Why Russell Gage is really a sleeper in 2022

The Buccaneers WR Russell Gage is a major sleeper right now

By: Jake Rajala

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers signed former Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Russell Gage to a three-year $30 million dollar deal this off-season. The Bucs were all too familiar with the underrated ability of Gage, as he recorded 11 catches for 130 yards against his current team last season (aka the best game in his career). The Brady bunch knew it would be exciting if the 2022 free agent brought his explosiveness into their WR room.

Gage will aspire to be the opposite of the former Bucs WR3 Antonio Brown moving forward. Gage has clean route running ability, but he’s also only missed three games over the past three seasons combined. His motor and non-off field antics should feel like a breath of fresh air for Bucs nation.

TB12 was helping Chris Godwin have his best season from the slot last season. Godwin, who may start the season on the PUP, will witness Gage also have a lot of production from the slot. It should also be noted that Gronk (89 targets last season) is MIA for Brady at this moment. It seems that Gage will be a popular third option (at the very least) with a QB that led the league in passing yards and passing touchdowns in 2021. The Bucs also reign in a division that features the mediocre Falcons pass defense and a Panthers secondary that lost Stephon Gilmore this off-season.

Fantasy Pros has boldly stated that Gage will be a Top-15 WR in his new home in the same NFC South division next season. Rich Eisen has stated on his show that Gage is the most underrated pick-up of the off-season, as well.

When will Tony Pollard start?

Latest outlook of Tony Pollard

By: Jake Rajala

The Dallas Cowboys best kept secret might just be RB Tony Pollard. The Cowboys 25-year-old RB earned a bigger piece of the pie in 2021, as he had a career-high 130 rushing attempts and a career-high 39 receptions. He was quite efficient with his rushing workload, as he averaged 5.5 YPC and was fourth in yards after contact. The Cowboys RB2 and kick return warrior finished as the RB30 in fantasy points per game.

Pollard is definitely an ascending RB and he could truly hit a Pro Bowl season if an injury to Zeke occurs, but the question is: what is his long-term outlook with Elliot? The steam for Pollard picked up in 2021 and I honestly believe that Pollard will be at least near a 50-50 slate with Zeke moving forward. He may not garner the same popularity, contract, or bell-cow ability, but I believe his well-rounded ability will rise to become indispensable in the Cowboys offense.

Dave Halprin from Blogging The Boys cites the demise of Zeke and his RYOE (rushing yards over expected) that has declined in each of the past few years and it would make sense if the aging, broken down RB, continues to have a worse RYOE in 2022. Halprin also elaborates that Zeke’s % of touches has declined from 78%, 70%, to 62%. I really believe Pollard will be more involved as a RB and he should be more involved in the Cowboys passing attack that lost Amari Cooper this off-season.

I and the rest of the world expect Pollard to be the team’s starter in 2023. After this upcoming season, Zeke’s contract will be easier to eliminate or restructure and Pollard (who I expect them to re-sign in 2023) could be a stat machine in the Boys offense for a few seasons. I believe Pollard should eventually be the 1A at RB, remain a dynasty sleeper, and enjoy a Pro Bowl season or two in a very explosive Cowboys offense that dropped 50+ points in two of their last contests.

Why Tim Patrick is a fantasy sleeper in 2022

Latest fantasy outlook of Tim Patrick

By: Jake Rajala

The Denver Broncos fifth-year wide receiver Tim Patrick had career-high marks in targets (85) and receptions (53) last season while unveiling 734 yards and five touchdowns. His 2021 production was quite similar to his 2020 output (79 targets, 51 receptions, 742 yds, and six touchdowns). Patrick has been a pleasant surprise for the Broncos, but he had a bit of a roller coaster 2021 season. I still believe that Patrick, who is pegged as the 62nd Fantasy WR (one spot behind Jarvis Landry) in PPR via Fantasy Pros, could honestly turn heads in 2022.

Patrick hasn’t been a pillar of consistency in a lackluster offense, but he has been quite efficient in recent memory. Per PFF, Patrick caught 86% of his contested targets 20+ yards downfield in 2020, which ranked first among all WRs. Yes, you read that correctly.

