Preseason Watchlist (AFC Edition)

Tuesday, Aug 23, 2022 at 5:42 pm ET

Howdy Folks!

It's about that time again. We're inching closer and closer to the start of the regular season! With our first full week of preseason in the books, I'm breaking down 6 players from each team in the following categories: Lock, Sleeper, Grab, Ignore, Defense, Defense Sleeper.

Lock means that regardless of the situation this (offense) player is my number 1 overall selection for that team.

Sleeper will be individuals that are either lower ranked or not currently on people's radars, that you should invest it.

Grab will be players that should be picked up in all formats, but are still seeing a fair share of not rostered (currently)

Ignore this refers to players completely off my fantasy radar that I do not recommend taking them at ADP.

For IDP Players

Defense will be my lock for defensive anchors

Def Sleeper are players, like offense sleeper, not quite on our minds but should be.

Let's dive right in, we start off with the AFC East!

  Lock Sleeper Grab Ignore Defense  Defense Sleeper
Buffalo Bills Josh Allen Dawson Knox Khalil Shakir Zach Moss /
Jamison Crowder
Tremaine Edwards Terrell Bernard
Miami Dolphins Tyreek Hill Cedrick Wilson Tua Tagovailoa Any RB not Edmonds Jevon Holland  Channing Tindall
New York Jets Elijah Moore Michael Carter Breece Hall Zach Wilson Quinnen Williams Sauce Gardner
New England Patriots Mac Jones Devante Parker Rhamondre Stevenson Jakobi Meyers Matthew Judon Mack Wilson


Josh Allen
It comes to no surprise for me choosing Josh Allen for my offensive lock for the Bills. Josh Allen has skyrocketed to the 2nd best Quarterback in most formats and being ranked higher than Mahomes in Superflex. His gifted arm, pinpoint accuracy and ability to tuck the ball and run, coupled with his prototypical QB size have made him one the brightest young stars the NFL currently has to offer as long as Josh Allen can play at a high level, one can conclude, a Super Bowl is within Buffalo's grasp.
Chase Edmonds
You should ignore the Miami backfield, if their last name is not Edmonds. Personally, I think Miami has 4 GMs as they seemed to sign more runningbacks while forgetting of the current runningbacks they had or recently signed. Edmonds shows the most promise amongst the backs in Miami, he did come a career rushing effort while splitting time with James Conner and missing 5 games. All eyes should be on Edmonds at this point.
Breece Hall
Breece Hall will need to be grabbed immediately or drafted as high as RB2. I have a reasonable amount of faith that the Jets drafted Hall with the intention of using him to his full ability, especially with having a fantastic back in Michael Carter already. Hall, an Iowa prospect, comes highly recommended with an outstanding college resume, which was bolstered by a strong combine with: 40in vertical, 10'6" broad jump and blazing 4.39 40 yard dash. Breece can certainly mold into an every down back, which will only cement his value even further, but for now, let's make sure you're rostering him appropriately. Matt Judon is the defensive lock with JC Jackson leaving and coming off a career year in sacks himself.
DeVante Parker
DeVante Parker was traded to the New England Patriots for a fifth round pick. This gives the Patriots a much needed boost in their receiving game and Mac Jones another WR to target. I'm still rather high on Parker and have been a truther of his despite not getting the adequate production one would hope for from a highly touted prospect. I believe under a new system Parker is bound to see an uptick and begin to start building his hype again with Mac under center. He's definitely worth a mid/late round flier in all formats.
Matt Judon
Matt Judon is the defensive lock with JC Jackson leaving to the Los Angeles Chargers in free agency. Judon is coming off a career year in sacks, quietly, he's becoming a guy that offenses need to plan around to ensure that their QB stays upright.
Sauce Gardner
I'm actually really excited to see what Sauce can do at the highest level. After not allowing a single receiving touchdown in his collegiate career, he's certainly become a household name - dethroning Derek Stingley and Kaiir Elam as the top CB in this draft class. Having previous experience in playing WR at the high school level has attributed to his ability to track down balls and his long frame makes it harder for receivers to secure even the best passes. He's drawn comparisons to the likes of Richard Sherman; let's hope he can continue on this path.

Next up, we will cover the AFC West!

