Fantasy: Super-deep sleepers for 2022 (Updated)
More in this series
- Breakouts to target (Updated)
- Busts to avoid (Updated)
- Sleepers to steal (Updated)
- Risky picks to gamble on (Updated)
- Super-deep sleepers (Updated)
- Players who will lead you to a title (Updated)
In an effort to shine a light on the unnoticed or outright ignored, we've built a list of players with average draft positions outside the top 200 who could become fantasy relevant if things fall their way this season.
Keep these players on your watch list and be ready to pounce when their opportunity arises.
Jacoby Brissett, QB, Browns
The search for a super-deep sleeper at quarterback forces you to look at backups who might have a path to a starting spot at some point in 2022.
The long-time backup might not be the most exciting choice, but the Browns' early-season schedule is quite favorable. Three of the first four matchups come against teams ranked in the bottom half of Football Outsiders' pass defense DVOA last year, including the Falcons and Jets, who finished 29th and 32nd, respectively.
Brissett's fantasy accolades are limited, but he's shown he can keep an offense productive over short stretches. He averaged the 17th-most fantasy points among quarterbacks in three starts for the Dolphins from Weeks 3-5 last season.
Cleveland will offer a much better situation than Miami did a year ago, with its quality offensive line, a diverse array of pass-catchers, and one of the league's strongest rushing attacks to lean on.
No one will expect Brissett to win them their fantasy league, but if you're digging deep for help at the position, he could provide temporary relief, especially in two-quarterback and Superflex formats.
Other super-deep sleeper QB candidates:
- Tyrod Taylor, Giants - Daniel Jones should benefit from the arrival of new offensive-minded head coach Brian Daboll and a healthy supporting cast. If he doesn't make strides toward becoming a reliable option, the Giants have a capable veteran backup in Taylor, who finished as a top-15 fantasy QB in three of his five starts for the Texans last year.
- John Wolford, Rams - Wolford's only full NFL appearance came in a Week 17 start in 2020 when he flashed intriguing rushing upside with six carries for 56 yards, but he's a name to keep in mind due to Matthew Stafford's elbow injury. While Stafford's Week 1 availability isn't in doubt, the issue could pop up again later in the year, forcing Wolford into action.
- Gardner Minshew, Eagles - With the Eagles' offense loaded at almost every position, we're expecting a massive year for Jalen Hurts. However, if the dual-threat quarterback gets injured, it'll be Minshew stepping into the starting role. In his two starts last season, Minshew completed 67% of his passes while throwing for 428 yards, four touchdowns, and one interception. And that was without a true No. 1 target like Philadelphia has now in A.J. Brown.
Chris Evans, RB, Bengals
Samaje Perine's hold on the No. 2 job in Cincinnati's backfield might not be as secure as it was last season.
The team has openly discussed limiting Joe Mixon's third-down usage - a decision that could favor Evans. Last year's explosive sixth-rounder saw at least one target in nine games as a rookie despite playing less than 15% of the snaps in all but two contests.
He only saw more than 50% of the Bengals' offensive plays in Week 18 when he rushed seven times for 35 yards and caught four passes for 24 yards and a touchdown. The 24-year-old finished as the RB15 in fantasy on the week and might have given us a glimpse of the future.
The front office wisely invested in offensive line upgrades this offseason, rebuilding the entire right side with the additions of tackle La'el Collins, guard Alex Cappa, and center Ted Karras. That'll help keep Joe Burrow upright while also giving a boost to the ground game.
If Evans can beat out Perine, he might be a Mixon injury away from becoming a difference-making fantasy starter in an offense that could be even more dangerous in 2022.
Other super-deep sleeper RB candidates:
- Dontrell Hilliard, Titans - The interest in rookies Hassan Haskins and Julius Chestnut is understandable since they profile as more physical backs behind Derrick Henry. However, Hilliard could get the first crack at backup duties after he totaled at least 55 yards from scrimmage and/or a touchdown in five of his seven appearances with the Titans last year.
- Jaylen Warren, Steelers - Warren has moved up Pittsburgh's wide-open depth chart during training camp and sits behind starter Najee Harris. With Benny Snell and Anthony McFarland Jr. failing to secure the No. 2 job over the last two seasons, the undrafted free agent could be the next man up if Harris gets injured.
