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12 Third-Year Players to Target (2022 Fantasy Football)

Aug 14, 2022
D'Andre Swift

D’Andre Swift provides plenty of fantasy upside thanks to his receiving ability out of the backfield.

While NFL seems to stand for ‘Not For Long’ more and more every year, players entering the league with decent draft capital tend to get at least three years to show their ability. Of course, some break out earlier, while others don’t get even a third year to prove themselves. Let’s take a look at third-year players you should target in your 2022 fantasy football drafts.

Rankings noted using FantasyPros half-PPR Expert Consensus Rankings (ECR) and Consensus ADP.

Fantasy Football Redraft Draft Kit

Third-Year Players to Target

Justin Herbert (LAC)
ECR QB2

Justin Herbert finished third in touchdowns and fifth in PFF passing grade (91.8) from a clean pocket in 2021. The Bolts quarterback also wrapped up the season as PFF’s third-highest-graded quarterback overall, third in fantasy points per game (22.7), and fifth in expected fantasy points per game (21.7)The Los Angeles Chargers signal-caller is a certified stud – a top-five, elite-tier fantasy quarterback in 2022. Only Tom Brady and Josh Allen posted as many top-5 weeks as Herbert did last season. He and Brady led the NFL with nine 300-yard passing games. Since entering the NFL in 2020, Herbert has thrown for 300-plus yards in 53% of his games played. Even if his rushing doesn’t stack up with the league’s elite, Herbert’s cannon provides almost everything he needs to close the gap.

Jalen Hurts (PHI)
ECR QB6

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.

D’Andre Swift (DET)
ECR RB8

In Weeks 1-11, before suffering an AC joint sprain that kiboshed his season, D’Andre Swift was a fantasy monster. He was the RB7, averaging 19 touches and 97.5 total yards per game. While the Lions have added more passing game weapons in the offseason with D.J. Chark and Jameson Williams, Swift’s efficiency through the air allows for hope that his target share (18.4%, second among running backs) won’t see a drastic dip. In Weeks 1-11, he was ninth in yards per route run (minimum 15 targets, per PFF) among running backs.

AJ Dillon (GB)
ECR RB25

Aaron Jones has had an excellent three-year window but has shown some signs of breaking down a bit. A.J. Dillon has power, speed and ability to catch the football. Dillon’s efficiency grade from PFF since entering the league is 90.1. and there aren’t many guys around RB25 who have a path to an RB1 finish. Dillon has that in this depleted Packers offense this season, especially if Jones (entering his sixth year in the league) misses time.

Justin Jefferson (MIN)
ECR WR2

Justin Jefferson has been a revelation since entering the league. He has the most receiving yards in NFL history (3,016) in a player’s first two seasons and is PFF’s second-highest-graded receiver over that span (91.7). The Minnesota Vikings wide receiver finished 2021 as the WR4 in fantasy points per game (19.5 PPR) and expected fantasy points per game (18.8). Jefferson was the model of consistency at just 22 years old, finishing as a weekly top-20 wide receiver in 76% of his games (13 of 17) while commanding the league’s third-highest target share (27%) and No. 1 air yards share (44%).

CeeDee Lamb (DAL)
ECR WR6

The engines are ready for ignition. CeeDee Lamb‘s rocket ship to the moon is prepped for launch. Last season Lamb was 13th in yards per route run in the regular season (minimum 50 targets per PFF) while excelling as a bully after the catch. He was fifth in missed tackles forced among wide receivers. With Amari Cooper gone and Michael Gallup likely to start the season limited, Lamb can take another step forward as an ascending alpha wide receiver.

Tee Higgins (CIN)
ECR WR11

Tee Higgins‘ 23% target rate per route run was higher than Ja’Marr Chase‘s 21% during the 2021 regular season as was his 25% target share in the games they played together when healthy. There’s no denying that WR1 overall upside exists with Chase in 2022, but Higgins’ constant command of targets in a loaded Cincinnati offense will make him a screaming value in 2022 fantasy drafts.

Michael Pittman Jr. (IND)
ECR WR13

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).

Darnell Mooney (CHI)
ECR WR26

Darnell Mooney is poised to take another step forward this season. Last year his 1.72 yards per route run (40th, minimum 50 targets per PFF) won’t blow you away, but the inherent volume he’s walking into and Justin Fields taking another step forward will be the tide to help fantasy gamers raise “ships.” Last season in the five games without Allen Robinson on the field, Mooney averaged 9.6 targets and 78.2 receiving yards per game. The yardage mark would have been the seventh-highest mark. Mooney’s median is a low-end WR2 or high-end WR3, but if he garners more than 11 red-zone targets (38th) he received last year, he could vault even higher.

Gabriel Davis (BUF)
ECR WR30

Gabriel Davis averaged 19.8 fantasy points per game (PPR) and 16.0 expected fantasy points per game in his last six games while running a route on 88% of dropbacks as the Bills finally emphasized his playing time in the offense.As a strong bet to earn the No. 2 wide receiver job come opening day, Davis has a legitimate shot to be a reliable fantasy option in a Josh Allen-led offense in 2022.

K.J. Osborn (MIN)
ECR WR72

K.J. Osborn flashed at times during the 2021 season, but never more so than when he filled in for Adam Thielen. From Weeks 13-17, the second-year pro averaged 12 half-PPR fantasy points per game to go along with six targets. If Thielen starts to break down entering his age 32-season, Osborn would be the prime benefactor.

Cole Kmet (CHI)
ECR TE13

Cole Kmet ranked inside the top 12 amongst tight ends in targets (93, eighth), target share (17.7%, 11th), receiving yards (612, 12th), and air yard share (17.6%, 11th). With the depth chart devoid of receiving talent outside of Darnell Mooney, Kmet should see a similar share of the passing offense (if not more) in 2022. With touchdown regression poised to strike his box scores, Kmet is a high floor and ceiling option in fantasy.

FantasyPros Staff Consensus 2022 Redraft Fantasy Football Rankings

2022 Fantasy Football Rankings powered by FantasyPros

 

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