Fantasy Football grades for every NFC team in 2022

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Los Angeles Rams – A

Matthew Stafford and Cooper Kupp were the NFL’s best connection last season and they’re both back to headline this unit.

Cooper Kupp #10 and Matthew Stafford #9 of the Los Angeles Rams are an elite fantasy duo

Matthew Stafford and Cooper Kupp are back to make fantasy magic together. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

The always itchy-to-deal Rams added former Pro Bowler Allen Robinson to the mix. If Robinson can recapture his 2019/2020 form the Rams have a true 1A-1B tandem in place. At his best Robinson is an upgrade over Robert Woods. Behind Robinson, Van Jefferson showed in Year 2 that he’s a big-play No. 3 receiver who is a bit underrated.

The backfield should have Cam Akers at full strength after a 2021 training camp Achilles injury. He didn’t look quite right during the team’s Super Bowl run but Sean McVay still assigned him a huge volume of touches. That’s a good sign for his future as a feature back. Darrell Henderson is an electric backup who can also sub-in on passing downs.

Tyler Higbee doesn’t offer a ton of big-play juice but is a solid starter at tight end. You really have to stretch to find a weak spot on this offense.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers – A-

Tom Brady is back to make another run at a Super Bowl and is once again surrounded by a strong cast of characters.

Mike Evans is the entrenched top pass-catcher on the team and remains a dynamic, big-play No. 1. He’ll have to shoulder more of the burden early in the season because, while Chris Godwin was retained, he might get up to speed slowly recovering from a late-season torn ACL. The team signed the underrated Russell Gage from the Falcons to help fill in the gaps. Gage’s film is really good; he produced some big weeks on a dreadful Falcons offense late last season.

Leonard Fournette was brought back after a strong season as a rusher and receiver. He’s a solid back with the ability to play all three downs. The Bucs drafted Rachaad White to bring some more juice behind Fournette. He’ll be an upgrade over Ronald Jones in the passing game.

As for Rob Gronkowski, I’ll believe he’s retiring from something more than just training camp when it’s about Week 10 or so of the season. Even IF Gronk is done, Cameron Brate is a reasonable replacement at tight end.

Arizona Cardinals – B+

Giving the Cardinals a grade is difficult because they’ll play a significant number of games without DeAndre Hopkins. However, when they’re at full strength, this unit is a force to be reckoned with.

At his best Kyler Murray is the rising tide that lifts all boats. We just need to see him be that guy for a full 17-game season.

Hopkins still looks like he’s at the top of his game as a No. 1 receiver. The trade for Marquise Brown caught many by surprise but might end up being an upgrade on their No. 2 receiver/speed slot position. Brown is a big-play threat and zone-beating specialist who is at his best when not asked to be a top threat. A.J. Green turned in a solid season as Arizona’s secondary outside receiver last season. Rondale Moore is difficult to project because he basically didn’t play wide receiver last year. He does offer some juice as a short-area pass catcher and YAC threat.

Tight end is two deep with Zach Ertz and rookie Trey McBride. Running back is also in good shape with James Conner back after a shocking and dynamic 2021 season. The depth behind him has been replenished with Darrel Williams added in free agency and Keontay Ingram in the draft.

Arizona always looks good on paper. That’s not new. They need to prove it consistently over a full season.

San Francisco 49ers – B

I’m still a big believer in Trey Lance’s upside to take a steady, efficient 49ers offense and make it dangerous. Lance looked decidedly raw in his brief appearances as a rookie but flashed the ability to keep the chains moving with his legs and inject vertical shots outside the numbers in the passing game. He is still unproven, though, keeping the team off A or B+ territory.

If Lance hits his ceiling, however, this is going to be one of the top offenses of 2022.

George Kittle and Deebo Samuel are two of the top players at their position. They are unique and game-breaking players who create matchup problems. Fantasy managers were burned by Brandon Aiyuk’s unforeseen trip to the doghouse early in the season but you need to let it go. He was a productive player and top-20 fantasy receiver from Week 8 on once he settled things with the coaches. This trio can measure up with just about any pass-catching corps around the league.

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The running game is always great in San Francisco and it looks like they unearthed a gem in Elijah Mitchell. The team will hope one of the guys they drafted high-ish the last two years in Trey Sermon or Tyrion Davis-Price emerges as a solid backup.

