The 2022 NFL Season is achingly close. Training Camp has wrapped up and pre-season is on its way out. As the season prepares to launch it’s a good time to consider how players’ value has changed. Earlier, I looked at those whose value has taken a hit and rookies that are worth a stash. Today, it’s time to look at some players whose stock is on the rise heading into the season.
Jared Goff, Detroit Lions
About: Goff was once the No. 1 overall pick and he even took the Rams to a Super Bowl. But after he was traded to the Lions for Matthew Stafford last off-season, he sort of fell off the radar. I get it, the Lions aren’t contenders…yet. But for two drafts many have thought the Lions should take a quarterback, yet they haven’t. Goff is by far the best quarterback on the roster with only Tim Boyle and David Blough behind him. The Lions have also improved the line in front of him, given him a pair of weapons in the backfield and continued to build up the passing weapons. With the Rams in 2019, Goff was a respectable QB13. Yet, he’s currently going as QB26, two slots below where he finished in fantasy in 2021 despite starting the year with virtually no receiving weapons. I like Goff to surprise people this year and, if the Lions make a significant jump, he could well be the guy there for a few more years to come. Don’t give up on Goff too early.
Trey Lance, San Francisco 49ers
About: The 49ers made the NFC Championship Game in 2021 with Jimmy Garoppolo at the helm. Despite the fact Jimmy G. is still on the roster, the team now belongs to Lance. Why? Well, he has a lot of raw talent and the 49ers spent three year’s worth of First Round picks to move up and grab him in the 2021 NFL Draft. He started two games in 2021, finishing as QB20 in Week 5 and QB10 in Week 17. Will there be growing pains? Sure, but those that took Lance early in rookie drafts in 2021 should be excited to see what he can do. Given his rushing ability, QB2 is his floor with his ceiling being a QB1 finish. For Lance fans, it’s wheels up heading into 2022.
A.J. Dillon, Green Bay Packers
About: Since the Packers took Dillon, fantasy players have been waiting for him to be unleashed. In 2021 he finished as RB22, getting 187 carries and turning it into 803 yards and five touchdowns. With the lack of receivers, it’s likely that the run-game will be an even bigger focus for the Packers. Yes, Aaron Jones is still there. He’ll get his share of work, especially as a receiver, but Dillon seems poised for an even bigger share of the offense. I suspect he could well top 200 carries, giving him a great chance to put up solid RB2 numbers and best his current ADP of RB25. For those who’ve exercised patience, your time could be coming.
Travis Etienne, Jacksonville Jaguars
About: You’d be hard-pressed to find a player whose hype has built higher this off-season without any concrete evidence than Etienne. Many were bullish on him coming into the NFL last year, but a foot injury cost him the season. Now, fans are poised to watch him explode. His ADP is RB19, and some are more bullish than that. Sometimes when I highlight players on the rise, it’s so we can bask in things paying off. Sometimes, it’s about the right time to sell. With Etienne, if you can find a true believer, pull the trigger. The Jaguars’ offense is still a work in progress, and so is Etienne. He hasn’t taken a regular season snap and with the speedy recovering of James Robinson, he’s no lock to be a three-down workhorse. His hype is high, and for me now’s the time to cash in.
Hunter Renfrow, Las Vegas Raiders
About: Yes, the Raiders signed Davante Adams this off-season. Yes, he’ll command a huge target load. But, no, I’m not out on Renfrow. The receiver has plenty of chemistry with Derek Carr and figures to be in for another excellent season. He was WR11 in 2021 and yet is currently going as WR31. That’s way too low. Sure, Adams will get his, but this offense will be able to support more than one receiver. The combination of Henry Ruggs III, DeSean Jackson, Bryan Edwards and Zay Jones saw 184 targets, and they’re all gone. And that would still leave the 128 targets Renfrow saw in 2021 and the nearly 100 targets Darren Waller saw. Renfrow will be a top-end WR2, take it to the bank.
Allen Lazard, Green Bay Packers
About: Davante Adams and Marquez Valdes-Scantling left in free agency. While the Packers added rookies in Romeo Doubs and Christian Watson, in addition to veteran Sammy Watkins, none of those guys have the built-in relationship and trust with Aaron Rodgers that Lazard has developed. Lazard has been a key contributor for the past two seasons, and now he’s The Guy. Even Rodgers has said that. All that gives him a huge opportunity as the Packers vacated 224 targets between Adams and MVS. They have to go somewhere, meaning Lazard is a great bet to see more than 100 targets for the first time in his career. He’s got an incredibly high ceiling and he’s still flying under-the-radar at WR43.
Albert Okwuegbunam, Denver Broncos
About: Albert O’s fantasy prospects flew through the roof the minute Noah Fant was traded for Russell Wilson. Not only did the Broncos’ quarterback prospects improve, but the primary competition at tight end also departed. While the Broncos spent a Third-Round pick on Greg Dulcich, he’s struggled with injuries this off-season and hasn’t appeared in pre-season. It’s also likely he won’t be available for the first part of the season and may even start on the PUP list. All this clears the way for Albert to be the Broncos’ primary pass-catching tight end. He’s currently going as TE19 but for those that have stashed him for a few years, this is the moment you’ve waited to see arrive.
Gerald Everett, Los Angeles Chargers
About: While we keep waiting for Donald Parham to make a splash, the Chargers keep showing us he’s not the answer. They had Hunter Henry. Last year they added veteran Jared Cook in 2021. This year, they added the veteran Everett, who has had productive seasons with the Rams and Seahawks. Now, he’s a top receiving option in a high-volume offense with quarterback Justin Herbert. While the top of the pecking order is Keenan Allen, Mike Williams and Austin Ekeler, there’s more than enough targets to go around. Everett is still a steal, going late in drafts and carrying an ADP of TE21. For a guy that could get decent volume in the Chargers’ offense, that feels like great value worth snagging heading into the season.
Matthew Fox is a die-hard NFL fan and Broncos’ homer. He’s a member of the FSWA. You can find more from him on Twitter @knighthawk7734 or as co-host of the Fantasy Football Roundtable Podcast, a part of the Campus2Canton Network.