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Fantasy Football Draft Guide to Targeting Players on Good Offenses (2022)

Fantasy Football Draft Guide to Targeting Players on Good Offenses (2022)

Duh. It seems so obvious and straightforward, right? Just draft fantasy football players on good offenses and take home league championships. The elementary draft tip I provided in my Fantasy Football Rankings, Advice & Cheat Sheet (2022) were those exact words – draft guys on good offenses — and it’s been my mantra all offseason.

Fantasy Football Redraft Draft Kit

Too often last year I was making the case for how Player “X” could rise above the situation and Player “Y” would be fine with a horrible QB. And sometimes that does happen. But when you look at the final results of how the season actually unfolded, the best bets are routinely the players attached to the high-powered offenses. Go figure.

You’d be hard-pressed to find too many great fantasy football skill players (RB/WR/TE) that were attached to offenses with a negative EPA (expected points added) per dropback.

And the main ones that I was able to identify from last year — Najee Harris, Alvin Kamara, Cordarelle Patterson, D’Andre Swift, David Montgomery, Diontae Johnson, D.J. Moore, Amon-Ra St. Brown, Brandin Cooks, Darnell Mooney, Pat Freiermuth, Kyle Pitts, Terry McLaurin — represent just a small fraction of the top scorers at each position. Especially at the very top.

The common theme with the ones that do hit is volume, which suggests that a bad team that runs a surplus of plays while trailing can indeed fuel fantasy scoring. Running backs that thrive as receivers obviously benefit greatly from a negative game script.

And that’s why I am for taking shots on guys like Mooney, Cooks and McLaurin along with some RBs with pass-catching chops on mediocre offenses — when the price is right.

Because paying a premium for players whose true upside will ultimately be suppressed because of their offense environment doesn’t make any sense to me.

Specifically more so at wide receiver, because they are more dependent on the quarterback play than RBs that can get by on sheer volume and dump-offs. Last year, only one WR (Diontae Johnson) finished top 10 in half-point scoring on an offense that generated a negative EPA per dropback. Four more finished in the WR18-WR24 range.

Simply put: These players are fantasy WR2s and won’t be fantasy WR1s on their existing bad offenses unless they see absolutely absurd target volume.

Johnson didn’t benefit from Big Ben being horrible, but rather the team’s first and fourth-ranked pass attempts per game the last two seasons. With the duo of Kenny Pickett and Mitchell Trubisky under center in 2022, I’d bet cold-hard cash they finish outside the top 16 in that category in 2022.

Avoiding landmines on projectable bad offenses like Johnson (WR13 ADP) at their premium price tags will go a long way to ensuring your fantasy football team maximizes its upside. But it’s only half of the equation.

That’s why I’ve decided to construct this following how-to guide that not only focuses on a draft strategy around getting exposure to the league’s best and most fantasy-friendly offenses but with cost factored in. Because there are so many ways that drafters can get cheap exposure to teams that ooze fantasy points and not necessarily have to pay a premium. While others “pay up” for target hogs on bad offense, savvy drafters wait and scoop up screaming values that have high potential in top-tier offenses.

I’ve broken down the guide by each of the top 16 offenses by compiling aggregate best ball ADP from Underdog. These teams are viewed as the best offenses by the market and provide a nice starting point. I’ll then quickly summarize a quick round-by-round recap of the player targets that should be used in conjunction with my other fantasy football draft strategy guides.

Methodology

To best capture the mean ADP of each NFL offense, I collected the ADPs of the first seven players drafted from each team. That way, I would be able to consider each team’s QB plus a combination of six skill players between running back, wide receiver, and tight end.

It also prevents “good” offenses from being penalized because all the late-round guys drafted from those teams will suppress the team’s overall score.

Every offense had at least seven players with an actual ADP. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers (17), New England Patriots! (14) and Kansas City Chiefs (14) have the most players drafted on average. One is not like the others.

Top Offenses

1. KANSAS CITY CHIEFS – MEAN ADP (72)

The Chiefs were the No. 1-ranked offense last season in positive EPA per play, so there’s no surprise to see them atop the rankings. But with so much ambiguity about the pecking order of targets behind the most expensive Chief — Travis Kelce — I’d opt for Marquez Valdes-Scantling at cost as WR47 in Round 8/9. He’s going even later on other non-Underdog best ball formats and regular redraft leagues.

