Distinguished poet Marshall Bruce Mathers III once posed one of the most philosophically captivating questions of our time when he asked:
“If you had one shot, or one opportunity, to seize everything you ever wanted, would you capture it, or just let it slip?”
The following players on this list cannot afford sweaty palms or weak knees. They need to stay calm and ready to drop bombs on their competition in order to impress their coaches and earn a significant role of the team this year. After all, this opportunity comes once in a lifetime for many players.
These six players have a huge shot at fantasy relevance or even fantasy stardom if they can impress in training camp and preseason:
TE Greg Dulcich – Denver Broncos
After Noah Fant was traded to Seattle, the fantasy community kind of just assumed that Denver’s remaining uber-athletic tight end, Albert Okwuegbunam, would step into the starting role and garner enormous upside.
The Albert “O” truthers were forced to snap back to reality, though, once Dulcich was drafted early in the third round of the 2022 NFL Draft.
Some in the fantasy community are brushing off the Dulcich pick by the Broncos, arguing the starting tight end spot is still Okwuegbunam’s to lose due to his superior athletic profile. Others believe the significant draft capital Denver spent on Dulcich means the former UCLA product will be fast-tracked to snaps.
I think a lot will depend on training camp. Remember, Okwuegbunam isn’t exactly a seasoned veteran. He has only appeared in 18 games in his career, and has played over half of snaps in a game just four times so far. He obviously has more experience than Dulcich, but he definitely does not have a firm hold on the job at this point.
Dulcich first impressed the general dynasty community at the Senior Bowl where he routinely got downfield with striking fluidity like a wide receiver. Dulcich reinforced that impression at the NFL Combine where he ran the 40 yard dash in the 4.6’s at 245 pounds. During his college career, he compiled 1,353 receiving yards and 11 receiving touchdowns in 24 games, including a 42-catch, 725-yard, five-touchdown season in 2021 as the Bruins’ leading receiver.
If Dulcich can prove himself early in camp, and eventually ascend to the top of the depth chart in Denver, I think he would have a decent opportunity to make plays down the seam for Russell Wilson while defenses worry about Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy and Tim Patrick.
The most likely outcome is that Dulcich and Okwuegbunam share snaps and both are ancillary pieces in the Broncos passing game, but if Dulcich really establishes a rapport with Wilson, stranger things have happened than a talented third round rookie making an early name for himself.
WR Jalen Tolbert – Dallas Cowboys
Michael Gallup is still recovering from ACL surgery this past offseason, and so there will be snaps up for grabs among the Cowboys wide receiver group. Typically, in Dallas’ high-powered attack that means bountiful fantasy production for the WR2 spot in that offense formerly manned by Amari Cooper.
Dallas selected Tolbert with the No. 88 pick in the 2022 NFL Draft in part because they knew they would need help behind CeeDee Lamb, especially early in the season without Cooper and Gallup (and Cedric Wilson).
Tolbert has a great chance to climb the totem pole and ensure himself early snaps if he can perform well in training camp and get Dak Prescott to gyrate his hips in his direction early and often. If Tolbert can make the most of the opportunity, it might be hard for Gallup to move him to the bench once he comes back. At worst, Tolbert profiles as the long-term third wheel of the Cowboys receiving trio.
Tolbert, a star at South Alabama, ran a 4.49 in the 40 at the combine at 6-1, 195 pounds. He also tested well in the explosiveness tests and shows well on film as a smooth, fluid mover who runs good routes.
I’m not a staunch “vacated target” guy, but there are 227 targets left behind by the departures of Cooper, Wilson and Gallup (until he is 100 percent). Tolbert’s performance at training camp compared to the likes of James Washington, Noah Brown, Simi Fehoko and Ty Fryfogle could ensure that Tolbert gets his hands on a healthy target share this season.
WR Nico Collins – Houston Texans
Collins caught 33 passes on 61 targets for 446 and a touchdown as a rookie last year, and just like last year, a starting role is there for the taking in Houston.
Sadly, rookie receiver John Metchie will miss the season after being diagnosed with Leukemia. Everyone should be pulling for Metchie and recognizing that sports don’t really matter in the grand scheme of things, but in terms of football, Collins has a massive opportunity heading into training camp this season.
Brandin Cooks is not tied to the organization long term, and there were plenty of trade rumors surrounding him this past off-season. After Cooks, only the likes of Phillip Dorsett, Chris Moore, Chris Conley and Connor Wedington stand in Collins’ way to major snaps this season.
Davis Mills and the passing game should be busy this season regardless of who is playing receiver as the Texans figure to be playing from behind often this season. Collins was already second on the team in targets as a rookie, and it’s logical to project a nice bump in production assuming he can finish second on the Texans in targets again in 2022. Mills’ improvement as a quarterback along with Collins’ own improvement should mean more fantasy production for the former Michigan man.
