2022 Fantasy Football Bold Predictions

Aug 4th 2022

Hayden Winks

My fantasy football rankings are being updated here. Training camp storylines are being updated here. Podcasts are being recorded here. But I've yet to unleash the bold predictions. The ones that I think have a relatively small chance of happening, but are being under-discussed within the fantasy football industry.

Saquon Barkley Is A Top-4 RB

Now two years removed from his torn ACL, Barkley should be at near full health as he enters the prime of his NFL career. I'm willing to throw out most of last year's inefficient metrics because he played on a bum ankle with one of the worst coaching staffs I've ever seen. Coach Daboll has been top-12 in neutral pace in three-straight seasons and is likely to get Barkley going in the pass game again. Barkley projects for more snaps than almost all fantasy RBs, and there's a chance this OL looks halfway decent with LT Andrew Thomas and RT Evan Neal providing big upgrades since Barkley's 2018-19 legendary run. My ranking (13th overall) vs. ADP (17th overall).

Lamar Jackson Is The QB1

He scored 30+ fantasy points in 3-of-11 healthy games last year despite an outlier-level of injuries around him. The biggest difference between this year's offense and last year's is the upgraded offensive line. Stud LT Ronnie Stanley should be getting back to full health, first-round C Tyler Linderbaum was a consensus baller prospect, and veteran RT Morgan Moses is an average starter at the worst. A solid line with Mark Andrews and breakout candidate Rashod Bateman is all L-Jax needs to go to the moon. If JK Dobbins and Gus Edwards aren't fully healthy, then the Ravens could maintain their higher-than-usual pass rates and encourage Lamar to run more himself. Jackson's 24.2 fantasy points per game from 2019-2021 are the most of any QB, with Justin Herbert (23.1), Josh Allen (22.9), Deshaun Watson (22.9), and Patrick Mahomes (22.8) trailing him. My ranking (37th overall) vs. ADP (50th overall).

Courtland Sutton Out-Scores Deebo, Tyreek, and AJB

Sutton is two years removed from his ACL tear, and he has reportedly built up more chemistry with Russell Wilson than Jerry Jeudy, who has been a flashy but unpolished receiver in his first two seasons. Sutton's size makes him the TD leader in projections, and this division will provide shootouts. Compared to Deebo Samuel and Tyreek Hill, Sutton's QB play is lightyears ahead and his competition for touches is arguably less following Tim Patrick's ACL tear, too. My ranking (31st overall) vs. ADP (37th overall).

Eli Mitchell Out-Scores Travis Etienne and Breece Hall

Underdog Fantasy drafters love rookies and second-year players, but there's always something preventing Mitchell from being included. I'm fine fading Kyle Shanahan's history of RBs, which is partially explained by injury variance and poor RB play in general. Mitchell's speed is unique to this backfield, and he's hoarding almost all first-team reps in camp. After finishing 32nd in better in best ball points per game, Mitchell is one of my favorite 6th round picks. As for Etienne and Hall, I don't love their combination of below-average offenses and potentially split reps (with James Robinson and Michael Carter providing legit starter-level play themselves). My ranking (55th overall) vs. ADP (65th overall).

Dawson Knox Out-Scores George Kittle

Real football is not fantasy football, and I project these offenses to be totally different in terms of passing production. Because they operate with so much neutral pace and neutral pass rates, Knox was 5th in routes run per game, 3rd in routes run in the red zone per game, and 2nd in expected touchdowns. Knox has the athleticism to pop off and has room for growth versus zone coverage heading into year-four. Meanwhile, Kittle's numbers haven't been the same since Brandon Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel showed up. If Trey Lance needs a year or two before hitting his stride as a passer, Kittle's production could be more average than his own talent deserves. My ranking (90th overall) vs. ADP (105th overall).

Kadarius Toney Is A Top-15 WR

His 2.7 yards per route run versus man coverage only trailed Ja'Marr Chase among rookie WRs last year. Toney is an electric player, who was able to win on the perimeter better than expected based on his chaotic prospect profile. If Brian Daboll passes anywhere near as often as he did in Buffalo, there is room for a major breakout from either Toney or Kenny Golladay. And just watch 14 seconds of the Cowboys/Giants or Saints/Giants games from last year, and you'll know which player to be betting on. The fact that the coaching staff is playing Toney's (awful) rap songs during practice is a sign that they know Toney is that dude. My ranking (74th overall) vs. ADP (82nd overall).