The ex-Packers field stretcher has ranked inside the top five in yards per reception over the last two seasons, so he will feel right at home catching bombs from Patrick Mahomes. He is sure to experience spiked weeks of production attached to the Chiefs’ big-armed quarterback but valuing him more than a weekly boom-or-bust fantasy WR3/4 would be malpractice.

But considering that’s his current price he’s my favorite KC wide receiver to draft. He will have an advantage fighting for reps as a starting perimeter receiver with most Chiefs receivers vying for snaps from the slot between JuJu Smith-Schuster, Skyy Moore and Mecole Hardman.

It’s possible that those guys along with Kelce and the running backs cannibalize the majority of short-to-intermediate targets, leaving MVS as the team’s primary downfield weapon.

Although if Valdes-Scantling’s ADP continues to rise based on offseason buzz, I’ll be the first to hop off the wagon for a player that has yet to ever command more than 75 targets in a single season. I’ll happily ride the Skyy Moore train. His impressive yards after catch (YAC) ability — tied for first with 26 forced missed tackles in 2021 — and ability to play both inside/outside help him stand out from the other Kansas City Chiefs WRs.

Clyde Edwards-Helaire is too expensive as the RB26 after the team added Ronald Jones II in free agency and re-signed Jerick McKinnon. Jones is a candidate to eat into CEH’s workload on early downs and in the red zone.

McKinnon already showed the capability of being “the guy” in this backfield during KC’s playoff run in 2021. In fact, from Week 18 through the first three rounds of the playoffs, McKinnon averaged 14.3 fantasy points (PPR) and over four receptions per game. When CEH returned from injury in the Divisional Round, McKinnon doubled his touches (30 vs 15).

With an established pass-catching background and obvious trust from the coaching staff to let him loose during the postseason, McKinnon should be considered a late-round pick across all fantasy formats to get exposure to the Chiefs’ offense.

He could easily emerge as the team’s No. 1 pass-catching back. This casts doubt on the Edwards-Helaire’s receiving upside after his 0.73 yards per route run ranked 64th out of 68 qualifying running backs in 2021. The mark was significantly worse than his teammates Darrel Williams (1.28) and McKinnon (1.15).

Derrick Gore’s sleeper appeal as a receiver gets nuked with McKinnon’s return, but he still has potential as the team’s goal-line back. He flashed red-zone usage last season in Week 8 with six red-zone touches. Many will point to Gore’s undrafted status as a reason to believe he won’t be a factor in 2022. But the team’s belief in fellow UDFA Williams suggests that the team won’t shy away from Gore if he is indeed the best option for the job.

He was superior to Edwards-Helaire and Ronald Jones last season in PFF rushing grade and yards after contact per attempt.

2. TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS – MEAN ADP (72)

When looking to gain access to the league’s most fantasy-friendly offenses, there’s no better way to do so than by drafting that team’s quarterback. Tom Brady is the QB9 per ADP after finishing last season third in points per game (22.7) as PFF’s second-highest graded quarterback. There’s no reason to bet on him not playing at a high level in 2022 even at age 45.

Especially with how pass-heavy the Buccaneers are with the GOAT under center, which creates a surplus of opportunities for Brady and company to rack up fantasy points.

TB12 led the NFL in attempts (42/game) and passing yards (312/game). Tampa Bay owns the third-highest neutral game script pass play rate on early downs and situational pace of play since Brady arrived in Florida two years ago. Not shocking that drafters want any piece of this offense they can get with 17 players boasting ADPs from Tampa.

And the easiest way to reap the benefits of Brady’s prolific passing attack at value is to draft guys like Russell Gage and/or Rob Gronkowski.

Gage is coming off a stellar year after posting career-highs in yards per route run (1.96) and PFF receiving grade (76.0) while playing more on the outside. Often considered a “slot-only” wideout, Gage split snaps 50/50 from the slot versus outside in 2021.

He also led the Falcons with a 29% target share since Week 11 — playing 53% of his snaps for the outside — showcasing his ability to earn passing volume alongside the talented Kyle Pitts.