  Lock Sleeper Grab Ignore Defense  Defense Sleeper
Kansas City Chiefs Patrick Mahomes Skyy Moore Marquez Valdes Scantling CEH Justin Reid Leo Chenal
Denver Broncos Javonte Williams KJ Hamler
Al Okwuebunam
Jerry Jeudy Melvin Gordon Justin Simmons Alex Singleton
Las Vegas Raiders Davante Adams Zamir White Derek Carr All other WRs not Renfrow Denzel Perryman Jayon Brown
Los Angeles Chargers Justin Herbert Joshua Palmer Mike Williams Gerald Everett Joey Bosa Asante Samuel Jr
Justin Herbert
By far the hardest locks to choose from and it'd be easy to highlight Mahomes here, so I'm opting to showcase Justin Herbert. Like Allen, Herbert is skyrocketing ranks and have turned his most of his doubters into believers - some of which recognizing he should've been the first QB off the board in his draft class. Personally, after his transfer over to Oregon, I had eyes on this kid noticing that he didn't fit the Oregon mold of QB - mobile, speedy, daring - but rather prototypical pocket QB. Herbert can spread the ball all over the field and can hit all receivers in any position. This offense has slowly been built around Herbert and his skillset. With the likes of veteran Allen, big target Williams, upside in Palmer, speedster Guyton and newly acquired in Everett most expect Herbert expect him to reach top 3 as a QB this season.
KJ Hamler
I had to add Hamler to my sleeper targets with Tim Patrick going down for the year. Now this isn't saying that Hamler, who also is recovering from his own ACL injury, will have an immediate impact and I believe he'll probably have that of a Jalen Guyton level of production, he's still a receiver I can see running a few deep routes and Wilson finding deep downfield. Great boom-or-bust WR for late rounds.
Derek Carr
Carr has shot up for me with the addition of his old college teammate and current best WR in the league, Davante Adams. Carr is typically drafted as a safety blanket / bye week filler, this year he can be drafted as your QB1, however, his production will rely heavily on how well he and Adams still mesh. While he does have Waller and Renfrow still, we're going to see the bulk of Carr's numbers come from Adams.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire
CEH, I wasn't sold on him going to Kansas City to begin with and it seems KC is joining me in my assertions. With Derrick Gore still around, having adding Ronald Jones in the offseason and Isaiah Pacheco, who's been creating lots of buzz lately, this is CEH's job to lose. Steer clear of rostering CEH.
Joey Bosa
Big Bro Bosa was a difficult choice on a team that includes: Khalil Mack, JC Jackson and Derwin James. I believe it's going to start with Bosa and him remaining healthy and setting the tone for this defense. He's definitely going to need to do so in one of the toughest divisions this year.
Alex Singleton
Singleton lands in my sleeper defense pick. He's racked up over 250 tackles in the last two seasons, not much should change as he migrates over to a Denver team that could definitely use some surefire tacklers and healthy linebackers.

Let's head on over to the AFC South!

  Lock Sleeper Grab Ignore Defense  Defense Sleeper
Houston Texans Brandin Cooks Dameon Pierce Nico Collins Everyone Else Kamu Grugier-Hill Christian Harris
Indianapolis Colts Jonathan Taylor Mo Alie-Cox Alec Pierce Parris Campbell Darrius Leonard Kwity Paye
Tennessee Titans Derrick Henry Treylon Burks Robert Woods Nick Westbrook-Ikhine Kevin Byard Caleb Farley
Jacksonville Jaguars Travis Etienne Zay Jones Trevor Lawrence Laviska Shenault Foyesade Oluokun Devin Lloyd


Jonathan Taylor
Pretty unquestionable pick here. JT is walking into 2022 as most people's RB1, officially dethroning CMC with that distinction. He burst onto the scene with his explosiveness and ease to find gaps, as it seemingly doesn't matter who is under center as long as this veteran line remains intact as it has JT is going to perform at top-level.
Dameon Pierce
I'm very happy to be writing on this particular individual. I did not have Pierce in my top 5 RBs going into the draft. I was quite low on him, but when I saw that he had been drafted to the Texans, this did have me curious on what his role could be. This stems from Houston's inability to establish any sight of functioning run game last year, which had 7 RBs touch the ball, 4 of which had over 50 carries and zero RB with, at least, 500 yards. While not putting up insane numbers in his 4 years with Florida, he does bring experience and rejuvenation to a backfield that definitely could use it. He's my sleeper pick because he is falling, currently, to mid-rounds falling with round 8-9. Currently, favored in this backfield, I wouldn't be surprised to see if he gains a little more value if, and when, the Texans name him the starter.
Trevor Lawrence
Mr. Lawrence is my grab candidate. He is a benefactor from Jacksonville's spending spree whom brought in: Christian Kirk (4 yrs 72 mil), Zay Jones (3 yrs, 24 mil), Evan Engram (1yr 9 mil) and most importantly, Brandon Scherff (3 yrs 49.5 mil). The front office, also, spent a 3rd round pick on Luke Fortner out of Kentucky to help continue to bolster a line that already had previous top LT Cam Robinson. Expectations going into year 2 for Trevor Lawrence are going to be a bit more steep as everyone is going to be looking at him to make a jump in his progression. While I definitely could a jump for him, I don't think a meteoric rise for him that came for: Allen and Herbert is in the cards, I think with an acquistion of a top WR we'll really see Lawrence takeoff, but he's definitely worth QB2 consideration.
Nick Westbrook
Nick Westbrook-Ikhine doesn't really deserve this spotlight, but after coming up rather small last year when Julio Jones went down, I'm not seeing much changing in his future nor do I want to give him the chance. Similar to my doubts with Shenault in previous years, I'm going to stick with gut on this and deem Nick more of a blocking WR or a breather for Burks and Woods.
Foyesade Oluokun
Oluokon was another benefactor of the Jaguars spending, grabbing a 3 year contract at 45 million dollars. He was an absolute wrecking for an atrocious Falcons defense and lone highlight on that team. He's now moved on to greener pastures - pun intended - and lines with former first round pick Josh Allen and this year's first round picks: Devin Lloyd and Trayvon Walker (who was 1st overall as well). He will be the incumbent leader of this rather young LB core and is a true lock for one of the best defensive players to roster.
Christian Harris
Christian Harris, I really loved what he did at Alabama. He really flew all over the field, making open field tackles with ease. He reminds a lot of Mack Wilson with his play. He's definitely someone that could be starting after a couple of games under his belt and lining up with Kamu, who had a fantastic in his own right, he's definitely a player I'd like to roster with a late round flier if available.

