Top Five 2022 Fantasy Football Free Agent WRs

by Emily Lefco
2022 Fantasy Football Week 1 Drop List

Welcome to the 2022 Fantasy Football Free Agent Wide Receivers Top Ten preview.  This will be a two-part article. Today, we will focus on the Top Five 2022 Fantasy Football Free Agent WRs. The second part will come out later this week.

Notably, we cannot deny that this is the best wide receiver free agent class in NFL history. The WRs were ranked using various factors. One factor included where the players may land, which can impact their potential fantasy value. We also considered the stats of each player, as well as their best scheme fit, and any durability concerns.

Players might be acquired in trades, the draft, and free agency during the offseason. These new player acquisitions are bound to shake up the roles of the players, the teams involved, and the league in general.  Likewise, these changes will very well shake up your fantasy league, too.

Fortunately, we are within days of knowing the fate of some players. However, some players and teams might not reach a short-term or long-term agreement soon. Be aware that teams will start trading on or after March 16, 2022.

We gathered data from Pro Football Focus (PFF) for contract projections and scheme fit. Other relevant supporting data came from Fantasy Pros. Let's look at our Top Five 2022 Fantasy Football Free Agent WRs.

Top Five 2022 Fantasy Football Free Agent WRs

1) Davante Adams, Green Bay Packers

If Davante Adams makes it to the open market, he would be one of the best free agents at any position to hit free agency in years. Currently, in his prime, Adams is arguably the best wide receiver (WR) in the game right now. Adams had a franchise record of 1,553 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns on 123 catches during his 2021 campaign.

Adams has been one of the best receivers in the game since 2017. He has earned five straight Pro Bowl nods in that time, including first-team All-Pro selections in each of the last two years. His strengths include route running and great hands. Adams leads the NFL in catches (432), receiving yards (5,310), and touchdowns (47) since 2018.

If the Packers and Adams cannot reach a long-term agreement before March 8th, tagging him could become necessary. Neither Green Bay nor Adams wants that to happen. Adams does not wish for the franchise tag as he would lose nearly $5 million if the two parties cannot agree on a contract extension. Yet the franchise tag makes sense if quarterback Aaron Rodgers goes elsewhere, as the Packers would want to get a maximum return for Adams by tagging and trading him.

As far as durability is concerned, Adams has had several minor injuries (ankle, hamstring, and toe) that have caused him to miss minimal time over the past couple of years, but there are no significant concerns.

Davante Adams is an elite No. 1 receiver in any offense in the NFL.  According to PFF, he has scheme versatility and has shown to be a star in multiple systems.  So, any team needing a receiver would be in the running for his skillset. He may even try to orchestrate a package deal with Aaron Rodgers. A reunion with Adams' college QB Derek Carr in Las Vegas is another prominent scenario.

The age-defying 29-year-old will not have as high of a fantasy ceiling if Rodgers is not under center in 2022, as Rodgers' future and their elite connection ties directly to Adams' 2022 fantasy relevance.

However, as a transformative player, Adams will still have immense fantasy value wherever he plays next season, though his floor will likely be lower.  He is unlikely to receive the same target share (2021: 31.6%, 2nd highest in the NFL) he had in Green Bay with Aaron Rodgers if he goes elsewhere.

Adams could be looking at a four-year, $93 million contract.

2) Chris Godwin, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Before injuring his knee in Week 15, Godwin had set career highs in the previous weeks of 2021. The 26-year-old wideout put up his second 1,000-yard receiving season in 2021 in just 14 games, catching a career-high in passes (98) and targets (127) while on the way to 1,103 yards and five touchdowns.

Both sides, Godwin and Mike Evans, have voiced an interest to continue together in Tampa Bay as they have co-existed well over the years. But this could be at a sizeable cost. In addition, if Godwin were to leave in free agency, there would be a significant drop-off behind Evans. As a result, their current No. 2 may not even be on the Buc's roster.

In early January, Godwin had surgery to fix the ACL and MCL in his right knee, but he will still be one of the top available pass-catchers if he makes it to free agency in March. Moreover, his durability is in question, as he fractured a finger in 2020 and most notably has suffered multiple hamstring strains in his career. And now the issue is with his knee and recovering from the surgery to repair it. He is expected to make a full recovery, however.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Godwin (knee) are reportedly close to a new deal.  The Bucs would prefer a long-term contract with Chris Godwin, but it is complicated due to his ACL injury.  Reaching a long-term agreement would allow the Bucs to use the franchise tag on another free agent, like cornerback Carlton Davis.  Rumor has it that the Bucs may potentially franchise tag Godwin if things go out of kilter.

Godwin has been used in most formations and can win in various ways.  He typically has excellent hands and versatility against contested catches. He has had only 18 drops in his NFL career featuring 496 targets.

As PFF purports, he fits in well as a Z-Receiver.  Godwin is at his best when destroying zone coverages. However, Godwin is not always consistent, especially against a press-man coverage.  As a result, this probably keeps him from being a proper No. 1 role in an offense. Ideally, he would complement an already-established elite X-receiver on a team like Arizona or Washington.

Godwin's fantasy upside will not be nearly as high if he returns to Tampa with the GOAT QB Tom Brady now retired. Furthermore, due to durability issues, it is possible that his fantasy ceiling will decrease even if he joins another team in 2022.

Godwin's current projected contract is four years, $70 million.

