The term “sleeper” is thrown around in plenty of fantasy articles, with a multitude of different meanings, diluting the importance of the term. For this piece, “sleeper” will be defined as a player one can reasonably expect to find in the last two rounds of a typical 12-man league. Let’s take a look at five 2022 NFL Sleepers.
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Top Five Fantasy Football Sleepers for 2022
K.J. Osborn: WR, MIN
K.J. Osborn of the Minnesota Vikings is currently rated as the 77th wide receiver and 211th overall player by FantasyPros. This means Osborn, a 2020 fifth-round pick, should be readily available in the last few rounds of most fantasy drafts. Last year Osborn had 655 yards and seven touchdowns en route to finishing WR35 of the 2021 fantasy season. While the Vikings have two-star receivers in Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen, they had no massive additions on the offensive end during the off-season and they lost Dede Westbrook, a receiver who took up close to 20% of the snaps. Osborn has the chance to pick up more snaps and increase on the 22% target share he had in 2021. In addition, Thielen is also 32 and coming off an injury-riddled season. Any injury to Thielen would open the door for Osborn to jump into the WR2 spot and climb up the wide receiver rankings.
DeVante Parker: WR, NE
DeVante Parker is only 29 and looking forward to a fresh start on the New England Patriots after a rough few years with the Miami Dolphins. The Patriots traded a third-round pick for Parker this past off-season with the hope he could return to his 2019 form when he had 1200 yards and 9 touchdowns, finishing as the WR11 in fantasy. Parker has been flashy through the first week of training camp, coming down with multiple highlight catches, including the one below.
Here’s DeVante Parker’s contested catch over Jalen Mills‼️
Crowd went wild pic.twitter.com/u11P0ikeql
— PGS NEST (@NestPgs) July 28, 2022
While the Patriots have a crowded wide receiver room, with a collection of mid-tier WR2 type players, such as Kendrick Bourne, Nelson Agholor, and Jakobi Meyers, Parker has the chance to elevate above the rest and into the WR1 role. Standing at 6’3” and 219 lbs, Parker is a Red Zone threat with the ability to bring down contested throws. Parker can mold into the threat that New England once anticipated N’Keal Harry would become and provide a trusted safety net to second-year quarterback Mac Jones. Parker has the potential to finish as a top 15 receiver in fantasy, with the chance he can be drafted in the last round of most drafts.
Van Jefferson: WR, LAR
Van Jefferson recently underwent surgery for a knee tweak and his probability for Week 1 is currently “up in the air” according to Los Angeles Rams coach Sean McVay. Despite this, Jefferson should be available to play for most of the season and has the potential to provide fantasy squads with a boost.
Behind top five receiver Cooper Kupp and newcomer Allen Robinson in the depth chart, it may seem a bit risky to select Jefferson. However, his familiarity with the system should give him a step up in Robinson and Jefferson has already proven he can rack up yards, even with other talents at his position. Last season, with Kupp and Odell Beckham Jr. on the team, Jefferson had 800 yards and six touchdowns, with an impressive 16 yards per reception.
He has shown he can maximize his opportunities, providing all these numbers on just a 15% target share. If Jefferson can make the jump over Robinson, pass-happy quarterback Matthew Stafford will look to target him more, and as a result, Jefferson could see upwards of 1,000 yards come his way.
Khalil Herbert: RB, CHI
Khalil Herbert was the RB63 last year in terms of fantasy points. However, when given opportunities, he capitalized. When starter David Montgomery was out for three games last year, the former sixth-round pick averaged over 100 yards from scrimmage. Herbert also maintained a 4.3 yards per carry mark through 103 carries last year.
Herbert should see more of an opportunity to show his skills this year as Alyssa Barbieri of USA Today says Herbert is the only running back behind Montgomery to have a roster spot locked on the Chicago Bears. Usayd Koshul of 24/7 Sports says that Herbert is in prime position to “shoulder a bigger workload” in his second year with the team. With increased touches, Herbert can be a surprise back this year, and could prove to be a reward for any fantasy manager willing to spend a draft pick on him this year.
Logan Thomas: TE, WSH
In 2020, Logan Thomas broke out with 650 yards and seven touchdowns, finishing as TE4 in fantasy. Last year, in 2021, Thomas only played six games, yet tallied almost 200 yards and three touchdowns, proving he can still be a viable option in the tight end spot.
New Washington Commanders quarterback Carson Wentz heavily utilized Zach Ertz during his tenure with the Philadelphia Eagles. Washington has plenty of quality wide receivers so Wentz’s reliance on tight ends will be important in order for Thomas to return to a prominent role in the offense. If Thomas can maintain an injury-free season in 2022 he could easily step into a top 10 role with the potential for a top-five finish. Currently rated in the mid-teens of tight ends by most experts, Thomas is flying under the radar and worth a pick in the later rounds of the draft.