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Fantasy Football Trade Targets: 2022 Year In Review

Rhamondre Stevenson - Fantasy Football Rankings, Draft Sleepers, NFL Injury News

The NFL playoffs are just around the corner and season-long fantasy leagues have come to an end. If you were able to secure a fantasy championship, congratulations!

One thing that surely all of this year's champions have in common is that they did not finish the season with the same roster they drafted. Whether it was because of injuries or just disappointing draft picks, all fantasy managers dealt with turmoil, and those that came out on top were likely hyper-active on the waiver wire or savvy in trade negotiations.

Throughout the season, I attempted to assist fantasy gamers on their quest for a title by recommending trade candidates, either undervalued players I was interested in acquiring or overvalued players I was looking to capitalize on. If you followed along and took any of my suggestions, I very much appreciate it, and hope that they ultimately worked out!

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I'll be the first to admit that my advice was far from perfect, and there are some recommendations I wish I could take back. At the same time, there are others I look back on with fondness. With the 2022 fantasy season in the rearview, let's take a look at some of my biggest hits and biggest misses throughout the year and discuss what happened. (Note: I will not be including any players that got hurt as injuries never factored into my analysis).


2022-2023 Fantasy Football Buy/Sell - Biggest Hits

Trade Away: James Robinson (Week 2)

We started the season off strong, as did James Robinson, who at the time was running clearly ahead of Travis Etienne for the Jacksonville Jaguars. I suggested trading away Robinson in my first column of the year, which was written heading into Week 2.

Through the first three weeks of the season, Robinson was the fantasy RB3, averaging almost 18 half-PPR fantasy points per contest. This was extremely impressive as Robinson was coming off a torn Achilles that he suffered late in 2021. What I noticed instantly in Week 1, though, was that Etienne was the preferred receiving option out of the backfield and almost scored twice. He even out-snapped Robinson in his NFL regular season debut.

Robinson's fantasy success in 2020 and 2021 was not a product of other-worldly talent, but rather of seeing nearly every running back touch in Jacksonville. With the former first-round selection of Etienne now in the fold, I figured that Robinson's opportunities would gradually decrease, making it far more difficult for him to be a reliable fantasy option. This didn't pan out right away, but by Week 4, the Jaguars had put their trust in Etienne as the starter.

Of course, Robinson was eventually traded to the Jets after Breece Hall went down, but was hardly utilized by his new team. He posted one solid fantasy showing in New York, scoring on a receiving touchdown in Week 9, but was a healthy scratch for much of the latter portion of the season.

Hopefully, Robinson gets a fresh start next season as he will enter restricted free agency in March. For fantasy this year, however, it was certainly the correct call to strike while the iron was hot and trade him away in the early going.

Trade For: Rhamondre Stevenson (Week 5)

Honestly, I may have gotten a little lucky with this one, but I'll take it.

I highlighted Rhamondre Stevenson as an undervalued trade target right after Week 4. At this time, Damien Harris was healthy and splitting touches with Stevenson nearly 50-50. Of course, Harris suffered a hamstring injury in Week 5 that sidelined him for much of the season, paving the way for Stevenson's top-12 finish in PPR leagues. I can't say that Stevenson would've produced at this level with Harris active, but I still think my analysis at the time was sound.

We saw Stevenson receive five targets in both Weeks 3 and 4, so it had become clear that he absorbed any pass-catching role that was intended for the injured Ty Montgomery. This proved to remain a constant throughout the year as Stevenson placed himself among elite company.

Austin Ekeler also joined this list after Week 18, but the point still stands: Stevenson broke out as one of the league's best receiving backs.

I also mentioned Stevenson's attractive schedule going into Week 5, on which he absolutely capitalized, finishing as a top 15 running back against the Lions, Browns, Bears, Jets, and Colts before his Week 10 bye.

