Does Michael Pittman have what it takes to be a top 10 Fantasy receiver this year? Is he worth drafting as early as Round 2 in PPR? Am I a little too excited about Pittman?
The answer is yes to all of the above.
Pittman was a sophomore sensation in 2021, but I expect him to improve in his third year. I'm going to be aggressively targeting Pittman toward the end of Round 2 or early Round 3, and he's one of my favorite breakout candidates. He was an easy choice to highlight in Breakouts 3.0.
Pittman had 88 catches for 1,082 yards and six touchdowns last season on 129 targets, and he scored at least 16 PPR points in eight outings. The Colts got a quarterback upgrade this offseason with Matt Ryan replacing Carson Wentz, and Indianapolis has 149 vacated targets with Zach Pascal, Jack Doyle and T.Y. Hilton off the roster.
Rookie Alec Pierce, a sleeper in deeper leagues, and hopefully a healthy Parris Campbell will help fill the void, but Pittman could go over the 140-target threshold this season. That should put him in elite company even if he plays like he did in 2021, but I'm expecting Ryan to help Pittman reach another level this season. Pittman has already praised Ryan's accuracy during OTAs.
"The ball is just right there, and you just turn and catch the ball. I mean, it just makes it easy," Pittman said. "Matt can pretty much put it wherever he wants."
I have Pittman ranked as a top-10 receiver in PPR, and I would draft him ahead of guys like Mike Evans, Tyreek Hill and Deebo Samuel, among others. Call me crazy, but I'm excited about Pittman in 2022.
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Jalen Hurts QB
PHI Philadelphia • #1
Age: 24 • Experience: 3 yrs.
Hurts has the potential to be the No. 1 overall quarterback this season with his upgraded receiving corps, as well as his rushing prowess. If he can put it all together we could have a season similar to Lamar Jackson in 2019. Those are lofty expectations since Jackson averaged 32.5 Fantasy points per game that season, but Hurts has that type of upside based on what he did at times in 2021, as well as the addition of A.J. Brown. In the first seven games last season, Hurts averaged 34.5 pass attempts per game, and he averaged 26.4 Fantasy points per game over that span. The Eagles then became more reliant on their ground game, and Hurts averaged just 23.8 pass attempts and 18.1 Fantasy points per game over his final eight outings. With the Eagles trading for Brown, they should allow Hurts to throw more, including an improved DeVonta Smith in Year 2 and a standout tight end in Dallas Goedert. And if Hurts continues to rush for around 52.3 yards per game -- his average from 2021 -- he could approach 4,000 passing yards and 1,000 rushing yards. Hurts is worth drafting as a top-five quarterback, and he could challenge to be the No. 1 quarterback this year.
DEN Denver • #33
Age: 22 • Experience: 2 yrs.
In full disclosure, I've been all over the place with Williams this offseason. At one point I had him ranked as a top 10 running back, but he dropped a tier when Denver re-signed Melvin Gordon. Then early in training camp, with reports of Gordon more in line to take a secondary role to Williams, I moved Williams back closer to the top 10. He may creep back into the top 10 if it appears like he's headed for a workhorse role, and I'm comfortable drafting Williams early in Round 3. This Broncos offense should improve with Russell Wilson under center, and Williams should lead the team in touches, barring an injury. Last year, even in tandem with Gordon, we saw Williams' upside when given an increased workload. He had eight games in 2022 with at least 15 total touches, and he averaged 14.0 PPR points per game over that span, including three games with at least 19 PPR points. And in the one game when Gordon was out in Week 13 at Kansas City, Williams had 23 carries for 102 yards, along with six catches for 76 yards and a touchdown on nine targets for 29 PPR points. He has superstar potential, and you want that on your Fantasy roster. Don't let Gordon's return keep you from targeting Williams early this year.
Breece Hall RB
NYJ N.Y. Jets • #20
Age: 21 • Experience: Rookie
Hall was the first running back selected in the 2022 NFL Draft, and he should be the lead running back for the Jets this season ahead of Michael Carter. While both will split touches, Hall does have the chance to be a quality Fantasy starter if his talent wins out as expected and he dominates the workload. Hall should be drafted no later than Round 4. He finished his career at Iowa State with consecutive seasons of at least 1,472 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns, and he had three years in a row with at least 23 catches. He also averaged 5.5 yards per carry for his three-year career. The Jets offense should improve this season with better weapons around Zach Wilson (Garrett Wilson and Hall joining Elijah Moore, Corey Davis and Carter), and the offensive line is underrated. I'm not worried about Hall leading the team in carries and working at the goal line. The big question will be his role in the passing game, but Carter and Ty Johnson both had at least 34 receptions last season, with each getting 55 targets. If Hall can catch 35 passes and get 200 carries, he should be a top 15 running back in all formats this season.
