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8 Deep Sleepers to Target (2022 Fantasy Football)

8 Deep Sleepers to Target (2022 Fantasy Football)

There’s always gold found deeper in fantasy drafts, but how deep can you find gold as a fantasy manager?

You might be in a 16-team league with deeper benches, taking some hail mary shots at best ball picks or maybe you are the vampire in your home league’s first “vampire league.” Even if you are just trying to pivot from late offseason injury news, knowing who is available on the waivers after your draft is another nugget of information you can squirrel away as the well-informed fantasy manager you are.

Without further ado, here’s my take on the best roster available, with only players being drafted at 250 or later in average draft position (ADP).

Fantasy Football Redraft Draft Kit

Jacoby Brissett (QB – CLE) | ADP: 299

Hold your nose and stick with me here; I promise it gets better. With the quarterback position, we’re trying to provide low-end stability to a roster that will inevitably be volatile, and Jacoby Brissett is just serviceable enough to do that.

Now that Baker Mayfield is on his way to Carolina, only one more domino needs to fall before he’s the starting quarterback for the Cleveland Browns. Still, we’re moving forward on the assumption they fall before the start of the season. So why Brissett? The last time Brissett started most of a season was in 2019 with the Indianapolis Colts, where he threw for 2,942 yards and 18 touchdowns in 15 games. He also tacked on 228 yards with four more touchdowns on the ground, providing him a little more upside than the other quarterbacks around this area in ADP.

His complement of weapons is also lightyears better than what was available to him on the Colts, swapping Zach Pascal, Jack Doyle and 30-year-old T.Y. Hilton for Amari Cooper, Donovan Peoples-Jones, and David Njoku. With one of the best offensive lines and running back groups in the NFL, Brissett will have the time and the weapons to be at least a QB2 for fantasy.

Jerick McKinnon (RB – KC) | ADP: 274

I promised it would get better, and here it does; Jerick McKinnon is the receiving back for the Kansas City Chiefs, one of the best offenses in football with one of the most significant vacated target percentages in the league. Tyreek Hill, Byron Pringle, Darrel Williams and Demarcus Robinson have all left for new opportunities in 2022, leaving what was 49.8% of the team’s targets in 2021 up for grabs.

What’s even more important is that Darrel Williams, the Chief’s previous receiving back, has left his 57 targets and 144 carries on the table. Clyde Edwards-Helaire and newly acquired Ronald Jones combined for 36 targets in 2021, so it’s safe to say the bulk of what should be a vastly increased receiving workload is going to Jerick McKinnon.

Not only did the seas part for McKinnon’s 2022 success, but he also showed late in 2021 that he still had some gas in the tank. In the Chiefs’ three playoff games, McKinnon had 48 touches for 315 total yards and a touchdown. He led the Chiefs in rushing yards during that three-game span and was third in receptions. McKinnon is a steal at his current ADP and could end up being an RB2 in fantasy if he can stay healthy as one of Patrick Mahomes‘ few veteran receiving options.

Jeff Wilson Jr. (RB – SFO) | ADP: 325

We know three things about Kyle Shanahan:

  1. He can make you effective as a running back in his offense if you have a pulse. The 49ers have had four different rushing leaders each year since 2018, one of which was Jeff Wilson Jr.
  2. He has no problem burying running backs that don’t perform to his expectations. See third-round pick Trey Sermon in 2021. Stay on your toes, Tyrion Davis-Price!
  3. He loves Jeff Wilson Jr.

Wilson Jr. enters 2022 healthy, which is more than can be said for currently injured starter Elijah Mitchell. In the past two seasons (21 games for Wilson Jr.), he has accumulated 1,058 yards on 225 touches (4.7 yards per touch) along with 12 touchdowns. Davis-Price is technically ahead of Wilson Jr. on the depth chart. Yet, there’s no guarantee he remains there by the start of the season or that his leash is very long with Shanahan once the season kicks off.

You won’t get an entire season out of Wilson Jr., but if he can go 15 or 16 games in 2022, and injuries were to happen to other running backs on the 49ers, you’d have a free RB2 on your hands.

Devin Duvernay (WR – BAL) | ADP: 279

I get it. The second wide receiver, and the third receiving option in Baltimore, widely considered a “low volume” offense, doesn’t sound enticing. But in 2021, the Ravens were in the league’s top half for both passing attempts and passing yards (ninth and 13th, respectively). So this rhetoric that the volume isn’t there in the offense isn’t true. Marquise Brown and Sammy Watkins left, and over 45% of the total targets from 2021 are up for grabs.

Rashod Bateman will get his. Yet, Devin Duvernay is entering his third season with his target share increasing from his rookie to sophomore season. He could easily find himself at a modest 12% target share, which would have been 71 targets in 2021. The cherry on top for Duvernay is his aptitude as a return specialist. In 2021, he made the Pro Bowl and was first-team All-Pro as a returner, meaning you get the touchdown upside built into your selection of Duvernay. He also gets to capitalize on defenses scheming for Mark Andrews, Rashod Bateman and Lamar Jackson.