Patrick’s consistent, unique presence on deep passing plays should fit into Russell Wilson’s deep-passing ability. It was noted by Field Gulls last November that Wilson had thrown 60 deep passing touchdowns since 2016, which was 11 more deep passing touchdowns than any other QB. With no coincidence, DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett were ranked second and third in deep touchdown receptions since 2019 (of course, Tyreek Hill was first).

I honestly foresee the Broncos WR unit transitioning into the Courtland Sutton and Tim Patrick show moving forward. I wouldn’t be shocked if Patrick’s TD count was floating around 10 in 2022 and he ousted similar statistics to the 2021 version of Hunter Renfrow (1,038 yds, 9 TDs). All in all, Patrick would be a sneaky WR acquisition for your team.

7 fantasy football rookie sleepers in 2022

Best rookie sleepers in 2022

By: Jeremy Trottier, Jake Rajala, and Faustino Felix

The 2022 NFL Draft was loaded with offensive talent, as potential 2022 starters were picked in the third round and beyond. The NFL Draft, also known as a football holiday, is finally over. Nonetheless, it’s time for fantasy football gurus to begin scouting talent for their beloved rosters. With that said, we’re going to untwine seven fantasy sleepers that sleeping with Mr. Sandman.

Jeremy’s sleepers:

Jalen Tolbert – WR – Dallas Cowboys

One of the most notable players coming out of round 3 or beyond is Jalen Tolbert, the 6’3” receiver out of South Alabama.  Tolbert has received little to no recognition coming out of this class primarily due to his competition being FBS players.  The part about him that makes me think he could break out is the fact that the Dallas Cowboys already moved on from two of their receivers this offseason (Amari Cooper & Cedrick Wilson). 

Combined they leave 165 targets and 113 receptions on the table for someone to take, and with the receiver room shifting significantly this offseason, Tolbert could seek to snag the 2nd or 3rd receiver spot early in the season.  It is also worth noting that starting receiver Michael Gallup will likely miss the early part of the season due to his torn ACL, which gives Tolbert a direct route into a starting role alongside CeeDee Lamb and James Washington.  Jalen had a great final 9 games in 2021 and will seek to continue that level of play in the NFL for Dallas.

Dameon Pierce – RB – Houston Texans

The other sleeper of mine is Florida Gator Dameon Pierce, who was taken at pick 107 by the Houston Texans.  Pierce is another player who has an immediate shot at the starting role on his respective team, with the Texans RB room pretty much up in the air at the moment.  Last year’s starters David Johnson (current free agent) and Mark Ingram (traded to Saints) are presumably both gone or are at least for the moment.  The backs on the roster that he will be competing with are Rex Burkhead, Marlon Mack, and Dare Ogunbowale, who he should be able to at the bare minimum get rotational minutes with.  His size and power as a running back give him some solid upside as a roster-bound player on any dynasty team.  

Faustino’s sleepers:

Alec Pierce – WR – Indianapolis Colts

There’s a lot of upside to Alec Pierce’s game, and he was drafted to an ideal situation after a solid college career with the Cincinnati Bearcats. The Colts’ depth chart is wide open after third-year wide receiver Michael Pittman, so Pierce, with 2nd round draft capital, should start on 3-WR sets right away. He could become a favorite of new Colts quarterback Matt Ryan, who has produced top fantasy wide receivers before such as Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley, proving he can sustain good fantasy WRs. Ryan’s arrival should allow Frank Reich to open up the offense and pass the ball more often than he did with Carson Wentz.

Pierce has elite speed and burst, along with a huge catch radius. He’s a speed threat that has the potential to become a complete force at the perimeter, thanks to that athleticism and his 6’3” size. He averaged 17.5 yards per reception at Cincinnati. I fully expect Pierce to shoot up draft boards as the offseason progresses since this combination of talent, opportunity and draft capital at a solid team expected to compete for a playoff spot don’t come that often. It should be a matter of time before fantasy managers catch on, so get ahead of the curve and get Pierce in your rosters as soon as you can.

