This article is part of our NFL Free Agency series.
This article will run through free agent/trade developments from the past couple weeks in anticipation of the ADP changes they might bring. The ADP cited is from NFFC data in 12-team leagues drafted from March onward.
This will be a two-part deal, and this series will pair with an upcoming Rookie Top 50 ranking to hopefully make a useful Offseason Kit for anyone looking to catch up on all the new developments of the past two months. This post looks at teams ARI-KC, while the second will break down LAR-WAS.
(Baltimore and Houston lack entries because nothing has changed for their 2021 collection of players to this point)
With Chase Edmonds gone to Miami it opens up runway for James Conner (67.76 ADP) and gives him a chance to offset likely touchdown regression with greater and more consistent usage volume. Conner's durability will always be a concern, but his skill set easily scales to a three-down, workhorse sort of role. The Cardinals only otherwise have Eno Benjamin (317.08 ADP), Jonathan Ward (N/A ADP) and Jaylen Samuels (N/A ADP) at running back. Samuels is the only one of those three who might be able to match Conner as a receiver, and none of the three are likely to get close to Conner as a pure runner. The Cardinals have five draft picks in the sixth and seventh rounds with just three selections in the top 87 otherwise. They're a good bet to take at least one running back in the sixth or/and seventh rounds, but the Cardinals have enough problems otherwise that it would probably be a bit gluttonous of them to take a runner before the sixth round.
With Christian Kirk gone in free agency the Cardinals have a lot of production to account for in the slot, but the re-signing of Zach Ertz (105.67 ADP) answered most of that question. Ertz is largely just a big slot receiver in this offense, and in that role he produced 56 receptions in 11 games as a trade deadline acquisition. Rondale Moore (122.17 ADP) should pick up the vast majority of the wide receiver-specific slot snaps Kirk left behind, and with that promotion Moore will hopefully add a downfield element to his game after specializing as a screen and carry slot receiver as a rookie. Both Ertz and Moore could see their ADP rise, even if the Cardinals re-sign A.J. Green (285.92 ADP) at some point.
If Matt Ryan evaded disaster when the Falcons traded him to Indianapolis (he did), then we can't quite describe Marcus Mariota as 'lucky' for replacing Ryan as Atlanta's starting quarterback, but Mariota is presumably grateful just for the opportunity to start again. He was an incredible college quarterback who boasts rare athleticism and began his NFL in a promising fashion before injuries struck, so the Falcons are lucky to have a fallback option as qualified as him. The problem is figuring out whether Mariota, or anyone really, can remain upright in an offense like this. Mariota's durability concerns aren't eased any by Atlanta's offensive line, and the team's best wide receiver is the 5-foot-8 Olamide Zaccheaus (306.17 ADP). Mariota's rare rushing ability helps offset these concerns for fantasy purposes, but it would be a near miracle if Mariota can put forth consistently clean production with such little ammo to work with. There's probably nothing actionable about the Mariota signing as it relates to Kyle Pitts (39.25 ADP), but it would arguably sooner be a downgrade to go from Ryan to Mariota, if only because Mariota seems more likely to miss games. As much as going from Ryan to Mariota might not hurt Pitts' numbers, going from Mariota to Feleipe Franks probably would. Atlanta has the eighth overall pick in the 2022 draft, so they could acquire a quarterback there.
The Falcons were fairly active in the backfield this offseason otherwise, re-signing Cordarrelle Patterson (105.73 ADP) following his breakout 2021 season and adding Damien Williams (292.8 ADP). Patterson is a hybrid player whose volume last year was likely maxed out, but the assumption of regressing efficiency might not be sound. Patterson might be limited, but he legitimately excels at the tasks for which he specializes. Williams should handle the more traditional running back tasks, namely running between the tackles and in short-yardage situations, but Patterson's 2021 role should remain intact. Williams, meanwhile, is a huge upgrade over Mike Davis and could be productive even if Patterson remains productive. Of course, a notable running back selection in the draft could force a recalculation here.
