2022 Fantasy Football Deep Sleepers: Target Jalen Tolbert, Romeo Doubs, Nico Collins, More
Getty Images. Pictured: Romeo Doubs (left) and Jalen Tolbert.
- In need of a name with upside late in your fantasy football draft? We have you covered.
- Our three fantasy football experts lay out players they're targeting late in drafts ahead of the 2022 season.
Goff is one of the last QBs who we can project for 15 or more starts if he’s healthy, along with the likes of Baker Mayfield and Marcus Mariota.
Goff has a lot of talent around him this season. D’Andre Swift and T.J. Hockenson missed a lot of time last season, when we found out how good Amon-Ra St. Brown is. Detroit also added D.J. Chark and Jameson Williams for strong vertical threats. Goff’s upside is still limited, but he’s a sneaky option as one of the final starting QBs to be drafted.
Collins is 6-foor-4 and 215 pounds with decent speed. That combination makes him a potential breakout candidate in 2022.
Collins has proven to be a threat in the red zone, making some impressive plays in his young NFL career. The problem has been consistency, which might remain an issue with Davis Mills under center. At this point, Brandin Cooks is the only Texans receiver you can really trust. If Mills takes a step forward in Year 2, though, Collins will be the biggest beneficiary.
Expect a higher target share and some impressive plays this year from Collins.
I really like Hurst’s fit in Cincinnati.
After spending one season stuck behind Kyle Pitts, Hurst replaces C.J. Uzomah, who finished as the TE19 last season. Hurst is a first-round talent, while Uzomah is more of a fifth. Hurst should thrive in the Bengals’ passing game.
Hurst won’t be an every-week TE1 because he’s the fourth option in the Bengals’ passing game, but he will have spiked weeks. He’s a sneaky late-round pick who will be especially valuable in Best Ball formats.
WR Jalen Tolbert
Tolbert is a classic case of when talent meets opportunity. From a talent perspective, Tolbert is a smooth route runner with decent size (6-foot-1, 194 pounds) who can win at every level. According to Matt Harmon’s Reception Perception charting, Tolbert finished with above average success rates against man (59th percentile), zone (62nd) and press (74th). He was also above average at every single route on the route tree. From a production standpoint, his numbers at South Alabama check out as well, as he posted a college target share and dominator rating above the 95th percentile, according to Player Profiler.
From an opportunity standpoint, the key is that the Cowboys are one of the few teams that can support three fantasy WRs. This is a team that threw for over 4,900 yards and 40 TDs last season. CeeDee Lamb finished as the WR17, Amari Cooper was the WR26 and Cedrick Wilson was the WR45 despite being the team’s WR4 for half of the year. And that all came with Dalton Schultz posting top-five numbers at TE. If you were on the field for the Cowboys, you were fantasy relevant.
Tolbert was likely to be a Day 1 starter for the Cowboys regardless, but now is getting fast-tracked with both Michael Gallup and James Washington on the shelf to start the season. Given his route-running ability, it’s not out of the question that Tolbert could rise as high as the team’s No. 2 option behind Lamb. But as Wilson showed us last season, even being the fourth option can be enough to post WR4/FLEX numbers. Barring injury, it’s hard to imagine Tolbert not beating his WR56 ADP.
WR Romeo Doubs
Let’s ignore the preseason hype and puff pieces for a moment and just take Doubs for what he is at face value: A cheap way to get exposure to a player who has a path to being Aaron Rodgers’ WR1.
If you think Doubs ending up as the Packers’ WR1 is hyperbole, let’s examine who he’s competing with:
Allen Lazard: Great run-blocker and valued teammate, but easily the worst WR atop a team’s depth chart in football. Yes, he’s had some productive games as a Packer. That will happen when your QB is a four-time MVP. But Lazard doesn’t get open. According to Reception Perception, Lazard was in the 27th percentile against press coverage, the 15th percentile against man coverage and the 10th percentile against zone coverage. Lazard’s career rate of targets per route run is 15.9% – well below league average for all WRs (19%) and that of a typical WR1 (low-to-mid 20s). He offers enough all-around value to keep a starting spot, but this is not the type of player that you can target 7-8 times per game, or more, for an entire season. He may very well be the WR1 in Week 1, but he’s a bridge WR1 if I’ve ever seen one.
Randall Cobb: Here’s a low aDOT slot receiver entering his age-32 season. Cobb struggled to crack the lineup for much of last year and was targeted on a career-low 15.1% of routes. He offers more value as one of Rodgers’ best buddies than as a long-term answer at receiver.
Sammy Watkins: Watkins posted career lows in every single receiving category last season and got phased out of a lackluster Ravens receiving corps. He also can’t stay healthy, ever.
Christian Watson: The most formidable challenger to Doubs. Watson was drafted higher, but he missed all of training camp due to knee surgery, which is not ideal for a rookie. There’s also no guarantee that Watson’s draft pedigree edge over Doubs equates to more talent, as Watson played against weaker competition in the FBS. Paul Noonan has a great piece on how Doubs lasted until later in the draft more so due to the difficulty evaluating the type of offense he was in rather than any deficiencies as a pass catcher (the piece is also bullish on Watson). The most likely scenario is Watson and Doubs both emerge as starters.
