When running a franchise in Madden, one of the more fulfilling aspects is when you acquire a player who another team hasn’t yet put into a position of stardom and turning them into your own superstar. Whether you seek to do that during your first season or over a few, the good news is there are may players for you to nab from other teams and turn them into future stars.
Below, you will find the top sleeper players to acquire for your team – or use on their current teams – in franchise mode. Some of the criteria for inclusion on the list included overall rating (not too high or low), age or years of experience (younger the better), position, team and organizational depth, and offseason changes. There are a mix of positions, but mostly offensive skill players. No players on either side of the line were chosen.
It should also be noted that it’s easier to have a sleeper player breakout in Madden than in real life. These players are chosen based on the ability to turn them into stars in Madden and not a prediction for actual breakouts during the 2022 NFL season.
The players will be listed in alphabetical order by last name.
1. Justin Fields (74 OVR)
Team (Division): Chicago Bears (NFC North)
Age (in game): 23
The second-year quarterback looks to build off of what can only be considered a difficult rookie year in Chicago. Justin Fields is the brightest spot for a Chicago team that is in the bottom half of the league heading into the 2022 season. However, for Chicago to have any success with Fields as the quarterback, they’ll need to upgrade the line to protect him beyond everything. If you control the Bears, then make upgrading your line your top priority to help Fields bloom. If acquiring him, make sure you have good protection.
Fields played in 12 games in 2021, starting ten. He threw for 1,870 yards while completing 58.9 percent of his passes. He threw for seven touchdowns and ten interceptions. He also took 36 sacks.
2. Mecole Hardman (79 OVR)
Position: Wide Receiver
Team (Division): Kansas City (AFC West)
There’s one main reason why Hardman is a sleeper pick in Madden 23: the departure of Tyreke Hill to Miami. Sure, JuJu Smith-Schuster (80 OVR) is now on the roster as WR1, but Hardman is just behind him in overall rating at 79 and is younger, having only played three years. He’s also a top-tier speed threat as his Speed rating is 97, making him more ideal for deep routes than Smith-Schuster. If you’re controlling a weaker team, he’ll immediately jump into the top two wideout positions, and can fortify your receiving corps on a stronger team.
Hardman played in all 17 games in 2021, starting eight. He caught 59 passes on 83 targets, amassing 693 yards and two touchdowns. Of his 59 receptions, 33 were for first downs. He also had eight rushes for 46 yards.
3. Jerry Jeudy (82 OVR)
Position: Wide Receiver
Team (Division): Denver Broncos (AFC West)
Unlike Hardman, Jerry Jeudy (82 OVR) – the player with the highest overall rating on this list – is chosen based on an arrival rather than a departure: quarterback Russell Wilson. Denver has been in a quarterback conundrum since the retirement of Peyton Manning (and arguably during his last season), but they may have finally found their next great quarterback in the former Seattle star. Wilson alone should raise the level of the entire offense, chiefly the receivers, with Jeudy in line to become Wilson’s new favorite target. His 91 Speed should help regardless of your team, and especially in Denver when Wilson inevitably scrambles for more time.
Jeudy played in ten games last year, starting five. He caught 38 passes on 56 targets for 467 yards and no touchdowns, a step down from his rookie season.
4. Trey Lance (72 OVR)
Team (Division): San Francisco 49ers (NFC West)
While Jimmy Garoppolo (77 OVR) is rated higher than Trey Lance (72 OVR), Lance is firmly entrenched as the starter heading into the 2022 season for San Francisco (Garoppolo is a valuable trade piece). Kyle Shanahan’s offense is apt to maximize Lance’s potential, but he’s also a great option to be your second stringer or quarterback of the now depending on your situation. If the hype he’s building in real life – with many talking heads predicting San Francisco to make and win the Super Bowl – translates remotely to Madden 23, he’ll easily be the Rookie of the Year and quite possibly the best pick of the sleepers on this list.
Lance started two games and played in a total of six during the 2021 season. He threw for 603 yards while completing 57.7 percent of his passes. He offset his two interceptions with five touchdowns. Lance also has sneaky running ability, amassing 168 yards on 38 carries for one touchdown and a 4.4 per carry average.
