After a disappointing 2021 season that was shortened by injuries, Jacksonville Jaguars WR DJ Chark Jr. has been one of the more interesting 2022 free agent topics, as his landing spot would impact many dynasty fantasy football leagues. Given the value of the receiver position, how should managers view Chark for 2022 and beyond now that he reportedly has signed a one-year, $10 million deal with the Detroit Lions?
DJ Chark Jr.’s dynasty fantasy outlook
Rewind the clocks back to early 2019, and some fantasy managers would have said Chark would be the next star in the NFL. In his second year in the league, he caught 73 of 118 targets from Gardner Minshew for 1,008 yards and 8 touchdowns. Well, Chark clearly hasn’t achieved his potential yet.
After a letdown in 2020 (53-of-93 for 706 yards and 5 TDs), last season was when things hit rock bottom. Despite the addition of Trevor Lawrence as the No. 1 overall draft pick, Chark, along with the rest of the Jaguars, struggled. Yes, he scored twice, which helped in the fantasy department. But beyond the scores was a paltry 7-154 receiving line on a dreadful 32% catch rate.
Injury derailed Chark’s 2021 season
The worst part for Chark? A gruesome ankle fracture in Week 4 left him in an unenviable spot in what could have been a lucrative contract year.
Personally, I feel Chark has the skills to be a No. 2 option and a dynamic field stretcher for an offense. At 6’4″, he can go up and get a ball, and he has the speed to stack and blow past DBs. Those are skills that should translate with Chark on the Lions, as long as Jared Goff can get him the ball. Of course, we know that could be easier said than done.
Prior to signing, Chark was sitting just outside the top 48 in most WR rankings. I feel more upside is baked into Chark, and there is an injury discount to be had both in the draft and via trade.
If you have a roster that already has three locked-in starters at receiver, I see no downside in adding a 25-year-old explosive receiver at the cheapest he’s been since his rookie season. I would not give a first-round pick for him by any means, but if the price is right, Chark’s dynasty value will only go up.
Fantasy impact on the Lions
For starters, I like this move for the Lions. It fills a need on their offense to become more explosive vertically. It’s a low-risk, high-upside signing. Chark is betting on himself with this one-year contract, and if he has a bounceback season, he could cash in next free agency.
The acquisition does have a slightly negative impact on Amon-Ra St. Brown. While the two do play largely different roles, volume is volume, and when St. Brown went ballistic, he had little competition for targets. In games where both D’Andre Swift and T.J. Hockenson were both on the field, St. Brown’s target share was 14.5%. It sky-rocketed to 31.9% as he was force-fed the ball without them. Coincidentally this was during his Week 13 through 18 blowup where he had six-straight games of 10+ targets (67) as the WR2 in PPR scoring (25.5 PPR/g).
Will he see 10+ targets in every game? Most likely not if we are being realistic. However, I am not discounting that he can still be the Lions’ No. 1 target based on his role in the slot. Jared Goff tends to take a more conservative approach at QB, keeping St. Brown in a healthy target window to maintain his dynasty standing.
As for Hockenson, he and Chark work in completely different windows on the field, with Chark a vertical option, whereas Hockenson is a TE which keeps his aDOT far lower. What makes Hockenson so valuable is he is one of the few tight ends in the NFL who you can pencil in for 95+ targets. Set to turn 25 this year, Hockenson is a mid-TE1 in dynasty but brings a stable weekly floor to your team.
Fantasy impact on the Jaguars
Jacksonville’s free-wheeling spending this week will have a bigger fantasy impact than Chark’s departure. The additions of Christian Kirk, Zay Jones, and Evan Engram muddies a subpar passing attack. For fantasy purposes, this week has proven to be a net positive for Lawrence, who has more receivers than he can comfortably feed.