The NFL has the Pro Bowl and All-Pro teams at the end of the year, but this time of year one thing fantasy managers want to know is who is on the 2022 All-Fade team?
The All-Fade team consists of players whose ADP is lower than it should be and features 20 candidates at the five main positions in fantasy football. That doesn’t include kickers because you can count me as part of Jake Ciely’s “ban kickers” gang.
Before I get into my list, here are some guidelines for the 2022 All-Fade team.
- All-Fade status is only awarded when a player’s ADP is significantly lower than his ranks on my rankings lists. (ADP references in this article are from the Fantasy Pros ADP aggregation list).
- As a rule of thumb, it takes at least one shift in a 12-team league to make this chart. Changing levels typically moves a player back one round to a round and a half later in the draft, which is a significant value adjustment.
- Being on the All-Fade team doesn’t mean fantasy managers should avoid drafting the player under any circumstances, but rather steer clear of him at his current ADP. If it falls in an acceptable round, draft it there.
- The All-Fade Team is current as of this writing (August 1) and could change as ADP values move throughout the preseason. This article will be updated if those changes require revision.
All-Fade status is also different from the Outstanding Team, as that list is based on players who had 2021 metrics that are almost certain to regress.
Also, note that I’m using a floor draft approach that emphasizes avoiding valleys more than hitting ceilings. This way of thinking results in lowering the risk factor more than is usually done in the world of fantasy football rankings.
Now that we’ve got those preliminaries out of the way, let’s move on to the top six contenders for the 2022 All-Fade Team.
QB – Lamar Jackson, BAL
- ADP average: 4.0
- TFS position: 8
There are too many question marks for Jackson’s fantasy case in 2022. His rushing ability has declined, as his 6.8 yards pace last season in my Good Blocking Yards Per Attempt (GBYPA) which measures how productive a ball carrier is when quality run blocking was the lowest of his career. This may be a side effect of the 615 career rushing attempts finally catching up to Jackson, but even if he improves in this area, no running back can reach the upper echelons of the fantasy QB ranks by rushing alone.
That’s a problem for Jackson, as his 12.6 points per game (PPG) ranked 18th last year and he’ll have trouble matching that level with Marquise Brown now in Arizona. The Dolphins have also shown the league that Jackson has trouble blitzing, which is one of the reasons why Jackson posted the highest interception rate last season. Combine these factors with the toughest passing schedule among quarterbacks and exceptional depth at the position (11 QBs have scored 300+ fantasy points in each of the last two years) and it means Jackson is a mid-tier QB1 candidate.
QB – Joe Burrow, CIN
- ADP average: 6.5
- TFS position: 9
The problem for Burrow is what path does he have to mid-level QB1 status? It’s not about the number of passes, because the Bengals were so bad at blocking the run last year that there were times when they gave up on the ground, yet Burrow only had 520 attempts in 16 games. He’s a solid rusher, but nothing in his record suggests Burrow will do much better than the 1.5 rushing PPG he posted last year, which ranked 17th among quarterbacks.
Burrow is going to make a lot of big passes, but he did plenty of that in 2021, leading the league in completion percentage and YPA, and was still just seventh in passing PPG. Add in one of the toughest pass coverage layouts and the aforementioned QB depth, and Burrow is more likely to be a low-end QB1 than a mid-level one.
RB – Austin Ekeler, LAC
- Non-PPR ADP average: 2.5
- TFS position: 9
Ekeler is generally properly valued in PPR leagues, but not in non-PPR leagues. The big problem is that he’s almost certain to post fewer rush attempts than last year. The Chargers have been good at managing the load in previous years, never giving Ekeler more than 132 rushing attempts in a season in his first four years, but they increased that total to 206 carries in 2021.
What’s more, a huge amount of those carries were in the densely populated red zone, as Ekeler’s 46 attempts in that area of the field ranked second only to Jonathan Taylor’s 85 outside of the red zone. Los Angeles drafted Isaiah Spiller to give Ekeler some relief in the downfield game and likely did so in part because Ekeler has publicly stated that he wants to run the ball less often this year. Combine those elements with Ekeler almost certain to see a drop from his team-leading 20 scrimmage touchdowns and get zero extra points in non-PPR leagues and Ekeler is an overrated commodity in that environment.
