The Upside Pick in Every Round
The Draft Sharks podcast crew talked through some upside, late-round targets in the latest episode.
We’re continuing a shoot-for-the-moon theme here, only with the earlier rounds. Let’s get into some of our favorite fantasy difference-makers for 2022.
Note: For ADP reference, visit our ADP Index.
Round 1: Christian McCaffrey, RB, Panthers
This one might seem obvious. (OK, it is.) But unlike in 2020 and 2021, when McCaffrey was the clear-cut 1.01, it’s not uncommon to see him drop a couple of spots in summer drafts.
Injury risk is truly our only concern here. And it's a minor one. His 2.2 projected games missed isn’t anywhere near the top of the RB list. Plus, it sounds like he’s taking every step possible to remain durable across 17 games.
Round 2: Saquon Barkley, RB, Giants
This isn’t the first time we’ve endorsed Barkley. (And it won’t be the last!)
Since releasing the Comeback Picks article, Barkley’s training camp performance has given us no reason to waver. Scoop him up in Round 2 while you can.
Round 3: Kyle Pitts, TE, Falcons
Despite only 1 TD, Pitts rolled up 176.6 PPR points last year — enough to rank as the TE6.
As a 21-year-old rookie.
If he was a WR, he would have ranked 35th in fantasy scoring.
Again… as a 21-year-old rookie.
While he’s getting a QB downgrade going from Matt Ryan to Marcus Mariota, it’s clear the new duo is off to a strong start.
"For a guy his size, with his catch radius, his length and his ability to get in and out of cuts makes it easy on us," Mariota said on August 1st. "His body language as a receiver makes it simple. You know when he's coming in and out of breaks. We know when he's going to break down. It's really a credit to him. I think that, as we continue to jell, our chemistry will continue to grow.”
If Pitts’ TD luck rebounds, we could be looking at a guy who out-performs our TE3 ranking.
Round 4: Breece Hall, RB, Jets
Travis Etienne deserves some love here. He’s been the star of Jags training camp, and it’s easy to see a massive reception ceiling alongside Clemson teammate Trevor Lawrence.
Of course, Etienne will compete with James Robinson for touches; Hall will deal with Michael Carter.
Hall, though, is the one with greater TD upside as the likely goal line back. He’s also running behind a Jets O-line that looks much improved for 2022.
It all leads to the Round 2 rookie carrying the higher projected ceiling — albeit by a slim margin. Our current projections have Hall for ~17 touches per game, plenty to return RB2 value.
Round 5: Mike Williams, WR, Chargers
The upside argument for Williams is easy:
We’ve already seen it.
Through 5 games last year, this supersized downfield threat ranked 2nd(!) in PPR scoring. A knee injury knocked him off course from there. But with Williams now healthy — and the Chargers clearly valuing him after paying up on a 2nd contract — it’s possible we see a return to WR1 production.
After all, the team didn’t add an impact WR in the draft or free agency. So it’ll be the Williams-Keenan Allen show again alongside one of the game’s best young QBs.
Round 6: Allen Robinson, WR, Rams
Robinson might be the storyline out of Rams camp.
We’re essentially tossing out an injury-filled, out-of-character 2021 in Chicago. As long as Matt Stafford’s elbow condition doesn’t worsen, we should be looking at a strong WR2 here.
Round 7: Tony Pollard, RB, Cowboys
Pollard, 25, enters a contract season. He has the look of a FLEX option when Ezekiel Elliott is healthy, but any missed games from Zeke would supply his teammate with top-5 upside.
Just consider what Pollard did in limited action last year. He ranked 2nd in Pro Football Focus rushing grade; 9th in Elusive Rating (among 50 qualifiers). As a pass catcher, he ranked 3rd in yards per route run (among 51 qualifiers).
He’s loaded with big-play talent, and his receiving ability could be called upon more than expected with Dallas thin at WR.
Round 8: Rashod Bateman, WR, Ravens
Bateman combines strong college production and Round 1 draft capital with a polished skill set.
Oh, and the potential for massive target volume…
After all, Marquise Brown leaves behind 146 targets. Baltimore’s WR depth beyond Bateman includes Devin Duvernay, James Proche and Tylan Wallace. So it’s clear they’re expecting a huge jump from the 22-year-old.
Round 9: Treylon Burks, WR, Titans
While Burks underwhelmed in spring practices, he’s showed no signs of poor conditioning at training camp. Instead, he’s lit up the Titans’ DBs. He’s also earned praise from QB Ryan Tannehill, who’s complimented Burks’ catch radius and mentioned budding trust between the two.
Remember, we’re talking about a supersized (6’2, 225 pounds) athlete with strong post-catch ability. He wasn’t exactly a surprise Round 1 pick in April.
Robert Woods is coming off a November ACL tear. The 30-year-old’s recovery appears all positive, but we’ll bet against an immediate return to pre-injury form. Ultimately, Burks should compete for the target lead in Tennessee right away.
Round 10: Kadarius Toney, WR, Giants
Toney is one of the first names that comes to mind when I think low-risk, high-reward.
While on a limited sample last year, Toney looked much like the dynamic athlete we saw at Florida. Despite moving in and out of the lineup with injuries, he managed to become 1 of 8 rookie WRs over the past 5 seasons to post 2.0+ yards per route run.
The others? Justin Jefferson, Ja’Marr Chase, A.J. Brown, Hunter Renfrow, Deebo Samuel, Terry McLaurin and Chris Godwin.
As for the target competition — it doesn’t look like a hindrance. Sterling Shepard is a major question mark coming off an Achilles tear. Kenny Golladay brings durability concerns and hasn’t been effective over a full season since 2019 in Detroit.
Sure, Saquon Barkley will factor heavily into the passing game. But we might be looking at the league’s worst TE situation. Currently, our projections only have 1 TE — rookie Daniel Bellinger — reaching even an 8% target share.
At bottom, we're anticipating a major schematic/play-calling bump with HC Brian Daboll and OC Mike Kafka. And we're hoping for just league-average play from Daniel Jones. Believe it or not, in 2021, Jones ranked 17th among 31 qualifiers in PFF passing grade.
If those factors materialize, Toney will be in a great spot to smash a WR47 ADP.