Everybody loves an excellent sleeper. Whether or not you’re a fantasy participant looking for the late spherical hidden gem that defines your season, or only a fan on the lookout for the following man able to make a reputation for himself — sleepers actually outline the NFL.
Give it some thought: We knew Matthew Stafford and Aaron Donald had been going to be good for the Rams, nevertheless it’s the breakout of Cooper Kupp that actually instructed the story of Los Angeles’ Tremendous Bowl success final season. So who’s the following Cooper Kupp, or Joe Burrow able to bust out and make everybody surprise how they went below the radar?
Travis Etienne, RB — Jacksonville Jaguars
You’re rattling proper I’m kicking this off with a Jaguars participant, and I received’t apologize for it. First off, no, the Jaguars aren’t profitable the Tremendous Bowl. Hell, I’m laborious pressed to even see Jacksonville as a playoff contender but — however I’m assured Etienne will do large issues.
After lacking his total rookie season attributable to a lisfranc damage, Etienne is again and can begin for the Jaguars in 2022. We’ll lastly get to see the Clemson handcuff the workforce banked on after they took Trevor Lawrence and Etienne within the first spherical of the NFL Draft in 2021, and now they’re each in a significantly better place to succeed.
A revamped offensive line will result in extra confidence below middle for Lawrence, and higher blockers for the workforce’s operating backs. Additionally don’t underestimate the Doug Pederson impact. Throughout Pederson’s time in Philadelphia he relied increasingly more on receiving out of the backfield, typified by Miles Sanders in 2019 when he completed with over 1,300 all-purpose yards, together with 50 receptions. A dual-threat again, Etienne is able to flourish in his second season and I feel he’ll flip heads.
Rashod Bateman, WR — Baltimore Ravens
Bateman confirmed large flashes in 2021 when he returned from damage in Week 6, however that is actually a case of manufacturing by omission. When the Ravens elected to commerce Marquise “Hollywood” Brown throughout the NFL Draft it cemented Bateman because the workforce’s main extensive receiver.
Now the one vital participant he’ll must battle for targets with is tight finish Mark Andrews. Whereas that’s not precisely an excellent factor for Baltimore, it’s a excellent factor for Bateman’s manufacturing.
It places the second 12 months receiver in a little bit of a sink or swim scenario, and I feel he’ll actually thrive. He’s obtained a prototypical body for the trendy NFL, he’s an excellent deep risk to offset Lamar Jackson’s operating potential, and I feel in 2022 he ascends to grow to be the workforce’s most harmful offensive weapon behind their star quarterback.
JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR — Kansas Metropolis Chiefs
It seems like 1,000,000 years in the past that Smith-Schuster broke out with a 1,426 yard season that led to unwavering expectations that he would observe within the mould of Antonio Brown, Hines Ward and Mike Wallace to grow to be the Steelers subsequent nice extensive receiver. That was solely in 2018.
What adopted was a precipitous fall from grace that noticed his manufacturing vanish as Ben Roethlisberger aged, and at last fizzled out with a shoulder damage in 2021.
Now he’s again, and after signing a one 12 months cope with the Chiefs, and within the age of large receiver contracts I consider Smith-Schuster goes to be probably the greatest steals within the NFL together with his $10.75M deal.
The door is extensive open for JuJu to claim himself as a No. 1 receiver, and his skillset meshes completely with Patrick Mahomes. With Travis Kelce taking the strain off over the center and serving to freeze safeties, I feel we’ll see Smith-Schuster EAT on the skin and I’ve each religion he’ll return to being a 1,00 yard receiver instantly.
Cole Kmet, TE — Chicago Bears
Much like the scenario with the Ravens, I feel Kmet goes to place up large numbers this 12 months — and that’s not precisely an excellent factor.
In case you’ve watched the Bears this preseason you’ll discover three issues taking place:
- Justin Fields is getting rather a lot higher
- Justin Fields is operating for his life each down between a Swiss cheese o-line
- Justin Fields has ZERO assist at extensive receiver
This can be a system for an enormous tight finish 12 months, and Kmet is poised to profit. Final 12 months he caught 60 passes for 612 yards, and it wouldn’t shock me to see him catch over 80 passes this 12 months and eclipse 1,000 yards.
It’s not dissimilar to what we noticed with Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers when Greg Olsen went off for 1,000 yards on the common. Olsen was the one security internet for Newton when he had no different move catchers, or an offensive line that might hold him secure. The Bears are going to realize loads of their yards on Fields rollouts, whether or not by design or operating for his life — and it’s right here I feel Kmet can flourish.
Breece Corridor, RB — New York Jets
Corridor was certainly one of my favourite gamers within the 2022 draft, and I feel he’s poised to have a mammoth 12 months — at the same time as a rookie. The season ending damage to Zach Wilson, and the offense turned over to Joe Flacco actually units up a situation the place New York will run a extra even-keeled, conservative offense than what Wilson delivered to the desk.
Corridor is an enormous, quick, old-school operating again akin to the gamers we noticed dominate the league up to now. Whereas the RB place typically has fallen out of favor, I feel we’re destined to see an enormous comeback as groups look to stability out their passing assaults extra and goal opponents who’ve overloaded on defensive backs.
I’m going to cease means wanting saying Corridor is the following Derrick Henry, however he has that sort of potential.
Trey Lance, QB — San Francisco 49ers
It’s now the Trey Lance present in San Fran, and I feel it’s going to be a rattling good one. We’re already seeing promising returns from the second 12 months quarterback as he turns into extra comfy in Kyle Shanahan’s system, and he has all of the items to succeed.
In case you have a look at the opposite second 12 months passers they actually all lack receivers. Jacksonville remains to be a piece in progress, the Patriots are constructing their move catchers, we’ve established that Justin Fields actually has no one — then you definitely’ve obtained Lance who’s strolling proper in to enjoying with Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk and George Kittle. Pair all this with a strong offensive line and it’s a humiliation of riches for a younger quarterback that may result in instant returns.
I perceive there being some skepticism, however I feel Lance will silence the critics rapidly and have a significantly better season than most anticipated.