Zamir White – RB – Las Vegas Raiders

White’s arrival to the NFL was a roller-coaster, to say the least. He tore his ACL in his senior season of high school but nevertheless was recruited by Georgia as a top-five recruit for his position. He then suffered a second ACL before what was supposed to be his freshman season. Three years later, he was drafted in the fourth round by the Las Vegas Raiders, after being the leading rusher for two years in a row in a Bulldogs backfield that included fellow rookie James Cook. He won a National Championship along the way.

Nicknamed “Zeus”, White is a powerful runner who is bound to score a lot of touchdowns in his career. He also possesses breakaway speed, and he is more elusive than you would expect from power back such as him. His only knock is that he doesn’t have a lot of receiving production, so that limits him to being a two-down back in the NFL. He will join a crowded Raiders backfield that includes Josh Jacobs and Kenyan Drake. Jacobs just had his 5th year option declined, and Drake is on the last year of a two-year contract. With both being players from a previous regime, there’s a solid chance neither of them is on the Raiders’ roster in 2023.

New Raiders GM and Head Coach Dave Ziegler and Josh McDaniels both come from the New England Patriots, whose approach to the RB position is having a committee of cheaply acquired running backs. That bodes well for White’s playing time opportunity in 2023 if he manages to make a good impression in his rookie year. This is more of a dynasty pick, but one that has the potential to have a huge rise in value in the short term.

Jake’s sleepers: 

James Cook – RB – Buffalo Bills

I believe that the former Georgia stud with a popular football name has a legitimate chance of starting in a talented Bills offense early on. The brother of Dalvin Cook unveiled a personal best of 1,012 total yards and 11 total touchdowns in 2021. Similar to the prime version of Le’Veon Bell and former Georgia RB Todd Gurley, he displays excellent quickness and patience. He has a unique ability to be a receiving stud, as well. According to PFF, he ran the third-most routes from the RB position. He reminds me a lot of Kenyan Drake, but he can be a more talented pure RB. 

Isaiah Spiller – RB – Los Angeles Chargers

Isaiah Spiller might be a bit in the shadow of Austin Ekeler in the Chargers RB room, but he is the second talented RB on this list in the perfect location. Spiller was one of the most accomplished CFB RBs to enter the draft: 3,578 total yards and 26 total touchdowns. Bucky Brooks has already stated that Spiller is one of the “10 perfect rookie team fits”. In fact, Brooks feels that Spiller could be the potential 1A RB in Justin Herbert’s offense, while the scatback Ekeler returns to a “change in pace” ball-carrier. The former Texas A & M RB ran a poor 40-yard dash (4.63), but he could still soon be leaned on as the bell-cow RB in LA. 

Velus Jones Jr. – WR – Chicago Bears

Todd McShay has started to really praise the outlook for Velus Jones Jr. The ESPN analyst stated that he was the “Bears best draft pick” and that he has a great ceiling in Chi-town. It’s easy to see why Jones Jr. is a fascinating profile given his 4.31 40-yard dash at the NFL combine. He can be an effective chess piece in the Justin Fields-led offense, as he can be dangerous with screens, deep routes, and quick slants. I absolutely expect Jones Jr. to be a security blanket for his second year QB frequently.

What is JuJu’s fantasy outlook with the Kansas City Chiefs after the Tyreek Hill trade?

What is the outlook of JuJu moving forward?

By: Khari Demos

Now that the Cheetah is off to join the Dolphins this season, there will be a major void open for Kansas City to replace. Since Patrick Mahomes started lighting up the league in 2018, Hill’s 43 touchdown receptions are tied with Mike Evans for second in the NFL in that span, trailing only Davante Adams (47).

Hill also ranks fourth in the league in receiving yards (4,854) and sixth in targets (520) in that time frame. His 22 TDs of 40 yards or more are also above any other player in the NFL since being drafted in 2016.

As one of the league’s true weapons, things will look a bit different with Hill out of the fold. But it looks like the team may be just fine even without him. Just look at Mahomes’ five career outings without the Cheetah (8 TDs, 1 INT, 347.4 passing yards per game, 103.1 passer rating).

