We all went into the 2021 season with high expectations for certain players. Whether it was based off of the production from the previous season, same faces in new places, or the high-profile rookie looking to make their debut in the NFL. Now, we enter the off-season after 18 weeks of screaming at our TVs. Those same players we were hoping would lead us to a championship were hurting our fantasy teams.
Off-season is here and we’re seeing all of these Front Office, Coaching and player personnel changes happening every day. Which players are going to have their dynasty impact affected the most by all the activity going on around them?
D.J. Moore, WR CAR
It seems as if Moore finds himself on these lists more often than not. For someone who continues to produce with mediocre QB play season after season, we are just never satisfied. The Panthers tried to address their QB situation, yet again, this past offseason. The team traded away Teddy Bridgewater and brought in Sam Darnold. To no surprise, that did not work. Neither did the reunion with Cam Newton later on in the season. Whoever lines up under center next season won’t have as much of an impact as new Offensive Coordinator, Ben McAdoo.
As the OC for the Giants in 2014 and 2015, the Giants offense produced 279.4 YPG and 11.67 average yards per pass attempt. Odell Beckham Jr. had his best seasons as a professional with McAdoo calling plays. Between 2014 and 2015, OBJ had 2,755 receiving yards (avg. 14.7 yards per catch), 288 targets and 25 TDs. Clearly, he made it a point to get the ball to his best receiver whenever possible.
Verdict: Moore is entering a contract year. Whether you believe in the narrative or not, he is someone who continues to defy poor QB play and produce consistent numbers each season. Pair that with a healthy CMC returning and hopefully competent QB play. I would be sending out feelers to the Moore owner in your league and seeing if they have soured on him.
Justin Fields, QB CHI
January 10th was the day that all Chicago Bear fans, and Fields truthers, were waiting for. The Bears finally moved on from Matt Nagy, and we are all now expecting the unleashing of Fields in 2022.
Fields seemed to have everything going against him in his first season in the NFL. Andy Dalton was named the Week 1 starter. Not only was he named the starter, the offensive game plan was tailored around his skillset as well. This didn’t fare well for Fields when he finally did become the starter after Dalton went down with an injury. Then came Week 6 and it seemed like he was finally given the chance to show off his rushing ability. From Week 6 on, he averaged 7.4 attempts and 51.6 rush yards a game. His 420 rush yards in 2021 was tops among all rookie QBs. In his 12 games played, he completed 58.9% of his passes for 1,870 yards, seven touchdowns, and 10 INTs.
Chicago just hired former Colts DC Matt Eberflus as their new HC. This hire probably doesn’t excite the Fields truthers out there. We will have to wait and see how he and their new OC build the new offense around him. New GM Ryan Poles was the man in charge of scouting Patrick Mahomes during his time with the Chiefs and, with that, comes a lot of optimism of what he will be able to do with Justin Fields going forward.
Verdict: Fields is going to officially be handed the keys to this offense for the Chicago Bears organization, which took him 11th overall in the 2021 NFL Draft. With a projected $34.4M in salary cap going into this offseason, the combination of an offense built around him, and ample offensive talent to support; Fields should be well positioned to strive in his sophomore season.
Steelers Wide Receivers
The end of an era. Big Ben Roethlisberger’s time in Pittsburgh has come to an end, and the Steelers will be going into the 2022 season with a new QB at the helm. They may decide to stay in house with either Mason Rudolph or Dwayne Haskins. Or they may take a chance with another through free agency or the draft. Either way, that offense is not going to look the same as it did this past season. Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool’s targets will look to improve from the 6.2 yards per pass attempt that Roethlisberger was averaging this season.
While able to bring in 107 receptions on 169 targets, Johnson benefited a lot from passes mainly thrown around the line of scrimmage. He has seen his reception per game average increase steadily through his first three seasons. We have to wonder if Johnson will have that same role with a new QB who will, most likely, be able to throw the ball downfield more consistently.
Johnson was the favorite target in that offense throughout the season. He commanded 26.3% of the team’s targets but suffered from an average depth of target of 8.3 yards and had an average of only 1.53 air yards per snap.
Claypool has to be begging for a chance to use his combination of size and speed to make an impact on the field. The way the offensive game plan was executed on a weekly basis did not fit well with how he was used at Notre Dame, which was initially why a lot of people were excited when he was drafted.
Even though his aDOT was slightly higher than Johnson’s (10.8 aDOT), it was almost three yards lower than his average in 2020. He also only was able to muster up a catch rate of 56.2% during this past season. Suppose you could make it through watching an offensive drive of the Steelers in 2021. In that case, you can use the eye test to tell you that Roethlisberger’s inability, and inaccuracies, in getting the ball downfield played a large part in the lack of big plays from Claypool this season. Oh, and his normal visits to Mike Tomlin’s doghouse sure didn’t help.
Verdict: A new QB is going to do wonders for this offense. It is going to be interesting to see how Diontae’s usage in this offense changes in the new system. On the other hand, I believe we are about to see a breakout for Claypool this upcoming season where he should be properly utilized as the big body receiver that can make plays all over the field. I would actively be trying to acquire Chase Claypool this off-season.
Jerry Jeudy and Courtland Sutton are heading into 2022 with a new, offensive-minded, head coach in Nathaniel Hackett. While that builds to the narrative of Aaron Rodgers following along, there’s no guarantee that happens. There will undoubtedly be a new QB in Denver next season and will be a situation to monitor.
The Dolphins are fully committed to Tua after passing on Deshaun Watson and firing Brian Flores as soon as the off-season began. He is now going into his third season and will have his third new offensive system in place. As a new coaching staff is pieced together, and the Dolphins bring in the weapons around him, let’s hope Tua is able to take that next step in his development.
There was so much hype coming into this season when the generational talent was paired with Urban Meyer. To the surprise of no one but Jaguars ownership, that relationship failed and Lawrence paid the price for it. We didn’t see many flashes from him this season but there is a reason he has been so highly ranked coming out of high school and into the NFL draft. The talent is there. Now let’s see how he will be unleashed going into his sophomore year.
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