The 2022 NFL season is less than 100 days away. This means only one thing; more and more people will start preparing for their fantasy drafts.
Fantasy Football has grown incredibly since it was first introduced, with the 59.3 million people who played it in 2017 as opposed to the 500,000 that did so in 1988.
From a UK perspective, it has helped so many Brits get into the sport.
But who should people keep an eye on for the upcoming season? Hee are three players that could spring a surprise in fantasy!
Juju Smith-Schuster (Wide Receiver- Kansas City Chiefs)
After five seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Smith-Schuster is now a Chief. He joined as a free agent, expecting to be the WR2 or WR3.
However, in what has been a crazy offseason, one of the biggest moves saw wide receiver Tyreek Hill move from the Chiefs to the Miami Dolphins.
This has now put a lot more pressure in Juju to be the top wideout for quarterback Patrick Mahomes to throw to. It is likely that Smith-Schuster will be the number one wide receiver in the depth chart, as opposed to Mecole Hardman, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, or rookie Skyy Moore.
Tight End Travis Kelce will no doubt be Mahomes’ main target in 2022, which gives even more encouragement that Smith-Schuster will excel in Kansas City and surprise people.
Behind Antonio Brown on the depth chart in Pittsburgh, he recorded 917 yards and seven touchdowns in his 2017 rookie season. He then tallied up 1,426 yards and seven touchdowns in 2018. His numbers then declined and across 2019, 2020 and 2021, he could only muster up a total of 1,512 yards and 12 touchdowns across those following three seasons as the WR1. This is an average of 504 yards and 4 touchdowns a season, which are not numbers that your number one wideout should be notching up.
This has resulted in concerns over Smith-Schuster over whether he can perform for the Chiefs. However, it must not be forgotten that he was receiving the ball from an ageing Ben Roethlisberger. Playing as the number two receiver behind Kelce and playing with Mahomes should see his numbers skyrocket.
Mitchell Trubisky (Quarterback- Pittsburgh Steelers)
The Chicago Bears traded up one spot to take Trubisky second overall in 2017, a move that has continued to haunt the franchise ever since with the aforementioned Mahomes taken at number ten.
After an impressive 2018 season, that saw him throw for 24 touchdowns and 12 interceptions as the Bears lost in the Wildcard Round in heart-breaking fashion, Trubisky’s numbers fell faster than you can say double doink.
However, he was playing under head coach Matt Nagy from 2018 until 2020 before a season as Josh Allen’s backup in Buffalo. He will now play under Mike Tomlin, who has yet to have a losing season since being announced as their head coach in 2007.
Trubisky will have learnt a lot from playing under Allen and Sean McDermott in Buffalo and now he gets the chance to work under a great coach in Tomlin. With new defensive coordinator Brian Flores and 2021 Defensive Player of the Year T.J. Watt, the defense will excel and ease the pressure on Trubisky as will sophomore running back Najee Harris.
This will ease the reliance on Trubisky to throwing the ball, which will allow the former second overall pick to be able to perform at his best. Whilst he won’t be anywhere near the MVP running, he still can have a good season and get those fantasy points for anyone picking their QB in the later rounds. A prediction for the season is 3,200 yards, 20 touchdowns and 8 interceptions.
D’Andre Swift (Running Back- Detroit Lions)
The Lions won the hearts of NFL fans with a spirited 2021 season, despite ending the season with the second overall pick. They will go into the new campaign with the eyes of the world on them after being announced as the team that will be documented on Hard Knocks in 2022.
2016 first overall pick Jared Goff arrived in 2021 as part of the Matthew Stafford trade. Despite the 3-10-1 record, Goff managed 19 touchdowns and 8 interceptions. He is unlikely to be the reason for success on the field for the Lions in 2022 but they may get a lot of success out of the run game.
Swift has 1,138 yards and 13 touchdowns across 26 games so far in the NFL since arriving into the league in 2020. Expect his numbers to increase significantly in 2022. He would be good pick up for anyone looking to take a running back in the fourth, fifth or sixth rounds if he is still available.