Most reports remain pretty grim about Chris Godwin’s expectation to be back for Week 1, opening the door for Gage to be an absolute smash as WR44 going outside the top-100 picks.

Gronk was TE3 in points per game and was unstoppable after returning from his injury in Week 11. From then onward, the big-bodied tight end averaged 8.4 targets and 77 receiving yards per game.

He had just one game with fewer than eight targets. If and when he makes the announcement he is back in Tampa, he will be a top-six tight end in fantasy football. And it will surely take the market some time to adjust and fix his ADP.

3. BUFFALO BILLS – MEAN ADP (76)

The Bills’ offense is tantalizing for fantasy purposes, as no team has thrown the ball more on early downs under neutral game script conditions the past two seasons. However, this is very much baked into the cost of their top guys. Stefon Diggs and Josh Allen won’t come cheap. And Gabriel Davis — depending on where you draft — could go as early as Round 5 or as late as Round 7.

In a perfect world, getting a potential league-winner like Davis in Round 7 is ideal. But most likely not realistic. So to unearth value, opt for attacking the Bills backfield with either Devin Singletary or James Cook being drafted outside the top 100 picks in Round 9/10.

As I explain in my “Fantasy Football Sleepers for All 32 NFL Teams,” their upside in a high-powered offense is not being captured in their asking price.

Singletary finished as the RB3 in PPR scoring over the final six weeks of the season with 17 fantasy points per game, despite the Bills maintaining a pass-first approach.

But by far the cheapest value option to gain access to Allen’s uber arm is with veteran Jamison Crowder.

If Crowder can just do what Cole Beasley did last season — 82 receptions for 693 yards, WR40 in PPR, WR48 in HPPR — he will vastly out-produce his ADP outside the top 60.

Playing in a super pass-heavy offense will allow Crowder the opportunity to soak up targets underneath, as he has done when healthy for the New York Jets. Just last year, the 29-year-old commanded at least five targets in every single game he played without leaving due to injury.

In those ten healthy games, the slot receiver averaged nearly five receptions and seven targets per game.

Although in the best-ball format that heavily factors in the Week 17 playoff matchups, I’d be keen on using a late-round pick on Isaiah McKenzie. McKenzie flashed big-time upside in his solo spot start for Buffalo in Week 16 versus the Patriots. He caught 11 of 12 targets for 125 receiving yards and one touchdown. It also wasn’t the first time McKenzie had stepped up in Cole Beasley’s absence.

In Week 17 of the 2020 season, he put up an equally impressive outing with six catches for 65 yards and two touchdowns.

These late-season surges for McKenzie shouldn’t be overlooked, especially considering Crowder has played 16 games once in the last four seasons.

4. DALLAS COWBOYS – MEAN ADP (80)

If I were to tell you that you could get the No. 2 perimeter WR in an offense that ranked first in the offensive pace of play last season as the WR66 off the board, you’d want that guy correct?

That player is rookie WR Jalen Tolbert.

I don’t anticipate the Cowboys rushing back Michael Gallup after a late-season torn ACL after they invested heavily in him during the offseason. That means Tolbert will have ample opportunity to hit the ground running.

The 6-foot-1 and 194-pound deep-ball specialist earned a career 31% dominator rating — top three in the class — factoring in a redshirt freshman season. Tolbert posted dominator ratings of 35%, 42% and 42% from his sophomore year onward. He torched defenses downfield as the nation’s leader in targets (99), catches (38) and receiving yards (1,402) on targets of 20-plus air yards.

Tolbert also boasts a 19-year-old breakout age.

If Tolbert can beat out James Washington — signed a one-year, $1.2M contract — in training camp, he could offer immediate value.

But I’ll admit that you can also just simply draft both CeeDee Lamb (WR6, Round 2) and Dalton Schultz (TE6, Round 6) are their respective ADPs. Neither of them has egregious prices considering the offensive environment they project to play in. Not to mention, Dallas opens the year versus Tampa and Cincinnati — two matchups that should be shootouts.