Gabriel Davis (82.83 ADP) needs more runway than he saw in his first two regular seasons if he's going to break through for his 2022 fantasy investors, and it generally appears that the Bills are prepared to arrange just that. Free agent signing Jamison Crowder (267.17 ADP) is a competent player but is limited to the slot and underneath, much like Cole Beasley before him, but slower and more injury prone. If Crowder is efficient this year then contained volume will likely play a role in that. Crowder and Isaiah McKenzie (273.5 ADP) will probably split something like 2/3 of Buffalo's slot receiver snaps – specifically the reps that call for either a quick underneath route (Crowder) or horizontal function/handoff (McKenzie) while Davis takes most of the downfield-oriented slot reps. Of course, former first-round pick free agent signing O.J. Howard (303.75 ADP) could also earn some of those routes in the middle of the field, and it wouldn't surprise if he used his 4.51 speed at 6-foot-6, 250 pounds to steal some snaps and targets from Dawson Knox (100.58 ADP).
Whatever the specifics, Josh Allen has a great deal of ammo to work with, and the Bills could add more yet in the draft. Allen even got a bit off a boost in the backfield, where former Miami star Duke Johnson (291.0 ADP) is an interesting pass-catching upgrade and a potential usage threat to both Zack Moss (279.08 ADP) and Devin Singletary (75.76 ADP).
The Panthers tried and failed to trade for Deshaun Watson, so for now they appear stuck with Sam Darnold barring a quarterback selection in the first round, where they have the sixth overall pick. It's not clear whether presumed QB1 Malik Willis (205.42 ADP) is likely to fall to that range, but if not him then it would perhaps be Kenny Pickett (232.58 ADP) that the Panthers would consider next.
D'Onta Foreman (205.42 ADP) arrived in free agency to provide a likely depth upgrade over Chuba Hubbard (199.83 ADP) in the RB2 role behind Christian McCaffrey. Neither Foreman nor Hubbard conventionally project well as passing-down backs, though, so the Panthers might target a hurryup back in the draft like Trestan Ebner or James Cook.
Although he can't battle in traffic as well as Allen Robinson, the Bears added a speed upgrade to their lineup by signing Byron Pringle (243.42 ADP) to a one-year contract in free agency. The Bears' most noteworthy developments otherwise were subtractions, with Jimmy Graham's exit clearing up more opportunity for Cole Kmet (137.83 ADP) while the departures of Damien Williams and Tarik Cohen clear the way for Khalil Herbert (159.5 ADP) to emerge as the clear backup to David Montgomery.
The Bengals lost C.J. Uzomah to the Jets in free agency, but they added former first-round pick Hayden Hurst (310.0 ADP) to compete with Drew Sample (267.08 ADP) for the tight end snaps up for grabs. The Bengals also added La'el Collins at right tackle, which could be to everyone's benefit.
Deshaun Watson will likely be a huge upgrade over Baker Mayfield, and Cleveland's pass catchers stand to benefit across the board. For now, Amari Cooper (78.08 ADP) is the clear WR1 in town with Jarvis Landry gone, and David Njoku (172.0 ADP) will likely break out with Austin Hooper out of the way at tight end. The Browns could add a first-round wide receiver or sign a free agent like Will Fuller, in which case the player in question would go straight to mainstream fantasy relevance, but otherwise their most likely targets among route runners are Donovan Peoples-Jones (194.58 ADP), Harrison Bryant (301.92 ADP) and Anthony Schwartz (274.33 ADP).
Watson's arrival is great news for the Browns route runners, but it's also good news for the backfield. Nick Chubb (20.67 ADP) could set a career high for touchdowns with Watson bringing the Browns into scoring range more often, and Kareem Hunt (88.58 ADP) could get in on the overall gains of the Cleveland passing game.
CeeDee Lamb (22.5 ADP) is in position to really break out with Amari Cooper (Cleveland) and Cedrick Wilson (Miami) gone, and to a lesser extent Michael Gallup (133.08 ADP) stands to benefit from the exits of Cooper and Wilson. Gallup's 2022 application might be complicated somewhat by his return from a Week 17 ACL tear, however. Particularly if Gallup is limited or unavailable, Dalton Schultz (85.92 ADP) is a good bet to rank second on the team in receptions. While these developments might be good for Lamb, Gallup and Schultz, the outcome has to be a downgrade for Dak Prescott. The loss of La'el Collins at right tackle is another potential source of stress for Prescott going into 2022.
