Here are four players that we could see next year as solid fantasy performers, as I look at the future opportunities and what the roster construction could look like in 2022 and going forward. These are by no means players I’m going out and paying up for but I will ask for these players to be added in as I make dynasty trades. I think there are other obvious dynasty options that would provide production now but they will cost you more, like Javonte Williams, Laviska Shenault, and Donald Parham. The players below are a step below for sure but can be had at a fraction of the cost.
Ashton Dulin: WR, IND
The Colts at one point looked like perennial playoff contenders when they drafted Andrew Luck in 2012. Fast forward to 2018 and Luck surprisingly retires. Since then the Colts have been looking to revamp their offense and find a quarterback to continue their winning ways. Jacoby Brissett and Phillip Rivers were not the answers but it looks like they have found it in Carson Wentz. Surrounding Wentz is a team that has a good offensive line and a star running back in Jonathan Taylor. The receiving option for the Colts has been in a state of flux but I believe that there will be clarification for the start of the 2022 season.
First, let’s look at the wide receivers. Michael Pittman Jr is a star. Behind him currently, you have Zach Pascal, Parris Campbell, and T.Y. Hilton. Hilton and Pascal are both scheduled to be free agents after this season. Pascal could be resigned but it’s unlikely that Hilton will, and Campbell is slated to be a free agent in 2023. This could lead to Ashton Dulin getting a bigger role. Currently, Dulin is playing on 30% of the team’s snaps. So he is already getting involved and building chemistry with Wentz. Dulin is 6’1” 215. He’s not overly big but fairly fast, as he ran a 4.43 40 time. He is in his 2nd year right now so he has had time to work on some of his football skills like route running and lack of playing top-end talent at Malone. He looks set to take that third-year leap that we have seen from wide receivers over the years.
Kylen Granson: TE, IND
Kylen Granson could take over at tight end in Indy sooner rather than later. Mo Allie-Cox is set to be a free agent after this season and Jack Doyle in ’22. Granson comes out of SMU as a 4th round pick and is getting limited work in the offense right now. What we do know is that Wentz loves the tight end position. He and Zach Ertz put up record-setting numbers in Philadelphia so the tight end in a Wentz-led offense is going to be worth something.
Granson does lack some of the size that you want from a tight end. He is only 6’2” 235, and the average NFL tight end is 6’3” 254. He won’t be the blocking tight end which may limit his snaps going forward but he should be running plenty of routes on the snaps he does play. Route running is one of the things that scouts pointed to in his draft profile, and with the other tight ends possibly leaving in the next few years it gives time for Granson to develop and the opportunity to see more snaps. In a fantasy landscape where everyone is trying to find the next big thing, Granson could be a viable fantasy starter in the future.
Ian Book: QB, NO
The Saints have had it good since the day they signed Drew Brees in 2006. When he retired after the 2020 season there was much talk about who would take over behind center for the Saints. Jameis Winston and Taysom Hill were both on the roster and had both been in the running for the starting job in the offseason. The Saints were one of the last teams to announce their starter for the ’21 season when they finally decided on Winston. This was a surprise to some since Tayson Hill got 8 starts after Brees got hurt in 2020. While the QB1 contest was going down the Saints weren’t done there and made two very low-key but important quarterback moves. First, the Saints kept Trevor Siemian around after many on and off again roster stints. This gave them 3 quarterbacks on the roster. Then in the 2021 draft, the Saints drafted Ian Book in the 4th round from Notre Dame.
Let’s first look at the future of the quarterback position for the Saints. They started the season with Winston, but Winston got hurt in week 8 and Coach Sean Payton had to put in Siemian due to Hill already being hurt. We headed into Week 9 and Siemian was still the starter. More so over the course of the season Hill continued to play his gadget role even in Week 9 when he was the clear backup and had he and Siemian got hurt they would have been left with Alvin Kamara as the emergency backup. Winston’s contract is up after this season and will likely be looking for a starting job elsewhere. Payton has already shown that he sees Hill as a gadget player and not a starter otherwise he would have started him in Week 9.
The Saints have kept Book on the roster because they do not want to lose him to another team. Those are signs to me that they don’t see Hill as the future under center but as a player they can utilize in the offense in other ways. Hill signed a new contract but it pays him the same as he is right now with bonuses IF he becomes the starter. This contract was more about avoiding a dead cap hit and less about Hill becoming the starter. He will have a chance to compete for the job next offseason. Siemian was out of football most of 2020 and hasn’t really been anything other than a scout team player since starting 10 games for the Broncos in 2017.
Ian Book comes out of Notre Dame as an interesting prospect. He was treated as an afterthought in what was one of the deepest quarterback classes in recent history. Book was a 3-year starter for the Fighting Irish and managed the offense well. Book has really good accuracy and doesn’t throw interceptions often. In his 45 games in college Book only threw 20 interceptions, while Trevor Lawrence threw 17 in 40 games during his college career. Some of the knocks on Book are his size. At 6′ he isn’t the prototypical NFL quarterback. He lacks the arm strength to drive balls way down the field like a Josh Allen. He honestly has the build of the man he is going to replace in Drew Brees. Book has some rushing ability and can extend plays outside of the pocket. He rushed for 9 touchdowns his last season in college. I believe that the front office and coaching staff in New Orleans like Book a lot and will give him a chance to win the starting job in 2021.
Anthony Schwartz: WR, CLE
3rd round pick Anthony Schwartz was an unknown to most football fans since he hadn’t played a snap of football since 2018. Why is that you ask? Well, it’s because he was out winning track meets. Not just college meets, not division II or even division I. Things like the Pan American U20 Championships in 2017 and the World U20 Championships in 2018. He got 1st in the 4 x 100 meters relay at both and 2nd in the 100 meters at Worlds. Schwartz is fast. Not football fast but track fast. His 40 time at the Auburn pro day was 4.27. If there would have been a combine that would have put him as 4th fastest OF ALL TIME! He has blazing speed which can always be lethal in the NFL.
The Browns are in a change of sorts in their passing offense. Odell Beckham is out. Jarvis Landry will be a free agent after the 2023 season. Rashard Higgins will be a free agent after the ’22 season. Schwartz looks to find a role in an offense that is run first, but when you run the ball as often as well as the Browns do it usually forces defenses to put more men towards the line of scrimmage, opening up plays over the top. We have already seen Donovan Peoples-Jones catch long passes to spark the Browns’ offense in 2021, and Schwartz could add to that in 2022. He has limited football experience, playing just one year for the Auburn Tigers and was asked not to return. Some speculate that was a deal to get him to focus on track. He does have the determination and raw athletic skills that should translate to being a competent wide receiver. He’s 6′ foot which isn’t huge for a receiver but he’s the same size height and weight-wise to Calvin Ridley and Stefon Diggs, and slightly taller than Tyreek Hill. His speed will keep him on teams and is something coaches will manufacture touches for. If he can improve some of his skills he could contend for a top spot on the Browns.
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