Potential fantasy football sleepers in 2022 include Tua Tagovailoa and Jamison Crowder

With 2022 fantasy football drafts still months away, let's look at early ADPs and predict some players that might be sleepers this season.

The term “sleeper” in fantasy football gets thrown around a lot. In its purest form, a sleeper is someone most fantasy managers are, well, “sleeping” on. That is, it’s a player whose value is lower than it should be.

Since value is tied to ADP and it’s only May, it’s a bit too early to definitively declare any player a sleeper just yet. But let’s see if we can pinpoint some guys that might be sleepers come the 2022 fantasy football redraft season in late August/early September. Note: ADP data is from FantasyPros.

Predicting 2022 fantasy football sleepers

A sleeper in fantasy football just isn’t what it used to be. During the 2000s, a more knowledgeable fantasy player would have a whole list of sleepers that many of their league-mates had never even heard of. In the modern era, information is so prevalent that it’s increasingly difficult to slip anything by your fellow managers.

Fantasy football sleepers are also relative. Depending on the size of your league and the caliber of competition (is it a high stakes league or a casual work league?), how deep you look for sleepers varies. For the purposes of today, we’re looking at players that could emerge as sleepers in standard-sized casual 12-team PPR leagues.

Tua Tagovailoa | QB, Miami Dolphins (ADP: QB18)

In modern fantasy football, almost every QB1 averages 20 fantasy points per game. Last season, nine quarterbacks accomplished this feat. Meanwhile, Tua Tagovailoa averaged a mere 13.9 ppg. Even if he surpasses that by a couple of points, that wouldn’t be enough to make him a worthwhile sleeper in 2022 fantasy football drafts.

I can say right now with absolute certainty that Tagovailoa’s ADP will remain outside the top 12. Positive training camp and preseason reports could bump it up a few spots, but he won’t be drafted as a QB1. However, if you wait on a quarterback and are looking for someone with plausible mid-QB1 upside, Tagovailoa fits the bill.

The Miami Dolphins upgraded their offensive line, signed a pass-catching running back in Chase Edmonds, signed a solid WR3 in Cedrick Wilson Jr., and, oh yeah, traded for one of the best wide receivers in the NFL, Tyreek Hill.

The best parallel I can offer is 2017 Alex Smith. Smith was a career mid-to-low QB2, never averaging much more than 17 ppg. In 2020, he suddenly averaged 20 ppg and finished top 3 at the position. What changed? Hill. While 20 ppg isn’t what it used to be, if Tagovailoa can get to 20 ppg, he’ll be one of the best values at quarterback in fantasy football.

J.D. McKissic | RB, Washington Commanders (ADP: RB42)

After nearly signing with Buffalo, the Washington Commanders went out of their way to bring back J.D. McKissic. This action, combined with drafting Brian Robinson Jr., suggests they aren’t fully committed to Antonio Gibson.

Typically, running backs that look like McKissic don’t have much of a ceiling. Admittedly, Robinson’s presence impacts McKissic a bit. If Gibson were to get hurt, Robinson would take over most of his role. With that said, McKissic is never going to be a high-carry RB anyway. His season-high in carries last season was eight.

McKissic makes his money catching passes. Last season, the Commanders targeted the RB position 24% of the time, the fifth-highest rate in the league. Their new quarterback, Carson Wentz, threw to his running backs 22.9% of the time, the seventh-highest rate in the league.

McKissic’s role is not going to change. Last season, McKissic played in 11 games. He scored at least 16.9 fantasy points in five of them. That’s 45% of the time.

Care to guess what percentage of his games Gibson scored at least 16 fantasy points? Why 16? That’s about the threshold for RB1 production. I’ll give you a hint. It was less than 45%. Gibson had seven games over 16 fantasy points. While it was two more than McKissic, Gibson also played in five more games. I really don’t see his role changing much.

McKissic has serious sleeper potential as a reliable RB3 with RB2 upside while being drafted as an RB4. I really don’t see his ADP moving up much over the coming months, either.

Jamison Crowder | WR, Buffalo Bills (ADP: WR62)

I’m certain Jamison Crowder’s ADP will rise over the coming months. I’m also confident it will remain low enough to where he makes our list of sleepers.

Josh Allen and the Bills have one of the most explosive offenses in the NFL. They also pass…a lot. The Bills threw the ball 655 times last season, fifth-most in the league. Allen is more than capable of supporting three fantasy-relevant wide receivers.

In 2020, 31-year-old slow and unathletic Cole Beasley was a mid-WR3, averaging 13.8 ppg. Crowder is still only 29 years old. He’s a proven producer, finishing as a low WR3 in 2019 and a low WR2 in 2020. Crowder doesn’t have WR1 upside, and he’s not going to overtake Stefon Diggs as the Bills’ WR1. However, playing ahead of Gabriel Davis is certainly within his range of outcomes.

Fortunately, for those targeting Crowder, the Davis hype based almost exclusively on his four-touchdown performance in the Bills’ playoff loss to the Chiefs will keep Davis’ ADP high and Crowder’s low. Even if Crowder’s ADP climbs multiple rounds, he would have to crack the top 48 before he starts to lose sleeper appeal. I doubt his ADP will stay as a WR6, but even as a WR5, Crowder offers decent upside at very little cost.

Jason Katz is a Fantasy Analyst at Pro Football Network. You can follow him on Twitter: @jasonkatz13 and find more of his work here.

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