Target these three WRs in 2022
By Calvin K (Twitter: @Calvin_SGF)
The 2021 fantasy season has officially wrapped up, and it’s never too early to look ahead to 2022. The fantasy “sleeper” is something that many argue no longer exists given the massive amount of fantasy resources available in today’s landscape. However, the three guys in this article are players who will likely be undervalued heading into next year. Below are three “sleeper” wide receivers to target in 2022.
1. Rashod Bateman (Baltimore Ravens)
Bateman is a prime candidate for a Year 2 breakout, and while he’s coming off of an inconsistent Year 1, much of his rocky play hasn’t entirely been his fault. The loss of Lamar Jackson and Bateman’s early-season injury certainly hasn’t helped Baltimore’s passing game, and while Bateman is in a crowded receiving room along with Marquise Brown and Mark Andrews, there’s reason to believe his target share could ascend in Year 2.
Bateman missed the first five games of the regular season, a stint that has certainly been a hindrance to his NFL development, but since then, he garnered six or more targets in seven of his last eleven games, a testament to his ability to get open, especially on slants and short crossing routes. Bateman’s excellent separation ability along with his open-field speed allow him to be a big-play threat on any given snap, and his Year 1 17-game pace of 99 targets should only improve in 2022 as he grows and develops.
Bateman’s fantasy numbers were somewhat inconsistent, but he only had one touchdown this season, a number that will also rise given his abilities. As Lamar Jackson gains trust with his speedy receiver, they could develop a playmaking rapport potentially exceeding that of Jackson and Marquise Brown, elevating Bateman to a juicy role as the Ravens’ number two target. If he reaches that spot, he’d be well worth a selection at his likely late-round ADP, and at a low price, the minimal risk he carries is far outweighed by what could be top-24 WR potential next year.
2. Josh Palmer (Los Angeles Chargers)
Palmer, the Chargers’ 3rd round draft pick this year, has flashed in spots this year, but he mostly seems to have been written off in redraft circles at this point. Palmer’s late-round value is heavily dependent, however, on a Mike Williams exit, as Williams broke out this year but could now head to free agency. If Williams leaves LA, that could leave an opening for Palmer to be Justin Herbert’s #2 wide receiver, a spot that could pay big dividends for his fantasy numbers.
Palmer has certainly been inconsistent this year due to a limited role, but he started to show out at times later in the season. Palmer picked up 19 targets in the final four weeks of the fantasy season (Weeks 14-17), catching 14 of them for 140 yards and two touchdowns. Those numbers are far from stellar, but they’re certainly a step in the right direction, and proof that Palmer has developed since entering the NFL. I’d expect Palmer to take a solid Year 2 jump if Williams exits LA, making him well worth a selection in the late rounds of your drafts.
3. Kenny Golladay (New York Giants)
Yes, yes, I know that despite all of the preseason hype I gave him, Golladay finished as the fantasy WR81, an atrocious performance for someone being paid $18 million a year to dominate on the Giants. I will admit that this year’s performance caused me to drastically reevaluate this Giants offense as a whole, as I was a full-on proponent of Golladay in fantasy heading into the season. However, there are still reasons to be hopeful for improvement next year, and so I still feel there’s a case that he, at the very least, has potential for somewhat of a bounce-back year.
Golladay’s 2020 season was cut short by injuries, but he put up back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons in 2018 and 2019, and at 28 years old, it’s doubtful that he lost all of his football ability. Golladay at his best is an amazing contested-catch receiver who uses his 6’4″, 214 pound frame to win 50 50 balls downfield. If he can get more involved in the offense, the big plays should start rolling in for him.
With Daniel Jones likely back for another year, the Giants should try to get Golladay much more involved so that his contract isn’t wasted, and they’ll likely encourage Jones, a solid downfield passer, to take more chances to get the ball to his star receiver. Golladay may not return to peak form next year, but his price is likely to land him at the tail end of fantasy drafts, a spot where you should be more than willing to take a guy with potential – if somewhat unlikely – WR2 upside.