Trade Away: Gabe Davis (Week 6)

Heading into Week 6, Gabe Davis was fresh off a WR1 finish in which he dropped six receptions for 171 yards and two touchdowns on the Pittsburgh Steelers. The 23-year-old had been quiet over the previous two weeks as he recovered from an ankle injury, but the unavoidable hype surrounding Davis coming into the season started to return as he did to full health.

My reasoning for capitalizing on this hype was simple. Davis was over-performing considering his involvement in Buffalo's offense. At the time, he was being out-targeted on a per-game basis by both Stefon Diggs and Isaiah McKenzie. He feasted on explosive plays, but long touchdowns aren't typically predictive.

This held true throughout the rest of the season. Davis recorded four touchdowns in his first five games of the year but ended the regular season with seven in 16 total contests. He was extremely inconsistent for fantasy purposes with more weekly finishes outside of the top 60 wide receivers than inside the top 24.

Trade For: George Kittle (Week 15)

This was easily one of my best calls of the season, and it unfortunately didn't matter for any fantasy managers playing in leagues with trade deadlines. I still had to highlight it here.

Going into Week 15, George Kittle had finished with fewer than five half-PPR points in three straight contests, and some managers were surely considering benching him in the first round of the fantasy playoffs. Hopefully, you weren't one of them.

Deebo Samuel sustained an injury in Week 14, opening up more opportunities for Kittle in the passing game. I could not have predicted that Kittle would become a league-winner with Brock Purdy at quarterback, but I did assume that he would be a big, reliable target for the rookie. What made Kittle especially appealing, though, was his schedule for the playoffs.

Although Kittle's biggest performance came against the Washington Commanders, his most difficult matchup down the stretch, he managed a TE1 overall showing against the Seahawks in Week 15 and scored against the Raiders in Week 17. The 29-year-old rewarded all fantasy managers that had patience throughout his midseason lull and is now on fire heading into the NFL playoffs.


2022-2023 Fantasy Football Buy/Sell - Biggest Misses

Trade Away: Dalvin Cook (Week 6)

All in all, I believe most of Dalvin Cook's fantasy managers are coming out of this season disappointed with his output, particularly in the fantasy playoffs. But my recommendation to sell high after his huge Week 5 showing was not a good one.

Throughout the first four weeks, Cook seemed like one of the season's biggest fantasy busts as the RB24 in half-PPR scoring. He exploded for 121 total yards and two touchdowns in Week 5, but I still had my concerns. From Weeks 2 through 5, Cook was routinely playing on fewer than 70 percent of Minnesota's offensive snaps as Alexander Mattison was rotating in for more playing time than he had seen in years prior. Cook's involvement as a pass-catcher had also seemingly vanished.

The very next week, Cook played on a season-high of 87 percent of snaps and continued to dominate the running back touches thereafter. I'm not sure why the Vikings waited until Week 6 to reprise his workhorse role, but this decision allowed Cook to turn his shaky start into a top 12 fantasy finish. There were a few let-down performances scattered throughout the back half of the season, but Cook still managed to average 13.6 half-PPR points per game from Week 6 on.

Trade Away: Ezekiel Elliott (Week 8)

Ezekiel Elliott may have had the least efficient season of his career, and Tony Pollard finally enjoyed a true breakout, but it didn't stop the former from being one of the most consistent fantasy producers between Weeks 11 and 17.

I advised trading Zeke away after his two-touchdown outing against the Detroit Lions in Week 7 for a few reasons. At the time, the Lions represented one of the softest matchups possible for fantasy running backs, so it came as no surprise that Elliott produced against them.

What was somewhat of a surprise, however, was that Pollard out-snapped Elliott in the contest. Pollard had already been far more effective than Elliott on a per-touch basis, but the opportunities were typically not in his favor. I suggested that Elliott would become a touchdown-or-bust fantasy player with Pollard gaining traction as a receiver.

My idea to deal Elliott heading into Week 8 paid off in the short term as the 27-year-old was sidelined for the Cowboys' next two games with a knee injury. Upon his return in Week 11 through the end of the season, my assumption that he would be a touchdown-or-bust option was proven correct. The problem was that he simply couldn't be kept out of the end zone.

