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Fantasy Football Offseason Wish List: NFC

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If you thought the end of the Super Bowl would mean a break in our fantasy football content … well, that was a silly thing to think. Because the teams are already looking ahead to the 2022 season, we’re doing so as well.

(If the “you” in the above paragraph is my wife … my apologies, honey, and happy Valentine’s Day. We’ll do something someday. Maybe when the kids move out.)

Our own Sam Wallace looked at every franchise’s needs last month. Now, it’s time to get specific. Ahead of the mass of transactions coming in about a month when free agency opens, followed by the draft, we thought we’d take a minute to figure out what we want to see happen this offseason – big moves, small moves, or wait-don’t-do-that moves – from a fantasy perspective. For draft picks, I’m including an expected pick range based on current mock averages (per Grinding the Mocks).

(NFC below. Click here for the AFC side of things.)

 

NFC East

Dallas Cowboys

Settle on a single tight end

Ideally, this would be “commit to Dalton Schultz and let Blake Jarwin leave,” but the Cowboys have Jarwin under contract for two more years while Schultz is heading into free agency. But either way, this team is pretty set everywhere else on offense, and having a single guy to consider at tight end is the best path to fantasy prowess here.

New York Giants

Sign Mike Gesicki

The Giants know what it’s like to have a tight end who isn’t that much of a tight end. Evan Engram lines up in line more often than Gesicki, but then so do I. With Engram heading into free agency, and the team unlikely to do anything at the other skill positions, the Giants need to bring in Gesicki to be what Engram never could be.

Sign Andrew Norwell and draft offensive linemen

This line was terrible a year ago, and now Nate Solder (who wasn’t very good to begin with) is heading into free agency. Norwell wasn’t as good in his Jaguars tenure as he had been in Carolina, but he’s still better than anything the Giants had inside last year. Bring in a veteran anchor, and then draft more of them. (A lot of teams need to do this, so… we’re gonna have some bad linemen drafted. But you gotta try.)

Philadelphia Eagles

Convince Jason Kelce to stay

Kelce is still one of the league’s best centers, even 11 years and 159 games into his career. But there are retirement murmurs about the 34-year-old heading into this offseason, and that would create a huge gap on the line that it might not be able to withstand. Whatever the man wants, Eagles, give it to him.

Draft Treylon Burks (first round)

The Eagles have back-to-back picks at 15 and 16 and then pick again at 19, which means they can do just about whatever they want there. DeVonta Smith was good as a rookie, but even with him, this is one of the league’s worst receiver groups. Burks (6-foot-3, 225 pounds) is the polar opposite of Smith (6-0, 170) physically, and the two could complement one another to help them make the most of Jalen Hurts.

Washington Commanders

Trade for Russell Wilson

I’ll cover this for Seattle later. For Washington, Wilson is worth more than the 11th overall pick (plus), so they should give whatever it takes to bring in the 33-year-old, who would immediately get the best offensive line he’s seen in a long time and could make the most of Terry McLaurin and Antonio Gibson.

Let J.D. McKissic leave

Gibson didn’t pop in his second year like many fantasy drafters hoped entering the season, but they did give him more receiving work late in the season once McKissic was hurt. Gibson had 5 targets in Week 1, then didn’t top 3 again until Week 12. But from Week 12 on, his target total went 7-6-2-7-4-3. That’s not Christian McCaffrey-esque, but it’s still much more fantasy-friendly. Let McKissic go and let Gibson be a real three-down back.

 

NFC North

Chicago Bears

Sign Ryan Jensen

Jensen won’t save this line all by himself, but center was the Bears’ clear weakest spot a year ago, and the veteran Jensen is the single biggest piece the team could add this offseason. Draft linemen too, sure, but Jensen needs to be the focus.

Sign Michael Gallup

After a Week 17 ACL tear, Gallup might not be ready to go in Week 1. But the Bears can let Justin Fields work primarily through Darnell Mooney, Cole Kmet and David Montgomery early. When Gallup is ready to go, Fields will have a legitimate arsenal of weapons to play with.

Detroit Lions

Sign D.J. Chark and Tre’Quan Smith

This section was originally “sign Odell Beckham,” but after Beckham’s torn ACL Sunday, that move doesn’t work anymore (and stinks a lot). But this works well too. The Lions suddenly have a decent skill-player foundation around D’Andre Swift, Amon-Ra St. Brown and T.J. Hockenson, but the receiver depth needs some real attention. Chark should be available at a discount after last season’s injury and the fact he hasn’t produced at a star level in a few years, but if he can even  approximate his 2019 numbers he can be a more-than-competent running mate for St. Brown. And Smith is good for some splash plays and spike games, and his versatility would let him move into the slot and outside and allow St. Brown to do the same, highlighting his own versatility.

Green Bay Packers

Franchise tag Davante Adams

If Aaron Rodgers and Adams both leave Green Bay this offseason, this offense will be… uninspiring, from a fantasy perspective. If both stay, obviously it’s business as usual. But if Rodgers leaves (more on that later) and Adams stays, things become interesting. Because Rodgers or no Rodgers, Adams is one of the most talented receivers in the league, and if Jordan Love or Replacement Quarterback X is going to succeed, Adams is going to be necessary for that.

Minnesota Vikings

Draft George Pickens (second round)

The Vikings are tough for this exercise, as their skill group is fairly set, especially if Irv Smith returns from injury and produces like we hoped he would a year ago. But with Adam Thielen aging and increasingly injury-prone, the team could use more receiver depth. Pickens missed most of 2021 after tearing his ACL in the spring, but he returned late in the season. He’s a dedicated outside receiver who would allow Justin Jefferson and/or Thielen to slide inside more often, where both can excel.

