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With Hunter Renfrow signing a deal, which WR is next?

Cooper Kupp

Cooper Kupp

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Rams make it rain
No one can work the salary cap in Madden-fashion quite like the Rams. Whenever they sign one of their top players to a contract, we are always left wondering, “How did they do that?” Three-time NFL DPOY Aaron Donald recently stated that he’d be fine without playing football again. Not long after, the Rams tacked on another $40 million for the remaining three years of his contract. Earlier this off-season, not long after their Super Bowl victory, Los Angeles rewarded Matthew Stafford with a four-year extension worth $160 million. It was only right that the Rams complete the trifecta and extend the all-world receiver Cooper Kupp. The Rams signed the reigning NFL OPOY to a three-year extension worth up to $80 million. Kupp still had two years remaining on his contract which would’ve paid him $14.8 million and $14.6 million respectively.

Smart move by the Rams right? After an historical season in which he went 145/1,947/16 (easily the best receiver in fantasy), Kupp is now locked in as the Rams’ go-to receiver for the foreseeable future. I think we all at this point just find reasons to talk more about Kupp. I mean, who doesn’t like this man? While his 2021 season will be extremely hard to repeat, this was no fluke. In 2017 as a rookie, he put up a respectable 62/869/5 stat line which was good for a fantasy WR25 finish in PPR settings. The following year would see him rank as WR15 on a per-game basis, but he went down for the rest of that season with a torn ACL. Kupp quietly finished as WR4 in 2019 after going 94/1161/10, creeping towards elite status. Despite only scoring three touchdowns in 2020, Kupp finished as WR26. The writing’s been on the wall for a while with this special player. When it comes to fantasy in 2022, you will finally have to pay the ultimate price to have him on your squad.

Sin City diaries
The Raiders wide receiver room is in the news heavy this week. Davante Adams, who will be rocking the Silver & Gold after signing a five-year, $141.5 million deal, made an interesting comment about his old and new quarterbacks. He said “as far as talent and ability, it’s really similar, if I’m keeping it real” when discussing Aaron Rodgers and Derek Carr. Now I’ll be the first to say that I do not think Adams believes that in his heart. He has great respect for both quarterbacks, but it’s always good to show a little more love for the one that’s actually on your team. Adams finished 2021 as WR2 and looks to continue his dominance with Carr, his old college buddy. He expressed that part of the reason for wanting to head west was family. Adams would prefer to raise his family closer to his home state of California. Another factor that led to his departure was Rodgers’ short-term future in Green Bay...or the NFL period. Whatever the case, Adams will still be an elite option for Carr, as he was for Rodgers and our fantasy teams.

Another Raiders receiver seems to be establishing himself as well. Hunter Renfrow signed a two-year, $32 million ($21 million guaranteed) extension with the team. When Darren Waller went down with injuries and Bryan Edwards didn’t take the next step, Renfrow elevated his game. In his third season, he caught 103 receptions for 1,038 yards and nine touchdowns. Renfrow was available for all 17 games and finished the season ranked as the 10th-best receiver in fantasy. The Raiders have one of, if not the best receiving group in all of football. Renfrow, Adams and Waller are going to cause serious problems for opposing defenses in 2022. Renfrow alone has made defensive backs look outright silly on a weekly basis. With new coach Josh McDaniels in town, don’t expect the arrival of Adams to bump down Renfrow’s value. McDaniels exploiting matchups for his slot-receivers is light work (see Julian Edelman and Wes Welker). With a solidified spot on the offense and new contract in hand, we should value Renfrow as a mid-level WR2 in fantasy.

One came, one ain’t
49ers star receiver Deebo Samuel finally ended his holdout and showed up to the teams mandatory minicamp. It’s been a long time coming, it seems like yesterday Samuel was in the nightclub telling people he absolutely would not be back with the Niners. Things seem to have been smoothed over (for now at least) and he’s getting back to work. Earlier this season he requested to be traded due to his contract and on-field role. Since then, the Niners have told him that he will not be used as a running back (fire up Elijah Mitchell!). Samuel could have faced fines up to $100,000 had he not shown up this week for minicamp. The mending of these fences is moving slowly, but that’s a much faster pace than a few months ago. With receivers getting paid the big bucks, don’t be shocked if a deal gets done soon ( Jimmy Garoppolo pending *eyes emoji*). Once that is in store, Samuel will look to once again be the focal point of the 49ers offense.

On the other side of the NFC West, the Seahawks aren’t so lucky. DK Metcalf unexpectedly skipped the team’s mandatory minicamp in hopes of a new contract. Currently, he’s set to play in the final year of his rookie deal for $3.99 million. The Seahawks have a quarterback battle brewing between Drew Lock and Geno Smith, so any reps without their top receiver is hurtful to the chemistry. In sort of a down year, Metcalf caught only 75 balls for 967 yards but was able to score 12 touchdowns to make him WR14 in fantasy. Even with the departure of Russell Wilson, I’m sure he looks to improve those numbers. Despite the downgrade at quarterback, Metcalf should still be considered a high-end WR2 on your fantasy rosters.