PER rating is a simple comparative metric we created to help better evaluate players for fantasy football. The rating is a player’s per game fantasy production if they saw an average starting workload. (A more detailed description of the metric can be found here.) The stat helps push lesser known players forward who would be productive fantasy-wise if they saw increased work.
I’ve found PER rating to be an extremely helpful tool as I build out my 2022 draft strategy, especially once you get into the later rounds. These are the dart throws that if you hit, could turn your roster from contender to champion. And who doesn’t want that?
Here are five of my favorite targets for 2022 because of the potential their PER rating displays. I’m also including their current Underdog ADP so you know where in drafts these players are going.
WR Gabriel Davis (12.0 PER, ADP: WR22, pick 43)
The hype surrounding Gabe Davis this year in fantasy is real and you’re going to have to pay up to get him. He’s going as a WR2 despite finishing WR53 in .5PPR last year. However, there’s good reason the community is so high on the Bills’ new No. 2 wide receiver.
Davis has finished with at least 500 yards catching and 6 touchdowns every season in his 2 year career despite only starting 15 games. That kind of production running as Buffalo’s third, or fourth, or even fifth option is certainly worth noting. His 2021 PER gives you a taste of what Davis can do with a starting workload. He finished top 10 at wide receiver, ahead of Davante Adams and Justin Jefferson (to name a few).
This off-season, the Bills moved on from Cole Beasley and Emmanuel Sanders, opening up 184 targets in this offense. An offense that finished last year top 5 in our NEFF rating and is projected to finish top 3 this year. Basically, this offense is going to score points. And an already efficient Davis stepping into a larger target share can only spell good things for his fantasy production in 2022.
QB Trey Lance (17.0 PER, ADP: QB7, pick 72)
Lance finished the QB3 in PER last year, falling just behind Jameis Winston and Aaron Rodgers. What makes Lance so tantalizing for fantasy is his already elite rushing floor.
Between his two starts last year, Lance ran the ball 24 times for 120 yards. In one of those starts he ran the ball 16 times. I mention this because since 1975, only four other quarterbacks have had a game in which they’ve carried the ball 16+ times: Lamar Jackson (who’s done it 14 times and is an alien), Jalen Hurts (2), Cam Newton (1), and Tim Tebow (1). Lance also finished top 5 in non-passing fantasy points per game (npFPPG) proving once again how elite his presence on the ground is.
Regardless of how Lance does throwing the football, his rushing floor should always keep him in QB1 contention any given week. And let’s not pretend like Trey Lance can’t throw the football:
Lance with a DIME to Aiyuk 🎯
Think this is a connection we’ll be seeing a lot of this year. pic.twitter.com/3F0WGLVtC6
— NerdBall Fantasy Football (@nerdballff) July 31, 2022
With Lance oozing potential and going at the end of the 6th round, he’s a favorite QB target for me this year.
RB Nyheim Hines (14.5 PER, ADP: RB44, pick 134)
Now we start getting into the real late-round targets. Hines has flashed fantasy potential game-to-game, but hasn’t been able to put together a full solid season. Last year he finished RB53 in .5PPR, averaging 5.5 points per game. That’s a far cry from the 14.5 he’d average based on his PER rating.
For running backs, PER is equalized over 15 touches—roughly what a starting running back averages. Hines is not going to see 15 touches this season. We can safely assume that. However, what Hines’ PER does show us is that his role in the offense is filled with fantasy potential. After all, he ranked 9th among running backs, ahead of teammate Jonathan Taylor last year.
There is a lot of buzz coming out of Colts’ camp about the fifth-year back. Both head coach Frank Reich and OC Marcus Brady have talked about Hines’ playmaking ability and an increased role in the passing game this year. With more touches coming for Hines this year—and with a quarterback in Matt Ryan who isn’t afraid to utilize his backs in the passing game—Hines is a great candidate to outperform his ADP and be a reliable bench player for fantasy managers.
Oh, and if Taylor ever missed time, Hines would rocket into fringe RB1 territory. Not a bad handcuff with stand-alone value to have already on roster.
TE Albert Okwuegbunam (8.9 PER, ADP: TE14, pick 139)
We all know Russell Wilson utilizes his tight ends. He did it throughout his career in Seattle and turned many a no-namer into a must-add fantasy commodity. What’s intriguing about Albert O is that he’s demonstrated fantasy potential—and real football potential—without Wilson and not even as the Broncos’ TE1.
Among tight ends last year, Okwuegbunam finished 5th in yards per route run (1.94, tied with Rob Gronkowski) and ranked 18th in PFF’s receiving grade. Noah Fant meanwhile, Denver’s TE1 at the time, graded as PFF’s TE27 and he finished with 1.52 Y/RR. Albert O also finished above Fant in PER rating, 8.9 to 8.3. (He also finished above Kyle Pitts, Zach Ertz, and Darren Waller just for good measure.)
A young tight end with Albert O’s receiving chops, stepping into a starting role, with the best quarterback of his career, is a recipe for success. If you want to wait on tight end and stream the position, Okwuegbunam is the perfect dart throw to take late in drafts. He costs you nothing and could seriously have top-5 TE fantasy upside.
WR K.J. Osborn (11.3 PER, ADP: WR64, pick 139)
Osborn might be my favorite target to take at the end of drafts. The fact that Osborn finished the WR38 last year in .5PPR and I can draft him way back as the WR64 is music to my ears. The Vikings’ third wide receiver had a slight breakout last year, finishing with 655 yards and 7 touchdowns on 50 catches. That’s impressive numbers for a player who wasn’t on the field all that often.
According to Sharp Football Analysis, the Vikings ran 11 personnel the 5th fewest in the league last year. That means they ran with three wide receivers on the field on only 47% of their plays. Unsurprisingly, they ran 21 personnel—2 WR, 2 RB, 1 TE—the 5th most in the league. Osborn wasn’t being heavily utilized, or even seeing the field much, in Mike Zimmer’s antiquated offense. Yet he still managed to put up fringe WR3 numbers in fantasy.
Enter new head coach Kevin O’Connell.
O’Connell comes from the Sean McVay line of coaching. You know which personnel package the Rams use almost constantly? Eleven. In 2022, Osborn is going to be seeing the field a whole lot more. And as you can guess with a PER rating that ranked him 15th among receivers last year, the more Osborn plays, the more fantasy points he’s going to get you. Like I said, I’m making sure to leave most all my drafts with Osborn on my roster.