JuJu and MVS Combine For 2,200 Yards

Patrick Mahomes is going to get his regardless, and the expectation is that the ball will be spread out. While I mostly agree, I do think JuJu and MVS are uniquely lined up for big seasons. JuJu is more seasoned than Mecole Hardman and Skyy Moore against zone and underneath, and MVS is by far the best downfield threat on the roster (plus he was paid handsomely). If 33-year-old Travis Kelce slows down or misses time, the ball will go to these two plenty. Most of fantasy twitter finds JuJu and MVS overrated as talents, but JuJu looked fine last year before his injury and MVS' drop issue has improved (and was already overrated). My JuJu ranking (50th overall) vs. ADP (55th overall). My MVS ranking (87th overall) vs. ADP (92nd overall).

Clyde Edwards-Helaire Is A Top-15 RB

I get it. You think he stinks. But what if he was unhealthy last year? And more importantly, what if 31-year-old oft-injured Jerick McKinnon and $1.2M fantasy-tease Ronald Jones are just not it? While disappointing in back-to-back seasons, CEH still has the potential of being a three-down player capable of red zone touches and the two-minute drill. There's obviously a huge ceiling case attached to Andy Reid, and the cost of CEH remains very low after he burned everyone in two-straight years. My ranking (69th overall) vs. ADP (87th overall).

Allen Lazard Dunks On Spreadsheet Nerds

There's no statistical evidence that Lazard is capable of being a top-30 fantasy WR, but at some point, we have to give it up. Aaron MFin Rodgers is calling him the WR1 and there's nobody else on the depth chart (or in free agency) that profiles as a target hog. Lazard at the very least won't come off the field much given his versatility and he has double-digit TD upside in this offense with his size. At some point, fantasy football should be as easy as drafting the reigning MVP's No. 1 receiver in the 8th round. I say this is a spreadsheet nerd. My ranking (75th overall) vs. ADP (77th overall).

George Pickens Is A Top-3 Rookie WR

I think Drake London will be the rookie WR1 by a wide margin, but the upside case on Pickens' prospect profile appears to be in full-effect during Steelers training camp. He's making big plays, is already starting in 3-WR sets, and appears focused. The former 5-star recruit and Georgia freshman sensation wins downfield and in the red zone, which is how we build up a fantasy ceiling. Both Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool have lots of skill, but both are inconsistent, leaving Pickens' with a path to more targets than expected. If you watch Pickens' film, it's hard not to come away bullish on what his ceiling can be. My ranking (136th overall) vs. ADP (173rd overall).

Mac Jones Is Top 8 In Yards and TDs

With weapons lacking, Jones led the Patriots to top-10 in scoring and offensive DVOA as a rookie. With a legit X receiver in DeVante Parker, Nelson Agholor/Kendrick Bourne/Jonnu Smith/Hunter Henry in year two of the system, and with Tyquan Thornton providing deep speed, Jones has a better opportunity of letting things rip. He's earned more pass attempts with his play, and training camp reports remain positive. Continually underrated, Jones is on path to being this era's Phillip Rivers. The Parker + Henry + Jones stack is one of my favorites in the double digit rounds. My ranking (150th overall) vs. ADP (170th overall).

David Njoku Is A Top-8 TE

The Browns receiver room is shallow and has been banged up early in training camp. With Austin Hooper out of the way and with Njoku securing a massive bag this offseason, the runway is clear for a true breakout season. Njoku is only 26 years old, and this is the fantasy position that often takes years of growth before paying dividends. On film review this offseason, I was surprised at how much Njoku has developed as a blocker, and his yards after the catch ability remains rare as a pass-catcher. All he needs is to earn more targets. My ranking (146th overall) vs. ADP (163rd overall).

