Looking ahead to the 2022 season, who are your sleeper picks for fantasy football? This is an attempt at a list of sleepers in order from players most likely to break out this year down to those with long-term potential.
The “nfl fantasy sleepers 2022” is a list of players that are expected to be great in the upcoming seasons. These players have been predicted by NFL Nation experts, and are not yet on your radar.
The first fantasy football rankings have been released, and we here at ESPN Fantasy are looking forward to the 2022 season.
You know what else excites us? Our fantastic NFL Nation crew contributing year-round to our fantasy coverage. We asked our writers to submit one fantasy sleeper from each club, whether it’s an under-the-radar player who may surprise, someone poised to make a significant leap forward, or a deep-league dart toss for teams with few sleeper choices.
TE, Arizona Cardinals With DeAndre Hopkins slated to miss the first six weeks, Zach Ertz may be the best player on the team. Don’t be shocked if Kyler Murray’s favorite target becomes Ertz early and frequently. Don’t be shocked if Ertz catches passes off the line, in the slot, or on the boundary as the Cardinals’ iso receiver. He has the necessary skill set to accomplish it all and will be the ideal compliment to Murray during Hopkins’ suspension and beyond. With an entire offseason in Arizona’s offense, Ertz will head into the season with a better understanding of his role in the offense, which is likely to help him break the tight end franchise record of 56 catches (and which he tied in just 11 games last season). Weinfuss, Josh
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RB Atlanta Falcons Tyler Allgeier (Tyler): I’m not sure I’d label him a “favorite,” but the Falcons’ other alternatives are quite evident. Kyle Pitts is already one of the game’s best tight ends, and rookie receiver Drake London should be the team’s top target. However, Atlanta’s running back space is wide open, particularly for early-down runs. Last Monday’s Falcons cut of Mike Davis provided even more chance for Allgeier, who can absorb hit effectively and had 50 broken tackles last season, to emerge as a surprise first-year running back with potential. Falcons head coach Arthur Smith wants to run the ball, and Allgeier might see some action with Cordarrelle Patterson and Damien Williams in the first year after Matt Ryan’s departure. Rothstein, Michael
Devin Duvernay of the Baltimore Ravens is a well-known tight end. Baltimore’s passing offense is led by Mark Andrews and wide receiver Rashod Bateman. But who will take over for Marquise “Hollywood” Brown, who was just traded? Last season’s Pro Bowl returner, Duvernay, should be given an opportunity to shine. Coach John Harbaugh was overjoyed when the Ravens chose Duvernay in the third round of the 2020 draft, and he threw an exuberant fist pump. Duvernay should have a good working relationship with Lamar Jackson. Duvernay caught 70% of the passes thrown his way by Jackson last season (21-of-30), the greatest percentage among Ravens with double-digit targets. Hensley, Jamison
RB Buffalo Bills Cook, James: To be honest, wide receiver Gabriel Davis might be the key to taking a step forward here, but following his four-touchdown performance in the Chiefs’ playoff defeat in January, Davis seems less equipped as a sleeper. Instead, one of the Bills’ newest acquisitions is chosen. Cook has the ability to play a significant role in the offense as a rookie, particularly as the Bills attempt to improve their yards after catch. Cook will contribute as a receiver and rusher to the offense, and although he’ll be sharing the backfield with Devin Singletary and Zack Moss, he has the ability to put up substantial fantasy points with Buffalo’s typical suspects. Getzenberg, Alaina
Terrace Marshall Jr., WR with the Carolina Panthers: Because he was coming off a foot ailment as a rookie, the Panthers took it gently with the former LSU standout. Late last season, he was placed on injured reserve due to a foot issue, but he looks to be on the mend. In new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo’s run-oriented approach, don’t anticipate a major rise from his 17 receptions for 138 yards as a rookie, but expect him to play a greater role and maybe become more of a red-zone danger. In the second round, the Panthers still think they landed a first-round talent. Newton, David
RB Chicago Bears David Montgomery: Establishing a solid run game around second-year quarterback Justin Fields is one way the Bears can help him. Montgomery should have a significant role as a three-down back in Chicago, and his workload should not vary as it has in the past. With the addition of a fullback to Chicago’s system and a change-of-pace back in rookie Trestan Ebner, Montgomery will have more assistance in the backfield. He’s also approaching the end of his contract year. All of these factors should favor the 24-year-old in fantasy football. Cronin, Courtney