A.J. Dillon RB
GB Green Bay • #28
Age: 24 • Experience: 3 yrs.
The Packers offense will look different this season with Davante Adams and Marquez Valdes-Scantling gone, and Green Bay's best weapons could be Aaron Jones and Dillon. I love Jones in the passing game this year -- he could lead the team in receptions based on his past production when Adams has been out due to injury -- and Dillon could emerge as the Packers leading rusher. During minicamp in June, the Packers had Jones and Dillon on the field together with the starting offense, and that's one way to maximize their potential. Dillon took over as the leading rusher for Green Bay at the end of the regular season in 2021 with 45 carries to 38 for Jones in their final four games together. Dillon also had three rushing touchdowns over that span compared to one for Jones, who dominated work in the passing game and was still the better Fantasy option. Dillon could be a factor in the passing game if needed, and he had four games last season with at least four catches. In those games, he scored at least 12 PPR points in every outing and averaged 15.6 PPR points per game over that span. The plan should be to draft Jones in Round 2, and Dillon is worth drafting no later than Round 5 in all formats.
NE New England • #38
Age: 24 • Experience: 2 yrs.
Stevenson might be the player I have the most exposure to this season given his price (FantasyPros ADP of 98 overall at RB36 in late July) as well as his upside. He has several things that I like heading into this year. He should work in tandem with Damien Harris this season, and the duo split touches down the stretch in 2021. Should Harris get hurt, Stevenson could thrive in a featured role, and we saw a glimpse of that in Week 10 last year against Cleveland. With Harris out, Stevenson had 20 carries for 100 yards and two touchdowns, along with four catches for 14 yards on five targets. James White (hip) is on the PUP list to start training camp, and Stevenson is expected to have an increased role in the passing game. He also lost weight prior to the start of training camp, and his arrow is pointing up for his sophomore campaign. He might not reach his full potential if Harris is healthy, but I plan to target him as a No. 3 running back as early as Round 8. He could pay big dividends if Harris and White are out, and I'm willing to wait the majority of the season to see if he delivers a big reward.
DEN Denver • #14
Age: 26 • Experience: 5 yrs.
I've written about Sutton in previous versions of my breakouts, but it's always been in tandem with Jerry Jeudy. While Jeudy can still have a breakout campaign, I wanted to highlight Sutton here as a solo act. He's my favorite Broncos receiver in 2022, and Russell Wilson should help Sutton have a career season. I'm drafting Sutton as early as Round 4 in all leagues. He told me in March during an interview at XPE Sports, a training facility in South Florida, that he wants to be Wilson's version of DK Metcalf in Denver. "Being a bigger receiver, knowing that Russ has had DK and other big receivers, I'm excited," Sutton said. "I've seen him throw the back shoulders, I've seen him throw the red-zone fades. I've seen him make those throws that I'm so anxious to have those opportunities. I've seen what I need to see." In 2019, his second year in the NFL, Sutton had 72 catches for 1,112 yards and six touchdowns on 125 targets. Then he suffered a torn ACL in Week 2 of the 2020 campaign, and he struggled in his return last year, catching just 58 passes for 776 yards and two touchdowns on 98 targets. Fantasy managers are hoping Wilson gets Sutton back to at least his 2019 form, but I have higher expectations. Sutton could be a top 10 Fantasy receiver in 2022.
BAL Baltimore • #7
Age: 22 • Experience: 2 yrs.
Bateman has the chance for a quality sophomore season as the new No. 1 receiver for Baltimore with Marquise Brown (Arizona) gone. I don't expect Bateman to get 146 targets like Brown got last season, especially with the Ravens saying they want to run the ball more. But I also expect Bateman to get more than the 100 targets Brown got in his second year in 2020. In three seasons with Lamar Jackson, Brown averaged seven touchdowns a year, so that's a good place to start for Bateman. He only scored one touchdown as a rookie in 2021 in 12 games, and he finished with just 46 catches for 515 yards on 68 targets. But he scored at least 12 PPR points in three of his final five games, and he should build on that performance this season. Mark Andrews will remain the No. 1 target for Jackson, but he'll need Bateman to step up with Brown gone. As long as some veteran receiver isn't added in Baltimore during training camp, Fantasy managers should target Bateman as a high-end No. 3 receiver in all formats, and he's worth drafting as early as Round 5 in PPR.
Allen Lazard WR
GB Green Bay • #13
Age: 26 • Experience: 4 yrs.
