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RotoPat’s 2022 Rankings: Pre-Free Agency

Mark Andrews

Mark Andrews

Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

It’s never too early, though some might claim this is actually too late for “too early” rankings. Nevertheless, here are my pre-free agency ranks at running back, wide receiver, quarterback and tight end. If the numbers — 25 QBs, 40 RBs, 60 WRs and 25 TEs — feel arbitrary, it’s because I ranked until I felt like I was guessing at any given position. Free agency and the draft will obviously have these looking completely different by May. Without further ado.

Top 25 Quarterbacks

1. Josh Allen — A true fantasy unicorn with unparalleled skill-set.
2. Patrick Mahomes — Sky-high floor with easily achievable ceiling.
3. Kyler Murray — Had another slow finish. Big skill corps changes incoming.
4. Lamar Jackson — Lost ‘21. Should experience positive TD regression via both land and air.
5. Justin Herbert — Attempts could come down. Uncertain supporting cast.
6. Joe Burrow — Rare combination of efficiency and big-play ability gives Burrow room for error.
7. Dak Prescott — Finally healthy, Prescott has supporting cast/coaching staff continuity.
8. Aaron Rodgers — The rare mono-threat for whom attempts do not matter.
9. Jalen Hurts — The version of 2020 Cam Newton who still has an arm.
10. Trey Lance — Classic “doesn’t even need to be good in real life” fantasy QB.
11. Matthew Stafford — Rams unleash Stafford when needed, but McVay prefers balance.
12. Russell Wilson — Older, but still young enough to rebound from bizarre 2021.
13. Kirk Cousins — Happy medium between Goff and Stafford should be good fit for new O.
14. Derek Carr — Can get on the Josh McDaniels efficiency diet.
15. Justin Fields — 2021 was hardly all Nagy’s fault, but Fields flashed just enough.
16. Ryan Tannehill — Is Titans’ play-action, smoke-and-mirrors approach running out of gas?
17. Tua Tagovailoa — Can be the better version of Jimmy Garoppolo in new offense.
18. Daniel Jones — Needs to get over his Mariota tendency to not run or throw deep.
19. Mac Jones — Can be a weekly 250-yard, two-touchdown streamer.
20. Trevor Lawrence — Massive coaching upgrade alone enough to restore upside.
21. Zach Wilson — Potential dual threat who needs to establish a single threat first.
22. Baker Mayfield — Didn’t do himself — or anyone — any favors playing hurt in ‘21.
23. Davis Mills — Believing in Mills isn’t cool. You know what is cool? Uhh, I’m not really sure.
24. Matt Ryan — Very little left in this tank. Weapons uncertainty and poor OL in ATL.
25. Jimmy Garoppolo — WIll presumably be starting somewhere in 2022.

