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With Fantasy Football Drafts now in full swing, let’s look at some deep sleepers that you can target in the mid-to-late rounds in any scoring format.
QB DEEP SLEEPERS:
Mac Jones (NE) – As the 5th QB off the board in the 2021 NFL Draft, Mac Jones outshined his peers as a rookie, and is primed for a huge 2nd year leap in New England. Jones has displayed all the intangibles you’d want from a team leader, both on and off the field, and is inspiring confidence at all levels of the Patriots’ organization. There are criticisms about his supporting cast in New England, but Jones has shown the ability to elevate the talent around him, and has earned more autonomy to sling it downfield in his sophomore campaign. Being drafted as the QB24, Mac is a clear bargain in redraft leagues.
Jameis Winston (NO) – Winston suffered a torn ACL in Week 8 last season, but has progressed well in his recovery, and looks to be a full-go at this point in the summer. While Michael Thomas’ status continues to be murky, the additions of veteran Jarvis Landry and the rookie Chris Olave are a major boost to Winston’s fantasy stock. Alvin Kamara’s seemingly inevitable suspension is likely keeping Winson’s ADP lower than necessary as the QB22, but any positive news on the legal front would slingshot him up the QB ranks.
DEEP SLEEPER RBs:
Rhamondre Stevenson (NE) – Stevenson has continued to ascend up draft boards this summer for a variety of reasons. He’s dawn rave offseason reviews for his strength and conditioning, and looks to be the lead candidate to fill the vacancy of New England’s 3rd down role, with veteran James White still working back from a season-ending hip injury. With Damien Harris entering the final year of his rookie deal, Stevenson has massive long-term upside in dynasty leagues, but also has the talent to take on a prominent role in 2022. The Sooner specimen has all the physical traits of a bell-cow back, and with Mac Jones’ progression, he has immense fantasy potential moving forward.
Rashaad Penny (SEA) – Like Stevenson, Penny is another RB that may have already outplayed a “sleeper” tag. But given the hype surrounding rookie Kenneth Walker III, who was just selected as the 2nd RB off the board, Penny still maintains some sleeper appeal as owners fixate on the shiny new object in Seattle. Penny’s late-season production was unmatched by his peers, and he was the RB1 with 110 PPR points between Weeks 14-18. Yes, Russell Wilson has moved on and there are questions under center, but Penny should be a major volume play out of the gate in 2022, and is bound for significant touches early on.
Cordarrelle Patterson (ATL) – Patterson registered 153 carries last season, an exponentially heftier workload than his previous career-high of 64 carries. In 2020, Patterson shared the Falcons backfield with Mike Davis, who vacated 138 carries in signing with the Ravens this offseason. Outside of Patterson and Davis, no other Falcons were involved in the run game, and Atlanta elected not to invest any significant draft or free agent capital at the position. The Falcons offense should be on the upswing with an infusion of young talent in the QB and WR rooms, and Patterson projects to carry another heavy workload as a key contributor in Atlanta.
James Cook (BUF) – Dalvin’s brother enters the NFL in an ideal landing spot, with the opportunity to earn a prominent role in the high-flying offense of the Josh Allen-led Bills. Cook was a home-run threat every time he touched the ball at the collegiate level, and showcased his dual-threat abilities, both on the ground and in the passing game for the Georgia Bulldogs. With the inconsistent play of Buffalo’s incumbents Devin Singletary and Zach Moss, Cook is an exciting new addition that the Bills Mafia will be immediately clamoring for in 2022.
Rachaad White (TB) – Playoff Lenny allegedly tipped the scales at 260 pounds recently, much to the chagrin of Tampa’s front office, who just doled out 21-million on a 3-year extension to their bruising veteran. If Fournette’s weight and conditioning ever becomes a true problem for the Buccanners, 3rd-rounder Rachaad White stands to be the main beneficiary, especially with Ronald Jones departing for greener pastures. Any RB that gains Tom Brady’s confidence is bound to flourish, and White’s tantalizing ability in the passing game gives him a ton of upside.
Khalil Herbert (CHI) – David Montgomery has shouldered the load of 714 carries in his first 3 seasons, which is a hefty workload for any human body to withstand. Herbert is the clear handcuff for Montgomery in Chicago, and there’s much more optimism for the Bears on offense with the Matt Nagy circus leaving town. When Herbert averaged over 20 carries per game in Weeks 6-8, he was the PPR RB12 in that span. There’s optimism in the former Hokie that the Bears snagged in the 6th round of the 2021 Draft, and any injuries to Montgomery would re-open the door for a significant workload.
