Fantasy Football outlook for the 2022 NFL season

When you speak of fantasy football studs at the tight end position, you are most likely referring to the likes of George Kittle of the San Francisco 49ers, Travis Kelce of the Kansas City Chiefs, and Mark Andrews of the Baltimore Ravens, but Darren Waller of the Las Vegas Raiders should also be in that conversation. With that said, let’s take a look at the Raiders tight end’s 2022 fantasy football outlook.

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Darren Waller 2022 Fantasy Football Outlook

Not that many are underestimating his value in mock drafts ahead of the 2022 NFL regular season, as he is currently being drafted fifth overall among tight ends on average, per Fantasy Data, but there aren’t a few managers out there who would also be quick to point out that Waller is coming off a down season. Waller betrayed a ton of fantasy football managers in 2021. After two straight seasons of racking up over 1,100 receiving yards and at least 90 receptions, Waller took a hit last season when he only coughed up 665 receiving yards and two touchdowns on 55 receptions. Tight ends Hunter Henry of the New England Patriots, Dallas Goedert of the Philadelphia Eagles, and even Pittsburgh Steelers rookie Pat Freiermuth all finished the season with more standard fantasy points than Darren Waller.

The sharp dip in his production, however, was also largely because he missed a total of six games. An ankle injury forced him to miss Week 7 against the Philadelphia Eagles at home while a knee issue caused him to sit out Weeks 13 to 17. By the time he returned in Week 18 for an all-important showdown against the Los Angeles Chargers at home , a ton of his owners had either moved on from him or had already been eliminated from fantasy football title contention.

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That is why a big question about Darren Waller’s fantasy football outlook is whether he will be healthy enough to prevent managers from pulling their hair. BUT that is not the biggest concern for Waller. Tight end is such a thin position, and injuries are always part of the risks, so Waller is rightfully getting drafted high. What happened to Waller could also happen to Kelce, Kittle, Andrews, and Kyle Pitts. Projecting a player’s injury fate is often tricky and unreliable, and sometimes clouds the view on the other much more important factors that have a direct impact on fantasy football.

For Waller, his 2022 fantasy football outlook will significantly rely on how huge of a role Raiders newcomer Davante Adams will take away from the tight end’s opportunity. There are other big mouths to feed downfield in the Raiders’ passing attack, but it’s the former Green Bay Packers wide receiver who will undoubtedly get the most attention from quarterback Derek Carr. The Raiders did not shell out an enormous amount of money to sign Adams to a five-year extension deal worth $140 million AFTER giving away first and second-round picks to the Packers just to underuse him.

Adams paced the rest of the NFL over the last four seasons in receptions, receiving yards, and touchdown catches — all while playing with arguably the best quarterback of this generation in Aaron Rodgers. Carr is a step down in quarterback quality for Adams, but you can bet Carr is going to be looking for Adams on almost every passing plays. That’s not to mention that Carr and Adams go a long way back, as they were the 1-2 punch in those high-flying offenses of the Fresno State Bulldogs back when they were still in college.

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But Adams’ presence should also open things up for Waller.

Any time opposing defenses put another man to go after Adams or his route is a great opportunity for Waller to shine. Then again, there’s also PPR-stud Hunter Renfrow for the Raiders to feed. Renfrow has emerged as a reliable target for Carr after a season in which he led the Raiders with a 21.31% target share, Waller came in second with a 15.66% target share.

An upside for Waller is that the Raiders should remain a high-volume passing team just like a season ago when they ranked fourth in the entire league with a 62.88 pass play percentage and sixth with 37.9 pass attempts per contest.

At the end of the day, fantasy football managers are looking to draft the best tight end available when it’s time for them to pick one. There are downsides to Darren Waller for reasons explained earlier, but even with the expected dip in target rate, Waller is a safe pick to be your team’s TE1.

Patriots, Bill Belichick, Mac Jones, Nick Saban

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