Hot best ball summer will be here before you know it. With the buzz at a dull roar right now, the time is now to hop in drafts and capitalize on ADPs and player transactions post-free agency. As the NFL Draft is peeking over the horizon, rookie values are also something we will discuss as a couple of them make it into this top best ball targets list. Value is the name of the game, so let’s start capitalizing on it.
*All ADPs referenced are per Underdog Fantasy.*
Derek Carr (QB – LV) (ADP: QB17, 128.6 overall)
Derek Carr quietly finished last season fifth in pass attempts (626) and deep ball attempts (77) and tenth in red-zone passing attempts (86). Before Henry Ruggs‘ off-field incident, Carr was the QB11 in fantasy football, directing an offense that was fifth (64%) in neutral passing rate. With Davante Adams now sitting at the top of the target pecking order, Carr can reach new heights with Darren Waller and Hunter Renfrow filling out his top three options to sling the rock to. Carr’s current draft position outside the top 12-15 quarterbacks oozes upside potential. Josh McDaniel should be licking his chops with these weapons at his disposal. After two years of dealing with Cam Newton and the growing pains of a rookie quarterback, he can get back to throwing the ball early and often. During his final two seasons with Tom Brady, they were 12th in neutral passing rate (59%). This looks like the floor for Carr’s passing volume in 2022.
Tua Tagovailoa (QB – MIA) (ADP: QB19, 140.3 overall)
2021 (among QBs w/ 200 or ^ DB /att)
14th – Pressured Comp%
3rd – Out of the Pocket Comp%
4th – Play-action Comp%
1st – Deep Comp%
MIA is building around Tua as they SURE AS HELL SHOULD. YFLTSI. pic.twitter.com/fjf5IHzunF
— Derek Brown (@DBro_FFB) March 23, 2022
Tua Tagovailoa showed the type of growth needed in his second season to believe that there’s still another level of his game that can be unlocked. Tagovailoa ranked inside the top 14 quarterbacks in the NFL (minimum 200 dropbacks) in pressured completion rate, out-of-pocket completion percentage, play-action completion %, and deep ball completion rate. With the signings of Terron Armstead and Connor Williams, he’ll have more chances to show off his accuracy from a clean pocket. Last season he was tenth in clean pocket completion percentage. The worries of Mike McDaniel rolling with a run-heavy approach are baked into his ADP. The addition of Tyreek Hill to playmakers like Jaylen Waddle and Mike Gesicki isn’t being factored in. Tagovailoa doesn’t have to be a world-beater to play point guard in this offense and finish among the top 12 fantasy options at his position.
Leonard Fournette (RB – TB) (ADP: RB25, 78.4 overall)
Are underrating Bell Cow backs...
Leonard Fournette & James Conner. pic.twitter.com/oh5sPdRZIh
— Derek Brown (@DBro_FFB) April 4, 2022
The next two players we’re going to discuss are being hilariously undervalued, with both being drafted outside the top 24 running backs. Leonard Fournette is first on the docket and should be drafted as a top ten option at the position, so enjoy this value for as long as it lasts. That might sound like hyperbole, but it’s really not because we saw his production as a locked-in RB1 last season. In Weeks 4-14, he was the RB5 in fantasy points per game behind only Jonathan Taylor, Derrick Henry, Austin Ekeler, and Alvin Kamara. He averaged 19.7 touches and 103 total yards per game during that stretch. The pass game usage still doesn’t get enough publicity. He averaged 6.3 targets per game in those ten games and had the most targets (15.5% target share) for any running back. With only Ke’Shawn Vaughn and Kenjon Barner behind him on the depth chart, Fournette will reprise his role as Tom Brady’s do it all back in 2022.
James Conner (RB – ARI) (ADP: RB29, 93.3 overall)
The ADP shade on James Conner has to stop. With Conner re-upping with the Cardinals, he’ll be their workhorse back in 2022. Even if you truly believe in Eno Benjamin, he’s not stealing the goal-line role from Conner, who finished eighth in red zone rushing attempts and second in rushing attempts inside the five-yard line. In Weeks 9-14, he played 77% or higher snaps in every game as the RB2 in fantasy points per game. He averaged 21.8 touches and 114.4 total yards per game while drawing a beautiful 5.2 targets per game. Arizona was eighth in red zone rushing rate (53%) last year, so as insane as it is to say, there’s still room for him to see more money touches near paydirt in 2022.
