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9 League Winners (2022 Fantasy Football)

Jun 29, 2022

At the end of every fantasy football season, several players seem to be on every championship roster. Some of those players are the usual suspects you see getting selected in the first few rounds of every draft. But there are usually at least a handful of players who were afterthoughts during draft season and were selected late or not at all in most formats.

Those players are what we like to call “league winners.” League winners are those low-cost players who produce more for fantasy managers than their cost suggested during drafts. These can be household names like Cooper Kupp or Deebo Samuel, who exploded onto the scene with breakout seasons, or they can be players like Cordarrelle Patterson, who weren’t even being drafted.

Being able to identify these players can, well, put you in a position to win your league. We asked a handful of fantasy football experts to give us their RB, WR and QB league winners ahead of the 2022 season.

Fantasy Football Redraft Draft Kit

1. Which one running back do you believe will be this year’s league winner?

Melvin Gordon is bound to be written off by fantasy draft pundits this offseason due to his age, but he proved that he still has gas in the tank in 2021. The 29-year-old running back was efficient across the board, ranking eighth in both PFF rushing grade (83.4) and forced missed tackles (45) while compiling 231 touches (16th). With him back on a high-powered offense and the potential to receive goal-line touches, he could easily become a screaming value in 2022 like James Conner or Leonard Fournette last year.”
Andrew Erickson (FantasyPros)

“Assuming we’re looking for a candidate being drafted beyond RB1 range, I’ll nominate Breece Hall. He was terrific at Iowa State for three years, then put on a show at the scouting combine. Hall has good size, blazing speed and pass-catching chops. He’s also going to be operating behind a sneaky-good offensive line. If the Jets let Hall operate as a lead back rather than in a time-share with Michael Carter, the rookie could put up gargantuan numbers.”
Pat Fitzmaurice (FantasyPros)

Saquon Barkley is the low-hanging fruit, but I’ll go off the usual path here. If we take the name away, would you be all in on a 26-year-old middle-round running back who posted these numbers last year? He was ninth in yards per route run, seventh in yards per touch, 12th in juke rate and 11th in breakaway run rate. Oh, and he’s now been air dropped into a run-first offense. Of course you would be. That player is Chase Edmonds. ”
Derek Brown (FantasyPros)

“Although I do not feel we’ll see a total handover of this backfield, the A.J. Dillon breakout seems inevitable in 2022. Averaging 2.8 YAC/att, Dillon’s bruising style and surprising game speed allowed him to average a respectable 4.3 yards per carry while converting 26.7% of his rushes into first downs. Dillon topped Aaron Jones in red zone carries (39 to 34) but did not take over the role until the second half of last year. Add in four games of 4+ targets, and Dillon also carries some sneaky PPR upside, which boosts his floor (3.8 PPR/game via the air in 2021). The rushing edge falls squarely in Dillon’s lap with the likelihood of Jones being more involved as a pass catcher. Currently the RB25 in ECR (PPR), Dillon carries 1,200 total yard and double-digit touchdown upside this year.”
Tommy Garrett (Pro Football Network)

Fantasy Football Redraft Draft Kit

2. Which one wide receiver do you believe will be this year’s league winner?

Courtland Sutton will be this year’s Cooper Kupp: a WR taken in the middle rounds who alters the tides of fantasy football leagues by leading the NFL in red-zone targets like Kupp did in 2021. The big-bodied fiend led the Broncos in red-zone targets in 2021 and led all WRs in target rate inside the 10-yard line in 2019. Wilson has an affinity for attacking receivers in the red zone; a Seattle WR has finished top-five in red-zone targets for three straight seasons. The Seahawks offense as a whole has finished top-five in red-zone TD conversion rate over the same time frame. Denver has never ranked higher than 21st since 2018. Simply put: The fit between Wilson and Sutton could not be better for 2022.”
Andrew Erickson (FantasyPros)

“While my colleague Andrew Erickson has dubbed Courtland Sutton this year’s Cooper Kupp, I think he’s more of this season’s Ja’Marr Chase. Sutton will make his hay on downfield throws from Russell Wilson, and if he banks the touchdowns along with the massive throws, the ceiling is unlimited. In 2019 Sutton was 12th in yards per route run, so we have seen him flash elite efficiency previously. Now add that he was sixth in deep targets among wide receivers last season. The foundation has been laid.”
Derek Brown (FantasyPros)

