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Predicting the fantasy football sleepers and breakouts for 2022

Rachel Wold

Looking ahead to the 2022 NFL season, let’s explore some under-the-radar fantasy football sleepers and some players poised for big breakouts this fall.

Here is a look at each major position on offense and where to find the best value for your ultimate fantasy football team once drafting begins taking place.

Note that this list will continually be updated throughout free agency and the offseason as roles shift and players sign with new NFL franchises. Enjoy!

Related: Top NFL free agents of 2022

Fantasy Football Sleepers

Quarterback Sleepers

Mitchell Trubisky, quarterback, Pittsburgh Steelers

fantasy football sleepers; mitchell trubisky
Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

The Steelers drafted Kenny Pickett who may earn the starting job as camps play out. However, if he struggles to any major degree, Mitchell Trubisky could get the nod. Trubisky is worth a stash as a top fantasy sleeper QB who inherited a terrific offense to work with, should Pickett need more time to ramp up.

Marcus Mariota, Atlanta Falcons

Despite the Falcons drafting Desmond Ridder, Mariota is a sleeper quarterback who could hold some value if Ridder is not up to par to start the 2022 season. Mariota’s dual-threat talents keep him in the fantasy discussion, especially in super-flex fantasy formats.

Related: Fantasy football dynasty rankings for 2022

Running Back Sleepers

Phillip Lindsay, running back, Indianapolis Colts

Lindsay just signed with the Colts, making him a fantasy sleeper to draft and stash. If Jonathan Taylor should miss time, Lindsay could step up as a decent fill-in. Keep in mind Lindsay was efficient back in Denver in 2018-20, averaging 4.8 yards per carry and nearly 72 total yards per game.

Marlon Mack, running back, Houston Texans

fantasy football sleepers: marlon mack
Bob Self / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Texans saw fit to sign Mack to compete for the starting job. Prior to tearing his Achilles during Week 1 of the 2020 season, Mack had two back-to-back 1,000-rushing yard campaigns. He also scored 18 touchdowns during that span. The potential is there as Mack emerges as a fantasy sleeper.

D’Onta Foreman, running back, Carolina Panthers

With how injury-prone Christian McCaffrey is these days, the Panthers brought on Foreman for depth. Foreman is sleeper running back to target in later rounds as a guy who stepped up when filling in for Derrick Henry last season. 4.3 Keep in mind, that he rushed for 4.3 yards per carry compared to the 3.6 Chuba Hubbard managed covering for McCaffrey.

Raheem Mostert, running back, Miami Dolphins

If Mostert can stay healthy, he’s got a sneaky chance to reward as a lower-round draft pick playing alongside Chase Edmonds, whose health is questionable at times as well. When on the field with his former 49ers, Mostert averaged 5.7 yards per carry.

Ke’Shawn Vaughn, running back, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Vaughn’s fantasy stock could be on the rise as he works in tandem with Leonard Fournette. Given limited opportunities in 2022, Vaughn averaged a flashy 5.0 yards per tote. He certainly carries some fantasy sleeper appeal, especially with Tom Brady at the helm.

Abram Smith, running back, New Orleans Saints

With Alvin Kamara potentially facing an NFL suspension for an off-field incident in Las Vegas, prior to the 2022 Pro Bowl, Smith is a sleeper RB to keep tabs on. Smith could have a prominent role should Kamara miss time. He last rushed for 1,601 yards and 12 touchdowns in his 2021 season at Baylor.

Snoop Conner, rookie running back, Jacksonville Jaguars

A sneaky RB to draft in later rounds is Conner who right now is the healthiest running back on the Jags’ roster. Should either Travis Etienne and/or James Robinson experience a setback in their rehab, Conner’s workload could increase.

Isaih Pacheco, rookie running back, Kansas City Chiefs

Competing for touches with the oft-injured roster of Chiefs RBs, Pacheco has a chance to stand out this summer. Speedy with a durable 5-foot-11, 215-pound frame, Pacheco was a steal by the Chiefs in the seventh round of this year’s draft. Keep him on your radar as a later-round pick who could pay off this Fall.

