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Early Fantasy Football Sleepers for the 2022 Season

by Matt Barbato | @realmattbarbato | Featured Writer
Jan 19, 2022
Trey Lance

It’s never too early to start preparing for the upcoming fantasy football season. Sure, the NFL playoffs are still ongoing. Sure, you might still be basking in the glory of your most recent fantasy title. Sure, we don’t know where many high profile free agents or rookie draft picks will wind up in the spring.

But the best fantasy players are ones who constantly find ways to stay ahead. So to get started on our early prep, let’s take a look at some early sleepers for the 2022 season.

Can you draft the perfect 2021 team? Start your Perfect Draft now >>

2022 Quarterback Sleepers 

Trey Lance (QB – SF) 

The No. 3 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft got his feet wet during his rookie season, starting two games in relief of the injured Jimmy Garoppolo. Lance looked lost in his first career start in Week 5 against Arizona, but looked much more comfortable the second time around when he played in Week 17 against the Texans.

Lance is San Francisco’s future, and the 49ers can cut Garoppolo and suffer a cap hit of just $1.4 million. It seems likely that Lance will start the year under center for the Niners. Given his dual-threat ability and rocket for an arm, Lance could be worth a shot late in drafts and is definitely worth acquiring in dynasty leagues. Lance is currently ranked as the QB13 for 2022.

Russell Wilson (QB – SEA) 

Wilson is the quarterback in Seattle… for now. But I wonder if part of his struggles after coming back from his finger injury had something to do with him being disengaged. Wilson finished the year strong, throwing nine touchdowns in his final three games. But I wonder if a change of scenery is what he needs. Ranked as the QB11 in our Expert Consensus 2022 Rankings, Wilson could be in store for a huge season if he lands with a contender with a need at quarterback.

2022 Running Back Sleepers 

Christian McCaffrey (RB – CAR) 

Christian McCaffrey is currently ranked the RB9 for the upcoming season. Doesn’t that feel low? I understand durability has been an issue for CMC lately. But when healthy he’s still one of the most dynamic playmakers in the league. Carolina’s quarterback situation can only improve from the Sam DarnoldCam NewtonP.J. Walker debacle. Better health and better QB play could get CMC back in the RB1 conversation.

Michael Carter (RB – NYJ) 

Adding a New York Jet to this list is always scary. But Carter showed some promise as an Austin Ekeler Lite type of player. Carter finished his rookie campaign as the RB29 despite playing just 14 games. He rushed for 639 yards and four touchdowns while hauling in 36 passes for 325 yards. Carter’s three-down abilities make him an exciting option as a RB3 with upside next season. He’s ranked as the RB31 for 2022.

Rhamondre Stevenson (RB – NE) 

It’s tough to trust a Patriots tailback, and Damien Harris is still in town for another season. But I could see Stevenson playing the A.J. Dillon role in New England’s offense. And it wouldn’t stun me if he surpassed Harris next season. As the current RB53, Stevenson is simply ranked too low after rushing for 606 yards and five touchdowns.

Josh Jacobs (RB – LV) 

Jacobs finished the season as the RB14, but he seems to be getting no respect. He’s currently listed as the RB24, and that just feels low right now. There’s uncertainty surrounding the head coaching and quarterback situations in Vegas. But I’m guessing Rich Bisaccia will retain his job after leading the Raiders to the playoffs. And I was encouraged by Jacobs’ increased workload as the year went on, as he garnered at least 13 carries in six of his final seven games.

2022 Wide Receiver Sleepers

Amon-Ra St. Brown (WR – DET) 

This will probably be the first of many articles hyping St. Brown between now and the summer. And the rookie deserves all the praise. St. Brown roared down the home stretch, finishing the year as the WR21 despite having just 39 receptions for 352 yards in his first 11 games. St. Brown caught 51 passes for 560 yards and five touchdowns from Week 13 on. His QB situation should only get better over time. Being ranked as the WR44 is just too low right now.

DeVonta Smith (WR – PHI) 

Smith finished the year as the WR29 and I liked a lot of what I saw from Philadelphia’s WR1. He needs more consistent quarterback play, whether it’s from Jalen Hurts or someone else. But Smith has the ability to be a Year 2 breakout candidate. Ranking him as the WR28 essentially factors in no room for improvement.

2022 Tight End Sleepers

Pat Freiermuth (TE – PIT) 

At the dumpster fire that is tight end, Freiermuth offers a beacon of hope for those who choose to wait on the position in drafts. Freiermuth finished the season as the TE13, which is impressive considering Ben Roethlisberger was his quarterback. Seven touchdowns may be tough to count on, but I’d also expect more receptions and yardage with a new QB in town. Freiermuth will be my target in every league.

Can you draft the perfect 2021 team? Start your Perfect Draft now >>


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Whether you’re new to fantasy football or a seasoned pro, our Fantasy Football 101: Strategy Tips & Advicepage is for you. You can get started with How to Manage Early-Season Injury Problems or head to more advanced strategy – like How to Effectively Assess the Quality of Your Team – to learn more.

Matt Barbato is a featured writer for FantasyPros. For more from Matt, check out his archive and follow him @RealMattBarbato.

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