But it’ll be hard to quantify what those numbers could look like over a full season. It must also be considered that in addition to Hill, DeMarcus Robinson and Byron Pringle are both gone as well, so KC’s passing attack will surely still revolve around Travis Kelce at tight end.

Not only has Kelce gone for six straight 1,000-yard seasons, he’s also garnered over 100 targets in each of the last seven years for an average of 129.6 per season.

So how does JuJu Smith-Schuster fit into this all? For starters, he should benefit greatly from having a true No. 1 target opposite him in Kelce, even if the latter is lining up at TE. Just look at how strong the USC product played in 2017 and 2018 when he had Antonio Brown hitting on all cylinders with him in Pittsburgh.

Smith-Schuster’s 111-catch, 1,426-yard, seven-TD season in 2018 earned him a Pro Bowl nod. It has been tough for him to hit those numbers since, but a lot of that can be pinned on the up-and-down play of Ben Roethlisberger and other Steelers QBs.

It was not as much about Big Ben and others not passing a ton, but more so the inability to strike downfield. From 2018-19, Smith-Schuster’s average depth of target was 9.3 yards, while in the last two seasons it’s simmered down to six. And yes the Long Beach, California native has been oft-injured over the past few years (33 games played since 2019), so he may not have the same explosion, but he’ll be joining an offense that is much more downfield-oriented and he figures to slide right into Hill’s varied deployment from 2021.

Hill was almost equally out wide (520 snaps) as he was in the slot (508 snaps) last season, so JuJu figures to be used in a similar role this coming season. And in Mahomes’ first three seasons, he averaged 8.8 intended air yards per attempt in that span.

That number dipped to 7.3 in 2021, but that’s still a full yard above what Smith-Schuster has seen in his depth of targets over the last two years.

One thing I’d like to bring into account here too is that in JuJu’s two full seasons played, he garnered 166 targets in 2018, as well as 128 in 2020. We can’t anticipate that he’ll play a full 17-game slate this year, but for the sake of this exercise let’s assume that he will.

Considering Smith-Schuster averaged 147 targets in those two seasons, as well as Hill receiving 130 or more in three of the last four seasons, it’s safe to say he should get anywhere from 120-150 this coming year. Maybe he won’t be able to take the top off the defense the way Hill did, but JuJu does figure to be a sure-handed target for Mahomes.

I’m predicting that Smith-Schuster will go from anywhere between 75-90 catches and he should be hovering near the 1,000-yard mark. The touchdown numbers do figure to be the most unpredictable here. JuJu has scored seven or more TDs on three occasions in his career, including a career-best nine in 2020. But in his two injury-riddled campaigns (2019, 2021) he combined for three scores in 17 games.

But I think this is where the Mahomes effect takes place. Since taking over for Alex Smith full-time in 2018, the Texas Tech product has more TD passes (151) and passing yards (18,707) than any other signal caller. So Smith-Schuster figures to get a boost playing with the best QB he ever has, sorry Big Ben.

So I’m predicting JuJu goes for an 89-catch, 1,061-yard, eight-TD stat line. Those numbers put him in the WR2 category amongst the top fantasy wideouts. This should put him in the range of players like Keenan Allen, Christian Kirk, Amari Cooper (figuring Deshaun Watson gets suspended), as well as Jaylen Waddle, who figures to come down from some of his 2021 numbers with Hill’s arrival.

I figure that Smith-Schuster will be the Chiefs’ 1B behind Kelce due to the other receivers on the roster. And unless the Chiefs draft another viable receiver with one of their massive load of 12 picks, the only other KC wideout that should challenge him for targets will be Mecole Hardman, who’s coming off a career-best 693 yards and 59 catches. He has not received 100 targets yet (83 in 2021) but he should creep towards that mark in 2022.

But he is still not the receiver that Smith-Schuster is. And even though he’s a more natural fit in the offense, JuJu’s skill set is something that KC showed it could evolve to if pushed to do so, like it was last season.

Fantasy: Four Sleeper QBs To Target In 2022

Four sleeper QBs to target in 2022

By: Calvin K (Twitter: @calvin_sgf)

The late-round quarterback approach has become progressively more popular in fantasy leagues in recent years, and nowadays, it’s widely accepted as the best way to play in redraft single-QB leagues. Because of this, there is always massive speculation surrounding who could be the next “late-round breakout.”