TE, Cincinnati Bengals Hurst, Hayden: Hurst should have plenty of chances to show he can be a reliable starting tight end. He becomes the Bengals’ primary pass-catching option right away after signing a one-year contract with the club this summer. Despite having a receiving corps that includes Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins, Hurst might see more targets if Cincinnati’s passing volume rises as the offensive line improves. In the playoffs, C.J. Uzomah, last year’s best tight end who joined with the New York Jets in free agency, saw his target share rise. Hurst won’t have to share targets with other tight ends, and he might help the Bengals improve their red-zone performance in 2022. — Baby Ben
TE, Cleveland Browns David Njoku: The Browns are rebuilding their offense around quarterback Deshaun Watson, and Njoku might be a big beneficiary. The Browns will be using less heavy TE sets, allowing Njoku to operate in more open space. Furthermore, he is projected to be Cleveland’s second-best passing option after Amari Cooper. Despite his inconsistent performance in the past, the Browns have put the franchise tag on Njoku in the hopes of reaching a long-term agreement in time. Njoku might have a strong season as a result of all of this. Jake Trotter’s quote
Michael Gallup, Dallas Cowboys WR: Gallup is in his sixth season, so he isn’t a sleeper in the conventional sense, but his performance last year plus the fact that he is coming from a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament put him in this mix. He’ll probably miss a few games to begin the season as he works his way back, but the Cowboys certainly want him to be a force after signing him to a five-year, $62.5 million deal. Last year, injuries restricted him to 35 receptions, 445 yards, and two scores, but now that Amari Cooper is gone, the Cowboys will make sure he gets plenty of chances. If Gallup isn’t the sleeper, James Washington, a free agent, would be a nice No. 2 choice. Todd Archer, author
Jerry Jeudy of the Denver Broncos: This time, the Broncos are serious. His coaches and teammates praised his route-running accuracy and explosiveness when he was the team’s first-round choice in 2020. Then, as a rookie, he struggled, converting just 58 of his 113 targets into 58 catches and three touchdowns, despite the Broncos’ persistent offensive woes. Last summer, his coaches and teammates swooned over his work in training camp, but then he suffered an ankle injury in the season opener that kept him out of the next six games and he caught four or fewer passes in six of the nine games he played the rest of the way, and finished without a touchdown catch. Now that Russell Wilson has taken over as his quarterback, Wilson has made it plain that he has plans for Jeudy in the offense. Jeudy’s ability to establish separation at the top of his routes has never been in doubt, and a quarterback who can consistently bring him the ball on time should help him enhance his productivity significantly. Legwold, Jeff
Amon-Ra St. Brown of the Detroit Lions: Based on how he concluded his rookie season with the 3-13-1 Lions, it’s difficult to label St. Brown a sleeper for fantasy football aficionados. He didn’t score his first touchdown until Week 12 of the 2021 season as a rookie, but he ended the year on a pace that set records. He established Lions rookie records for receiving yards (912) and catches (90), as well as a stretch of six consecutive games with eight or more receptions, which was also a club record. With a year of experience under his belt and familiarity with quarterback Jared Goff, St. Brown might have a breakout season in Year 2. Don’t be shocked. Eric Woodyard (Eric Woodyard)
TE with the Green Bay Packers Tyler Davis: Despite the Packers’ utter disregard for this position in free agency and the draft, you’re probably wondering who Tyler Davis is. He was a sixth-round selection of the Jaguars in 2021, but he didn’t catch a ball in his first eight games. He was signed off the Colts practice squad by the Packers in late September of last year. With a 22-yard grab on a seam pass against the Ravens late in the season, he showed some down-field promise despite only having four catches for 35 yards. Davis could get some early season chances with Robert Tonyan coming off an ACL rupture and Marcedes Lewis getting up there in age. “I believe we could have something there,” GM Brian Gutekunst recently remarked of Davis. Demovsky, Rob