DEEP SLEEPER WRs:
Chris Olave (NO) – The Saints traded up to snag Olave at 11th overall, demonstrating their confidence in him emerging as the WR1 in New Orleans for years to come. Jameis Winston should be the Week 1 starter for the Saints, and his downfield connection with Olave should immediately produce some huge fantasy performances. The former Buckeye is an elite prospect with as much upside as anyone in this draft class, and all signs point to him being a cant-miss dynasty option for the Saints. He’s also a top-notch redraft value at a current ADP of WR52, and the addition of Jarvis Landry shouldn’t deter you from snatching him up.
Brandon Aiyuk (SF) – Aiyuk failed to make the Year 2 jump that many were expecting last season, as he essentially replicated his rookie numbers. With the uncertainty around Deebo Samuel’s holdout, and the injury-prone nature of George Kittle’s career, Aiyuk could become more heavily relied upon in 2022 by default. The much anticipated Trey Lance Era has now begun for the Niners, and offseason reports have raved about the chemistry between this duo. At a PPR ADP of WR39, Aiyuk has some scintillating upside as a sleeper value in the mid to late rounds.
Josh Palmer (LAC) – The former Tennessee Vol has flashed his ability to make contested catches early in his NFL career, and has established himself as a trusted target of Justin Herbert. Given Herbert’s elite ability to get the ball in the hands of his playmakers, there is a ton of untapped potential in this duo moving forward. Palmer has competition for the WR3 spot with veteran Jaylen Guyton, but both could eat if injury-risked Keenan Allen or Mike Williams miss time. Palmer is as physical as they come at the point of contact, and while he’s an excellent dynasty stash, he’s also a great late round redraft flier.
Christian Watson (GB) – What a dream scenario for Watson here as he should instantly become a favorite target of Aaron Rodgers for the WR-depleted Packers, and should eat into a bulk of the 169 targets vacated by Davante Adams from 2021. Watson is a big-bodied player with freak speed for his size who should become revered quickly by the Lambeau faithful. He has enough upside to leapfrog both Olave and London on this list, and I wouldn’t be shocked to see him finish as the top performing fantasy rookie in 2022. Watson has been placed on the PUP to start training camp, which is likely precautionary but something to monitor moving forward.
Russell Gage (TB) – The Buccaneers have shuffled up their RB, WR and TE positions a bit heading into 2022, as Ronald Jones, Antonio Brown and Rob Gronkowski have all departed. Tampa was quick to ink Russell Gage to a 3-year deal worth $20 million guaranteed, adding another reliable weapon to Tampa’s already impressive WR room. With Chris Godwin expected to be eased back in, Gage should step into an immediate role alongside Mike Evans, and on paper looks like PPR gold. The addition of Julio Jones is certainly a blow to his fantasy value, but injuries seem inevitable with this WR room and he’ll have plenty of opportunity to produce throughout the season.
K.J. Osborn (MIN) – With Kevin O’Connell replacing Mike Zimmer, there’s optimism of a Rams-type infusion of offense into the Vikings roster. O’Connell brings a spread offense mentality that greatly favors 3-wide sets, which puts Osborn in a perfect spot to blossom in Year 3. The Vikings offense should be an entirely different animal in 2022, and Osborn is in an ideal spot to benefit from the organizational change. At an ADP of WR76, he’s drawing fairly little interest and is an easy late round snag.
DEEP SLEEPER TEs:
Isaiah Likely (BAL) – The rookie from Coastal Carolina was nabbed by the Ravens in the 4th round, and his stock has skyrocketed this Preseason showcasing his dynamic skillset. Alongside Mark Andrews, Likely will be a matchup problem in 2 TE sets, which the Ravens are bound to employ early and often. His game has shades of Darren Waller with elite speed and length, and although his blocking is a work in progress, he’s primed for a pass-catching role out of the gate.
Hunter Henry (NE) – Despite scoring a career-high 9 receiving TDs, Henry’s production is still criticized with the ‘TD-dependent’ label. With the chemistry still evolving between Henry and Mac Jones, critics are quick to point out the potential for TD regression, but I envision the redzone success translating to other parts of the field in 2022. The Patriots’ sleeper wagon continues here as Henry is another player primed to outperform his TE13 ADP, with bonafide top 10 potential.
Zach Ertz (ARI) – DeAndre Hopkins will miss the first 6 weeks to a suspension for PEDs, opening the door for newcomer Hollywood Brown and overlooked veteran Zach Ertz. Kyler Murray was just granted the massive extension he was seeking, and will once again be peppering his tight end with targets in 2022. Ertz averaged over 10 targets per game during the last 4 weeks, and at age 31, he still has plenty left in the tank.
Gerald Everett (LAC) – Signing a 2-year $12 million deal with the Chargers, Everett is in a perfect spot for high-level production, despite currently being drafted as the TE23. With Justin Herbert’s meteoric rise to stardom, any piece of his offense becomes a massive value. Everett had long been projected for breakout seasons for the Rams, and now finds himself in a prime spot to post career highs across the board.