Fantasy Football: Top 10 sleepers

2JNTT8K Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA. 13th Aug, 2022. August 13th, 2022 Jaylen Warren #30 during the Pittsburgh Steelers vs Seattle Seahawks in Pittsburgh, PA at Acrisure Stadium. Jake Mysliwczyk/BMR (Credit Image: © Jake Mysliwczyk/BMR via ZUMA Press Wire)

Estimated Reading Time: 15 minutes

These sleepers are ten players with a 120-plus ADP on ESPN that I have ranked notably higher. Some of these players will have a top-120 ADP at other sources where a higher percentage of users are experts, but a variety of players were picked so at least some players could be considered a sleeper at any site.

For help on rankings, draft strategy or more details about the players, check out the rest of my summer content below. For rankings with better filtering along with auction values, check out our draft rankings page.

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Zach Charbonnet, Seattle Seahawks (ADP: 143.1, From ESPN)

  • Charbonnet landed with a team that loves to use running backs but also spent a second-round pick on a running back last season in Kenneth Walker III.
  • The second-round rookie has the best vision in the class and is also the class' best short-yardage back.
  • Seattle has been the home of several fantasy starters when a player has been given opportunities.
  • Walker was RB9 from Week 6 until the end of the 2022 season once he became the starter.
  • Rashaad Penny was the top running back over the last six weeks of 2021 once he began seeing significant playing time, including four games with 130 or more yards and at least one touchdown.
  • Chris Carson was a top-20 fantasy running back in each season from 2018-2020.
  • The problem is Walker and Charbonnet will likely share the workload as long as both players are healthy.
  • We could see an ugly three-man rotation to begin Charbonnet’s career, as head coach Pete Carroll mentioned DeeJay Dallas early on when discussing his new running back room.
  • This is similar to the running back rotation Seattle used to begin last season, with Penny, Walker and Dallas.
  • Charbonnet ranked higher on PFF's big board this season (50) than Walker did last season (55). There is certainly a chance Charbonnet becomes the starter at some point.
  • He’s been the healthier of the two backs in training camp and has played in both preseason games. This could help Charbonnet play more often early in the season and have a chance to show he should be the starter.
  • Charbonnet would also be a clear fantasy starter if Walker remains injured or suffers another injury. Even if he never gets the starting role, there is a chance he can have stand-alone value as the backup.

Jaylen Warren, Pittsburgh Steelers (ADP: 153.8)

  • Warren ended last season as the Steelers’ third-down back. He could see more snaps on early downs this season.
  • He was an undrafted rookie out of Oklahoma State last season but was able to emerge as the primary backup by the end of the preseason. He was the only backup running back for the Steelers to see any playing time in Week 1, with 23 snaps.
  • By the end of the season, he was the third-down back and the primary backup in all other situations.
  • Warren averaged 0.464 avoided tackles per reception last season, which ranked first out of 62 running backs with at least 110 pass routes.
  • He wasn’t as good in the run game, but still solid with 0.247 avoided tackles per rushing attempt, which ranked 16th out of 80 running backs with at least 35 rushing attempts.
  • Compared to Harris in the run game, Warren had a higher yards-per-carry figure, yards-after-contact-per-carry figure, avoided tackle rate, first-down rate and explosive play rate, plus a lower rate of being stuffed in the backfield.
  • Warren won’t have fantasy value in his current role, but there is a chance he starts seeing more early-down snaps, and he would be an every-down back if Najee Harris suffers an injury.
  • The Steelers were consistently giving Warren early-down snaps during the preseason with the starters to go along with his passing-down snaps. If that role continues into the regular season, it’s certainly possible Warren will lead the Steelers backfield in fantasy points even if both players stay healthy all season.

Kenneth Gainwell, Philadelphia Eagles (ADP: 168.4)

  • Gainwell remains one of the top-three backs in one of the NFL's best offenses.
  • Gainwell is known as a receiving back, but he’s scored a rushing touchdown on 7.5% of his rushing attempts, leading to 0.906 rushing fantasy points per attempt. Both marks ranked as the best out of 80 running backs with at least 35 rushing attempts last season.
  • Philadelphia lost Miles Sanders but added D’Andre Swift and Rashaad Penny.
  • Gainwell has received plenty of praise over training camp including seeing more work with the first team than any other running back.
  • He and Boston Scott were among the veterans who had the first preseason game off. Swift received that treatment in the second game, with Gainwell starting over Scott and Penny.
  • It’s clear that he is currently among the top two on the depth chart. It was thought, at best, he’d be a receiving back while Swift or Penny take early down snaps, but it’s starting to look like Gainwell could be the early down back this season. At worst, it seems like he would be Swift’s backup.
  • Swift and Penny have dealt with several injuries in their careers, so even if he’s not the starter Week 1, it’s possible he is the starter at some point this season.
  • The Eagles have the top offensive line in the NFL, which would be a huge help to Gainwell or whoever in Philadelphia is running with the ball.

