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Robert Woods
Fantasy Football

Best Ball Players To Avoid In 2022

  • Zach Cohen
  • February 24, 2022
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Do you play fantasy football? Do you love drafting? And do you hate setting your lineup? Then best ball is the format for you! Now that I got that cheesy hook out of the way, today’s column is Part Two of my offseason best ball series. Last week, I talked about the best strategies and players to target. I also gave a quick breakdown of what best ball is if you’re new to the game or need a refresher. There’s a reason why it’s the fastest-growing fantasy format. That’s why I’m excited to bring my first best ball rankings for the 2022 NFL season next week. Make sure to follow me, @ZachCohenFB, and @TDNFantasy on Twitter so you don’t miss it. With that said, let’s look at some players you should not target in early best ball drafts.

Mac Jones

FantasyPros’ 2022 Best Ball Ranking: QB19 Jones’ rookie season was fairly unspectacular. He had some good, some bad, and a whole lot of average. Yet, he still managed a Pro Bowl nod over Josh Allen. Funny how that works. Anyway, Jones ended the season as QB18 in total points and QB30 in points per game. His point range–which I find to be a better indicator of production in best ball–was 22.3-5.1, excluding his weird snow performance of 0.5 points. As for his projection to 2022 and beyond, I should emphasize the importance of development with rookie passers. It’s extremely, extremely tough to judge Jones off of one season. With that said, his lack of playmaking traits and rushing ability limit his ceiling. Quarterbacks can’t necessarily conjure those traits into existence, either. Luckily for Jones, he was drafted into a system that can allow him to flourish in the pocket. But for Jones to reach his full fantasy potential, the passing game really needs to click. An influx of new weapons would help immensely—no, Kendrick Bourne and Nelson Agholor aren’t enough. Even if New England overhauls those positions, though, they’re still a run-heavy team. The Patriots ran the ball at the sixth-highest rate last season. That number dips down to the 13th-highest percentage on neutral downs (first and second downs in the first three quarters). That percentage does get a bit run-heavier again when New England was ahead or behind their opponent by 10 points. Now, Bill Belichick is arguably the master of adapting his schemes to fit his players. So if he feels Jones has the potential to be the next Josh Allen, he’ll let Jones loose. (Yes, that’s an extreme example). The point is the Patriots don’t need Jones to put up insane numbers. Besides, he isn’t well situated to be the next flashy fantasy football quarterback. You’re better off betting on the traits and the offenses of Daniel Jones or Zach Wilson, or even a rookie like Malik Willis or Desmond Ridder.

Aaron Jones

FantasyPros’ 2022 Best Ball Ranking: RB15 Once a top option in fantasy football, Aaron Jones’ stock steadily declined over the last two seasons. That’s not to say I hate Jones, I just don’t like his current value. Before we look at Jones specifically, keep in mind that when I say you should “avoid” a player, I don’t mean you shouldn’t draft him at all. You should never completely remove a player from your boards. Jones would be a fine RB4 or RB5 on your team, but as your RB3 or RB2? That’s risky. Hence why you shouldn’t target him at his current Average Draft Position (ADP). His value is just too high right now, mostly due to the looming presence of A.J. Dillon. Like I said in my tweet, the Packers are trending hard toward giving Dillon more carries. And while Jones is clearly the superior pass-catcher, Dillon isn’t a one-trick pony, either. He saw 36 targets compared to Jones’ 65 targets. Of course, Dillon dominated the backfield in red-zone touches. That’s not surprising since Dillon has more than three inches and 35 pounds on Jones. Another reason I’m not a fan of Jones’ value here: The other running backs you can draft. Players like David Montgomery, Josh Jacobs, and even Michael Carter should see more opportunities than Jones. I’d imagine Jones’ ceiling moving forward is a high-end RB2; he finished last season as RB11 in PPR. For as talented as Jones is, Dillon’s involvement is too noticeable. I’d be shocked if Jones replicates his 2019 and 2020 seasons in 2022.

Devin Singletary

FantasyPros’ 2022 Best Ball Ranking: RB25 Devin Singletary is another running back I’m not particularly high on. Props to Singletary for ending the season strong, though. He was the overall RB2 over the final five weeks, only behind *checks notes* Rashaad Penny? Yeah, things got weird. But back to Singletary. Following a riveting Week 14 loss to Tampa Bay, the Bills’ last four games weren’t the closest. Buffalo actually outscored their opponents 120-60 in that time. That’s exactly double the number of points they allowed, folks! Clearly, Singletary was the prime benefactor of those matchups. Aside from apparent inflation of Singletary’s stats, we have yet to see him get the full reins of the backfield in a sustainable manner. And again, those final four games are the best samples. Sadly, we may never see the day when Singletary becomes a true RB1 because Buffalo is one of the pass-heaviest teams in football. They had the third-highest pass rate on neutral downs. Shocking, I know. Besides, the Bills' backfield was just weird. Zack Moss saw 44% of snaps and 32% of carries, while Singletary saw 59% of snaps and carries with some Matt Breida sprinkled in. I could be wrong, but it seems like Sean McDermott hasn’t found a running back he’s truly comfortable with yet. The Bills could easily draft a running back, too. Rookies like Kenneth Walker III or Dameon Pierce would be great fits in Buffalo’s offense. They could also sign a veteran like Leonard Fournette or James Conner, too. Basically, there’s a little reason to suggest Singletary is the guy in Buffalo’s backfield next season. His skill set doesn’t translate well to a complementary role, either.

