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9 Early Fantasy Football Sleepers (2022)

May 11, 2022

As NFL coverage and the fantasy football industry grow with each passing year, it becomes harder and harder to find true sleepers before your league-mates do … or at least that’s the case in August and September. In May, many analysts are still constructing their rankings or projections, and there’s no practice or preseason action to give us a glimpse of how every skill player may be used. In the coming months, industry rankings will adjust to be more accurate and make it harder to find value, but there’s always plenty of value to be had right now if you’re early to the party. Savvy fantasy GMs who begin their research now have a better chance of identifying the next big sleepers before anyone else. We’ve asked several experts from across the web for their top RB and WR sleepers. Read on below to see which rushers and receivers the industry might be overlooking.

Q1. What RB outside of our half-PPR consensus top 40 should fantasy owners target in their drafts and why?

Dameon Pierce (HOU): Consensus Rank – RB58
“The price probably won’t stay as low as it is now, but Dameon Pierce is an appealing target. Dan Mullen’s misuse of Pierce at the University of Florida bordered on the absurd. Pierce averaged just 7.7 carries a game as a senior but still ran for 13 touchdowns. His primary competition for carries in Houston will be Marlon Mack, who’s played in six games since tearing his Achilles in September 2020, and Rex Burkhead, who’ll be entering his age-32 season. Pierce is a powerful, well-built runner who also has pass-catching chops, even if his stats don’t reflect it. I think he’s the favorite to lead the Texans in rushing yardage in 2022.”
Pat Fitzmaurice (FantasyPros)

“The rookie Dameon Pierce should be in line to get the majority of touches in the Texans’ backfield. I know it is not exciting to bet on a RB in what looks to be one of the worst offenses in the NFL, but volume is king. Pierce is going to fight for touches with Marlon Mack and the Texans have vacated almost 55% of the carries. He is now ranked as the RB58 in ECR, so go grab the discount.”
Mauricio Gutierrez (Estadio Fantasy)

James Cook (BUF): Consensus Rank – RB44
“Rookie running back James Cook has immediate sleeper fantasy appeal across all PPR formats based on his second-round draft capital, pass-catching prowess, explosiveness and offensive situation. The 5-foot-11, 199-pound running back has more than enough heft to manage a decent workload especially as a receiver out of the backfield. The 5-foot-7, 203-pound Devin Singletary was the RB3 over the last six weeks of the regular season when the Bills entrenched him as the featured guy. Cook with an ECR of RB44 seems priced closer to their floor than his ceiling considering Round 2 running backs have finished as top-36 running backs more than half the time (55%) since 2013.”
Andrew Erickson (FantasyPros)

James Cook sitting at RB44 is an excellent value. The closer we get to the season, he will climb closer to the RB3 range (RB28), where I currently have him ranked. The Bills have described Cook as a “sub back” who will be a passing-down specialist. This is a valuable role on a team that was second (65%) in neutral script passing rate last year. Cook could also eat into Devin Singletary’s carries as the year moves along with the upside to operate in the same capacity Singletary did during the 2021 stretch run. ”
Derek Brown (FantasyPros)

Kenneth Gainwell (PHI): Consensus Rank – RB49
“Kenneth Gainwell. Gainwell is worthwhile fantasy nugget toward the deep end of running backs. Yes, he only had three games with 10 carries and three games with seven or eight targets in 2021. However, his output of six touchdowns made him a viable bye-week fill-in. A breakout season with Miles Sanders around is perhaps too ambitious a thought, but a role as the RB1b on the Eagles is entirely possible. Either way, expect Gainwell to become a more regular presence in the Eagles’ offense in 2022.”
Richard Savill (Fantasy Six Pack)

Tyler Allgeier (ATL): Consensus Rank – RB72
“Tyler Allgeier: Highly productive at BYU, Allgeier set the school’s single-season rushing record in 2021 and tied for the national lead in rushing touchdowns. While he lacks elite burst, Allgeier runs with excellent contact balance and has the frame (5-11, 224 pounds) to shoulder a heavy workload. Even though he lasted until the fifth round, it wouldn’t surprise me if he led the Falcons in rushing in 2022 as he competes with Cordarrelle Patterson, who broke out in his age-30 season, and journeyman Damien Williams for carries. The former Cougar is ranked 25 spots higher in my rankings (RB47) than his ECR (RB72).”
Kevin Hanson (EDSFootball)

Q2. What WR outside of our half-PPR consensus top 50 should fantasy owners target in their drafts and why?

