPG
QB: Russell Wilson 30 PPG
It finally happened. After 2-3 years of trade rumors, the Seahawks elected to move off arguably the most valuable player in their franchise’s history, Russell Wilson. The 2nd half of his illustrious career will take place in Denver, who finally found their franchise quarterback to pair with their above-average roster. Wilson’s last season in Seattle was ruined by a finger injury that cost him almost a month of games. He struggled after returning prematurely and the Seahawks were never really in playoff contention. From Wilson’s historical production, it was an underwhelming season. He posted numerous games under 20 points and didn’t provide the 40+ ceiling we know he’s capable of. A return to normalcy is the expectation in Denver, and he’ll arguably have the best roster since the Hawks’ glory days ended around 2017. I’m throwing Russ back up into the top 10 conversation. Fingers crossed he can continue to provide some decent rushing ability, which will assist in a borderline elite ceiling.
RB/WR/TE: Saquon Barkley 26 PPG, D’Andre Swift 20 PPG, Cam Akers 18 PPG, Tyreek Hill 18 PPG, Tee Higgins 17 PPG 6th men: Rashaad Penny 18 PPG, Kyle Pitts 17 PPG, DK Metcalf 15 PPG, Michael Gallup 14 PPG, Albert Okwuebunam 14 PPG, Logan Thomas 13 PPG, Jerick McKinnon 11 PPG, Nico Collins 11 PPG, Kadarius Toney 11 PPG
Here we go again for Saquon Barkley. Priority numbers one, two, and three are to stay healthy. The last three years were ruined due to numerous ailments, predominately an ACL tear and ankle issues. All of his wear and tear has been to the right side of his body and Draft Shark’s injury predictor rates Barkley’s injury chance at 82% of missing two quarters with 2.5 missed games in 2022. If he can finally stay fit, we know the 450+ point ceiling he possesses. He has championship-winning upside and is a part of what can be one of the most improved offenses with the Giants moving on from arguably the worst coaching staff/GM tandem in the NFL for Brian Daboll/Joe Schoen. Barkley is a tough projection because it’s been almost 4 years since we saw him at his peak. They may soften his workload or they may run him into the ground because he’s the only thing on offense that works. On opportunity alone, Saquon has #1 overall upside, but he’s as risky a bet as any of the elite options. Numerous IFL GMs have given up on him.
D’Andre Swift is a bit of a polarizing player, but he hasn’t been terrible when given opportunity. What sticks out for Swift and gives him his upside is his 6.0 receiving targets per game, which ranked only 2nd behind 4Net in 2021. What cripples Swift’s elite upside is his timeshare he finds himself in with plodder Jamaal Williams. Their numbers were identical in the yards before and after contact numbers, with 2.5 and 1.5 respectively. There’s a bit of an injury history with Swifty too, as he’s yet to complete a full season without missing substantial time. All that being said, his opportunity isn’t going anywhere. You can lock this guy in for a 20 PPG season with upside for more if he can bump up his TD production in the receiving game. He only has 4 total TDs in his career on his high volume of receiving looks.
If you want to find a Cam Akers post-Achilles truther, you probably won’t find him here. That may seem a bit weird reading that after projecting him for an 18 PPG projection, but it appears he’ll receive plenty of opportunity to begin the year. My biggest worry is that Akers won’t be efficient enough to fend off the competent backup of Darrell Henderson and eventually Kyren Williams. For now, Akers profiles as their workhorse back, but he was abysmal in the playoffs, with a 2.6 YPC and lost two fumbles, one of which almost cost the Rammies their Super Bowl ring against the Bucs. It’s possible he came back much too soon from his injury, but we’ve still never seen a running back return to their former glory post Achilles injury. Can Cam be the first running back to buck that trend? Absolutely. He’ll be given every opportunity to do so. Would I bet on him long term? Absolutely not. I’ll believe it when I see it done. His 18 PPG average is based off a projected 15-20 carry workload with 2-4 receptions a game. With a few TDs sprinkled in, that’s all you need to be a quality fantasy back in the IFL.
