The hidden storylines that present opportunity going into 2022Average Draft Positions (ADPs) are sure to have wild fluctuations between now and draft season. We obviously have not yet seen the changes to rosters and coaching staffs that will take place over the next several months. However, it is important to understand the storylines now, before they simply become statistics with forgotten context.
Here are 5 players I anticipate targeting ahead of their ADP, barring any unexpected skyrocketing in their value between now and August.
Kyle Pitts was the TE7 on the season in .5 PPR formats when he only had 1 touchdown. For a rookie on a bad team, that is extremely impressive. I would expect his yardage next season to at worst remain flat. If his touchdown total can increase even to 5, he's instantly an elite tight end. He probably has the upside for 8+ touchdowns which could put him in the conversation for the top tight end overall. When his price appears to be in the same ballpark as George Kittle (see the players I am avoiding at ADP) and Darren Waller, I will gladly take the chance on Pitts elevating to the elite tight end stratosphere.
For comparison, I like the value of Jalen Hurts far more than someone like Trey Lance, who I expect to have way too much hype as the expected starter next season with a great supporting cast and coaching staff. While I do believe Lance will be a good starter for fantasy, the hype around Hurts will be far lower, making him a steal with the rushing floor he provides. Let's not forget that this was virtually his rookie year - it just doesn't feel that way considering he came onto the field late the previous year. The only risk with Hurts is if he struggles from a "real football" standpoint enough to lose his job. At his price, however, I'm ok taking that risk and maybe supplementing him with someone like Justin Fields who I also expect to be undervalued.
This one has post-hype sleeper written all over him. Perhaps the most hyped fantasy receiver in 2021 drafts, Lamb showed some flashes of brilliance but did not give fantasy managers what they had hoped. He finished as the WR17 in half PPR formats, sandwiched between Jaylen Waddle and Michael Pittman Jr.
My confidence in Lamb is due to a few key points. He will likely have a full season without Michael Gallup (though it's possible Gallup now stays in Dallas after his injury suppresses his free agent value). I also have decreasing trust in both Amari Cooper and Ezekiel Elliott at this stage of their respective careers. I am betting that the Cowboys will have to make Lamb the centerpiece of the offense on a more consistent basis than we saw in 2021. Keep in mind that Offensive Coordinator Kellen Moore may also land a head coaching gig, and any new blood calling the plays may make a point to feature the team's best weapon.
This one might seem aggressive considering how highly priced he already is. I don't care. To do what he did as a rookie, it is hard not to draw direct comparisons to Justin Jefferson. I believe he, along with Jefferson, have the highest combination of ceiling and floor of any receivers in fantasy next season, so give me the slightly cheaper guy in Chase. While someone like Cooper Kupp should still probably be drafted at the top of the WR ranks given his explosion this year, he probably won't be on any of my teams at his price. Chase has the second year bump working in his favor, and potentially even more upside than Jefferson considering the continued ascension of Joe Burrow.
For relative context, I would take Ja'Marr Chase over Tyreek Hill without hesitation.
There seems to be a perception that running backs can simply be mixed and matched into Kyle Shanahan's offense with similar levels of success. Shanahan's actual decisions would not indicate that to be the case.
There were stretches of the season where Mitchell was not available, and the team did not simply hand the reins to another back as the workhorse. They mixed in Jeff Wilson Jr, a little bit of Trey Sermon, converted Deebo Samuel to a hybrid player, and even sprinkled in their fullback Kyle Juszczyk. This was not a shift in philosophy, as they went right back to Mitchell for 25+ carries multiple times after he returned from injury. The fact that he is the only back that Shanahan trusts with that kind of volume, in a system that wants to run the ball 30+ times a game, can make him a low end RB1 at a significant discount. The volume concerns with Trey Lance as the presumed starting QB are a bit overblown in my opinion.
As mentioned with my take on CeeDee Lamb, I simply no longer trust Ezekiel Elliot. He could be headed for a Todd Gurley-esque wall in the near future, and even the potential for Pollard to steal the lead role in Dallas makes me happy to take a shot on him as my RB3.
As a bonus, the Dallas defense suddenly became nasty with Dan Quinn calling the shots and rookies Micah Parsons and Trevon Diggs wreaking havoc. The young talent on this unit is tremendous and should give the offense a lot of positive game script, particularly in their division.
The talent of both Rhamondre Stevenson and Damien Harris jump off the screen. The offensive scheme and stout defense also help the run game. The problem for both of these backs is each other. As long as workload is split, neither seems to be more than a weekly mid to low range RB2 with hopes for a touchdown.
Stevenson is more of a power runner who breaks off 7 and 8 yard runs with ease. While Harris seemed to be more of the 1A to Stevenson's 1B, his hamstring injuries down the stretch appeared to be more correlated to his particular running style as a slasher. Soft tissue injuries concern me with Harris as being potentially chronic, so I like Stevenson's chances to get an opportunity.
We all know by now that fantasy is at least as much about opportunity as it is talent, particularly for running backs.
For the other side of this coin, see 5 Players I Won't Be Taking at Their ADP in 2022.
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