With the 2022 NFL Draft well in the past, fantasy football managers have a long drought of content ahead of them. There’s still quite a bit of time before preseason officially begins, and OTA’s don’t typically generate worthwhile news. But for those managers that are trying to really get an edge over their league mates, there is always something to keep an eye on as teams start to come together through the summer.
In fact, the small tidbits from beat writers could be indicators for more important notes down the line. It’s all about following the important storylines this preseason. While there are plenty of players and teams to track, these are three storylines that fantasy football players will want to follow this preseason to get that advantage come draft time.
What’s going on with Kadarius Toney
The New York Giants were a rough team to watch in 2021. Saquon Barkley was once again injured before he could get going. Daniel Jones was also hurt, but in reality, is such a coin-flip type of player that he was hard to start anyway. Kenny Golladay got paid big time to sit on the bench, and Darius Slayton just isn’t the consistent deep threat that NYG needs. Though that may be more about the O-Line never giving Jones time to throw.
The only bright spot from an otherwise dismal Giants offense was the one incredible game from the then-rookie Kadarius Toney. The first-round pick from Florida lit up the Dallas Cowboys’ defense before getting himself ejected by punching another player. Toney would eventually miss most of the games afterwards, but that one game showcased why the Giants burnt first-round capital on a player that had some off-field concerns.
Toney comes back to New York after an offseason that held rumors about a potential trade to get out of the Meadowlands. The Giants have a new coach, a (hopefully) healthy Barkely, and now a potential #1 wideout in Toney. If things click, maybe this offense won’t be tragically bad. The key is Toney, and to a lesser extent Golladay, as he needs to be the other offensive threat to ensure teams don’t stack the box every play. Toney is apparently trending in the right direction according to the new Giants OC Mike Kafka. Keep tabs on his progress regarding health concerns as well.
It’s also important to keep in mind that most rookie wideouts tend to break out in their second year in the league. With a season under his belt, Toney could be one of those late-round picks that ultimately creates a massive amount of value for fantasy teams. Then again, he could just as likely be a waiver wire desperation play on a week-to-week basis depending on what happens in the preseason.
Who’s winning the Steelers QB Competition
The Pittsburgh Steelers could be a fantasy gold mine this upcoming year. Last year players saw Najee Harris come into the league and make an immediate impact for fantasy managers. Diontae Johnson was great in 2020 and was for the most part solid in 2021. Stand-out tight end Pat Friermuth surprised plenty of people with his knack for finding pay dirt.
Sadly Chase Claypool didn’t quite hit the mark this year, but it wasn’t entirely his fault. His quarterback had potentially one of his worst years ever. And even worse, there isn’t much certainty at the position either for 2022.
The Steelers are looking like a team that will be held back by a shaky O-Line and an even more questionable QB. Between long-time backup Mason Rudolph and first-round draft pick Kenny Pickett, Pittsburgh finds itself in a pickle. They could bench Pickett for a year and go with the known commodity that is a mediocre Mason Rudolph, or just go with the rookie and see how it pans out. Both options make the other offensive weapons in Pittsburgh a little less appealing.
Then of course there’s Mitchell Trubisky. The former first-round draft pick played for the Chicago Bears for the first four years of his career, only to find himself playing backup to Josh Allen last season. Trubisky was an interesting QB for fantasy in years past because he has all the athleticism to be a top QB, but he just could never keep it consistent. He was able to keep WR Allen Robinson inside fantasy relevance for years, but never could break out himself. Maybe with some time away from Matt Nagy Trubisky could evolve into the quarterback the Steelers need in their life after Big Ben.
The Seattle Seahawks Offense as a whole
Hooo boy what is going on here. Trading away your franchise quarterback for pennies never feels great, and both options for replacement seem a bit underwhelming. The Seahawks look like they are buying into the idea that former Bronco QB Drew Lock could be their starter for 2022. Lock was one of the key pieces, apparently, in the blockbuster deal that would send Russel Wilson to Denver.
Lock has been a starter for Denver, but the results haven’t been the most encouraging. Critics could blame the weapons around him, but ultimately he found himself missing WR Courtland Sutton often, and making crucial bad-judgment throws that really highlighted why he was the back up in two separate seasons. As a starter in 2020, Lock started 13 games where he only won 4.
Then there’s the crowded running back room that could be a goldmine or a landmine. RB Rashad Penny was an absolute force in the back half of the fantasy season last year, single-handedly winning key games for fantasy managers. Heading into this off-season, Penny owners were excited to see that their bet had paid off after all these years. To make things even juicier, the starting position was pretty much locked for Penny going into 2022.
Chris Carson went down with an injury early in the year and never came back, and there are rumors that he may just be done with football for good. Travis Homer is gone, and DeeJay Dallas never really made an impact in his small amount of playtime. It looks like it’s coming up all Penny in this offseason. Then draft day came along and threw the backfield back into chaos.
Instead of doubling down on Penny, the Seahawks drafted RB Ken Walker III out of Michigan State. Walker is a strong talent and on-paper a really great signing for Seattle. However for fantasy managers, it’s just another headache. Having to decide which RB to take can be a nightmare, doubly so in a situation where the offense hasn’t had a true RB1 in the past few seasons. One of these players could emerge as the lead runner in this backfield, but fantasy managers will want to watch this competition closely.
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