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2022 Fantasy football enigmas: What will happen with these QBs and RBs?

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Anyone clicking on fantasy football links in late January understands the largess of Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams. Speculation surrounding the dynamic duo — which is gaining magnificent steam courtesy of Nathaniel Hackett’s callback in Colorado — figures to lead the bulk of offseason media churn.

So, too, in the mix is Tom Brady’s retirement watch. Golf courses nationwide have likely installed moles, ready to deliver tips on the GOAT’s frequency of rounds played. By extension, Chris Godwin — who enters free agency coming off of a brutally-timed ACL injury — will remain a keenly debated figure in fantasy circles. Frankly, all of the Bucs’ pass-catchers are in limbo while TB12 ponders his future.

Those names and situations are obvious. Everyone already knows ‘em. That’s why it’s important to examine what everyone might not know … or at least be looking at.

Starting with the backfield (QBs and RBs), check out the fantasy players wading through the unknown; each a few planet alignments from hero to zero, and vice versa.

Trevor Lawrence, QB, Jacksonville Jaguars

Trevor Lawrence closed out a brutal first-year campaign on an intriguingly high note. In Week 18, the rookie signal caller recorded season-high numbers in completion percentage (71.8%), QB rating (111.8) and rushing attempts (10). Lawrence also managed over 20 fantasy points (QB12) while stringing together his second multi-touchdown effort in the Jags' stunning 15-point victory over Indianapolis.

Check out Part 2 of the 2022 Fantasy Football Enigmas

Four games removed from Urban Meyer’s firing, the kid pulled off a flashy upset. Now fantasy fans have to wonder if scouts were indeed right about Lawrence’s generational talent. He’ll get former college teammate and fellow first-round draft pick Travis Etienne back in '22. Plus, the team could renew D.J. Chark. And, of course, he’ll be surrounded by a newly installed coaching staff (bonus points if it ends up being Byron Leftwich).

Reports out of camp will be key, but the turnaround potential for Lawrence is real. He might very well climb his way inside the top-20 FF players at the position by August.

Daniel Jones, QB, New York Giants

OMG-men. Daniel Jones is hardly the first — or last — question mark that New York has to address. While his performance to date has been below average (total QBR outside of the top-16 all three years) the excuses have also been real. He was shut down in Week 13 due to a neck injury but is expected to be fully cleared by the summer and ready to face contact by August.

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When healthy, his surrounding talent is elite — it’s just that they all have trouble staying healthy. Under a new GM, HC and OC, however, maybe some of that changes? And if so, perhaps Jones can do enough to support Saquon Barkley (who is entering a contract year), Kenny Golladay and/or Kadarius Toney.

Leonard Fournette, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

As previously mentioned, much of the Bucs' '22 roster makeup hinges on Tom Brady’s potential return. With that said, Leonard Fournette has undergone a renaissance over the last two years in Tampa. In 2021, he ran a career-high 323 routes (RB4) while tying his 2019 numbers for red-zone touches with 54 (RB3). His efficiency stats drastically improved as well (3.9 TYPC, RB40 in 2019 to 4.3 TYPC, RB25 in 2021).

Set to hit free agency — along with Ronald Jones — this spring, the Bucs backfield could go from #glowup to #blowup. Keep an eye on Ke'Shawn Vaughn — who flashed down the stretch — as a potential riser in the event of a Lenny departure. Were Fournette to return, however, the 27-year-old would remain a top-15 selection. On another team, he’d garner lower-end RB2 fantasy attention.

Editor's note: Tom Brady has announced his retirement from the NFL.

Javonte Williams, RB, Denver Broncos

Fantasy heads love Javonte Williams. So much so that I’m writing him up for the second week in a row. The rookie didn’t just flash (81 evaded tackles, RB6), he also produced (RB15 overall). And he did it all in a frustratingly even timeshare with Melvin Gordon.

Denver is one position away from being a juggernaut. If we know that, then the new OC and HC are going to know that. Assuming Gordon departs in free agency and a QB better than Teddy Bridgewater arrives in Mile High, then Williams’ usage and efficiency figure to skyrocket. Any coaching staff will likely lean on him for balance while relying on his next-level skill set to consistently move the chains. That is a recipe for fantasy gold.

Denver Broncos running back Javonte Williams represents one of the biggest fantasy football question marks of 2022
What will Javonte Williams' fantasy football draft standing be come August? (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Let’s just hope all the “ifs” lead to 24K and not pyrite.

James Conner, RB, Arizona Cardinals

Per Sports Injury Predictor, James Conner had an 88 percent chance of injury heading into 2021 and was expected to miss three games. He ended up beating that estimate — despite a career fraught with durability issues — and missed only two contests.

That wasn’t the only way in which Conner exceeded expectations.

The former Steeler recorded a career-high 15 rushing TDs while also touching the ball 239 times for 1,127 scrimmage yards. He closed out the year as fantasy’s RB5 overall, narrowly beating his 2018 fantasy performance (RB6) in terms of overall placement.

Both Chase Edmonds and Conner are set to become UFAs this calendar year. Given Edmonds’ injury-laden campaign (five missed games) in combination with Kliff Kingsbury’s reluctance to use the Fordham product near the goal line (4 GL carries, RB36), it seems unlikely that Chase will return to the team. Conner, on the other hand, might have done enough to stay in the desert. Right now, he’s a low-end RB2/high-end RB2 in the RB25-ish range.

Engage with Liz on social @LizLoza_FF and watch for Part II of this series on @YahooFantasy

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