9 Must-Have Players (2022 Fantasy Football)
We’re a little less than a month and a half away from the season’s first hint of NFL action, the Hall of Fame Game — the true beginning of fantasy football draft season. That doesn’t mean you can’t start prepping early and get the jump on your leaguemates!
At its core, fantasy football comes down to one simple strategy — choose the best guys. Obviously, that’s easier said than done. However, the two keys to building a winning roster in the draft are to avoid risk in the first couple of rounds and then target the players you believe present the most potential relative to their draft cost. Identifying those special athletes is never an easy task, so today’s featured experts have come to offer a helping hand! Read on to see who their favorite high-impact draft targets are outside the first two rounds.
Q. What one player outside the top 30 in the expert consensus are you hoping to end up with in all your leagues and why?
Jaylen Waddle (WR – MIA)
“Jaylen Waddle was 10th in the league in targets with 141 as a rookie in 2021. Excelling in production on passes ranging from 0-19 yards down the field, Waddle finds himself in a fantastic situation in Miami, which revamped its offense in both the running game and most notably in the receiving game with the acquisition of Tyreek Hill. With Hill’s ability to take the top off of defenses and a quarterback in Tua Tagovailoa who, according to PFF, was one of the best-rated deep ball passing QBs in the league, the mere threat of the Tua/Hill combo should be enough to open up underneath passes for Waddle, especially when in scoring position. In the red zone, on passes of 10 yards or less, Waddle, on just eight targets, was the WR4 in TDs with a completion percentage of 87.5% While his target volume might take a hit this season, his efficiency and scoring production should rise, making him a sure-fire WR2 in my book and someone I’m making sure to leave my drafts with in 2022. ”
– Jorge B. Edwards (Fantasy In Frames)
Courtland Sutton (WR – DEN)
“Courtland Sutton has a real chance to recapture his elite form another year removed from his ACL injury with Russell Wilson as his QB. Wilson has always been an elite downfield passer — he had the sixth-highest passer rating on throws of 20-plus air yards last season — which plays heavily into Sutton’s strengths as a vertical threat. Based on the receiver’s track record of commanding targets near the pylon, I fully expect Sutton to emerge as Wilson’s go-to red-zone target. He 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 finding receivers in the red zone; a Seattle WR has finished top five in red-zone targets for three straight seasons, in addition to the Seahawks offense ranking top five in RZ TD conversion rate. ”
– Andrew Erickson (FantasyPros)
David Montgomery (RB – CHI)
“David Montgomery is my No. 1 target after the first two rounds of fantasy drafts. For 10-plus years, I have preached taking RB/RB with your first two draft picks, but the amount of RB value in the third and fourth round is QUICKLY changing my tune, starting with Monty. The Iowa State product averaged 20.5 and 20.1 touches in 2021 and 2020, respectively, so spending your first two picks on an elite WR or TE and then grabbing a guy like Montgomery with a guaranteed RB1 workload in the third or fourth round is the move. On top of consistency and reliability, the 25-year-old is heading into a contract year, so there’s extra motivation for Montgomery to suit up and perform at a high level every week.”
– Jacob W. Dunne (Triple Play Fantasy)
Michael Pittman Jr. (WR – IND)
“The easy answer here is Michael Pittman Jr. Pittman is currently sitting at 34th overall, which is close to this cutoff line, but he’s comfortably relaxing inside my top 24 players. With Matt Ryan in town, it’s time for him to step forward as the Colts’ elite alpha receiver after finishing 19th in PFF receiving grade and yards per route run last year (minimum 50 targets). ”
– Derek Brown (FantasyPros)
Miles Sanders (RB – PHI)
“Miles Sanders is the only player in the last 40 years to have at least 750 rushing yards and average 5-plus yards per carry in a single season and not score a single touchdown. Health has been his Achilles heel, but as we saw with Joe Mixon and James Connor last year, you’re only injury prone until you’re not. Sanders has top-12 potential as long as he can stay healthy and the Eagles give him enough touches. ”
– Geoff Lambert (Going For 2)
Rashod Bateman (WR – BAL)
“After the shocking draft-day trade of Marquise Brown to the Cardinals, it seemed like a certainty that Rashod Bateman’s ADP would skyrocket. Thus far, the hyped surrounding the Ravens’ clear #1 receiver has been underwhelming. I don’t know if it is the fact that he is playing in what should be one of the league’s most run-heavy offenses or if it’s collective amnesia of Bateman’s talent based on his injury-plagued rookie year; I just know Bateman is being severely undervalued. Bateman should be one of the most targeted receivers in the league, despite Baltimore’s expected low passing volume, thanks to what should be a highly consolidated passing game with Bateman and Andrews dominating the targets. I will continue to hammer Baltimore receiver with a high-end WR2 floor until his current low-end WR3 price correct itself. ”
– Matthew Hill (DataForce Fantasy Football)
Breece Hall (RB – NYJ)
“It’s Breece Hall. A prospect who checks this many boxes shouldn’t be available in the fourth round. Hall has good size, he had a terrific three-year run at Iowa State, he put on a show at the combine with his freaky speed and athleticism, and he catches passes. Hall is at least as good a prospect as Najee Harris was and will have a better offensive line in front of him this year. It’s quite possible that 12 months from now, Hall will be a consensus first-round fantasy pick and we’ll be trying to remember why his ADP was so low in 2021.”
– Pat Fitzmaurice (FantasyPros)
Ken Walker III (RB – SEA)
“How do I choose between Breece Hall, Kenneth Walker and Travis Etienne? If I can’t have all three, and you most certainly can (from, let’s say, the 3rd, 4th and 6-7th), I’d choose Walker. Walker is the top-rated rookie RB in elusiveness, and he has all of the tools and the offensive line to become this year’s version of last year’s Najee Harris. Draft him in ALL leagues, and he shockingly goes in rounds 6-7-8 (but quietly belongs in round 4).”
– Smitty (SleeperU)
Marquise Brown (WR – ARI)
“For me, that player is Marquise Brown. He’s joined the Arizona Cardinals this offseason and will be the top target for Kyler Murray to start the year until DeAndre Hopkins comes back from suspension, and he’ll benefit from Murray’s deep ball accuracy. I can see Brown’s value skyrocketing in the early weeks, and you should be able to cash in with the pick by letting Brown help you win the first few weeks, then trading him away before Hopkins comes back. ”
– Tim Jablonski (The Hateful 8)
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.