The Yahoo Fantasy Football crew — Andy Behrens, Dalton Del Don, Scott Pianowski and Matt Harmon — is identifying the specific players they’re having the hardest time to rank and project during this 2022 draft season.
The most-hyped receiver of the draft season is also the hardest to rank
Andy Behrens: Gabe Davis is just a total ranking nightmare — unless of course you happen to be Dalton Del Don, in which case you simply call him the WR12 and move along.
We all remember the way Davis closed his 2021 postseason, with a 201-yard, 4-TD eruption against the Chiefs. But no one chooses to remember the way he finished up regularly season, when he caught just three balls for 39 yards on a whopping 14 targets. For me, the truth of Davis is somewhere in between those performances. He’s tied to the right offense and an impossibly gifted QB, so it’s not as if I’ve avoided him in drafts. It’s simply difficult to express the full range of possibilities for Davis in a simple rank. He’s very good, but also clearly not his team’s No. 1 receiving option.
There’s a non-trivial chance he’s outscored by Isaiah McKenzie this year, but no one’s ready for that conversation (certainly not Del Don).
Rookie wideouts present a conundrum in 2022
Matt Harmon: Almost all of the rookie wide receivers are ranking challenges. Outside of Chris O’Iave, Drake London and sneakily Jahan Dotson, I’m not sure how big of a Weeks 1-4 role any of these guys might have. Those three guys are still green-light picks because I’m 100 percent confident they’re going to roll out as true starters from the jump.
The rest of the 2022 class, however, is a bit more difficult to project.
I really want you to get Skyy Moore, Alec Pierce, George Pickens, Garrett Wilson and even Treylon Burks on your teams this year … I’m just not so sure you should draft them. If those players aren’t going to have a true role in two-receiver sets for the first month of the season, they’ll just be burning a hole in your roster and blocking you from picking up valuable RB waiver adds until you finally give up the ghost and drop them.
Remember, most of the folks who won championships with Amon-Ra St. Brown on their teams last year weren’t the ones who drafted him as a sleeper over the summer, but the hawks who picked him up when his routes per game started to rise after his rookie-year bye week. I want you to be that hawk for the 2022 rookies — I’m just not sure how to reflect that in draft rankings.
An exciting young quarterback with question marks
Scott Pianowski: I understand the excitement Trey Lance, trust me I do. He was the third pick in last year’s draft, Kyle Shanahan is a wizard, the Niners have fun skill talent and Lance is going to run plenty; the ultimate cheat code for a quarterback. But Lance is a gigantic unknown, too; in his last four seasons of football, he’s thrown a scant 389 passes. When second-year QBs like Patrick Mahomes p Lamar Jackson busted through, we could at least take inspiration from their college accomplishments — Mahomes had two monster years at Texas Techwhile Jackson bagged a Heisman Trophy (and finished third the following year).
On Lance, the explosion call is largely a speculation play.
I acknowledge the need to skate to where the puck is headed, not where it’s been. And in one-quarterback formats, you have a safety net if you pick Lance and he busts. That said, I have other quarterbacks in my queue that I’m more likely to draft. If Lance is the breakout of the year, it’s unlikely to be to my benefit.
Will this veteran star receiver return to his former fantasy glory?
Dalton Del Don: Michael Thomas has been the hardest player for me to rank, as he’s played just seven games and hasn’t scored a touchdown since 2019. But he’s also yet to turn 30 and recorded 149 catches on 185 targets the last time we saw him healthy. Now two years removed from ankle surgery yet dealing with a (minor) hamstring injury and playing with a new quarterback, Thomas has a huge, wide range of fantasy outcomes this season.