Michael Pittman Jr. is entering his third season in 2022 and could very well take a massive leap forward in dynasty fantasy football value. Having established himself as the Colts’ clear WR1, how should dynasty managers value Pittman going forward?
Michael Pittman Jr.’s dynasty profile for 2022
Pittman did a whole lot of nothing as a rookie in 2020. He played in 13 games and only finished higher than WR50 twice all season. While he was nowhere near fantasy-relevant, he hit 500 receiving yards, which is good enough to give him a chance to emerge into a useful NFL player.
As a sophomore, Pittman established himself as the Colts’ WR1 of the future. He caught 88 of 129 targets for 1,082 yards and 6 touchdowns. It wasn’t a stellar fantasy season by any stretch, but Pittman showed a lot of promise. He finished as a mid-WR3, averaging 14 PPR fantasy points per game.
In the modern NFL, wide receivers more often break out in their second season, but Pittman will have to go old school and have a classic third-year breakout.
Should fantasy managers be banking on Pittman’s continued ascent, and what does his dynasty value look like going forward?
Fantasy projection for Pittman
I won’t bury the lede here. I really like Pittman this season. Several factors support Pittman taking a massive leap forward in his third season.
First, after playing a rotational backup role as a rookie, the Colts immediately elevated Pittman to WR1 status entering the 2021 season. His target share shot up from 14% to 25.7%. Pittman saw a whopping 129 targets on a team that only threw the ball 521 times. This remains a run-first offense behind its elite offensive line and Jonathan Taylor, but I’d be stunned if their pass attempts didn’t increase in 2022.
Second, the Colts scored 45% of their totals touchdowns on the ground in 2021. Between their high rushing touchdown rate and Pittman scoring just 6 times, there’s a lot of positive regression potential in 2022.
Third, the Colts’ offensive target share is even more consolidated entering this season. They’ve done nothing to address their wide receiver problem. Behind Pittman is Parris Campbell, who can’t stay on the field, and Ashton Dulin, a third-year former UDFA (who I do like, by the way). Pittman has a real chance at a 30% target share.
A new gunslinger in town
Fourth, there’s Matt Ryan. Historically, Ryan’s WR1 has always produced. Of course, he’s had some really talented ones in Roddy White, Julio Jones, and Calvin Ridley. But he’s also managed to turn Harry Douglas and Russell Gage into productive fantasy receivers.
Ryan’s WR1 has never failed to reach 1,000 receiving yards, and Pittman already did that last season with a less-than-stellar QB (putting it kindly) in Carson Wentz. Ryan is a far cry from the 2016 version that went to the Super Bowl, but he’s better than the guy we saw last season.
Consider Pittman a WR2 with WR1 upside. I truly view his 2021 numbers as his floor. While his price undoubtedly bakes in improvement, it doesn’t properly account for how much I believe Pittman will progress. There’s a realistic scenario where Pittman catches 100 passes for 1,300 yards and 10 touchdowns.
What is his future beyond 2022?
Pittman had a late collegiate breakout and was a four-year player at USC, which is never a good thing. It’s one of the reasons I wasn’t high on him as a prospect. Fortunately, we all have the ability to alter our opinions based on new information. After two seasons in the NFL, Pittman looks like an outlier. I don’t like to chase outliers, but this isn’t chasing because we have proof of concept. We saw what Pittman could do in 2021.
He’ll be 25 years old this season, which is at least a year if not two years older than we typically like third-year wide receivers to be. Nevertheless, 25 isn’t exactly old, certainly not for a wide receiver. He’s got at least 6-7 strong years remaining.
The biggest question mark is his quarterback situation. This is Pittman’s third year in the NFL, and he will be playing with his third different starting quarterback.
Ryan is obviously not the Colts’ quarterback of the future, being 37 years old. However, he’s a considerable upgrade on Wentz. If he plays well enough, he could easily play another 2-3 years. I like the prospect of Pittman with Ryan. Even if Ryan leaves, Pittman is young enough that there’s time for dynasty managers to wait for him to find a quarterback.
What can fantasy managers expect from Pittman?
Based on Pittman’s 2021 production and current situation, fantasy managers should expect mild improvement upon last year’s numbers. If he scored just 2 more touchdowns last season, that would’ve bumped him up from a mid-WR3 to a mid-WR2.
I view Pittman as a value in dynasty heading into the 2022 season because I have greater expectations for him. I really see a high-WR2 finish in his future.
If you have Pittman, keep him unless you get an offer you simply can’t refuse. If you don’t have Pittman, try and acquire him. I’m sure some people value Pittman as I do, but we’re certainly in the minority. Odds are you can poach Pittman for less than what I believe his value will be following the 2022 season.
Whether you’re trying to win now or rebuild, Pittman fits into your plans. When the 2022 season is over, I anticipate we’ll look back on Pittman as one of the best values of the season in both redraft and dynasty.