The 2022 NFL Season is charging ahead, with free agency launching on March 14. Since that time, we have seen a bevy of moves, including trades and signings that have shifted the balance of power in the NFL. That makes this an excellent time to stop and take stock. And that’s just what the stock watch is all about.
With the first wave of free agency behind us and the draft rapidly approaching, it’s time to see whose stock improved and whose stock dropped. I’ll be looking at three who have improved and three who’ve slipped at each position—QB, RB, WR, and TE. It’s time to see where we stand as the NFL Draft Approaches. Today I begin with quarterbacks.
Matt Ryan, Indianapolis Colts
About: This isn’t so much about a change in Ryan’s skill but the quality of the opportunity. He was always going to be a starter, but with the Colts, he figures to be in the thick of a post-season race once again. In Atlanta, he had Kyle Pitts, but the wide receiver and rushing situation weren’t great, nor was the offensive line. He has a better line in Indianapolis and the game’s best running back in Jonathan Taylor. The Colts still need to add some weapons, but I like Michael Pittman and the potential of Parris Campbell. He has a decent tight end in Mo-Allie Cox, and the team could be grabbing Julio Jones or use pick No. 42 to grab a receiver. Maybe both. Either way, I like Ryan as a solid QB2 option in 2022.
Tua Tagovailoa, Miami Dolphins
About: Tua was the No. 5 pick in the 2020 draft, but it’s been an up-and-down two years. One could also argue he hasn’t been given a great chance to succeed. That changed this off-season. The Dolphins hired former 49ers’ Offensive Coordinator Mike McDaniel and have worked to build an arsenal for Tua. He still has Jaylen Waddle and DeVante Parker, and the team slapped the Franchise Tag on tight end Mike Gesicki and signed Cedric Wilson from the Cowboys. The Dolphins picked up Raheem Mostert and Chase Edmonds to bolster the backfield and traded for Tyreek Hill. That figures to give Tua the tools to push for QB1, though I like him better as a solid high-end QB2. It’s not without risk—as the signing of Teddy Bridgewater gives the Dolphins options—but Miami has invested in helping Tua succeed in a make-or-break third season.
Deshaun Watson, Cleveland Browns
About: Let’s set aside the off-the-field and moral issues, which are huge questions. If you’re purely looking at fantasy football, Watson saw a huge boost as he won’t face criminal charges and received a huge new contract from the Browns, who paid a king’s ransom to get him from Houston. This isn’t without risk, as Watson could still face a personal conduct suspension. But if you held Watson through the 2021 season, you could be in a position to contend in 2022 or have a huge chip to trade heading into a rookie draft. Strike now while the iron is hot.
Trey Lance, San Francisco 49ers
About: Lance was the third overall pick in 2021, but he didn’t get a great chance to show what he can do. He threw for 603 yards and five touchdowns in limited work, rushing for 168 and another touchdown. It seemed when the season ended that the team was poised to move Jimmy Garoppolo and hand over the keys to the offense. But the musical chairs at quarterback have ended, and Jimmy is still on the roster. It seems more likely by the day that Jimmy will remain with San Francisco, casting doubt on who might be the Week 1 starter. It could be yet another season with him on the bench in San Francisco and your fantasy team for those who reached to get Lance in rookie drafts last year. That’s not where shareholders want to be.
Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns
About: Mayfield was once the No. 1 overall pick. In 2020, he led the Browns to the post-season and beat the Steelers. But the wheels fell off the bus in 2021. The Browns missed the playoffs and then not only kicked the tires on a replacement but traded for Watson, giving him a record-breaking guaranteed contract. Meanwhile, Mayfield is on the roster, the backup QB at best in Cleveland and quickly running out of potential landing spots. It’s a precipitous fall for Mayfield, whose future is uncertain heading into the final year of his rookie deal. It’s uncertain for shareholders, too, who may find themselves holding a sunk asset.
Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
About: Rodgers is the reigning NFL MVP and signed a new long-term contract. So, why is he on this list? Simple, he doesn’t have any receivers. Davante Adams was traded to the Raiders, and Marquez Valdes-Scantling signed with the Kansas City Chiefs. That leaves the Packers with Allen Lazard, Randall Cobb, second-year man Amari Rodgers and plenty of questions. Aaron might be one of the greatest quarterbacks ever to play the game, but this is a tall order. Sure, the Packers might draft a receiver, but it’s undeniable that this off-season has been a blow to the offense.
Matthew Fox is a member of the FSWA. He’s a die-hard NFL Fan and Broncos homer. You can find more from him on Twitter @knighthawk7734 and as co-host of the Fantasy Football Roundtable Podcast, a part of the Campus2Canton Network.