Welcome to the Fantasy Football Roundtable – where we bring together the best minds in fantasy football and ask one simple question:
Q: Who is your favorite sleeper for 2022?
D’Onta Foreman, RB, CAR
Foreman has come back strong in 2021, with three 100-yard games and three touchdowns in his last six. During the offseason, he signed with the Panthers, replacing Christian McCaffrey, who has played 10 total games over the past two years. Chuba Hubbard complicates things a bit, but I guess Foreman – a 26-year-old Derrick Henry clone – could have signed with a lot of teams and saw an opportunity with the Panthers instead. — Nando Di Fino
David Njoku, TE, CLE
Njoku was left for dead despite quietly rising to the top of the depth chart in Cleveland. With a freshly signed four-year, $56 million deal, it’s obvious the Browns have handed the reins to the 25-year-old in a tight friendly system. 2021 has seen Njoku produce 36 receptions for 475 yards and four touchdowns. I think those totals could double across the board in 2022. Every year the tight end position sees new entrants into the top 10 and I believe Njoku could compete for the top 5 production if the stars align. — Jeff Haverlack
Allen Lazard, WR, GB
Listen carefully. That sucking sound you hear is the galaxy-sized target vacuum created by the world-wide Davante Adams leaving Green Bay. Adams had a ridiculous 2021 season in terms of usage, with 169 targets (2nd in NFL), 123 receptions (2nd in NFL) and 1,553 receiving yards (3rd in NFL). Adams’ team goal of 31.63% was second only to Cooper Kupp, and last I checked the Packers still have Aaron Rodgers under center. For the AR12 detractors, I’m sorry, but I’m not obligated by the arguments it has ground to dust and long in the mouth. Although the Packers haven’t necessarily stretched the field vertically in 2021, Rodgers’ hyper-efficient nature has kept the offense on the field. Green Bay finished eighth in passing yards per game last year, led by Rodgers who was first in QB DVOA (27.8%), first in QBR (105.9) and third in completion percentage ( 68.9%).
My sleeper of 2022 is the last man (or lizard) standing in the Packers’ reception hall wide, Lazard. Lazard struggled with injuries at the start of the 2021 season, but reclaimed a prominent role in the passing game after the Week 13 goodbye as the clear No. 2 WR behind Adams: 28 targets, 21 receptions, 290 receiving yards, 15.8 team goal percentage, 24.4 team goal percentage from air yards, and a 10.0 yard ADoT.
Coming off the board as WR45, I don’t see a result where Lazard stays healthy and doesn’t turn in a windfall profit at his ninth-round price. — Jean Laghezza
Chris Olave, WR, NO
If there was ever a time to push all the chips to the center of the table on a rookie wide receiver, this would be the year to do it. Six wide receivers were selected in the first round, but it’s Olave who stands head and shoulders above the other WR 2022 rookies. He’s done the majority of his pre-draft prep at House of Athlete in South La Florida and earned the respect of many current and former NFL wide receivers. Olave impressed onlookers to the point that players started calling their respective front offices to lobby for him. Now a member of the New Orleans Saints, it wouldn’t shock me at all to see Olave have a similar impact to Odell Beckam Jr. in his rookie season. Jarvis Landry and Michael Thomas will get the majority of the subgoals, but it’s Olave who will have every chance to stretch the field for the Saints in 2022. Don’t be afraid to take this rookie early on draft day. — Brandon Howard
Rashod Bateman, WR, BAL
The Baltimore Ravens were decimated by injuries in 2021, but that didn’t stop Marquise Brown from having her best season as a pro. His 91 receptions and 1,008 yards were career highs for him and he finished the season as a WR25 in standard formats. The 146 targets he received were just behind Mark Andrews (153), who was named first-team All-Pro last season. Well, Hollywood moved to Arizona, but all those targets are still in Baltimore waiting to be claimed.