Elijah Moore, Cleveland Browns (ADP: 148.8)

  • Moore was traded to the Cleveland Browns after two years with the New York Jets.
  • Moore had a slow start to his rookie season but by the middle of the season, he started to become a fantasy star.
  • He scored 113.4 PPR points from Weeks 8-13 in 2021, which ranked fourth among all wide receivers.
  • He suffered a quad strain in Week 13 and was placed on injured reserve, ending his season.
  • In his second season, he was only off to an OK start, catching between 40-60 yards per game while playing over 85% of the team's offensive snaps.
  • His playing time started to decrease in Week 5, leading to an eventual trade request. He went from Weeks 6-9 without catching a pass.
  • Despite his unhappiness with the team, he still averaged 0.30 avoided tackles per reception last season, which ranked second among wide receivers.
  • He fell out of favor with the Jets but has a very real shot at finishing second in targets with the Browns.
  • Moore’s best role could be in the slot, where he played in college and parts of last season. There, he could rack up receptions, putting together a solid season in PPR leagues.
  • Coach Kevin Stefanski recently said he expects Moore to be a big part of their offense.
  • In their second preseason game, he even took snaps out of the backfield, which led to a carry for 18 yards.
  • The combination of receiving plus rushing upside makes him an intriguing late-round option.

Rashod Bateman, Baltimore Ravens (ADP: 168.9)

  • Bateman is a former first-round pick who is still only 23 years old and hasn’t been given much of an opportunity due to injuries.
  • He was the 27th overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft while being the 17th player on PFF's big board, following receivers Ja’Marr Chase, DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle.
  • He suffered a groin injury in training camp of his rookie season, landing him on injured reserve.
  • Once he joined the team, he instantly made an impact with 80 yards in two of his first four games. His playing time increased in the last month of the season, and he was consistently playing more than 80% of offensive snaps.
  • He lasted only four games into 2022 before suffering a foot injury. He was WR30 in the three weeks before leaving Week 4. He returned for two more games but ultimately ended up on injured reserve.
  • Bateman's 2.38 yards per route run was tied for 11th most among wide receivers last season, albeit on a smaller sample size. He particularly shined when it came to making big runs after the catch.
  • Bateman had the worst drop rate among wide receivers with double-digit targets, at 22.7%. Drops aren’t consistent from one year to the next, so that shouldn’t be a problem this year.
  • Ravens receivers haven’t found much fantasy success in general in recent seasons, but that should change under new offensive coordinator Todd Monken.
  • The offense is expected to rely much more on the passing game than in the past, which should help improve Bateman's volume.
  • Baltimore also added wide receivers Odell Beckham Jr., Zay Flowers and Nelson Agholor this offseason.
  • Bateman was injured for the starting of training camp which may have put him further down the depth chart, but that also made it easier for him to draft.
  • The Ravens’ depth chart could easily change throughout the season which could also impact his value.

Quentin Johnston, Los Angeles Chargers (ADP: 136.3)

Chigoziem Okonkwo, Tennessee Titans (ADP: 160.9)

  • The fourth-round rookie was one of the few bright spots for the Tennessee Titans last season.
  • Okonkwo started his career third in the Titans' tight end rotation. He averaged 12 snaps a game over his first month, with nearly 40% of his snaps coming in three tight end sets.
  • He caught three passes for 38 yards and a touchdown in that fourth game, leading to an increased role over the rest of the season.
  • Okonkwo spent the rest of the season as the primary tight end in 21 personnel, as well as one of the primary tight ends in 12 personnel.
  • He remained third on the depth chart in 11 personnel, including just 16.8% of possible snaps on third downs in 11 personnel from Week 6 on.
  • He was the most efficient tight end on a per-play basis.
  • Out of 55 tight ends with at least 150 routes, he ranked second in targets per route (0.26), first in receptions per route (0.19), first in yards per route (2.61), fifth in touchdowns per route (0.017) and fourth in avoided tackles per catch (0.219)
  • Austin Hooper and Geoff Swaim were the two players ahead of him on the depth chart at times, and neither one is on the roster.
  • Tennessee added run blocker Trevon Wesco, who will not be a threat to Okonkwo on passing downs.
  • The big concern for Okonkwo is if the Titans don’t expand his role in a significant way. Austin Hooper, Anthony Firkser and Jonnu Smith have all been sleeper tight ends in recent seasons, and none have worked out for fantasy managers.
  • Tennessee has had a different tight end lead the team in snaps on first and second downs compared to third down in each of the last four seasons.
  • The Titans drafted Josh Whyle in the fifth round, and he is likely to be more of a receiver than a blocker.
  • Okonkwo has graded better as a receiver than any Titan tight end in the Mike Vrabel era, so ideally, he can be an exception. 
  • This also isn’t a black-and-white issue. He can see a slight increase in snaps and be a fantasy starter, but ideally, he becomes an every-down player, in which he has top-five potential.
  • The Titans used Okonkwo in one preseason game, in which he played 100% of snaps in 11 personnel with the starters after playing less than 20% last season, which is a good sign for his expanded role.
  • They still rotated him in and out of 12 personnel so this still isn’t the most ideal situation, but it looks like a big step in the right direction.

