Sleepers & Busts: Undervalued and Overvalued Players

Sleepers & Busts: Undervalued and Overvalued Players

This article is part of our Football Draft Kit series.

Welcome to Sleepers and Busts, where we seek to identify players whose average draft position (ADP) makes them undervalued or overvalued. We asked some of our football writers for their favorite undervalued and overvalued players for the 2022 season. But remember, calling a player overvalued does not mean he will be awful this year. It simply means his risk outweighs the likelihood he returns his ADP value. We limited "busts" to an ADP top-12 QB/TE or top-36 RB/WR.

Agree? Disagree? Got your own sleepers and busts? Let us know in the comments below.

UNDERVALUED

Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB, Chiefs

He might never be worth a first-round pick – in real life or fantasy – but Edwards-Helaire should find a degree of redemption after the Chiefs settled for Ronald Jones and seventh-round pick Isiah Pacheco as their not-so-big additions to the backfield. Last year, Darrel Williams got work even when Edwards-Helaire was healthy because he had better knowledge of Andy Reid's offense and was more reliable on passing downs. The tables have since turned, with CEH now looking down a Williams-free depth chart to see one veteran who can't catch (Jones) plus Pacheco, Jerick McKinnon and a bunch of UDFAs.

Rashod Bateman, WR, Ravens

Bateman didn't exactly have the kind of rookie season that would inspire you to trade your No. 1 receiver, but 515 yards (43 per game) isn't bad for a guy who missed Weeks 1-5 and ultimately saw less than half his targets from QB Lamar

Welcome to Sleepers and Busts, where we seek to identify players whose average draft position (ADP) makes them undervalued or overvalued. We asked some of our football writers for their favorite undervalued and overvalued players for the 2022 season. But remember, calling a player overvalued does not mean he will be awful this year. It simply means his risk outweighs the likelihood he returns his ADP value. We limited "busts" to an ADP top-12 QB/TE or top-36 RB/WR.

Agree? Disagree? Got your own sleepers and busts? Let us know in the comments below.

UNDERVALUED

Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB, Chiefs

He might never be worth a first-round pick – in real life or fantasy – but Edwards-Helaire should find a degree of redemption after the Chiefs settled for Ronald Jones and seventh-round pick Isiah Pacheco as their not-so-big additions to the backfield. Last year, Darrel Williams got work even when Edwards-Helaire was healthy because he had better knowledge of Andy Reid's offense and was more reliable on passing downs. The tables have since turned, with CEH now looking down a Williams-free depth chart to see one veteran who can't catch (Jones) plus Pacheco, Jerick McKinnon and a bunch of UDFAs.

Rashod Bateman, WR, Ravens

Bateman didn't exactly have the kind of rookie season that would inspire you to trade your No. 1 receiver, but 515 yards (43 per game) isn't bad for a guy who missed Weeks 1-5 and ultimately saw less than half his targets from QB Lamar Jackson. Bateman averaged 93.9 yards per game his final two years at Minnesota, and he could hog targets once again now that Marquise Brown is in Arizona (with no comparable replacement in Baltimore). The Ravens apparently are quite confident in their 22-year-old wideout, betting he and TE Mark Andrews will provide enough aerial firepower for a run-first offense.

-- JERRY DONABEDIAN, @JerryDonabedian


Courtland Sutton, WR, Broncos

In 2019, Sutton posted 1,112 yards and six touchdowns, but the last two years he was the victim of injuries and poor quarterback play. Enter Russell Wilson. Not only can Sutton win in all areas of the field, he's a good deep threat. That matches well with his quarterback, who among other strengths, is an elite downfield passer. Denver has a deep group of receivers, but Sutton could emerge as the No. 1 wideout. Sutton's being drafted outside the top-20 WRs, but as the likely alpha wide receiver for the Broncos, look for a top-15 finish.

Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Dolphins

In two years, Tagovailoa has thrown for fewer than 205 yards and two TDs in more than half his games. Things should be different this year. Miami added a pair of blockers to improve a poor offensive line and acquired Tyreek Hill and Chase Edmonds to improve the skill positions. With coach Mike McDaniel bringing in elements of the 49ers offense, Tagovailoa should have high-percentage passes that set up receivers to gain yards after the catch. His ADP is QB17, but he could be useful in 12-team leagues.

-- JIM COVENTRY, @JimCoventryNFL


Chase Claypool, WR, Steelers

Touchdown regression came for Claypool in a big way last season as his TD count dropped from nine to two despite losing only four targets (109 vs. 105) and three catches (62-59) from his rookie season. The lack of big weeks in 2021 combined with Ben Roethlisberger's retirement and the drafting of WR George Pickens has sent Claypool's ADP sliding to bargain territory. He's just 23 with superb athleticism for a player his size (4.42 40, 40.5-inch vertical at 6-foot-4, 238), he has a starting role and the offense could be more downfield-oriented with Roethlisberger's weak arm gone. A big bounce-back is coming.

Trevor Lawrence, QB, Jaguars

Lawrence was hailed as the next great quarterback, a can't-miss prospect, a year ago. He was served a big slice of humble pie as a rookie, but it mostly wasn't his fault and he can still be a great pro. The impact of going from the circus of Urban Meyer to Super Bowl-winning coach Doug Pederson can't be understated. Jacksonville still does not have a great pass-catching group, but Lawrence is talented and one year in an impossible situation doesn't erase that. Expect Lawrence to deliver on his potential and outplay his QB19 ADP.

-- JOHN McKECHNIE, @johns_tailgate


Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Cowboys

Many seem worried about Elliott's injury risk because of his heavy career workload. But last year he played all season with a partially torn PCL in his right knee and still had nearly 1,300 scrimmage yards and 12 TDs to finish RB6 in fantasy. So maybe his workload shows he's durable, rather than an injury risk. Dallas is still one of the best offenses in the league and Zeke likely will get most of the goal-line carries again. Even with Tony Pollard involved, Elliott can approach 300 touches, which means he should be going way higher than RB20.

Elijah Moore, WR, Jets      

Moore was just starting to live up to his hype last year as the 34th overall pick in the draft before a quadriceps injury ended his season in Week 13. He had six touchdowns in his last seven games, with at least six targets in each game. Healthy and heading into his second season, Moore should be the No. 1 wide receiver for the Jets ahead of Corey Davis and rookie Garrett Wilson. Although undersized (5-10, 178), Moore is fast (4.35 40) and can play outside or in the slot. With even modest improvement from second-year QB Zach Wilson, Moore will outperform his WR32 ADP.

-- KEVIN PAYNE, @KCPayne26


J.K. Dobbins, RB, Ravens

A number of run-oriented offseason moves by the Ravens, including the drafting of uber-prospect center Tyler Linderbaum 25th overall, suggest Dobbins will get plenty of opportunities for the breakout season many expected from him last year before he got hurt. Dobbins is coming off a torn ACL but is expected to be ready for Week 1 after more than a year to recover. Uncertainty regarding his injury — especially because he was slow-walked into training camp — could create even more draft value. At RB22, Dobbins has a lot of upside.

Drake London, WR, Falcons

The first wide receiver selected in this year's draft, London is immediately the team's No. 1 wideout option. The only proven targets on the roster are tight end Kyle Pitts and running back Cordarrelle Patterson, and even with the mediocre Marcus Mariota at quarterback, Atlanta likely will be forced to throw often in the second halves of games. That at least puts London in line for junk-time production. A speed and size (6-4, 219) threat like London will be hard to stop when given the lion's share of targets. He is a steal at WR40 ADP.

-- JOE BARTEL, @JBFantasySports


Allen Robinson, WR, Rams

The quarterback upgrade this year is obvious for Robinson, but consider his coaching upgrade as well. After enduring Matt Nagy's confused play-calling in Chicago, Robinson joins a Sean McVay offense that has produced more passing plays of at least 20 yards than all but two teams in the last four years (257 to be exact, 90 more than the Bears). Robinson should be revitalized under McVay, with plenty of passes to go around even as the No. 2 target to Cooper Kupp. He's being drafted (WR22 ADP) like he's still with the Bears.

