2022 Fantasy Football Studs and Duds

Dustin Satloff/Getty Images

2022 Fantasy Football Studs and Duds

Fantasy Football

2022 Fantasy Football Studs and Duds


Dustin Satloff/Getty Images

Now that the 2022 fantasy football season has come to a close, and we’ve all had time to accept our defeat or bask in our glory, it’s time to look back at the players who surprised us this season. Players can surprise us by performing far beyond what was expected of them, but more often than not they surprise us by performing far below what was expected of them. Let’s take a moment to highlight the most surprising players, for better or for worse. 


Quarterback Studs

-Justin Fields, QB5

Justin Fields shocked the fantasy community when he had 88-plus rushing yards and/or a rushing touchdown in nine of his final 10 games, starting in Week Six. Fields was drafted as a flier and was on waiver wires in most redraft leagues prior to his Week Six breakout. Many teams who lost Trey Lance or Dak Prescott early on were saved by Fields’s mid-season heroics.  


-Geno Smith, QB6

Everyone wrote Geno Smith off, but Smith didn’t write back though, and I don’t think he ever will. Smith was possibly the last person anyone expected to finish as a top six quarterback, the Seattle Seahawks were early favorites to finish the year as a bottom three team. Smith saved the fantasy production of both D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett and revitalized his career along the way. 


Quarterback Duds

-Matthew Stafford, QB32

After finishing 2021 as the QB5 and leading the Los Angeles Rams to the promised land, Stafford was drafted as a solid and safe top 10 quarterback and failed his owners immensely. Stafford only played nine games this season, but that’s not why his owners were disappointed. Stafford averaged about 12 fantasy points per game, which ranked 31st among quarterbacks with at least 50 pass attempts.  


-Russell Wilson, QB17

The 2022 Denver Broncos offense was as big a disaster as you can imagine.  Everyone underperformed, and Wilson was right in the middle of it.  Wilson was expected to carry fantasy teams to the championship, but instead was essentially a wasted draft pick. After the firing of Nathaniel Hackett, Wilson played exceptionally well for the final two games of the season. With Sean Payton coming to town, expect a bounce back in 2023. 


Running Back Studs

-Josh Jacobs, RB3

Josh Jacobs was believed to be out of a job by many to start the year. After the Las Vegas Raiders declined his fifth year option and drafted Zamir White, the writing was on the wall. Jacobs used this as motivation, and the fire inside him burst into a roaring flame. Jacobs was one of the most common players in fantasy championships this season. Definition of a league winner. 


-Tony Pollard, RB7

Pollard played well to start the year, about what everyone expected. Pollard then reached an entirely new level once Ezekiel Elliott missed time with an injury in Week Eight. Even after Elliott’s return, Pollard kept hold of the reins and steamrolled his opponents at the end of the year. The Pollard takeover could possibly be underway. 

Running Back Duds

-Jonathan Taylor, RB30

The RB1 curse continues to haunt us. Year after year, the consensus RB1 seems to get injured or fall flat on their face with no clear explanation. Taylor was the 1.01 draft pick in over 50% of redraft leagues and cost his owner their season in most cases.  Taylor is immensely talented, but the Indianapolis Colts offense as a whole looked horrible with Matt Ryan under center. Taylor’s lack of receiver work also didn’t help. 


-D’Andre Swift, RB24 

Swift was injured and played hurt throughout the year, but he actually played more games this season than any other season in his career (14 games). Swift was typically drafted at the first and second round turn, yet somehow lost his job to career backup Jamaal Williams. Williams led the league in rushing touchdowns, so we can see the potential is there for Swift, but will he ever get the workload he deserves? Maybe not. 


Wide Receiver Studs

-Jaylen Waddle, WR8 / DeVonta Smith, WR9

Both of these studs had the same surprising outcomes to their seasons. Both were the clear-cut second wide receiver on their respective teams, and both of their teams were viewed as having a subpar passing attack. While playing behind Tyreek Hill and A.J. Brown, Waddle and Smith miraculously finished as top 10 receivers. Their production has redefined fantasy football and has changed the stigma behind drafting a number two wide receiver. Tee Higgins needs to step his game up! 


-Christian Kirk, WR14

Kirk put his haters on notice after achieving his first 1,000-yard season and achieving career highs across the board. A questionable signing by the Jacksonville Jaguars, Kirk proved why it was a mistake to let him fall into the later stages of your draft. Kirk has proven he can be relied on as a fantasy asset. As Trevor Lawrence continues to grow, watch out world, Kirk has arrived. 


Wide Receiver Duds

-Mike Evans, WR11

Don’t be fooled by Mike Evans’ Week 17 explosion. Between weeks one and 16, Evans was the WR23, despite being drafted as the WR9. Between weeks five and 16, Evans did not score a single touchdown. Evans exploded in the fantasy championship week, the only problem is none of his owners made it to that game because of his poor performance throughout the season. 


-D.J. Moore, WR23

It seems that every season we all assume this year will be Moore’s year, and every year we are let down.  Moore is incredibly talented, but can’t seem to get over the hump. He was being drafted at his ceiling, a borderline top 12 receiver, but he performed at his floor, barely top 24. Moore is consistently a player to watch, but maybe let’s pump the brakes until he gets a real quarterback. 


Tight End Studs

-Travis Kelce, TE1

Kelce is truly in a league of his own and has once again proven why he is worthy of a first round draft pick. Even at age 33, Kelce keeps getting better and shows no signs of slowing down. Now coming off his best fantasy season ever and entering his age 34 season, it’s reasonable to expect a decline in production in 2023. But Kelce is still far and away the best tight end in the league until proven otherwise. 

There is no second player for this segment. Travis Kelce is the only tight end worthy of praise in the 2022 season, outscoring the TE2 by nearly 100 points. 


Tight End Duds

-Kyle Pitts, TE31

This performance by Pitts doesn’t fall solely on his shoulders, the coaches of the Atlanta Falcons don’t seem to know how to use him. After being drafted with the fourth overall pick in the real life NFL Draft, the Atlanta Falcons coach openly claimed to use Pitts as a decoy to create room for KhaDarel Hodge during the season. That’s not why you draft a tight end with the fourth overall pick. Nonetheless, Pitts was a massive disappointment at his draft capital and left his teams searching for answers at the tight end position. 


-Darren Waller, TE30

Waller has come across a string of injuries lately in his career, and now at age 30, it doesn’t appear like this trend will end. Waller only averaged 9.9 points per game, which is not very impressive, and he only played in four games between Week One and the fantasy playoffs. Injuries should rarely be incorporated when grading a player’s season, as they are truly unpredictable. But in Waller’s case, it’s even more painful to be let down in a position as dangerously shallow as tight end. Waller simply hasn’t looked like himself, and now his future is uncertain as Derek Carr is on his way out.  


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