Marcus Mariota Out-Scores Zach Wilson, Not In Moms But In Fantasy Points

Wilson only averaged 12.5 fantasy points in his 12 healthy games last year, partially because all of the flaws of his college profile came true (playing within the pocket, reading advanced defenses, scrambling ability at his size). Wilson's weapons and OL are upgraded, but I remain concerned with his own play and the general organization of offense when it comes to fantasy (slower paced and balanced). Mariota's career 7.2 adjusted yards per attempt is lightyears better than Wilson's 5.2 from last year, and Mariota's weapons aren't so bad if I'm right about Drake London being a stud. In 44 games as a starter from 2016-2019, Mariota averaged 15.4 fantasy points. I don't view third-rounder Desmond Ridder as that big of competition. Sign me up for the 18th round dual-threat QB on Kyle Pitts or London teams. My ranking (193rd overall) vs. ADP (213rd overall).

Melvin Gordon Wins Someone $2M

This year's James Conner, Gordon is "washed up" (even though he's not) and isn't the sexy name in the backfield. His ADP is after the upside WRs are off the board, making him my favorite insurance pick in best ball tournaments. Javonte Williams will be the 1a and perhaps even the bellcow back this year, but there are simulations where Williams misses time or Gordon is a 45% participants in a two-back committee. With special teamer Mike Boone as the RB3, if either Williams or Gordon miss time, the other goes to upside RB1 territory. My ranking (101st overall) vs. ADP (110th overall).

The Chargers Win The Super Bowl

Not a fantasy prediction, but man, this does feel like the year. For real this time. Their OL is stacked with 4 legit starters, including the league's best young left tackle. The skill group is rock solid and balanced. The defensive line has beef. The secondary has stars. Brandon Staley is aggressive. And most importantly, Justin Herbert is insane. Another 5k yards and 35+ TDs are expected from Herbert. Sign me up for Mike Williams and Herbert stacks again. My ranking (36th overall) vs. ADP (45th overall).

Bold Predictions In My Mentions

  • "Derek Carr will end up being the best QB value and finish inside the top 10 in points per game" - @jerryglzh

  • "Skyy doesn’t see much of the field in his first season. MVS smashed. Skyy’s believers point to him coming from a small school and needing time to develop. He gets over drafted again in 2023 and again in 2024 before finally being declared a bust by fantasy Twitter." - @BB_Moderate. Eat Arby's.

  • "Evan Engram and David Njoku crack the top 12 at TE." - @SchaufDS

  • "Kyle Pitts finishes as a top 12 WR." - @TheShoeBot

  • "Kadarius Toney more FPPG than AJ Brown." - @MattDonnellyFF

  • "Pittman Jr will be top 5 WR." - @BilliamFF

  • "Thielen ends up with 13 TD’s and is seen wearing a “Regression my ass” t-shirt before the Vikings first playoff game." - @MadCityViking. I'll be owned.

  • "Mike Williams, ARob and Pittman finish top 10. Tyreek, CeeDee and AJ Brown finish outside top 10." - @FFPmoonman

  • "CMC finishes RB1, Saquon finishes as a top-5 fantasy back this year and Zeke finishes as a top 10! The “old men” are back!" - @OEL_Butcher. Loved this one actually.

  • "Mike Williams finishes as a top-5 WR this season." - @ConbonNFL

  • "Isaiah McKenzie - 60+, 1000+, and 7+ TDs." - @Yanni_Bet, you know how to get to my heart.

  • "Jalen Tolbert finishes second in rookie WR yards. Jalen Hurts & Trey Lance both top five finishers." - @MagicMikeFF

  • "Allen Lazard ends up as a high end WR2." - @Peter_Bukowski

  • "JuJu Smith-Schuster wins comeback player of the year and outscores Tyreek Hill in Fantasy this year." - @heathcummingssr. This is fire.

  • "You will regret not drafting Ezekiel Elliot. In his injured down year he finished 3rd best at his position for most times finishing in top 10 scoring for individual weeks. If that’s how he can do with a bum knee expecting worse production is a bad process. He is gonna eat." - @MyOpinionsOnly_

  • "Kirk Cousins will lead the league in TD passes." - @EvanSchlough. We truly aren't ready.

  • "Leonard Fournette, 2K all purpose yards this season." - @MJ3_TB. One yard for every pound, per sources.