Fantasy football success can come down to a total roll of the dice. Your first-round pick tears his ACL in the preseason, your QB can’t put up more than 10 points and you never seem to start the right player at your flex position. Happens to us all, or maybe just me.
For every player that is in your lineup or your opponent’s lineup, you should have a counter ready. It is hard to have an upper hand on someone who has a healthier lineup or one that is built like a mega-team, but rostering these players may make your fantasy football life just a little easier and could get you off to a hot start:
Travis Etienne, RB – Jacksonville Jaguars
Etienne did not play a single snap in his rookie season due to a Lisfranc injury in his foot but he has since recovered and will be ready to start the regular season. Etienne’s recovery is important because the Achilles injury to his would-be RB companion, James Robinson, is more severe than it was thought to be. Robinson could miss major time and the team is in no rush to force him back since Etienne was a first-round pick that the team invested in, so he will get plenty of run. On Sleeper, Etienne is being drafted as the RB19.
Travis Etienne is now my RB 15 in my latest rankings update
📈 Alvin Kamara receiving upside
📈 No healthy James Robinson to start the year
📈 The Jaguars offense has one of the easiest fantasy strength of schedules this season
— Luke Sawhook 🪚🪝 (@lukesawhook) June 28, 2022
Russell Gage, WR – Tampa Bay Bucs
Gage signed with Tampa Bay in the offseason after four seasons in Atlanta that all fall somewhere between poor and mediocre. From 2018-2021, Gage played mostly as the WR3 behind Calvin Ridley and Julio Jones. Even with Jones gone in 2021 and Ridley only playing in five games, Gage saw less than 100 targets while bringing in 66 passes for 770 yards and four touchdowns which matched a career-high. In Tampa, Gage could earn a spot to serve as the WR2 with Chris Godwin being out for the first month or more of the season. Mike Evans will obviously see more targets, but he will also command more pressure from opposing defenses. Gage has tons of value right now and that will only rise as his connection to the ever-reliable Tom Brady grows. Gage is currently being drafted as the WR44.
Irv Smith, TE – Minnesota Vikings
Yes, Smith has never had a top-20 fantasy season. This year will be very different as the Vikings have moved on from Kyle Rudolph and Tyler Conklin within the past two seasons. For his first two seasons in the league, Smith never saw more than 50 targets. Without Rudolph in 2020, Smith put up top-5 TE numbers. The Vikings throw the ball a lot (11th in pass attempts in 2021) but sources have said that number will only rise in 2022.
In the 4 games without Kyle Rudolph in the lineup in 2020 Irv Smith Jr. averaged 12.8 FPPG.
That PPG average would have ranked 4th on the season. No Kyle Rudolph or Tyler Conklin this year.
It's Irv Smith Jr. SZN. pic.twitter.com/VWB1FSXiEf
— Nick Penticoff (@NickPenticoff) June 27, 2022
DJ Chark, WR – Detroit Lions
Chark is coming off of a major ankle injury that limited him to only four games last season in Jacksonville. This offseason, Chark decided to not come back to the Jags and signed a one-year, $10 million contract to play in Detroit where for a few months, Chark was all but guaranteed to be the WR1. The Lions did end up selecting Jameson Williams with the #12 pick in the 2022 draft, but his ACL injury suffered in the National Championship game will likely keep him out for a few regular-season games. Chark has shown in the past what he is capable of as a primary target, finishing as WR17 back in 2019. Chark is currently being drafted as WR64.
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