Lazard started the offseason as a sleeper, but he graduated to a breakout candidate at the start of training camp. He's expected to be the new No. 1 receiver for Aaron Rodgers with Adams gone, and Lazard is worth drafting as early as Round 6 in PPR. Last year, Lazard closed the season on a high note with at least 13 PPR points in four of his final five games. He had five touchdowns over that span, including three games with at least five catches and 72 yards. Lazard isn't going to replace Adams or be a consistent Fantasy threat, but he is someone to target as a potential starter in three-receiver leagues, with the upside for more. And Rodgers is excited for Lazard this year. "He's been our dirty work guy for most of his career here," Rodgers told the Packers media in June. "Now he's getting an opportunity to be a No. 1 receiver. So, I'm not worried at all about him stepping into that role." We'll see how Lazard does with Christian Watson, Sammy Watkins, Randall Cobb, Amari Rodgers and Romeo Doubs, but Aaron Rodgers should lean on Lazard the most, especially early in the season. I'm hopeful Lazard becomes a top 20 Fantasy receiver with his expanded role.
Drake London WR
ATL Atlanta • #5
Age: 21 • Experience: Rookie
London has the chance to be a star as a rookie, and he's worth drafting as early as Round 7 in the majority of leagues. The Falcons should lean on him heavily, and he should be No. 2 on the team in targets in a worst-case scenario behind Kyle Pitts. Atlanta has to replace 183 targets in its receiving corps with Russell Gage (94), Calvin Ridley (52) and Tajae Sharpe (37) all gone. Bryan Edwards was brought in to help London and Pitts, but we expect Marcus Mariota -- or potentially Desmond Ridder -- to lean on Pitts and London quite a bit. At USC, London was a dominant force. He only played eight games in 2021, but he averaged 11 catches per game for 1,084 yards and seven touchdowns. He's already making plenty of plays in training camp, and hopefully that carries over to the regular season. You'll likely draft London as a No. 3 Fantasy receiver to open the year, but he could emerge as a top-20 option before the season ends. With the amount of targets expected to be headed in his direction, he should have the chance for a solid rookie campaign.
TEN Tennessee • #16
Age: 22 • Experience: Rookie
The offseason started off poorly for Burks. After the Titans selected him in the first round of the NFL Draft, he struggled in OTAs with asthma and conditioning issues. He lost five pounds prior to training camp, and so far he looks like a star. He should have the chance to replace A.J. Brown in Tennessee's offense, and Burks should be the go-to guy for Ryan Tannehill. Now, keep in mind the Titans are still going to be a run-dominant offense with Derrick Henry. And Burks has to compete with Robert Woods for targets as the No. 1 receiver. But Burks should prove to be the alpha receiver in Tennessee, and he's coming off a tremendous 2021 campaign at Arkansas when he had 66 catches for 1,104 yards and 11 touchdowns in 12 games. You can draft Burks as a No. 3 Fantasy receiver in all leagues as early as Round 7, but he could shatter that ADP if he produces like Brown, who averaged 15.1 PPR points per game in three seasons with the Titans and averaged 8.1 targets per game in 2021. I'm excited about Burks as a breakout rookie this year.
NYG N.Y. Giants • #89
Age: 23 • Experience: 2 yrs.
We're going to keep an eye on Toney's health in training camp given what happened to him last year when he missed six of the final seven games, but hopefully his injury woes from his rookie campaign are behind him. There's huge potential for him in 2022, and he's worth drafting as early as Round 8 in PPR. I expect him to shatter his ADP in late July if he stays healthy (FantasyPros has him at No. 114 overall as WR48). The Giants could have a crowded receiving corps if everyone is healthy, which seems like a big if. Toney will compete for targets with Kenny Golladay, Sterling Shepard and rookie Wan'Dale Robinson, but Shepard suffered a ruptured Achilles in Week 15 and opened training camp on the PUP list. That said, even if everyone is healthy, Toney should be a primary target for Daniel Jones. As a rookie last year, Toney had four games with at least nine targets in the 10 games he played. He had at least six catches in three of those outings, and hopefully new coach Brian Daboll finds plenty of ways to put the ball in Toney's hands. It's worth the gamble to draft Toney as a low-end No. 3 Fantasy receiver, and he could emerge as a weekly starter in all leagues.
Cole Kmet TE
CHI Chicago • #85
Age: 23 • Experience: 3 yrs.
Kmet should benefit from all the attention he's likely to get from Justin Fields in Chicago's passing game, and Kmet should be No. 2 in targets for the Bears this year behind Darnell Mooney. I like Kmet as a top-10 Fantasy tight end this year in PPR, and he's worth drafting as early as Round 9. Last season, two of Kmet's three best games came with Fields under center. Kmet scored 14 PPR points at Pittsburgh in Week 9 and 13 PPR points in Week 15 against Minnesota, and he had at least six catches, 71 yards and eight targets in each outing. He didn't score a touchdown in 2021, but he will be a go-to option in 2022 with the way Chicago's receivers look heading into the year. And the best thing about Kmet is you can get him cheap since his ADP on FantasyPros in late July is 125 overall as TE13. I wouldn't be surprised if Kmet is in the conversation as a top five tight end in PPR by the end of the year.