tua-tagovailoa-5-1400.jpg
USATSI

Writing about sleepers in early March is tricky. Free agency and the NFL Draft are upon us, and a lot could change with NFL rosters -- and the players listed here.

But these are guys who I hope will be in good standing with their teams by the time we get to the summer. I'm hopeful that they will be impact players in 2022, and these are guys I plan to draft with mid- to late-round picks because they have huge potential.

I'll be doing several versions of sleepers between now and August, but this is Sleepers 1.0. So let's take an early look at players you should be excited about in 2022. 

Quarterbacks
Projections powered by Sportsline
MIA Miami • #1
Age: 24 • Experience: 3 yrs.
Fantasy Breakdown (PPR)
OVERALL RNK
153rd
QB RNK
17th
PROJ PTS
0
SOS
ADP
160
2021 Stats
PAYDS
2653
RUYDS
128
TD
19
INT
10
FPTS/G
16.3
The new coaching staff in Miami is committed to Tagovailoa -- for now. We'll see if an upgrade comes this offseason, but coach Mike McDaniel and passing game coordinator Darrell Bevell are saying all the right things about Tagovailoa after being hired by the Dolphins. For example, Bevell said "the (offensive) system is going to be built and tailored to (Tagovailoa)," according to the Miami Herald. Jaylen Waddle is locked in as the No. 1 receiver, but we'll see what happens with the rest of the weapons in Miami, as well as the offensive line. But there's a lot to like about Tagovailoa heading into Year 3, and he's worth drafting with a late-round pick in all leagues.
JAC Jacksonville • #16
Age: 22 • Experience: 2 yrs.
Fantasy Breakdown (PPR)
OVERALL RNK
136th
QB RNK
16th
PROJ PTS
0
SOS
ADP
110
2021 Stats
PAYDS
3641
RUYDS
334
TD
14
INT
17
FPTS/G
13.1
I'm not bailing on Lawrence after his terrible rookie season, and there's too much upside for the former No. 1 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. The Jaguars already gave him a better coach in Year 2 with Doug Pederson, and this offseason should bring a revamped receiving corps and offensive line. Lawrence struggled in 2021, and losing No. 1 receiver D.J. Chark (ankle) in Week 4 didn't help. With better protection and weapons as a sophomore, there should be a leap in production, and Lawrence could end up as a No. 1 Fantasy quarterback by the end of the year. He's worth a late-round pick in all leagues.

Other sleeper quarterbacks to consider: Kirk Cousins, Ryan Tannehill and Jameis Winston

