Want support in your competition this season? What better way than to crush those late rounds in your fantasy football draft?
It’s important to get the early round picks right. These guys will be the cornerstone of your lineup. But these late gems can offer an incredible upside at a fraction of the cost and can help you achieve a qualifying boost.
Here are four late stage players who will outperform the average draft position (ADP) in 2022.
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ADP: WR66, total 146
You may have heard by now that the Minnesota Vikings have chosen a new coach for the 2022 season. That would be former Rams offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell. So what does that have to do with KJ Osborn, the WR3 envisioned for this Vikings crime?
Well, O’Connell loved the 3WR sets in Los Angeles. In fact, 3WR has managed larger groups than any team in the NFL, and by a large margin.
He ran so many 3WR combos that Van Jefferson had a quick 81.1% track share (ranked 30th), ran 30.4 tracks per game (16th), and had an 85.3% track share (ranked 36th) (per PlayerProfiler). Most teams’ WR3s don’t see the field nearly as much. For comparison, Osborne only had an early share of 67.6% (70), ran 27.8 tracks per game (31), and had a track share of 78.1% (61).
Plus, with his third season approaching, the 25-year-old is likely to take another drastic step in his development. While Adam Thielen was very productive a season ago, he’s heading into a season at the age of 32. His 10 precipitations in 13 games have been astonishing, but his target share of just 21% is a far cry from the 26 and 27% rates he saw in 2017 and 2018.
And did you know, when Thielen missed (or played minimally) Week 13 last season, Osborn was WR28 with 13 fantasy points per game? So not only should the Vikings’ 3rd year future called Justin Jefferson get more chances this season as WR3, but he also has a huge upside should he enter the WR2 role in 2022.
Z Jones and Jacksonville Jaguars
ADP: WR104, total 208
Christian Kirk was the brilliant free agent who signed the Jacksonville Jaguars, securing a four-year, $72 million deal with a $37 million guarantee. The big decade was met with question marks, but Kirk certainly isn’t flabby in the wide reception position.
But there has been another wide receiver acquisition this off season. A lesser-known man, former Buffalo Bills and Las Vegas Raiders on a larger scale than Zay Jones. Jones secured a three-year, $24 million contract with a $14 million guarantee after his impressive performance during the 2021 season. $14 million guaranteed isn’t $37 million guaranteed, but it’s definitely an amount that shouldn’t be ignored.
And so far in training camp, Zay Jones flashed as the designated X receiver:
Recall, Jones saw 102 goals in his second season at Buffalo. He put in 652 yards and seven touchdowns that season, which is good for ending the mediocre WR4 in fantasy football. And last season after Darren Waller’s downfall in Week 12, Jones was called up again as Derek Carr’s top pick-up in Las Vegas.
During the late season stretch, Jones averaged 7.7 goals on 31.9 tracks. He also averaged 97.7 air yards per game. Trevor Lawrence ranked eighth in total air yards in his rookie season, averaging 275.4 air yards per game (metrics per PlayerProfiler).
All that can be said, Jones’ skill set aligns well with what Lawrence does well, which is deep ball throwing. As long as he’s on the field, there’s a majority of the shots, there’s $14 million to believe he’s going to throw the football in Jacksonville.
This is a new coaching staff with a relatively obscure reception staff made up of new faces (Kirk, Evan Ingram, Zee Jones), so we want to show up as cheaply as possible – via Zay Jones. Jaggs confirmed to the book that he received balls from Lawrence at training camp:
ADP: TE19, total 160
There are many reasons to love Njoku in 2022, but let’s start with the two most obvious ones. First, Brown allowed Austin Hopper to walk in free agency. Second, they later gave the DJ a whopping four-year extension of $54.8 million with a $28 million guarantee. As of this article, he is the fifth highest tight end in the league after George Kettle, Travis Kelsey, Dallas Goedert and Mark Andrews. Wonderful company.
Now, let’s talk about the season in Cleveland. Deshaun Watson is suspended for six games, so we’ll see a mix of Jacoby Brissett and Watson in 2022. To do that, let’s look at Njoku’s chance last season in a single match that Hooper didn’t play. In that game, Njoku played 100% of the shots and played 29 tracks (per PlayerProfiler). That might not sound like a ton, but compared to his average of 17.3 tracks per season, that’s a huge difference.
The last time Njoku ran anywhere near 29 tracks per game was in 2018 when he ran 25.4 per game. That season, he was in the top ten tight finalists in both surprise participation (84.3%) and track participation (70.8%) (per PlayerProfiler). He averaged nearly six goals per game and finished the season as a low-end TE1. He did so with rising midfielder Baker Mayfield. Ngoku was second in the team in terms of goals after Jarvis Landry, who saw 149 that season.
Fast forward to this season, with Amari Cooper the highest conceivable target in attack. In 2018, Landry had 26.4% of the target share and 28.2% of the targets per track (TPRR). Last season, Cooper had a target share of 18.8% and a 22.6% TPRR. After Cooper, Njoku will compete with Donovan Peoples-Jones, David Bell and Anthony Schwartz for goals.
Even with Harrison Bryant appearing as TE2 for the Browns, it’s easy to see a path for Njoku to be the second highest target on this team. Add in the guaranteed money, and you’ll better believe he’ll get involved early and often in a team that loves to get involved on their tight ends. In fact, Browns targeted tight ends 142 times in 2021, good for a sixth place in the NFL.
Don’t forget Njoku’s 97 Burst Percentage Degree. This guy has the ability to take home a screen swipe in any given game:
ADP: WR82, total 176
Robinson dominated Kentucky in 2021, hitting 104 balls for 1,334 yards and seven touchdowns. He’s been so good, that Brian Daboll and the new Giants coaching system decided to spend an early second player on the man in the 2022 NFL Draft. So far in training camp, Wan’Dale appears to have stellar potential:
But teams and coaches talk a lot about the guys in training camp, so what makes Robinson different from the next guy? Well, he’s almost certain to be the future of the slot for the Giants, and he could also double as a tool man lining up the field alongside Sacon Barkley. Either way, he’ll likely be in the ballpark a great deal in the junior season.
With Toni Cadarius and Kenny Goladay working offshore, Robinson lines up at the slot to start the season with Sterling Shepherd recovering from an Achilles tendon rupture in December last year. You’ll remember Shepherd was full of goals early in the season before dealing with annoying injuries. In Weeks 1 and 2, he averaged 9.5 goals on 35.5 tracks (per PlayerProfiler). That was good for 26.7% TPRR and 28.5% of target share.
Not too shabby for the giants’ slots man, who will likely be Wan’Dale Robinson this season. The other thing in the novice’s favour is that veteran Kenny Goladay seems to be struggling a bit in training camp.
With Daboll as head coach, this Giants team can put together a bunch of points this season playing at a much faster pace than the past two seasons under Joe Judge and Jason Jarrett. Last season, the Bills averaged 66.3 games per game, while the Giants averaged only 61.8 hits per game. The Bills pass 37.7 times per game, while the Giants pass 34.9 times per game. The tempo mixed with the surge in passing attempts should benefit the slot’s bullish future in 2022.
With no clear timetable for Shepard’s return to play, it appears that Wan’Dale Robinson is the biggest beneficiary and is making the most of his chance so far in training camp. You’ll want it on your fantasy football lists this season.
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