1Adjusting to not being the No. 1?
DJ Chark’s one-year “prove it” contract this offseason reinforces the vastness of his fantasy range of outcomes. Chark started last season as the de facto No. 1 WR for the third straight year before getting knocked out for the season in the beginning of Week 4.
In a best-case scenario, he thrives in a top-two receiving role ahead of dual-threat D’Andre Swift, T.J. Hockenson, and either Jameson Williams or Amon-Ra St. Brown. In a realistic worst-case scenario, he’s playing a tertiary role for the first time since his 2018 rookie campaign, vying for three to four catches per contest. Either way, he’s not expected to be the lead guy, and his adjustment to playing a less consistent offensive role could impact his fantasy output.
Even if we put aside Chark’s 2021 fractured ankle, durability concerns remain. He’s missed games in each NFL season due to an array of injuries — from his ankle to his quad to his ribs to his back. Even if fully healthy heading into Week 1, Chark remains a higher-than-normal injury risk.
None of Chark’s pre-2021 quarterbacks are still starting in the NFL, and some are no longer in the league. Despite his abysmal catch rate, Chark showed strong chemistry with Trevor Lawrence in last year’s first three games, catching seven balls (all for first downs) and scoring twice. Jared Goff — based on a combination of talent and experience — is arguably the best QB to ever throw to Chark, which should give the 25-year-old WR the kind of boost we didn’t see from 2018 to 2020.