RB Houston Texans Dameon Pierce: The former Gators running back was a fourth-round pick for Houston, but he should have good value in a weak Texans backfield. Houston signed Marlon Mack this offseason and re-signed Rex Burkhead before the end of the 2021 season, but there should be plenty of opportunities for the 22-year old to earn carries. Although Pierce is expected to open the season as a backup, it wouldn’t be remarkable if he ended up as Houston’s starting running back. Last season, the Texans rushed for an NFL-low 3.4 yards per carry and scored eight running touchdowns (tied for worst). Last season, Pierce has 16 rushing touchdowns. Sarah Barshop, author
Indianapolis Colts running back Nyheim Hines: With Carson Wentz as the Colts’ regular quarterback, Hines had a “poor year” on the ground and in the receiving game in 2021. Last season, Hines set a career low with 40 catches and 310 yards receiving. With Matt Ryan, things should be different. Hines, the No. 2 running back behind Jonathan Taylor, will have a greater role in the passing game, according to coach Frank Reich and offensive coordinator Marcus Brady. Throughout Ryan’s career, running backs have played an important role in the passing game. Last season with the Falcons, Ryan completed 110 passes to running backs out of 375 attempts. Hines, a former North Carolina State receiver, will likely be moved out of the backfield and lined up out wide at times next season. — Wells, Mike
Jacksonville Jaguars running back Travis Jr. Etienne: Etienne is anticipated to be fully recovered by the start of training camp after missing his debut season due to a Lisfranc injury sustained during the preseason. With the free agency additions of wide receivers Christian Kirk and Zay Jones, as well as tight end Evan Engram, Etienne’s return provides something that has been lacking from Jacksonville’s offense: speed. He can score from any position on the field. In the last two seasons, the Jaguars have only had 31 rushes of 20 yards or more and 31 catches of 30 yards or more, the lowest total in the league. In his four years at Clemson, Etienne had 61 of such plays. Plus, while James Robinson recovers from a ruptured Achilles he sustained in December, he should be the Jaguars’ primary back at the start of the season. Mike DiRocco says
RB for the Kansas City Chiefs Edwards-Helaire, Clyde: He was once a great fantasy prospect, but after two seasons of injuries and below-average output, many people have given up on him. Edwards-Helaire may never reach the fantasy greatness that was projected for him, but he’s worth watching as the Chiefs’ receiving group changes, including the trade of Tyreek Hill. With Patrick Mahomes at quarterback and Andy Reid in charge of the offense, the Chiefs will always be a pass-first club. However, as Mahomes’ numerous new receivers break in, they may prefer the running game early in the season. As a receiver, Edwards-Helaire has the most untapped potential. It’s this season, after the Chiefs traded Mahomes’ favorite wide out and lost two other top wideouts to free agency, that he’ll break out in that area. Edwards-Helaire will share time with Ronald Jones II, but the Chiefs are still optimistic about his potential. Teicher, Adam
RB, Las Vegas Raiders Zamir White: You claim you’re a sleeper? How about a player who had never been associated to the Raiders before to the draft? Brandon Bolden is a player who plays a position that already has a Pro Bowler in Josh Jacobs, a versatile veteran returning from a fractured right ankle in Kenyan Drake, and a person who is familiar with new coach Josh McDaniels’ scheme. White, the fourth-round selection, is that player. Let’s connect the rookie White to some fantasy performance based on his hard-charging rushing style. Both knees have been rehabilitated, and he runs hard between the tackles. Gutierrez, Paul
TE with the Los Angeles Chargers Donald Jr. Parham: In 2021, Parham missed the last three games of the regular season after suffering a concussion while attempting a diving catch, which required him to be carried off the field on a stretcher. However, in Joe Lombardi’s second season as the Chargers’ play-caller (he spent the five seasons before to being hired by the Chargers in 2021 as the New Orleans Saints’ quarterbacks coach), the tight ends’ involvement should continue to rise, at least in the red zone. Mike Williams signed a three-year, $60 million deal to stay with the team so he and Keenan Allen will continue to get the bulk of the targets overall, but Parham, with another year of his own development to go with some additional work in the offense, should carve out a scoring niche, as 20% of his career receptions have gone for scores. With teams increasingly using nickel defenses as their “base” to play with a variety of zone coverages in the red zone, Parham’s 6-foot-8 size may be a match-up the Chargers can routinely win down in close. Thiry, Lindsey
