Scott Engel is beginning his 11thseason as the official Fantasy Football writer and analyst for Seahawks.com. He is an inaugural member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association's Hall of Fame. Scott is a four-time FSWA award winner and a 10-time nominee, including being a finalist for last year's FSWA Fantasy Football Writer of the Year Award, which he won previously. You can find more of his fantasy football analysis, including early 2022 player rankings, at The Game Day this season.
The month of August is when fantasy football players start turning their attention to the new season. Knowledge is power, and it is never too early to start preparing for the upcoming campaign. By this time of the year, many fantasy leaguers start crafting their strategies and studying up on players, projections and anticipated trends. Before you leap fully into absorbing the information and advice from an online fantasy football draft kit, you should first consult our 2022 fantasy football primer on the major storylines and changing outlooks that have either altered the fantasy landscape or will shift the way you approach your 2022 drafts. We also spotlight the Seahawks offense, which now features two buzzworthy picks at running back and a new tight end who could find his way into your starting lineups.
The Seahawks Have A Pair Of Upside Running Backs: Last season, Rashaad Penny was the best running back in fantasy football during the fantasy playoffs. Many fantasy players will be eternally grateful to Penny for boosting their teams to championships in 2021. During his memorable stretch from Weeks 14 to 17, Penny scored 85.2 fantasy points in points per reception formats. The next best running back totaled 75.6 points in that four-week span.
Now Penny will be looking to build on that incredible momentum, as he looked better than ever in his first true opportunity to take advantage of heavier workloads. Penny fully displayed his big-play abilities he flashed in past seasons, while also becoming a more physical runner. This year, he is going to be joined in the backfield by highly-touted rookie Kenneth Walker III, who has good vision, makes defenders miss in short space, breaks tackles and can bust loose for big gainers. He is a Top 2 rookie running back draft choice in dynasty leagues, where fantasy players can retain the majority of their rosters every year.
Penny has certainly earned a place in fantasy starting lineups in 2022, as we now know he can boost a fantasy team to a victory in any given week. He is a Top 25 player at running back for the 2022 season. Walker will not be far behind on your cheat sheets, as he initially should be targeted in the range of the Top 30 to 35 running backs. Both RBs are capable of strong fantasy performances at any time. Drafting both of them could be a nifty move, as you will have heavy fantasy control over the Seahawks backfield situation this season.
Superstar WRs In New Places: Two of the most prominent wide receivers in fantasy football will be wearing new uniforms in 2022. Davante Adams, who had the second-most PPR fantasy points at WR last season (344.3) was traded to the Las Vegas Raiders. Tyreek Hill, the sixth-highest scoring fantasy WR in 2021 (296.5), was dealt to the Miami Dolphins. Adams will be reunited with his college teammate, Derek Carr, as the two played together at Fresno State. Adams should still be drafted among the Top 5 fantasy WRs. Carr has fantasy QB1 promise this season with a formidable pass-catching trio of Adams, Darren Waller and Hunter Renfrow. Hill can still be considered a Top 10 fantasy WR even while he adjusts to a quarterback change. Tua Tagovailoa is a very interesting QB2 pick, as he now has an impressive duo of Hill and Jaylen Waddle at WR.
Fly Eagle, Fly: A third standout wide receiver, A.J. Brown, also was traded to a new team. The Philadelphia Eagles acquired Brown, and now Jalen Hurts has to be considered among the top quarterbacks in fantasy football. He finished as a Top 10 fantasy quarterback last year, and has the potential to be one of the best fantasy performers at the position this season. Hurts finished first among all quarterbacks in rushing yards (784) and rushing TDs (10) in 2021. Now with a pass-catching group that features Brown, rising young WR DeVonta Smith and proven premier tight end Dallas Goedert, Hurts has the passing weaponry to emerge as one of the best dual threat QBs in fantasy football. Brown should still be drafted as a Top 10 Fantasy WR.