RB – Cam Akers, LAR
- PPR ADP average: 16.8
- TFS position: 22nd
This really has little to do with Akers looking hopeless during the Rams’ 2021 postseason where he averaged just 3.3 yards per scrimmage on 75 touches, but rather figuring out where Akers’ production will come from.
He may not be close to the opposing end zone, as Akers was terrible at the goal line during his healthy 2020 season, scoring just one touchdown on eight rushes inside the 5-yard line and finding the end zone just twice on 21 carries inside the 10. – yard line (per Pro Football Reference).
Now compare that record to Darrell Henderson, who converted eight of his 16 carries inside the 5-yard line over the past two years into touchdowns, and it suggests Henderson will have dibs in that role. Even if Henderson doesn’t, a recent report from Jourdan Rodrigue suggests Kyren Williams could be rotated into the running mix as a way to fill in for the injury-riddled Henderson.
With these many recurring physical ailments in the Rams’ backfield, Sean McVay may end up deciding to take a Patriots-like approach and just use the healthiest back on any given week. That’s just not the recipe for a higher-level RB2 in fantasy, which is why Akers ranks as a lower RB2 on my lists.
RB – Rashaad Penny, SEA
- Half-PPR ADP average: 30.7
- TFS position: 36
Penny won’t have to reach workload status to justify his ADP, but he will have to come pretty close. It won’t be easy for him, as outside of his senior season at San Diego State, Penny’s single season with the most tackles in college or the pros is 151, and his NFL best is 125.
Even if Penny fixes the workload issue, he plays in an offense that will be led by either Drew Lock or Geno Smith (or both, as a quarterback rotation is entirely possible in Seattle). That level of quarterback play gives the Seahawks offense a low production ceiling and will hinder whoever gets the carries.
As if those factors weren’t enough, Penny also has serious positional competition in the form of Ken Walker III. Walker scored 31 rushing touchdowns with Michigan State and Wake Forest over the past two seasons, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Pete Carroll decide to use him as a goal linebacker because of that.
It’s possible that Penny will clear all three of these hurdles to reach middling RB3 status, but it’s more likely that he’ll hit at least one of those hurdles and fall to the bottom of that tier.
TE – George Kittle, SFO
- PPR ADP average: 4.3
- TFS position: 7
There used to be limited depth at the tight end position, but with Travis Kelce, Mark Andrews, Kyle Pitts, Darren Waller, Dalton Schultz and TJ Hockenson in the mix, there will now be heated battles to reach the top third of TE fantasy ranks. Kittle can certainly compete with those players in terms of talent, but he has a lot of things that affect his fantasy value.
Durability is primary, as Kittle has played in just 36 of a possible 49 games over the past three seasons. To be fair, most of those missed contests came in the 2020 season when Kittle appeared in just eight games, but the three games he missed last year helped him drop to fourth in both non-PPR and PPR scoring. He’s also heading into his age-29 campaign and could be showing signs of wear on his 335 career receptions, as many of them were delivered to Kittle’s bruising, pass-breaking attempts.
He also has to deal with the quarterback change, as Trey Lance is now locked in as the 49ers’ GM in 2022. Lance has the tools to succeed and will benefit from one of the best players in the league in Kyle Shanahan, but his passing needs a lot of refinement and could it may take some time to correct these issues.
Kittle can certainly overcome these multiple elements and produce his fourth Top 4 fantasy TE season in the last five years, but the depth at the position mentioned above suggests that paying a daily premium for Kittle is not a smart move given the quality alternatives that will require much less draft capital.
QB – Tua Tagovailoa, MIA
RB – D’Andre Swift, DET
RB – Elijah Mitchell, SFO
WR – Tee Higgins, CIN
WR – Brandin Cooks, HOU
WR – Rashod Bateman, BAL
WR – Gabriel Davis, BUF
WR – DJ Moore, CAR
WR – Darnell Mooney, CHI
WR – Christian Kirk, JAX
WR – Mike Williams, LAC
WR – Brandon Aiyuk, SFO
TE – Kyle Pitts, ATL
D/ST – Indianapolis Colts
(Top photo: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports)
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