Fantasy Football Predictions for Year 2 Breakouts in 2022: Trevor Lawrence, Elijah Moore, Pat Freiermuth, More
Getty Images. Pictured: Trevor Lawrence (left), Elijah Moore (right)
- Few rookies stood out last season in fantasy football, especially among the big names.
- Here's who our staff is betting on taking a big Year 2 leap this season.
Not every second-year player endures the dreaded sophomore slump. Some do the opposite and learn from the hardships of their rookie season to take a big-time leap.
According to our fantasy football experts here at Action Network, these are the guys who are going to do just that in 2022.
WR Elijah Moore, Jets
One of the most important metrics for forecasting WR production is targets per route run. It doesn't take a large sample for it to stabilize and become predictive, (roughly 180 routes), which makes it especially useful for evaluating young WRs who didn’t play a full complement of snaps. Moore was targeted on 24% of his routes last season, which ranks 18th among 121 WRs who ran at least 180 routes. What makes it even more impressive is that those targets were coming downfield, as his aDOT (12.4) was in the 66th percentile among that same group of pass catchers.
Moore was also a beast in the red zone, scoring on five of nine opportunities. He finished as the WR47 in half PPR last season despite only playing in 11 games and running a route on 66% of dropbacks. However, he was the WR29 in points per game among WRs who played at least nine games. All Moore needs to put up bigger numbers is more snaps – and he will get them as he enters camp as an unquestioned starter in Year 2. Even if WR Garrett Wilson, the 10th overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, is as advertised, Moore should still be expected to lead the team in targets. I have him projected at WR28 with nearly 70 catches for 900 yards, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him surpass 1,000 yards if Zach Wilson is healthy enough to start the vast majority of games and take a step forward in Year 2.
WR Rashod Bateman, Ravens
Bateman didn’t have as flashy of a Year 1 has Moore, but he’s in prime position to break out in Year 2. Even with Mark Andrews hogging targets in Baltimore’s low-volume pass offense, Marquise Brown was able to post WR24 numbers on a per-game basis. The team felt good enough about Bateman to let Brown walk, and Bateman’s ascension to the WR1 role is critical, because this offense can support two fantasy-relevant pass catchers, but not three.
The numbers don’t tell the whole story with Bateman. While he averaged just 3.8 catches for 42.9 yards in 12 games, he was consistently open – at times more so than Brown. Per Reception Perception, Bateman ranked in the 85th percentile at getting open against zone, 81st against press and 74th against man – besting Brown (79th/20th/27th) in all categories. With Brown out of the picture, Bateman will be no worse than the second read on most passing plays, and he has the route-running chops to get open quickly.
At an ADP in the WR36, Bateman is one of the last WRs on the board that will be locked into his team’s WR1 role all season.
TE Pat Freiermuth, Steelers
Freiermuth wasn’t quite as exciting as Kyle Pitts in 2021, but he certainly showed glimmers of greatness amid a suboptimal situation.
I was super high on Freiermuth as a late-round sleeper. He far exceeded expectations and finished as the TE14 in half PPR – all while catching passes from a watered-down Ben Roethlisberger. Pittsburgh’s QB situation is unlikely to improve drastically this year with either Mitch Trubisky or Kenny Pickett under center, though Freiermuth has already proven capable of outperforming his situation. His half-PPR ADP according to FantasyPros is TE12; he could far outperform his paltry draft price and end the season in the top five at the position.
QB Trevor Lawrence, Jaguars
Lawrence, the No. 1 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, has fallen from grace after a disappointing rookie campaign, though it could be argued that his stats should be omitted after being subjected to the Urban Meyer experience.
Lawrence was expected to make an immediate splash in the NFL after a prolific college career at Clemson. Instead, he was underwhelming, completing 59.6 percent of passes for 3,641 yards, 12 touchdowns and 17 interceptions – finishing as the QB23 in fantasy.
This season, the Jaguars have post-hype sleeper appeal from betting and fantasy angles. Lawrence will (hopefully) have former Clemson teammate Travis Etienne Jr. at his side, as well as Christian Kirk. He is being drafted as the QB20 according to FantasyPros, which means he will go undrafted in many one-QB leagues. Lawrence should easily outperform his ADP in Year 2.