Philadelphia Eagles – B

The Eagles injected star power into their offense when they traded for A.J. Brown on Day 1 of the 2022 NFL Draft. It’s difficult to express just how much of a difference taking Jalen Reagor’s targets and giving them to Brown is going to make. Brown has top-five talent at the position and should be the completing piece for this passing game.

The Brown acquisition should only make established Eagles players like Dallas Goedert and DeVonta Smith better. The Brown and Smith tandem could be regarded as one of the best receiver duos in the league soon enough. Smith won as a pure separator and X-receiver last season and his ability there will allow Brown to move around the formation and create mismatches.

The backfield is a bit murky with Miles Sanders still in place as the lead back. However, it finished 2021 as one of the most productive ground games in the NFL.

The ceiling of this offense all comes back to quarterback Jalen Hurts. One of the most dangerous rushing threats at the position, the Eagles are still waiting to see consistent passing prowess from him before committing long-term. That said, he’s gotten better in each of the last four seasons dating back to college. If he doesn’t progress past his current standing — strong backup and just barely passable starter — then the Eagles will be looking to upgrade next offseason.

Minnesota Vikings – B

The Vikings offense should be getting a breath of fresh air in the coaching department this year with cranky Mike Zimmer out and former Rams offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell taking over. Zimmer consistently pushed this team backward in terms of modern offensive concepts while the new staff should be quite the opposite.

On paper, this still looks like a good but slightly top-heavy unit.

Justin Jefferson is the deserved headliner. The young star wideout looks ready to erupt after a blistering start to his career. No one should be surprised if he leads the NFL in multiple receiving categories. Behind him, Adam Thielen is looking to bounce back after injuries in 2021 and K.J. Osborn files in as a solid No. 3. Tight end sports Irv Smith, also a rebound candidate.

The backfield is still led by Dalvin Cook who, despite injuries, looks like he hasn’t lost a step yet. Cook is still a big-play rusher and solid receiver this team can build the running game around. Alexander Mattison has been a more-than-solid fill-in for Cook over the years.

Of course, Kirk Cousins still comes with one of the wildest salary figures in the context of his league-wide standing but he’s a fine starting quarterback. He can be the man pulling the strings in a comfortable offensive system that’s filled with playmakers.

Green Bay Packers – B-

The Packers are a tricky unit to grade.

On one hand, they have the league’s two-time MVP holding down the most important position in sports. Aaron Rodgers carries a lot of weight when looking at this offense on paper. They also have one of the NFL’s best backfield tandems with Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon. Plenty of teams around the league are surely envious of the Packers’ quarterback and running back situation.

On the other hand, no NFL team would look upon their pass-catching corps with any shade of green. The Packers’ WR corps is down among the worst units in the entire NFL following the Davante Adams trade. They don’t have a single proven, above-average starter at this point.

The team is counting on Robert Tonyan to make a full-scale comeback from a 2021 injury because they didn’t add anyone of significance there either.

Green Bay looks like they’ll be fully leaning into an identity based around the running game, a revamped defense and a still-efficient but less voluminous, more spread-out passing game around Rodgers.

Dallas Cowboys – B-

Dak Prescott sputtered down the stretch while dealing with a calf injury but should be the healthiest he’s been in almost two years come Week 1. He’s still a high-end starting quarterback and anyone protesting that fact isn’t dealing in reality.

Dallas lost Amari Cooper this offseason but has CeeDee Lamb in place. He’s ready to take the next step as a dynamic, legitimate No. 1 wide receiver. The depth beyond him is a concern, however. Michael Gallup is unlikely to be ready until several weeks into the season. That leaves third-round rookie Jalen Tolbert and James Washington to pick up the slack at wide receiver.

Lamb should clear 150 targets with ease.

Dallas Cowboys wide receiver CeeDee Lamb (88)

CeeDee Lamb should be a target hog in 2022. (Photo by George Walker/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Luckily, the running back and tight end rooms are in good shape. Ezekiel Elliott’s contract is insane but the veteran back was playing well before his PCL injury last season. He’s not as dynamic as he once was but is a steady grinder. Tony Pollard does bring some dynamism to the running back stable, however, and can offer passing down upside too. Dalton Schultz is back with the team on the franchise tag and has an ultra-reliable style of play.