 

NFC South

Atlanta Falcons

Trade Calvin Ridley and the eighth overall pick to Jacksonville for the first overall pick and their third-rounder

Whatever happened with the Ridley situation, it seems like it might be best for everyone to find a clean slate for both parties. A fresh start for Ridley and for the Falcons is in order, and this trade would help the Falcons get a key defensive player with the first pick and grab an extra pick for more weapons later. Obviously, this doesn’t make for a good fantasy outcome by itself, but that’s why we add…

Sign Will Fuller, draft Drake London (first/second round)

The Falcons’ quarterback of the future isn’t out there this year. And Matt Ryan remains uber-expensive. So give him one more year to do his thing in Atlanta, and supplement Kyle Pitts with a free agent with big potential upside in Fuller and a rookie in London who can be a part of the offense for years. The Falcons are either rebuilding or will be doing so soon, but having those pass-catchers in place would make the next quarterback’s job much easier.

Carolina Panthers

Trade for Aaron Rodgers

This one might be fading from possibility after rumors of Rodgers and the Packers being on better terms, but I still like it. The Broncos are the hot team attached to Rodgers, but Carolina makes more sense from my seat. David Tepper has been desperate for a star quarterback, and the names he’s tried have decidedly not been that. Giving up whatever he has to for Rodgers would let them pair an elite quarterback with maybe the game’s best running back, and it could be the key to unlocking DJ Moore. With the rest of the NFC South carrying plenty of offseason question marks, the Panthers’ window could be right now. Get the win-now quarterback to Carolina.

New Orleans Saints

Sign Cordarrelle Patterson

No team has an offense in more flux this offseason than New Orleans’, and that was probably true before whatever it was that happened with Alvin Kamara on Pro Bowl weekend. Right now, the team needs versatility, because who knows who they’ll have and when. That’s Patterson. If Kamara is fine to play, the now-unlocked Patterson can be a No. 2 running back and line up as a receiver no problem. But if we get bad Kamara news, Patterson can be a full-time running back. He can’t be the only back on the team, but his versatility means he should be the team’s target.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Sign Jameis Winston

Will this happen? Probably not. But with Tom Brady gone and the Bucs’ window either closed or closing fast, why not go with a guy who has an established rapport with the one weapon we know will be around in Mike Evans? With a bit more seasoning, a better defense around him and (I have to mention it) better eyesight, Winston could produce the highs of his previous Bucs tenure without as many of the lows, and that’s fantasy gold.

 

NFC West

Arizona Cardinals

Sign Leonard Fournette

The Buccaneers probably want to retain Fournette, but the team is likely to run into a lot of financial issues this offseason, and a running back is going to be a tough expense to justify. Fournette has earned a starting role again, and with James Conner and Chase Edmonds both heading into free agency, that’s 400 PPR points from last year that the Cardinals need to replace, and getting most of those with one guy would be a big fantasy boon.

Los Angeles Rams

Draft Jalen Wydermyer (second round)

Like the Vikings above, the Rams don’t come into the offseason with a lot of needs. Maybe the team could use a bell-cow running back, but another offseason of recovery for Cam Akers could solve that. The Rams also don’t have much in the way of early picks. But at tight end, the only big name is Tyler Higbee, who just turned 29 and only has one season of more than 560 receiving yards. Maybe Wydermyer is more of a long-term draft pick, but he’s a playmaker at tight end and could inherit the Higbee role in the long run or fill in for him in the short term. 

(I also would not be flabbergasted to see the Rams give Odell Beckham a one-year deal that is part-gratitude, part-“if you’re healthy in, like, Week 15 and on, man that’ll go great for us. Even a two-year deal with most of the first year dedicated to recovery.)

San Francisco 49ers

Dump Jimmy Garoppolo and don’t bring in a viable contender for the starting job

For better or worse, the 49ers need to be Trey Lance’s team in 2022. It sounds like Garoppolo leaving town is just a matter of time, but if the team follows that up by signing, I don’t know, Andy Dalton or Teddy Bridgewater or Ryan Fitzpatrick, then Lance’s first down game or preseason struggle will be met with a bunch of “who is the starter?” talk that no one needs. You need a backup who can start in a pinch, not someone the chirpers see as a real threat.

Let Raheem Mostert walk in free agency

The 49ers clearly didn’t know exactly what Elijah Mitchell would be for them in last year’s draft, since they splurged on Trey Sermon early and kept Mostert and Jeff Wilson around. But with Mostert hurt and Sermon exiled to who knows where, Mitchell finished as a top-20 PPR back on a per-game basis. Mostert and Wilson are both free agents. If Wilson’s back, fine, he’s unlikely to be a threat to Mitchell’s work. But Mostert should be allowed to spread his wings somewhere else and leave the starting role to Mitchell.

Seattle Seahawks

Trade Russell Wilson, draft Malik Willis (first round)

If the Seahawks keep Wilson, they’ll basically be stuck rolling back a team that just went 7-10 (and needed a two-game winning streak to close the season to even get there) in the league’s toughest division, given their lack of a first-round pick. Instead, the team should send Wilson to Washington for their first-round pick (and, obviously, more) and jump-start a rebuild around Willis. The Liberty QB’s stock is on the rise and can be a rushing weapon in an offense that likes to run the ball, and he’ll also have two elite receiving options at his disposal when it’s time to throw.

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