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NFL Franchise Tag Deadline Day Losers - Instant Reaction

Chris Godwin - Fantasy Football Rankings, Draft Sleepers, NFL Injury News

We're inching closer to the official start of the NFL free agency next Wednesday, March 16. Before we arrive at that date a week from now, though, we just inadvertently went through another important period of NFL action that spanned from Feb. 22 to Mar. 8 in which NFL clubs could designate Franchise or Transition Players.

This is always a crucial point in the course of the football offseason as it marks a make-or-break point for teams and players entering free agency, allowing franchisees to re-ink one of their most valuable assets for one more year at very pricy tags. For a full explanation of how the process works, check out Frank Dyevoich's comprehensive breakdown.

Today, I'm looking at what went down (mostly) yesterday, Mar. 8 in terms of franchise-tagged players and other deals that happened around the NFL (hello, Russ!), and I'm coming up with the biggest Winners and Losers in terms of fantasy football already looking at what might happen once the 2022 fantasy season kicks off mere months from now!

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NFL Franchise Tag Deadline Day Losers

WR Chris Godwin getting the franchise tag by Tampa Bay

The Bucs decided to extend the franchise tag to Chris Godwin, blocking him from hitting free agency in a few days. That's great for a team in desperate need of offensive weapons after losing QB Tom Brady and WR Antonio Brown, and looking at a worst-case scenario in which all three RBs (Leonard Fournette, Ronald Jones, and Gio Bernard) along with the TE1 Rob Gronkowski could also bolt away from Florida and/or retire.

When it comes to the very own player, though, Godwin must not be so happy when thinking he will get thrown the ball from the hands of QB Kyle Trask or whoever Tampa might start at the quarterback position (probably not too much of an upgrade, with Jimmy G the only kinda-good option available in the market). Godwin missed a few games at the end of the season, and although he was sublime for the Bucs, it's also true that he got the Brady Boost. He was good before, yes, but I'd not count on any sort of WR1 finish for him next year in PPR leagues across the nation.

Seattle's pass-catchers: WR DK Metcalf, WR Tyler Lockett, TE Noah Fant

Going from a perennial top-performing quarterback in Russell Wilson to someone like Drew Lock is, well, let's call it not very optimal for fantasy and/or real-life purposes. All of Metcalf, Lockett, and Fant will endure that fate next season, as the Seattle Seahawks decided to move on from bitching Russ to whatever they think they're getting in Lock or a rookie QB to be drafted a month from now. There is a clear problem with this deal and that latter option, though, and it is that this upcoming draft class doesn't project to be stacked at the QB position, so it's not that Seattle will have a ton of options to choose from, nor a sky-high pick to get one.

Metcalf and Lockett both finished last season with 241 and 243 PPR points respectively, and TE Noah Fant got to 159 himself playing in a not-so-great Broncos offense. It's going to be very hard to find any of those three making it to the top-12 in their respective fantasy positions given the ground-level quarterbacking they'll have to go through in 2022. Here's hoping for a high-end WR2/TE2 campaign from at least one of them, though I'm afraid the more realistic outcome is going to be closer to a low-end top-24 finish or even worse.

TE David Njoku getting tagged and stuck in Cleveland's overloaded tight-end position

Shout out to David Njoku for getting the sweet tag and the tasty money that comes attached to it! While Njoku will stay in the comfy confines of Cleveland and won't be forced into finding a new house anywhere else, the truth is that Njoku will (once more) have to fight for looks and targets with fellow Browns' TE Austin Hooper, who is not going anywhere in 2022 barring an unexpected trade. Njoku overcame his injury woes (four games played in 2019, 13 in 2020) by logging 16 appearances last year and finishing with 107+ PPR points for a TE22 season, but Hooper played all 16 games while getting 92 PPR points himself.

What I'm saying is that a combined franken-version--let's call it Njohoop--of these two TEs might be good for a TE1 finish (they combined for 200 PPR points last season!) but that's not going to happen in 2022 so I'm not really convinced this was the best option among those available for Njoku with the chance of entering FA for the first time in his career. Njoku has had fewer targets than Hooper in the two years they have shared the field, QB Baker Mayfield is hanging from a very thin thread and not very good, and Cleveland lacks offensive weapons to keep the defense honest enough to afford Njoku enough room to exploit his talents. Ugh.

Atlanta Falcons' passing game after Calvin Ridley's suspension

Not a lot to say about this, because you already know the news and the story whether you read RotoBaller or just TMZ. Ridley missed all games but the first five of last year allegedly battling mental issues. That might be right, but what is also very right and now confirmed is the fact that Ridley gambled on NFL games pertaining to the 2021 campaign and that forced the league into suspending him for (at least) the 2022 campaign.

That sucks for Ridley shareholders on the fantasy realm (in Dynasty leagues) and for those planning to draft him this summer (in re-draft leagues) as Ridley is a bonafide superstar receiver with two top-27 PPR seasons and a top-5 finish as recently as in the 2020 season. It sucks for Atlanta, too, because 1) they have no other very viable WRs in the squad, 2) will need to heavily bet on TE Kyle Pitts (a clear winner from this news) doing everything by himself next season, 3) should decide whether to tank from the get-go with such a thin offensive depth chart and QB Matt Ryan perhaps playing his last season and 4) will have RB Cordarrelle Patterson testing the free agency waters. Cold world for the Falcons, this one.

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