Allen Robinson II of the Los Angeles Rams: Sleepers aren’t normally associated with well-known players, but following his least productive season since 2017, it’s easy to ignore Robinson (when he played in only one game). After signing with the Rams in free agency, he seemed to be on the mend. The main reason is that Matthew Stafford is considerably superior to any of the young or inexperienced quarterbacks from whom he has received passes in his first eight seasons. Robinson is the overwhelming frontrunner to be the Rams’ No. 2 passing option behind Cooper Kupp, with Odell Beckham Jr. still unsigned and coming off ACL surgery. And, as Beckham demonstrated after arriving halfway through last season, the WR2 in Sean McVay’s scheme has plenty of fantasy value. Henderson, Brady
RB Miami Dolphins Chase Edmonds: One of the first major stars to sign during the 2022 free agency cycle, Edmonds’ potential seemed to be lowered when the club later in the week added Raheem Mostert. But, given Mostert’s recovery and what head coach (and offensive play caller) Mike McDaniel wants to accomplish with his running backs, it’s not out of the question that Edmonds has a breakout season in his fifth NFL season. Edmonds has 96 receptions in the last two years, which ranks him seventh among NFL running backs. Edmonds has a chance to flourish in Miami, especially if Mostert takes his time returning from a chipped cartilage in his knee sustained last season. Louis-Jacques Marcel
Vikings of Minnesota FB Ham, C.J. : I understand. Although considering a fullback with three career touchdowns in five seasons a sleeper may not seem appealing, the Vikings’ best offensive options are well-known. So, what’s with Ham? The number of times his name has come up in meetings with the Vikings’ new coaching staff has been significant. Ham allows them to run 22 personnel more regularly, which is a focus for new coach Kevin O’Connell. Defenses are unlikely to emphasize the fullback with all of the Vikings’ other weapons on the field. Ham isn’t nearly the playmaker that 49ers fullback Kyle Juszczyk is, but he’ll receive more attention than you would expect in the early phases of this attack. In the deepest of leagues, Ham qualifies as a sleeper. Kevin Seifert (Kevin Seifert)
RB with the New England Patriots Stevenson, Rhamondre: Because of the Patriots’ desire for a rotation, investing in running backs has always been a “buyer beware” issue. While the Patriots are set up for a rotation once again (Damien Harris, Stevenson, James White (if fit), and 2022 draft selections Pierre Strong Jr. and Kevin Harris), the consensus is that Stevenson has a chance to challenge Harris for the RB1 slot following a strong finish in 2021. He’s in his second season, which is often when a player makes the most progress. — Reiss, Mike
WR with the New Orleans Saints Olave, Chris: Expectations for any rookie receiver should obviously be kept in check. However, it doesn’t get much better than this. In a New Orleans team desperate for another playmaking pass catcher, Olave should play a large role as a No. 2 receiver opposite Michael Thomas. The Saints believed Olave was the most well-rounded receiver and route runner in this year’s class, which is why they were willing to trade up to grab him. He’s also quick enough to be a downfield target for Jameis Winston. Mike Clay’s prediction of 62 receptions, 903 yards, and nine touchdowns is plausible. Triplett, Mike
Kadarius Toney, New York Giants wide receiver: This is a gamble on skill. Sure, there’s an injury risk here, and there’s been a lot of talk about Toney getting moved and his work ethic this summer. However, the second-year receiver is back with the Giants and, with his speed, shiftiness, and contact balance, he has the potential to be a monster under new coach Brian Daboll’s spread scheme if everything comes together. It seems to be ideal for his abilities. With a little injury luck, those six quarters against New Orleans and Dallas might lead to greater and better things. Jordan Raanan, author
Elijah Moore, New York Jets wide receiver: His rookie season was cut short due to a leg injury, but he showed promise from Week 8 to Week 13. Moore matched for the league lead in touchdown catches during that time (five). He was also tied for seventh in receptions and sixth in yards (459). (34). Moore might emerge as the Jets’ top wide receiver if he can remain healthy (he missed the preseason due to a leg ailment). Garrett Wilson, a first-round selection, should have no impact on him. If anybody will be affected, it will be Corey Davis. Moore is regarded by the Jets as an offensive cornerstone. Cimini, Rich
TE, Philadelphia Eagles Dallas Goedert: This season, he has the statistical potential to be a top-three tight end. Goedert has spent the most of his career splitting time with Zach Ertz, but when Ertz was traded to the Arizona Cardinals in October, he became the undisputed TE1. He had a number of big games down the stretch, including back-to-back weeks in December versus the New York Jets (6 receptions, 105 yards, 2 touchdowns) and the Washington Commanders (7 catches, 135 yards). In his second season as the full-time starter, quarterback Jalen Hurts will have a stronger understanding of the offense. Defenses will find it tough to focus on Goedert over the middle with the arrival of receiver A.J. Brown. He’ll be eating this year. McManus, Tim