5. DENVER BRONCOS – MEAN ADP (81)

I’ll continue to pound the table for drafting Courtland Sutton in Round 4, but I also understand there are other ways to get portions of this salivating Broncos offense with Russell Wilson at the helm. Most notably, with Melvin Gordon III in Round 9, Tim Patrick in Round 11 and Albert Okwuegbunam in Round 13/14.

I tabbed Gordon as a potential RB1 breakout on the latest episode of the FantasyPros Football Podcast, stating that he should see a fair amount of work in the Denver offense alongside Javonte Williams. Last season, the veteran running back was efficient across the board, ranking eighth in both PFF rushing grade (83.4) and forced missed tackles (45) while compiling 231 touches (16th). He also led the Broncos with 46 red-zone touches.

Drafting Patrick is the best way to find fantasy value in the later rounds of drafts. Patrick is seriously underrated even though he has out-produced Jerry Jeudy in the fantasy points column the last two seasons and has seen a featured role as a red-zone threat.

In 2021, Patrick even outscored Courtland Sutton despite playing one fewer game.

His production over the last two seasons — top 40 fantasy WR — earned him a three-year, $34.5 million contract extension. Like it or not, Patrick will be on the field as much — if not more — as Jeudy in 2022 as the boundary receiver opposite Sutton. And their two ADPs couldn’t be more different.

Okwuegbunam’s ADP has dropped substantially since the team drafted Greg Dulcich. But the major concerns about Denver’s third-round rookie draft pick eating into Okwuegbunam’s production are likely being overblown.

Denver was already projected to feature 12 personnel — two-TE sets — based on new head coach Nathaniel Hackett’s history. They ranked second in that particular deployment in 2021 while Hackett coached with the Green Bay Packers. Rookie tight ends hardly do anything in their first seasons.

And don’t forget that Okwuegbunam tied for the third-highest target rate per route run in the NFL last season (23%) with Darren Waller and George Kittle. Entrenched as the presumed starter with Noah Fant traded to the Seattle Seahawks this offseason, the uber-athletic tight end can still break out in Year 3.

It also bodes well for Albert O that Fant finished last season as the TE12 while the duo played in 14 games together. So even if Dulcich does more than your average rookie TE, Okwuegbunam can still be a value at TE17 ADP.

6. LOS ANGELES CHARGERS – MEAN ADP (82)

Ask anybody off the street if the Chargers will have a top five offense in 2022, and the response will surely be an astounding “yes.” But according to aggregate ADP, they fall just slightly outside the top five. This is more of a formality than anything considering they have four guys inside the first four Rounds.

Mike Williams is my favorite to target early, but there’s a boatload of value to get exposure to this offense much later. From Round 12 onward Isaiah Spiller, Joshua Palmer and Gerald Everett are readily available.

Palmer and Everett are easily two of my favorites, with both players slated to see consequential snaps on one of the league’s elite offenses.

Everett was solid during stretches of the 2021 season, particularly after Russell Wilson returned from injury. The ex-Rams tight end ranked as the TE9 in fantasy points per game (PPR) from Weeks 10-16 while running a route on 74% of dropbacks.

He proved he could be the featured No. 1 tight end for the Chargers coming off a career year. The former Seahawk achieved career-highs in receptions (48) and receiving yards (478) and wreaked havoc with the ball in his hands, forcing 11 missed tackles after the catch — sixth-most among tight ends.

His peripheral metrics in Seattle’s offense — 12% target share, 63% route participation and 17% target rate per route run — were nearly identical to Jared Cook in the Chargers’ offense last season.

Cook finished as TE16 overall, which seems like Everett’s fantasy floor heading into 2022. However, the tackle-breaking tight end finished the 2021 season just 0.4 points per game short of Cook’s average (8.3 versus 7.9) despite playing in an offense that ranked dead last in pass attempts per game (29.1).

LA ranked third in that category last season (39.6). They also ranked ninth in TE targets overall.

Breakout tight ends are generally athletic players who earn above-average route participation in high-powered offenses. Everett fits the profile of next season’s star at the position after finishing No. 1 overall in separation rate (98th percentile) in 2021. And he’s still super cheap at TE21.

