Legal Tampering Fantasy Impacts: Day One

Yesterday opened the “legal tampering” period of NFL free agency. What did the day’s events mean for various players in fantasy football?

Happy 2022 league year, as free agency opened yesterday with the “legal tampering” period. This means teams can talk and agree to deals in principle in advance of the actual start of free agency on Wednesday. What does all this money being thrown around mean for several fantasy players? Let’s dive in and see who’s stock is up and who’s is down.

Trevor Lawrence, Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jaguars spent crazy dollars on day one. Adding multiple pieces to the front seven will bolster the run defense. The impacts to Lawrence are the additions of Christian Kirk, Evan Engram, Zay Jones, and Brandon Scherff. Combined with the decision to franchise tag OT Cam Robinson, it’s clear the Jaguars are trying to help their young QB.

Adding Scherff and holding onto Robinson signals a clear intent to help protect and give confidence to the young QB. While the Jaguars were about league average in pass block win rate, per ESPN, they clearly felt it was an area to improve. Former Scherff employer Washington was ninth-best in the same metric, so adding him is likely to be a boon to the entire line.

As for help catching passes, the Jaguars added Christian Kirk, Zay Jones, and Evan Engram to Lawrence’s weapons. In what appears a massive overpay, Lawrence likely has a new top receiver. In fantasy, though, Kirk has shown to be a reliable slot WR.

Jones popped in Vegas in 2021 as a deep threat in limited action. Engram has struggled to repeat his rookie performance but Doug Pederson loved involving TEs in Philly.

Stock Direction: Up

Jacksonville adding arguably the top overall lineman, multiple WRs they clearly love, and a solid pass-catching TE, clearly means that Lawrence is getting a boost. He struggled badly as a rookie, and it can’t all be due to coaching.

Making a splash like this rarely works in real life, but all these options will be a great help for Lawrence’s year two growth. It’ll be fun watching this offense this year, and I think Lawrence makes a big leap.

Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys

Dak Prescott is undoubtedly one of the elite QBs in the league, but the Cowboys’ decision to pay Ezekiel Elliott has done the team no favors. Agreeing to move on from their top WR on the eve of free agency hurts. So does likely losing one of their OTs due to cap constraints.

Re-signing WR Michael Gallup helps, but he bumps up from WR3 to WR2 and the WR4 Cedrick Wilson left for Miami as well.

Look at the list of WRs above, other than CeeDee Lamb and Gallup, it’s an uninspiring list. Add to that the late knee injury to Gallup and it’s going to be Lamb and TE Dalton Schultz early in 2022. I expect the Cowboys to add an option in the draft, but for now it’s less than ideal.

Losing one of your OTs on top of all the pass-catching turnover, while your main division rivals add a big-time pass rusher (Hassan Reddick signing with the Eagles). Dallas’ option to replace him is Terrence Steele, a former UDFA. While he’s made 27 starts over his last 2 years, he’s a significant downgrade when looking at‘s ratings.

Stock Direction: Down

No surprises here. Losing multiple receivers, and bringing back an injured one, isn’t going to be a help to start the year. Likely losing an elite OT on top of that, and Prescott is likely to have a tougher time in 2022 with the current state of the roster.

Chase Edmonds, Miami Dolphins

Chase Edmonds has been a solid contributor for the back half of his rookie deal with the Cardinals. Last year he split time with James Conner, who just re-upped with Arizona himself. The first RB off the market, though, was Edmonds to Miami on a two-year, $12.1M contract.

Edmonds is an explosive runner with solid vision and a great scheme fit in the wide zone scheme McDaniel’s is likely bringing from the 49ers. While not the same speed-wise as Raheem Mostert or Elijah Mitchell, he makes up for it with agility. Edmonds is also a better receiving option than the 49ers backs, and should be a dump-off option for Tua Tagovailoa.

Stock Direction: Up

This one comes with a caveat or two, but Edmonds will vault up rankings. He’s a solid RB2 for your roster at the moment. The Dolphins should continue to improve the offensive line this offseason, which will only help the offense.

The biggest issue is the draft, as Miami needs more RB depth than just Edmonds and Myles Gaskin, so if they draft an RB on days one or two, he’ll fall right back to an RB3 in a committee.

Diontae Johnson, Pittsburgh Steelers

Diontae Johnson, as well as the rest of the Steelers offense, will be catching passes from a new QB in 2022. Pittsburgh and Mitchell Trubisky agreed to terms on a two year deal, and it should have a ripple effect on the entire pass-catching corps.

While Johnson clearly saw improvement with regards to his drop issues, I’ve got hesitation over the target share. With Trubisky at his most effective, the Bears in 2018 spread the football around (albeit Allen Robinson was in his first year back from the knee injury). Chicago that season had three players between 90-100 targets, and another with 75.

I believe this is closer to what the Steelers breakdown looks like, though with some modifications. If Chase Claypool sees about 100, Pat Freiermuth at about 75, and Najee Harris about 75, that’ll likely be 130-140 for Johnson. Assuming Trubisky plays like that 2018 level player, the Steelers could be a very fruitful offense.

Stock Direction: Down (slightly)

It’s not a major hit to me, but Trubisky at his best was more in line with early Ben Roethlisberger. If he’s looking more downfield, it’s possible that Claypool takes a leap while Johnson vies with Freiermuth and Harris for shorter area targets.

Not a huge hit since he’s open a ton and will be a safety blanket, but it’s a risk that he loses targets to other options and I expect growth from Claypool with a stronger armed QB.

Rondale Moore, Arizona Cardinals

With the departure of multiple options from the Cardinals passing game and still pending free agency of others, Rondale Moore is vaulted into a bigger role. Chase Edmonds, Christian Kirk, and A.J. Green are all out or could be out. I’d expect Moore to take a lot of the Kirk role as the slot and underneath option.

Moore had a bit role in 2021, playing behind Kirk as the slot option. Moore saw an average target depth of just 3.3 yards, 114th best at WR. However, he saw a ton of usage on a bit role, seeing a target on 26% of his routes. He jumps into a much larger role for 2022 and is a lock for 90-100 targets, and hopefully see more downfield passing work.

Stock Direction: Up

Buy Rondale Moore, his stock is way up, and should be an exciting year two option. With DeAndre Hopkins healthy and Zach Ertz re-signed, Moore should be in a lot of single coverage with lesser athletes. Hopefully they figure out how to use Moore in a Deebo Samuel like role too, as he can take handoffs as well. Buy in now while you can if the owner is disappointed in his year one.

Other random thoughts

James Conner’s stock is up and will likely be as valuable as last year, assuming good health.  I was surprised to see a three-year term, but expect a passing down back to develop with Conner over the year. Mitchell Trubisky is obviously up — he’s immediately a solid QB2 option in SuperFlex, with huge upside.

Joe Burrow’s stock is super high, but love the additional guards added today to protect him. On the flip side, Tom Brady’s stock takes a mild hit. I’m less worried about short-area targets, but Mike Evans could be hurt. I also have fears over Michael Pittman, multiple QBs came off the board and most trade candidates are off the board now.

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