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Fantasy Football 2022 Breakouts: Travis Etienne, Gabriel Davis Headline Next Generation

These fantasy players are taking it to the next level in the 2022 NFL season.

After researching all 32 teams over the past two months, it’s time to find some hidden gems. So here’s a look at my top fantasy breakouts for 2022:

QB Tua Tagovailoa, Miami Dolphins
When looking for a potential breakout quarterback, I’m looking for a player with a high ceiling who ranks as a backup option in this year’s drafts. Tua Tagovailoa failed to make an impact over his first two seasons with Miami, but the Dolphins gave him an explosive top-tier WR1 (Tyreek Hill) over the winter. As a result, he now leads an offense with three excellent receiving options (Jaylen Waddle and Mike Gesicki) plus a viable pass-catching back (Chase Edmonds). When adding Cedrick Wilson at wideout, Tagovailoa has the tools to outperform his price point in a big way in 2022. He is on a path to being a cheat QB1.

RB Travis Etienne, Jacksonville Jaguars
Despite missing last season, Travis Etienne continues to rise in fantasy drafts over the summer. The Jaguars made a change at head coach, helping the structure of their offense and the growth of Trevor Lawrence. Jacksonville doesn’t expect James Robinson to be ready for training camp, allowing Etienne a chance to seize the bulk of snaps entering Week 1. He has beast upside in the passing game with scoring and big-play ability. Etienne isn’t a player to finesse in 2022 while ranking 17th in the early draft season at running back. My first set of projections will be out this week, so check back at SI Sportsbook to see where he sits in the early rankings.

RB Antonio Gibson, Washington Commanders
Based on the July ranking at the National Fantasy Football Championships, fantasy drafters are sleeping at the wheel with the value of Antonio Gibson. He projects as a back-end RB2 despite bringing a high volume floor with value in scoring, yards, and catches. He has 21 scores over his first 30 games with 2,371 yards and 78 catches. I view him as an RB1 and will fight for him in drafts.

WR Gabriel Davis, Buffalo Bills
Over the summer, Gabriel Davis has been a lightning rod for debates about his 2022 expected value. He ranks as borderline WR2 in PPR leagues while delivering rotational stats over his first two seasons (35/599/7 and 35/549/6). The Bills led the NFL in wide receiver targets (443) last year, giving Davis an excellent chance at a much more significant role in 2022. He has a home run hitter feel, and Josh Allen looks for him in the end zone when they are close to scoring. Buffalo seems poised to make a run at a Super Bowl title with the talent lead ranking highly in yards and scoring. Davis will become fantasy-relevant in his third year in the league.

WR Chase Claypool, Pittsburgh Steelers
According to Chase Claypool, the best receiver in the world is the man himself. The retirement of Ben Roethlisberger invites a change in the offensive plan for the Steelers in 2022. His production over his first two seasons (62/873/9 and 59/860/2) fell in a tight range except for scoring, leading to the 23rd and 37th ranking in fantasy scoring in PPR formats. Despite a reasonable starting point, Claypool has a have-not ADP (106) in the early draft season as the 47th wide receiver. His size (6’4” and 240 lbs.) creates mismatches, but he still needs to improve his route running and opportunities over the short areas of the field. His scoring upside bodes well, and Claypool will outperform his WR4 status.

WR Amari Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
In July, the press and momentum haven’t been high enough for Amari Rodgers to creep onto fantasy drafter’s cheat sheets in 12-team leagues. However, there is an excellent opportunity for a wide receiver in the Packers’ offense after losing Davante Adams. Rodgers only caught four passes for 45 yards on eight targets in his rookie season after getting drafted in the third round in 2021. He projects as a slot receiver, inviting sneaky 100-catch upside if the stars align. Green Bay needs someone to step up at wideout, and Rodgers is the name I’ll be following over the next two months.

TE Cole Kmet, Chicago Bears
The Bears enter this season with questions at wide receiver behind Darnell Mooney, creating growth in chances for Kmet in his third season in the NFL. He pushed his output to 60 catches for 612 yards on 93 targets last season, but no touchdowns lowered his value in the tight end rankings. Chicago wants to run the ball, leading to below-par passing attempts. Cole Kmet should be considered their second option in the Bears’ passing game. I expect him to be a top-six tight end in 2022 while ranking 13th in July in the high-stakes market. 

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