Now that free agency is mostly over as the calendar turns to April, it's time to update the first round of sleepers. Let's call this Sleepers 2.0.
We'll see what changes come after the NFL Draft -- and then we'll update this list again -- but for now, 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.
- Jamey's 2.0 series: Sleepers | Breakouts | Busts
- Chris' 1.0 series: Sleepers | Breakouts | Busts
- Dave's 1.0 series: Sleepers | Breakouts | Busts
- Jamey's 1.0 series: Sleepers | Breakouts | Busts
- Heath's 1.0 series: Sleepers | Breakouts | Busts
Kirk Cousins QB
MIN Minnesota • #8
Age: 34 • Experience: 12 yrs.
The Vikings needed a change from Mike Zimmer, and new coach Kevin O'Connell should be great for Minnesota's offense, as well as Cousins. Prior to spending the past two seasons as the Rams offensive coordinator, O'Connell was Cousins' quarterbacks coach in Washington in 2017. He helped Cousins average 20.6 Fantasy points per game that season, but Cousins should do better than that. He just averaged 22.2 PPR points per game last year, but I wouldn't be surprised if Cousins had a career year in 2022. His best season was 23.4 Fantasy points per game in 2020, and I'll take the over on that production. Cousins will be the quarterback I wait for on Draft Day with a late-round pick in all leagues.
Derek Carr QB
NO New Orleans • #4
Age: 32 • Experience: 10 yrs.
Carr is another quarterback to wait for on Draft Day now that he has Davante Adams on his side. The Raiders receiving corps has the potential to be elite with Adams, Darren Waller and Hunter Renfrow, and Carr should benefit with new coach Josh McDaniels designing plays as well. Carr's best season is 21.6 Fantasy points per game in 2016, and he has the ability to shatter that this year with the improved talent around him. There's the chance for some explosive games in the AFC West, and it should be fun to see if Carr can keep up with Patrick Mahomes, Justin Herbert and Russell Wilson. I'm counting on Carr to deliver a big season, and you can likely get him in the double-digit rounds in the majority of one-quarterback leagues.
Other sleeper quarterbacks to consider: Tua Tagovailoa, Trevor Lawrence, Jameis Winston
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MIA Miami • #31
Age: 31 • Experience: 9 yrs.
The Dolphins will have a revamped backfield this season with Mostert and Chase Edmonds, and Mostert could win the starting job given his history with coach Mike McDaniel from their time in San Francisco. It will likely be a committee for Mostert and Edmonds, but Mostert will know McDaniel's offense, which should give him an early advantage in what could be an explosive rushing attack. Miami's offensive line improved with the additions of left tackle Terron Armstead and guard Conner Williams, and the Dolphins passing game is much more of a threat with Tyreek Hill. Mostert missed 16 games last season with a left knee injury that required surgery, but he's expected to be fine for training camp. He's 29, but he's still among the fastest running backs in the NFL. I wouldn't expect a full season of great production from Mostert given his injury history. But for several weeks, likely early in the year, Mostert could provide big dividends, especially at his expected cost of a late-round pick.
Trey Sermon RB
PHI Philadelphia • #22
Age: 24 • Experience: 3 yrs.
I spoke with Sermon this offseason while he was training at XPE Sports in South Florida, and he's excited for the chance to compete with Elijah Mitchell for the starting job. "I definitely see myself competing and having the chance to take the starting spot," Sermon said. "I know with San Francisco, we usually play a lot of running backs. Just to compete with Elijah, he's a great running back. We definitely make each other better." The 49ers will use Mitchell, Sermon and possibly Jeff Wilson also, and it could be Sermon and Wilson competing to be the lead rusher this year. That's because in Kyle Shanahan's five-year tenure as San Francisco's coach he's never had the same leading rusher for two seasons in a row (Carlos Hyde in 2017, Matt Breida in 2018, Mostert in 2019, Wilson in 2020 and Mitchell last year). "I did know there's always been a different leading rusher," Sermon said. "That's why I continue to just work hard to get my mind, my body and everything ready for the season."
Nyheim Hines RB
Age: 26 • Experience: 6 yrs.
