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Fantasy Football’s most talked about players and what they can do with them in the 2022 drafts

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In every season of fantasy football, there are some particularly polarizing players. These players have the ceiling of a league winner, but a floor that offers the opportunity to drag a team down for several weeks before the manager finally gives them up. They are the men we line up with equally high levels of excitement and fear, and to some extent they are the reason this game is so exciting. Let’s take a closer look at some of these polarizing players.

Reasons to draft Lance: Blessed with groundbreaking haste, Lance has the potential to become a dual-threat fantasy star in the vein of Lamar Jackson or Kyler Murray. The 22-year-old is also fortunate to be surrounded by an excellent attacking coach in Kyle Shanahan and some groundbreaking skills, such as Deebo Samuel and George Kittle. The fact that the 49ers traded to make him No. 3 overall in 2021, despite only seeing him play one game in his final NCAA season, is testament to his huge advantage.

Reasons to Avoid Lance: The 22-year-old presents a difficult combination of youth and inexperience, having started just two games in his rookie year. He completed 58 percent of his passes last season and will need to improve that percentage to be considered a top-tier NFL QB. And while Shanahan is an offensive guru, he’s also a big fan of running and could choose to bring Lance to the NFL by shifting the offensive focus to his stable of ball-carriers.

final verdict: In standard competitions, I’m very excited to field Lance for his Yahoo ADP of QB13. The youngster can be a competition winner rushing 1,000 meters, and if he falls flat on his face, I can stream distance wire QBs that have attractive upcoming matchups. In Superflex competitions, the lack of substitution options makes me a little hesitant to draft Lance.

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Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Dallas Cowboys

Reasons for Elliott. to draft: Elliott has been very prolific during his six-year career, averaging just over 1600 yards and 11 TDs per season. He proved his toughness by playing in every match while dealt with a partially ruptured PCL last year and should be back to full strength by 2022. Elliott is also on a contract that is almost certain to feature prominently, and since he recently turned 27, he should have at least a few more productive seasons to enjoy. Finally, the Ohio State alum is part of a team that led the NFL in points scored a year ago.

Reasons to Avoid Elliott: Zeke may not be the best running back to the Cowboys. Tony Pollard was dynamic as he had chances last season, averaging 5.5 yards per carry and 8.6 yards per reception. Dallas looked much better on offense in 2021 when Pollard was on the field, and with a lack of WR depth to open this season, the coaching staff may have to rely on Pollard’s groundbreaking skills more than ever before.

final verdict: I usually give the benefit of the doubt to players with strong financial ties to their team, but I love Elliott. Sometimes we see superstar backs fading fast, and I honestly believe the team would be better off if Pollard got the most carries. Currently tagged with a Yahoo ADP of 30th overall, Zeke will likely be a failure.

Will a healthy Ezekiel Elliott be able to return to fantasy stardom this season?  (Photo by Josh Lefkowitz/Getty Images)

Will a healthy Ezekiel Elliott be able to return to fantasy stardom this season? (Photo by Josh Lefkowitz/Getty Images)

Saquon Barkley, RB, New York Giants

Reasons to draft Barkley: The Penn State alum entered the NFL in 2018 as a generational talent before racking up over 2,000 yards in his rookie year. He was also outstanding in his second season, leaving fantasy managers fixated on an upside level that few players in any position can match. Giants newest head coach Brian Daboll is known for getting the most out of his attacking players.

Reasons to Avoid BarkleyBarkley suffered a torn ACL in Week 2 of the 2020 season and didn’t look the same as the same player last year (593 yards, 3.7 yards per carry), leading some managers to worry that he might be in pre-surgery form would never get it back. And while Daboll is certainly a good attacking coach, it may be asking too much of him to immediately make a productive attack with QB Daniel Jones and a troubled group of pass catchers.

final verdict: Yahoo drafters have been cautious about Barkley until now, taking 13 other RBs before finally giving his name. I recognize the flip side of the 25-year-old, but I’m happy to put him in the top 10 RBs for 2022 draws and add him to my team in Round 2.

Michael Thomas, WR, New Orleans Saints

Reasons to draft Thomas: While working with Drew Brees, Thomas went to rare heights for a WR, averaging 126 catches and 1,458 yards per year over three seasons of 2017-19. At 29, he is still young enough to recover from an ankle injury that has sidelined him for the past two seasons.

Reasons to avoid Thomas: Thomas has no history with current Saints QB Jameis Winston, who is coming back from a torn ACL he sustained midway through last season. And while the Ohio State alum was the alpha in the Saints passing game for several years, he will now have to battle for first-round goals with Chris Olave, veteran Jarvis Landry and pass-catching RB Alvin Kamara. By mid-season, there can be whispers that Olave is better than the current version of Thomas.

final verdict: I usually love Thomas, but I have to admit that Yahoo executives have probably found the sweet spot with his concept value. The veteran is drafted in the range of the 85th overall, which makes him about WR30. I see him as a solid option as a WR3, especially in leagues where the waiver is on par with potential substitutions.

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Gabriel Davis, WR, Buffalo Bills

Reasons to draft Davis: Well, most of the reasons came on Jan. 23, 2022. In a primetime playoff game, Davis showed potential few WRs can match when he produced 201 yards and four TDs against the Chiefs. Prior to that match, the 2020 fourth round pick had created great playing potential by racking up a total of 13 TDs over two seasons, despite being given minimal chances.

Reasons to Avoid Davis: Rookies aside, the 23-year-old has one of the shortest resumes of anyone currently lined up in the top 100 picks. And while his potential is undeniable, Davis and everyone else in Buffalo’s charge must line up behind target monster Stefon Diggs.

Final verdict: I will probably end up with few Davis shares this season, although I have no problem with those selecting him near his current Yahoo ADP of 74th overall. I prefer JuJu Smith-Schuster, who will be selected in the same suit, but Davis is one of my best options when Smith-Schuster is no longer available.

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