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Fantasy Football: Value, fade and sleeper at every position

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts (1) against the New York Jets at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

• The loss of left tackle, Tyron Smith, and his 2021 PFF blocking grade of 90.2, is a brutal blow for Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott this year, making him someone to fade in fantasy football drafts. 

Denver Broncos wide receiver Courtland Sutton produced 28 explosive pass plays in 2019 — the year before he suffered a season-ending ACL injury. Expect Russell Wilson to help him get back on track. 

Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen has seen a gradual decline in a number of advanced metrics over the last five years. It will be hard for him to return ADP value at the current rate.

Estimated reading time: 11 minutes

Building a winning fantasy football roster requires sharp drafting and an acute familiarity with a given website’s average draft position (ADP) trends so that one can seize the moment when the drafting public misjudges a player’s potential range of outcomes. Below is a list of fantasy football values, fades and sleepers to help you win your fantasy leagues in 2022. 

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Value: QB Jalen Hurts, Philadelphia Eagles, ADP: 6.08, QB6

Last offseason, the Eagles spent the 10th overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft on wide receiver DeVonta Smith in an attempt to arm Hurts with a go-to pass catcher. Through the first six weeks of the season, Philadelphia threw the ball 58.1% of the time in neutral game scripts, when the total score was within seven points. Philly quickly realized Hurts was not ready to carry the passing offense, so the Eagles throttled down to a 44.0% neutral passing rate. Philadelphia general manager Howie Roseman again committed to improving the pass-catching corps this offseason, sending a first- and third-round pick to the Tennessee Titans in exchange for PFF’s fourth-ranked receiver by PFF receiving grade (88.8, minimum of 95 targets) A.J. Brown. The Ole Miss product, a three-time top-four finisher in yards per route run among the aforementioned qualifying wide receivers, brings a dominant dimension to the Eagles’ offense that will help develop Hurts’ passing ability. This should allow Philadelphia to maintain a neutral passing rate far closer to their intended 58.1% rather than their backup plan of 44.0%. Regardless of his potential passing improvement, Hurts will remain lethal as a ball carrier. Last year’s 86.9 PFF rushing grade was fourth among NFL quarterbacks with at least 25 carries, and his 32 explosive rushing plays of 10 yards or more trailed only Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen.

Fade: QB Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys, 8.03, QB10

This year, the Cowboys will be without two of their three highest-rated offensive linemen from 2021 as measured by PFF blocking grade. The team foolishly released stalwart right tackle La’el Collins, who was hot off his second-best season as a professional after earning an 80.2 PFF blocking grade. Collins’ release was unfortunately followed up by a late-August injury to long-time left tackle Tyron Smith, who was the fifth highest-graded offensive lineman last year with 90.2 PFF blocking grade. Making matters worse, Jerry Jones and Co. also felt comfortable parting ways with veteran receiver Amari Cooper even though downfield receiver Michael Gallup was recovering from an ACL tear that is expected to keep him out for part of the 2022 regular season. 

Prescott must now win with rookie Tyler Smith protecting his blindside and third-year right tackle Terrence Steele on the bookend. Unfortunately for Prescott, Smith has never taken a regular season snap and Steele’s singular best PFF grade is a 67.8 run-blocking grade. While Prescott is one of the NFL’s best passers under pressure with a fourth-ranked 61.6 PFF pressured passing grade (minimum 100 attempts), that grade is far from his 79.7 career average. The offensive line woes, combined with a depleted pass-catching corps, make Prescott a hard fade at his 7.05 ADP. 

Sleeper: QB Davis Mills, Houston Texans, ADP: Undrafted, QB32

Mills was thrust into the starting role last year after Tyrod Taylor went down with a bad hamstring injury early in the season. As Taylor got healthy, the team flip-flopped as to which man would start for the remainder of the year but eventually then-head coach David Culley turned the keys over to Mills for the final five games. During that five-game stretch, Mills tied New England’sMac Jones as the top-rated rookie quarterback in PFF passing grade (63.0, minimum 100 attempts) and finished first in big-time throw rate among rookies with a respectable 5.0% (minimum 100 pass attempts). That 5.0% rate left him tied with Josh Allen for the 11th-best big-time throw rate in the NFL during that span.

Fantasy managers have reason for optimism with Mills this year, as his situation has significantly improved thanks to upgrades in the front office and on the field. New head coach Lovie Smith promoted West Coast savant Pep Hamilton to offensive coordinator, and general manager Nick Caserio worked hard to beef up the offensive line while also adding dual-threat rookie running back Dameon Pierce in the fourth round of the 2022 NFL Draft. Pierce stole the show this preseason, earning the best PFF offensive grade among the 2022 running back draft class with a 92.4 mark.

Wide receiver

Value: WR Courtland Sutton, Denver Broncos, ADP: 5.09, WR22


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