Kareem Hunt, RB, Browns

Injuries limited Hunt to eight games last season, which might be why he's being overlooked in fantasy drafts this year. In 24 games the last two seasons (including playoffs), Hunt has averaged about 75 scrimmage yards per game and scored 19 touchdowns. Yes, he's the backup to Nick Chubb, but he's more like a co-starter than a backup, and if the team throws more this season with QB Deshaun Watson, Hunt won't be hurt as much as Chubb because of his pass catching. He's being drafted outside the top-30 RBs, which he should easily outperform.

-- LUKE HOOVER, @Hoover_L_A


Kyle Pitts, TE, Falcons

Pitts finished last season with the second-most receiving yards by a rookie tight end all-time. The position famously has a difficult learning curve, and tight ends often show large growth from Years 1 to 2. But the 21-year-old Pitts' ADP isn't all that far from where it was last season. Between his own growth and a lack of passing-game competition, Pitts is likely to increase his targets, catches, yards and TDs. Compared to last year, the downside risk is much smaller and the upside potential is increased. That's a recipe for a bargain.

Tony Pollard, RB, Cowboys

The fantasy community apparently decided Ezekiel Elliott is past his prime — his ADP has plummeted. Yet, bizarrely, the natural corollary of jumping Pollard up the ranks hasn't really happened. If anything, the Cowboys' off- season implies they'll focus more on the running game, but even if their offense remains unchanged there is no justification for dropping Elliott without boosting Pollard more than his current one-round bump from 2021. Pollard averaged 6.2 yards per touch last year, second in the league, and should get more touches this year, especially if Elliott falters as so many seem to expect.

-- ALEX RIKLEEN, @Rikleen

OVERVALUED

Breece Hall, RB, Jets

Hall might have made the "undervalued" list instead of "overvalued" if he'd been drafted by another team. He's not far off from Jonathan Taylor as a prospect, but instead of landing with a top O-line and competent organization, Hall finds himself on the Jets. As a rookie, he'll likely have to settle for a lot of lower-value touches, i.e., carries between the 20s, unless QB Zach Wilson takes a big step forward with all the new help around him. And even if that happens, promising second-year back Michael Carter will get a bunch of the RB targets and a portion of the carries.

Aaron Jones, RB, Packers

With Davante Adams gone, the Packers supposedly will put more emphasis on their running backs, in turn allowing Jones to thrive while still leaving plenty of room for 2020 second-round pick AJ Dillon. One problem: the two RBs might get a larger share of a lower-quality offense, especially after Green Bay's big offseason addition at WR (second-round pick Christian Watson) looks like a replacement for Marquez Valdes-Scantling more so than Adams. The fantasy math doesn't work out for Jones or Dillon (or Aaron Rodgers) unless Green Bay's offense remains hyper-efficient.

-- JERRY DONABEDIAN, @JerryDonabedian


Patrick Mahomes, QB, Chiefs

Mahomes is still being drafted on the upside of his 5,000-yard, 50-TD season in 2018, despite never ranking higher than QB4 in fantasy since. That's still good, of course, but his fantasy managers often paid a second-round price for fifth-round value. This year, he is without wide receiver Tyreek Hill, and tight end Travis Kelce turns 33 in early October. The Chiefs added wide receivers this offseason, including JuJu Smith-Schuster, but nothing that remotely replaces Hill. Mahomes is more likely to fall out of the top 5 of quarterbacks than match his QB2 ADP.

