Fantasy football: 2021 second-half stats to believe in for 2022

Detroit's Amon-Ra St. Brown became a fantasy force down the stretch last season. AP Photo/Lon Horwedel

In his final seven regular-season games last season, Tee Higgins accumulated 90 fantasy points. By comparison, Higgins' teammate Ja'Marr Chase accumulated only 99.4 in his final eight.

As for Bengals signal-caller Joe Burrow, he tied Josh Allen for the most fantasy points from Weeks 14 to 17. Additionally, Kirk Cousins was the fantasy QB9 from Weeks 10 to 18, which might surprise you.

When preparing for a draft, it's easy to look at a player's season-long statistics and fantasy points. Sometimes, though, it takes broadening your horizons. A player needs to be analyzed from many angles, and this column does just that.

Here are nine intriguing second-half stats to be aware of heading into the 2022 season.

Amon-Ra St. Brown averaged 11.2 targets per game over the final six games

In the first 11 games of his career last season, St. Brown played a minimal role, but the Lions shifted their passing attack to him over the final six games. During that time, St. Brown averaged 8.5 receptions and 93.3 receiving yards per game. On top of that, there was only one wide receiver who scored more fantasy points than St. Brown (100.1) during that stretch, and that was Cooper Kupp (109.3). Although the Lions signed wide receiver DJ Chark Jr. during free agency and selected wide receiver Jameson Williams in the draft, St. Brown should continue to play a key role in the Lions' passing game. At his current average draft position, he is a great value.

Elijah Moore scored 100.3 fantasy points from Weeks 9 to 13

The Jets added wide receiver Garrett Wilson in the first round of the 2022 NFL draft, but Moore, New York's 2021 second-round pick, still has promise. Injuries marred Moore's rookie season, but from Weeks 9 to 13 he showed what he was capable of on the field. During that time, only Justin Jefferson (126) had more fantasy points than Moore (100.3). Moore has the potential to lead the Jets in targets this season after averaging 9.0 targets per game during that period. Don't overlook him in drafts.

Diontae Johnson led all wide receivers with 106 targets between Weeks 9 and 18

During future Hall of Fame quarterback Ben Roethlisberger's final season, the Steelers' offense was a shell of its former self, averaging only 312.1 total yards per game. That ranked 23rd in the league. Johnson had the ninth-most fantasy points among wide receivers from Weeks 9 to 18. Mitch Trubisky signed with the Steelers this offseason, and his arm strength and mobility won't limit them offensively. In 2022, Johnson should lead Pittsburgh in targets, and he is another player who is positioned to surpass expectations when taking into account his average draft position.

Before his Week 15 hamstring injury, Leonard Fournette had 102 touches from Weeks 10 to 14

The only other running backs who had more touches than Fournette during that time frame were Najee Harris (107), Jonathan Taylor (114) and Antonio Gibson (121). As a result, he amassed 120.1 fantasy points during that period, which was surpassed by only Taylor (122). Now that Ronald Jones II is with the Kansas City Chiefs, Fournette essentially has the backfield to himself. Rachaad White was drafted by the Buccaneers in the third round of this year's draft, but it would be surprising if Tom Brady relied heavily on a rookie running back. The Buccaneers are 17-2 when Fournette has 10 or more rushing attempts and 14-1 when he rushes for 50 or more yards. Fournette is a sound pick at his ADP, don't overcomplicate it.

Elijah Mitchell handled 86% of the 49ers' rushing attempts when active

Multiple injuries negatively affected Mitchell's availability, but he was still able to amass 963 rushing yards, 137 receiving yards and six touchdowns in his rookie season. He averaged 17.2 rushing attempts per game and had five games with 100 or more rushing yards. This was the most by a rookie in 49ers history. In a Kyle Shanahan-led offensive scheme, fantasy football managers get queasy when considering who will get touches, but Mitchell will be leading the 49ers' committee in 2022. At his average draft position, he is another great value.

The only running back to collect more targets from Weeks 9 to 18 than Josh Jacobs (48) was Austin Ekeler (52)

Jacobs scored 150.6 fantasy points during this period, making him the RB6. It was encouraging to see him used as a receiver out of the backfield. Adding Davante Adams will allow the Raiders' offense to rise to new heights in 2022. Jacobs will benefit from a more efficient offense, as he will have more scoring opportunities. Under new head coach Josh McDaniels, he should see a similar opportunity share, even in a crowded backfield that includes Kenyan Drake, Zamir White and Brandon Bolden. Jacobs is a fine RB2 at his average draft position, especially for drafters who prioritize wide receivers early. While playing only around 60% of offensive snaps in his career, he has never finished lower than RB15.

The only tight end who had more targets from Weeks 9 to 18 than Zach Ertz (72) was Mark Andrews (102)

Due to the situation in Arizona, Ertz is in a great position to have a career year, and he's readily available near the double-digit rounds of fantasy drafts. Last season, Ertz shared the field with Kyler Murray and playmaker DeAndre Hopkins only three times. The veteran tight end averaged 4.3 targets, 3.3 receptions and 31 receiving yards per game while Hopkins was on the field and 8.1 targets, 5.6 receptions and 57 yards when he was off. Marquise Brown will offset Christian Kirk's vacated targets, but with Hopkins suspended for six games, Ertz could emerge as Murray's preferred red zone target after his resurgent 2021 season in which he finished as the TE5.

From Weeks 8 to 18, Pat Freiermuth was the TE7

As a rookie in 2021, Freiermuth had an astounding 20 red zone targets while playing only 62% of the offensive snaps for the Steelers. On top of that, Freiermuth averaged 5.9 targets from Weeks 8 through 18. Although receiver George Pickens was drafted by Pittsburgh in April, Freiermuth should see an increase in targets, catches, receiving yards and touchdowns, especially with Eric Ebron no longer around. In 2022, Freiermuth should be able to exploit the middle of the field much more as a receiver and become one of the top tight end targets in the double-digit rounds. Freiermuth is firmly on the TE1 radar.

Jared Goff threw 11 touchdown passes and two interceptions over his final six games of 2021

Last season, when Anthony Lynn was Detroit's offensive coordinator, Goff was less productive. Midway through the season, head coach Dan Campbell took over playcalling duties, and Goff's play improved significantly. The Lions have a new offensive coordinator in Ben Johnson this season, and Goff seems to be pleased with the change based on reports. Detroit's offense under Johnson appears to cater to plays or subtle changes that make Goff more comfortable. Additionally, the Lions now have the personnel in place to replicate what made him so successful during his 2018 season with the Rams, when he finished as the fantasy QB7. At his average draft position, Goff will have some streamable weeks and has a high enough floor to be rostered in deeper formats.