Frank Reich said at the NFL owners meeting that Hines would have a bigger role in the passing game this season, and I confirmed that in interviews with Colts running backs coach Scottie Montgomery and offensive coordinator Marcus Brady. As Brady said, playing Hines and Jonathan Taylor together at the same time will be "more of a focus." Brady added, "We want to take advantage of the weapons that we have and get the ball in their hands." In 2020, with Philip Rivers under center, Hines had 76 targets for 63 catches, 482 yards and four touchdowns (he also added 89 carries for 380 yards and three touchdowns). Then last year, with Carson Wentz, Hines managed just 57 targets for 40 catches, 310 yards and one touchdown, along with 56 carries for 276 yards and two scores. With Matt Ryan the new quarterback in Indianapolis, Hines should be closer to his 2020 stats as a receiver, especially with the Colts needing help in the passing game. Hines has flex appeal in PPR, and he should be available with a late-round pick in all leagues.
Ronald Jones RB
DAL Dallas • #32
Age: 25 • Experience: 6 yrs.
Jones signed a one-year, $5 million deal with the Chiefs as a free agent, and he should be a quality complement to Clyde Edwards-Helaire this season. I asked Andy Reid about Jones at the NFL owners meeting, and Reid is excited about his new running back. "I like Ronald," Reid said. "I like the size, speed that he has. He's got good vision. He needs that opportunity to feel like he's a major part of this thing. We'll give him that as long as he comes in the right frame of mind and all those things. He's a pretty good athlete that we liked coming out." Reid then said about Edwards-Helaire, "I've got Clyde in there, too. It'll help take some pressure off of Clyde, and they'll work together and have a pretty good combo there." Edwards-Helaire has struggled to stay healthy for the past two seasons, missing 10 games for various reasons, which could lead to Jones getting a bigger role. But even if Edwards-Helaire is healthy, Jones could prove to be the better option on rushing downs. I still like Edwards-Helaire better than Jones, but Jones is an excellent No. 3 or 4 running back to target in Round 8 or later.
Other sleeper running backs of interest: James Robinson, Kenneth Gainwell, Gus Edwards, James White
ARI Arizona • #4
Age: 22 • Experience: 3 yrs.
The Cardinals lost Christian Kirk as a free agent to Jacksonville, and A.J. Green remains a free agent. I asked Kliff Kingsbury at the NFL owners meeting about his expectations for Moore in Year 2, and Kingsbury said Moore will play a big role opposite DeAndre Hopkins. "Last year, he kind of got lost in the shuffle more than he should have," Kingsbury said. "He's a dynamic playmaker. With Christian leaving particularly, we expect him to fill that role and really live up to it. " I also asked Kingsbury about using Moore in the backfield, and Kingsbury referenced how the 49ers used Deebo Samuel as something Moore could do for the Cardinals. "We're going to try to give him the ball more," Kingsbury said. "You've seen what Kyle (Shananan) has done there with Deebo, one of the best players in the league, he finds different ways to give him the ball. We're going to be creative with Rondale because when he touches it good things happen." As a rookie in 2021, Moore had 54 catches for 435 yards and one touchdown on 64 targets in 14 games. He also added 18 carries for 76 yards. Kirk leaves behind 103 targets from a year ago, so it will be fun to see what Moore can do with upwards of 120 opportunities (targets and carries) in his sophomore campaign. He's worth drafting as early as Round 8 in the majority of leagues.
DAL Dallas • #13
Age: 27 • Experience: 6 yrs.
The Cowboys didn't choose Gallup over Amari Cooper because the salaries for both matter, but Dallas is likely betting on Gallup being close to Cooper in production if healthy. Gallup is coming off a torn ACL suffered in Week 17, and hopefully he'll be ready for Week 1. If that happens, he should start opposite CeeDee Lamb, and Gallup will be a primary target for Dak Prescott. Gallup had five games last season with at least seven targets, and he scored at least 11 PPR points in three of them. And remember, prior to Lamb coming to Dallas in 2020, Gallup had a quality campaign in 2019 with 66 catches for 1,107 yards and six touchdowns on 113 targets in 14 games. He has the potential to be a No. 2 Fantasy receiver in the majority of leagues, and you should be able to draft him in Round 8 or later.
