10 Players Who Can Help You Win Your League (2022 Fantasy Football)
League winners. These tend to be players that will jump tiers to help fantasy managers claim the glory of a championship. Cooper Kupp, Lamar Jackson, and Patrick Mahomes have claimed this title in recent years. Who can help you win your league in 2022? Let’s take a look at players our analysts have identified.
Players That Can Help You Win Your League
In his first full season, Jalen Hurts was the QB6 in fantasy points per game as the Eagles’ starting quarterback. An ankle sprain dropped his rushing numbers from 57.9 to 29.7 yards per game over his final three contests. Without that ding, his full-season numbers could have been even better. With another season in this offensive system incoming and A.J. Brown now on the roster, Hurts has top-three fantasy quarterback upside in 2022.
Same old song and dance for Dalvin Cook in 2021. The Minnesota Vikings running back was a workhorse when healthy, averaging 22 touches per game (5th) and 15.2 fantasy points per game (RB11). But the market seems to have soured on the consensus No. 2 pick from a season ago, because he missed four games and his production didn’t align with his usage.
His ADP has fallen to the back of Round 1, and it’s unwarranted based on the impending touchdown regression Cook will experience in 2022. His 15 goal-line carries ranked fourth in the NFL last season, but he converted just three into scores. Considering Cook averaged 16 TDs from 2019-2020, his meager 6 TDs from last season look like a blip on the radar.
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.
It’s clear that the experts and sharps are convinced that Cam Akers sucks at football after he averaged an abysmal 2.4 yards per carry during the 2021 season after returning from his Achilles injury – the worst mark of any running back with at least 70 carries. But his inefficient production is partially related to the juggernaut of run defenses he faced down the stretch – San Francisco 49ers (twice) and Tampa Bay Buccaneers – when in fact no Rams RB ran efficiently. 95% of his rushing yards in 2021 came after contact – the highest mark in the NFL.
Did I also mention he was never even supposed to come back at ALL last season due his Achilles injury? If Travis Etienne came back from his injury and failed to perform, would that be held against his draft stock?
There’s simply too much emphasis placed on Akers’ production when touch volume is the key driver to fantasy success at running back. In the Rams’ divisional playoff win versus the Buccaneers, Akers played 81% of the Los Angeles offensive snaps and out-touched Sony Michel (signed with Miami this offseason) 27 to three.
I expect Akers to be dialed back in as the top RB next season in Sean McVay’s consistent 1RB offense, where the team’s lead back averages 20-plus touches per game. Darrell Henderson has proven he’s nothing more than a replaceable running back that the Rams continue to try and replace.
Not to mention, Akers has a cakewalk of soft-run defenses to open the season against the Bills, Falcons and Cardinals. Won’t take long for Akers to pay off his early Round 4 ADP in a high-powered offense.
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Travis Etienne Jr. was a standout college football running back for the Clemson Tigers from 2017 to 2020 and was selected by the Jaguars in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft -25th overall. However, his rookie season was cut short by a preseason Lisfranc injury. Some NFL personnel reported that Etienne could have come back towards the end of the year had the Jaguars been in playoff contention instead of being the league’s laughing stock.
Etienne is expected to be fully cleared by training camp, giving him a leg up on the RB1 role as the Jacksonville Jaguars install a new offense under new head coach Doug Pederson. With James Robinson attempting to come back from a torn Achilles injury suffered on December 26th, Etienne figures to be the featured back during this spring/summer.
Do not forget what this guy did at Clemson with Trevor Lawrence (QB – JAC) as his quarterback. During his final season as a Clemson Tiger, he led the country in receiving yards and ranked second in receptions among running backs. Etienne also racked up the most rushing attempts of 20-plus yards (40) from 2018 to 2019 while only carrying the ball 20-plus times once since 2018.
Rhamondre Stevenson experienced a very successful rookie season that should not be overlooked. After fully escaping the Bill Belichick doghouse in Week 9, Stevenson earned top grades across the board.
He was PFF’s third-highest graded running back (84.2). Stevenson also ranked 13th in rushing yards and in yards per route run (1.41). For fantasy, the rookie running back was the RB25 in total points scored, eight spots behind his backfield teammate Harris.
