by Michael Nazarek (UPDATED - 8/25/2022)
Editor's Note: Below you will find a portion of our Fantasy Football Sleepers for 2022. If you'd like to read about all 43 sleepers, please click HERE to order our 2022 Pre-Season Draft Guide.
Everyone knows about Josh Allen, Jonathan Taylor, and Cooper Kupp. The top 50 players taken in most fantasy drafts will likely be the same group of players. What separates the men from the boys is knowing who will produce when they are not expected to produce. To this end, I will supply you with sleeper lists of players at each of the key fantasy positions. Consider each and weigh them against your league competition. I will list sleepers in three distinct categoriesâ€¦ obvious, darkhorses, and long-shots. I have also offered my "deep sleeper" at each position. Note: The official projected statistics for these players were not posted, as they may change with each guide update.
The following DEEP SLEEPER was posted on these pages two summers ago. It just goes to show you that sometimes these players pan out in a HUGE wayâ€¦
Justin Herbert Â® (Los Angeles Chargers) - Hebert was drafted to be the QB of the future for the Chargers, now that QB Philip Rivers has moved on. That said, he may be the QB of the present if QB Tyrod Taylor struggles as the bridge-starter. Hey! It happened in Cleveland, when Taylor struggled and was replaced early in the season with rookie QB Baker Mayfield. That said, questions surround Herbert. Can he be a solid NFL starter? Can he consistently produce? It's too early to answer those questions, but that is normally the case for our Deep Sleeper for fantasy at the QB position every summer, and Herbert fits that mold well.
Yeah, Iâ€™d say he has talent. After he took over in Week #2 of 2020, he finished the season as a top 5 fantasy QB and has only gotten better! On to this yearâ€™s listsâ€¦
Note: The ADP mentioned below for all players applies to 12-team leagues.
RED - Positive Update
PINK - Neutral Update
BLUE - Negative Update
Derek Carr (Lac Vegas) - Carr is an obvious top 10 fantasy QB for 2022, but some still do not want to draft him as their starter. Why? I'm not sure, but with WR Davante Adams, WR Hunter Renfrow, and TE Darren Waller at his disposal in 2022, Carr has top 5 potential. Yet, Carr is sliding into the middle rounds of most fantasy drafts this summer. Go figure. ADP: Round 10-11. Update 8/25: Carr has been sharp in practice and is looking primed for a top 10 QB season in 2022, as he sticks on this list!
Jalen Hurts (Philadelphia) - Hurts was the hot pick this summer, and while his production held up for much of the season, he started to struggle down the stretch. To that end, the Eagles acquired WR A.J. Brown to boost the weapons around him. Add in WR Devonta Smith and TE Dallas Goedert, and Hurts has the threats around him to produce better moving forward. ADP: Round 6-8. Update 8/25: Hurts has done nothing to make me pull him from this list, but he's had ups and down in camp. Still, he remains an obvious sleeper for fantasy, but one of the more expensive ones.
Tua Tagovailoa (Miami) - Most fantasy owners doubt that Tua can be a quality starting NFL caliber QB after another very inconsistent year last season. I am still not one of them. That said, the 2022 season is likely his final chance to earn that job for the long-term in Miami. The Dolphins added WR Tyreek Hill to the mix with WR Jaylen Waddle and TE Mike Gesicki, so there is no more excuse for mediocre play from Tua. Hey! At least you can wait until the 13th round to consider drafting him as your fantasy backup this summer. And best of all, he could become your starter by mid-September! ADP: Round 12-13. Update 8/25: Tua has, for the mostpart, shown improvement on his throws and accuracy in camp, so there is no change here. Target him as a fantasy backup, one with a high upside and you will be fine.
Matt Ryan (Indianapolis) - How can I put Ryan down on this list as a darkhorse sleeper? Well, I believe he still has a lot in the tank. In addition, the pressure will be off him to produce with RB Jonathan Taylor shouldering that load. Also, WR Michael Pittman Jr. is a serious threat to blow up in any game. Ryan has already been working well with Pittman during OTAs along with a now healthy WR Parris Campbell. Now, Ryan still won't run much, but he remains a threat to throw for 30+ scores and 4,000+ yards as a Colt. Those are not bad numbers for a solid fantasy backup that can be had quite late in drafts this summer. ADP: Round 14-15. Update 8/25: The Colts made the right decision to bring in Ryan, as he's shown he's a much better QB than Carson Wentz, and it's not close. As a result, he is a great late-round fantasy backup to target if you draft an elite starter.
