Let’s take a look at nine players Derek Brown is all-in on early in fantasy football drafts.
Rankings noted using FantasyPros half-PPR Expert Consensus Rankings (ECR) and Consensus ADP.
Jalen Hurts (QB – PHI)
ADP QB7 | ECR QB6
Jalen Hurts has league-winning upside again this year. Last season before dealing with an injury, he was the QB6 in fantasy points per game. Before getting dinged up, he averaged 57.9 rushing yards per game, pacing toward a 1,000-yard rushing season (985). After the injury, he dipped to 29.7 rushing yards per game. The final part of the equation to push him over the top will come through the air with a full season of Hurts getting freaky in the open field.
With the arrival of A.J. Brown, the ascension of DeVonta Smith and the Eagles leaning more pass-heavy in 2022, Hurts could reach the hollow ground of top three quarterback status in fantasy. In Weeks 1-7, he averaged 245.1 passing yards per game (4,166 pace) before the team swerved and became run-centric. Along with the passing yardage boost, he could see touchdown regression. Last year among 33 quarterbacks with 200 or more pass attempts, Hurts was 23rd with a 3.7% passing touchdown rate. The runway is clear. The wheels are up. It’s time for Hurts to fly.
Justin Fields (QB – CHI)
ADP QB18 | ECR QB16
The Justin Fields worries have reached critical mass. The concern has gone too far and I’ll be drafting Fields everywhere possible. Last season over his final four full starts, he was QB5, QB10, QB10, and QB10. This was accomplished with a nonexistent Allen Robinson impact. Darnell Mooney and Cole Kmet were the main cogs in the Bears’ offense at that point, so Robinson’s loss is being overblown. We know the rushing will be a big part of his game. Over those final four games, it helped propel him up the scoring ranks as he averaged 64.2 yards per game. In his full starts after Week 7, he showed incredible growth. He was the 11th highest graded passer per PFF, seventh in big-time throw rate, and eighth in yards per attempt. This year, Luke Getsy will incorporate more play-action designs and easy completions via screens to help Fields. So invest in Fields in 2022 and enjoy.
Saquon Barkley (RB – NYG)
ADP RB13 | ECR RB14
Last season was nightmare fuel for Saquon Barkley. In his return from the ACL injury, he posted his career’s lowest breakaway run rate (3.1%, per Playerprofiler.com) and yards after contact per attempt (2.69, per PFF). With Joe Judge and Jason Garrett’s special brand of season-destroying special sauce gone, Barkley has all the motivation to crush this year as a pending free agent. With the additions of Jon Feliciano, Mark Glowinski, and first-round pick Evan Neal to pair with holdover Andrew Thomas, the blocking upfront should be much improved. A massive bounce-back campaign could be brewing.
Cam Akers (RB – LAR)
ADP RB18 | ECR RB18
Cam Akers wasn’t expected to return last year in time for the playoffs, but he pulled it off. He saw snap shares from 39% to as high as 81%. While he racked up volume in the process with 18.7 touches per game, his efficiency numbers were middling at best. His 2.31 yards after contact per attempt was a far cry from the 2.96 he rattled off in his rookie season (per PFF). With a full offseason to hopefully recoup any lost juice and return to his first-year form, Akers has the upside to be a workhorse in one of the best offenses in the NFL.
Mike Williams (WR – LAC)
ADP WR18 | ECR WR18
Could this finally be the season that Mike Williams surpasses Keenan Allen in fantasy football? The numbers all point to yes. Last season Williams came out of the gate on fire. Weeks 1-5, he commanded a 25.2% target share (16th), ranking 15th in weighted opportunity as the WR3 in fantasy. After that stretch, his production fell off before rebounding after Week 12 with a 20.8% target share as the WR17.
Allen has the look of a receiver who is quietly slowing down as his yards per route run has declined in each of the last five seasons. He also manufactured the lowest yards after the catch per reception of his career in 2021 (3.4, per PFF). Williams was among the most efficient wide receivers in the NFL last season, ranking 15th in yards per route run and 18th in yards after the catch per reception (minimum 50 targets, per PFF). Should you draft a receiver who could assume the leading role in a top-five scoring offense tied to one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL? Yes. Yes, you should.
A.J. Brown (WR – PHI)
ADP WR21 | ECR WR21
If you’re concerned about A.J. Brown‘s move to Philadelphia, don’t be. Brown is one of the most talented wide receivers in the NFL, and talent plays regardless of area code or jersey. Brown was the fourth-highest graded wide receiver per PFF last season and fifth in yards per route run (minimum 50 targets). Before switching to a run-first approach, the Eagles were sixth in neutral passing rate (Weeks 1-6) last season. We could see Philly go back to this pass-heavy offensive approach to see if Jalen Hurts truly is the guy. This means the target volume for Brown could surpass expectations.
Michael Pittman (WR – IND)
ADP WR17 | ECR WR13
After finishing as the WR22 in fantasy points per game last year with hapless Carson Wentz, Michael Pittman is primed to ascend to WR1 status in 2022. Pittman was a top-20 wideout last season in PFF grade (18th), yards per route run (19th) and red-zone targets (14th). With the Colts likely bumping up the passing rate with the arrival of Matt Ryan, Pittman is a smash value in the late third or early fourth round.
Russell Gage (WR – TB)
ADP WR46 | ECR WR44
Russell Gage walks in the comfortable WR3 role in one of the league’s fastest-paced and pass happiest offenses. If Chris Godwin gets off to a slow start or begins the season on the PUP, Gage could get bumped up to Brady’s second option. Gage has the talent to handle that after what he showed in 2021. He was 17th in yards per route run (minimum 50 targets, per PFF) and 12th in route win rate (per Playerprofiler.com). Brady has proven that he can support a bevy of pass-catchers in fantasy, and Gage could be the latest beneficiary to the Brady bump.
Dalton Schultz (TE – DAL)
ADP TE7 | ECR TE6
Dalton Schultz crushed last season at the TE5 in weekly fantasy scoring. His upside this season is even higher as he could enter the top three discussion at his position. In his first season with a featured role, he ranked 11th in yards per route run and 14th in targets per snap. With Michael Gallup questionable to begin the season at full health and only James Washington and Jalen Tolbert behind CeeDee Lamb, Schultz should easily carve out his role as the number two option in the Dallas passing attack.
FantasyPros Staff Consensus 2022 Redraft Fantasy Football Rankings
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