2021 Duds That Will Become Studs (2022 Fantasy Football)

Love hurts. So does fantasy football. Every year, fantasy managers are high on certain players and low on others. The ones we pass on that fail don’t register in our minds as much. The ones that we remain in all offseason that flop, those are the ones we remember.

There will always be “duds,” but the best part is witnessing which duds are outliers. I use outliers in the sense that their down year was not something that should be expected to repeat for multiple reasons.

Whether a player is with a new team, the coaching staff is changed or talented players are either added or subtracted from rosters, there are many reasons why a football player can ultimately have different years from one to the next. Remember, one of the best parts about these players is that they’ll come at a discount in their ADP & can be tremendous values ​​in your fantasy drafts.

In this article, I examine five potential 2021 dudes that could turn into 2022 studs with all these changes in place:

Russell Wilson (QB – DEN)

Last season, Russell Wilson was my overall QB1 in my bold predictions. Safe to say, I was highly disappointed in his season as he finished QB19 overall and QB13 in fantasy points per game.

However, I felt the process was right as we’ve seen him show excellence in flashes. Just recently, in the first eight weeks of the 2020 season, he put up 30.3 fantasy points per game. The Seahawks combated the two-high safety look that troubled them so much in the second half of 2020 by hiring new offensive coordinator Shane Waldron from the Los Angeles Rams.

In 2020, Wilson had the fifth-longest time to throw at just under three seconds. In Waldron’s scheme, the goal was to get receivers open more quickly and allow the Seahawks to work more underneath. Long story short, the Seahawks struggled. Wilson was injured and missed games for the first time in his career and he was ultimately traded to the Denver Broncos this offseason.

While Wilson produced more than 20 fantasy points only once since his return from injury, I’m very optimistic about him in 2022. Wilson has a career completion percentage of 65%. His talented group of pass-catchers, including Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy, and Tim Patrick, should allow him to finally “cook.” We’ve known this group of Broncos receivers are talented but they have yet to be unlocked due to poor quarterback play. Wilson should step in right away and throw for 4,500 yards and 30+ touchdowns in this offense led by new coach Nathaniel Hackett and be in contention for a top five-six quarterback this year in fantasy football.

Miles Sanders (RB – PHI)

We all know the story of Miles Sanders in 2021. The overall RB44 finished behind Alexander Mattison, Brandon Bolden, and even teammate Kenneth Gainwell in total fantasy points. The main reasons? His ankle injury and the fact that he did not score a single touchdown on 163 total touches. He also saw 23 touches inside the red zone and still couldn’t score. So why should we want to invest in drafting him this season?

Despite Sanders not scoring, he averaged over 18 touches per game from Weeks 11 to 15 and showed everyone when healthy; he’s still the lead back in this offense. If you give Sanders even just five total touchdowns from last season, he would have been a top-30 RB. He’s currently the 27th running back off the board, according to Underdog Fantasy ADP. Sanders should bounce back with some touchdowns this season, and even with a committee of backs in Philadelphia, the lead back has value for this team.

Saquon Barkley (RB – NYG)

Saquon Barkley was a very polarizing player for fantasy football last season. Either you loved him as a second-round pick, or you were out at the draft cost based on him returning from a major injury. It turns out that those who avoided him were right. Barkley scored only four touchdowns and finished as the RB30 in 2021. What’s worse is Barkley posted 1.7 yards after contact per rush, 41st among running backs.

There’s also the narrative that Barkley hasn’t been the same player since he stopped playing with Eli Manning and the statistics show it. In 20 games with Manning, Barkley averaged 23.3 ppg. In 24 games without Manning (most of them with Daniel Jones), Barkley averaged 13.8 ppg. Have injuries sapped his explosiveness? Maybe, but I’m not fully ready to give up on the same player that averaged 24 fantasy points per game in 2018 and 18.8 in 2019.

The offensive line is much better, there’s a competent coach in Brian Daboll and he is now a full season removed from the ACL injury. I think Barkley will do much better than his 10.6 fantasy points per game in 2022 and could be a solid RB2 this season.

Allen Robinson (WR – LAR)

I don’t like to ever count out a WR that’s finished in the top 10 in PPR formats three times in his career, and you shouldn’t either. Yes, Allen Robinson finished as WR81 at 7.3 fantasy points per game in 2021. He scored one measly touchdown and destroyed many playoff hopes with this third/fourth-round draft capital. Robinson scored double-digit PPR points twice in twelve games last season & many may not trust him after his miserable campaign.

There is much optimism in the fantasy community on Robinson now, mainly because of his new situation as the No. 2 pass-catcher in the Los Angeles Rams offense. This was an offense that saw Robert Woods as a top-20 wide receiver before the injury. Odell Beckham secured a nearly 20% target share while averaging double-digit fantasy points in the latter half of the season.

Matthew Stafford is a significant upgrade and undoubtedly the best QB Robinson has ever played with. Inject the winning ways that the Rams have, and Robinson will also be motivated to play much better. Robinson might be the player on this list I’m most confident in bouncing back in a major way in 2022.

Brandon Aiyuk (WR – SF)

The Brandon Aiyuk hype was real last offseason as many expected to see a significant leap from the wide receiver in his second year in San Francisco. The No. 2 wideout in an offense with Deebo Samuel and George Kittle, Aiyuk was supposed to become a stud. However, what ended up transpiring was a zero-target game in Week 1, followed by only one double-digit PPR outing in his next five games.

His numbers? 4.3 fantasy points per game and the overall WR94. After that, Aiyuk finally got out of the dog house and became the WR16 from Week 8 on, averaging over 13 fantasy points per game.

Aiyuk’s ceiling remains high, and we currently don’t know if Samuel will be playing the full season with the team. We saw Aiyuk seem to click in this offense the second half of the year, and I fully believe the Aiyuk that saw six or more targets in eight of his last eleven games is the player we’ll get from Week 1. While the switch to Trey Lance could lead to frustrations early on, I believe Lance will unlock another level to this offense in 2021. Aiyuk had by far the deepest average depth of target last year at 10.4, and it should be a match made in heaven with Lance’s strong arm .

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