Skyy Moore (KC): Consensus Rank – WR58
“Western Michigan WR Skyy Moore is being undervalued versus other Round 1 rookie WRs because he was a second-round pick as the 13th wide receiver selected in the draft. But Moore has a chance to hit the ground running in the post-Tyreek Hill era, competing for targets with fellow newcomers Juju Smith Schuster and Marquez Valdes-Scantling. His impressive YAC ability — tied for first with 26 forced missed tackles in 2021 — and ability to play both inside/outside helps him stand out from the other Chiefs WRs. With Patrick Mahomes as his quarterback, Moore could smash his current ECR into the stratosphere. It’s not that outlandish to think a second-rounder can make an immediate impact considering six of the 12 highest-scoring Round 1 & 2 rookie WRs selected since 2017 were second-rounders. ”
Andrew Erickson (FantasyPros)

Skyy Moore at WR58 is free money. Moore is currently a WR3 (WR34) in my redraft rankings. This isn’t just a result of being tied to one of the league’s best quarterbacks, but we need to consider it. Moore is a supreme talent who dominated small-school competition. His YAC ability and tackle-breaking will immediately give the Chiefs’ a zone-busting underneath option that they sorely lacked in 2021. Moore can play outside and in the slot and establish himself as the No. 2 option behind Travis Kelce as the season wears on. ”
Derek Brown (FantasyPros)

Marquez Valdes-Scantling (KC): Consensus Rank – WR54
“How about Marquez Valdes-Scantling? I’m sure Skyy Moore is going to be a popular answer here, but Valdes-Scantling is going to be the Chiefs’ designated lid-lifter and will see a lot of QB Patrick Mahomes’ high-value targets deep downfield. MVS is big (6-4, 204) and fast (4.37). and he’s averaged 17.5 yards per catch and 8.7 yards per target for his career. He’s a big play waiting to happen, and Andy Reid is going to find ways to leverage Valdes-Scantling’s speed.”
Pat Fitzmaurice (FantasyPros)

Tyler Boyd (CIN): Consensus Rank – WR53
“I realize that it is tough to trust the No. 3 receiver in an offense, and that it might be even worse if both the No. 1 (Ja’Marr Chase) and the No. 2 (Tee Higgins) are bona fide studs. But a WR53 ECR is way too low for Boyd. He was the WR21 in yards after the catch, the WR27 in yards per target and the WR12 in catch rate. Even without volume, he can be productive because of his efficiency and good hands. Also, the Bengals’ offense is likely to pass a lot more this year, like they did late last season, due to the success of their pass-heavy attack.”
Mauricio Gutierrez (Estadio Fantasy)

Kenny Golladay (NYG): Consensus Rank – WR55
“Kenny Golladay: Things couldn’t have gone much worse for Golladay and the Giants offense in 2021, but there are a few reasons for optimism (especially compared to his current ADP). Not only does the new coaching staff provide a significant upgrade over last year’s staff, but the Giants should be more pass-oriented under Brian Daboll. As disappointing as the past couple of seasons have been for Golladay, the 28-year-old has a pair of 1,000-yard seasons on his resume and led the NFL in receiving touchdowns in one of those seasons. While he may not produce like it’s 2018-19, he provides some low-risk upside as a WR5.”
Kevin Hanson (EDSFootball)

Josh Palmer (LAC): Consensus Rank – WR75
“Josh Palmer. You should have Palmer locked in as one of your deep fantasy targets for 2022. The Chargers with Justin Herbert can support a fantasy third wide receiver. Granted, his snap counts will vary on gamescripts because of Keenan Allen, but Palmer is a definite positive for several matchups. He passed the eye-test for me last season as a rising star, and you could see Herbert’s trust with him building toward the end of 2021.”
Richard Savill (Fantasy Six Pack)


Thank you to the experts for taking the time to provide their predictions and analysis. Please give them a follow on Twitter for more of their analysis.

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