2022 Dynasty Fantasy Football Summer Sleeper: Green Bay Packers

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 the likes of 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 Adam Thielen or 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 Packers are an interesting team for dynasty purposes. They recently re-signed longtime star quarterback Aaron Rodgers to a contract extension, locking him in for the next few years. Unless Rodgers retires, he will likely play long enough for the Packers to force 2020 first-rounder Jordan Love to join another team instead of becoming the Packers’ starter.

Of course, Rodgers’s presence is a boon for every one of the Packers’ offensive weapons. I wouldn’t be interested in any sleepers on this roster if Love were the quarterback, but we know that Rodgers has a history of supporting multiple fantasy weapons. I’m lower on him than consensus, and I’m not confident he’s the next Tom Brady in terms of longevity. However, he should have at least two to three years of solid play left.

Unfortunately, finding a sleeper on the Packers is somewhat tricky. Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon have a stranglehold on the running back room, as other running backs saw only 33 total carries in 2021. I doubt Kylin Hill or Patrick Taylor does anything to break into the lineup, especially as Dillon grows into an even larger share of carries in year three.

Therefore, the Packers’ sleeper must come from the receiving group, one of the NFL’s weakest groups. They traded alpha wide receiver Davante Adams to the Raiders earlier this off-season, leaving a massive target vacuum. Adams had 123 receptions on 169 targets for 1,553 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2021, dominating the offense. Jones finished second on the team with 52 catches on 65 targets, and no wide receiver truly contributed in more than a depth role.

Allen Lazard was the Packers’ WR2 last season, putting up 40 receptions on 60 targets for 513 yards and eight touchdowns. While Lazard may step into a more prominent role, I don’t think he’s a very talented player, and he’s overvalued at his DLF June ADP of WR56 and 120 overall. But he’s the only player on the entire offense with a substantial guaranteed role for the 2022 season.

Beyond Lazard, the Packers have a messy collection of weapons. They drafted Christian Watson in the second round, but he’s not a sleeper and may represent somewhat of a long-term project. They also have 2021 third-rounder Amari Rodgers and rookies Romeo Doubs and Samori Toure to provide youth on their depth chart. Somehow, they still have Randall Cobb on the roster and journeyman veteran Sammy Watkins. It’s challenging to pick out one wide receiver from that group, although Doubs would be my choice at his price.

However, I think the tight end position is where to find the best sleeper on the Packers. But I expect you’ll be surprised at the name I chose once you read further. So let’s jump into it!

Josiah Deguara, TE

Category: Super Deep Sleeper

I bet you probably thought you’d see Robert Tonyan’s name here, but I don’t like his price whatsoever. He’s the TE20 and 182.17 overall in DLF’s June ADP data, which seems like a reasonable price. However, I rank him significantly lower, at TE26 and 199 overall.

Looking at Tonyan’s career, I don’t understand why dynasty managers have much faith in him.

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Chart courtesy of Pro Football Reference.

He started his college career as a quarterback before converting to wide receiver. After the 2017 NFL Draft, the Lions signed him as an undrafted free agent, and they converted him to a tight end. However, he never saw any playing time for the Lions, as they released him before the 2017 season. The Packers then signed him to their practice squad, where he remained throughout 2017.

In 2018, he entered the offense in a depth role, although he barely saw any playing time behind free-agent signing Jimmy Graham. That limited role continued in 2019, as even an aging Graham dominated targets at the tight end position. However, in 2020, Tonyan became the Packers’ starting tight end after Graham signed with the Bears.

Tonyan’s 2020 season is one of the oddest fantasy seasons ever. He only had 59 targets, fewer than Graham had in either 2018 or 2019. But he converted those looks into 52 receptions, 586 yards, and 11 touchdowns. Somehow, he caught 88.1% of his targets and scored a touchdown on over 20% of his receptions, which isn’t sustainable. He was only fourth on the Packers in targets, but he finished as the TE3 behind his touchdowns.

Before Tonyan’s magical 2020 season, the Packers drafted Deguara in the third round of the 2020 NFL Draft. He played college football at Cincinnati, where he had some intriguing receiving production.

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Chart courtesy of Sports Reference CFB.

He did almost nothing in his first three collegiate seasons but broke out in 2018. Desmond Ridder unlocked the Cincinnati offense, and Deguara capitalized. He became the second receiving weapon behind Khalil Lewis, finishing second in receptions and touchdowns and third in receiving yards.

Then in 2019, Deguara moved forward yet another step. He led the team in receptions and touchdowns, rare for any college tight end. 2022 second-rounder Alec Pierce led the team in receiving yards, but Deguara still impressed, giving him momentum entering the NFL. Unfortunately, he saw almost no playing time in his 2020 rookie season, as Jace Sternberger and veteran Marcedes Lewis took most of the reps behind Tonyan. He also suffered a torn ACL in week five, ruling him out for the rest of 2020.

But heading into 2021, Deguara arrived at camp fully recovered, eventually pushing Sternberger off the roster. He saw a consistent but limited depth role throughout the first eight weeks, although he didn’t produce much in the receiving game. However, Tonyan tore his ACL in week eight, opening the door for Deguara.

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Chart courtesy of DLF Player Splits App.

Deguara’s numbers after Tonyan’s injury were nothing special, but they are solid for a second-year developing tight end. He recorded 21 receptions on 29 targets for 217 yards and two touchdowns in the nine games Tonyan missed, representing a decent nine-game stretch. Additionally, the Packers gave him more playing time over the back half of the season.

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Chart courtesy of DLF Snap Count App.

He saw around 55% of snaps from weeks 14-16, earning trust from Rodgers and the Packers’ coaching staff. I’m not saying that Deguara had a monster 2021 season, but considering he was a raw prospect coming into the NFL, he had a good season.

Heading into 2022, it’s unclear why dynasty managers have so much confidence in Tonyan to lead the Packers’ tight end room. The Packers only gave him a one-year deal worth $3.75 million with just $1 million guaranteed. They clearly aren’t fully confident in his ACL recovery, as they left themselves a way out of most of his money this season and failed to make any long-term commitment to him.

Therefore, I don’t see when I would pay the price to acquire Tonyan in startup drafts when I could draft Deguara with my last pick. Deguara doesn’t have an ADP in June’s data, and he’s only appeared in DLF’s ADP three times throughout his career. Take him as a flier, especially in tight-end premium leagues.

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2022 Dynasty Fantasy Football Summer Sleeper: Green Bay Packers