Oftentimes, quarterbacks with rushing ability are the ones exceeding expectations due to the heavy emphasis that fantasy scoring places on rushing yards and touchdowns. All four of the quarterbacks in this article have at least some rushing ability, a fact that gives them massive fantasy upside. All four also come with risk, but at their current draft prices, they’re well worth a draft pick. Here are four late-round QBs to target next year in redraft.

1. Trey Lance (San Francisco 49ers)

Lance is perhaps the most obvious breakout candidate at the position for next year, so his draft position should rise from its current QB12 spot on FantasyPros. However, it’s likely not to move too far past back-end-QB1 range, making him likely available in the mid-to-late rounds of fantasy drafts.

Lance’s dual-threat play style and massive raw talent eerily resembles many recent breakout QBs, and guys like Jalen Hurts, Lamar Jackson, Josh Allen, and others have been great late-round picks in recent years, led primarily by their rushing abilities. Lance is also great on the ground, and he has a solid arm as well, so he has the potential to be a star in the NFL. Lance’s supporting cast is also good, with a solid young RB in Elijah Mitchell as well as jack-of-all-trades WR Deebo Samuel and athletic TE George Kittle running routes for San Francisco. The main concern for him is the fact that he’s been mostly untested in NFL action so far. However, if his draft position stays near where it is, that’s risk that fantasy managers certainly should be willing to accept given his upside.

2. Trevor Lawrence (Jacksonville Jaguars)

Lawrence was relatively disappointing in his rookie year, throwing 17 interceptions with a sub-60% completion percentage. However, it’s safe to assume that Urban Meyer’s incompetence as HC was a major limiting factor in Lawrence’s development. The Jaguars have hired Doug Pederson as their new head coach, and it’s fair to question Pederson’s coaching abilities, but what’s undeniable is Pederson’s experience and credibility, and it’s not often that a Super-Bowl-winning head coach is available for hire. However Pederson does, one thing is certain: he’s an obvious upgrade over Meyer.

Lawrence was the obvious #1 pick in the 2021 draft, and like Lance, he does have rushing upside (although not to the same degree). However, Lawrence is definitely more polished as a passer, and he’s a more consistent all-around prospect than Lance. That’s not saying that Lance will certainly be worse than Trevor, and in fact, I’d say it’s extremely likely that he’s better in fantasy due to the major rushing bonuses he should accumulate. Lawrence, however, should provide a safe passing floor, and with weapons such as Marvin Jones, D.J. Chark, and Laviska Shenault, he has potential to put up solid numbers next year. He also ran for 334 yards last year, a very solid boost to his fantasy value. Overall, my take on Lawrence is that he was the #1 pick for a reason, and now that the Meyer dumpster fire is behind the Jaguars, he should see marked improvement in year two.

3. Malik Willis (ROOKIE, Liberty University)

Yes, Willis is an extremely raw prospect from a small school. This article is NOT meant to say that he’s any sort of guarantee to break out, especially in year one. However, it can’t be denied that he has incredible rushing ability, and that alone should put him in late-round consideration if he gets a starting opportunity. There will definitely be a massive learning curve as Willis transitions to the NFL, but his big arm and speed/elusiveness are reasons to be excited.

Willis has over 2,000 career college rushing yards with 29 touchdowns, an impressive total regardless of where he played. Overall, he’s probably an early-second/late-first round draft prospect, but a quarterback-needy team could easily be tempted to take him earlier. That might not be a bad thing for Willis as long as the team has reasonable weapons, and his supporting cast will certainly be another thing to monitor after the draft. However, regardless of where he lands, Willis has the potential to become a fantasy star, and with his massive rushing ability, he doesn’t necessarily have to be an elite and polished passer to do so.

4. Daniel Jones (New York Giants)

Jones never really got going this year, but despite the risk he carries, there are still reasons to be excited about him in 2022. Jones has always had a good arm, and the addition of Brian Daboll as HC could be immensely helpful for Jones’s development. Daboll was instrumental in unlocking Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs in Buffalo, and if he could do something similar for Jones and Kenny Golladay, that would do wonders for Jones’s fantasy value.

