DJ Chark is in line for a nice role in the Detroit Lions passing game, but will that translate to fantasy football goodness?
The Detroit Lions have made one outside signing thus far in free agency, but it was fairly notable as they’ll bring in wide receiver DJ Chark. He’s an ideal match for what the Lions coaching staff was clear about wanting to complement what else they have in the passing game (Amon-Ra St. Brown, T.J. Hockenson, D’Andre Swift)–a big, fast downfield threat who can help the team’s red zone efficiency.
For parts of last season, St. Brown, Swift and Hockenson were all difference makers for their fantasy football managers. With his breakout late-season stretch as a rookie, St. Brown was a league-winner.
But focusing back to Chark, what is his 2022 fantasy outlook now that he’s a Lion?
Fantasy Football: DJ Chark ready for full-on breakout in Detroit?
Chark played just four games for the Jaguars in 2021, as a broken angle sidelined him for the final 13 games. He essentially played in three games, playing just three snaps in Week 4 before being injured. He had more than five targets, more than 45 yards and a touchdown in two of those three games as he averaged 11.5 PPR points per game.
Chark was also limited by injury and ineffective quarterback play in 2020. But in 2019, with Gardner Minshew and Nick Foles as his quarterbacks, he had a breakout season with 73 receptions for 1,008 yards and eight touchdowns. He finished as WR17 in full PPR (WR16 in standard and 0.5-point PPR).
Coming to Detroit, Chark will find a quarterback in Jared Goff who does not throw downfield much. That being said, when he had a downfield threat he trusted (Josh Reynolds) late last season, Goff was more willing to let it fly and deeper metrics show it.
Scott Spratt of Football Outsiders offered an early 2022 projection for Chark, 69 receptions for 964 yards (14 yards per catch) and essentially six touchdowns–which would apparently make him WR28 (a WR3) on the site’s early projections.
It’s obviously very early to talk about fantasy rankings or ADP for 2022 in any concrete way. But Chark is coming in at WR4 range in rankings at the position right now, and around 90th in overall rankings across all positions. That overall ranking would be an eighth round pick in a 12-team league.
At a glance, what the Lions do or don’t do in the draft at wide receiver is in line to have some impact on Chark’s fantasy stock in 2022. But they pretty clearly have a prominent role in mind for him. If that WR4-range ranking/ADP holds (or possibly drops) into the teeth of draft season, there will be upside in taking a flier on him.