Robert Woods

FantasyPros’ 2022 Best Ball Ranking: WR37 Cue the violin, it’s about to get sad. At least for me, it is. You see, there was a time when Robert Woods was one of the best values in fantasy drafts. That’s what happens when you’re an aging receiver with three seasons of consistency.
  • 2020 - WR13 finish
  • 2019 - WR14 finish
  • 2018 - WR10 finish
Through the first nine games of 2021, Woods was WR12. Unfortunately, Woods tore his ACL and missed the rest of the season. We know those types of injuries can be devastating but they’re not career-enders like they used to be. Whether Woods—who turns 30 in April—bounces back next season is only half of the puzzle, though. We just have no clue what his role will be in the Rams’ offense. Cooper Kupp is cemented as the team’s clear WR1, Van Jefferson is emerging as a solid WR3 with WR2 potential and Tyler Higbee has taken a step forward as a pass-catcher. Of course, though, the big variable is the return of Odell Beckham Jr. If Beckham re-signs with Los Angeles, he’ll almost certainly eat into Woods’ role as he did this past season. Beckham, 29, is also dealing with an ACL tear, so he may not even be ready for the season opener if he’s brought back. The absolute best-case scenario is Woods returning at full health and regaining his spot as the team’s clear WR2. There are just too many variables that can prevent that scenario. And even if Woods does slide back into that role, I’d prefer other wide receivers with higher projected target shares and more promising career trajectories, such as Kadarius Toney, Marquise Brown, or a rookie wide receiver.

Tyler Boyd

FantasyPros’ 2022 Best Ball Ranking: WR46 Many things I just said about Woods can apply to Tyler Boyd. He was another one of my former fantasy darlings because he was generally also a beacon of consistency.
  • 2020 - WR29 finish
  • 2019 - WR18 finish
  • 2018 - WR16 finish
This season, Boyd finished as WR31 with a wild point range of 1.6-20.8. Talk about inconsistency. The main reason: Ja’Marr Chase. Chase became Joe Burrow’s No. 1 target in an offense that thrived off the duo’s chemistry and game-breaking ability. As a bigger slot receiver, Boyd was no longer needed as Burrow’s security blanket. There’s no reason to suggest next season‘s offense looks that much different. Boyd’s case isn’t helped by Joe Mixon and C.J. Uzomah’s roles in the passing game, either. Uzomah even saw 0.1 fewer targets per game than Boyd in the second half of the season. While Boyd was the WR18 from Weeks 11-17, that end-of-season resurgence featured just two games over 14 points. Boyd is a fine redraft target at his current value, but in best ball, you should aim for receivers in more target-friendly situations. Like I said in last week’s column about players to target, you need to have high-ceiling players to win in best ball. Boyd doesn’t offer that, and I’m afraid he may not offer it in this new-look, high-octane Cincinnati offense. Instead, give me a rookie wide receiver like Jameson Williams or Garrett Wilson or a veteran like Russell Gage or Michael Gallup.

Evan Engram

FantasyPros’ 2022 Best Ball Ranking: TE20 A quick reminder that Evan Engram is a free agent, so I can’t really project him into the Giants’ offense next season, yet. That can change when I update this list throughout the offseason. Until then, all we have to assess Engram is his career production. And folks, it isn’t pretty. After an impressive rookie campaign in 2017, Engram has yet to really live up to the hype, let alone come close to matching it. In the past three seasons, Engram has caught just 61% of his passes, which included a tie for the second-most dropped passes among tight ends in 2021. The sad reality may be, after five seasons of uninspiring production, Engram really isn’t that good. On the flip side, he could use some stability. Going through three head coaches—four, if you count interim coaches—in five seasons isn’t the best path for developing a tight end. Could Engram see a career revitalization on a better team like the Chargers or Cardinals? It’s definitely possible, but as I said with Singletary, opportunity doesn’t automatically equate to production. Engram has to actually play well, which of course means he has to catch passes consistently. It’s smarter to bet on the upside of a tight end in a better, more stable situation, like Higbee or Uzomah. There just isn’t much hope for Engram as a fantasy-relevant player anymore.

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Zach Cohen