In Bateman steps! The Ravens’ 2021 first-round pick was WR80 last season in standard formats, thanks in part to injuries that kept him out of the first five games. He also had to catch passes from three different quarterbacks due to injuries to Lamar Jackson and Tyler Huntley. Bateman was still able to finish the season with 46 receptions and 515 yards. This year, there’s a 23% target share for someone to claim and it’s clear, based on the Ravens’ draft, that he’ll have every chance of fulfilling it. As a bigger and stronger receiver than Brown, Bateman will be able to carry some of the passes Brown couldn’t. I’m very bullish on Bateman this year because everyone in the Ravens organization — including Jackson (who is in the hunt for a massive new contract) — will be eager to put a disappointing 2021 in the rearview mirror. — Gene Clemons
Miles Sanders, RB, PHI
Go ahead, make fun of Sanders. Keep using it as a punchline. Put me in the jokes while you’re at it. While you chuckle at a touchdownless season that can’t be repeated, Miles and I will confidently rest on the fact that he came back from a midseason ankle injury to go for 454 yards on 74. runs (6.14 ypc) over its last five regular season games. As you haughtily declare 2022 “Kenneth Gainwell SZN!!!”, Miles and I will quietly note that neither he nor Boston Scott covered themselves in glory last year. Jalen Hurts’ breakthrough ability as a runner clearly limits Sanders’ advantage. There is no way around this. Still, there is an easy path to 170 ranges and 50 targets in an upward attack. Sanders is the archetypal post-hype sleeper. — Michael Beller
Irv Smith Jr., TE, MIN
Irv Smith Jr. is expected to pick up where he left off mentally and physically before a knee injury derailed his 2021 season. Almost every time he’s had a real opportunity on the court, he’s impressed, at the height of the (then) rookie hype. Unfortunately, those opportunities have been few and far between, leading to his depressed 2022 ADP, which knocks him out of 19th TE. The Vikings have been an above-average passing offense in 2021, despite lacking a reliable third receiver, and new head coach Kevin O’Connell should improve on those numbers. Smith’s ability to play that third receiver role – with smart running, good hands and speed – is beyond doubt, so assuming he stays healthy all summer, I’ll be happy to wait for Smith to fill that tricky slot. — Renee Miller
JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, KC
Can a sleeper have a rookie finish WR21, plus two other finishes of WR18 and WR9, on his resume? Well, that would seem no, but in fact, it’s a strong yes. People are more fascinated by a rookie and a receiver who has never gotten 700 yards or more than WR50 in his three years. Those receivers are Skyy Moore and Mecole Hardman, and the underrated receiver in Kansas City is former stud Smith-Schuster.
While concern over Smith-Schuster’s success as a team’s No. 1 seems warranted after some struggles, Travis Kelce is the real “one” in Kansas City. On top of that, the Chiefs adjusted the offense to a bigger, middle ground game plan, getting better results than pushing him multiple times to Tyreek Hill and not being able to rely on anyone after Kelce and Hill. Smith-Schuster is a better fit for the new offense, with Hardman replacing Hill, but used more as a blended deep threat (Marquez Valdes-Scantling as well), and Moore profiling as a great complement to JJSS and Kelce. No, I don’t expect Smith-Schuster to hit 25% or more of the target share, but he doesn’t need that volume to finish in the top 25 receivers, and he’s now an afterthought fantasy. . JJSS can easily hit 80+ receptions, 900+ yards and 7+ touchdowns on his way to that top 25 status. — Jake Ciely
Tim Patrick, WR, DEN
Everyone knows the Broncos got a huge upgrade with the Russell Wilson trade. Anyone who loves fantasy loves Courtland Sutton and Jerry Jeudy and the one thing they love the most is debating who will have the better season. And yet, I’d be zero percent surprised if Patrick scores more fantasy points than any of them – given that’s exactly what happened last year… and the year to come. before.
To get them, you must choose Sutton or Jeudy on the 5th round. Patrick… what do you think of the 13th round? I honestly feel like the “I feel like I’m popping crazy pills” gif right now. During the offseason, the Broncos rewarded Patrick with a three-year, $34.5 million contract. He was always a red zone threat (for the few times the Broncos were able to reach the red zone in the pre-Wilson era). He racked up more yards after the catch than Sutton and Jeudy. And don’t get me wrong, I’m not on Sutton and Jeudy, I just don’t know how we can all make the player have as much of a chance of succeeding – in the 13th round. To minimum, he is not “eight rounds later in the draft less likely to succeed.” — Brandon Marianne Lee
Tyler Allgeier, RB, ATL
Not only did the Falcons use one of their prized draft picks on Allgeier, a bruised return from BYU, but they also released Mike Davis after a forgettable season in 2021 — his first after arriving from the Panthers.
The Falcons have found a pearl in Cordarrelle Patterson, but they need receivers. Last year, Patterson caught 52 passes for 548 yards and five touchdowns – to me that means he can be fired to receiver, where help is badly needed in Atlanta with Calvin Ridley suspended and Russell Gage in Tampa Bay . This will leave Allgeier as main full-back behind Marcus Mariota (I understand there are Damien Williams fans out there, but hear me out). Bad offense or not, the Atlanta Falcons will score. When they go low, the big killer Allgeier will be a key cog in getting into the end zone. And you can have it with the last pick of your fantasy drafts. Sign me up. — Dominique Petrilloh
(Top photo by Chris Olave: Stephen Lew/USA Today)