Technically, we are nowhere close to the end of the NFL's offseason and, by extension, not close to the start of the fantasy football season, either. Games don't begin until early September, yet what an offseason it has already been. Seismic moves have been the theme, as superstars have been traded seemingly left and right. Franchise icons have been the focal point of franchise-altering moves. It's been a lot.
Choosing just 10 storylines to focus on isn't easy, but we tried to whittle it down to the 10 moves that moved the needle the most in the fantasy world.
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Russell Wilson traded to the Broncos
For at least a couple of years, we've discussed the potential of the Broncos if they had star quarterback play. Acquiring Wilson for a package of picks and players that included Noah Fant going back to Seattle gives Denver its best shot at that since Peyton Manning retired. While Wilson had a down, injury-impacted 2021, he still has more than enough ability and a fleet of talented pass-catchers to regain his top-10 quarterback status. For years, Wilson was as reliable and consistent of a quarterback as there was in fantasy, a reality that should be back this season. While not quite in my elite tier of fantasy quarterbacks, he's not far off. I'd prefer Courtland Sutton as the Broncos wideout with the best chance to be a WR1, though Jerry Jeudy isn't far behind. For the Seahawks, as things stand right now, DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett are both downgraded.
Tom Brady returns to Tampa Bay
The lead singer left and then returned just 40 days later, as Brady's unretirement has the Bucs back on track as an NFC powerhouse. There's a case to be made for Brady as the top quarterback overall in fantasy this year given his level of play, the absurd talent around him and a fantasy-friendly offense. He'll likely be ranked and drafted a little lower than that because the only thing in life he doesn't do well is scramble for rushing yards. Mike Evans enters the season as the clear-cut WR1 in the offense as Chris Godwin recovers from an ACL tear suffered late last season. Russell Gage got a legit three-year deal from Tampa Bay, which reminds us that he isn't just a player who carries value if Evans or Godwin is unavailable: He should be drafted in leagues of 12 teams or larger with the chance to be a weekly flex.
Davante Adams traded to the Raiders
A lifelong dream has been fulfilled for Adams, who now gets to play for the team he grew up rooting for. For Adams, the fantasy spin is fairly straightforward: He's still among the best players in the league and should be drafted as such (I'd argue no lower than WR3 on the board). His quarterback, Derek Carr, has a much-enhanced shot to be a top-10 QB this season and is among those I'd feel comfortable having as my starter coming out of a draft. For the Packers, as of this writing, there are more receiver questions than answers. While I remain confident Aaron Rodgers can still be a top-10 QB, he slides down closer to 10th than fifth in my ranks, while I still wonder whether Green Bay's best wide receiver this season isn't yet on the roster.
Tyreek Hill traded to the Dolphins
The Dolphins have a track team on offense now, with Hill as their anchor. The ultimate speedster has been a fixture inside the top five of wide receivers in drafts for years now, though I think his value takes a slight dip as a result of no longer playing with Patrick Mahomes. While Tua Tagovailoa did complete a high percentage of throws on passes 20-plus yards down the field, the volume of throws and the unscripted brilliance between Mahomes and Hill is hard to replicate. But Hill remains a top-10 wideout for fantasy. Mahomes doesn't fall too far in the quarterback rankings, but this trade further solidified Josh Allen as my QB1 going into the fantasy season. Marquez Valdes-Scantling saw his stock rise after signing with Kansas City, but for now Travis Kelce (TE1) is the only Chiefs pass-catcher I'm certain is a weekly fantasy starter.
Deshaun Watson traded to the Browns
It's impossible to have a conversation about Watson without acknowledging the 22 civil lawsuits that remain open against him and the possibility that he is suspended by the NFL for some portion of this season. When Watson does play, few would debate that he's about as gifted a player as there is in the league and will carry massive fantasy value. He has the football talent to be the best overall quarterback in fantasy. New Browns wide receiver Amari Cooper has a chance to reestablish himself among the top 10 wideouts when Watson is under center, especially with a young group around him as presently constructed. Meanwhile, the quantum leap I forecasted last season for CeeDee Lamb could be even more likely this season in Dallas with top-five wide receiver upside. Michael Gallup should be a top-25 wideout once he's fully recovered from a torn ACL.
