11 Second-Year Sleepers to Target (2022 Fantasy Football)
While rookies are the hot topic this time of year, there are always plenty of second-year NFL players ready to either break out or continue the hot start to their professional career. Let’s take a look at notable second-year fantasy football players, including rankings and player notes for each.
Player rankings based on our redraft Expert Consensus Rankings for half-PPR leagues.
11 Second-Year Player Sleepers to Target
Justin Fields (CHI): QB17
Justin Fields closed the season out with a promising stretch run as a top ten fantasy quarterback in each of his final four full starts. Fields showed growth in this quartet of games, completing 62.5% of his passes with 7.6 yards per attempt. The rushing is what we covet with the Windy City signal-caller, and we got a look at that as well, as he averaged 64.2 yards per game on the ground. Losing Allen Robinson hurts even more with the team replacing him with Byron Pringle, Equanimeous St. Brown, David Moore, and Velus Jones. The massive weekly upside is still in the cards for Fields with his playmaking ability, but he’s tough to trust as anything more than a QB2 or matchup play, considering the cast of characters surrounding him.
Zach Wilson (NYJ): QB24
Everything about Wilson’s situation is improved from a year ago. The Jets have stockpiled their offense with WR Garrett Wilson, OG Laken Tomlinson, RB Breece Hall, and a plethora of tight ends to give their young quarterback a chance of succeeding in his second season. If New York’s offensive line can hold up in pass protection, Wilson has a chance of delivering fantasy value.
Davis Mills (HOU): QB28
Houston Texans quarterback Davis Mills is one of my biggest offseason risers. He ranked outside my top-40 dynasty quarterbacks as a rookie after being selected by the Texans in the third round of the 2021 NFL Draft. Mills was extremely shaky to start the year, sitting with the league’s 31st-ranked PFF passing grade through his first nine games. The Stanford product turned it on over the final five weeks of the 2021 season, finishing with a 9-to-2 touchdown-to-interception ratio while averaging a respectable 17.4 fantasy points per game. With a full offseason ahead as the presumed starter, Mills is shaping up to be a strong fantasy QB2 with room to grow in 2022.
Rhamondre Stevenson (NE): RB37
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.”
Kenneth Gainwell (PHI): RB46
Kenneth Gainwell was in the backfield mix all season long, but he wasn’t given a prominent role. The most we saw of Gainwell was 53% of the snaps played in Week 18, where he turned his 16 touches into 87 total yards. With Jordan Howard not returning, he’s in the running with Boston Scott and Kennedy Brooks to mix in behind Miles Sanders. Gainwell was sixth in yards per route run last season, which isn’t shocking considering his receiving chops coming out of Memphis. His ability as a pass-catcher could be his easiest path to earning more playing time this season.
Khalil Herbert (CHI): RB52
One of my favorite cheap back targets is Khalil Herbert. David Montgomery is on the final year of his rookie contract, and the new coaching regime will have no loyalty toward him. That could open the door for Herbert to earn a larger role, which he more than deserves after how well he played in 2021.
Herbert was PFF’s fourth-highest-graded rusher (84.6) from Weeks 5-8 with Montgomery sidelined. The rookie rushed for at least 72 yards in all four games. Montgomery rushed for 72 yards four times all season.
Kadarius Toney (NYG): WR45
Kadarius Toney is a wild card. With offseason rumblings that he could be dealt with and an offseason knee surgery to pile on top, Toney is a boom or bust type proposition for 2022. When Toney was on the field last year, there’s no denying that he flashed immense upside. In 2021 among all wide receivers with 100 or more routes, only Cooper Kupp, Davante Adams, A.J. Brown, Antonio Brown, and Toney finished with a 29% target per route run rate (or higher) and at least 2.20 yards per route run.
Rondale Moore (ARI): WR58
The target waters for Rondale Moore are muddy entering his second season. The bull case for Arizona’s slot Mighty Mouse is that he drew targets at a high rate when on the field in 2021, and he was successful in making plays with them. Moore was third among all wide receivers in yards after the catch per reception (minimum 50 targets, per PFF). He also ranked 28th in route win rate and 30th in targets per snap. This is a perfect time to buy the dip for a talented second-year wide receiver.
Nico Collins (HOU): WR69
Nico Collins commanded end-zone targets and high air-yard throws in 2021 but ultimately never put together a true breakout game. He finished behind Brandin Cooks in air yards and all other receiving categories. Still, he should open the 2022 season at worst as the de facto No. 2 option – if John Metchie is not fully back from his torn ACL – for up-and-coming second-year quarterback Davis Mills.
Josh Palmer (LAC): WR74
Mike Williams‘ return to the Chargers in free agency puts a slight damper on the sophomore breakout for Josh Palmer. But, there’s still fantasy appeal to rostering the No. 3 option in a Justin Herbert-led offense. As a rookie, Palmer averaged over seven targets per game and scored a touchdown in his three games with a 60% snap share. He was also extremely efficient in the end zone, catching three of his five total end-zone targets for TDs.
Brevin Jordan (HOU): TE26
The Miami product enjoyed a decent rookie season, finishing with a 19% target rate per route run and four top-12 weekly finishes over his last nine games. Jordan also dominated the receiving usage over the team’s last two games, running 40 routes to Pharaoh Brown‘s 18 and Anthony Auclair’s five. It’s a great sign that Jordan should lock down the primary receiving role at tight end in Houston, especially with Jordan Akins signing with the New York Giants this offseason. It’s easy to envision Jordan carving out a solid receiving role in a lackluster/unproven receiving corps behind Cooks. He’s an athletic tight end with YAC-ability that I will gladly draft as my second or third tight end across any squad.
FantasyPros Staff Consensus 2022 Redraft Fantasy Football Rankings
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