2022 Early Draft Sleepers To Watch
With the regular season-ending for the fantasy season and college football season, many dynasty enthusiasts are starting to see what the draft picks may be worth with the upcoming draft. For those prepping for an early draft before the actual one or for those looking for later rookie gems, here are some names I recommend watching.
Sam Howell, QB, North Carolina
Never thought I would be here having to put Sam Howell as a draft sleeper but here we are since the buzz is focused on Corral, Pickett, Willis, and Ridder. Howell will not be able to compete with the others (Corral is also not eligible) at the Senior Bowl. However, Howell was a three-year starter with plenty of experience handling various situations. Last season in a solid setup with FOUR NFL skill players and a solid line led to being 5th in passing yards, 6th in TDs, and 5th in terms of NFL passer rating with the guys who played 200+ dropbacks. Losing everyone led to offseason questions of could he keep this team relevant. He managed to still (still missing a bowl game) pass for almost 3,000 yards, 23 TDs, and only throw 2 additional picks. And this was with him being outside the top 50 in pass attempts so obviously, he looks lower when comparing overall stats to others. Howell also showed he is a special athlete by rushing for 825 more yards and 11 rushing TDs. UNC linemen also went from ranked top 20 last season to bottom 20 this season while under constant pressure and having only Joshua Downs to help him. I bet he will be able to compete with these other guys at the combine and his pro day to start reminding people why he was considered QB1 by some before the season.
Tyler Allgeier, RB, BYU
Allgeier went from being overshadowed last season by the rise of Zach Wilson only to come back and prove to be the heart of the offense this season. He finished 8th this season in rushing yards, tied for 1st with 20 TDs, 6th in missed tackles, and 3rd in yards after contact. Looking at some other stats that people consider, Allgeier was 8th in runs for 10+ yards and rated 13th in the elusiveness rating. And he does all this work at 5’11” 220lbs frame. The fun part I like is knowing this kid was recruited as a linebacker before changing to running back in 2020 full time for the team. Expect him to test well enough to have a shot at round 3 draft capital which would be fantastic for fantasy purposes or a priority stash if he gets a good spot not behind a major stud like JT on Day 3.
Jerome Ford, RB, Cincinnati
This playoff opportunity brings Ford full circle as he started as a 2018 recruit at Alabama before transferring to Cincinnati and playing as the lead back there for 2020 and 2021. He also comes in listed at the same size as Allgeier while having 20 all-purpose TDs this season as well. He was a major reason for the team’s success when he had eight of his twelve games this season with over 100 all-purpose yards. He was 16th in rushing yards while being 31st among backs in snaps played. He was top 20 in missed forced tackles and 10+ yard runs.
Dontario Drummond, WR, Ole Miss
Drummond comes in with a strong frame at 6’1” and 220lbs from a pipeline school for receivers. He was the focal point for Matt Corral this season and led the team by over 400 more yards and easily paced the team with 8 touchdowns this season. I thought Mingo was our guy to watch, but Drummond stepped up after Mingo went down with an injury. He is probably the 2nd or 3rd best receiver after Jahan Dotson and Romeo Doubs at the Senior Bowl who could see a major jump in the rankings with a strong week of practices. He averaged almost 10 yards after the catch and showed he was able to get first downs and make some plays with the football. Currently a 3rd round rookie picks for dynasty leagues, he may be that guy you target since he was not an early declare or one with a great breakout age as a Redshirt Senior now.
Jayden Reed, WR, Michigan State
Besides Kenneth Walker III, Jayden Reed has been a very important part of Michigan State’s success this year. He ended up being near the top or lead the Big Ten and FBS for several categories including all-purpose yards, yards per catch, receiving yards, touchdown catches. He is also versatile in the special teams part of the game with two return touchdowns this year as well. He played his freshman year at Western Michigan where he produced before having to sit out in 2019 because of transfer rules. Finally getting a full season this year as a redshirt junior, the 6’0” 185lb receiver has a case for himself if he does declare for the draft. He should test well at the combine as people close to the program have discussed his explosiveness and ability to move. Similar to Dontario Drummond, this may be a name to watch with one of those later dart throw rookie picks.
Isaiah Likely, TE, Coastal Carolina
Likely was originally recruited as a receiver, but the Coastal Carolina staff quickly adjusted him to tight end going into his freshman season. Since then, he has grew each year to produce better results. This season alone Likely finished with the 2nd most yards, TDs, 6th in catches, 9th in targets, and had the 9th best yards per catch among tight ends with at least 24 targets. Being at a small school will be a small blemish that will lower his value to some, but the Senior Bowl and combine will give an equal playing field for him to show off. If he does get officially listed at 6’4” 240lbs or more at the combine his value will be perfect for those with needs at tight end in leagues to sit him on the taxi and wait for when he adjusts to NFL speed. Likely fits nicely for those dart throws on chasing the athletic tight end who has produced some in college.
Rachaad White (not for all but some have super low)