Dallas might not be as top-heavy as it once was but is far from the danger zone in terms of offensive firepower.

Detroit Lions – B-

You can only get so excited about a unit with Jared Goff at quarterback but I definitely feel the national conversation about him has jumped the shark. He’s not a true franchise answer but he’s at worst an average starter. Goff can be the point-man distributor for a unit stocked with talent — and the Lions suddenly look like one of those teams.

We’ll see when rookie Jameson Williams is ready to play but when he’s out there he brings a lid-lifting, coverage-dictating presence to the wide receiver room. He truly has rare play speed and solid route-running chops.

Last year’s rookie revelation Amon-Ra St. Brown is the favorite to lead the team in targets this year. He won’t average 11 targets per game like he did to end 2021 but he’s a rock-solid big slot receiver with good hands and YAC ability. The depth behind these two youngsters is much better than in previous seasons with D.J. Chark and Josh Reynolds in the fold.

Both D’Andre Swift and T.J. Hockenson dealt with injuries last season but looked like promising young players. If they take the next step and stay on the field this offense suddenly boasts strong and ascending talents at every position around Goff.

Washington Commanders – C+

The Commanders will try to succeed where the Colts failed in the Carson Wentz career-rehabilitation project. It would be stunning if they got anything more than league-average play from him.

Wentz is who he is at this point. He hasn’t grown or evolved as a player since about 2017.

That said, Wentz will have a solid pass-catcher corps around him this season. Terry McLaurin is a legitimate top-10 receiver; he’s just slept on because he’s dealt with hideous quarterback play his entire career. Washington needs to wise up and offer him a good deal to re-sign with the team. Beyond McLaurin, the team added rock-solid rookie Jahan Dotson to man the slot and should get Curtis Samuel back healthy after a lost 2021 season. Logan Thomas is also hoping to make a full recovery and resume his duties as a split-out tight end.

The backfield looks like a mess for fantasy managers but could be a solid unit for Washington. Hate him all you want but J.D. McKissic is a threat in the passing game. Washington added Brian Robinson to push Antonio Gibson for early-down work.

Seattle Seahawks – C

The Seahawks still have one of the best wide receiver duos in the NFL with DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett, who are a legitimate 1A-1B tandem but are walking into 2022 with as unserious a quarterback situation as you’ll ever see.

Try as they might, no one on planet earth should buy what the Seahawks are selling that a Geno Smith vs. Drew Lock quarterback competition is going to end with a passable starter at the position. That makes them a difficult unit to grade.

Noah Fant came back in the Russell Wilson trade and gives the team a strong third option behind the two wideouts. The running back room will divvy up touches between Rashaad Penny, who ended last season on an elite run, and rookie Kenneth Walker. That’s a solid one-two punch that gives the team some options to work with.

New Orleans Saints – C

I’m not a believer that rolling out Jameis Winston as your no-doubt starter is a true solution at quarterback. So it’s difficult to rank the Saints as anything more than average.

That said, there’s no doubt the receiver room is in a better place than it was one year ago. Rookie Chris Olave is a ready-made pro and should bring both strong separation skills and vertical chops. Jarvis Landry might not be the player he once was but he brings competency to solidify the slot position.

The Michael Thomas situation is still a bit cloudy. Head coach Dennis Allen isn’t 100 percent sure when Thomas will take the field but hopes he’s ready for training camp. That’s concerning considering we’re still talking about a 2020 ankle injury.

If he does play, this receiver trio is one of the better groups in the league.

Running back Alvin Kamara looks like he’ll be hit with some sort of suspension after an arrest at the Pro Bowl. Mark Ingram was solid in relief duty last year and the team didn’t add any other proven bodies behind him.

New York Giants – C-

The Giants are banking on the hiring of Brian Daboll to breathe new life into an offense that has added plenty of talented players over the years but has been horribly mismanaged and oft-injured.

The team declined Daniel Jones’ fifth-year option after three rocky seasons. Jones is too mistake-prone but can play within structure and brings a lot of juice as a runner. Daboll and co. might be able to coax more good out of him but calling him anything more than an average starter would be a major stretch.