Kenneth Walker III (RB – Michigan State) (ADP: RB30, 94.9 overall)
Is @DBro_FFB right? pic.twitter.com/GUoOAvHEay
— FantasyPros (@FantasyPros) April 2, 2022
C’mon, did you really think I wasn’t going to mention my RB1 in this draft class? No chance. My love poem for Walker can be found here in our Dynasty Rookie Draft Guide. If you want the cliff notes version, then here you go. Walker might be the RB30 in drafts currently, but as an eighth-round pick as your possible RB2 or RB3, that is a fantastic upside pick all day. He’s arguably the best early-down talent in this draft class. With projected second-round draft capital, he will be afforded/earn early opportunity in the 2022 season to be “the guy” for a franchise.
Michael Pittman (WR – IND) (ADP: WR27, 57.6 overall)
All routes v single-man coverage (min 100 rts) w/ step or more separation:
1. Mike Evans
2. Keenan Allen
3. Michael Pittman
4. Cooper Kupp
5. Jaylen Waddle
6. Brandin Cooks
7. Cole Beasley
8. Justin Jefferson
9. Jakobi Meyers
10. Diontae Johnson
11. Tyreek Hill
12. Davante Adams
— Dwain McFarland (@dwainmcfarland) February 26, 2022
(Whispers) The Colts could be top ten in neutral passing rate this year. Yes, I know your first reaction is that this sounds insane. It’s not. Last year in Weeks 1-9, before Carson Wentz fully imploded, Indianapolis was ninth in neutral passing rate. During that run, Pittman was the WR15 in fantasy with 7.9 targets per game, 73.1 receiving yards per game, and 0.6 receiving touchdowns per game. With a sizable upgrade with Matt Ryan under center, the target quality will improve, and the passing volume should follow suit. Pittman has WR1 upside at a WR3 price tag.
Drake London (WR – USC) (ADP: WR44, 89.2 overall)
Drake London is a player I’ll continue to hammer the draft button with until the market corrects. His talent profile gives him the upside to be this year’s big breakout fantasy rookie. London is currently third in the pecking order in best ball ADP, with Treylon Burks (WR34) and Garrett Wilson (WR40) being selected ahead of him. Currently, he’s tied with Wilson (+125) as the betting favorite at DraftKings Sportsbook to be the first wide receiver selected in the NFL Draft. London has the talent to play inside and outside and be a red zone maven from day one.
Courtland Sutton (WR – DEN) (ADP: WR45, 96.4 overall)
Courtland Sutton is this year's Cooper Kupp #FantasyFootball
a thread…🧵 pic.twitter.com/zRFyklCd8W
— Andrew Erickson™ (@AndrewErickson_) March 31, 2022
While I might not be quite as high on Courtland Sutton as our own Andrew Erickson, I love him for this upcoming season. Jerry Jeudy (WR37) is getting the Russell Wilson steam, but best ball drafters need to turn their attention to Sutton. Before the Broncos put their neutral passing rate (Weeks 1-6, ninth 62%) in a body bag last year (Weeks 7-18, seventh-most run-heavy team 47%), Sutton was the WR19 in fantasy receiving targets from Teddy Bridgewater. Last year, Sutton was Denver’s field stretcher, ranking eighth in deep targets among wide receivers. This is a fabulous fit with Wilson, who has been top eight (third, eighth, fifth) in deep ball attempts in each of the last three seasons. The arrow is pointing up for Sutton, and it’s time to capitalize before the fantasy industry corrects this oversight.
Dallas Goedert (TE – PHI) (ADP: TE7, 72.5 overall)
Pick a tight end efficiency metric. Any metric and I promise you, Dallas Goedert will likely be near or at the top of the list. Last year he was a metric monster in so many categories that I value highly for tight ends. He ranked first in yards per route run (minimum 20 targets, per PFF), seventh in YAC per reception, second in fantasy points per route run, and third in fantasy points per target. In case anyone has also forgotten, he also has the raw athleticism to finish top three at the position in fantasy this season. Goedert is 74th percentile or higher in speed, burst, and agility scores. If the Eagles find a happy medium this year between their early-season pass-happy approach and late-year run-centric offense, Goedert could see a nice volume boost.
David Njoku (TE – CLE) (ADP: TE24, 187.4 overall)
David Njoku could be moon-bound this season. With only Amari Cooper above him to fight for targets, the volume upside is massive for a player with Njoku’s talent. He’s still only 25 years old and hasn’t yet been allowed to fully stretch his legs in the NFL with his 80th percentile or above speed, burst, and agility scores (per Playerprofiler.com). He finished 13th in yards per route run and fifth in yards per target last season, so if he gets the volume infusion that I’m forecasting, he could be the late-round tight end to gravitate to in 2022.
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Derek Brown is a fantasy analyst at FantasyPros. For more from Derek, check out his archive and follow him @dbro_ffb