Well, FAmily, the end of the season is here, and you may be asking yourself, “where did the time go”? It seems like just yesterday we were drafting our teams and making our preseason guesses, and now here we are. Week 18 has come and gone, and thus concludes both the fantasy football season and regular season of NFL play. The Miami Dolphins squeaked into the playoffs in dramatic fashion, the San Francisco 49ers continued their dominance against the lowly Cardinals, and the Houston Texans played themselves out of the number one draft pick with an epic last minute score by Jordan Akins.
Whether we are celebrating a fantasy championship, lamenting the overthinking that ultimately cost us, or simply enjoying the sport as a fan, one thing is for certain. The 2022 NFL season was one of the most exciting, unpredictable, and competitive that we’ve seen in a long time. Fortunately, for the purposes of this article, the unpredictability lent itself to several spicy hot takes that came to fruition, but there were also some that just left a bad taste in your mouth. But, you can’t get them all right, especially when you’re shooting for the moon; you just hope some end up in the stands.
So where did we end up this season? We’re all about accountability here at Fantasy Alarm, so let’s count up the wins, the near-misses, and the outright rotten predictions from this year’s fantasy football hot takes series. (For transparency’s sake, I’m not including stats from Week 18, since some players sat out or were limited.)
The Home Runs
Preseason: Aaron Rodgers Will Not Support a Top-24 Wide Receiver
We’ll start with a throwback for you. In the very first edition of this year’s hot takes article, I called that Aaron Rodgers would not support a top-24 wide receiver in PPR leagues without Davante Adams. Not only did he not do that, he didn’t even support a top-36 wide receiver! Allen Lazard came the closest, landing at WR37 through Week 17, but even he was a touchdown dependent option who wasn’t a reliable start from week-to-week. The Packers’ offense as a whole was kind of a bust outside Aaron Jones, with Rodgers finishing as QB14. Next season should be different with rookies Romeo Doubs and Christian Watson getting some experience under their belt, but this just wasn’t the year.
Week 4: Josh Jacobs is a Top Fantasy Running Back
It only took me a few weeks into the season to recant my offseason naysaying, and in Week 4, I predicted that Josh Jacobs would finish the season as a top-12 running back. Well, not only did he do that, he finished as THE RB1 in standard leagues and the RB3 in PPR leagues. Despite the Raiders’ offensive woes, Jacobs remained a constant fantasy asset, averaging just over 20 PPR points per game, and he proved that he is worth a contract. We don’t know where he’ll end up next season, as Las Vegas declined his fifth-year option, but we can worry about the future later. All that we know is that this season, he made some fantasy managers VERY happy and possibly carried them to a fantasy championship.
Week 5: Brandon Aiyuk is the Number One Wide Receiver in San Francisco
Even with Deebo Samuel’s injury and subsequent missed games, Brandon Aiyuk ended the season as the number one receiver in San Francisco. On a points per game basis, Aiyuk was only one tenth of a point behind Samuel, and considering his slow start to the season, this is a home run. From Week 6 on, Aiyuk commanded a 24% target share and finished as the WR10 in PPR leagues. It didn’t matter who was quarterbacking; Aiyuk showed why he was a second round pick, and with Samuel’s injury history, don’t be surprised if he firmly takes over as the alpha receiver in 2023.
Week 15: Jerick McKinnon Finishes as the Overall RB1 the Remainder of the Season
I have a soft spot in my heart for puppies, kittens, and older running backs who have been buried in the depth chart, and that didn’t change this season with my Jerick McKinnon prediction in Week 15. McKinnon became an integral part of the Chiefs passing game, seeing 17% of the team’s target share from Weeks 14-17, and he scored SEVEN touchdowns during that span. If you were savvy enough to jump on that train, you were handsomely rewarded.
The Strike Zone
Preseason: Tom Brady Finishes Outside QB1 Territory
In the first part of the season, it was looking like this take was a slam dunk. Through Week 13, Brady was QB18, but he once again proved why he is the GOAT, making a strong push toward the end of the year to vault himself into the QB1 tier. Granted, he barely finished there, ending up at QB11, and this was in large part due to the massive number of pass attempts he was forced to make to battle back and win the division. After the bye week, he never attempted less than 43 passes, so you could assume that if Tampa Bay had a better offensive line and more efficient run game, he wouldn’t have crossed this threshold. However, almost doesn’t count, and Brady proved me wrong.
