Comeback Watch: Which Star Players Will Return to Old Form?


There’s nothing worse than spending a high draft pick on a consensus fantasy stud, and then watching that player disappoint week after week. It’s a no-win situation.

You can’t bench him because there’s always the chance that he’ll break out and put up the big numbers you thought he would. And you can’t trade him because his value has dropped so much that you won’t get anything comparable in return. So, he takes up a spot in your starting roster while your bench players excel, and the losses pile up as you try to avoid your league’s punishment for finishing last.

Last season, we witnessed young and talented players such as Ja’Marr Chase, Justin Jefferson, and Jonathan Taylor rise to stardom. We also saw many star players with high expectations completely bomb. It may be tempting to avoid these players in this year’s draft, but some of these stars will return to their old selves this year. Being able to identify which star is set to have a comeback year will allow you to draft a high-quality player in later rounds. 

DeAndre Hopkins

Last year, Hopkins went in the 1st or 2nd round of pretty much every fantasy draft. He had a lackluster and injury-prone 2021 season, finishing as the WR46 and playing only 10 games. Then in the offseason, he was suspended six games for using PEDs. Everything seemed to be trending downwards for Hopkins, which is why he is being drafted in the 6th, 7th, or 8th round this year.

However, Hopkins is much more valuable than his ADP implies. Many people forget that a couple years ago, Hopkins was considered one of, if not the best receiver in the league. He is now 30 years old – which should be the tail end of his prime – and is playing in a great situation. He has one of the best young quarterbacks in the league in Kyler Murray and is playing alongside speedy young receivers Marquise Brown and Rondale Moore. Arizona’s offense has a scary combination of speed and skill and should be able to move the ball down the field with ease.

Hopkins may not be available for the first six weeks, but come fantasy playoff time, he should be an extremely valuable asset if he has a comeback year. Hopkins will be the focal point of what should be a dynamic offense, and he is being substantially undervalued.

Dalvin Cook

It may seem unfair to say that Dalvin Cook had a bad season last year.

He played 13 games and finished as the RB16. Right now, Cook is being drafted towards the end of the 1st round as the fifth or sixth RB off the board. However, up until this season, Cook was in the conversation for the best RB in the league. This year, he will return to that conversation with a comeback year. Cook has always seen tons of volume on the Vikings as a rusher and a receiver. The Vikings’ offense has been trending in a positive direction. If they are able to meet expectations, Cook should find himself in the end zone plenty of times.

A big concern for many fantasy owners surrounding Cook is his history of injuries. If you decide to draft Cook, be sure to handcuff him with Alexander Mattison later in the draft. For years, Mattison has always been able to put up serviceable numbers in Cook’s absence. It is surprising he has not yet found a starting role on another team. 

This year, Cook is an undisputed RB1. Not only could he have a comeback year, but he could have the best season of his career. He is a player any fantasy owner should be happy to draft in the first round, especially in PPR leagues.

JuJu Smith-Schuster

The JuJu Smith-Schuster narrative is ever-changing. He started off as Antonio Brown’s beloved sidekick. He then transformed into a player who received a lot of hate because of his bad pregame TikTok dances combined with some even worse football. And now, he has blossomed into the most underrated player in fantasy football. With all the attention he has gotten, many people forget that JuJu is just 25 years old. He is only now beginning to enter his prime.

Last year, he played with arguably the worst QB in the NFL in Ben Roethlisberger. This year, he is playing with perhaps the best QB in the league: Patrick Mahomes. He is also the undisputed WR1 on the Chiefs in front of Skyy Moore and Marquez Valdes-Scantling. This is undoubtedly the best situation that JuJu has ever been in. He could be the most targeted receiver on what should be one of the best offenses in the league.

Right now, the consensus has him at WR32, which is insultingly low for any WR1 on the Chiefs. Hopefully JuJu’s touchdown celebrations are better than his TikTok dances, because if he has a comeback season, we will see him shimmying in the end zone many, many times this year.

We are finally just days away from the 2022 NFL season. It will be very exciting to see which stars are able to return to their prime form. This year is also an opportunity for fantasy owners who had an off year in 2021 to return to their prime form. Good luck.

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