Fantasy Football Draft Sleepers 2022: Best value picks, most underrated players by ranking, ADP

Fantasy Football Draft Sleepers 2022: Best value picks, most underrated players by ranking, ADP

Every fantasy football season, a key component of your draft strategy should simply be finding the best values in each round. Most of us don’t even need a set of rankings to walk away from the first few rounds with top-tier studs, but the real challenges come later when trying to fill out your roster with potential breakouts and sleepers. These smart draft-day steals are how you transform a good fantasy team a great one. No 2022 cheat sheet is complete without a list of undervalued players at QB, RB, WR, and TE.

Studying consensus overall rankings and participating in mock drafts are terrific ways to spot underrated players. You will find even more when you realize that average draft position (ADP) doesn’t often correspond to how productive a player can be.

DOMINATE YOUR DRAFT: Ultimate 2022 fantasy cheat sheet

Based on rankings and ADPs are from FantasyPros’ data for half-point PPR formats, here are the best values and biggest potential steals to target throughout out your 2022 drafts.

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Fantasy Football Value Picks 2022: Quarterbacks

Tom Brady, Buccaneers (ADP: 81 | Ranking: 82)

The GOAT is going as low as QB10 after finishing as the QB3 last season. We get that Ryan Jensen and Chris Godwin are dealing with knee injuries in addition to Rob Gronkowski and Antonio Brown being long gone, but the cupboard has been restocked with Russell Gage, Julio Jones, and Kyle Rudolph to go along with Mike Evans, Cameron Brate, and some high-quality receiving backs. At 45, Brady wouldn’t have un-retired unless he thought he had one more big season in a pass-first offense.

Aaron Rodgers, Packers (ADP: 93 | Ranking: 100)

Rodgers was QB6 season, but now he’s going out of the top 12 at the position after losing Davante Adams and Marques Valdez-Scantling (and maybe because he raised the level of personal weirdness this offseason). Even in his non-MVP first season with Matt LaFleur, Rodgers finished as QB10 despite just 26 TD passes. He will find other guys to help him put up prolific numbers even if there’s some scoring regression. It’s ridiculous how low you can get him.

Trey Lance, 49ers (ADP: 99 | Ranking: 96)

For all the hype Lance is getting as a high-upside, back-end QB1, there’s still some buyer beware out there even though he has the clear starting job in an explosive offense. Lance’s running and weaponry gives him a high floor, and the massive ceiling comes from how well Kyle Shanahan will deploy his arm and athleticism to maximize his production.

Derek Carr, Raiders (ADP: 103 | Ranking: 109)

Carr finished as QB13 in 2021, so bumping him down for gaining Adams doesn’t make sense. His new go-to receiver piles on to his avenues of top production with Darren Waller and Hunter Renfrow in the mix and discounts the influence of new coach Josh McDaniels opening up the offense. Plus, in an AFC West full of elite QBs and passing games, big-point shootouts will follow.

QBs | RBs | WRs | TEs | D/STs | Kickers | Top 200 | Superflex

Justin Fields, Bears (ADP: 133 | Ranking: 138)

Here’s trying again with Fields as a sleeper in Year 2, a la Lance, after we might have gotten too excited about the starting potential of each as rookies. Fields is also a “post-hype sleeper” because everyone is down on the Bears offense. Instead, there should be more optimism breaking away from Matt Nagy, as Luke Getsy will get much more out of Fields’ passing and running in a Packers-like system. The weapons might seem limited, but Darnell Mooney and Cole Kmet are a better baseline than you think.

Matt Ryan, Colts (ADP: 159 | Ranking: 152)

Ryan has been an afterthought in drafts, buried near the end of the QB2s and treated as the same QB20 he was during his last season in Atlanta. But consider Carson Wentz was QB14 with his work in Indianapolis. Ryan has much better support in Indy from the line, running game, and his type of short-to-intermediate-to-deep targets. The reports of what he’s doing in Frank Reich’s offense so far are all positive, too.

Zach Wilson, Jets (ADP: 184 | Ranking: 170)

Let’s also give Wilson another shot after injury and support issues derailed his rookie promise. Trevor Lawrence and Mac Jones are somehow ranked higher despite having little to inspire in the passing game around them. Meanwhile, Wilson has Elijah Moore, Corey Davis, rookie Garrett Wilson, rookie Breece Hall, Michael Carter, a better offensive line, and a much-improved tight end situation with C.J. Uzomah and Tyler Conklin. Don’t forget about Wilson’s running skills and TD potential there, too. He deserves a lot more than a QB23 ranking and can be a huge asset in two-QB and superflex leagues.

QBs | RBs | WRs | TEs | D/STs | One from each team

Fantasy Football Draft Steals: Running backs

Najee Harris, Steelers (ADP: 8 | Ranking: 8)

Yes, you can find value picks in the first round. Harris finished as RB4 in half-point PPR last season based on volume despite limited yards per carry and limited scoring. His QB play can actually provide better support than a fading Big Ben did last year, and the Steelers made sneaky blocking upgrades. When looking at his talent and large role, that finish should be his floor in Year 2, not his ceiling. There’s a strong case he should be the overall RB2 behind Jonathan Taylor, not a back-half RB1.

Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys (ADP: 29 | Ranking: 30)

Such lowered expectations for Elliott don’t make sense after he finished as RB6 in what was deemed a “disappointing” season. He’s been dropped well into the RB2 range at around No. 15 or No. 16 at the position despite remaining in a big-time scoring offense in which he scores often. Tony Pollard’s presence helps him stay fresh and hurts him a lot less than you think.

AJ Dillon, Packers (ADP: 54 | Ranking: 55)

Dillon finished as RB21 last season, only eight spots behind Aaron Jones as fellow RB2s. It’s strange he’s being treated as a flex play given the Packers will lean on their backs more as power runners and receivers to help Rodgers. Don’t be shocked if 2022 Green Bay turns into 2017 New Orleans with Jones and Dillon going all Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram to complement Rodgers’ top-10 fantasy QB.

Rhamondre Stevenson, Patriots (ADP: 97 | Ranking: 88)

Stevenson’s ranking and ADP from a borderline RB3/RB4 are bound to bump up with the news of a James White retiring. The team loves Stevenson’s power and underrated receiving skills in its backfield-heavy offense with Damien Harris. Stevenson will be finishing much higher than his RB36 from 2021.

2022 AUCTION VALUES (Standard & PPR):
QBs | RBs | WRs | TEs | D/STs | Kickers | Overall

Kenneth Walker III, Seahawks (ADP: 89 | Ranking: 90)

Do you really trust Rashaad Penny based on one hot stretch as opposed to being worried about some past durability issues and very limited receiving work? Seattle didn’t just invest a high pick on Walker because of oft-injured Chris Carson headed for retirement. They saw some of his “Beast Mode” qualities at Michigan State for their run-heavy offense. Walker later is a much better value than Penny earlier.

James Cook, Bills (ADP: 104 | Ranking: 104)

Do you really trust Devin Singletary based on one hot stretch as opposed to being worried about some past durability issues and very limited receiving work? Buffalo didn’t just invest a high pick on Cook because of luxury. They love what Dalvin’s brother can bring to the passing game for a pass-happy offense. Cook later is a much better value than Singletary earlier.

Kenneth Gainwell, Eagles (ADP: 136 | Ranking: 126)

We don’t need to ask how you should feel about Miles Sanders. Gainwell is gaining more on the shaky default lead back, and you can expect the Eagles to also open back up the passing game more with Jalen Hurts and A.J. Brown, which also plays better into Gainwell’s strengths. Gainwell later is a much better value than Sanders earlier.

Tyler Allgeier (ADP: 139 | Ranking: 147)

The same drill applies here, only with Cordarrelle Patterson being the questionable alternative for age and wear. Damien Williams is fading as a factor, too. This BYU rookie seems to have all the gears needed to be a power back of choice in Arthur Smith’s offense in not too long. As an RB5 with so much upside, Allgeier had to get the last RB mention.

QBs | RBs | WRs | TEs | D/STs | Kickers | Top 200 | Superflex

Fantasy Football Best Value Picks: Wide receivers

Mike Evans, Buccaneers (ADP: 26 | Ranking: 23)

Evans has been a 1,000-yard machine throughout his career with his big-play average on receptions. He also has been a literal massive scorer with his catch radius for Brady, now operating without Gronk. With Godwin banged up, dropping Evans from his WR6 finish to any later WR1 doesn’t compute.

Michael Pittman Jr., Colts (ADP: 36 | Ranking: 31)

Pittman finished as the WR16 last season during a breakout with Wentz. He’s going a little above that position, but it might not be enough of a bump from his 88-1,082-6 line in Year 2. There’s good reason to think Pittman can be what Calvin Ridley was to Ryan in 2020. That was the season Ridley finished as the WR4 with 90-1,374-9.

Mike Williams, Chargers (ADP: 51 | Ranking: 42)

Williams was WR9 last season with his 76-1,146-9 line. He’s been dropped to WR18 or WR19 in the rankings with TD regression thoughts and lingering durability concerns. While Keenan Allen might be going a tad too high, Williams is the better value pick from an elite passing offense that won’t let up with Justin Herbert.

Courtland Sutton, Broncos (ADP: 57 | Ranking: 44)

Russell Wilson had to leave DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett in Seattle, but he should find Sutton much to his liking as his clear go-to guy, as the jury’s still out on Jerry Jeudy and Tim Patrick (left knee) is down for the season. Sutton has the size-speed profile to have a 2021 Williams-like year in the AFC West.

QBs | RBs | WRs | TEs | D/STs

Allen Robinson, Rams (ADP: 65 | Ranking: 56)

No offense to Robert Woods or Odell Beckham Jr., but when Robinson is healthy and motivated, he’s the better all-around receiver, meaning he’s a big upgrade to play off the attention Cooper Kupp gets everywhere on the field. Robinson’s final Bears season can be flushed because he didn’t care and was dealing with a rough QB situation. There might be a cap on the receptions and yards because of Kupp, but his usage suggest he can post his first double-digit TD season since he dropped 14 with the Jaguars in 2015.