- Ameer Abdullah, Raiders - All signs point to Abdullah playing the "James White role" in Josh McDaniels' system in Las Vegas. After racking up 30 yards from scrimmage and a score on four touches in the preseason opener, the Raiders held Abdullah out of their second exhibition game - likely foreshadowing his spot in the offense is secure. His fantasy value will mostly come in half and full PPR formats.
Byron Pringle, WR, Bears
The Bears didn't make any big-ticket moves to bolster their skill positions around sophomore quarterback Justin Fields, but they did acquire several under-the-radar players who could turn into significant contributors.
Returning stars Darnell Mooney, David Montgomery, and Cole Kmet will handle the bulk of the touches in Chicago's attack, with new wideouts like Pringle, Equanimeous St. Brown, Tajae Sharpe, N'Keal Harry, and rookie Velus Jones vying for targets behind them.
Pringle should have a distinct advantage in that competition, coming off a career-best 42-568-5 line with the Chiefs last season. The 28-year-old had at least 50 yards and/or a touchdown in 47% of Kansas City's games and also found the end zone five times over his last five contests, including the playoffs.
The only problem: He's been missing practice with a quad injury. Fortunately for him, none of the other depth receivers have stepped up in his absence.
Even in what's projected to be a lower-volume passing attack, a healthy Pringle should return value as a late-round pick or early-season waiver wire add.
Other super-deep sleeper WR candidates:
- Danny Gray, 49ers - The third-round rookie is doing his best to take over the WR3 role in San Francisco's offense. His field-stretching speed would be a welcome presence in a system already loaded with dangerous pass-catchers. We got a glimpse of his potential when he caught two balls for 99 yards in his preseason debut, including a 76-yard touchdown from quarterback Trey Lance.
- Noah Brown, Cowboys - At this rate, Brown might be a starter by default in a Dallas offense that'll miss Michael Gallup (ACL) and James Washington (foot) early in the season. Dak Prescott will need someone to throw to besides CeeDee Lamb and Dalton Schultz, and Brown hauled in six passes for 53 yards in his lone game with more than four targets last season.
- James Proche, Ravens - Proche has been on the sidelines since the Ravens' first preseason game with a soft-tissue injury. Before that, he was running as Baltimore's No. 2 receiver - ahead of Devin Duvernay and Tylan Wallace. Each brings a unique skill set, but Proche was who stood out in practice, according to several beat writers. If he's healthy, he's worth a dart throw in an offense that needs more playmakers in the passing attack.
Tyler Conklin, TE, Jets
The Jets gave out not one, but two notable contracts to tight ends in free agency. C.J. Uzomah received a three-year, $24-million deal before Conklin got a three-year, $21-million pact two days later.
While Uzomah was the more well-known name thanks to his Super Bowl run with the Bengals last season, the similar dollar amounts left some uncertainty as to who would be the better fantasy asset.
As it turns out, Conklin has been the one separating himself from the pack, according to The Athletic's Connor Hughes, who specifically mentions Conklin's presence in the red zone and suggests he might be the Week 1 starter over Uzomah.
Several guys are hoping to see targets in the Jets' offense, including sophomore breakout candidate Elijah Moore, first-round rookie wideout Garrett Wilson, and veteran Corey Davis. But the team is also anticipating a second-year leap from quarterback Zach Wilson. If that happens and Conklin earns the top spot on the tight end depth chart, he'll be worth considering as a late-round option.
With Irv Smith Jr. sidelined in Conklin's final year with the Vikings, Conklin quietly posted the 10th-most receptions (61) and the 13th-most yards (593) among all tight ends.
Other super-deep sleeper TE candidates:
- Foster Moreau, Raiders - Moreau has been stuck playing second fiddle behind Darren Waller, but he got an opportunity to spread his wings this season with Waller sidelined for part of the year. Moreau reached 50 yards or scored a TD six times, including three of his last four outings. The arrival of new head coach Josh McDaniels has also brought talk of two-tight end sets, which could help Moreau become a more frequent contributor.
- Harrison Bryant, Browns - Austin Hooper's departure opens the door for Bryant to see more work in two-tight end sets. Though David Njoku just signed a new deal that locks him in as the Browns' starter for the foreseeable future, Bryant is one injury away from a sizeable role in an offense that likes to use tight ends.
- Isaiah Likely, Ravens - Likely turned training camp buzz into real-game results when he caught four passes for 44 yards in his preseason debut. The fourth-round rookie would be the most likely candidate to step up in the event of a Mark Andrews injury, but the Ravens could also use Likely more if they struggle to find playmakers in the receiving corps behind Rashod Bateman.
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