Obviously one coach turning things around is not a guarantee, but Daboll is clearly an upgrade over Joe Judge, who got increasingly mocked for his offensive strategies near the end of his tenure. Golladay, who makes $18 million a year, should be far more involved in the offense in 2022, and Jones, as his quarterback, will be the beneficiary.

Jones has (exactly!) 1,000 career rushing yards in three seasons, so he definitely has some upside on the ground. If he can improve as a passer in year four, that would be a major boost to his fantasy value, elevating him from being a random streaming option into (potentially) a late-round star.

Fantasy: Three sleeper WRs for 2022

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.

3 sleeper RBs to target in 2022

Watch out for these 3 sleeper RBs next season

By: Jake Rajala

Some might say dynasty fantasy football season never sleeps. Then there are those who appeal to the notion that “fantasy football season” never sleeps. The 2022 fantasy season should be special, as we will witness a healthy Derrick Henry and Christian McCaffrey notably. Truth be told, the list of star players that will be returning ought to go on a yellow text far into the galaxy. 

Still, the stargazing and dream draft pick(s) isn’t what fantasy love should be all about. We love the juicy sleepers and players that can shock the FF realm. With that said, let’s take an early look at some 2022 sleepers from the RB position. 

  • Michael Carter

The New York Jets fourth-round pick has been one of the lone bright spots on the 4-12 squad. Carter has ousted roughly 73 all-purpose yards per game (missed three), as he’s been reliable in the run and pass game. A healthy Mekhi Becton, more impressive growth in the system, and fewer defenders in the box from at least a modest passing game, should provide wonders for Carter in year two. We shouldn’t expect a year-two jump that we saw out of Jonathan Taylor, but he should at least crack the 1,000-yard club. 

The New York Post nicely depicts how Mike LaFleur raves about his knack to learn quickly and utilize his all-around skill set. If he continues to keep climbing the ladder, he should have a nice floor and thrilling ceiling.

  • Mark Ingram 

It’s strange to see Mark Ingram, also known as the Saints hypeman, turn back the clock at age 32. The bowling ball halfback has had 3.8 YPC and 398 all-purpose yards (seven games) in his short Saints tenure thus far. These stats don’t truly reveal how impressive his running has been with NOLA. In comparison, Alvin Kamara has only mustered out 3.6 YPC, which is a full yard worse than his previous YPC of 4.6 YPC. The Saints OL has been beaten up and to be honest, the Saints offense has been absolutely decimated. It’s been reported that the Saints have set an NFL record of 58 different starters this season. Ingram may be a bit of a deep sleeper, but he could surprise A LOT of fantasy fanatics when he’s in sync with a healthy, well-oiled machine in NOLA. The Saints have lost Terron Armstead, Ryan Ramczyk, Andrus Peat, Jameis Winston, Michael Thomas, Deonte Harris, and the list goes on. Yet, Ingram looks explosive and efficient when he’s not meeting defenders at the line of scrimmage.

  • Elijah Mitchell 

This might be a bit of an obvious *sleeper choice. Nonetheless, let’s not forget how absolutely phenomenal Elijah Mitchell is. As a rookie, the former Louisiana RB has notched 878 rushing yards, 4.7 YPC, in 10 games. If his rushing yard tally is averaged out over 17 games, the rook would have picked up 1,492 yards on the ground. That would place him second in the league (1734 is the first/1205 would be the third). Mitchell is flat out a special football player and fully expect him to be a Top 5 RB with ease next season. Fall in love with the news circling around him throughout the offseason.

Fantasy Football Waiver Wire Pickups For Week 16

Jared Goff is a must pickup on the fantasy football waiver wire

By: Rishi Patel

Welcome back to this NFL column where I will be preaching my advice about which fantasy players you should pluck off your waiver wire each week during this NFL season. 

