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Five 2022 NFL players who need a power-up: Kyler Murray, Allen Robinson among those capable of producing more

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Five 2022 NFL players who need a power-up: Kyler Murray, Allen Robinson among those capable of producing more

It’s possible to have superstar ability without superstar results. The 2022 NFL season has offered many examples. The Rams entered the year as the reigning Super Bowl champions; battered and bruised, they’re fighting to stay out of the NFC West cellar. The Buccaneers and Packers possess two of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, and they endured a combined 10 straight losses. The Broncos paid an exorbitant price to land their own star QB, only to remain below .500 for more than a month.

On an individual level, players and coaches tend to get too much credit — and criticism — for team success (or lack thereof). But sometimes their contributions are too vital to ignore. Take the Dolphins, for example: surely Miami’s growth with Tua Tagovailoa wouldn’t be nearly as drastic without the all-star duo of Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle out wide. Ditto for the Eagles, with Jalen Hurts entering the MVP conversation in large part due to the arrival of AJ Brown.

A single dominant starter inserted into the lineup can do wonders for an entire unit. Drafting, developing, acquiring and/or retaining such a player is easier said than done. But what if we had the ability to “power up” existing players?

The upcoming Fantasy Football movie, streaming on Paramount+ starting Nov. 25, imagine just that. Produced by LeBron James’ SpringHill Company in partnership with NFL Films, it stars Omari Hardwick as a struggling Falcons running back who makes it big after his daughter (Marsai Martin, Black-ish) realizes she can magically control her dad while playing “Madden.”

With that premise in mind, here are five current NFL players we’d love to “power up” and maximize their traits:

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Murray is a real-life “Madden” QB in terms of pure athleticism: he can escape any sack and uncork any throw. The trouble is, even with all the attributes, there’s a steady glitch in his play: he’s finished every one of his NFL seasons either hurt or in a slump, and for all the dual-threat dynamism, he currently registers as one of the least efficient passers in the league. Even surrounded by aging/often-injured help, there’s no reason an offense with his tools under center should be so mediocre. Crank up the awareness and situational decision-making, and perhaps he’d help Arizona capitalize on an open NFC West race.

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Can you imagine how much more excited Matthew Stafford would be, sapped of his favorite target Cooper Kupp due to injury, if Robinson was everything the Rams hoped he’d be when they signed him to a $46.5 million deal this offseason? Or how much less Sean McVay might be pressured to scheme his way out of other personnel deficiencies? A-Rob was one of the NFL’s top jump-ball specialists at his peak, but at 29, he’s played like he’s 35 for much of the last year and a half, dating back to his final days with the Bears. Juice up his separation skills and reignite his nastiness at the point of the catch; at least then Los Angeles might be able to throw it up with confidence behind a shoddy O-line.

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One of the few things the feisty Giants are lacking is a bona fide winner out wide. Imagine pairing the physical Saquon Barkley ground game with a big, trustworthy target for Daniel Jones. At 6-foot-4, with a brief history as Stafford’s downfield go-to in Detroit, Golladay has precisely the physical makeup to solve that problem. It’s why New York spent a whopping $72 million to add him in 2021. He’s gone from disappointment to total nonfactor in a hurry, however, leaving the G-Men to rely on Darius Slayton and a slew of young fill-ins. Resurrecting Golladay’s confidence, effort and energy would bring a new dimension to a sneaky contender.

Odell has yet to find a 2022 home, but that time is drawing near. What is Beckham, however, without fully rejuvenated legs? Expecting him to produce as he did down the stretch in 2021, helping fuel the Rams’ title run, is a gamble on knees that have endured two ACL tears in as many years. Ensuring he’s back at full strength, capable of the decisive routes that showcase his timely hands, would go a long way towards any team justifying the pursuit of his services. Imagine, if he can stay healthy, what kind of help he might offer beleaguered groups like the Buccaneers, Packers or Ravens.

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Once one of the NFL’s most disruptive forces, Cox’s name has been bigger than his impact for some time now. But his subdued presence is even more pronounced with the Eagles missing run-stuffing rookie Jordan Davis, leaving veteran Javon Hargrave as the only true difference-maker on the interior. Hence Philly’s emergency additions of Linval Joseph and Ndamukong Suh after Washington literally ran away with an upset in Week 10. If Cox’s strength could be restored to the point of even a few years ago, giving the Eagles a true one-two (and now maybe even one-two-three) punch at his spot, one of the NFC’s most balanced contenders might solve one of his few weaknesses.

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