It was another All-Pro-worthy season for Tyreek Hill, who posted mammoth numbers courtesy of the best QB that’s ever thrown the football. The fact that we’ll never see Mahomes and Tyreek make sweet music together again is disappointing, but Hill chased the money down to Miami. In three of the last four seasons, The Cheetah has eclipsed 1,200 yards, 130 targets and 9 TDs. He was as safe of a commodity at the receiver position. Now in Miami in a crowded and potentially run-heavy offense, can we expect an over 20 PPG output? My money is on regression. Jaylen Waddle and Mike Gesicki loom large as competent targets. More importantly, Tua Tagovailoa is not in the same galaxy as Mahomes as a passer. There’s so much working against Hill here; run-heavy scheme change, QB play and the receiving talent around him. While 18 PPG is nothing to scoff at, expect a top 16 WR moving forward versus a top 3.
Tee Higgins will play 2nd fiddle to the all-world J’Marr Chase for as long as they play together, but that doesn’t mean both can’t feast in this high-flying offense. Higgins’ owners certainly won’t complain about his production through two seasons. Even though he missed two games with a shoulder injury, he progressed as a sophomore with his first 1,000-yard season and his targets increased to 110 as well. These are all encouraging signs for annual startability, as he’ll likely settle into 125 target range across 17 games. He’ll be a very competent 4/5 starter on a championship team and with two more years of cheap control, he’s one of the best assets in the IFL.
PK: Joey Slye 8 PPG
PN: Logan Cooke 11 PPG
DT: Jeffery Simmons 17 PPG
The big dicked hog molly out of Mississippi State delivered on his potential last year with a scintillating top 5 finish. He delivered on robust tackle numbers with 53 total, 7.5 sacks and a lowkey quality 6 PDs. Simmons is in rarified air in the snap count department. The dude often plays well over 90% and his season low was 75%. (This is extremely rare.) The Titans recently locked up the 24-year-old to a long-term extension. Look for him to continue to deliver on his potential. The only thing to critique is his soft pressure numbers, (only 25) but he’s one of these high usage DTs (Wilkins and Big Q Williams) that are still providing off his opportunity.
DE: TJ Watt 26 PPG, Montez Sweat 14 PPG (Joe Tryon 14 PPG)
TJ Watt is an absolute cheat code. There is no one, not a single IDP is within two tiers of Watt, who will be scoring at a similar clip to our elite running backs. There is an argument that can be made Watt is the most valuable asset in our league with the PPG advantage he provides at EDGE. While Watt is a bit boom/bust, when Watt hits, his GM will likely win. 8 weeks he scored over 25 points and in four of them, he scored over 40! He notched an incredible 21.5 sacks on 52 pressures in 15 games. While this isn’t sustainable and Myles Garrett’s pressures are comparable, it’s Watt’s tackle numbers that separate him. He’s likely heading for another 60 total tackle campaign and is switching from 2 tackles per point to 3. Watt is one of the few league-winning assets and will be moving forward for the next 3-5 years.
This time last year, we were talking about Montez Sweat being a part of the next great pass-rushing duo in the NFL. Obviously, last season did not go to plan, as both Chase Young and Sweat missed extensive time with injury. For former Mississippi State Bulldog delivered an adequate season in 2020 with 9 sacks on 31 pressures. He only delivered 5 last year and missed six games with injury. This is a big year for Sweat as he plays for his second contract. I expect him to deliver a near double-digit sack season again, but his tackles may be a bit limited. He should make for a fine DE2.
LB: CJ Mosley 20 PPG, Devin Lloyd 17 PPG, Dre Greenlaw 15 PPG (Mykal Walker 15 PPG)
It feels like another lifetime since we saw CJ Mosley perform on an NFL football field. After a season-ending groin injury in 2019 and sitting out the COVID laden 2020, he delivered a high tackle season his GMs were starving for. Unfortunately, he was no longer the elite linebacker we ‘member on the Ravens. Mosley sucked big-time monkey balls on the field, but as any savvy fantasy manager knows, that doesn’t matter. Mosley is locked into the MIKE spot for at least one more season before he can be feasibly (and likely) released. Enjoy the ride, Moseliers. 150+ total tackles are on the horizon.