Spiller looks like the favorite to be the No. 2 RB on the Chargers, which can be a fantasy-relevant role. Per the Athletic’s Daniel Popper, Austin Ekeler spoke often last season about how badly he wanted someone to take that role and run with it. That never materialized. He is hoping that changes in 2022.

Considering Ekeler is pretty blunt when it comes to fantasy football — literally telling fantasy gamers to play Justin Jackson at the end of last season — I’d pay close attention to his words on Spiller throughout the summer.

7. ARIZONA CARDINALS – MEAN ADP (85)

I can’t help but be somewhat greedy when it comes to drafting Arizona Cardinals early and often with DeAndre Hopkins’ six-game suspension opening the fantasy floodgates for other players to smash. I’m targeting both James Conner and Marquise Brown, but am open to the idea of foregoing them early with other pieces in the offense going at a fraction of the cost.

Zach Ertz is the obvious name to highlight, considering he was TE4 with Hopkins sidelined last season, averaging seven receptions per game (24% target share). At TE10 going outside the top 100 picks, he is my priority late-round tight end across all formats.

Rondale Moore‘s offseason drum beat continues to ring in a positive light, with Kliff Kingsbury saying that his second-year WR will play more in 2022. This “coach speak” is worth acknowledging because Moore’s big issue was lack of playing time as a rookie.

He flashed his potential early on for Arizona in 2021, with 182 receiving yards in his first two NFL games. But Kingsbury never opted to go back to Moore with the likes of A.J. Green and Christian Kirk playing solid roles.

We should see Moore — and his dead-last 1.3 aDOT — experience significant growth in Year 2, especially with Hopkins suspended for the first six weeks of the season.

During his first season, Moore ran 76% of his routes from the slot and finished fourth in YAC/reception (7.8). He also posted a 24% target rate per route run, which ranked 16th in the NFL — tied with fellow rookie Elijah Moore.

If he’s going to experience a Year 2 breakout, it surely will happen sooner rather than later. Worth the cost at WR55 ADP.

In the six games that Darrel Williams (RB49) was the clear-cut starter in the Kansas City Chiefs’ backfield, he averaged 19 fantasy points per game (PPR) on 18.3 touches per game. He also averaged nearly 100 yards from scrimmage (96.3), scored eight TDs and posted zero fumbles on 191 touches.

Williams is the James Conner backup to target across all formats, as he’d likely inherit the RB1 role should the injury-prone starter go down. His body of work as a receiver and goal-line back presents him with immediate fantasy RB1 upside.

The former undrafted free agent (UDFA) led the Chiefs backfield in red-zone touches and averaged 4.5 receptions per game as the starter in 2021. His 47 catches overall ranked ninth.

And although I was initially extremely bullish on Conner as the team’s clear-cut bell cow, I have lightened my stance after thinking more about Williams’ role. Obviously, I think he’s the favorite to be the guy if Conner goes down, but he may have more stand-alone value with his receiving background. Eno Benjamin profiles as a receiver as well, so it’s not crazy to think that one or a combination shoulder Chase Edmonds‘ role from last season.

That would hinder Conner’s fantasy RB1 upside although he was a top 20 running back in half-point scoring last season — 29th in points per game — even before Edmonds got hurt. Worth mentioning that he had more rushing touchdowns (eight) than receptions (five) through the first eight weeks of the season.

It eerily reminds me of Kenyan Drake’s second-half surge in 2019 that led him to be vastly overrated the following season under the same coaching staff.

8. CINCINNATI BENGALS – MEAN ADP (88)

The Bengals’ offense is so concentrated on their top players that nobody comes cheap. Except for the unremembered Tyler Boyd at ADP WR52. He was a victim of circumstances with two alpha wide receivers in the Bengals offense leaving him nothing but scraps. The Bengals slot receiver commanded just a 15% target share and target rate per route run.

The target rate per route ranked dead-last among 73 qualifying players last season that commanded at least 100 targets.

It’s clear that Boyd can’t be viewed too highly working as a clear ancillary piece of the Cincinnati passing attack. Tight end C.J. Uzomah‘s departure does open up the potential that Boyd could shoulder a larger target workload, but his upside remains extremely limited while Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins are healthy.