Dalton Kincaid, Buffalo Bills (ADP: 141.5)

  • The Bills selected Kincaid with the 25h overall pick in the draft.
  • Kincaid is the second-highest-rated tight end prospect from the past five seasons behind Kyle Pitts.
  • Kincaid was the best route runner and has the best hands from this year's tight end class.
  • He is a little undersized as a tight end, but he could basically be treated as a slot receiver in the Buffalo offense.
  • For as good as the Bills' passing offense has been, it could use help at receiver.
  • Stefon Diggs was the only Bills player who ran more than 100 routes while posting a PFF receiving grade above 70.
  • Some of his competition for snaps will come from incumbent Dawson Knox.
  • Knox has a touchdown on 15.5% of his reception, which ranks first out of 24 tight ends with at least 605 receiving pass routes since 2021.
  • Ideally, Kincaid will be able to take those receptions.
  • The Bills haven’t typically used 12 personnel, but that should change this season, as Kincaid is best suited to take the slot role for Buffalo.
  • Buffalo receivers have 419 receptions while lined up in the slot over the last three years, which ranks fourth among all teams.
  • Three Bills had double-digit catches from the slot last season — Isaiah McKenzie, who is no longer on the roster, Stefon Diggs, who plays all over, and Dawson Knox.
  • There is certainly a chance Kincaid is eased in and not used in the slot often, but if the Bills do use him in that role, he also has top-five potential. That can’t be said for some tight ends have a top-10 ADP.
  • The Bills used both Kincaid and Knox significantly in their last preseason game, when Kincaid ran a route on two-thirds of pass routes. It will need to go up for him to be a consistent fantasy starter, but his starting point could have been a lot worse.

Anthony Richardson, Indianapolis Colts (ADP: 132.2)

  • Richardson is the clear rookie quarterback to target thanks to his rushing ability.
  • Each of the top-six fantasy quarterbacks last season ran for at least 250 yards.
  • Five of the 10 quarterbacks to average 18.4 fantasy points per game or better gained at least 700 rushing yards.
  • Richardson was clearly the best runner of the class both from his college tape as well as his NFL combine measurables.
  • He will benefit from having Shane Steichen as his head coach.
  • He was most recently the offensive coordinator for the Philadelphia Eagles during Jalen Hurts’ breakout seasons.
  • Hurts led the Eagles in carries within five yards of the goal line over the past two seasons (33). Four separate Philadelphia running backs combined for 53 carries in those situations.
  • Richardson will not only accumulate rushing yards, but he should score several rushing touchdowns.
  • Steichen was also the offensive coordinator for Justin Herbert in his rookie season where he finished at QB9.
  • There is no guarantee Richardson hits the same heights as past rushing quarterbacks, but his upside is much higher than a number of quarterbacks getting picked ahead of him as well as everyone picked after him.

Geno Smith, Seattle Seahawks (ADP: 129.9)

  • Smith had a career resurgence and finished as QB5 last season, but there is a concern he regressed toward the end of the season.
  • Smith recorded eight top-10 fantasy finishes over his first 13 games but failed to reach the top-10 in his last four.
  • He achieved a 90.0-plus PFF passing grade in three of his first eight games but failed to have a game above 75 in his last nine games.
  • Smith will be 33 years old in three months, so he is at the age where you would expect his play to decline.
  • This was his first season as a full-time starter in several years, so the concerns about his age and inconsistent play over the end of the season are stronger for him than other established quarterbacks who may have ended last season poorly.
  • He is getting drafted at a point where it’s a sure thing he will regress rather than improve in his second season as a starter.
  • Seattle only had four players with 30 or more receptions last season in D.K. Metcalf, Tyler Lockett, Noah Fant and Will Dissly, but they should be able to have more players to throw to this season.
  • The Seahawks added Jaxon Smith-Njigba and Zach Charbonnet in the first and second rounds of the draft, and they should only help their offense this season.
  • As long as Smith either stays the same as last season or gets a little worse, he’s a steal compared to where he’s getting picked.

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