From one year to the next, we have seen the value that can be attained in the draft grow. This year will be much of the same with plenty of late-round value to be had.
Last year, players like Cooper Kupp and Deebo Samuel could be found in rounds six through eight. Jonathan Taylor was being taken in the middle of the second. The best tight end of 2021, Mark Andrews, was a fifth-round pick in most fantasy football leagues. I am going to help you find those hidden gems for 2022 and maximize the value of your roster.
James Cook – RB: Round 9-10
Selected by the Buffalo Bills in the second round, James Cook is going to be a steal for a number of fantasy teams this year. The former Georgia Bulldog and younger brother of star running back Dalvin Cook is in a prime position to produce for the AFC favorites. If you know anything about the Bills running back situation the last few years, you know how inconsistent it has been. Since releasing LeSean McCoy, the Bills have had solid contributors, but no one to truly handle the reigns.
Moss was a healthy scratch a number of times last season, and Singletary has a tendency to disappear from game to game. James Cook will bring an element to the passing game the others have not in Buffalo, making him a high-value add in fantasy leagues, even more so in PPR formats.
Treylon Burks – WR: Round 10-12
There may not be a rookie receiver in a better position to put up numbers. After the Titans released Julio Jones and traded AJ Brown to the Eagles, they selected Burks to lead the charge at receiver. They also made a trade for Robert Woods in the offseason, but with him recovering from ACL surgery, Burks is a sure bet for the number one receiver spot. The Titans are certainly a run-first team but do not underestimate the impact he will have on the offense. He will be worth a snag in the later rounds of the draft with the potential for a big breakout year.
Christian Watson – WR: Round 12-13
The Packers have one of the most randomly assembled receiving groups in the NFL. I would say second to Treylon Burks’s situation is the one Christian Watson has found himself in. Watson brings size, speed, and hands to a Packers team that just shipped off its best weapon in Davante Adams. The value Watson has is worth way more than his ADP which currently finds him in the round 12 to 13 range. He will have minimal competition for targets and a Hall of Fame-caliber QB throwing him the ball. If you have the chance to grab him in round 10, you would be making the right decision.
Jameson Williams – WR: Round 12-15
Quite possibly the receiver with the highest ceiling in the 2022 class is Jameson Williams. I view his QB, Jared Goff, as a minus, but his speed and route-running ability were NFL-ready in his final season at Alabama. Unfortunately for Williams, he tore his ACL in his final season, and that has been a major hindrance to his draft value. He is currently projected to go anywhere between round 12 and 15, and going much earlier in dynasty league drafts. If you are in a keeper league especially, Jameson Williams should be on your radar this year as his value will only go up.
Players Who Are Worth The Wait
Rashod Bateman – WR: Round 8-9
Rashod Bateman is the man in Baltimore. After the Ravens sent Hollywood Brown to the desert, it left “Batman” atop the WR depth chart. Lamar Jackson had developed a great report with Brown before his departure, a void that will likely be filled by Bateman. Baltimore is a run-first team and Mark Andrews eats up a lot of targets, but Bateman will be there to snag the extras. Brown was a 1,000-yard receiver last year in their offense, so Bateman should be there to assume that role. Grab him while everyone else sleeps.
Kirk Cousins – QB: Round 11-12
People tend to forget just how good Cousins was as a fantasy football QB last year. His play may not have translated to many wins for the Vikings, but it definitely did for fantasy managers. Cousins finished as QB11, ahead of names like Derek Carr, Russell Wilson, Lamar Jackson, and Ryan Tannehill. Of that list of QBs, only Lamar Jackson had more fantasy points per game than Cousins.
In his third season with Justin Jefferson, Adam Thielen, and Dalvin Cook – plus the return of Irv Smith and a new head coach – I expect Cousins to flourish. If you miss out on the big names, do not be afraid to wait it out until rounds 10 or 11 for Cousins. The value is there.
JuJu Smith-Schuster – WR: Round 8-9
Finally, we have JuJu of the Kansas City Chiefs. After missing most of 2021 due to injury with the Steelers, JuJu will be looking to bounce back in a major way and there are plenty of targets available in Kansas City’s offense to do so. As long as Patrick Mahomes is under center for the Chiefs, the receivers in the system are going to eat. With the departures of Tyreek Hill, Byron Pringle, and Demarcus Robinson, there will be roughly 250+ targets available for this new crop of receivers. I expect JuJu to get his hands on a lot of them.
In what is essentially a contract year for the 25-year-old receiver, you should be looking for him to show out. The value is there given all of the vacant targets, and given his reputation as a PPR monster, you should feel comfortable getting him in the middle rounds.
Tight Ends That Can Produce
Zach Ertz: Round 9-10
Zach Ertz was a no-brainer selection at one point in his career. Since his days with the Eagles, he has faded more into a streaming/low-end starter fantasy tight end option. However, he saw a bit of a resurgence after his trade to Arizona in 2021. With most of the Cardinals’ receivers dealing with injuries, Kyler Murray quickly turned Ertz into one of his favorite targets.
Fast forward to 2022 and Christian Kirk is gone, Chase Edmonds is gone, and Deandre Hopkins faces a six-game suspension to start the season. This will not only allow Ertz to elevate himself back into number one option territory, but he can build season-long chemistry with Murray. If you miss out on a tight end, Ertz will be there to fill the gap of the toughest position to fill in fantasy football.
Robert Tonyan Round 12-13
Tonyan, another victim of a season-ending injury, is returning to Green Bay in 2022. After sending off Davante Adams (as mentioned earlier) the Packers will be looking for new guys to step up. Tonyan has already proven himself as a reliable target in open space and in the red zone. If not for an injury, he could have easily finished in the top eight of fantasy tight ends last season. Rodgers is still in Green Bay, so Tonyan should still be on your radar. If you need a reliable bye-week option or a low-end starter, he is your man.
Gerald Everett: Round 13-15
Finally, we have the Charger replacement for Jared Cook, Gerald Everett. The former Seahawk and Ram has the speed and hands to make an immediate impact in this pass-heavy offense. Justin Herbert has been missing a consistent tight end option in the passing game since Hunter Henry left town and Everett has the potential for some big games. He will clearly be the fourth option after Allen, Williams, and Ekeler, but I expect him to be a viable red zone target. I would not count on Everett as your everyday starter, but his value in the late rounds of the draft as your number two cannot be understated.
Check out some of Dan’s other Stadium Rant content here. You can follow him on Twitter @dan_tf40 and check in with his podcast The Fastest 40 on Spotify, Anchor, Apple Podcasts, & anywhere you listen to podcasts!