Wide Receiver Sleepers

Kadarius Toney, wide receiver, New York Giants

With Daniel Jones’ fantasy stock on the rise in 2022, Toney is a fantasy sleeper to keep tabs on. Because of his injury-plagued rookie year, Toney can be had on the cheap in redraft leagues this summer. It is worth noting that the Giants drafted him 20th overall coming from an 11-TD senior year as a Florida Gator.

Jarvis Landry, wide receiver, New Orleans Saints

Landry could not have signed with a better team which makes him one of the best fantasy WR sleepers for 2022. He will be paired up with a QB (Jameis Winston) who could attempt upwards of 600 passes this year. This will bode well considering the 8.5 targets per game Landry has recorded throughout his career.

Romeo Doubs, rookie wide receiver, Green Bay Packers

Doubs could sneak up the ranks as a handy receiving option for Aaron Rodgers, making him a fantasy sleeper WR to take note of. He’s coming from a stellar 80-catch, 1,109-yard, 11-TD college season and he could surpass the injury-prone Randall Cobb and/or Sammy Watkins should either miss time this year.

Russell Gage, wide receiver, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Those who draft Gage in later rounds could have a fantasy sleeper on their hands. Catching passes from Tom Brady can turn any WR into a star! A change of scenery from Atlanta might be just what this 26-year-old receiver needs for a jumpstart.

D.J. Chark, wide receiver, Detroit Lions

With rookie Jameson Williams potentially missing a few games early in the season (on the mend from a torn ACL), Chark is sleeper WR who could have an immediate fantasy impact right from the start. Draft him late and enjoy the rewards.

Josh Palmer, wide receiver, Los Angeles Chargers

Palmer showed some promise as a rookie in 2021 and he could slide into a bigger role if either veterans Keenan Allen or Mike Williams miss time. Working with a polished passer in that of Justin Herbert, Palmer’s sleeper appeal is undeniable.

Braxton Berrios, wide receiver, New York Jets

fantasy football sleepers: braxton berrios,
Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Berrios was a hot waiver wire add late in 2021 as a fantasy WR who received 29 targets in his last four games. He also recorded four touchdowns over this stretch. He’s a gadget player and a fantasy sleeper who makes for a great later-round fantasy pick — especially in best-ball leagues.

Justyn Ross, wide receiver, Kansas City Chiefs

Worth a deep dart throw — especially in dynasty — Ross is a rookie wide receiver sleeper for 2022, who could carve out a role as the Chiefs rebuild their WR room. Ross is an ultra-talented receiver out of Clemson who just gained medical clearance to return after recovering from spine and foot injuries.

Danny Gray, wide receiver, San Francisco 49ers

Keep tabs on the Deebo Samuel situation as the summer plays out. If Samuel sits out (wants a trade), Gray could have some relevance in deeper fantasy formats. The 49ers selected Gray in the third round of the 2022 NFL Draft to add depth to a pretty weak WR roster aside from Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk.

DeVante Parker, wide receiver, New England Patriots

Don’t look now, but Parker is the Patriots’ No. 1 WR. When healthy, Parker has always played at a high level, averaging 14 yards per catch over his seven years in Miami. There is little risk and potentially high reward in taking a later-round flier on Parker in redraft leagues this year.

Tight End Sleepers

Kendall Blanton, tight end, Los Angeles Rams

A deep sleeper at tight end, Blanton’s presence during the last postseason caught our eyes. In three games, he caught seven-of-seven targets for 75 yards and one touchdown. Heading into 2022, Blanton — at the very least — makes a good handcuff for those who roster veteran Tyler Higbee.

Hunter Long, tight end, Miami Dolphins

Long is a fantasy TE sleeper who may have some value down the road. The Dolphins gave Mike Gesicki the franchise tag, securing him for only one more season. The Dolphins drafted Long in the third round last year coming from a 2020 college season that consisted of 685 yards and five TDs.

