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Carolina Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold said he's "confident I can be one of the best quarterbacks in the league." He also said that improving his footwork is something that he needs to do to bounce back. "There were times last year when my feet got very just loose is a good term . . . chaotic," Darnold said. As of right now, the former third overall pick of the New York Jets in 2018 is Carolina's starter, but rookie Matt Corral will compete with him in training camp, and the Panthers could also decide to trade for Cleveland Browns QB Baker Mayfield. Darnold played in only 12 games last year due to injury, but he was wildly inconsistent when he was on the field, throwing for 2,527 yards, nine touchdowns and 13 interceptions. Even if he's starting in Week 1, fantasy managers will consider him a low-end QB2 option with a short leash.
Arizona Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins (knee) is expected to be limited early in training camp. The superstar receiver underwent MCL surgery in December. That being said, the Cardinals are going to be cautious with Hopkins. It's worth noting that Hopkins is going to be suspended for the first six weeks of the regular season. The Cardinals have no reason to rush Hopkins during his recovery process. Fantasy managers should expect Hopkins to be a major factor on offense once he does get back on the field.
Green Bay Packers wide receiver Allen Lazard is expected to see a heavier workload heading into next season. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers mentioned that he's excited about Lazard getting a chance to be the No. 1 receiver. Last season, Lazard set career highs in receptions (40), receiving yards (513), and touchdowns (8) in 15 games last season. The departure of Davante Adams has opened up a door for Lazard to make an even bigger impact on the roster. Fantasy managers shouldn't expect Lazard to produce like a No. 1 receiver, but his value should be on the rise.
San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Jauan Jennings is reportedly having the best offseason of his career, according to head coach Kyle Shanahan. The second-year receiver is likely to become the No. 3 option in this offense. Last season, Jennings finished with 24 receptions, 282 receiving yards, and five touchdowns in 16 games. It was a decent rookie season for Jennings considering he was a seventh round pick. Despite that, it's unlikely that Jennings has standard league value heading into next season. There probably won't be enough targets for him to have success on a regular basis. Although, he could be an interesting stash in dynasty formats.
The real star of the New York Jets organized team activities was tight end Lawrence Cager, who was converted from a receiver. He worked mostly with the third-team offense, but he was making two or three catches every day. Cager is clearly the most athletic player the Jets have at the tight end position, and it has led to mismatches when the defense tries to cover him with a linebacker or safety. The 24-year-old's chances of making the final roster will come down to his blocking ability, which he didn't do much of throughout OTAs. Cager isn't on the fantasy radar at all, but he'll be one to watch this summer and might be a dark horse to make the team heading into the regular season.
New York Jets safety Lamarcus Joyner (triceps) is still the starter despite missing organized team activities and minicamp, but there's a chance that Ashtyn Davis and Jason Pinnock could push him for playing time this year if their strong OTAs turn into strong training camps. Joyner is 31 years old and his future with the team is unlikely to extend beyond the 2022 season. Joyner is reportedly healthy heading into training camp at the end of July after he played in just one game in 2021 due to a season-ending triceps injury. He projects to open the season as a starter next to Jordan Whitehead, but Joyner will have to play well and stay healthy to hold off both Davis and Pinnock in the Jets secondary.
New York Jets offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur was impressed with rookie second-round running back Breece Hall during offseason workouts. "He's 220 pounds, and he's covering a lot of yardage when he doesn't look like he's covering a lot of yardage," LaFleur said. "He's fast, so he gets up on people pretty quick. And then he's such a fluid, big-body target that when he makes his move it's not like a smaller running back when you feel like you have to put it on them. He's got a big catch radius and I know the quarterback is going to feel that." Hall and Michael Carter are expected to share RB duties in 2022, but Hall is expected to take over the lion's share of duties sooner than later, making him an RB2 target in fantasy in his rookie season.
New York Jets tight end Tyler Conklin seized the majority of the repetitions at tight end during offseason practices because of the absences of C.J. Uzomah and Jeremy Ruckert. Conklin made the most of his extra work in the spring, and quarterback Zach Wilson is looking Conklin's way more often, especially in the red zone. Offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur will use all of his tight ends this year, but Conklin might be separating himself as the top option heading into training camp. The 26-year-old had a career-high 61 catches for 593 yards and three touchdowns in 17 games with the Minnesota Vikings last year and he can be a valuable red-zone weapon, but he'll likely have a low fantasy ceiling while sharing snaps with Uzomah and others.
It's still early in the offseason, but The Athletic's Connor Hughes writes that New York Jets second-year quarterback Zach Wilson wasn't overly impressive through four media-open organized team activity practices. Wilson struggled with his accuracy, and his decision-making was questionable, at best. It wasn't all bad for the 22-year-old, but Hughes was hoping to see more conviction and decisiveness. For what it's worth, the Jets aren't concerned and see signs of improvement as he trusts his reads much more. If Wilson's struggles continue into training camp, then there might be a little panic from the Jets, but for now, it's just something to watch. Wilson has some new toys in the passing game and he should take a step forward in 2022, but he'll still only be a low-end QB2 in fantasy.
The New York Jets drafted Jason Pinnock as a cornerback in the fifth round last year but converted him to safety toward the end of 2021 out of necessity. Pinnock impressed in the role and finished with six tackles, two forced fumbles and a pass breakup in 175 defensive snaps. The Jets have made his position switch permanent, and it's paying off already. The 23-year-old received the majority of the first-team repetitions next to Jordan Whitehead in offseason workouts with Lamarcus Joyner working his way back from injury. Pinnock looks like he belongs, but he's unlikely to be in contention to retain a starting job once Joyner is healthy. If Pinnock continues to improve, he could wind up being a steal for Gang Green.
The New York Jets kicking competition between Greg Zuerlein and Eddy Pineiro this offseason has been "neck and neck," according to special teams coordinator Brant Boyer, but it's mainly because neither kicker has impressed all that much. The Jets brought in Greg the Leg this offseason after Pineiro made all 17 of his kicks in five games. Zuerlein made 29 of his 35 field-goal attempts for the Dallas Cowboys last year, but he was released in March. The kicking competition will continue in training camp and into the preseason, and it remains to be seen who will come out on top, but fantasy managers can probably avoid the situation in drafts.
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