3) Mike Williams, Los Angeles Chargers

Mike Williams just recently wrapped up the best season of his career with the Chargers. He caught 76 passes for 1,146 yards and nine touchdowns. He managed to post substantial numbers despite playing behind the dominant receiver Keenan Allen and losing touches to the dual-threat back Austin Ekeler. Accordingly, the duo of Williams and Allen has worked well for the Chargers.

The 27-year-old is set to be a free agent this offseason. However, the Chargers have plenty of cap space, assuming they want to keep him around. Los Angeles could use the franchise tag on Williams. The Chargers may undoubtedly try to re-sign Williams this offseason, but he is expected to have a vast market.

Regardless, Williams will draw plenty of attention this offseason after his excellent 2021 campaign. It would not be surprising to witness a bidding war break out, leaving Williams as the beneficiary of a No. 1 WR paycheck.  Williams has been a big-play deep threat and red-zone target for the Chargers with an average career depth of target 14.9 yards downfield.

While Williams has both intimidating size and leaping ability, he lacks the short-area quickness to be the primary receiver.  Yet, he is an excellent complimentary piece when healthy.  Unfortunately, Williams has had an extensive injury history while in the NFL, though the injuries typically have not caused him to miss significant time.

Consistent with PFF, Williams could be a fit for a team like Philadelphia that currently does not have the skillset with his size and abilities downfield.  Likewise, he could go to Washington, where they need a legitimate No. 2 WR alongside Terry McLaurin.

It might be challenging for Williams to replicate his 2021 campaign if he becomes the No. 1 option for another organization. However, depending on his landing spot, Williams could head into 2022 as a high-end WR2 for fantasy purposes.

Williams could be looking at a four-year, $68 million deal.

4) Allen Robinson II, Chicago Bears

After playing the year on the franchise tag, Allen Robinson II will enter the 2022 season as an unrestricted free agent. However, it is unlikely that the Bears re-sign the wide receiver this offseason. The 28-year-old finished the season with just 38 receptions on 66 targets for 410 yards and only one touchdown across 12 games.  He accounted for more than four receptions in a game on just one occasion, while he failed to break 70 yards in any contest.

Robinson's first real underachieving season was poorly timed as he heads into free agency, though injuries did not help his cause. Robinson has been the recipient of poor passing throughout his career. Despite that, he has been relatively quarterback-proof during his football career. Nevertheless, he has consistently performed like a top-10 receiver, except for 2021.  With good hands and body control, even against contested catches, A-Rob managed to post back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons in 2019 and 2020.

Darnell Mooney was the Bears' most consistent receiver all year. He will become their No. 1 pass-catcher.  If A-Rob officially leaves Chicago, the team will need to find a way to boost its receiving corps to help out second-year slinger Justin Fields.

In terms of durability, Robinson has had several injuries during his tenure in the NFL. His most recent significant injury was in December 2020, though his most severe injury was a torn ACL back in 2017. His injury history brings his durability into question.

A-Rob's scheme fit is as a No. 1 WR, though he is not the fastest receiver in the game. However, as maintained by PFF, he can conquer press coverage and overcome elite cover corners. He won't be coming off his best season but is still a No. 1 option. Teams such as Jacksonville, Philadelphia, and Cleveland could use him for that role.

He will likely come cheap in 2022 fantasy drafts. He could be a great value pick depending on his landing spot.  The wideout will probably be on a new team next season. Therefore, it's too early to comment on his actual floor or ceiling since he has never experienced elite quarterback play. Look for him to be a polarizing player in 2022 fantasy drafts.

Robinson may see a three-year, $48 million contract come his way.

5) Odell Beckham Jr., Los Angeles Rams

OBJ was much better with the Los Angeles Rams than with the Cleveland Browns.  With spectacular ball skills and strengths in speed and route running, he caught 27 of 48 targets for 305 yards and five touchdowns in just eight regular-season games with LA.  Additionally, he caught 19 passes for 236 yards in three playoff games before the Super Bowl.

OBJ is set to become an unrestricted free agent this offseason after maxing out his incentive-loaded one-year deal with Los Angeles.  But both sides could share an interest in agreeing on a new contract.

The WR announced on his Instagram that he underwent a successful surgery to fix a torn ACL that he suffered in the Super Bowl.  However, Beckham has a long road of recovery ahead of him.  He is unlikely to be ready for the start of the 2022 season because of the timing of his injury, which makes things difficult for him as he heads into free agency.

In addition, his availability for the entire season could be in question. He previously tore the ACL in his same knee in October 2020.  OBJ has battled through many injuries and does not seem like the explosive athlete he once was. Interested teams, including the Rams, will closely monitor his rehab. But teams could be lining up again, given his effectiveness during the Rams' Super Bowl run.

As PFF indicates, OBJ will fit in well as a No. 2 receiver despite having No. 1 skills as a receiver. However, it has been a long time since we have seen that player for an extended period. Yet, he still has a rare blend of spectacular ball skills, raw athleticism, and the ability to separate via his speed and route running. As a result, OBJ will certainly have suitors trying to reveal the player he once was.

Beckham's 2022 fantasy value will depend on his recovery and where he lands in free agency. A return to the Rams would probably be the best-case scenario.

Look for Beckham to cash in on a one-year, $14 million deal.

Check out our Fantasy Football page for more content throughout the offseason!

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