Top 40 Running Backs

1. Jonathan Taylor — 552 more yards than any other player last season, lol.
2. Christian McCaffrey — Will win weeks and leagues for as long as he stays healthy.
3. Austin Ekeler — 20 TDs is what happens when Ekeler stays healthy.
4. Dalvin Cook — Still has as much upside as any back. Bound for positive TD regression.
5. Derrick Henry — It took Henry six years to miss extended time. Hopefully cliff not arriving.
6. Najee Harris — 300 rushes and 70 catches as a rookie. Mercy.
7. Javonte Williams — 200 carries, 40 catches even with Melvin Gordon in the fold. Gordon a FA.
8. Alvin Kamara — QB situation can’t get worse. No guarantee it’s appreciably better.
9. D’Andre Swift — Top-three PPR finish within range of outcomes.
10. Cam Akers — It was all back except explosive runs. Seven months to rehab further.
11. Joe Mixon — Third in carries and 16th in receptions despite Perine usage.
12. Nick Chubb — The most boring pick guaranteed to finish as an RB1.
13. Saquon Barkley — Barkley’s last crack at top-five upside. Daboll will funnel targets.
14. Elijah Mitchell — 20-plus touches in 7-of-8 final games. Deebo and Lance do threaten.
15. Antonio Gibson — Trusted as a workhorse. J.D. McKissic a free agent.
16. David Montgomery — Three-down back nobody loves except for the team that pays him.
17. J.K. Dobbins — Ravens figure to put a lot of eggs in Dobbins’ post-injury basket.
18. Leonard Fournette — Proven three-down back, though unsure of 2022 home/QB.
19. Aaron Jones — 1A/1B committee has become something more complex.
20. Devin Singletary — This is either way too high or way too low in backfield that could add competition.
21. Josh JacobsJosh McDaniels comes from a backfield of committees in NE.
22. Ezekiel Elliott — Be alarmed if Zeke doesn’t have a “best shape of his life” offseason.
23. Michael Carter — Self evident breakout case after hot 2021 finish.
24. Miles Sanders — Was a different, more patient runner after returning from ‘21 injury.
25. Rashaad Penny — Skepticism will abound, but Penny proved he’s an RB who matters when healthy.
26. Clyde Edwards-Helaire — Can he stay healthy? Backfield won’t be KC offseason focus.
27. Damien Harris — Explosive TD upside but ceiling capped in 2-3 man committee.
28. Travis Etienne — Has both variables and upside to spare.
29. James Conner — Re-proved both upside and injury frailty in 2021.
30. Tony Pollard — Finally ready for his D’Andre Swift-style closeup?
31. Kareem Hunt — Will probably finish higher but not the kind of pick that wins leagues.
32. Cordarrelle Patterson — Future historians will wonder if C-Patt’s ‘21 actually happened.
33. AJ Dillon — Frankly hard to know how Packers might approach this.
34. Melvin Gordon — Free agent who could easily find himself in top-24 situation.
35. James Robinson — 2022 health far from assured. Has more time to get healthy than Akers.
36. Chase Edmonds — Free agent who has proven to be above-average COP back.
37. Rhamondre Stevenson — Talented player with uncertain role in crowded, transitioning O.
38. Gus Edwards — It remains easy to forget how much the Ravens like this man.
39. Darrell Henderson — Change-of-pace back in an offense that likes to do that sort of thing.
40. Chris Carson — Could be lead back or on injured reserve.

Top 60 Wide Receivers

1. Cooper Kupp — Bad: Will regress. Good: It will be off the No. 2 receiving season all time.
2. Ja’Marr Chase — Already the most physically dominant receiver in the NFL.
3. Justin Jefferson — 1,800-2,000 yards will be possible in “Rams lite” system.
4. Davante Adams — 29 TDs lead all WRs over past two seasons. Turning 30, QB questions.
5. Tyreek Hill — Declining big plays offset by surprisingly durable touchdown production.
6. Deebo Samuel — Runaway WR1 overall finish within range of outcomes. So is mondo regression.
7. Stefon Diggs — Still in physical prime. Eight-plus TDs four of the past five years.
8. A.J. Brown — Concerning amount of injuries for such a young wideout but ceiling remains as high as any WR.
9. Jaylen Waddle — Limitless upside in Shanny system. New coach literally said to draft him.
10. CeeDee Lamb — Can play anywhere. Wants and deserves more offensive tempo.
11. Tee Higgins — This offense appears poised to support two WR1s.
12. DK Metcalf¯\_(ツ)_/¯
13. Diontae Johnson — Born compiler with proven nose for the end zone.
14. Keenan Allen —Little reason to expect the compiling to stop. Mike Williams a FA.
15. Calvin Ridley — Will either return as Falcons’ target hog or be traded to contending team.
16. D.J. Moore — Still the complete Diggs package. “Just” needs a quarterback.
17. Mike Evans — Lived off TDs in Brady years. Could live off targets if Godwin walks in FA.
18. DeAndre Hopkins — Finally paying a physical price for all that sideline hand fighting?
19. Tyler Lockett — Fifth in receiver scores over past four years. Russ’ status major wild card.
20. Chris Godwin — Still easily worth WR2 valuation despite injury, team and QB Qs.
21. Terry McLaurin — Little has gone right past two years and still posted 2,171 yards.
22. Amon-Ra St. Brown — Is this too low or too high? No. 3 in yards over final five weeks.
23. Michael Pittman — Alpha traits plain to see despite awful QB play. Used variety of ways.
24. Michael Thomas — 40 catches in two years since record-setter. Muses Brees and Payton set sail.
25. Amari Cooper — High floor, seemingly unattainable ceiling.
26. Elijah Moore — Breakout easy to envision after producing with four separate QBs.
27. Gabriel Davis — Deck being cleared. Makes plays every time he’s given the opportunity.
28. Hunter Renfrow — Concerning ‘21 splits could be offset by Josh McDaniels addition.
29. Darnell Mooney — Dude is just good. Same can’t yet be said for his offense.
30. Marquise Brown — Flawed player who is nevertheless improving a little bit each year.
31. Jerry Jeudy — Calamitous ‘21 will be easily forgotten if Aaron Rodgers comes aboard.
32. Robert Woods — Wasn’t Matthew Stafford’s bag, but returning as clear-cut No. 2.
33. DeVonta Smith — Absent major philosophical changes on offense, it could be another frustrating year.
34. Brandon Aiyuk — 15th in receiving after Week 8, though offense getting even more run heavy.
35. Brandin Cooks — Will likely finish higher, but other shots I would rather take.
36. Adam Thielen — Declining, though only Davante and Evans have more TDs over past two years.
37. Mike Williams — Re-signing with Chargers would be by far best fantasy outcome.
38. Chase Claypool — On thin ice with Mike Tomlin. No guarantee QB situation improves.
39. Courtland Sutton — Enormous range of potential outcomes. Could be top-24 by April.
40. JuJu Smith-Schuster — Sorry to sound like a meme, but JuJu is still only 25 years old.
41. Kadarius Toney — Up for debate how robust Toney’s target competition is.
42. Rashod Bateman — Legitimate odds he is actually Baltimore’s No. 1 receiver.
43. Christian Kirk — Seems to lack final gear. Useful player all the same.
44. Michael Gallup — Injury could make proven playmaker close to free in fantasy drafts.
45. Corey Davis — 2021 could have gone much, much worse.
46. DeVante Parker — Still contributing on the outside.
47. Tyler Boyd — Can’t compete with the big dogs, but no chance he finishes outside top 50.
48. Jarvis Landry — Continues to slowly fade from relevance. Injuries piling up.
49. D.J. Chark — Admittedly difficult to remember this dude exists right now.
50. Kenny Golladay — Finally has a real coach. Does he still have his legs?
51. Rondale Moore — Kliff Kingsbury will get back to you on this one.
52. Will Fuller — This man was the WR8 by average PPR points just 14 months ago.
53. Jakobi Meyers — The calories could get even emptier.
54. Allen Robinson — Possible Robinson’s legs are just gone.
55. Robby Anderson — Anderson can’t already be washed, right?
56. Van Jefferson — OBJ’s injury re-opens window of opportunity.
57. Kendrick Bourne — Dogged player who is too easily dismissed
58. Julio Jones — As long as Julio is still in the NFL, he will have a WR5 pulse.
59. Russell Gage — Nobody said you have to like it.
60. Josh Palmer — This will be low if Mike Williams walks in free agency.