Mac Jones (New England) - Word is that the Patriots refused to take the reigns off of Jones during his rookie season. As a result, Jones produced pedestrian numbers, even though the team won. In 2022, they plan to let him throw more, and with the addition of WR DeVante Parker, Jones' numbers should increase. How high will they go? Let's just say that Jones should be a more solid fantasy backup than he was his rookie season. ADP: Round 15-18. Update 8/25: Jones has been up and down in camp. Heck, the entire offense has struggled a bit without Josh McDaniels as coordinator, but Jones still has some upside. That said, there are better options to target on this list, but Jones will stick just in case you want to wait until the latter rounds of your draft to take a fantasy backup.
Trey Lance (San Francisco) - Lance is similar to Fields, but a bit less accurate. That said, he has some real talent around him, including WR Deebo Samuel, WR Brandon Aiyuk, and TE George Kittle. I still think Lance needs to prove himself before I take him too seriously, but if you take him as a fantasy backup, he could actually pan out down the road in 2022, making him a longshot fantasy sleeper. Only time will tell. ADP: Round 9-10. Update 8/25: While I still have questions regarding the fantasy potential of Lance, his ADP has risen into the 9th round in many drafts. There is no doubting the talent around him, but I would still prefer to take him as a fantasy backup with potential for more, but if you want him, you might have to target him as your starter before round #10. Good luck!
Trevor Lawrence (Jacksonville) - Lawrence was seen as the most "Pro-Ready" QB to emerge from the 2021 NFL draft, but that did not translate into immediate success. Far from it. Of course, coaching may have a lot to do with that, so the Jaguars hired Super Bowl winning HC Doug Pederson. They also beefed up the weapons around Lawrence, adding WR Christian Kirk and TE Evan Engram among others. As such, Lawrence gets a reprieve, and earns his way onto our long-shot fantasy sleeper list in 2022. ADP: Round 13-15. Update 8/25: Lawrence has looked pretty good in camp, and his ADP is rising a bit. That said, I still only view him as a longshot fantasy sleeper this summer, as there has been mixed production from the receiving corps to date. One thing is certain, Lawrence loves to target new Jaguars WR Christian Kirk!
Justin Fields (Chicago) - Fields took over in the latter part of his rookie season and produced up and down results. That said, he did flash, and the team is committed to giving him as much time as needed to lock down the starting job, so he will start come week #1. Now, unfortunately, they let WR Allen Robinson walk in free agency and replaced him withâ€¦ WR Byron Pringle? No, how about WR David Moore? No, WR Tajae Sharpe? OK, what about WR Equanimeous St. Brown? I think you see my point. The Bears have set Fields up to FAIL. That said, he has some potential, so he deserves to be on this list as a longshot sleeper in 2022. ADP: Round 12-13. Update 8/25: Fields has been OK in camp, but there are questions remaining regarding his receiving corps. Beyond WR Darnell Mooney and TE Cole Kmet, is there enough for Fields to produce as a decent fantasy backup? Only time will tell.
Zach Wilson (New York Jets) - DOWNGRADED 8/25 - Wilson flashed his talent here and there in an injury-filled rookie season, but the Jets are going in the right direction, adding talent to their offensive line, rookie WR Garrett Wilson, and veteran TE C.J. Uzomah, pieces that should help out the offense overall. As a result, Wilson's potential is very intriguing, so he deserves consideration in the latter part of your fantasy draft as an interesting darkhorse fantasy sleeper. ADP: Round 19-20. Update 8/25: Wilson injured his knee and may not play for the first game or two. That also set him back in terms of developing chemistry with his new targets, so he has been downgraded to a LONGSHOT fantasy sleeper. Consider him only with the final picks of your draft (or not at all).
Kenny Pickett ® (Pittsburgh) - Big Ben retired and the Steelers signed veteran QB Mitchell Trubisky, then drafted Pickett. Word is that the team is likely to start Trubisky to give Pickett time to watch and learn. Unfortunately, Trubisky is not a good choice to actually produce over multiple games, so Pickett's time will come sooner than later. Sometimes, it's all about opportunity, and Pickett could grab hold of the job and never let go! Oh, having WR Diontae Johnson as your primary weapon won't hurt his chances to make an impact. ADP: Round 19-20. Update 8/25: Pickett has impressed this summer, but doesn't seem in line to start come week #1. That said, if Trubisky falters, he could be starting by October, if not sooner.
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