Every year a group of players, usually young players/rookies stand out during training camp. This year is no different. With the reduction from four to three preseason games, we have less time to see players in action and must ensure we know how much stock to put into early reporting out of each camp.
Not every RB darling is going to be 1995 Terrell Davis (Vikings drafted Davis in the 6th round and traded him to Denver prior to the start of the 1995 season). Not every WR story will be Stefon Diggs (Falcons drafted Diggs in the 5th round and traded him to Minnesota prior to the start of the 2015 season).
The reason I mention Davis and Diggs is they are anomalies, outliers. Normally this type of player, drafted on the third day, sometimes traded before playing a regular season game, just do not come along and produce fantasy winning numbers.
With that, I caution you to temper your 2022 expectations when looking at the following names.
Romeo Doubs – WR- Green Bay Packers: The early standout at Packers camp was given a chance to shine with the injury and subsequent, albeit minor, surgery for Christian Watson. Doubs was lauded by Aaron Rodgers on one day and then called out, though not specifically by name, shortly thereafter for making rookie mistakes (wrong route, case of the dropsies, etc.). Doubs collected himself and showed very well with Jordan Love and will certainly make the Packers roster. The caution flag should be raised as Doubs moves up the ADP board (8 spots up lately after a larger jump two weeks ago). Reports out of Green Bay have Lazard, Cobb, and Sammy Watkins as the three starters. I do not have a problem drafting Doubs as a Packers fan; however, I am not in at the current price (as high as 127 overall in UnderDog drafts). It is possible Doubs makes plays this year when Cobb gets hurt or Watkins acts like Watkins, but for now I am passing.
Isiah Pacheco – RB – Kansas City Chiefs: if Doubs was the early darling, then consider Pachecho the Belle of the Ball. Dude is flying up draft boards (up 37 spots lately) and has pushed into the Top 120 at NFC. Does the kid look NFL ready? Sure, he does. The problem, as I see it is he could be the RB2 in KC or the RB4. Hear me out before you discount this write-up. CEH was drafted in the 1st round, so KC has a ton of draft capital invested and teams are rarely open to tossing that capital in the trash can due to injury. KC went out and signed RoJo to be RB2. Rumblings amongst some fantasy talks heads is RoJo is destined to be one of the final camp cuts and I do not buy it. He is a proven NFL RB that can fill an RB2 role. The Chiefs also seem to love Jerick McKinnon for some odd reason. McKinnon cannot handle a full workload, but can act as a 3rd down back and is a solid veteran presence. All of that to say this…If you want to spend your 10th round pick on Pachecho, go right ahead and take the leap. I prefer to load up on rookie WR will clear roles or nab my QB at the same point in the draft. I simply do not want to end up with KC’s RB4 too high on my depth chart.
Rachaad White – RB – Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Tom Brady loves his WR and appears to trust and love Leonard Fournette even more. TB12 also does not tend to love rookies. White would have to be stellar at pass protection and have great hands for Brady to allow him to usurp Fournette too often. White may be the RB2 in Tampa for 2022, but that in and of itself does not lend to solid, weekly fantasy production. Hard pass for me!
Desmond Ridder – QB – Atlanta Falcons: I loved this kid at Cincinnati. He has all the skills and has flashed in the preseason. A couple of things to consider… (1) Atlanta is going to be bad; (2) Ridder has not beaten out Marcus Mariota (yet); (3) QB is so very deep there is no reason to reach for this type of player unless you are in a deep dynasty league where the calculus is much different.
Now, with all the negative out of the way, let’s discuss some names I think you should absolutely consider in the later rounds that can help you win your league while not chasing the risers listed above.
Dameon Pierce – RB – Houston Texans: Pierce did not play in preseason game number two. In the past (four preseason games), if a player did not play the second to last preseason game the writing was on the wall that player was a starter. Mark it down now…Pierce is the starter in Houston (RB1) and will prove to be more valuable than Breece Hall when you factor in draft position. Hall is being drafted a full 50 spots (4+ rounds) ahead of Pierce. I am not a fan of Hall at the end of the 3rd round when I can grab Pierce in the 7th-8th round range. I will take my WR2 in the 3rd round and Pierce in the later round and be much happier than slotting Hall in as my RB2 to start the season.
Brian Robinson – RB – Washington Redsk Football Tea Commanders: Second only to Pachecho, Robinson is the newest darling climbing 30 ADP spots recently up to the 120’s overall. For whatever reason(s) Antonio Gibson was seen returning kicks and playing with the second squad in the last preseason game. If you drafted Gibson in the past, you have lived the frustration that Washington coaches appear to have finally realized. Gibson may not be as good as we thought he was and Robinson is simply getting the job done. Robinson may be seen as a plodder, but sometimes you need a true running back and he looks the part at this point in camp. I do think Robison is a better ½- or non-PPR guy, but still viable in full-PPR formats. As Gibson appears to be about to fall (or jump) off the fantasy cliff, I recommend you keep an eye on the presumptive RB1 in Washington and you may nab a true gem in the process. Target Robinson in the 10th round or later and watch the Gibson owner cringe!
Isaiah Likely – TE – Baltimore Ravens: Are you asking, “Who?” If so, then you are not paying attention to all the camp news. Last preseason game Likely had eight targets, eight receptions and one TD. I know. I know. You are laughing as you look at Mark Edwards at your TE ranks. I am good with Andrews early and think you can look for Likely at the very end of your draft and reap the potential benefits without paying a high price. Also remember outside of Andrews and Rashod Bateman, there are no real viable pass catchers in Baltimore. Trust me, Devin Duvernay is not the name you want on your roster. My guy Likely is not even registering on the consensus ADP list, so he is still flying under the draft radar. Keep it quiet and nab him late when you draft this weekend.