The 2022 fantasy football season is right around the corner and like every year, there are players who make their way into the next tier of players that establish themselves as every week starters. With one of the busiest NFL offseasons in recent memory, there are a handful of players that could make their way into that next tier.
Brandon Aiyuk, WR, San Francisco 49ers
Now I know what you’re thinking, “here we go again.” Before the start of the 2021 season, Aiyuk was on everybody’s list to take the next leap with how he performed during his rookie campaign.
However, an odd start to the season where Aiyuk barely saw the field and coupled with the fact that he had the No. 3 wide receiver in fantasy on the other side of him, Deebo Samuel, Aiyuk had a season filled with ebbs and flows as he finished as wide receiver No. 35. With the likely hood of the Niners switching to Trey Lance under center and with Samuel’s situation not fully resolved, Aiyuk has an opportunity to establish himself as a WR2.
Gabriel Davis, WR, Buffalo Bills
Four touchdowns. That’s what immediately comes to mind when you think of Davis ever since he set the record for the most receiving touchdowns in an NFL Playoff game against the Kansas City Chiefs in January.
Even more targets should be coming Davis’ way this season with the release of Cole Beasley in March. Of course, Stefon Diggs will garner the most targets, but a pass-heavy offense like the Bills will undoubtedly let Davis establish himself as a WR3 with low-end WR2 upside in most fantasy leagues.
Rashaad Penny, RB, Seattle Seahawks
Ever since the Seahawks selected Penny with the 27th pick in the 2018, his career has been riddled with injuries. Penny was able to stay on the field towards the end of the 2021 season and in the final five games he rushed for at least 135 yards in four of those contests.
The one issue in front of Penny (besides injury concerns) is that the Seahawks drafted Michigan State running back Kenneth Walker III in the second round of this year’s draft. The two will most likely take part in a backfield committee, but head coach Pete Carroll may take his time ushering in the rookie running back. It’s a big “if”, but if Penny can stay on the field, he will have a chance to cement himself as the lead back in the short term.
Jerry Jeudy, WR, Denver Broncos
Jeudy’s talent has been undeniable since he entered the league two years ago, but due to an ankle injury and poor play under center, Jeudy hasn’t been able to reach his full potential. The latter seems to be erased as the Broncos took it upon themselves to trade for Russell Wilson this offseason, which puts Jeudy in prime position to show us why the Broncos selected him with the 15th pick in the 2019 Draft. Jeudy and Courtland Sutton will battle for targets, but like we saw when Wilson was in Seattle, he can spread the wealth throughout the offense.
Rashod Bateman, WR, Baltimore Ravens
In an offseason full of trades, the Ravens decided to join the frenzy during the NFL draft by trading wide receiver Marquise Brown to the Arizona Cardinals. With a wide receiver room that lacks depth, second-year receiver and 2021 first-round pick Bateman is set to become Lamar Jackson’s second target behind tight end Mark Andrews.
Now the Ravens have been known to be a run-heavy team, but out of the 12 games Bateman appeared in last year, he garnered at least six targets in seven of those games. Andrews will warrant even more attention from defenses this season which could lead to Bateman becoming a fantasy mainstay.