Fantasy Football 2022 Deep Sleepers: Earn late-round Fantasy Draft picks, starting with Isaiah McKenzie

Finding deep sleepers in Fantasy Football just got harder.

Before it was easy! Watch a preseason movie, read reports from training camp, see who matches their offense the best, make a few phone calls, and plan a path for a guy to do some sweet fantasy production.

Don’t get me wrong, that’s always how I do things, but teams make it harder and harder. Not as many teams put their starters there in pre-season games. Practices are still essential for beginners, but there’s no movie about it for fantasy analysts. The practice reports are numerous and generally in agreement with each other, but they can be read by anyone. And no one talks on the phone anymore, it’s just texts and Twitter DMs.

I look old. I feel old. It’s the 10th anniversary of Alfred Morrisrookie year, that’s when this annual deep sleep story began (thanks, #ALF). We have had some successes (Darren Waller, Kenny Golladay, John Smith) and a few misfires (don’t @ me with Tajae Sharpe trash talk) with a lot of guys in between who were patchy as rookies but eventually NFL stars (Tyler Eiffel, Michael Gallup, Elijah Moore), but overall we managed to win end-of-round picks. The goal is to find someone who would otherwise be the best waiver pick after Week 1 and a potential starter for at least half the year.

So, let’s go this kitchen.

Dave’s Summer Sleeper

Reports from the training camp of Isaiah McKenzie were spectacular for most of August. Shoot, these reports started in June when the beat guys said he and Josh Allen were winning reps against the defense. Coach Sean McDermott said he was “potentially playing a full-time role” in June and Allen did admit McKenzie was the Invoices‘ slot receiver who will win by “using his speed and quickness,” according to an interview on SiriusXM NFL Radio.

But if you don’t want to take it from them, that’s fine. Take it from the guy McKenzie replaces:

We got a taste of what McKenzie is capable of last year. Replacement of a tip Cole Beasley against the patriots, McKenzie turned 12 targets into an 11-125-1 stat line. Somehow that wasn’t enough to convince the Bills coaching staff to use him more at this point, but it’s the same staff that took 14 weeks to finally trust. to Gabe Davis last year. They are a bit cautious.

McKenzie is the perfect type of yardage-after-catch weapon the Bills need, and it’s the trait they’ve focused on the most this offseason. Having him play the slot machine is doubly delicious. Consider this:

  • Allen was second among all quarterbacks in total goals after a wide that lined up in the slot in 2021 (163) and first in 2020 (170).
  • In fact, at least 25% of Allen’s total throws went to a wide who lined up in the slot in each of the pasts Three years, although he was considerably more effective with them in 2020 and 2021.
  • Despite limited play, McKenzie actually led all bills in touchdowns from the slot in 2020 (five). He only had one in 2021. Naturally, that doesn’t include the scores he captured from afar. Of those six touchdowns, four came in the red zone, so he wasn’t just a deep ball guy.
  • Beasley caught 82 passes in each of his last two seasons with a catch rate of at least 73% per year. McKenzie’s catch rate was at least 76.9% per year.

As for a tighter target in Buffalo, remember that this offense is entirely up to Allen. This team attempted 655 passes in 2021 and 596 in 2020. They don’t care about being balanced. Their efforts to improve their running game are proof of that. There’s room for three receivers for a total of 400 targets and there’s still over 200 nonsense left to broadcast to everyone.

Finally, the Bills gave McKenzie the starting treatment this preseason — he worked with the first team in practice and only played in the preseason games Allen played. He also managed his runs well. A lower-body injury at the end of August is something the team is watching out for, but it’s apparently not a serious injury.

Everything is in place for the 27-year-old to take a step forward. All you have to do is take it with a pick after the 120th overall. I do it in every draft I’m in. Expect some Flex starter feedback – at a minimum.

The late sleeper to hang

I appeal to a sixth grade breakout to David Njoku. Really, it’s about having the best opportunity of your career to finally get a lot of targets. His career record in this category? That’s 88 in 2018, and it was a season where he posted career highs with 56 grabs, 639 yards and four scores.

He’s beating that this year.

Njoku is basically the second best target on the Browns behind amari cooper. He’s not necessarily fast in his movements, but he has good speed for a tall 6-foot-4, 245-pound athlete. I expect him to be prioritized in the red zone as well as on crucial third downs, not to mention play passes.

My favorite Njoku stats? His catch rate has increased in each of his last three seasons (from 50% to 65.5% to 67.9%). This came as his average depth of target (aDOT) increased in each of his past three seasons (6.4 to 7.4 to 8.2). And his receiving yards after catch have also increased in each of his last three seasons (from 3.2 to 4.6 to 6.9).

Njoku’s path to becoming the Browns’ leading tight end was blocked by austin hooper in 2020 and 2021 – Hooper had 70 targets in 2020 and 61 targets in 2021. Expect most of them to fall on Njoku (a few will also end up in Harrison Bryantthe Browns’ hands – but those are the Browns’ only two tight ends).

Finally, there is Jacoby Brisset. Trusting him to farm Fantasy numbers for his passers is like trusting Jerry Jones to be quiet and humble. But Brissett threw an absurd 28.6% of his tight end goals last year while with the dolphinsand 27.7% at Foals tight ends in 2019. In Kevin Stefanski’s two years as coach, the Browns have been in the top four in tight end target share every season. Fairly safe Deshaun Watson will find him reliable once he hits the field at the end of this year as well.

After rewarding Njoku with a rich overtime this offseason, everything points to him being a volume-focused tight end with the Browns. He’s your close-round ending streamer to start the year, especially with matchups against the Panthers and Jets in weeks 1 and 2.

Super late PPR sleeper returns to get

We’re reaching deep into this one, and frankly, it’s not one I’m entirely comfortable with. In fact, I was literally told by a reliable source Chiefs observer that Jerick McKinnon would have not be their returning feature.

Its good. I still think he has a chance to be as close to a solid Fantasy as this iteration of the Chiefs offense can get. Considering his barely existing ADP, this is a win for Fantasy managers.

The last time we saw the Chiefs play meaningful football, McKinnon was playing at least 70% of the snaps. It was in three 2021 playoff games where he had a minimum of 12 PPR points in each. Clyde Edwards-Helaire was coming back from injury and featured in two of those games, and their running depth really wasn’t that impressive at the time. McKinnon might have seen the work out of desperation.

But the truth is, Edwards-Helaire is not a full back. Beginner Isiah Pacheco seemed more explosive. Veteran Ronald Jones flashed more power than I remember seeing from him in the past. Each of these guys could pull away from each other, but none of them will play in as many passes and two-minute offensive situations as McKinnon.

And the Chiefs intend to pass a lot.

McKinnon went undrafted in many drafts. He’s probably on your waiver thread and he’s definitely worth your last pick. With a possible floor of 9 or 10 points per game in PPR and a ceiling of 26 PPR points (that’s what he accumulated against the Steelers last January), he deserves a place on your team’s bench ahead of the other backs who probably don’t have his ground or his advantage. I wouldn’t be surprised if he played the majority of snaps among Chiefs running backs this season while also leading them in targets by a wide margin.

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