There’s a high ceiling for Stevenson, especially if you ask former Patriots linebacker Rob Ninkovich. The ESPN analyst went as far as saying that Stevenson “…will be one of the better, if not one of the top three, running backs in the league based on what I saw with his strength, explosion and catch-and-run ability.”
Entering Year 3, it looked like Courtland Sutton was on the cusp of true elite fantasy WR1 production, but his 2020 season was lost due to a torn ACL in Week 2. It was unclear how productive Sutton would be returning from the devastating knee injury.
But to start the 2021 season, the Broncos wide receiver looked like his old self. He averaged 13.8 fantasy points per game (17th) and had a 27% target share in Weeks 2-7 during the regular season.
It wasn’t until Jerry Jeudy‘s return from injury that Sutton – and the rest of the Broncos pass catchers – became obsolete in a crowded, run-heavy offense led by a combination of Lock/Teddy Bridgewater. Nevertheless, Sutton finished the season as the fantasy WR46.
Sutton has a real chance to recapture his elite form another year removed from his ACL injury. It also helps substantially that he has received an ultra upgrade at the quarterback position with Denver’s trade for Russell Wilson.
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.
Pittman got the true WR1 treatment from the Colts coaching staff in 2021, running a route on 96% of offensive dropbacks – third to only Cooper Kupp (WR1) and Ja’Marr Chase (WR4) through 17 weeks. He also finished the season tied for the league’s eighth-highest target share (24%), which was 11 percentage points higher than the next closest Colt, Zach Pascal, at 13%.
He also made 18 highlight-reel contested catches – fourth most in the NFL. And his 31% target share from Weeks 13-18 cemented his place in Indy’s WR1 chair heading into 2022.
With Matt Ryan under center Pittman has the volume potential to be a top-12 fantasy option. Ryan has a history of fueling top-end fantasy WRs like Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley, making a top-five finish not all that crazy for Big Mike in 2022.
Don’t forget that last season, Ridley as the Falcons’ No. 1 receiver owned the sixth-highest target rate per route run and ranked second among all wide receivers in expected fantasy points per game (16.5).
Mike Williams had the opportunity to take his talents elsewhere this offseason in free agency, but decided to stay in Los Angeles with quarterback Justin Herbert. Hard to argue with the choice to sign a three-year deal worth $60M attached to a young superstar quarterback, especially when that quarterback fueled a career year.
He stormed out the gate in 2021 as the WR2 in fantasy through the first five weeks of the season, averaging 94.2 receiving yards and 1.2 receiving touchdowns per game.
Big Mike finished the season as the WR23 in fantasy points per game despite cooling off considerably in the later weeks in addition to leaving a boatload of touchdown production on the table.
He finished sixth in end-zone targets (16) but caught only five for touchdowns.
With positive TD regression on his side, Williams looks like a sneaky candidate to repeat his WR12 overall finish in the half-point scoring format.
Pop the champagne and break out the party hats. Skyy Moore landing in Kansas City is a near-perfect outcome. Moore lands on a talented offense with an elite quarterback and an offensive genius. Yes, JuJu Smith-Schuster‘s presence will hurt his projected target upside, but Moore has the talent to emerge as the number two option in this passing offense behind only Travis Kelce. I know I sound ridiculously bullish on Moore, but for a player that converted to wide receiver when he arrived at Western Michigan and then proceeded to post a 91st college dominator rating and soak up a 99th percentile target share, the ceiling is enormous. Moore is a tackle-breaking machine and will be a YAC maven. I’ll draft him aggressively in dynasty rookie drafts not only because of the landing spot but his talent profile warrants it.
FantasyPros Staff Consensus 2022 Redraft Fantasy Football Rankings
If you want to dive deeper into fantasy football, check out our award-winning slate of Fantasy Football Tools as you navigate your season. From our Start/Sit Assistant – which provides your optimal lineup based on accurate consensus projections – to our Waiver Wire Assistant, which allows you to quickly see which available players will improve your team and how much – we’ve got you covered this fantasy football season.