Most managers will head into 2022 fantasy football drafts looking to nab one of the top-tier wide receivers. While there's nothing wrong with that, savvy drafters will identify potential breakout candidates they can target later on in order to prioritize premium skill-position talent. If these dark horses pan out, it can have league-changing implications.
With that in mind, here are three breakout wide receivers to consider in fantasy drafts this year.
Breakout WRs 2022
1. Christian Kirk (ADP: WR42)
Did the Jacksonville Jaguars give way too much money to Christian Kirk in free agency? Yes, but he is still set up perfectly to shine as the team's go-to slot receiver. Kirk tallied 982 yards and 5 touchdowns on 77 receptions last season, which led to a WR26 finish in PPR-scoring fantasy leagues. While going from Kyler Murray to Trevor Lawrence may be seen as downgrade, Kirk is smack dab in the middle of an offense that is set up to pass the ball a ton in 2022. In his five years leading the Philadelphia Eagles, Doug Pederson's team finished in the top-10 in terms of passing attempts three times. Lawrence also ranked seventh among QBs with 602 passing attempts in 2021. Kirk's 74.5% catch rate ranked eight among wide receivers last year and his 9.5 yards per targets ranked 18th. He is a lock to see over 100 targets and could easily cross the 100-catch mark in the best case scenario. He's a borderline WR2 being drafted a a WR4. Take advantage of that.
2. Darnell Mooney (ADP: WR27)
Opportunity and volume have always reigned supreme in fantasy football. That's what Darnell Mooney brings to the table in 2022 after a small breakout season in 2021. The Chicago Bears star finished as the WR23 in PPR-scoring leagues thanks to 81 receptions, 1,055 yards and 4 touchdowns. He was only truly capitalizing on his talent over the second half of the season, though. In fact, Mooney finished ninth among WRs in target share (27%) and fifth in route participation (95%) across the final four weeks. Another offseason training with quarterback Justin Fields combined with Chicago's lack of WR depth should cause his target share to increase as soon as the offense steps on the field in Week 1. Reports have claimed head coach Matt Eberflus wants to lean on the pass more often than the Bears have in the past. If that turns out to be true, Mooney could end up as a WR1 when all is said and done.
3. Courtland Sutton (ADP: WR22)
The quarterback upgrade in Denver changes everything for wide receiver Courtland Sutton. Following a lost 2020 season due to a torn ACL, Sutton was a boom-or-bust WR2 for most of the 2021 season with subpar QBs throwing his way. With Russell Wilson in town, Sutton's ceiling skyrockets to that of a potential WR1. The veteran signal-caller has shown he can support a top WR in the past given the huge seasons DK Metcalf, Tyler Lockett and Doug Baldwin have all had. What makes this pairing even better is each player's tendency to thrive near the end zone. Sutton led the Broncos in red zone targets in 2021 and a Seattle WR has finished top-five in red zone targets in each of the last three seasons. Seeing Wilson look Sutton's way time and time again on an offense that should get past midfield quite a lot would not be surprising at all. Sutton is in line to crush expectations this fall.
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Larry Rupp is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Larry Rupp also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username phillyfan424. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in their articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.