He wasn't posting elite yardage totals or high-end fantasy output, but Elliott scored in every contest between and including Weeks 11 and 17. Although Pollard continued to be a focal point of Dallas' offense, Elliott's role as the primary goal-line back remained firmly intact.

This alone gave him a solid RB1 value in that span. Looking back on it, I definitely think the process to trade Elliott away made sense in principle, but it just didn't pan out and I'll accept it as a miss.

Trade For: Kareem Hunt (Week 10)

We saw a handful of fantasy-relevant trades go down at the NFL trade deadline, but it was rather shocking that Kareem Hunt was not involved in any of them. The sixth-year running back did not receive the contract extension he was seeking in the offseason and subsequently requested out of Cleveland. His request was denied at the time, but Hunt's name remained a mainstay in trade rumors as the season progressed.

Hunt was relatively quiet through Cleveland's first seven games of 2022 as Nick Chubb seemed destined to take home the league's rushing title. His opportunities fell off a cliff for a two-game stretch after Week 5, signaling that the Browns could be preserving him as a trade asset.

In a Week 8 divisional bout with the Cincinnati Bengals, Hunt handled more touches than he had seen in the previous two weeks combined. This was noteworthy because the game was played on the night of October 31st with the trade deadline looming at 4 p.m. Eastern the next day. One of two scenarios seemed possible: Cleveland was showcasing Hunt's abilities one last time, or the team decided to take advantage of Hunt's services for the rest of the season and would get him more involved going forward. Neither was true.

Hunt remained with the Browns through the deadline, and I suggested acquiring him for cheap as I anticipated a bump in utilization and perhaps even effectiveness with Deshaun Watson soon returning from suspension. Instead, Hunt was again relegated to backup duties and was given double-digit touches on just two separate occasions throughout the remainder of the season.

As an unrestricted free agent this offseason, Hunt is almost guaranteed to find a new home following what can only be described as an underwhelming last ride in Cleveland. Outside of a few random weeks in which he found the end zone, he could not be trusted anywhere near a starting fantasy lineup, and hopefully, he never made his way into yours.

Trade Away: Davante Adams (Week 10)

Advocating trading for Kareem Hunt while trading away Davante Adams? Needless to say, my Week 10 article was one to forget.

My rationale here was to capitalize on Adams' Week 9 showing in which he garnered 17 targets and recorded 10 receptions for 146 yards and two touchdowns. He did this against the Jacksonville Jaguars, who at this point in the season were one of the 10 easiest matchups for receivers. The Raiders' schedule after that was not so appealing, and there was a belief that injured tight end Darren Waller was nearing a return.

The day after my Week 10 column went live, both Waller and Hunter Renfrow were surprisingly placed on Injured Reserve. I took to Twitter immediately to own my mistake.

Had I known that Mack Hollins and Foster Moreau would be the greatest threats to Adams' target share from Week 10 through Week 15, I wouldn't have suggested trading him for anything less than a king's ransom. Still, I have to chalk this one up as a miss.

Adams went on to earn double-digit targets in four consecutive games and entered the fantasy playoffs as the fantasy WR2 overall. He may have killed all of your hopes and dreams of a championship in Weeks 15 and 16, but you were rewarded handsomely in Week 17 if you managed to make it that far.


2022-2023 Fantasy Football Buy/Sell - Final Thoughts

I enjoyed looking back on my trade targets throughout the course of the season and overall, I'm happy with my work. Some suggestions didn't work out as intended, but such is to be expected in this wild and unpredictable game we play.

Starting ahead of Week 16, I transitioned this article to trade advice for dynasty leagues as they are less likely to have deadlines. With the 2022 regular season wrapped up, I will now be publishing dynasty buy/sell columns monthly instead of weekly, but I encourage you to check out my most recent piece and stay tuned for next month's if you play dynasty fantasy football! As always, I greatly appreciate any support.

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