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New Contract Spotlight

James Conner

New Contract Spotlight

James Conner

By: Matt Morrison (@dynastyjerk

Hello all. Welcome to yet another Free Agent Friday article. Today I will be continuing with the New Contract Spotlight theme as I showcase one of my favorite players for the 2022 season. This favoritism includes dynasty and redraft formats. The player is James Conner. As always, let’s see if there has been any notable news since we last spoke. 

The News 

The News section has been slow recently. This happens every year as most of the big name free agents have signed with their 2022 teams. At the end of this news segment, I’m going to give you an update on one of the top free agents left unclaimed. I did a similar exercise about nearly two months ago where I listed the Top 10 remaining free agents according to my opinion. Well, there aren’t many players left from that list even. I’ll give an updated (quite shorter) list. 

The bulk of the NFL transactions over the past three days have been undrafted free agent (UDFA) signings. While UDFAs aren’t the most exciting players to talk about, there usually seems to be one or two that make a decent fantasy impact each season. Think about James Robinson a couple of years ago. I’m not going to list every offensive UDFA in this article as the list would be pages long. I just want to remind people that your rookie draft doesn’t really end after the draft has completed. There will be plenty of fantasy potential in the Free Agent Auction.  I expect a feeding frenzy in my leagues as teams try to find undrafted Dynasty Owner players as well as UDFAs. Again, this is just a friendly reminder that you need to not only keep track of which players were drafted in the rookie drafts, but also pay attention to which players were not drafted. 

Sony Michel (Signed by Miami at 1 year – $1,750,000) 

Here is a rare sight these days…a veteran player signing in May. Sony Michel and the Rams have decided not to continue their partnership any longer. It was nearly a foregone conclusion that the Rams would not re-sign Michel. They have a seemingly healthy Cam Akers returning.  Darrell Henderson is still on the roster and looks to once again be the backup to Akers. The Rams also drafted Kyren Williams with 5th round draft capital. You may not get too excited about a 5th round running back, and that may be justified. However, a running back like Sony Michel is not typically going to be a third string running back, especially considering his projected salary and ease of replacement with a rookie. 

This is a long winded way of saying that Michel moves on to a new team. It’s somewhat comical that he joins an even more crowded backfield in Miami though. It remains to be seen where he will fall on the depth chart, but he will have to compete with Myles Gaskin, Chase Edmonds, Salvon Ahmed and Raheem Mostert for meaningful touches. 

The details of Sony’s contract just became known, and it is a one-year deal for $1.75 million. 

Odell Beckham Jr. 

Top 10 Player Age Status 2021 Salary Market Value 
1 Odell Beckham Jr 29 UFA $1,250,000 $12,000,000 

When I said there aren’t many players left from my Top 10 Free Agents list, I meant it. There is only a single player left, and it’s OBJ. This actually makes a lot of sense when you think about it.  Beckham tore his ACL in the Rams win over the Bengals in last year’s Super Bowl. No knee injury like this is ever good news, but it’s especially devastating when it happens so late in a season. That timeline makes a beginning of the 2022 season return for OBJ practically impossible. All reports that I have heard state that sometime in November is likely. 

This is the main reason why he hasn’t been signed yet.  Uncertainty… 

I do believe he will play this season, but there is a chance that he isn’t signed until the regular season has already started. This is disappointing for Dynasty Owners to hear, but there is some good news…You will only have a $1.25 million cap hit until he does re-sign. That is small enough that he should be held in every league for now. The overwhelming majority of Dynasty Owners agree with me as he is still owned in 99.37% of leagues. 

New Contract Spotlight 

James Conner is the topic for conversation today. I have professed my love for Conner as a player several times over the past couple of years. Here is what I wrote about him back in April of 2021. 

“You don’t have to be a seasoned fantasy football player to remember how Conner’s dynasty value grew. All the way back in 2018 is all the further you have to look. Le’Veon Bell had just been given his second consecutive franchise tag. Bell declined to sign. He went on to miss more than the first half of the season. In the interim, fantasy managers were flustered with what to do…Do I draft Bell? Will he play this season? Surely he has to right? What happens if he doesn’t? Who will be his replacement? The final question proved to be the most important. I was in three keeper/dynasty startup leagues at the time, and I was able to snag Conner in all three. The average round I drafted him was the 14th. Talk about a steal. Conner finished the 2018 season with 1,470 total yards, 55 receptions and 13 touchdowns. (And he only played in 13 games) I love Conner, if nothing else just for that season. I try to be unbiased, but he won me a lot of money in 2018. Unfortunately, he has not been able to recreate those stats over the past two years. Here is Conner’s 2019 and 2020 seasons if he had played all 16 games with the same production…” 

(16 Game Pace) Rushing Attempts Rushing Yards Receptions Receiving Yards Touchdowns 
Conner 2018 264 1,198 68 612 16 
Conner 2019 186 742 54 402 11 
Conner 2020 208 887 43 265 

The entire point of my excerpt there was to say that while I still liked Conner as a player, I did not think he would ever return to the 2018 dominance. His 2021 season was not quite as good as his 2018 was, but I think a RB6 finish is enough for my previous statement to be proven wrong. Conner was just about as productive and efficient as he was in his magical breakout season. So, what does this mean looking forward? What does this mean for his 2022 outlook? 

As we know, Conner is on a $7,000,000 per year contract. This is a middle tier value as far as contracts go. However, I consider Conner a top tier producer. Pair this with the idea that he should have more touches and targets when compared to his split backfield in 2021. Conner is tied for the 10th highest running back contract, and I have him projected to finish as RB10 or better. He is not only going to be productive, but he is a great value. Draft, trade or hold him with confidence. 

As always, thank you for reading. If there is any player that you want me to Spotlight, just message me on Twitter (@dynastyjerk) and let me know. I would appreciate it if you followed @Dynasty_Owner on Twitter as well as subscribed to Dynasty Owner on YouTube. Take care everyone and be safe. 

TheJerk 

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