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Five Fantasy Football Sleepers Who'll Stay Asleep in 2022

Zach Wilson - Fantasy Football Rankings, NFL Injury News

Every year you hear about a multitude of fantasy football sleepers. And every year a bunch of those guys go on to do virtually nothing. By Week 5, you're looking to the waiver wire.

So today, we're going to be identifying five potential sleepers this season who are going to miss the mark. Guys who some people might be hyping up now, but who I don't see having enough value over the course of the season.

Without further ado, let's look at five sleeper candidates who'll stay asleep this season.

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Dameon Pierce - RB - Houston Texans

It sounds like Dameon Pierce is the No. 1 back for the Texans:

And good for him. I'm a Texans fan. I want the team to be good. I think Pierce is a fine player and I hope he's successful with the Texans.

But if he's successful, I don't think it's in 2022, mainly because this offense is going to be bad and this defense is going to be bad, which is going to mean fewer opportunities for the running backs.

And while I've moved my expectations on Pierce up somewhat lately from "won't draft because he's the No. 2 back in a bad offense" to "will draft if he falls below his ADP because he's probably the lead back in a bad offense and that means there will be times when I'll play him during bye weeks," I ultimately just don't think he's worth the risk at whatever his ADP settles at.

 

James Cook - RB - Buffalo Bills

People seem to like James Cook. And they should because Cook was a dynamic player in college. He especially excelled as a receiver, where he used his explosiveness and his route-running skills to create mismatches. He had 27 receptions last season, with four touchdowns, plus had 113 carries for 728 yards and another seven scores.

So, if I like Cook, then why is he in this article? Because the situation he's found himself in isn't ideal.

The Bills don't target their running backs in the passing game. Last season, 15.4% of the team's targets went to the running back position, which was the fourth-lowest rate in the NFL. And of the 96 total targets for the position, 50 of them went to Devin Singletary, who is still set to have a large role on this team.

The team also signed Duke Johnson this offseason, whose value is almost entirely as a receiver at this point. All this is to say that I just don't see Cook getting the needed touches to do much in fantasy — at least not as long as Singletary is standing in his way.

 

Zach Wilson - QB - New York Jets

There are second-year QBs who I think will make a leap this year. Trevor Lawrence. Trey Lance. Even Justin Fields, though I don't feel as confident in that. There's one name being bandied about as a QB sleeper that I just don't see it with: Jets QB Zach Wilson.

Why? To put it simply, Wilson was bad last year. He completed 55.6% of his passes, which is bad enough without context but gets worse when you factor in that he was 21st in aDOT, so a lot of these incompletions were the kind of passes that shouldn't be incompletions.

You can fix a QB with deep-ball issues. Just look at Josh Allen. Can you fix a QB with accuracy issues in the other phases of the game? I'm not saying to give up on Wilson, but 2022 is likely another growing year for him as he'll continue to try to refine his game. I'm not getting my hopes up about a Wilson breakout until 2023.

 

Jauan Jennings - WR - San Francisco 49ers

This isn't the first time I've written about Jennings as a player that I'm not in on this year, though depending on when this piece is published vs. when the other thing I wrote about him is published, this could be the first time you see me talking about Jennings.

I'm out on him this year. All the way out. I just don't see it with this 49ers offense. Kyle Shanahan coaches like it's 1960. I'm shocked the Niners aren't rolling out there in a Wing-T or something. Moving full-time to Trey Lance under center should increase this trend of the 49ers running a lot. Lance has a big arm, but I don't see the Niners just letting him go out there and whip a bunch of passes to the end zone or something.

Jennings had five touchdowns last season as a rookie, but two of those came in one game. Jennings saw at least 25 snaps in each game from Week 10 on, but only two of those games featured a snap rate of 50% or better.

With Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk and George Kittle on the team, Jennings is at best the No. 4 option on a run-first offense. And that assumes that third-round pick Danny Gray doesn't cut into his minutes. Jennings will be a touchdown-dependent boom/bust option this year, with way more busts than booms.

 

Jamison Crowder - WR - Buffalo Bills

Another year, another chance for everyone to say "ooh, Jamison Crowder is going to be way better than his ADP." At some point, we've got to stop this.

Yes, it's true that the Bills used their slot receiver a lot last year. Cole Beasley held that role and while Beasley wasn't setting the world on fire, he did catch 82 passes and was targeted more times than he ever had been. But there's a catch. The way the Bills used the slot receiver last year meant that Beasley finished with the lowest yards per reception of his career at just 8.5. He got the targets needed to have value in full-PPR, but the actual yardage numbers weren't good enough to really give him a great ceiling.

Another issue is that while people like Crowder because he's a reliable veteran, he's also probably the No. 4 receiver in Buffalo behind Stefon Diggs, Gabriel Davis, and Isaiah McKenzie. I know Davis is also in that weird space where half of Fantasy Twitter thinks he's going to be a breakout player and half think he's going to be a bust, but I think we can at least all agree that he sees more targets than Crowder, right?

Even on the team that was second in the NFL last year in the percentage of targets that went to wide receivers, I can't get behind the fourth guy in the pecking order.



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