..and finally, the AFC North!

  Lock Sleeper Grab Ignore Defense  Defense Sleeper
Cleveland Browns Nick Chubb David Bell Deshaun Watson David Njoku Myles Garrett Perrion Winfrey
Cincinatti Bengals Joe Burrow Hayden Hurst Tee Higgins Tyler Boyd Trey Hendrickson Dax Hill
Baltimore Ravens Lamar Jackson Tylan Wallace James Proche II Devin Duvernay Marlon Humphrey Kyle Hamilton
Pittsburgh Steelers Najee Harris George Pickens Kenny Pickett Chase Claypool TJ Watt Alex Highsmith
Lamar Jackson
Lamar is one of my locks that has a lot to prove. I really wanted to highlight him as he's working towards an extension. He put on 25 pounds to add to his critically bashed slender frame, hopefully to help with the shots he endures due to his ability to run. He's begun to show improvements in throwing ability, not to confuse this with being an all-elite passer, but he's shown improvements. Lamar is definitely out to prove his worth prove his doubters and naysayers wrong. This is a former MVP QB, he definitely shows greatness, let's see if he can make that magic happen again!
George Pickens
Pickens lands in my sleeper list, as it's become apparent that people forgot prior to his injury he was the top WR ahead of Garrett Wilson, Chris Olave, Drake London and Jameson Williams. He's being taken in late rounds, double digit rounds at that. While it is unclear on who will be the starting QB come week 1, there's no doubt that we will Pickens in the starting lineup, quickly and making significant impact.
Tee Higgins
Higgins is another player I'm making sure I'm grabbing. Currently, a top 15 WR alongside Chase, but falling as low as 3 rounds after Chase (rd 4). He's a great asset to pick-up on your team, if you like to go RB-RB like myself and can be your team's WR1. Coming out of Clemson, he was ranked as low as 4th string his rookie season, he was one kid I knew would be great when given the opportunity.  I absolutely love what he brings to the table and his work ethic. While he's not the WR1 on his team, due to the insane skills of Chase, he certainly makes strong claim to WR 1B.
David Njoku
Njoku must have some incriminating evidence on the front office. How he still has a job is beyond me. To preface, I loved Njoku coming out of Miami, I have no issues with Njoku, specifically. He has been criminally underused, his best season was in 2018 amassing 639 yards on 56 catches and 4 TDs. Last year was hardly his best year, grabbing 36 catches for 475 yards and 4 TDs. None of his stats over his 5 year tenure warrant a 4 yr, 56 million dollar extension, in my opinion. Either way, Njoku is best left on waiver wires and as an occasional bye week filler.
T.J. Watt
In a defense that has superstars on every level in: Cam Heyward, Myles Jack, Devin Bush, Terrell Edmunds and Minkah Fitzpatrick only one player can say they were the NFL's defensive player of the year and that's TJ Watt. Watt matched Michael Strathan's single-season sack record (22.5) last season despite missing 2 games, to boot, he had his best season to date as well he's had double digit sacks in all but 1 season and consecutive season of 20+ Tackles for Loss. Watt continues to ascend on this pace, I can see him reaching Donald/LT recognition of greatest defensive player of all-time.
Perrion Winfrey
Winfrey is a great raw prospect who was drafted out of OU. At the moment, he may not get many starts but he should add for a decent depth option. If he develops and teams focus on Garrett and Clowney, he could stand to benefit from 1:1s and be able to develop into a decent run-stopper. Good stash option for IDP leagues!

That's all for my AFC breakdown! I'm currently in progress of making my NFC edition. Stay tuned!

Join the Discussion

Be the first to comment on this post

Recent News & Advice

Week 17 Championship Start'em / Sit'em
Dec 27, 2023 2:05 pm by FN Staff
Week 16 - Players to Start and Sit
Dec 20, 2023 3:46 pm by FN Staff
Week 15 Players to Start and Sit
Dec 13, 2023 9:53 pm by FN Staff
Week 14 - Players to Start and Sit
Dec 6, 2023 9:05 pm by FN Staff
Week 13 - Players to Start and Sit
Nov 29, 2023 9:58 pm by FN Staff
Write Fantasy Football Articles for us!