Allen Robinson II signs with the Rams
The Rams acted swiftly to secure the services of Robinson on a three-year deal, underscoring their belief that his quiet 2021 was a byproduct of inconsistent quarterback play and injury. Robinson will take on a premium role in an offense that plays three receivers on a majority of its snaps. While Cooper Kupp is the unquestioned top target in this offense, Robinson is in line for a major reboot of his value, especially with Odell Beckham Jr. presently unsigned. Even if OBJ does return to L.A., he's a long shot to be ready for the start of the season after tearing an ACL in the Super Bowl. That means Robinson stands as a potential top-20 wide receiver until Beckham returns (and for the whole season if Beckham signs elsewhere). Robinson's red zone upside is hard to ignore, and Matthew Stafford is by far the best quarterback he has ever played with.
Robert Woods traded to the Titans
The Robinson signing made more sense days later when Woods was traded to the Titans. The incredibly reliable, versatile and talented Woods is coming off an ACL tear but should be ready for the start of the season and in position to play a massive role in Tennessee. The Titans have craved a second pass-catcher to work opposite A.J. Brown, and Woods -- a targets vacuum who is awesome after the catch -- should prove a brilliant match. While Tennessee projects to once again be a run-heavy offense that thrives off the power of Derrick Henry, Brown and Woods should dominate the passing-game looks. It should be no surprise if Woods hovers within the top-20 range for wide receivers. Hopefully Tennessee taps into some of the designed runs that added a little fantasy value for Woods during his time in L.A.
Matt Ryan traded to the Colts
Matty Ice will play for a new team for the first time in his career, as Indy will turn to yet another new starting quarterback. Ryan provides the Colts with a capable, respected pocket passer whom they believe can help them make a run to the playoffs. However, for fantasy I view Ryan in a comparable light to where he was last season in Atlanta: capable of an occasional boom week but more likely a bye-week fill-in than a regular starter. Indy projects to be a much more run-focused team than Atlanta was, Ryan does not add value with his legs, and there are questions within the receiving corps. So while I understand the motivation Indianapolis had for making the trade, speaking strictly for fantasy football purposes, there are better high-upside options for you to consider in your draft.
Chase Edmonds leaves Arizona for Miami
While it wasn't a star-studded group of free-agent running backs, Edmonds was the one who earned the largest deal to change teams, departing for Miami on a two-year deal worth $12.6 million. It's an indication of Miami's belief in the shifty Edmonds, but he's not alone in South Florida, as the team also added Raheem Mostert on a one-year deal and still has Myles Gaskin and Salvon Ahmed in place. The biggest fantasy beneficiary in all of this is James Conner, who remains the Cardinals' top back with little established competition in the backfield as things currently stand. I view Conner as a regression candidate from last season, when he kept finding the end zone despite averaging only 3.7 yards per carry, but his volume and pass-catching upside give him top-15 running back value at the moment.
The Jaguars' offense loads up
Jacksonville undertook what became the largest free-agent spending spree by a single team in NFL history, with notable offensive additions including wide receivers Christian Kirk and Zay Jones and tight end Evan Engram. While I'm both optimistic about the progress of Trevor Lawrence and think each of those additions is solid, I'm not sold that any Jaguars pass-catcher is a strong bet to be a weekly lineup fixture. I'll follow the money ($18M/year) and forecast that Kirk is in line for a large target share, so if there was a Jaguars wideout to target, he'd be my pick. Although Kirk is an ascending player and should be quite busy in Jacksonville, he has just 17 touchdowns in four pro seasons and doesn't profile as having major touchdown equity in his new digs. The Jaguars are improved, but the focal point for fantasy will remain in the backfield.