Top 25 Tight Ends

1. Mark Andrews — Had 118 more yards than any other TE after Thanksgiving.
2. Travis Kelce — Aging, but like a fine Tony Gonzalez wine.
3. George Kittle — Floor creeping lower in sophisticated run attack but monumental ceiling remains.
4. Kyle Pitts — Now can someone please get this man some red zone targets?
5. Darren Waller — Changing coaches, but target competition should remain minimal.
6. T.J. Hockenson — Rare player who needs more target competition to prevent Ds from keying in.
7. Dallas Goedert — Aspirational, but Goedert’s first complete campaign is just sitting there.
8. Dawson Knox — Touchdown regression hopefully offset by increased catches, yards.
9. Dalton Schultz — The Cowboys just love this dude, though headed to FA.
10. Rob Gronkowski — Seems open to playing. Probably still a top-eight talent.
11. Pat Freiermuth — i dotting and t crossing rookie campaign hints at early-career breakout.
12. Noah Fant — Please please please get this man a quarterback.
13. Mike Gesicki — Pure receiving tight end could easily finish in top eight. Headed to FA.
14. Zach Ertz — Has plenty of Witten-ing left in the tank, though landing spot will matter bigly.
15. Cole Kmet — Progressing slowly, but he is progressing.
16. Irv Smith — Remember this guy? Well he’s back for the final year of his rookie deal.
17. Hunter Henry — Role as red zone dunker not going anywhere.
18. Tyler Higbee — 29-year-old without another step to take.
19. Evan Engram — Free agent with broad range of potential outcomes.
20. Logan Thomas — 31 years old and recovering from torn ACL.
21. Brevin Jordan — Young in an offense with targets for the taking.
22. Robert Tonyan — Off the board if Rodgers is traded.
23. Albert Okwuegbunam — A nothing to lose spring hedge pick.
24. Blake Jarwin — Back in business if Schultz walks in free agency.
25. Austin Hooper — I guess we’re still doing this.

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