Fantasy Football Sleepers and Busts for the 2022 Season
There is just one week left in August. Kickoff for the 2022 NFL season is fast approaching. Set to open up at Sofi Stadium, the defending Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams will play host to the Buffalo Bills. With fantasy football drafts taking place all over the nation, managers will be focused on filling out their teams with the hopes of capturing their league title. One key for owners to gain an edge on their opponents will be identifying players who offer tremendous upside along with a discount in relation to their average draft position (ADP). Furthermore, they will also be looking to avoid over picking mid-tier guys to help prevent potential bust candidates. Here to help you on draft day, here are four possibilities to target and four to avoid.
Travis Etienne Jr.
Selected 25th overall by the Jacksonville Jaguars a year ago, Etienne shinned during his final year at Clemson. The Louisiana native racked up over 900 yards on the ground while adding 14 touchdowns. Along with this, he also amassed 588 through the air on 48 catches. Forced to miss the entire 2021 season after suffering a foot injury, the 23-year-old is expected to open up the year as the lead back for the franchise, with James Robinson continuing to work his way back from an Achilles injury. Expect him to get touches in the backfield and out wide as a receiver under new head coach Doug Pederson. Currently sitting at RB19 in PPR leagues according to Fantasy Pros, Etienne offers top 15 upside.
Continuing to fly under the radar year in and year out, Cousins has finished as QB11 in each of the last two seasons. Shining in Klint Kubiak's primarily run-first offense in 2021, the 34-year-old quarterback completed 66.3 percent of his passes for 4,221 yards and 33 touchdowns. He also averaged over 11 yards per completion while tossing just seven interceptions. Now under the guidance of formers Rams offensive coordinator Kevin O Connell, look for the Minnesota Viking's passing game to open up. Along with this, the Michigan State product still has one of the best cast of weapons around the league at his disposal in star wideout Justin Jefferson, Adam Thielen, and running back Dalvin Cook. Currently going off the board as QB15 in ESPN and Yahoo leagues, target the veteran signal-caller.
Failing to build off his strong rookie campaign during the first half of last season, Aiyuk was a major fantasy bust for players who choose to invest in him. The former 22nd overall pick suffered a hamstring injury in training camp, putting him behind the eight ball in the San Francisco 49ers offense. Eclipsing 10 fantasy points just once over weeks 1-7, the Arizona State product averaged just 1.9 receptions per game. However, the California native was able to turn his season around during the second half. Eclipsing 80 yards receiving in five of his last ten games, he averaged 13.1 fantasy points per contest in PPR leagues, making him WR24. Set to undergo a shift on offense with Trey Lance now at the controls, if Aiyuk can form a connection with his second-year quarterback, his ADP of WR38 could be a major steal.
Kmet showed glimpses of becoming the player the Chicago Bears thought they were getting when they took him with the 43rd overall pick in 2020. Developing a rapport with Justin Fields, the Notre Dame product was targeted 93 times. This led him to haul in 60 receptions for 612 yards while averaging over 10 yards per catch. With Allen Robinson no longer in the picture, the door is open for the third-year man to become the number two option in new offensive coordinator Luke Getsy's offense behind star receiver Darnell Mooney. Furthermore, after catching zero touchdowns a season ago, with Jimmy Graham no longer in the picture, look for the Illinois native to earn more red zone looks. Presently being drafted just outside the top 12 for his position, Kmet offers high-end upside for those players who choose to wait at the tight end spot.
Once again spectacular for the Green Bay Packers last season, Rodgers captured his second straight MVP award. The 38-year-old quarterback completed 68.9 percent of his passes while throwing for 4,115 yards. Along with this, he tossed 37 touchdown passes to just seven interceptions. Paying dividends to those players who choose to draft the 10-time pro bowler, he finished as QB6 over a 16-game pace after he was held out of one contest due to a positive COVID-19 test. Set to be without his star wide receiver, Davante Adams, for the first time in eight seasons in 2022, the franchise traded the two-time First Team All-Pro member to the Las Vegas Raiders. With a new group of pass catchers surrounding the 17-year veteran, expect a slight regression.
Operating as the swiss army knife for head coach Arthur Smith, Patterson put together the best season of his nine-year NFL career in 2021. Finishing as RB9 in PPR leagues, the former first-round pick recorded a career-high 618 yards on the ground while adding seven scores. Furthermore, he caught 52 passes for 548 yards and five touchdowns. Choosing to move on from longtime quarterback Matt Ryan in the offseason, the Atlanta Falcons shipped him to the Indianapolis Colts. With Marcus Mariota named the new starting quarterback, the franchise will also have a new pair of wideouts in Bryan Edwards and rookie Drake London. Paired with the emergence of second-year tight end Kyle Pitts and Patterson's target share from a year ago could see a significant decrease.
Opting to move on from Cooper in a salary cap dump in the offseason, the Dallas Cowboys traded the 28-year-old receiver to the Cleveland Browns. Coming off one of the worst seasons of his seven-year NFL career in 2021, the former first-round pick caught just 68 passes for 865 yards and eight touchdowns while averaging a disappointing 8.3 yards per target. This led him to finish as WR27, with an average of 13.5 fantasy points per game, his lowest total in over four seasons. Now entering Kevin Stefanki's run-heavy system with the Browns, the four-time pro bowler will also not have the benefit of catching passes from Deshaun Watson until week 12 as the star quarterback serves his 11-game suspension. With an ADP of 64, the Miami, Florida native is going off as WR24 in PPR formats. He should be viewed as nothing more than a WR3/WR4 option for your team.
Breaking out in his third season in the NFL a year ago, Knox established himself as a go-to guy for star quarterback Josh Allen. This led the Ole Miss alumn to haul in a career-high 49 passes for 587 yards. He finished as TE11 in PPR leagues, with 10.9 fantasy points average per game. Primarily due to his high touchdown total, the former third-round pick found the end zone on 18 percent of his receptions. Additionally, Knox commanded just an 11.4 percent target share, the 23rd highest in the NFL at his position. Representing a significant risk for those managers who target him in drafts, pass on him at his current ADP of 102.