The 2022 NFL Season kicks off in less that two weeks. As we’ve made our way through pre-season we’ve seen a lot of players whose stock has risen and fallen. Last week I looked at a few players whose stock has taken a hit. Today, I’m looking at eight rookies that are worth stashing even if they don’t have a guaranteed role this season. Most dynasty leagues have really deep rosters or, better yet, a Taxi Squad. These are guys that you should be depositing there and hoping to see some explosion this season. On to the Stock Watch!
Desmond Ridder, Atlanta Falcons
About: Ridder was taken in the Third Round but landed with the Atlanta Falcons. The Falcons are in the midst of a re-build that will likely take a few seasons. Marcus Mariota joined the team in 2022 and is the Week 1 starter, but he hardly seems like a long-term option. Ridder has looked solid in the pre-season, going 10-for-22 for 103 yards and two touchdowns in Week 1 and 10-for-13 for 143 yards in Week 2. There has also been solid buzz about him during camp. With the Falcons likely in the midst of a rough season, I suspect Ridder will get a shot during the season and could well earn a spot going forward. He could be this year’s Davis Mills.
Sam Howell, Washington Commanders
About: The Commanders didn’t make a trade for Carson Wentz to not play him. He will be the starter. But Howell was an intriguing pick in the Fifth Round. He slid well past where most expected and didn’t land in an ideal spot, but he’s been making the most of it. Reports have been generally positive and his performance has been decent. He finished 9-for-16 for 145 yards in Week 1 and went 10-for-18 for 122 and an interception in Week 2. It wasn’t a great draft for quarterbacks, but the word on Howell has been generally positive. He feels like an ideal Taxi Squad stash to see if his opportunities improve this season or next off-season.
Isaih Pacheco, Kansas City Chiefs
About: Everyone is raving about Pacheco. As a Broncos’ fan, it sort of reminds me of the Training Camp route that Phillip Lindsay used to gain a meaningful role during the regular season as a rookie. Pacheco could certainly do that as the Chiefs’ running back room is wide open. Clyde Edwards-Helaire seems a lock for the roster, but beyond that it’s up in the air. Ronald Jones hasn’t taken off and Jerrick McKinnon feels like a niche option. Pacheco continues to impress in camp even if he hasn’t lit it up in pre-season games. He did finish with 10 carries for 52 yards in the Chiefs’ final pre-season game. Still, he seems like a great end of roster or Taxi Squad option that could have upside to contribute this season.
Abram Smith, New Orleans Saints
About: Smith is an undrafted back out of Baylor that landed in New Orleans. Alvin Kamara is a superstar that leads the depth chart, and veteran Mark Ingram feels like a lock to make the final roster. After that, it’s wide open. While Kamara doesn’t appear to have a suspension in his near future after his legal issues were delayed, all teams need depth. Smith is a young back who could have a great opportunity to compete if any injuries were to take place. He’s rushed for 16 carries for 55 yards and caught four passes for 17 yards in his two pre-season games. It’s not incredible, but the opportunity is there and he seems to be on track to make the final roster.
Khalil Shakir, Buffalo Bills
About: Shakir was a Fifth Round pick out of Boise State. It was an intriguing pick because of the potential on the depth chart. The Bills have Stefon Diggs atop the heap, with Gabe Davis, Jamison Crowder and Isaiah McKenzie seemingly having their spots locked in. Beyond that is opportunity, and Shakir has seized the most of it this pre-season. Shakir had five for 92 yards in the first game against the Colts and followed that up with three for a team-high 59 yards in Week 2 against the Broncos. Shakir feels like a lock to make the roster, and a player that just needs the right opportunity to return value.
Montrell Washington, Denver Broncos
About: The injury to Tim Patrick was a blow to the Broncos, but also opened up the receiver room. The Fifth Round pick out of Samford figured to be a key factor on Special Teams. But as Training Camp has moved along, he’s shown himself to be a solid contributor on offense. He’s progressed to the point that the Broncos are looking at other return options so Washington could contribute on offense. That feels like a great sign, especially for those that took a late flier on Washington and stashed him on the Practice Squad. He’s flashed a bit in pre-season, catching two passes in each pre-season game and working with the Second Team unit. Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy and K.J. Hamler sit atop the depth chart, but Washington is a great flier that could return dividends as early as this year.
Isaiah Likely, Baltimore Ravens
About: Unless you’ve been living in a cave, you’ve heard about Likely tearing it up in pre-season. That’s magic news for a team that’s starved for receiving threats, and Likely’s work out of the slot could portend a regular season role. No, he’s not leapt over Mark Andrews. But there is room for more than one tight end to contribute, especially with the dearth of receivers locked into roles beyond Rashod Bateman. Likely, a Fourth-Round pick out of Coastal Carolina, seems like a decent shot to contribute and a great player to have in reserve in case Andrews misses time. He caught four for 44 yards in the first pre-season game and followed it up with eight receptions for 100 yards and a touchdown in game two. He needs to be on a roster in every league.
Jeremy Ruckert, New York Jets
About: This is about potential, especially in the future. The New York Jets signed two veteran tight ends this off-season—C.J. Uzomah and Tyler Conklin—and still spent a Third-Round pick on Ruckert, out of Ohio State. The talent is there and this is a young offense that is still on the rise. While it’s hard to predict stability out of the tight end group in 2022, the future is bright. Ruckert caught two passes for three yards and a touchdown in Week 1 and followed up with another catch for four yards in Week 2. He’s not posting Likely-like numbers, but the talent is there and the future is bright, making him a great stash.
Matthew Fox is a die-hard NFL fan and Broncos’ homer. He’s a member of the FSWA. You can find more from him on Twitter @knighthawk7734 or as co-host of the Fantasy Football Roundtable Podcast, a part of the Campus2Canton Network.