Nico Collins (WR – HOU) | ADP: 252

Davis Mills averaged almost 33 passing attempts per game as a rookie with one of the worst offensive lines in football, the worst group of skill players and extremely questionable coaching. Nico Collins was also a rookie in 2021 and, despite being the No. 2 target on the team behind Brandin Cooks, produced impressive numbers with Mills at the helm. In the eight games that Collins played with Mills getting 100% of the snaps at quarterback, he averaged 5.6 targets, 3.1 receptions, 43.1 yards and .13 touchdowns per game.

On a 17-game pace, he would have finished with 96 targets, 53 receptions, 733 yards and two touchdowns. What’s even more critical about that early connection is that Collins averaged a 15.8% target share through those eight weeks, topping 20% twice.

Positive touchdown regression is coming for Collins, too, as 73% of receivers with 60 or more targets had three or more touchdowns in 2021. With an entire season under both their belts, Mills and Collins could level up in 2022. The Texans have improved at every level heading into the 2022 season. With rookie John Metchie slated to have a slow start to the season recovering from injury, Collins could become a low-end WR2 or high-end WR3 on an offense that will need to throw early and often.

Nick Westbrook-Ikhine (WR – TEN) | ADP: 307

His name is hard to say, both phonetically and because he’s the third receiver on a low-volume offense, but hear me out there’s more than meets the eye with Nick Westbrook-Ikhine.

Last year, Westbrook-Ikhine was second on the team in targets with 57, behind only A.J. Brown. Interestingly, when both Brown and Julio Jones were out in weeks 4 and 12, Westbrook-Ikhine had a 20% target share, averaging seven targets. So far this offseason, 320 total targets have been vacated from the 2021 target totals for Tennessee, with eight players currently not on the roster from last year.

Assuming that Robert Woods is back in perfect health at the start of the season and Treylon Burks lives up to his draft capital year one, they at least combine for 200 targets. While Austin Hooper replaces Anthony Firkser, capturing 43 targets. That still leaves 77 additional targets up for grabs.

Being the most familiar with the system and Ryan Tannehill, most of those would go Westbrook-Ikhine’s way. As a bonus, Westbrook-Ikhine was a red zone threat for the Titans in 2021, having 10.5% of his receptions being touchdowns, compared to Brown’s 7.9%. Even excluding the possibility of an injury to Woods or Burks, or Burks not dominating as the Titans hope, Westbrook-Ikhine could pull in seven-eight touchdowns, and he could end up a viable WR3 with upside.

Mo Alie-Cox (TE – IND) | ADP: 272

His alarmingly vague size (anywhere from 6’5 to 6’8, depending on where you look) and athleticism put him into an exceedingly rare tight end category. If you look at height, weight, hand size, broad jump, vertical jump and 40-yard dash times, Mo Alie-Cox’s scores put him in the company of players like Jimmy Graham and Rob Gronkowski. He can dominate in the red zone, as shown by his eight receiving touchdowns in four years of minimal use with sub-par quarterback play. He’s also been competing with Trey Burton and Jack Doyle for snaps on offense. But all that ends in 2022 with Matt Ryan and less competition.

Since 2018, when Frank Reich took over as the head coach of the Colts, the team has averaged 557 passing attempts per year compared to the 602 average Matt Ryan has in the same period. However, if we look closer, the last time the Colts had a franchise quarterback was Andrew Luck in 2018, when they threw the ball 644 times compared to the 608 Ryan threw that year.

I believe the Colts will be passing more in 2022 than they have in the past three years, and Ryan still has the juice to make the Colts hum as an offense, especially with Jonathan Taylor in the backfield. That bodes well for Alie-Cox and further boosts his outlook. Ryan has a career target percentage to tight ends of 18.83%, and Mo Alie-Cox only had an 8.9% target share in 2021, Jack Doyle pulling in 8.5%. Would it surprise anyone if his target percentage increased to 14-16% in 2022, with Doyle leaving, a new QB that favors the TE, and an overall increase in pass volume?

I’m a little more bullish on Alie-Cox than anyone I’ve seen and have been taking him in many 12-team redraft mocks. So, I’d be more than willing to roll with him in any format.

Samaje Perine (RB – CIN) | ADP: 259

The Cincinnati Bengals are one of the few teams in the NFL who still employ a bell-cow running back in Joe Mixon. In 2021, Mixon had 334 touches for 1,519 yards and 16 touchdowns. However, behind only Mixon and Ja’Marr Chase in touches was Samaje Perine.

In 2021, when Mixon was on the field for more than 60% of the snaps, Perine was only on it for 20%. When you look at the whole season, it seems like he wasn’t effective. But when you look at games where Mixon took less than 60% of the offensive snaps, Perine’s snaps jumped to 45%. In those four games, he totaled 41 touches for 234 yards and two touchdowns. If you project that over a 17-game season, his stat line would look something like 174 touches for 995 yards and nine touchdowns, which makes him immediately relevant, especially in PPR formats where you’d get 47 receptions tacked onto his final tally.

The flex for your Frankenstein team is clear-cut. Samaje Perine has enough talent to be fantasy relevant with an injury to Mixon or a philosophy change on the Bengals to where the offensive snaps are more even. Chris Evans is a sixth-round pick with 32 total touches in 2021, and Trayveon Williams has played in just 15 games in three seasons. If Mixon goes down, as he’s done for 15 games in the past five seasons, it’s Perine. He can get it done for your fantasy team, either as a bye week fill-in or your flex.

CTAs


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