2022 Fantasy Football Forecast: Tom Brady’s New Target
As the fantasy football draft season begins in earnest, we’ve asked all of SI Fantasy’s writers and editors to weigh in with their top picks in five key categories. Next up: SI Fantasy senior editor Matt De Lima
Top Sleeper: Russell Gage, WR, Buccaneers
While the Bucs certainly would like to run the ball more frequently after leading the league in pass attempts last season, I’m confident they’re going to continue to let it fly. Gage will get a head start on getting in good with Tom Brady due to Chris Godwin’s lingering ACL tear recovery. Plus, with no Rob Gronkowski, even more targets will be headed to Gage in his early-season WR2 role.
Top Rookie: Christian Watson, WR, Packers
Garrett Wilson has Zach Wilson. Drake London has Marcus Mariota. Treylon Burks has Ryan Tannehill. Jameson Williams has Jared Goff. Chris Olave has Jameis Winston. Jahan Dotson has Carson Wentz. George Pickens has Mitch Trubisky. Skyy Moore has Patrick Mahomes. O.K., so the rookie WRs don’t all have bums at QB; but Christian Watson has Aaron Rodgers. With their top two receivers gone, the Packers’ WR depth chart is wide open and the targets should flow to the rookie.
Biggest Bust: Drake London, WR, Falcons
If the Falcons had a run game to lean on to provide some balance, I would give Drake London a better chance. Kyle Pitts is the focal point, and this offense couldn’t tread water last year. They’re hoping lightning can strike twice with Cordarrelle Patterson. The whole offense is in shambles. Even with plenty of garbage time passing likely built into his stats, London has very little on paper trending in his favor. He’s talented, but this is going to be a painful season for the Dirty Birds. Since most are viewing him as the No. 1 or No. 2 rookie receiver from this class, his ADP is just too rich for my blood.
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Comeback Player: Christian McCaffrey, RB, Panthers
Don’t overthink it, folks. CMC just turned 26 and sure, maybe it’s been a hard 26 with like 10,000 career touches. And yes, he’s missed a ton of time over the last two seasons. The injury concerns are real. It’s reasonable to believe after shouldering those huge workloads at Stanford and over his first three NFL seasons that there just isn’t much tread left on those tires. But you fade and underestimate him at your own risk. Let’s put on some 2019 McCaffrey highlights and reminisce.
Late-Round QB: Matt Ryan, Colts
I’ve already made this argument in another article. I’ll happily summarize it here: Ryan is going from one of the most disastrous situations to one of the better situations for a veteran QB. The Colts were one choked game away from the postseason a year ago and that was with Carson “Freaking” Wentz. Jonathan Taylor—and this can’t be overstated—will help Matty Ice be one of the most formidable play-action passers in 2022. He’s the QB21 in Michael Fabiano’s rankings and you probably won’t find more than a couple spots higher than that in most rankings.
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The author of 5 books, 3 of which are New York Times bestsellers. I’ve been published in more than 100 newspapers and magazines and am a frequent commentator on NPR.