Week 5: Dalvin Cook is a Sell Candidate
In the first part of the season, there’s no denying that Dalvin Cook’s role as the workhorse back in Minnesota was concerning. He no longer commanded the snap share we were used to seeing out of him, seeing only 57% of the snaps in Week 5, and through that span, he only ranked as the RB14 in PPR leagues. After this was published, though, it looks like the Vikings took that personally. The next week, Cook saw 87% of the snaps and never looked back. He finished the year as the RB10, and although that’s not exactly what you wanted out of him at his ADP, he was still a strong option at the position.
Week 8: D’Onta Foreman Will Finish the Season as an RB1
After the Christian McCaffrey trade, those who rostered D’Onta Foreman looked like geniuses. His massive performance against the Atlanta Falcons in Week 8 had us all shouting his praises from the rooftops, and with Carolina’s woes in the passing game, it looked like he would carry the offense on his back the rest of the season. While he did at times, he was more inconsistent than gas station sushi, and if you started him in the early stages of the fantasy playoffs, you were kicking yourself. He wasn’t a terrible option as far as overall points, finishing as the RB16 from Week 8 on, but he couldn’t quite crack RB1 territory after those low-ball performances.
Week 9: Jeff Wilson Has RB2 Value With the Dolphins
The trade deadline gave Jeff Wilson new life in Miami, reuniting him with his former coach Mike McDaniel. While the usage at first was positive, seeing over 60% of the snaps in Weeks 10 and 12, he could never quite take off. From Weeks 9-17, he finished as the RB35, disappointing those who hoped McDaniel could provide some spark to his fantasy value. While it wasn’t a terrible miss, his finish was still like Taco Bell without the hot sauce. It was satiable, but definitely not what you wanted.
The Wild Pitches
Week 1: Derrick Henry is no Longer the Workhorse Back in Tennessee
We’ll start off strong with this one and have a collective belly laugh. Week 1 had Derrick Henry managers shaking in their boots after his eight point fantasy performance. Dontrell Hilliard looked like he had taken a huge bite out of Henry’s workload, and even into Week 2, it was looking like Henry had lost a step. That was cute while it lasted. Henry bounced back to his superhuman self the rest of the season, finishing the year as the overall RB4 in PPR leagues, even if his snap share was lower than usual. You can never count out the king, and I was dead wrong on this one.
Week 3: Khalil Herbert Will Take the Starting Job From David Montgomery
While I’m still extremely bullish on Khalil Herbert’s talent, he somehow could never edge out David Montgomery for the bulk of the touches on Chicago’s offense. After handling 77% of the snaps in Week 4, Herbert never saw more than 41% of the snaps the remainder of the season despite ranking seventh in the league in yards per touch. The process was right, but the results just weren’t there. Oh well, there’s always hope for next year!
Week 8: Greg Dulcich Will Finish as a Top-2 Tight End
After a huge performance in his NFL debut, we were quick to crown Greg Dulcich as this year’s Pat Freiermuth. What we failed to take into account was how woefully inefficient Denver’s offense was under head coach Nathaniel Hackett. Dulcich did show flashes of talent, but it was impossible to live up to the lofty expectations we set for him. I may have let my own wishful thinking cloud my judgment in making this prediction.
Week 12: Christian McCaffrey is a Risky Option Down the Stretch
I hereby give you permission to laugh me out of town with this one. At the time, his usage was concerning, as was the loss of Jimmy Garoppolo, and with Kyle Shanahan’s propensity for rotating running backs in and out, it seemed like there was a risk that McCaffrey’s fantasy production could be limited. Oh, how wrong I was! From Week 12 on, McCaffrey finished as THE RB1 in PPR leagues and the RB2 in standard leagues. It’s safe to say that his talent won out over any workload worries
With that, we power down the hot takes machine and put it into storage for next season. Until then, on behalf of the capsaicin contingency, thank you for joining us for 2022’s fantasy football hot takes. See you next season!