WRs Have A Larger Footprint In Round One: Running backs continue to be the most sought-after players in fantasy football, but now wide receivers have a larger presence in the first round of early drafts, and it should remain that way through the summer. According to fantasypros.com, seven running backs are being taken in the first 12 picks, and five wide receivers are going off the board. That's a nearly even split of the two positions. After coming off a historic season, Cooper Kupp has an Average Draft Position of fourth overall. Justin Jefferson and Ja'Marr Chase, two of the biggest young upside fantasy targets, have ADPs of sixth and ninth overall, respectively. It is no longer considered a questionable move to take a WR with your first fantasy draft choice. The best ones are safer selections to provide an excellent fantasy return for the high draft position used to land them. Any three of those aforementioned WRs could finish as the top fantasy scorer at the position this year and they all should be among the elite performers at WR again.
The Return Of The King: In 2018 and 2019, Christian McCaffrey finished in the Top 2 overall in fantasy scoring. Fantasy players are anticipating that McCaffrey can regain his elite form in 2022, and are ready to draft him in the first round. All indications are that he will be ready to go for the new season after dealing with some injuries over the last two years. McCaffrey can still finish as a high-end fantasy RB1, so he remains worthy of a Top 5 selection at RB. He will be taken in the Top 3 in many drafts based on his excellent run of production from 2017 to 2019. The Carolina offense can get a new spark from Baker Mayfield, who can help ensure McCaffrey's return to fantasy glory as he upgrades the Panthers offense from the quarterback slot.
The New Offensive Outlook For The Seahawks: Geno Smith and Drew Lock are positioned to compete for the starting quarterback job this season. Fantasy players will keep a close watch on the situation to see how it impacts the most significant pass-catchers on the team. Smith is obviously very familiar with the playbook, and Lock has promise as a deep passer with some mobility. Both QBs will benefit from having DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett as their top wideouts, and tight end Noah Fant, who came over from Denver with Lock, is a possible future star. We may have not seen his best season yet. Metcalf should still be drafted in the Top 20 at WR, while Lockett is a potential value as the 38th WR off the board in early drafts. Fant is being drafted as TE16, which is a very fair ADP for him. He has the statistical floor of a high-end fantasy TE2, yet he could also perform at a Top 10 level. Fant is an ultra-talented addition who challenges defenses with his size and speed, and he can complement Metcalf and Lockett well in his first season with the Seahawks.
Rebound Running Backs: McCaffrey isn't the only RB who is angling for a bounce-back campaign in 2022, and some of the guys at the position who are looking to recapture their better form could be value draft choices. Saquon Barkley (14th RB off the board in early drafts) should be taken as a high-end fantasy RB2, because he can be one of the best all-around fantasy RBs in the game over a full season. Cam Akers (17th) returned earlier than expected from an Achilles injury last year and will enter the new season on a path to re-establishing himself as a fantasy RB2. Ezekiel Elliott (16th) still has the abilities to finish as a top fantasy RB2. Travis Etienne (22rd) is ready for his first true season in the NFL and he can be a significant playmaker for Jacksonville.
Risers And Values At Wide Receiver: In some fantasy football leagues, you have to start three WRs, and in others, you can start a third WR at your flex position. So we have identified some ascending and undervalued players at the position. Gabriel Davis of Buffalo is a widespread breakout favorite among fantasy analysts, as he is a big-play guy in a top passing offense. Michael Pittman Jr. may vault into high-end fantasy WR2 territory this year. Darnell Mooney is coming off a 1,000-yard campaign and is the unquestioned No. 1 pass-catcher for the Bears. Allen Robinson could be headed for a major resurgence with the Rams. JuJu Smith-Schuster is being overlooked as a possible No. 1 WR for Patrick Mahomes. Allen Lazard appears ticketed to be the new No. 1 WR in Green Bay.