Doubs has all the tools to be a starting NFL wideout. Take a look at his scouting reports and you’ll see him praised for skills like speed, catch radius, body control, feel for finding holes in zone coverage and an ability to line up anywhere. The biggest knock is concentration drops, which has nothing to do with skill. Another knock is simply that there’s no tape of him running certain routes due to the system he was in at Nevada – not that there was evidence that he couldn’t run them. And according to training camp reports, he’s been winning on the majority of routes the Packers are asking him to run.
Doubs is a low-risk, high-reward flier that could end up being a league-winner.
TE Gerald Everett
Jared Cook’s old role was good for 29.1 routes per game last season, which was 13th among TEs, but certainly enough for a player more efficient than Cook to turn into a TE1 finish in one of the league’s best pass offenses.
Entering his age-28 season, Everett is a more efficient player than the 34-year-old Cook was last season, besting him in yards per target (7.6 to 6.8) and yards per route (1.34 vs. 1.18), among other metrics. Like their L.A. counterparts, the Chargers were top five in passing yards (5,014) and TDs (38) last season. If Everett is running close to 30 routes per game in this offense, there’s no reason he can’t crack the top 10 with some TD luck. In fact, former Chargers TE Hunter Henry posted a TE8 finish last year on fewer routes (25.2) in an inferior Patriots pass offense.
At an ADP of TE19, drafting Everett could be a season-saving move if you miss out on the top options.
TE Tyler Higbee
The formula for finding late-round value at TE is pretty simple: You want a player who runs a lot of routes in a good passing offense. That’s how Dalton Schultz and Dawson Knox broke out last season. It’s how Robert Tonyan did in 2020.
This year, Higbee fits the bill as a post-hype sleeper of sorts. Higbee was fifth among TEs in routes per game (33.1) and led in routes per dropback (86%). He also was tied for 16th in the NFL with 18 red-zone targets. Given his underlying usage, Higbee was unlucky to post only five TDs and ultimately a quiet TE14 finish for a Rams offense that ranked in the top five in passing yards (4,893) and TDs (41). But such is life among non-stud TEs. Sometimes you get a season like Higbee’s 2021. Other times, you get a stretch like the one Higbee had to close out the 2019 season, when he went off for 8.6 catches, 104.4 yards and 0.4 TDs over the final five games.
It’s not sexy, but an ADP of TE23 is too cheap for a player that finished as the TE14 last season while leaving meat on the bone. The one issue with Higbee is that he has a difficult Week 1 matchup against a Bills defense that is annually one of the toughest matchups against TEs due to the safety play of Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde. Higbee often goes undrafted, so you may be better off leaving him on waivers and picking him up ahead of the Rams’ Week 2 matchup with the Falcons.
QB Daniel Jones
Even in a year which saw him throw only 10 TD passes in 11 games, Jones finished as the QB18 in per-game scoring among QBs that played at least half the season. QB18 doesn’t sound like much, but it’s a bargain compared to his QB27 ADP. Jones is no Lamar Jackson, but he can give you 25-30 rushing yards per game, which is more than most QBs. And we know he has upside: Before the Joe Judge/Jason Garrett regime got there, Jones posted five 300-yard games and three four-TD games in 12 starts his rookie year. Brian Daboll isn’t a savior, but he’s a competent offensive coach who should be able to get enough out of Jones to allow him to crush his ADP. If you’re in a two-QB league or waited too long and missed everyone, Jones is the guy you want to take.
The Packers’ wide receiver room is a mess after the departures of Davante Adams and Marquez Valdes-Scantling this offseason.
Opportunities present themselves amid turmoil for new faces, however. Green Bay drafted Christian Watson early in the second round of this year’s draft. Watson is an impressive physical specimen and was expected to eventually take over the WR1 spot vacated by Adams.
But Doubs – not Watson – has been the talk of the Packers’ preseason. The 2022 fourth-round pick from Nevada has received high praise according to training camp reports. He will have the benefit of catching passes from four-time MVP Aaron Rodgers and lack of competition from the team’s depth chart (currently Watson, Allen Lazard, Randall Cobb and Sammy Watkins).
Doubs’ ADP is WR69 and he’s definitely a name to keep an eye on if his training camp hype leads to preseason success.
Washington has been turning heads at Broncos training camp.
The 23-year-old fifth-round pick attended Samford University and is considered a punt returning specialist as of now. He is battling for a spot on the team’s roster, which could use more depth with veteran Tim Patrick out for the season due to a torn ACL as well as health concerns with other receivers on Denver’s depth chart. Washington also offers some upside in light of the Broncos’ upgraded quarterback situation. He could emerge as a low-cost, deep-league sleeper if he can take over the WR3 slot that remains very much up for grabs.
Woods is a hot name for dynasty drafts and he should be on your radar for redraft, too.
The Colts’ third-round selection from Virginia is an absolute unit, measuring 6-foot-7 and 259 pounds. Woods is said to have good hands and strong blocking skills and profiles similarly to Martellus Bennett, which should give you an idea of why the fantasy community is so excited about him.
Woods will join a tight-end committee with Mo Alie-Cox, which will limit his production, at least in his first year. He does have a strong quarterback in Matt Ryan, which makes him an even more appealing deep-league sleeper option.