We're finally here. Many of us have drafted our fantasy teams already, some are finalizing their last strategies to put our teams together at the eleventh hour. Yes, Week 1 is here, set to kick off on Thursday. With that, our analysts reveal their boldest predictions for the season ahead. Which will come to pass?
Andy Behrens: Amon-Ra St. Brown is a top-5 fantasy receiver
Collectively, fantasy managers have treated Amon-Ra St. Brown's late-season binge almost as if it was a mirage. We drafted him as the WR25 at Yahoo this year, behind multiple guys who have never produced a stretch of games to rival the close to his rookie year. In case you'd forgotten, St. Brown saw double-digit targets in each of his last six games, averaging 8.5 receptions and 93.3 receiving yards per week while making six house calls. Extend that level of production (or something close to it) over a full 17 games and you've got a legendary season — think 120-plus receptions and 1,500-something yards.
We're all assuming that with D'Andre Swift and T.J. Hockenson fully healthy, St. Brown's opportunities will decrease. But what if the Lions simply decide that St. Brown's eruption shouldn't be ignored — that he's their most dangerous offensive threat and needs to be fed? Or what if Detroit's offense takes a step or two forward and actually supports multiple fantasy weapons? I don't think any competent team could reasonably dial back the usage of a player who put together a stretch of games like St. Brown's six incredible weeks. If Detroit continues to lean on him, he clearly has top-five potential.
Dalton Del Don: Gabe Davis has a better fantasy season than Mike Evans and Deebo Samuel
I almost went with Trey Lance as fantasy’s QB1, but I didn’t want to use such a low-hanging fruit! Mike Evans is approaching 30, had a 16% target share last season and plays with Julio Jones, Russell Gage, Chris Godwin and a 45-year-old quarterback. Deebo Samuel didn’t rank top-50 in routes run or top-25 in targets last season, when he also unsustainably turned 59 carries into eight rushing scores. He now has a new quarterback in 2022 who throws to completely different areas of the field. Both Evans and Samuel have dealt with injuries in the preseason.
Gabe Davis, meanwhile, is about to see a lot more volume entering Buffalo’s starting lineup. He ranks first in red-zone target percentage (and end-zone target percentage) during his career among the top 100 WRs in current ADP. Davis also had a greater air yardage share (38%) compared to Stefon Diggs (32%) when sharing the field together last season. Diggs and Davis also have nearly identical yardage over/unders in Week 1 (with heavier juice on
the alpha Davis).
One of the youngest receivers in the league and playing with an MVP-candidate quarterback who attempted more than 15 more end-zone passes than any other QB in the league last year and led in target percentage to outside receivers, Davis is primed to score more fantasy points than Evans and Deebo in 2022, much to Matt Harmon’s disgust.
Editor's note: Davis impressed in the Bills' Week 1 win over the Rams, finishing with four receptions for 88 yards and a touchdown on five targets.
Scott Pianowski: Justin Fields outscores Trey Lance
I understand why Lance is such a hot topic, with the supporting cast, the genius coach, the draft capital, and Dalton's overboard hometown optimism. Obviously, Fields does not have such a cushy setup (and Andy refuses to check his common sense at the door). But Fields was also a first-round pick, he's a very aggressive runner, and Chicago isn't completely barren with pass-catchers — Darnell Mooney and Cole Kmet are welcome on all of my rosters. And the Bears will stick with Fields no matter how he plays; Lance does not have the same luxury, with Jimmy Garoppolo looming.
Matt Harmon: DJ Moore leads the NFL in receiving yards
People don’t realize how much of a volume monster DJ Moore was last season. Among all wide receivers, he ranked fourth in team air yards share, fourth in target share and seventh in targets per route run. What’s stopping him from repeating that alpha-level work? The return of Christian McCaffrey (in theory) will eat into some of the target looks but Moore should continue to dominate air yards. Robbie Anderson is officially a mercurial player at this point and the depth beyond him is questionable, at best. This team was so displeased with the receiver depth that it traded for Laviska Shenault. That’s tough.
Rashard Higgins might have won the WR3 gig in camp and they have nothing at tight end. Moore is also a high-quality player who beats man coverage at an above-70% rate, per Reception Perception. Those are the players we want to bet on taking big leaps when paired with quality quarterbacks. Baker Mayfield might fit somewhere along the league average but he’s a tangible upgrade. His skill set fits with Moore much better than it did with Odell Beckham, so those concerns aren’t relevant. At some point, Moore is going to have a monster season and I want to be ahead of the curve on it.