Pittsburgh Steelers WR Calvin Austin III: It’s hard to put much stock in a fourth-round rookie receiver, but Austin makes a compelling case as an under-the-radar fantasy target — especially considering most Steelers fantasy prospects are pretty obvious. Though his small stature makes him a top candidate to fill the vacant slot position, his sub 4.4 speed makes him a versatile threat in Matt Canada’s offense. Canada loves to use jet sweep motions, and that just so happens to be an Austin specialty. In four seasons at Memphis, Austin had eight rushes and three went into the end zone, including touchdown runs of 69 and 83 yards, per ESPN Stats & Info. With a new quarterback and a revamped offensive line, it’s hard to say exactly what the Steelers offense will look like this season, but Austin’s strengths appear to be a good fit for Canada’s scheme, making him a solid late-round addition or a waiver-wire candidate. — Brooke Pryor
Brandon Aiyuk, San Francisco 49ers WR: After a solid start to training camp in 2021, Aiyuk seemed to be on the verge of breaking out last year. However, Aiyuk struggled to secure his position in the first half of the season due to an injury and some consistency concerns. From Week 9 on, Aiyuk was one of the most prolific wideouts in the league, with 685 receiving yards (seventh in the NFL). Aiyuk spent the summer in Southern California working out with quarterback Trey Lance, which could help the two develop chemistry as Lance prepares to take over the starting job. Wagoner, Nick
RB Seattle Seahawks Ken III Walker: Walker is an interesting fantasy sleeper for the exact reason the Seahawks selected him with the 41st overall pick: he may be required to play right away. They don’t know when Chris Carson will return from neck surgery, and despite being the NFL’s most productive running back during the last five games of last season, Rashaad Penny has missed 30 of 69 career games (including playoffs) due to injuries. DeeJay Dallas and Travis Homer, who Seattle prefers in change-of-pace duties, would presumably be in line for early-down work ahead of Walker. With Russell Wilson out of the picture, the Seahawks’ offense will most likely rely as heavily as it has in any season under Pete Carroll. Henderson, Brady
Russell Gage of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was catapulted into the No. 1 position with the Atlanta Falcons last season after Calvin Ridley’s sudden departure. In Tampa, he’ll have Mike Evans to help him shed some pounds, and then Chris Godwin after he completely recovers from a broken ACL. So you’re looking at a No. 2/3 receiver, and even if he does go into the No. 3 position, given Tom Brady’s great reliance on Antonio Brown in that role over the previous two years (8.2 targets per game in 15 games), Gage is one to watch. He can line up wherever on the field, and his flexibility (301 routes in the slot and 191 routes outside in the previous two years) is crucial. Jenna Laine says
TE, Tennessee Titans Austin Hooper: After the Titans traded A.J. Brown to the Eagles, signing Hooper to a free agency contract became even more important. There will be plenty of targets to go around, and Hooper climbs the depth chart in terms of chances. Hooper is a large target for Ryan Tannehill at 6-foot-4, 254 pounds, which should lead to lots of chances, particularly in the center of the field. The Titans’ play-action passing offense is similar to Hooper’s with the Falcons, where he had back-to-back 70-reception seasons and was named to the Pro Bowl in 2018. Davenport, Turron
Curtis, Washington Commanders Samuel: Washington signed Samuel with the hopes of giving the offensive a huge boost in 2021, but injuries to his groin and hamstring restricted him to only five games and six receptions for 27 yards. He never looked like himself as a result of it. The coaches, on the other hand, adore Samuel and are thrilled to see what he can bring to the offense. He needs to remain healthy, which is reasonable for a fan base that has been burnt before. The Commanders like his flexibility since he can play up wide or out of the backfield. Samuel’s deep ball skills, which will be bolstered by strong-armed quarterback Carson Wentz, is admired by offensive coordinator Scott Turner, who considers him one of the brightest athletes he’s ever taught. People are aware of receiver Terry McLaurin’s and running back Antonio Gibson’s abilities. But Samuel is Washington’s wild card; if healthy, he’ll be a major contributor. — Keim, John
The “nfl draft 2022 location” is a fantasy football sleepers list for the upcoming NFL Draft.
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