Amon-Ra St. Brown, WR, Lions

St. Brown was a star down the stretch last year, scoring a TD with at least 86 yards in five of the last six games. His numbers, though, were fueled by 11 targets per game in that span with T.J. Hockenson and D'Andre Swift out with injuries. St. Brown's target volume likely won't be anywhere close to that level this year. The Lions signed DJ Chark, and first-pick Jameson Williams will be involved after he recovers from a knee injury. St. Brown is being drafted as a top-25 WR. In a low-octane offense run by Jared Goff with multiple receiving options, he's likely to finish outside the top 25.

-- JIM COVENTRY, @JimCoventryNFL


Dawson Knox, TE, Bills

Knox was a great late-round flier or waiver-wire pickup last season, but it will be difficult for him to return a profit on his TE10 ADP this year. Touchdown regression is a worry after nine scores on 71 targets last year. That's a near-impossible rate to sustain, even in the Buffalo offense, and it's unlikely he sees enough volume to offset the loss of TDs with Stefon Diggs and the ascending Gabriel Davis accounting for such a large share of the Bills' targets. 2021 might be Knox's high-water mark in the NFL. Don't pay for past production.

Darnell Mooney, WR, Bears

Mooney's impressive 2021 along with Allen Robinson's departure has made the third-year wideout a fringe WR2 in drafts this offseason. He projects to be Chicago's No. 1 target again, but he might be miscast in that role at 5-11, 173. His catch rate was 57.9 percent last season, and he produced only 7.5 YPT with four touchdowns on 140 targets. There's also the possibility that Justin Fields doesn't take a major step forward in his development. Maybe Mooney's target share will be enough for him to be fantasy viable, but it's wiser to fade this passing game at cost.

-- JOHN McKECHNIE, @johns_tailgate


DK Metcalf, WR, Seahawks

There is no denying Metcalf's standout ability as a 6-4 receiver with 4.33 speed, but the Seahawks' setup for this season is not promising. With no Russell Wilson, Metcalf will catch passes from Geno Smith or Drew Lock, both owners of career completion rates less than 60 percent. Seattle's offense likely will be even more run-focused than ever as the quarterback, whoever it is, is asked to manage games. Metcalf is being drafted as a top- 20 wide receiver anyway. That is too high given a likely decrease in quality targets, including downfield, in a lackluster offense.

Javonte Williams, RB, Broncos

At RB8, Williams is being drafted as if Melvin Gordon did not re-sign with the Broncos. Yes, Williams has more upside than Gordon — and is seven years younger — but the pair is expected to share touches again this season. Even with a new quarterback in Russell Wilson who should vastly improve the offense, it is tough to see much more production than what Williams had last season (1,219 scrimmage yards, seven touchdowns) when he finished RB18 in fantasy. The Broncos did not use him as a high-volume back, and that's unlikely to change.

-- KEVIN PAYNE, @KCPayne26


Cam Akers RB, Rams

Akers looked dreadful last year in the Rams' postseason run after returning from an Achilles tear far sooner than most expected. Given the nature of the injury, we can't just assume the third-year running back will be completely healthy and back to form when the season opens. But even if the 2020 second-round pick is no longer hobbled by the injury, the combination of Darrell Henderson and Kyren Williams is a more-than-capable relief duo for the Rams to rely on as they ease Akers back into the fold. Akers is too risky to be drafted at his summer ADP of RB15.

Michael Thomas, WR, Saints

Thomas was already an injury concern after ankle injury cost him all last season and a good chunk of 2020, but then the Saints signed Jarvis Landry, who will vulture short targets. The Saints also drafted wide receiver Chris Olave 11th overall this year. Thomas has more competition for targets, a seemingly problematic injury and a quarterback in Jameis Winston with whom he has limited experience. There are at least a dozen safer receivers in Thomas' range to draft.

-- JOE BARTEL, @JBFantasySports


Deebo Samuel, WR, 49ers

Samuel's absurdly efficient 2021 will be hard to repeat. He scored on eight of 59 rushing attempts — 13.6 percent, the highest rushing TD percentage since 1991 (min. 50 attempts). His receiving totals figure to regress as well after a league-high-tying nine catches of 40-plus yards. Factor in a new, running QB and other skilled mouths to feed in Brandon Aiyuk, George Kittle and Elijah Mitchell and it's highly likely regression will prove Samuel's WR6 ADP overpriced.