John Bates, tight end, Washington Commanders

If veteran Logan Thomas misses any time at the start of the season (torn ACL), Bates is a deep sleeper at TE for 2022. He’s next in depth and will be playing with a QB (Carson Wentz) who has always kept his tight ends very relevant in the passing game.

Related: Top 100 NFL players of 2022

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Fantasy Football breakouts

Zach Wilson, quarterback, New York Jets

After a notable rookie season — including no interceptions committed over his last five games — Zach Wilson is a fantasy quarterback slated for a huge breakout in 2022! The potential is there for Wilson to become startable every week.

Note also that the Jets have done a tremendous job this offseason securing talent for Wilson to work with.

Daniel Jones, quarterback, New York Giants

fantasy football breakouts: daniel jones
Danielle Parhizkaran/NorthJersey.com / USA TODAY NETWORK

Once again, Daniel Jones should be on the brink of a breakout fantasy season. No, really! The Giants have faith that Jones should thrive working with his new head coach, Brian Daboll, who is “very high” on him. Jones will have had plenty of time to heal from a neck injury and will be a late-round fantasy football QB who could far exceed his draft expectations.

Related: Ranking top NFL QBs of 2022

Davis Mills, quarterback, Houston Texans

If the Texans stick to Mills as a starter in 2022, he could be slated for a big breakout year. Mills was really finding his groove towards the latter part of his 2021 rookie year, throwing for eight touchdowns versus just two interceptions in his last four games. He will be a steal of a fantasy QB to draft in very late rounds.

J.K. Dobbins, running back, Baltimore Ravens

Look for Dobbins to make a healthy comeback (torn ACL) and to light up the field in 2022. He might be drafted slightly lower than he should since he missed his entire 2021 sophomore year. But, the breakout potential is there for Dobbins to be a fantasy RB1 playing on a run-first Ravens offense.

Rhamondre Stevenson, running back, New England Patriots

fantasy football breakouts: rhamondre stevenson
Rhona Wise-USA TODAY Sports

As a rookie in 2021, Stevenson turned out to be a hot fantasy waiver wire target who saw his role increase playing alongside Damien Harris. Stevenson rushed at a quick pace of 4.6 yards per tote and he could see an increase in touches — setting him up for a fantasy breakout year in 2022.

Gabriel Davis, wide receiver, Buffalo Bills

After a sensational two-game postseason run, Davis racked up 242 yards and five touchdowns. On this high note, Davis will enter 2022 boasting plenty of fantasy potential. Look for Davis’ chemistry with Josh Allen to keep building as Davis evolves into a reliable fantasy receiver.

Allen Robinson, wide receiver, Los Angeles Rams

Allen Robinson’s fantasy breakout potential just skyrocketed! Robinson will now be catching passes from Matthew Stafford this fall. He should rebound big-time from his dismal 2021 campaign with the Chicago Bears.

Courtland Sutton, wide receiver, Denver Broncos

With Russell Wilson under center, it should bring Sutton back to the fantasy limelight. Sutton scored a criminal two touchdowns in 2021, which is unacceptable. By the end of last year, Sutton was waiver wire fodder. With Sutton catching passes from Wilson, he should break out into that fantasy stud we all know is hidden within.

Michael Thomas, wide receiver, New Orleans Saints

Those who land Thomas in later rounds of drafting may have a fantasy breakout on their hands. With Jameis Winston at QB, Thomas could regain his stride. He was a fantasy stud in 2019, producing a league-high 1,725 yards — as was Winston in 2019 — with his league-high 5,109 passing yards.

Kyle Pitts, tight end, Atlanta Falcons

Pitts should rebound from a one-touchdown rookie season, right? The targets and yards should be plentiful as they were in 2021 (110/68/1,026), setting Pitts up for the perfect breakout season.

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