Running Backs
Projections powered by Sportsline
BAL Baltimore • #35
Age: 27 • Experience: 5 yrs.
Fantasy Breakdown (PPR)
OVERALL RNK
119th
RB RNK
39th
PROJ PTS
0
SOS
ADP
57
2021 Stats
RUYDS
0
REC
0
REYDS
0
TD
0
FPTS/G
0
We haven't heard much about Edwards and his recovery from last year's torn ACL in September, but hopefully he's on track for training camp, if not sooner. J.K. Dobbins is also coming back from a preseason ACL tear, and the duo should resume their roles as the lead running backs in Baltimore in 2022. While Dobbins has more upside and is the running back to target with an early-round selection, don't forget about Edwards. He closed 2020 with either a touchdown or at least 100 rushing yards in six of his final 11 games, and he has averaged at least 5.0 yards per carry in all three seasons in the NFL. He's limited as a receiver (18 career catches), but he should be a significant contributor in Baltimore. And if he returns on time and Dobbins has a setback, Edwards could be a potential star. He's worth drafting with a late-round pick in all leagues.
PHI Philadelphia • #14
Age: 23 • Experience: Rookie
Fantasy Breakdown (PPR)
OVERALL RNK
104th
RB RNK
38th
PROJ PTS
0
SOS
ADP
201
2021 Stats
RUYDS
291
REC
33
REYDS
253
TD
6
FPTS/G
8.7
Jordan Howard is an unrestricted free agent for the Eagles, and Boston Scott is a restricted free agent. Should one or both leave Philadelphia, Gainwell could be the primary backup to Miles Sanders, which would put him in a great spot given Sanders' injury history. He missed four games in 2021 and four games in 2020, so Gainwell could have lottery-ticket upside. The Eagles morphed into a run-heavy team in 2021 under coach Nick Sirianni, and Gainwell showed flashes of his potential. He had three games with at least 12 carries, and he scored at least 17 PPR points in two of them. I would love to see Gainwell as the No. 2 running back on the depth chart, and he's worth targeting in all leagues as a handcuff for Sanders, as well as a standalone option with huge upside.
NE New England • #38
Age: 24 • Experience: 2 yrs.
Fantasy Breakdown (PPR)
OVERALL RNK
85th
RB RNK
36th
PROJ PTS
0
SOS
ADP
158
2021 Stats
RUYDS
606
REC
14
REYDS
123
TD
5
FPTS/G
10.4
Stevenson should open the season as the No. 2 running back in New England behind Damien Harris, and Stevenson has lottery-ticket upside if Harris were to miss any time. We saw that happen once in 2021 in Week 10 against Cleveland, and Stevenson had 20 carries for 100 yards and two touchdowns, as well as four catches for 14 yards on five targets. For the season, Stevenson had three games with at least 19 carries, and he scored at least 22 PPR points in two of them. Stevenson could also benefit if New England uses him more on passing downs, especially with James White heading into free agency. Stevenson is someone I plan to target with a late-round pick in all leagues.
WAS Washington • #32
Age: 22 • Experience: 2 yrs.
Fantasy Breakdown (PPR)
OVERALL RNK
177th
RB RNK
NR
PROJ PTS
0
SOS
ADP
NR
2021 Stats
RUYDS
266
REC
10
REYDS
73
TD
2
FPTS/G
3.3
Antonio Gibson ended up missing just one game in 2021 despite dealing with a nagging toe injury for the second year in a row, as well as several other ailments. Patterson should open 2022 as the No. 2 running back in Washington, and he could be a valuable asset if Gibson were to miss any time. Last year, in the lone game Gibson was out in Week 17 against the Eagles, Patterson had 20 PPR points with 12 carries for 57 yards and a touchdown, along with five catches for 41 yards. J.D. McKissic is headed into free agency, and if he leaves, Patterson could see more playing time on passing downs. There's a lot to like about Patterson with a late-round pick in all formats.

Other sleeper running backs to consider: Tony Pollard, Chris Carson, Ke'Shawn Vaughn, James Robinson