It's difficult to keep track of all the new possibilities opened up by the addition of Russell Wilson to the Denver offense, but there should be immediate, drastic benefits apparent for all of Courtland Sutton (97.4 ADP), Jerry Jeudy (68.53 ADP) and Albert Okwuegbunam (156.73). Tim Patrick (186.8 ADP) and KJ Hamler (321.6 ADP) loom as overqualified third and fourth receivers, but it might take an injury to one of the other three to create enough runway for Patrick or/and Hamler to produce on any predictable basis. Okwuegbunam arguably wins as much as any Denver pass catcher given the exit of Noah Fant. The change of scenery is probably an upgrade for Wilson, too, if only because Denver is almost a lock to run a more uptempo offense and with a higher passing frequency than Seattle.
While it's not as much of a bump as Aaron Rodgers might have been, the Wilson trade is also great news for Javonte Williams (8.75 ADP). Although, Williams' ADP seems to have supposed a QB upgrade all along. It's not clear who Denver's backup might be at running back.
While there's only so much enthusiasm we can permit when Jared Goff is at quarterback, the Lions had a productive offseason on offense. They brought back glue guys Josh Reynolds (305.8 ADP) and Kalif Raymond (306.6 ADP) while adding vertical burner DJ Chark (143.73 ADP). Goff usually doesn't throw well downfield, and Chark might draw most of the defensive attention among Detroit receivers, so he's at risk for a role that entails more decoy work than ideal.
It's not clear whether they might look quarterback in the draft, but the Lions can get QB1 Malik Willis (198.47 ADP) with the second overall selection if they choose.
With Davante Adams in Las Vegas and Marquez Valdes-Scantling in Kansas City, the Packers need to replace most of their starting wide receiver reps. Allen Lazard (199.4 ADP) might be in over his head as the team's top remaining wide receiver, but he's locked into a three-down role in an Aaron Rodgers offense and therefore his ADP has to rise. Rodgers' ADP, meanwhile, probably ought to fall quite far even if they add a formidable wide receiver in the NFL Draft. The good news for Rodgers is the Packers re-signed Robert Tonyan (198.13 ADP), and the former Indiana State receiver should be able to pick up a good amount of the slack as a pass catcher. There's reason to consider Tonyan the in-effect WR2 even ahead of Randall Cobb (289.67 ADP) and Amari Rodgers (301.73 ADP), who figure to fight for the slot receiver reps.
Matt Ryan managed to escape the death trap that is the Falcons quarterback role, swapping Atlanta's ghastly offensive line and wide receiver rotation for Indianapolis' sound blocking and modest if not solid group of pass catchers. While Ryan isn't the player he used to be and has some limitations as he approaches his age-37 season, he's still not nearly as bad as his 2021 numbers might appear at a glance. Every detail worked against him – the pass catchers as a group were as bad as any in the league, the pass blocking ranked among the worst in the league, and the running game was not respected – so his box score of 3,968 yards (67 percent completed, 7.1 YPA), 20 touchdowns and 12 interceptions is borderline impressive. Perhaps Ryan's ADP won't rise too much, but he's a clear, substantial upgrade for the Colts over Carson Wentz, and good news for every player in the Colts offense. The contrast between Wentz's bizarrely erratic play and Ryan's reliable punctuality will be jarring. Jonathan Taylor (1.13 ADP) obviously can't go any higher, but there's reason to raise your projections for all of Michael Pittman (72.53 ADP), Parris Campbell (322.8 ADP) and Mo Alie-Cox (273.53 ADP). It's also worth monitoring whether the Colts add other pass catchers this offseason – Julio Jones (195.25 ADP) is a free agent, after all, and while he might be toast by now the same might be true of T.Y. Hilton (329.8 ADP), so if Ryan lifts up the Colts passing game then there could be room for another name to pop up.