Darnell Mooney, Bears (ADP: 74 | Ranking: 61)

The Bears have issues elsewhere in their wide receiver corps. Mooney is super talented and should be schemed for huge volume in the new offense given his great natural chemistry with Fields. Here’s a guy ranked as a deep WR3 with mid-WR2 upside.

Elijah Moore, Jets (ADP: 84 | Ranking: 73)

What are the three most important things in fantasy? Talent, talent, and more talent. Moore is the Year 2 alpha for Wilson and got it done when healthy as a rookie with multiple QBs. Again, the Jets’ passing game potential in 2022 is vastly underrated.

Snake drafts | Auctions | Dynasty | Best ball | IDP

Rashod Bateman, Ravens (ADP: 88 | Ranking: 63)

The second-year rising first-round pick made Hollywood Brown expendable. Most of the key targets from Lamar Jackson will be going to Mark Andrews and Bateman, with a dash of James Proche, other tight ends, and a back here and there. He also is a potential top WR2 going as a WR3.

Russell Gage, Buccaneers (ADP: 110 | Ranking: 118)

The Bucs made him a priority signing from the rival Falcons to replace Brown as the clear No. 3, ahead of former aged teammate Julio Jones, who was added much later in the offseason. Gage is Brady’s type of technically sound receiver and might be needed early as a No. 2 opposite Evans with Godwin ailing. His being drafted as a borderline WR4/WR5 is much too low.

Skyy Moore, Chiefs (ADP: 137| Ranking: 123)

The Chiefs have JuJu Smith-Schuster and MVS, but there’s worthy buzz about Moore being a key No. 3 at some point soon for Patrick Mahomes, as he was drafted to help offset the loss of Tyreek Hill. WR5 draft status makes him a worthy flier.

Rondale Moore, Cardinals (ADP: 161 | Ranking: 140)

While Marquise Brown and A.J. Green make up for the suspended DeAndre Hopkins early, Moore has his dedicated role replacing Christian Kirk and also crossing over to compensate for not having Chase Edmonds in the backfield with James Conner. There’s huge opportunity to bring big return based on WR6 drafting.

Romeo Doubs, Packers (ADP: 196 | Ranking: 279)

Allen Lazard is an OK earlier pick for a WR4 shot, but fellow rookie Christian Watson and uninspiring Sammy Watkins have been hurt. Doubs is getting worthy buzz, as he’s gotten key trust from Rodgers. This is a solid WR6 pick late in drafts.

Quarterback | Running back | Wide receiver | Tight end

Fantasy Football Sleepers: Tight ends

Dalton Schultz, Cowboys (ADP: 64 | Ranking: 66)

Schultz finished as the TE3 behind Travis Kelce and Mark Andrews last season, and the situation remains favorable with the team sorting out wide receiver without Amari Coper and with an ailing Michael Gallup behind CeeDee Lamb. Schultz isn’t going anywhere as a key intermediate and red-zone presence for Dak Prescott.

Zach Ertz, Cardinals (ADP: 95 | Ranking: 92)

Ertz’s midseason trade from Philadelphia to Arizona was huge because it allowed him to get away from Dallas Goedert and put up TE10 overall numbers, not far behind Goedert. He’s in a good situation to pick up key targets for Kyler Murray minus Hopkins for a while again. 

Pat Freiermuth, Steelers (ADP: 116 | Ranking: 111)

The Steelers’ wide receiver corps is getting buzz regardless of the QB situation, but history says either Mitchell Trubisky or rookie Kenny Pickett is likely to use short-to-intermediate help often, via Harris out of the backfield and Freiermuth freeing himself. He can have a season Heath Miller did a decade ago after finishing as TE12 overall as a rookie.

DOMINATE YOUR DRAFT: Ultimate 2022 fantasy cheat sheet

Cole Kmet, Bears (ADP: 135 | Ranking: 114)

Kmet will score multiple touchdowns this season after posting none in 2021 and will be a key target high in the pecking order for Fields behind Mooney. The profile says the solid TE1 numbers are coming, so taking him as a borderline TE2 works nicely.

Irv Smith Jr., Vikings (ADP: 135 | Ranking: 158)

Conklin’s 61-593-3 line filling in for Smith last season clocked him in as TE19. Smith also has a lot of potential as TE15 on the board this season with a potential vital role in Kevin O’Connell’s offense.

Cameron Brate, Buccaneers (ADP: 189 | Ranking: 283)

Brate has seen a big drop post-Gronk and O.J. Howard, as Gage, Jones, Rudolph and rookie Cade Otton are giving drafters pause on whether Brady has too many mouths to feed. Brate’s red-zone reliability says otherwise. He might be a TD-dependent option, but that still gives him plenty of upside from afterthought TE2/TE3 borderline status.