NYJ N.Y. Jets • #6
Age: 25 • Experience: 5 yrs.
The Chiefs receiving corps will have a much different look this season with Hill gone, and the replacement options include newcomers in JuJu Smith-Schuster and Marquez Valdes-Scantling, as well as Hardman. I'm hopeful Smith-Schuster is the leading receiver in Kansas City, but Hardman and Valdes-Scantling will also have plenty of opportunities to prove themselves. And Hardman is the one I plan to target in the majority of leagues with a late-round pick given his established rapport with Patrick Mahomes. Hardman has 23 games over the past three seasons with at least four targets, and he scored at least 11 PPR points in 12 of those outings. Reid was proud of the way Hardman played in 2021 when he had 59 catches for 693 yards and two touchdowns on 83 targets, and hopefully Hardman does better with more opportunities. "He continuously got better throughout the year, worked hard, and it paid off for him," Reid said. "We kind of found that groove – as coaches – of what were the things that he did best and (tried) to utilize him in those positions." Kansas City will likely add another receiver in the NFL Draft, which will impact Smith-Schuster, Hardman and Valdes-Scantling. But following Hill's trade to the Dolphins, Hardman is a winner and someone to covet in all Fantasy leagues.
Allen Lazard WR
NYJ N.Y. Jets • #10
Age: 27 • Experience: 5 yrs.
The Packers need help in their receiving corps after Adams was traded to the Raiders, as well as Valdes-Scantling leaving as a free agent for the Chiefs. That leaves Lazard as the best remaining receiver for Aaron Rodgers -- for now. I expect Green Bay to add another receiver or two between now and the end of the NFL Draft, but Lazard should have an edge given his rapport with Rodgers. And last year, Lazard closed the season on a high note with at least 13 PPR points in four of his final five games. He had five touchdowns over that span, including three games with at least five catches and 72 yards. Lazard isn't going to replace Adams or be a consistent Fantasy threat, but he is someone to target as a potential low-end starter in three-receiver leagues. And depending on who the Packers still add, Lazard's value could increase if someone of significance doesn't end up in Green Bay.
Other sleeper wide receivers to consider: Rashod Bateman, Corey Davis, Tim Patrick, Kadarius Toney
Irv Smith TE
CIN Cincinnati • #81
Age: 24 • Experience: 5 yrs.
Smith is coming off a knee injury that cost him the entire 2021 season, but hopefully he'll be ready for Week 1. "We're going to be smart with Irv," O'Connell said at the NFL's owners meeting. "There's no reason why he can't hit the ground running from a mental perspective this spring. ... He's so excited to get going." In 2020, Smith closed the season with at least 16 PPR points in two of his final four games, and I'm looking forward to him being the No. 3 option in the passing game behind Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen. He's not someone you want to target as a No. 1 Fantasy tight end, but he does have upside to warrant carrying him on your Fantasy roster with a late-round pick in all leagues. If things go right, Smith could be a top-10 Fantasy tight end this year.
Evan Engram TE
JAC Jacksonville • #17
Age: 28 • Experience: 7 yrs.
A fresh start in Jacksonville should be just what Engram needs to turn his career around, and he could be a nice find for Fantasy managers with a late-round pick. He's been a bust since his rookie campaign in 2017 when he had 64 catches for 722 yards and six touchdowns on 115 targets. Since then, Engram has dealt with injuries, drops and plenty of inconsistent play. But in Jacksonville, he could prove to be a valuable target for Trevor Lawrence, who relied on Dan Arnold quite a bit once he came to the Jaguars via trade from the Panthers. 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. New coach Doug Pederson has a strong history of using his tight ends from his time in Philadelphia, and Engram is a great tight end to target with a late-round pick in all leagues. Much like Smith, don't draft Engram as a starter, but he could be someone you lean on as the season progresses.
Other sleeper tight ends to consider: David Njoku, Cole Kmet, Mike Gesicki