Mike Williams. Five games into the 2021 season, Williams had 31 catches for 471 yards and six touchdowns, making him the WR1 in 0.5 PPR fantasy scoring, a nose ahead of Cooper Kupp. But Williams tweaked his knee in Week 5 and struggled for the next month. He put together a good stretch run and finished the year as the WR10. The 6-4, 218-pound Williams has rare physical gifts and plays with one of the best young QBs in the game, Justin Herbert. It’s possible we get a full season’s worth of what Williams showed us early last fall, which would make Williams a needle-mover in fantasy leagues.”
Pat Fitzmaurice (FantasyPros)

“In his nine games alongside Cooper Kupp last year, Robert Woods was the WR12, averaging 7.7 targets, five receptions, 61.8 yards, 0.56 TDs, and 15.9 PPR points a game before tearing his ACL. That’s a 17-game pace of 130 targets, 85 receptions, 1,050 yards, 8 TDs and 238 PPR points. That exact same role is being filled by arguably the most disrespected and underrated elite wide receiver in the NFL, Allen Robinson. Just one year removed from two-straight 1,100+ yard seasons under Matt Nagy with Mitch Trubisky and Nick Foles under center, Robinson has clear top-12 PPR upside despite his WR27 ERC ranking.”
Tommy Garrett (Pro Football Network)

Fantasy Football Redraft Draft Kit

3. What one quarterback do you believe will be this year’s league winner?

Jalen Hurts has been a top-12 fantasy quarterback at an 85% hit rate in the 20 games he’s played all four quarters. And there’s no reason to think that Hurts won’t continue producing in fantasy with the addition of A.J. Brown and if the Eagles throw more in 2022. They threw at the second-highest rate on early downs under a neutral game script to open the first six weeks of last season. The sky’s the limit for the Eagles’ passing game in 2022. Fly Eagles fly.”
Andrew Erickson (FantasyPros)

Jalen Hurts haters, ‘you could not live with your own failure. Where did that bring you?’ Right back to Hurts. Last season before injury, Hurts was the QB6 in weekly fantasy scoring. We know the rushing acumen he brings to the table, but his passing skill will continue to grow, as we saw down the stretch last season with some baked-in touchdown regression. Last year, among 33 quarterbacks with 200 or more pass attempts, Hurts was 23rd with a 3.7% passing touchdown rate. If the stars align, Hurts won’t just be a top-five fantasy quarterback but a league winner in 2022. ”
Derek Brown (FantasyPros)

Trey Lance is going to be the next big thing at quarterback. He’s a spectacular runner, and it’s a safe bet he’s going to do a lot of running this year. Young quarterbacks are often confused upon their first prolonged exposure to NFL defenses, and when a mobile young QB is confused by coverages, he’s going to take off and run. Lance had 24 rushing attempts in his two starts as a rookie last season. Lance has a live arm, and he’s bound to make some plays in the passing game with Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk and George Kittle as targets. I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if Lance had a better season than Jalen Hurts.”
Pat Fitzmaurice (FantasyPros)

“It’s just a matter of time before Trey Lance is given the keys to this sports car of an offense. Right? Lance has a cannon for an arm, ridiculous rushing upside, and is in an offense filled to the brim with playmakers such as Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, George Kittle and Elijah Mitchell. To be a breakout QB, for me, you need to have a rushing upside, as it is critical for fantasy production. In his three games with 18 or more pass attempts, he had 31 rushing attempts and 161 yards. In those games, Lance averaged just 23.3 pass attempts, but the 49ers averaged four more plays a game, which is a significant increase. This is an offense that prioritizes skillsets and gets playmakers in space, allowing for yardage to pile up after the catch. Add in the rushing upside, albeit a ridiculously small sample size, and Lance could push for a top-6 finish in 2022.”
Tommy Garrett (Pro Football Network)

CTAs

Thanks to the experts for sharing their advice! For more of their insight, be sure to follow each pundit on Twitter (click their names above) and visit their respective sites.


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