2022 Fantasy Football: Travis Etienne, Rashod Bateman Among the Best Concepts

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It’s hard to find a good price these days. Gasoline prices are ridiculously high. It cost thousands for a rusty used car with three wheels and a half engine. You need a loan to order crab legs.

But thankfully, finally, with great anticipation, football is back. And that includes fantasy drawings. And no matter how high inflation gets, you can always find a bargain in the design.

Now, to be fair, that doesn’t mean there’s always a Cooper Kupp-esque bargain – a fourth-round player leading the entire league in PPR scores. But routinely there are guys like last year’s Deebo Samuel or Hunter Renfrow or Leonard Fournette.

You don’t always get them at yard sale prices, but any discount is a good discount. We’ve narrowed down some early favorite picks, though they may not stay that way if their draft stock rises as fast as interest rates.

Because you can find quality quarterbacks so late, even in 12-team leagues, and because the rest of the time you should never take a defense/special teams or a kicker for the last few rounds, these picks focus on Flex options.

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Backfield Bandits

We fear this won’t last long, but we really like the current fourth round asking price for Jaguars Travis Etienne Jr. declines. He is eluding people as the 2021 first round roster missed last season with a Lisfranc injury. In addition, James Robinson remains on the roster and was not put on the PUP list to start the camp.

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But Robinson tore his Achilles tendon in December. We fear that if he rushes back and the season actually starts, he will either be at risk for another injury or be minimally productive. If his progress stalls, it means Etienne will have a solid chance to hold the job at RB1 firmly to start the season, and he has a history with QB Trevor Lawrence since their time together at Clemson.

Trevor Lawrence and Travis Etienne after the Hall of Fame Game.
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And with the dystopian nightmare that was last season’s Urban Meyer fiasco, we expect significant improvement from the Jags overall.

Although more expensive, Saquon Barkley is a leading label. He has had a few seasons with injuries and there is certainly a risk of another. But his advantage is top notch, and with a possibility of a late second round, they aren’t quite clearance prizes, but they are well worth the gamble.

Don’t forget Devin Singletary. He took over the backfield from Bills last season and despite the drafting of James Cook we expect him to retain control. A seventh round pick is a bargain we’re looking for to shake off Josh Allen’s touchdown stinginess.

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Question & recipient

Perhaps our favorite pick so far this draft season is an unproven receiver on a heavy attack with a QB more known for running than passing. But the Ravens’ WR depth is so shallow that Rashod Bateman has little competition to be the top target outside of tight end Mark Andrews.

We love what Bateman can do on the pitch and we expect plenty of opportunities. So an eighth round pick for someone who could potentially compete as WR2 if he proves himself after the first few weeks? Sure!

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Ravens wide receiver Rashod Bateman trains during the team's NFL camp training session at M&T Stadium, Saturday, July 30, 2022, in Baltimore.
Ravens wide receiver Rashod Bateman trains during training camp.
TNZT

Michael Pittman Jr. had a nice second season, and that was with Carson Wentz at QB. We don’t like Matt Ryan, but we do consider it an upgrade. So with another year of experience, a better QB, an O-line that should give Ryan time to throw and a strong run game anchored in the consensus, top fantasy chooses Jonathan Taylor, and you’ve got a nice WR option late in the fourth round.

End of the line

We know that Tom Brady loved Rob Gronkowski. And we know Chris Godwin is recovering from an ACL injury at the end of the season. And we don’t know if new recruit Julio Jones has anything left. And we don’t expect Russell Gage to pick up all the slack behind Mike Evans.

That leads us to the tight ends of the Bucs. Sure they added Kyle Rudolph, but we like Cameron Brate better. He’s a goal magnet in the red zone when he’s on the pitch, and he should be getting more snaps and goals this season.

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