Devin Lloyd didn’t land in the best IDP landing spot, playing next to record-breaking Foyesade Oluokun, but he’ll receive all the snaps he can handle in this Tampa 2 defense. Lloyd was largely viewed as the LB1 in the class and was the first inside backer taken. He’s missed some time in training camp due to an undisclosed injury, but the 23-year-old will be just fine for week one. So long as Chad Muma doesn’t become a thorn in Lloyd’s side, he should be a lock for 120+ tackle season and top 20 numbers.
Dre Greenlaw was a no show last season, going down week 1 after injuring his groin and returning a touchdown. He did return to play a near full time role in the postseason, but did share time with Azeez Al-Shaair at certain points. Greenlaw, however, was lauded for his postseason performance and it’s widely expected he’ll keep his full-time job in 2022. Playing next to Fred Warner and in the middle of a talented 9ers defense doesn’t allow for elite production, but just playing in the box for every snap allows him to be a top 32 talent. He’s an easy plug and play guy with upside for more if the big plays start flowing.
CB: Nate Hobbs 12 PPG, Aaron Robinson 11 PPG
It took a minute for Nate Hobbs to get going, but he showcased why he was one of the best corners for the Raiders. His snap share fluctuated throughout the season, but he played over 80% of the snaps most of the time. In 2021, he’ll likely rarely leave the field, being tasked with leading the entire secondary. In what could be a team with a high-flying offense, they may find themselves in some shootouts. I like corners on high-volume offenses. We’ll see how it shakes out, but Hobbs could see himself in the top 16 conversation. He certainly showcased quality tackle numbers with 67 total stops in 2021.
The Giants’ secondary isn’t anything to write home about. Aaron Robinson has something to prove as he’s tasked with being a full-time boundary corner in the Giants’ new defensive scheme. As a 3rd round rookie, he had very limited opportunity with only 268 snaps played. It’s a blank slate for Robinson and he’ll be serviceable on his opportunity. What he can do with it is anyone’s guess.
S: Derwin James 18 PPG, Nick Cross 16 PPG, Jayron Kearse 15 PPG
It’s always fun to talk about the stars of the league. Derwin James certainly fits the bill and god bless he finally played in the majority of games again! The man is a playmaker in every sense of the word, impacting the game in every facet. He’s wrangling in 100 total tackles, in addition to 6-8 big plays. James simply just can’t stay healthy and it has to have spoiled him to his GMs. So long as he’s on the field, he’s the S1, but availability to the best skill to have. I was a bit hesitant to anoint Derwin as an elite option with the scheme change last year, but it’s full steam ahead after his S1 2021 finish.
The Nick Cross show is ready to begin. After Khari Willis made enough dough to live out his dream as a missionary, Cross entered an excellent opportunity for success. There is no defensive coordinator lauded more for strong safety success than Gus Bradley. He’s provided many of quality fantasy seasons with his Cover 3 scheme and Cross is likely to benefit immensely if he can beat out Rodney McLeod for the job. This is the same DC that started the illustrious career of Derwin James and propped up Johnathan Abram as the S6 in PPG in 2021. I’m sending Cross to the moon his rookie year. He was a hard hitter at Maryland and quality against the run. Grab him for value while you can.
Jayron Kearse came out of nowhere to snag the strong safety role in Dallas and quietly posted a 250-point season. The Dan Quinn box role provides Kearse ample opportunity for production. Starting a rocky career in Minnesota, Kearse found his footing after a heated training camp battle. While he’s still not locked in long-term for Dallas, he posted quality grades across the board according to PFF. Kearse is slated for another stellar season and is the type of safety that can provide incredible weeks when he hits on big plays. The tackle floor is what you hope for from a safety.
Off: Cleveland Browns 9 PPG
I have sooooo many perplexing feelings about this evaluation! Lordy, look at that offense. His squad is deeper than arguably any other squad in the league. Defensively, the star power is there for a quality run as well, with Watt, Mosley and incoming superstar Nick Cross posted for elite seasons. Titus can move for any piece he chooses. He’ll be able to fill any potential hole that pops up on his roster through the season with his ample draft capital. While his depth sticks out as a positive, his star power and lack of knowledge about the playoff process may keep him out of the championship conversation. I’m bullish for a successful Titus season, but it may be another year before true championship contention.