For a multitude of reasons, players who have established themselves as reliable fantasy options, tend to have down years from time to time. Because of this, some people lower the stock they have in said players. However, on most occasions it’s just a blip on the radar and there’s no reason to worry.
With all that in mind, here are a few players that should look like their normal selves during the 2022 season.
Allen Robinson, WR, Los Angeles Rams
If you’re a Chicago Bears fan, I apologize in advance. Last season was the most underwhelming season in Allen Robinson’s career so far, totaling 410 receiving yards and one touchdown on 33 receptions. Robinson blamed the lack of targets on his contract situation that led to the Bears using the franchise tag on him last off-season, which of course disgruntled Robinson.
From there, Robinson felt his relationship with former Bears head coach Matt Nagy was fragmented and his production dipped because he thought he was frozen out of the offense.
After signing with the Los Angeles Rams in March, Robinson hopes to return to form with a more defined and proven offense.
In the two years before last season, Robinson caught at least 98 passes for 1,100 yards and six touchdowns. I don’t expect that type of production with wide receiver Cooper Kupp getting the majority of targets, but Robinson is clearly the No. 2 wide receiver on the depth chart. Starting out the year, Robinson should be viewed as a WR3 going into the season, but he could easily work his way into WR2 territory.
Saquon Barkley, RB, New York Giants
It seems so long ago that Saquon Barkley was a top-10 producing running back in fantasy, but in reality, it hasn’t been. Due to missing the majority of the 2020 season after suffering a torn ACL and dealing with a low-ankle sprain last season, Barkley hasn’t been able to put up the top-10 type of production he did in his first two years in the league.
I’m optimistic that this year will be different for Barkley because he entered the off-season without having to worry about rehabbing, but most importantly it’s a contract year for Barkley. He’ll be looking to get as big of a long-term deal as he can after this season, while also trying to prove that he’s the player he used to be just a few years ago, so the motivation for Barkley couldn’t be any higher.
Also, with new head coach Brian Daboll, Barkley should get more work in the passing game, which would raise his floor and ceiling, especially in PPR leagues.
It may be hard to trust Barkley at first, and depending on your league, you may have to grab him earlier than you want to. But Barkley will have plenty of chances to reward those who have stock in him, as the Giants have the third-easiest schedule next season.
Michael Thomas, WR, New Orleans Saints
It’s been quite the past two seasons for Michael Thomas. After finishing as the No.1 wide receiver in fantasy in 2019, Thomas appeared in just seven games in 2020 and missed all of last season. After suffering a high-ankle sprain in Week 1 of the 2020 season, his ankle injury was reaggravated last season and that’s what caused Thomas to miss the entire 2021 campaign.
All signs point to Thomas being ready for the start of the season and that’s great news for New Orleans Saints quarterback Jameis Winston. Winston probably won’t give Thomas the same target share that Drew Brees did, especially with rookie Chris Olave and Jarvis Landry in the mix, but Thomas should still be No. 1 in targets.
With the uncertainty of how Thomas will look after missing almost two years, Thomas should be valued as WR2 that could work his way into WR1 territory very quickly.
J.K. Dobbins, RB, Baltimore Ravens
Last season was supposed to be J.K. Dobbins’ breakout year, but after suffering a torn ACL, those plans were thrashed. Of course, coming back from an ACL injury is not an easy task, even though there have been strides in the past decade to speed up the process. It may take a few weeks for Dobbins to get back into the swing of things, but I expect him to be the lead dog when the season starts.
Almost in any normal year the Baltimore Ravens are one of the most run-heavy teams when they have their normal backfield. In 2020 they ran the ball 55% of the time, which was first in the NFL. However, in 2021, when it seemed like their running back room was built on ancient burial grounds and their running backs were going down left and right, the Ravens ran the ball 46% of the time, which ranked 11th.
Another noteworthy thing from the 2020 season, was that Dobbins finished up his rookie season by totaling at least 12 fantasy points in his last six games in PPR leagues and concluded the year with a 28-point performance. With the Ravens’ running backs all coming back, the offense will look more like it did two years ago and that’s only a positive outcome for Dobbins’ stock.
Michael Gallup, WR, Dallas Cowboys
Talking about players who have suffered a torn ACL in the past year, Michael Gallup went down with an ACL injury in Week 17 of January. It remains to be seen if Gallup will be able to suit up for Week 1, but he’s expected to make his return earlier in the season rather than later. CeeDee Lamb still figures to be the No. 1 wide receiver on the depth chart when Gallup returns, but that’s still a better outcome than what Gallup has had in the last two years.
After catching 66 passes for 1,107 receiving yards and six touchdowns in the 2019 season, it’s been a rough past two years for Gallup. In his past two campaigns combined, Gallup has totaled 94 catches for 1,288 yards and seven touchdowns. Not terrible, but not on par with what we saw earlier in his career.
Part of the reason for the dip in production has been injuries. Last season, Gallup missed eight games due to a strained left calf. The other reason for his decline: the Cowboys had too many mouths to feed in the last two years.
However, with the off-season trade of wide receiver Amari Cooper, Gallup should be able to step back into role as the No. 2 wide receiver and establish himself as a WR3 with WR2 upside in fantasy leagues.