If you’re going to win your league this year, you’re going to need to strike it rich with some breakout fantasy sleepers. Check out the seven best player picks courtesy of our friends at FanDuel.
If you want to win your fantasy football league then it’s going to take a lot more than simply making sure you hit on your early-round draft picks. Avoiding busts is great, but that won’t give you the upside needed to knock off 11 other teams.
That upside comes from your mid- and late-round picks. Some drafters will try to find safe picks in the later rounds, but those picks won’t bring you league-winning upside. You need to go against the grain and land some true fantasy sleepers with league-winning upside right here, right now. They may be riskier picks, but the potential value is more than worth it.
With that in mind, here are The Duel’s top league-winning fantasy football sleepers for 2022.
Top Fantasy Football Sleepers 2022
7. Chase Claypool, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers
In his rookie season, Chase Claypool profiled as the kind of fantasy producer to get overvalued in 2021, scoring an unsustainable 11 touchdowns on just 72 touches. He proceeded to show some real signs of improvement as a sophomore, though.
His volume remained solid, with 105 targets over 15 games, and he was one of the only Steelers pass-catchers to manage any efficiency with the corpse of Ben Roethlisberger stumbling through a final Weekend at Bernie’s type season. A massive drop in touchdowns might have hidden his efficiency to fantasy players, but he averaged 8.2 yards per target in 2021. That absolutely blew the rest of the team out of the water, with the next highest average for anyone (min. 2 targets) being Diontae Johnson at 6.9.
It’s hard to imagine either Mitchell Trubisky or Kenny Pickett being any worse than Big Ben was last year, and improved quarterback play while still running as a full-time starter gives Claypool plenty of upside heading into his third season. The gap in average draft position (ADP) between Johnson and Claypool is much larger than it should be.
6. Chase Edmonds, RB, Miami Dolphins
The Miami Dolphins‘ running back stable has been an absolute mess in recent years. Over the last three seasons, Myles Gaskin is the team’s leading rusher with just 1,329 yards, while No. 2 and 3 in that stretch are Salvon Ahmed (468) and quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (394).
Gaskin showed he doesn’t offer much in the RB1 role last year, averaging 3.5 yards per carry and an egregious 3.7 receiving yards per target, and he now enters the final year of his contract. Accordingly, the Dolphins signed former Arizona Cardinal Chase Edmonds in free agency, giving him a guaranteed $6.1 million (by comparison, Gaskin is set to make $2.54 million this year). Edmonds was never really handed a true RB1 role in Arizona, but he showed he’s more than capable of producing when injuries left it to him. He recorded six 18-plus touch games in his time with the Cards, averaging 20.3 PPR fantasy points per game in those contests.
His contract highlights him as Miami’s RB1, and that gives him some huge upside, especially if Tua Tagovailoa can get this offense humming.
5. Austin Hooper, TE, Tennessee Titans
Targeting the Tennessee Titans’ passing attack is never ultra-exciting, but things are a little different this year. AJ Brown is gone, Derrick Henry and the Brown-replacing Robert Woods are both working back from serious injuries, and the other highly projected pass-catcher is an unproven rookie in Treylon Burks. That leaves Austin Hooper as the receiving option who may come with the fewest question marks.
Playing a couple of years with the struggling Baker Mayfield may have caused fans to forget, but Hooper spent a few years as one of the most intriguing pass-catching tight ends in the NFL. Only two years as a Brown separate Hooper from having gone back-to-back years with 70-plus receptions and 650-plus yards (despite missing three games in one of the two). He also averaged a strong 8.1 yards per target in Atlanta (before plummeting to 6.0 in Cleveland.
So, what’s more likely: that Hooper peaked at 25 and is already washed up at 27, or that Mayfield and the Browns held him back?
4. D.J. Chark, WR, Detroit Lions
Like the Steelers, the ADP difference between the Lions’ top two wideouts is simply too big. DJ Chark is going as the 55th WR off the board on average, and that’s ridiculous.
Amon-Ra St. Brown saw some ridiculous target numbers down the stretch last year, for sure, but he also did that with essentially zero competition. The pass-heavy approach when Dan Campbell took over play-calling duties created a lot of opportunity in this passing game, and now St. Brown actually has some competition for looks. Chark missed most of the 2021 season, but when he was healthy he proved he can ball.
Despite being stuck in the Jacksonville Jaguars’ offense, Chark had a 17-game pace of 76 receptions and 1,041 yards between the 2019 and 2020 seasons, averaging 8.1 yards per target. A $10 million contract suggests the Lions plan to give him plenty of opportunity in the passing game, and he should have little trouble making the most of it.
3. Evan Engram, TE, Jacksonville Jaguars
Speaking of new contracts, the Jags gave Evan Engram an interesting one this offseason. It’s only a one-year deal, but it makes him the 11th-highest paid player at the position. Like our other tight end sleeper, Engram has shown he can thrive with volume, but he disappointed in a weak offense last year. His 8.9 yards per reception and 5.6 yards per target were both easily career-low marks, but this is still a guy who put up a 17-game pace of 73 receptions, 823 yards and 4 touchdowns over his first four NFL seasons.
Free of Urban Meyer and with another year of experience for Trevor Lawrence, the Jags’ offense offers some intriguing upside this season. If they can get things rolling then Engram could prove a consistent solid fantasy starter as a top-three receiving option for Lawrence.
2. Trey Lance, QB, San Francisco 49ers
It’s not really a secret at this point, but the key to a fantasy sleeper quarterback offering big upside is to have rushing ability. We saw it with Lamar Jackson, we saw it with Jalen Hurts, and now, it’s time for Trey Lance to prove it.
Much more important than whether Lance is a good passer or not is the fact that he already ran the ball 38 times as a rookie, with Kyle Shanahan clearly wanting to take advantage of that side of his game. This 49ers offense can get plenty creative with Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk in the mix, and Lance’s passing production should be at least reasonable enough to let his rushing upside carry his fantasy value.
1. Tyler Lockett, WR, Seattle Seahawks
It’s not often you’ll find a receiver produce as consistently as Tyler Lockett while remaining as underrated as he is.
With everyone crowning DK Metcalf the clear best wide receiver in Seattle last year, Lockett recorded a career-high 1,175 receiving yards, averaging the second-most yards per target (11.0) of his career. Metcalf averaged a little over half a target per game more than Lockett when both played (7.3 to 6.7), and Lockett was the far more efficient of the two (Metcalf’s 7.5 yards per target were the worst for any Seahawk that saw 25-plus targets). Obviously, there will be a big downgrade at QB in Seattle this year, but Lockett’s ADP plummeting to WR35 while Metcalf sits at WR19 is an opportunity you’ll want to exploit.
Jason Schandl is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Jason Schandl also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username Jaymun. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in his articles are the author’s alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.