Tyreek Hill, WR, Dolphins

Hill is one of the best big-play wide receivers in the league, and one of the fastest. But he is replacing Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid with an unproven quarterback in Tua Tagovailoa and a first-year head coach in Mike McDaniel in what surely will be a much less explosive offense. Even with Mahomes and Reid last year, Hill dropped to his lowest yards per catch and yards per target since his rookie year. In a much worse setup on what likely will be fewer targets, Hill needs a big efficiency rebound to return good value on the WR8 investment.

-- LUKE HOOVER, @Hoover_L_A


A.J. Brown, WR, Eagles

Brown is immensely talented, but his new situation in Philadelphia makes him a risky proposition. He was the focal point of a nearly one-dimensional Titans passing attack last season, and despite missing four games, he still accounted for nearly 25 percent of the team's passing yards. Brown joins a more talented receiving corps in Philadelphia that features 2021 first-round pick DeVonta Smith and tight end Dallas Goedert. On top of that, the Eagles attempted the fewest passes in 2021. Brown is a big risk to be a top-10 WR.

Kyler Murray, QB, Cardinals

You've probably seen the stats about Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury's teams starting strong and falling apart, a trend that followed him from the NCAA to the NFL. The phenomenon has impacted Murray, whose stats have meaningfully dipped in the second half of the last two seasons, after remaining basically flat throughout his rookie year. Making matters worse, Arizona will be without top WR DeAndre Hopkins (suspension) the first six games. Murray's ADP has him ahead of several talented quarterbacks who are in safer situations with better coaches and better chemistry with their receivers.

-- ALEX RIKLEEN, @Rikleen


This article appears in the 2022 RotoWire Fantasy Football magazine. Order the magazine now.

Check out our 2022 PPR fantasy football rankings.

Want to Read More?
Subscribe to RotoWire to see the full article.

We reserve some of our best content for our paid subscribers. Plus, if you choose to subscribe you can discuss this article with the author and the rest of the RotoWire community.

Get Instant Access To This Article Get Access To This Article
RotoWire Community
Join Our Subscriber-Only NFL Chat
Chat with our writers and other RotoWire NFL fans for all the pre-game info and in-game banter.
Join The Discussion
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Jim Coventry
Coventry covers football for RotoWire. He started playing fantasy football in 1994 and won a national contest in 1996. He also nabbed five top-50 finishes in national contests from 2008 to 2012 before turning his attention to DFS. A published author, Coventry wrote a book about relationships, "The Secret of Life", in 2013.
Jerry Donabedian
Jerry was a 2018 finalist for the FSWA's Player Notes Writer of the Year and DFS Writer of the Year awards. A Baltimore native, Jerry roots for the Ravens and watches "The Wire" in his spare time.
Jeff Erickson
Jeff Erickson is a co-founder of RotoWire and the only two-time winner of Baseball Writer of the Year from the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. He's also in the FSWA Hall of Fame. He roots for the Reds, Bengals, Red Wings, Pacers and Northwestern University (the real NU).
John McKechnie
John is the 2016 and 2021 FSWA College Writer of the Year winner. He is a Maryland native and graduate of the University of Georgia. He's been writing for RotoWire since 2014.
Mario Puig
Mario is a Senior Writer at RotoWire who primarily writes and projects for the NFL and college football sections.
Week 4 Friday Injury Report: Not All the Saints are Marching
Week 4 Friday Injury Report: Not All the Saints are Marching
Wide Receivers vs. Cornerbacks: Week 4 Matchups
Wide Receivers vs. Cornerbacks: Week 4 Matchups
NFL DFS Picks on FanDuel: Week 4:
NFL DFS Picks on FanDuel: Week 4:
NFL Monkey Knife Fight Picks: Week 4
NFL Monkey Knife Fight Picks: Week 4