During each NFL season, there are usually sleepers that emerge who you should pick up off the waiver wire due to various reasons, such as better performances than expected, injuries, etc. It’s important to make good use of the waiver wire as players from here could sometimes be good depth and even a starter for your team in critical stretches. It’s hard to believe we are in the fantasy playoffs. Congrats to those who will still be setting their lineups at this point. Going forward, things will get more intense as managers play for all the marbles. Let’s look at some players who could be of sneaky value during your quest for the title:

Jared Goff, QB, Detroit Lions

Don’t look now, but the Lions are a two-win team now. Who would have thought after the disastrous start to the season? In the last three games, the 27-year-old Goff has seven touchdowns to two picks and at least 215 yards in all three contests. The Lions play the Falcons, Seahawks, and Packers to close out the season and Goff can continue to put up good numbers given the Packers are the only intimidating defense on that list. (Note: Goff got put on the COVID list Monday and his status will need to be monitored but he’s worth stashing for now and potentially streaming in Week 16 if he can play). 

Craig Reynolds, RB, Detroit Lions

The Lions have been shorthanded at running back but first-year player Craig Reynolds has been making noise lately. The Kutztown product has at least 83 rushing yards in the last two weeks, including 112 yards in the stunning upset of Arizona on Sunday. Reynolds is worth stashing as coach Dan Campbell may ride the hot hand to close the season. If D’Andre Swift (shoulder) returns, then Reynolds would have no fantasy value. 

Duke Johnson, RB, Miami Dolphins

Duke Johnson has hopped around NFL teams and he produced a vintage performance out of nowhere in Week 15 against the hapless Jets. Johnson had 22 carries for 107 yards and two scores as a member of the Dolphins and looks like a solid complement back to Myles Gaskin. While the performance was impressive, Johnson is only worth stashing for now as managers should wait and see whether the back can sustain this production. It’s best not to stream a player based on one performance. 

Jeff Wilson Jr., RB, San Francisco 49ers

As the 49ers deal with RB injuries, Jeff Wilson has risen up and posted 21 carries for 110 yards and a score in Week 15. The 25-year-old isn’t normally the starter but Elijah Mitchell is dealing with a knee injury and his return remains uncertain. For now, consider Wilson the workhorse back and he’s worth stashing as the 49ers face a tougher defense in Tennessee in Week 16 before playing a porous Texans defense in Week 17. 

D’Onta Foreman, RB, Tennessee Titans

Foreman has quietly put up at least 108 rushing yards in two of the last three games while seeing at least 19 carries in two of the last three games too. While Dontrell Hilliard is also in the picture, he hasn’t been as explosive as Foreman, only posting over 100 rushing yards once. Foreman is currently dealing with an ankle injury, but he’s worth stashing given his recent production. 

Amon Ra St. Brown, WR, Detroit Lions

Yes, this is the third LIONS player on this list, but that team is playing with heart and some players are actually producing fantasy-relevant numbers. St. Brown has been playing lights out recently. He has posted at least eight receptions, 11 targets, and 73 yards in the last three contests. The WR posted a season-high 90 yards in Week 15. Given Detroit plays teams like Seattle and Atlanta in the next couple of weeks, St. Brown is a must-add and is even in the streaming picture given his recent production. 

Albert Okwuegbunam, TE, Denver Broncos

The TE out of Mizzou is quietly posting better game stats as of late. He has at least three receptions and four targets in the last three games while posting at least 41 yards in the last two games. Okwuegbunam is worth adding as a stash given he could be of use as a TE2 in very deep leagues if needed. 

Deep Fantasy Football Stashes for Week 15

Let’s take a deep dive with these fantasy football stashes

By: Malcolm McMillan

It is officially the fantasy football playoffs. I can only assume that you made it into the fantasy football playoffs or are preparing for next year. In either case, congratulations on doing the right thing. Prepping ahead of the competition and being active in your dynasty league will pay off next year. You know you can wait until after the Super Bowl to take a break from fantasy football.

This week’s article will be a little different. Like in previous weeks, these players are still widely available, though one of them is only available in about 40% of Sleeper dynasty leagues. The goal is to find players with 50% rostership or less, but after last week two sets of players stand out. One set of players for those managers still making their playoff run, the other for dynasty fantasy football managers looking beyond the 2021 NFL season (though redraft people can pay attention too).