Turning To Trey: This year, the San Francisco 49ers are expected to give Trey Lance his first opportunity to prove himself as a regular NFL starter. Lance is an exciting dual playmaking fantasy prospect, as he has obvious promise as a runner and a strong receiving crew to lean on. Deebo Samuel is one of the best yardage after the catch wide receivers in the NFL, and George Kittle is an established superstar tight end. Brandon Aiyuk is emerging as a quality WR, and Jauan Jennings is becoming a trusted target on key passing downs. The deep receiving core is complemented by a good group of running backs that should ease pressure on Lance and help him keep defenses off balance, as opponents will have to defend both the RBs and a running threat at QB. Lance has a sturdy supporting cast, and the potential to finish as a Top 10 fantasy QB in his first season of anticipated regular play.
Ready For the Rookies: This season's class of possible impact fantasy rookies includes Walker as one of the top two running backs along with Breece Hall of the Jets. Walker could eventually prove to be the best pure rusher of the first-year players. Hall can stand out right away because he is a versatile playmaker as a runner and receiver. James Cook of Buffalo is a good target as a third fantasy running back, because he is a superb pass-catching threat that will be operating in one of the NFL's best passing attacks. Rachaad White of Tampa Bay is another PPR draft target for his receiving skills as a fantasy RB4, and Zamir White of the Raiders is a sleeper candidate who could vie for quality playing time in his first NFL season.
At wide receiver, Drake London may instantly become the No. 1 wideout for the Falcons, and he should be an immediate fantasy starter. London will be the top rookie WR taken in most drafts. Chris Olave of the Saints can succeed early in his first season and quickly emerge as a fantasy starter. Garrett Wilson fills a big need for the Jets and could be a quality fantasy WR3 this year. Treylon Burks is an interesting fantasy WR4 target, as he may become a top pass-catcher for the Titans. Skyy Moore of the Chiefs and Christian Watson of the Packers are value types who will have the opportunities to become notable playmakers for superstar QBs. Once Detroit's Jameson Williams is fully recovered from a knee injury, he could start to crack fantasy lineups later in the season as an upside performer.
Some QB Changes That Will Impact New Offenses: Mayfield's arrival in Carolina will further elevate the fantasy appeal of D.J. Moore, who is already regarded as a high-quality fantasy starter, and he now could push for top-end fantasy WR2 status this season. Courtland Sutton and Jerry Jeudy are upside Top 25 WR targets, as they will work with Russell Wilson. Matt Ryan will spur Michael Pittman Jr. to greater heights in Indianapolis, and rookie WR Alec Burks has sleeper potential as Ryan's potential No. 2 WR. Mitchell Trubisky is the likely starter in Pittsburgh, and should perform well enough to assure that Diontae Johnson will deliver another quality season. Marcus Mariota gets another chance to start with the Falcons, and he will lean heavily on Kyle Pitts to come through with a true breakthrough season that could see him vault into elite fantasy tight end territory.
New Ways To Play Are Emerging: You can enhance your fantasy football experience in 2022 by joining new leagues that have unique roster and scoring settings that have become more popular in recent seasons. One of the fastest-growing alternatives is a "superflex" league, where you can start a quarterback at a second flex position. In these leagues, quarterbacks fly off the draft board as quickly as running backs. You should also strongly consider "best ball" fantasy football leagues, where you only draft a team in the preseason and make no in-season moves. Each week, the players who score the highest at each possible starting lineup position receive credit for points. Those who seek a major challenge can also play in dynasty leagues, which we previously mentioned, and keeper leagues, where you can retain a limited amount of players from season to season. Many highly experienced fantasy players also participate in individual defender leagues, where you draft linebackers, defensive backs and defensive linemen instead of a team defense. They receive points in categories such as sacks, tackles, interceptions and fumble recoveries. In those formats, Seahawks such as Jordyn Brooks and Jamal Adams are top picks at their respective positions.
Scott Engel's early 2022 Fantasy Football rankings are now available at The Game Day. Check out his full Top 330 overall and in-depth positional analysis.