Wide Receivers
Projections powered by Sportsline
PIT Pittsburgh • #11
Age: 23 • Experience: 3 yrs.
Fantasy Breakdown (PPR)
OVERALL RNK
92nd
WR RNK
39th
PROJ PTS
0
SOS
ADP
72
2021 Stats
REC
59
TAR
105
REYDS
860
TD
2
FPTS/G
11.5
We're all waiting to see what the Steelers do at quarterback in the coming weeks, and that will determine the upside for Claypool. But clearly he could use someone who will help him challenge down the field, and we all know that wasn't Ben Roethlisberger the past two seasons. The Steelers aren't expected to bring back free agent receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, and Claypool benefitted in 2021 when his targets were up. He had 10 games with at least six targets last season, and he scored at least 11 PPR points in six of those outings, while averaging 12.6 PPR points over that span. He'll start opposite Diontae Johnson in his third year in the NFL, and Claypool is a high-end No. 3 Fantasy receiver to target in all leagues with top-20 upside.
NYJ N.Y. Jets • #84
Age: 27 • Experience: 6 yrs.
Fantasy Breakdown (PPR)
OVERALL RNK
95th
WR RNK
41st
PROJ PTS
0
SOS
ADP
102
2021 Stats
REC
34
TAR
59
REYDS
492
TD
4
FPTS/G
11.7
We're all going to get excited about Elijah Moore, and he should be great. But let's not forget about Davis in his second season with the Jets and Zach Wilson. Davis was Wilson's go-to guy early in 2021, and he had at least seven targets in four of his first five games of the season. He also scored at least 14 PPR points in three of the first six games of the year. Moore was just getting used to the NFL then, and we'll see what the Jets do to build out their receiving corps this offseason. But Davis should be a key contributor and is worth drafting with a late-round pick in all leagues.
LAC L.A. Chargers • #5
Age: 22 • Experience: Rookie
Fantasy Breakdown (PPR)
OVERALL RNK
150th
WR RNK
NR
PROJ PTS
0
SOS
ADP
NR
2021 Stats
REC
33
TAR
49
REYDS
353
TD
4
FPTS/G
5.5
Mike Williams could leave the Chargers as a free agent, which would open up a tremendous opportunity for Palmer as a potential starter opposite Keenan Allen and catching passes from Justin Herbert. Palmer played two games as a rookie in 2021 without Williams and Allen, and Palmer was great. In Week 14 without Allen, Palmer had five catches for 66 yards and a touchdown on seven targets against the Giants. Then in Week 16 without Williams, Palmer had five catches for 43 yards and a touchdown on six targets at Houston. He also closed the season with four catches for 45 yards and a touchdown on nine targets at Las Vegas in Week 18, and the arrow is pointing up for Palmer as a sophomore this season, especially if Williams is gone from the Chargers.
ARI Arizona • #4
Age: 22 • Experience: Rookie
Fantasy Breakdown (PPR)
OVERALL RNK
125th
WR RNK
54th
PROJ PTS
0
SOS
ADP
192
2021 Stats
REC
54
TAR
64
REYDS
435
TD
1
FPTS/G
8.4
The Cardinals offseason is worth watching since Christian Kirk, A.J. Green, Zach Ertz, James Conner and Chase Edmonds are all impending free agents. Depending on who leaves and who comes back -- or any replacements -- Moore could be in a prominent spot for Arizona, potentially as a starter opposite DeAndre Hopkins. It also wouldn't be surprising to see Moore used out of the backfield, and any additional touches would only enhance his Fantasy value. He had three games as a rookie in 2021 with at least six targets, and he scored at least 13 PPR points in all of them. With Kyler Murray expected back in Arizona, and depending on how this offseason goes, Moore could be a PPR star, especially at his cost with a late-round pick.

Other sleeper wide receivers to consider: Rashod Bateman, Kenny Golladay, Marquez Callaway, Nico Collins

Tight Ends
Projections powered by Sportsline
JAC Jacksonville • #85
Age: 27 • Experience: 6 yrs.
Fantasy Breakdown (PPR)
OVERALL RNK
141st
TE RNK
14th
PROJ PTS
0
SOS
ADP
NR
2021 Stats
REC
35
TAR
52
REYDS
408
TD
0
FPTS/G
6.9
Arnold's stock could change if the Jaguars get a significant upgrade at wide receiver, but he should be the No. 1 tight end for Lawrence and a key weapon on offense. Following his trade from Carolina in 2021 in Week 4, Lawrence started to rely on Arnold instantly before he suffered a sprained MCL in Week 12 and missed the rest of the season. But from Weeks 5-10, a span of five games, Arnold had four games with at least seven targets and at least 10 PPR points despite not scoring a touchdown. He might not ever become a top-five or even top-10 Fantasy tight end, but he could be a low-end starter in all leagues, with his value higher in PPR. He's a good fallback option at tight end with a late-round pick.
CHI Chicago • #85
Age: 23 • Experience: 3 yrs.
Fantasy Breakdown (PPR)
OVERALL RNK
148th
TE RNK
16th
PROJ PTS
0
SOS
ADP
206
2021 Stats
REC
60
TAR
93
REYDS
612
TD
0
FPTS/G
7.1
Kmet could be in a great spot in 2022 if the Bears don't add anyone of significance at wide receiver this offseason. Allen Robinson is a free agent, and the Bears only have Darnell Mooney as a key asset in the passing game ahead of Kmet if Robinson leaves. Kmet had some good moments in 2021 but nothing consistent, and two of his three best games came with Justin Fields under center. Kmet scored 14 PPR points at Pittsburgh in Week 9 and 13 PPR points in Week 15 against Minnesota with Fields, 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 could be a go-to option in this offense in 2022. He's a good second tight end to draft in all leagues, and he could emerge as a weekly starter by the end of the season, especially if he stays as the No. 2 option in the passing game behind Mooney.

Other sleeper tight ends to consider: Irv Smith, Brevin Jordan and Donald Parham