5. Allen Lazard (77 OVR)
Position: Wide Receiver
Team (Division): Green Bay Packers (NFC North)
With Allen Lazard (77 OVR), it’s back to breaking out because of the departure of a star. In the case of Lazard and Green Bay, it’s the loss of Davante Adams to Las Vegas during the offseason, he of the 99 Club. While Sammy Watkins (79 OVR) and Randall Cobb (78 OVR) are ahead of Lazard on the depth chart (barely), they’re also closer to the ends of their careers than their primes, like Lazard. Aaron Rodgers may rely on Cobb because of their longevity together, but Lazard is poised to become the new big-play threat for Rodgers and the Packers.
Lazard played in 15 games, starting 13 during 2021. He caught 40 passes on 60 targets, gaining 513 yards and eight touchdowns.
6. David Njoku (80 OVR)
Position: Tight End
Team (Division): Cleveland Browns (AFC North)
David Njoku (80 OVR) is the only tight end on the list, but should establish himself further as a pass-catching tight end now that the Cleveland quarterback dilemma is situated – at least in Madden 23. While quarterback Deshaun Watson is now officially suspended for the first 11 games of the 2022 season, in Madden, you can start your franchise with Watson as the quarterback, providing Njoku with a competent quarterback to pass him the football. Njoku will help his cause with his 86 Speed, a high rating for a tight end.
Njoku played in 16 games in 2021, starting 11. He caught 36 passes on 53 targets, accumulating 475 yards and four touchdowns. The 475 yards were his second-highest in a season while the four touchdowns matched his season high (three times).
7. Odafe Oweh (78 OVR)
Position: Right Outside Linebacker
Team (Division): Baltimore Ravens (AFC North)
Second-year linebacker Odafe Oweh (78 OVR) is entrenched as the starter as the right outside linebacker and will look to establish himself to the league as yet another stout Baltimore defender. Oweh has impressive physical attributes, standing 6’5″ tall and weighing in at 251 pounds. He has a high Speed rating of 89, meaning you can put him into coverage against ends and even some wideouts, or in zones, with little fear of them blowing past him.
Oweh played in 15 games in 2021, starting two games. He recorded 22 solo tackles (33 total, ten assisted). Oweh also reached the quarterback for five sacks and 15 hits. He had no interceptions or forced fumbles, but he had two fumble recoveries.
8. Isaiah Simmons (78 OVR)
Position: Middle Linebacker
Team (Division): Arizona Cardinals (NFC West)
Middle linebacker Isaiah Simmons (78 OVR) is one of the interior linebackers in Arizona’s 3-4 scheme, but the third-year player is poised for a breakout in Madden. He has good sideline-to-sideline abilities, and his 93 Speed makes him even more suited to be in coverage than Oweh. He hopes to be the backbone of a defense that includes J.J. Watt and Budda Baker.
Simmons played and started all 17 games in 2021. Simmons recorded 70 solo tackles (105 total, 35 assisted). He had one interception and four forced fumbles. He also had 1.5 sacks and 4 quarterback hits.
9. Derek Stingley, Jr. (77 OVR)
Team (Division): Houston Texans (AFC South)
The only rookie on the list, cornerback Derek Stingley, Jr. (77 OVR) could become CB1 before the end of the season for Houston, making him a great add to your team. Stingley, Jr. – the third generation pro footballer – comes to a Houston team that is reeling from the Watson saga and now is firmly in a rebuild. Stingley, Jr. has elite Speed (93) to cover the faster receivers in the league, and should become a shutdown corner for your team (and Houston, if that’s your chosen team).
The rookie spent his college years at Louisiana State University (LSU). In the 2021 season, Stingley, Jr. only played in three games and six solo tackles (eight total), credited with 3.5 tackles for loss. The Texans thought so highly of Stingley, Jr.’s college career that even though he had little playing time in 2021, they drafted him third overall in the 2022 NFL Draft.
10. Tua Tagovailoa (76 OVR)
Team (Division): Miami Dolphins (AFC East)
While Lance may be the biggest breakout waiting to happen, it seems that Tua Tagovailoa’s breakout is expected to happen if you listen to any show or podcast about professional football. The biggest reason, beyond his continued development, was the addition of a definitive number one receiver in Tyreke Hill. Now entering his third year, Tagavialoa should make the leap from starting quarterback to top-12 status.
Tagovailoa played in 13 games, starting 12, in 2021. He threw for 2,653 yards with a 67.8 completion percentage, more than three-and-a-half points better than his rookie percentage. He threw for 16 touchdowns and ten interceptions while taking 20 sacks. He also rushed 42 times for 128 yards and three touchdowns.
Now you have a good handle on sleeper players to target in Madden 23’s franchise mode. Which players will you target and make the centerpieces of your dynastic run?