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Fantasy Football 2022: Deep Sleepers to Target in Drafts

Quarterback Rankings Week 4: Daniel Jones

Don't forget about Daniel Jones in the latter rounds of your fantasy drafts.

Doing my fantasy football deep sleepers article every year is one of my favorite articles to write. I get to cater to one of my favorite but far too often forgotten segments of the fantasy football population: those in deep leagues.

This is not a knock on those playing in smaller leagues. Those leagues can be just as much fun, but there is far more material available for those in shallow leagues. It is a little harder to find articles that talk about players whose ADP is often beyond 250.

Related: Running Back ADP Risers

Players like Jameis Winston or Irv Smith Jr. are nifty sleepers that I like, but they are usually long gone by the 15th round in a 12-team league.

So the rules for this are pretty simple. To be considered a deep sleeper, it has to be an RB/WR beyond the top 60 at their position or a QB/TE outside of the top 25.

But we'll start with a name you know, whose ADP is pushing two bills.

Daniel Jones, QB, New York Giants

Do I think Jones is suddenly going to be a QB1? No. Do I think he can crack the top 20? Absolutely. He is being drafted outside the top 25 QBs, making him a great value pick.

First off, Jones was without the services of Saquon Barkley last year, which allowed linebackers to constantly cheat in their coverage. Secondly, the Giants' receiving corps was riddled by injury.

Meanwhile, the Giants made a point this offseason to give Jones more help, including a new TE, a new playmaking WR, and some OL help, headlined by one of the best prospects in this year's draft, tackle Evan Neal from Alabama. There's more good news.

Jones' completion percentage has risen in each of the last three seasons. Danny Dimes' interception percentage has likewise dropped. His best year from a yards and touchdowns perspective was his rookie season. But that was before the Giants shifted to the more conservative coaching of Joe Judge.

Judge is out and Brian Daboll, who was Buffalo's offensive coordinator the past four seasons and played a big role in Josh Allen's emergence, is in. Last season, the Bills were top 10 in the league in all four major offensive categories. Jones may not have the same pedigree or athleticism as Allen, but that doesn't mean that Daboll can't help him turn things around.

One last thing. According to Sports Illustrated, Jones is positioned for success in 2022 with the easiest fantasy schedule based on average fantasy points allowed to QBs in 2021 (18.4 FPG). I rarely put a ton of weight into the strength of schedule based on last year's defenses, but it does show the runway might be clearer for Jones than it has in the past.

D'Ernest Johnson, RB, Cleveland Browns

This is not the first time I've discussed Johnson. It shouldn't be a surprise as I've been a fan of Johnson since he was in the short-lived AFL and tore it up for the Orlando Apollos. But his NFL credentials are even better.

He has averaged five yards or better each of his three NFL seasons. His workload has been limited, but much of that is due to the depth Cleveland possesses in its backfield. However, when given the chance to be the lead back, he's gotten the job done. Last season in the two games which saw 20 or more carries, Johnson responded by smashing through the century mark as well as finding his way into the end zone.  

Johnson is still behind Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt on the depth chart, and I don't see that changing any time soon. However, Hunt is angling for a new contract and is already the subject of trade rumors. Either he or possibly Johnson could be traded at any point. Either possibility could result in more touches for Johnson, whether it's with the Browns as Chubb's tag-team partner or with another team. 

Considering that Johnson is currently the 69th RB being taken in drafts according to ADP, I am more than happy to take the risk at that point.

Related: Running Back with Falling ADP

Nico Collins, WR, Houston Texans

Collins is 6-foot-4 and runs a 4.4 40, making him a spectacular combination of size and speed. He had a rather pedestrian year last year, but I would expect him to catch quite a few more deep balls this season.

Houston's offense should play much better this season (no way the Texans can play worse!) and Collins should be one of the biggest beneficiaries. He should see his snap share jump from the 62 percent he had last season. But sometimes, it's the less quantifiable things.

For example, I love that Collins and Davis Mills spent some quality time this offseason getting their timing down and training together in Oregon. I'm not ready to say this is like Peyton Manning to Marvin Harrison, but it's a great start. I'm also not the only one on this site to stump for Collins either. And given that Collins' ADP is typically around the 75th WR off the board, you might be able to get him very late. For now...

Alec Pierce, WR, Indianapolis Colts

Unlike some of the smaller rookie WRs, Pierce has a 6-foot-3, 211-pound frame that quarterbacks often look for in the end zone. And Matt Ryan has made rookie WRs household names before (see Ridley, Calvin).

Ryan meanwhile is "getting a little too much shade thrown his way," as the kids like to say. The Colts have one of the better offensive lines, which should give Ryan the time necessary to find Pierce streaking down the field.

Pierce also is more than just a big body. During the NFL Scouting Combine, he ran a 4.41 40-yard dash. That placed Pierce in the 96th percentile for speed score, and he also was in the 94th percentile for burst according to PlayerProfiler advanced stats.

The Colts will likely run the ball more than most teams again this year. However, I would not be surprised to see Pierce score half a dozen TDs or more this year. That alone could make him worthy of a late-round pick and why I like him as a deep sleeper. But he's nowhere as deep as our next option.

Sal Canella, TE, Green Bay Packers 

There's deep, there's subterranean, and then there's Sal Canella. You don't even need to draft him before the 25th round as his ADP is well beyond that. But I'm willing to bet anyone that he ends up as a top-40 fantasy TE this year.

This time of year you start hearing fantasy experts espousing who are their "flag planters," i.e. the players they really like. But it's about more than just expecting that guy to produce. It's a player they will claim they were the first to "discover" and whom they won't give up on until the final snap.

Well, I'm planting my flag on Cannella. Aaron Rodgers is going to love him as he has some of the better hands on the Packers. Robert Tonyan is a free agent in 2023 and Cannella could easily overtake Tonyan as Green Bay's starting TE at some point this season.

The former Auburn standout dominated the USFL and was in the top dozen for nearly any receiving stat, including leading all TEs in receptions. Only insane people like me closely followed the USFL. But take advantage of my craziness and grab yourself one of the best deep sleepers for this upcoming season.