In order to get there, however, Collins needs to put together a solid training camp performance to establish that strong connection with Mills.
WR Isaiah McKenzie and Jamison Crowder – Buffalo Bills
Cole Beasley was targeted 112 times and caught 82 passes last season largely from the slot position in the Bills’ offense. Beasley is now gone, and Crowder comes in to try to take his place in the slot and replicate that production.
Injuries have been problematic for Crowder in recent seasons, as he has missed at least four games in three of the last four years. However, the last time Crowder played an entire season, he caught 78 balls and finished as a top thirty fantasy receiver, which isn’t bad considering he did it as a member of the Sam Darnold-led Jets.
True to form, Crowder is already dinged up. He reportedly has been dealing with “soreness” and “tightness” at the early stages of camp, so it will be something to monitor as we progress through August.
If Crowder cannot stake his claim to that slot role, perhaps Isaiah McKenzie can.
McKenzie saw only 26 targets in 2021, but he has been getting virtually all of the first team reps early on in training camp according to beat writers in Buffalo. The talent and explosiveness appear to be there as McKenzie has scored seven touchdowns over the past two seasons in very limited time on the field. If he can continue to impress coaches and establish rhythm with Josh Allen in training camp, McKenzie could produce some nice numbers in that slot position. He is arguably a more dynamic talent than Beasley was too, so there’s some additional upside there.
RB Tyler Allgeier – Atlanta Falcons
The Falcons were near the bottom of the league in rushing attempts in 2021, and that could continue in 2022. However, despite the fact that Atlanta is likely to be playing from behind a lot this season, I still think Allgeier has a great opportunity for playing time if he can start off well this camp.
Cordarrelle Patterson inexplicably led the Falcons in attempts last season with 153. Mike Davis (138 carries) is gone, and regardless of how many vacated carries any one Falcon departure leaves, the point is that there are rushing attempts up for grabs this year, even if Patterson continues to get in the mix.
Allgeier only has 30-year old Damien Williams to contend with aside from 31-year old Patterson, who I assume the Falcons want to feature more on passing downs, as a receiver and return man. As the only youngster in that (projected) backfield in training camp, Allgeier could force Atlanta to view him as the long term answer at the position with a great camp.
Allgeier is a sturdy back at 5-11, 224, which is “prototypical” size for a featured back. Stylistically, he compliments the athletic Patterson well. Allgeier also has the physique to eventually take on goal line duties, not that the 2022 Falcons will provide an abundance of scoring opportunities from in close. Allgeier ran a 4.6 in the 40, which is great for his size. His vertical leap and broad jump were very good as well. Allgeier has some explosiveness to go along with his size, and if he also earns playing time and touches, good things could happen.
WR Romeo Doubs – Green Bay Packers
Everyone knows that Davante Adams is now in Vegas, but what people are unsure of at this point is how the hierarchy of wide receivers will shake out in Green Bay this year. Whoever emerges as Aaron Rodgers’ favorite target is likely to be in line for some juicy fantasy production, so all eyes are on the likes of Allen Lazard, Christian Watson and Sammy Watkins (before he inevitably gets hurt).
I submit to you Romeo Doubs. He was Carson Strong’s favorite receiver at Nevada last year, catching 80 passes for 1,109 yards and 11 touchdowns for the Wolfpack as a senior. In 2020, Doubs also surpassed 1,000 yards receiving in just nine games as a junior.
Doubs was a somewhat hyped prospect amongst the dynasty community leading up to the 2022 NFL Draft due to his collegiate production, but his stock fizzled a bit due to the fact that he fell to the late fourth round of the draft, and fellow rookie wide receiver Christian Watson was taken by the Packers before Doubs.
Fast forward to training camp, however, and Watson will miss time due to injury, leaving the door open for Doubs to make an impression this preseason. We already know (at least we think we know) what Lazard is as a player, and we already mentioned that Watkins is hard to rely on. With Watson missing valuable training camp reps with Rodgers, Doubs has a chance to ascend up the depth chart. He is reportedly already impressing in camp.
Who do you think stands out during camp? Let us know in the comment box below!
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Your typical know-nothing wannabe who never played American football growing up, Andrew grew up playing the REAL football, dreaming of being the next Ronaldo (the Brazilian one).
One fateful day in 1998, Andrew was introduced to one, Randy Moss, who would almost singlehandedly vault American football to the forefront of a young twelve-year-old’s flimsy attention span.
Twenty-some years later, Andrew, now a father, coach and rabid Tottenham supporter, still loves both footballs.