Which underrated players could out-score their higher-drafted teammates in 2022?

Things move fast in fantasy football, and we are just a few weeks from seeing many teams’ depth charts turned upside down on the basis of stellar September performances. Here are a few situations where it takes only a small leap of faith to envision a player providing more 2022 fantasy value than his more heralded teammate.

The Vikings have heavily leaned on two receivers for several seasons, but the team plans on opening up their passing game in 2022. Osborn should be on the field more often than he was last season when he showed plenty of potential by collecting seven touchdowns on 50 catches. Thielen has had a great run of success, but he will be 32 when this campaign starts and averaged just 10.8 yards per catch last year. By midseason, it may be obvious that Osborn is the player who best compliments superstar Justin Jefferson.

New Giants coach Brian Daboll is in the process of remaking the Giants’ passing attack, which is good news — since it couldn’t be much worse than it was last season. The team has a handful of interesting WRs, led by Golladay, who has a large contract and a pair of 1,000-yard seasons in Detroit on his resume. But Golladay has accomplished little in the past two years, has not developed a rapport with QB Daniel Jonesand was not brought into the team by the current coaching staff.

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Robinson, on the other hand, was drafted in the second round of this year, which is a great sign that the current brain trust believes he can have plenty of NFL success. It’s easy to see a scenario where Golladay has a few big weeks as a deep threat but Robinson leads the team in catches and yards by being a dominant slot target.

Chris Olave over Michael Thomas

Although Thomas is back in action, we really have no idea what to expect from someone who missed all of last season and most of 2020 with ankle injuries. Sure, there is a chance that the 29-year-old can recapture his former glory, but there are also good odds that he is no longer the player he used to be. So, Thomas may not have the same report with James Winston that he had with Drew Brees. New Orleans traded up to get Olave, who was arguably the most talented WR in the 2022 NFL draft and projects as a future star. We may need just a couple of weeks to see that the page has been turned in the Saints passing game, with Olave as the alpha receiver and Thomas as a complimentary piece.

George Pickens over Diontae Johnson

Pickens needed just one preseason game to show the explosive playmaking ability that caused the Steelers to grab him in the second round of the NFL draft despite not having an urgent need at WR. The Georgia product has the size and speed to immediately make big plays and demand a significant target share, despite the veteran presence of Johnson and Chase Claypool.

George Pickens is already turning fantasy heads. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)

Former QB Ben Roethlisberger loved throwing underneath to Johnson because it suited his lack of late-career arm strength and his need to get the ball away quickly behind a poor offensive line. But new Steelers QBs Mitch Trubisky other Kenny Pickett may want to throw downfield more often, which would take some of the focus off Johnson and lead to a more balanced passing attack that could eventually feature Pickens.

Rhamondre Stevenson over Damien Harris

There is little doubt that Harris is a good ball carrier. After all, he averaged 4.8 yards per carry in his three-year career and crossed the goal line 15 times last season. But he contributes little in the passing game and is dependent on collecting touchdowns to make a notable fantasy impact. Stevenson has a more diverse skill set, with the ability to match Harris as a rusher while also catching plenty of passes. And with James White having recently retired, the Pats are looking for an RB to step into a substantial receiving role. There is a likely scenario where Harris finishes with more rushing yards but Stevenson tops him in total yards and provides much more value in PPR formats.

Brian Robinson over Antonio Gibson

Robinson is already climbing up draft boards and may overtake Gibson when we get within a few days of Week 1. The rookie from Alabama seems to be the preferred option for this management team, who selected him in Rd. 3 of the NFL draft and started him over Gibson in the most recent preseason game. A scenario is starting to come into focus where Robinson leads the team in rushing yards and TDs, JD McKissic tops the other RBs in catches, and Gibson eventually finds his way to the fantasy waiver wire.

Zamir White over Josh Jacobs

The Raiders have a new coach in Josh McDaniels who didn’t draft Jacobs and hasn’t yet shown any indication that he holds the 24-year-old in high regard. For example, we are often seeing training camp reports that the Las Vegas backfield usage will be situation-dependent, with Jacobs and White each having a role. White is the only member of the RB corps who was drafted by the current management team, and although he is unlikely to be immediately involved in the passing game, he could steal most of the rushing opportunities from Jacobs.

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