First up, two running backs that could make a difference in the 2021 fantasy football playoffs.

Jermar Jefferson vs Craig Reynolds vs Godwin Igwebuike: Which Detroit Lions Running Back Do You Want?

Last week everyone thought that they made a killer waiver wire addition in Jermar Jefferson. After all, both D’Andre Swift (shoulder) and Jamaal Williams (COVID-19) were out for the Detroit Lions Week 14 matchup against the Denver Broncos. Sure, Jefferson had been sick in the lead-up to the game, but plenty of experts assumed he and fellow running back Godwin Igwebuike would see the work out of the Lions backfield.

Unfortunately, neither Jefferson nor Igwebuike saw meaningful work in Week 14. Igwebuike at least got to touch the ball; Jefferson was on the field for a mere six snaps. Instead, Craig Reynolds stole the show (relatively), with 11 rushing attempts and a pair of receptions that resulted in an RB20 finish in half-point-per-reception (half-PPR) formats. Williams and Swift are both out again for the Lions Week 15 matchup against the Arizona Cardinals, so the pressing question is: which Lions running back do you trust?

In terms of athleticism, betting on Jefferson is not smart. Per PlayerProfiler he lags behind both Reynolds and Igwebuike in every athletic metric. Igwebuike is the most athletic of the three, though Reynolds does have some mildly impressive agility. The problem is that none of that has mattered all season. All three running backs have been anything more than bench depth until now. Jefferson had a brief flash in Week 10, and Igwebuike has been involved regularly on special teams, but Reynolds made his season debut in Week 14.

Unfortunately for Jefferson and Igwebuike, Reynolds made the most of that debut and probably qualifies as the “hot hand” going into Week 15. If you have to trust a Lions running back in the fantasy football playoffs, Reynolds is the player to roster, though do not be surprised to see Igwebuike cut into Reynolds’s workload. Detroit is not seeing what they have here. All three of these running backs are undrafted or seventh-round picks firmly behind Swift and Williams on the depth chart. The Lions just need a body to carry the ball, and that body will look like Reynolds’s until Swift or Williams returns.

Jalen Guyton and Josh Palmer: A Dynamic Dynasty Duo

If Jalen Guyton and Josh Palmer are still available in your dynasty leagues, they need to be on your roster. Now. The Los Angeles Chargers passing attack has become red hot with Justin Herbert under center, and it is not just the usual suspects that are benefiting. Keenan Allen and Mike Williams still dominate the wide receiver room. The Chargers’ current studs each have over 100 targets after 14 games. However, both Guyton and Palmer are flirting with fantasy football relevance recently.

Let us start with Guyton. Guyton showed a connection with Herbert in 2020, but things have heated up over the past few weeks. In half-PPR fantasy football leagues, Guyton led the Chargers wide receivers in fantasy football points from Week 12 to 14. Week 15 was more subdued but still saw Guyton score a touchdown for the third game in a row. With Mike Williams headed for free agency after this season, the Chargers may make Guyton the next man up. He already has a connection with Herbert and an impressive athletic profile. At just 24 years old, what is not to love?

But Guyton is not the only intriguing up-and-coming wide receiver on the Chargers roster. While not as athletic as Guyton, Palmer was the Chargers’ third-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, which is not insignificant. Plus, while Guyton has been the third wide receiver this season, Palmer did fill in for Allen in Week 14 to great success. Palmer’s seven targets that week led all Chargers players, and the five receptions, 66 yards and a touchdown were enough to finish WR16 on the week. The best part is Palmer is flashing this production all before turning 23. He will be just 25 when his and Allen’s contracts expire at the end of 2024. The Chargers bringing back their 25-year-old WR rather than the 32-year-old wide receiver will not be a surprise, and this role seems to be Palmer’s for the taking. Worst case, he should become one of the top three wide receivers in Los Angeles when Williams leaves at the end of the year.

The Chargers already have their quarterback of the future in Herbert, but it is expensive (if not impossible) to acquire that piece of their offense if you are a dynasty manager. However, you can get either—or both—of their wide receivers of the future for dirt cheap right now. The return on investment will not be instant, but it will be worth it.

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