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2022 Dynasty Fantasy Football Summer Sleeper: Atlanta Falcons

Our Summer Sleeper series beings with a potential veteran target in Atlanta.

In our annual 32-part Summer Sleeper series, DLF scribes identify a lightly-touted player on each NFL roster who may be worthy of your consideration. Our subjects all have varying levels of “sleeperness,” but each merits a bit of in-depth discussion.

To help everybody along, we are going to be categorizing our sleepers under one of three headings:

  • Super Deep Sleepers – Players who aren’t roster-worthy in 12-team leagues, but are still worth keeping an eye on.
  • Deep Sleepers – An end-of-the-roster player who is more often than not on the waiver wire in 12-team leagues.
  • Sleeper – A likely rostered player who makes for a good trade target. Their startup ADP puts them out of the top 175 or so.

Because we aren’t going to give you mainstream sleepers, most of these players will undoubtedly fizzle. All we are asking is for you to keep an open mind and perhaps be willing to make room for one of these players on your bench. You never know when the next James Robinson is going to spring up. Feel free to add your own thoughts about our choice for the designated sleeper, or nominate one of your own in the comments below.

The Atlanta Falcons aren’t exactly a hotbed of fantasy stardom for 2022, outside of the two budding young stars in Kyle Pitts and Drake London. There is some potential for some veterans to flash fantasy relevancy in Cordarrelle Patterson, who is returning following a breakout 2021 season, and Marcus Mariota, who is getting an opportunity to rekindle his career after several years as a backup with Tennesse and Las Vegas. Situations with few reliable fantasy options can be great places to find sleepers. Should somebody carve out a role alongside the young stars, they could easily see the volume to be a reliable fantasy starter.

While I was tempted to highlight Desmond Ridder, who could break out as a rookie starter, I wanted to dig deeper to find my sleeper.

Auden Tate, WR

Category: Deep Sleeper

Production

Coming out of Florida State, Tate wasn’t a hyped NFL Draft prospect. However, he was undoubtedly intriguing as a six-foot-five receiver with a proven ability to be a red-zone weapon. He produced in flashes and scored an impressive number of touches. However, he did not command the type of volume you would expect from a fantasy-relevant player at the next level.

Statistics from Sports Reference.

Tate wasn’t an elite prospect. He landed with the Bengals, which was somewhat of a blessing. A receiver room boasting Tyler Boyd, aging AJ Green, and often injured John Ross allowed Tate to contribute and carve out a depth role. Furthermore, Tate contributed to special teams, playing 43 snaps there in his rookie season.

Statistics from Pro Football Reference.

In his second season with the Bengals, Tate made the most of an injury to Green as he deputized to impressive effect, commanding 80 targets across the 12 games he played. During that season, he put up an eight-week stretch where he finished as a top 50 receiver each week and averaged 10.83 points per game.

That eight-game stretch is what has been building the hope for Tate to finally secure an opportunity to see a more significant target share. Having originally been blocked by Green and then Tee Higgins, Tate could finally be finding a chance in a new environment after signing with the Falcons as a free agent.

Depth Chart

The Falcons’ depth chart isn’t exactly loaded. With Calvin Ridley suspended for the entirety of the upcoming season, the wide receiver room is headed up with 2022 first-round pick Drake London. After him, there is former dynasty darling Bryan Edwards – acquired in a trade from the Raiders before the draft. Outside of that, you have several journeyman options in KhaDarel Hodge, Damiere Byrd, and Olamide Zaccheaus. Zaccheaus is likely to play primarily out of the slot alongside London, being used intermittently.

This means our sleeper Tate is competing with Edwards for a role on the outside. If Edwards struggles as he has in his career to date, you could easily see a scenario where Tate runs with the first team and sees a 75% snap share. If he does that, a 10-15% target share is within the realm of outcomes and, would bring with it fantasy relevancy.

Contract

Tate signed a one-year deal with the Falcons for the veteran minimum. If you believe in following the money, it doesn’t precisely point towards a potential breakout season. However, The Falcons were and still are in cap hell. Every receiver on the team is either on a rookie contract or the veteran’s minimum except Zaccheus, who is playing on a one-year $2.43m deal. Tate has the opportunity to cash in this off-season should he carve out a competent role in Atlanta.

Challenges

The biggest challenge Tate faces is the expected limited Falcons offense. Despite possessing some exciting pieces in London, Pitts, and Patterson, the Falcons are expected to struggle in 2022. Their Vegas over/under is set at 4.5 wins, not exactly a great sign for a potent offense of fantasy brilliance. If the Falcons struggle as most expect, can we really expect them to produce multiple fantasy-relevant players? They have a lot invested in Pitts and London working out, so they will see significant volumes. After that, I’m concerned there wouldn’t be enough volume left to be great.

Conclusion

A wide receiver can usually be a challenging position to find sleepers. At the end of the season, what looks like a decent season can often be tricky to predict, and you find you started the player in dud weeks and consistently watched them go off on your bench. However, with the distinct lack of established receiving options in Atlanta, it is easy to see a path to a world where Tate could command a target share to make him a flex conversation in deeper leagues. Add in his bigger body frame and proven success as a red-zone weapon in college. It’s enough to get intrigued. He may never become a reliable starter, but he’ll likely show enough to be able to flip it for a profit in a worst-case scenario.

Currently going undrafted in DLF June ADP, there is a chance that you could even grab Tate of some waiver wires in shallower leagues.

2022 Dynasty Fantasy Football Summer Sleeper: Atlanta Falcons
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Chad Gorick
1 month ago

Thanks Richard, 12 Team 1QB league with an open roster spot after a trade. Snagged him for a $0 bid off waivers, go Team Tate! You never know.

Mark Boutot
1 month ago

I had liked Tate early on (in late ’18 into ’19) as a deep sleeper with his size being the biggest selling point but for whatever reason he was not able to carve out more of a role for himself. Maybe in Atlanta he will be able to do just that. However, as Richard stated, the Falcons’ offense will most likely hold him back now for awhile. With shares of Pitts, Tate won’t be an option for me but since he costs absolutely nothing, he’s worth a flyer if for no other reason than to flip later for a pick or depth piece as a roster is built.

Appreciative Reader
1 month ago

His name has been nagging at me from the waiver wire over the last month in my leagues. If I had one spot to speculate with I would take a chance to see if there’s anything here in the early going. I agree that his path to production is so limited in this situation, but I could see him potentially emerge as a trusted target if the passing game is working well. I expect their defense will give up favorable game scripts.

Last edited 1 month ago by Appreciative Reader
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