We got our first taste of 2022 NFL football with preseason games this August. Now that we’re heading into Week 1, here are my thoughts on some of the biggest movers in value over the last month. These are the dynasty fantasy football winners and losers of the 2022 preseason.
What to make of Dameon Pierce
No preseason article would be complete without addressing the MVP of the 2022 Exhibition games: Dameon Pierce. The Texans’ fourth-round rookie pick shined bright in his first action as a Pro. He has already secured his role as the lead back. The team’s decision to release Marlon Mack reinforced this idea. As a result, Pierce could make an immediate fantasy impact.
The future looks bright for Pierce, but don’t be afraid to cash in for the right offer in dynasty leagues. You likely spent a second-round rookie pick on him, so if you can land a 2023 1st, take the deal. Pierce will have fantasy value this season, but the Texans will still involve Rex Burkhead as the receiving back. As a two-down runner in a subpar offense, the upside isn’t there for him to consistently produce at a high level.
A 2023 first-round rookie pick is guaranteed to increase in value over the next year. Use it to acquire a more proven player in-season or hold for the next rookie class, which most expect to be elite.
Dameon Pierce spent the preseason making his case for the RB1 job. 😤@IRep229| @houstontexans pic.twitter.com/WIGXn67kdX
— NFL (@NFL) August 26, 2022
In the Chicago Bears’ preseason finale, David Montgomery was on the field for 20 out of 22 total snaps ran by the starters. He also ran eight routes, compared to just two by Khalil Herbert. Montgomery has already shown what he can do for fantasy. With a three-down workload, he became a league-winner down the stretch in 2020. Volume is king for fantasy running backs. Monty is poised to see a lot of work in his contract year.
A lead running back has emerged in Kansas City, Clyde Edwards-Helaire. Isiah Pacheco and Jerick McKinnon mixed in on passing downs during the preseason, but Ronald Jones has only played with the second-team offense. Even with a minor receiving role, with 200+ touches in this offense, Edwards-Helaire is a solid RB2 that you can draft as an RB3/4.
We often see rookies struggle to catch on in training camp, but Jahan Dotson has exclusively been playing with the Washington first-team unit this preseason. He’s already surpassed Curtis Samuel as the WR2 behind Terry McLaurin. Carson Wentz at quarterback might not excite you, but he’s always been able to support fantasy-relevant receivers. Dotson is the overlooked first-round rookie that could break out and become an immediate star.
Jahan Dotson has HANDS pic.twitter.com/2gVsWw8YpB
— Frank J. Dyevoich, Esq. (@Fantasy_Giant) August 2, 2022
Based on what we’ve seen, the entire Patriots offense has dipped in my 2022 rankings. First, there were reports about how awful the offense has looked in practice all summer. That transferred directly onto the field during the preseason. The starting offense struggled against both first and second-team units in each game. Mac Jones’ stats over his two games came out to 13/21 completed passes, 111 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. He won’t add much as a runner, so there is minimal upside to Jones.
Kenneth Gainwell consistently played behind Boston Scott both when Miles Sanders went down to an injury last year, and he’s come into games behind Scott again this preseason. While Sanders and Scott rested with most of the Eagles’ starters for Saturday’s game, Gainwell saw plenty of action with the second unit. He will probably lead the running backs in targets, but this team rarely passes to their backs. Now, they’ve added A.J. Brown to the mix. As a result, I don’t see a path to fantasy relevance for Gainwell anytime soon.
Check Your Waivers
Ameer Abdullah: Even Josh Jacobs played a handful of snaps this preseason, but Ameer Abdullah was held out for all three weeks. With the recent release of Kenyan Drake, Abdullah is the prime candidate to be the passing-down back in Las Vegas. Head Coach Josh McDaniels often targeted his running backs during his time as a coordinator in New England. So Abdullah has some nice PPR appeal.
Dontrell Hilliard: Many fantasy players like to chase rookie sleepers. This is why you’ve probably heard more about Julius Chestnut and Hassan Haskins than Dontrell Hilliard. It’s OK to get excited about the unknown rookies, but all signs point to Hilliard as the second-string RB in Tennessee. He was always the first running back to play throughout the preseason and only received a single carry in their game last week before quickly being rested with the starters. Derrick Henry is 28 years old and coming off a significant foot injury. His bell cow days might be in the past, so pay attention to who his direct backup is throughout the season.
Dontrell Hilliard was 2nd in explosive run yard percentage — 48.90% — amongst players with 50 or more rush attempts
He’s one of the cheapest handcuffs currently — RB85
(Explosive run = over 15-plus yards) #FantasyFootball pic.twitter.com/vrsMYXTYpD
— Jeremy (@PopesFFH) August 9, 2022
Tyler Conklin: Tyler Conklin is coming off of a career year in Minnesota, where he saw 87 targets and was a Top 20 fantasy TE. The Jets signed him to a three-year, $24 Million deal this spring. They also brought in C.J. Uzomah to compete but beat writers have been glowing about Conklin and his heavy involvement as a receiver. Conklin led all Jets starters this preseason with six targets over his two games. Uzomah saw just three targets in that span.
Zay Jones: Zay Jones is the least talked about starting wide receiver in the NFL. If you had any doubts before, the Laviska Shenault trade should make things clear: Christian Kirk, Marvin Jones, and Zay Jones are the starting receivers for Jacksonville. Try to delete all memories of the 2021 Jaguars from your brain. This is a new regime that is much more competent than its predecessor. Zay Jones will be the deep threat that Trevor Lawrence was missing last season after D.J. Chark broke his ankle early on.
Trevor Lawrence ➡️ Zay Jones for 32 yards! #Jaguars pic.twitter.com/K3ofbzkw8l
— Follow @FTBeard7 (@FTBeard7) August 12, 2022
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