Trevor Lawrence needs more help than he had in 2021. No more Urban Meyer is a start, and so are the signings of Christian Kirk (114.27 ADP), Zay Jones (235.93 ADP) and Evan Engram (165.13 ADP), but there's more work necessary yet. The loss of DJ Chark means the Jaguars have little speed to speak of on offense. It's actually Engram who has the fastest 40 time (4.42) among any of the Jaguars offensive players. Kirk should be productive in the slot, including better downfield than most slot receivers, but he doesn't have the sort of speed that creates space. Neither does Jones, though his 4.45 is fine enough. The problem is Jones has never shown a skill set anywhere but underneath and outside, so if none of Kirk, Jones or Engram has an ADOT above 9 then they all might be running their routes uncomfortably close to each other on a small field. The Jaguars could have used someone like Chark – a player who the safeties make note of before every snap – to ensure no clutter where Kirk and Jones might otherwise thrive.
Of course, if Kirk, Jones and Engram run the risk of cluttering their routes too close together then there's truly no room for Laviska Shenault (212.33 ADP) in the lineup. For that reason it really does appear that the Jaguars need to move Shenault in a trade, which is a less than optimal situation to find themselves in given that Shenault was a second-round pick two years ago and posted promising production as a rookie.
The Tyreek Hill trade was shocking for its unexpectedness, and his departure completely changes the complexion of the Chiefs' offensive approach. The signing of free agent Marquez Valdes-Scantling (212.87 ADP) certainly assures them an abundance of speed when paired with Mecole Hardman (201.93 ADP), but Hill's speed and skill combo make it nearly impossible to cover him with man coverage. For a player to almost entirely deny an opponent the option of using the most conventional method of play is a profound effect, and even with MVS and potentially more help yet the Chiefs will still find slack from Hill's absence. It's a legitimate concern for Patrick Mahomes, at least relative to the particular standard of play Mahomes has shown to this point. He will almost certainly remain great, but the fact is the Chiefs were recently the most feared offense in the league and now they are not.
One thing that can be taken for a given is that Valdes-Scantling is not as good of a pass catcher as Hardman. By weighing nearly 30 pounds heavier Valdes-Scantling offers far superior blocking, but that's the only way he's better. Even as a big receiver Valdes-Scantling is uniquely unreliable at making catches in traffic, which explains his problematic career catch rate of 49.8 percent at 8.7 yards per target. Hardman's career catch rate is 67.7 percent at 9.6 yards per target. So Hardman – at about 2.5 years younger and in only his third through fifth seasons playing wide receiver in his career – outproduced MVS' efficiency marks by 17.9 points in catch percentage and nearly a yard per target. Hardman's touchdown percentage of 6.5 is also superior to MVS' 5.3 percent rate. It's one thing to prefer MVS' blocking, but if the Chiefs divert snaps and targets away from Hardman to subsidize MVS then they will only make things harder on themselves.
With Hardman and especially Valdes-Scantling more fast than skilled they're top candidates for downfield decoy routes to free up Travis Kelce (17.93 ADP) and free agent acquisition JuJu Smith-Schuster (109.4 ADP) underneath. While Kelce's efficiency might dip due to age and increased defensive attention, there's also the chance he increases his target share enough to offset that decline. Smith-Schuster is a strong candidate to finish second on the Chiefs for receptions, and he should be able to line up both in the slot and outside. Smith-Schuster played the slot recently in Pittsburgh because he was the only one who could, not because he can't line up outside. Smith-Schuster's ADP needs to go way up from here.
Otherwise, the MVS signing might largely indicate an intention to run better in 2022.
On that front it's notable that the Chiefs have re-signed neither of Darrel Williams (167.07 ADP) and Jerick McKinnon (263.33 ADP) at running back, though both remain good candidates to return just for the fact that neither player is likely to draw much more than the veteran minimum. In the meantime the Chiefs only have Clyde Edwards-Helaire (88.13 ADP), Derrick Gore (320.8 ADP) and Brenden Knox (N/A ADP) at running back.
Update: With Kansas City signing Ronald Jones to a one-year contract the Chiefs suddenly have a much more crowded backfield. Jones is dubious at best on passing downs, but as a pure runner he's probably an above average talent. It's easy to imagine Jones as Kansas City's primary runner when they have leads, and they might have a good number of those. Jones' arrival is not good news for Edwards-Helaire, but it might not be bad news if Jones functions as a rushing specialist and Edwards-Helaire claims most of the passing down functions. If a third runner is regularly involved, though, then it's hard to see how CEH could be useful.