The receiver room is decidedly murky. Kenny Golladay is back after a massively disappointing Year 1 in New York and should be flanked by Kadarius Toney in two-receiver sets. Toney brings a ton of athletic ability to the table but is still unpolished and has been in the crosshairs of controversy since his arrival last year. If he figures it all out he could bring some real spice to this offense as a playmaker.

Beyond them, Sterling Shepard looks like a long-shot for Week 1 after tearing his Achilles late in 2021, meaning his slot snaps could go to rookie Wan’Dale Robinson. There is no one proven in the tight end room.

The real wild card here is Saquon Barkley. He was never quite right after getting hurt again in 2021 right at the moment he looked ready to handle a full workload following an ACL recovery. If his recent injury history is more bad luck than a long-term issue, he could enjoy a nice bounce-back season. But we’re still quite a ways away from the player who went second overall in 2018.

Carolina Panthers – C-

The Panthers grade is held down by the fact they have the league’s stone worst quarterback situation right now. There is no way you can sell a reasonable person on going into a season with Sam Darnold and a third-round rookie as your only options.

That alone is enough to sink this unit in the grades but Carolina’s skill position players are a bit overrated too.

Christian McCaffrey is a star player and one of the most unique entities in the NFL. His availability is also a major question mark at this point after multiple years of injuries. At least the team upgraded at backup running back with D’Onta Foreman, who did a poor man’s Derrick Henry impression in relief duty for last year’s Titans.

If healthy, McCaffrey would be a focal point in the passing game but beyond him, DJ Moore is the only other bankable, above-average player at this point. Robby Anderson is coming off a terrible season and 2021 second-rounder Terrace Marshall showed nothing as a rookie. He’ll be battling with former Browns depth player Rashard Higgins for snaps. Moore is a really good top receiver but he’s carrying this unit right now. Carolina does not have a proven tight end either.

Atlanta Falcons – D+

The Falcons have two versatile and exciting building blocks in rookie Drake London and especially tight end Kyle Pitts…but that’s about it.

The wide receiver position is about as bare as you’ll find outside of London. The team swung a trade for Bryan Edwards but he flamed out with the Las Vegas Raiders after a hype-filled 2021 offseason. Counting on him as a for-sure starter is a stretch. You won’t find much upside among depth guys like Olamide Zaccheaus, Auden Tate or Damiere Byrd, either.

Cordarrelle Patterson will fill in as a pass-catcher and he turned in a stunning season as a running back last year. However, there is not much depth behind him, and the more early-down work they put on Patterson last year, the more their running game sputtered. They’ll need Day 3 rookie Tyler Allgeier to get up to speed fast.

The Falcons will have a quarterback competition between Marcus Mariota and third-rounder Desmond Ridder. Expect both guys to play a bit this season. Ridder was billed a pro-ready type of quarterback but expecting above-average play from a rookie with his draft status all year long is a stretch.

Atlanta’s offense is in rough shape on paper even though the ceiling scenario for the London/Pitts duo is extremely exciting.

Chicago Bears – D+

The Bears were in a tough spot this offseason. New GM Ryan Poles faced balancing a roster, financial books that desperately needed a full teardown and a second-year quarterback who could use help around him.

The front office leaned into fixing the financial issue instead of selling out to prop up the offense around Fields. It’s a justifiable long-term strategy but it’s left the skill position cupboard (and offensive line) quite bare.

Fields’ receiver corps will be comprised of Darnell Mooney — who is a solid starting receiver — Byron Pringle and a host of flameouts from outside the building like Equanimeous St. Brown and Dante Pettis. Rookie Velus Jones looks like a developmental player who might not be ready to start in Year 1.

Outside of Mooney, the Bears might be able to count on third-year tight-end Cole Kmet as the only other fine starter. Kmet has already flashed but now must deliver a true breakout for the Bears to field multiple legitimate pass catchers.

Running back should be a position of decent strength. They have entrenched starter David Montgomery coming off his third 1,000 total-yard season and backup Khalil Herbert, who was excellent in relief duty as a rookie.

There’s no getting around how weak this offensive roster looks on paper. Fields’ rookie season was volatile and they’ll need him to smooth out his play to cover up some of the holes around him. That’ll be a tall task for the second-year passer.

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