His best game last season came in Week 4 with Higgins out of the lineup. Boyd caught nine of 10 targets for 118 receiving yards. Therein lies the obvious untapped potential for Boyd as he’s a proven WR that we know can deliver when called upon, even if he doesn’t necessarily project well on paper.

Boyd’s PFF receiving grade ranked 16th last season, one spot behind Higgins and five spots behind Chase.

Keep in mind that the Bengals only ranked 20th in pass attempts per game last season, so there’s more volume to be had for all these Bengals’ WRs, even if Boyd’s portion of the target pie doesn’t dramatically increase.

The increase in raw passing volume could also thrust Chris Evans into a large role. Samaje Perine is viewed as the current backup to Joe Mixon, but I wouldn’t be shocked to see Evans take over that role in 2022. The former Michigan Wolverine finished as PFF’s fifth-highest graded receiver and 10th-best pass blocker at the running back position.

His 2.11 yards per route run ranked fourth-best among all RBs, suggesting he has a legitimate shot to take over third-down duties in the Bengals’ backfield.

But there’s a case to be made that he would also thrive if an injury should occur to Mixon with an equally excellent rushing skill set. Evans’ elusive rating ranked No. 1, and his yards after contact per attempt (4.05) ranked fourth.

Fantasy gamers got a glimpse of Evans’ potential in a feature role in Week 18 when the Bengals rested their starters with their playoff spot secured. Evans played 56% of the snaps in the regular-season finale, compiling 13.9 fantasy points — seven carries for 35 yards and four catches for 24 yards on five targets.

9. MINNESOTA VIKINGS – MEAN ADP (89)

Among the league’s top 10 offenses based on ADP, no team’s quarterback is drafted later than Kirk Cousins (QB15). It’s par for the course with fantasy football’s most underrated passer who routinely strings together back-end fantasy QB1 numbers that never are reflected in his ADP the following season.

The Minnesota Vikings passer finished as the QB11 in total fantasy points and QB12 in points per game. And his new head coach comes from an offense that threw more aggressively on early downs under neutral game scripts. fifth-highest rate over the past two seasons. The Vikings ranked 27th in the category.

It’s no wonder that every time I conduct a mock draft on FantasyPros Draft Wizard, my hindsight analysis almost always includes, “If you had just waited to draft Kirk Cousins later, your team would have been X much better”.

Trust the wizard. Draft Cousins to get exposure to an under-the-radar Vikings passing game. After Captain Kirk, Alexander Mattison, Irv Smith Jr. and K.J. Osborn are my targets.

Mattison smashes every time Dalvin Cook misses games which happens every year. The Vikings RB2 has had five games with at least 23 touches the past two seasons, including two games with 32 touches when Cook has been sidelined. He averaged 23.7 PPR points and 90 rushing yards per game.

And who knows? Maybe Mattison gets more work alongside a healthy Cook under a new coaching staff.

Smith is still only 23 and took a massive leap forward in 2020, finishing 12th in PFF receiving grade (75.4) and seventh in yards per reception (12.2). If he inherits Tyler Conklin‘s vacated role — ninth in route participation — he will turn heads in 2022, coming off a lost 2021 season due to torn meniscus injury.

Chances are that the offense led by the new head coach and former Rams’ OC Kevin O’ Connell will feature a huge role for Smith. Last season with Los Angeles, Tyler Higbee operated as the true No. 1 tight end, running a route on 76% of the team’s dropbacks — the seventh-highest mark in the NFL.

Osborn flashed at times during the 2021 season, but never more so than when he filled in for Adam Thielen. From Weeks 13-17, the second-year pro averaged 12 half-PPR fantasy points per game to go along with six targets. Osborn will reap the rewards if Thielen starts to break down entering his age-32 season.

He is also going to benefit greatly from the Vikings running more 11-personnel after the Rams ran it at a league-high 86% of offensive plays last season. Minnesota ran 11-personnel at the fifth-lowest rate in the league last season.

10. LOS ANGELES RAMS – MEAN ADP (91)

In a similar ilk to Osborn, Van Jefferson Jr. provides fantasy managers a full-time player on a high-powered offense at the fraction of the cost of an Allen Robinson. In his role, last season — 20th in route participation (86%) — Jefferson finished as WR35 overall on the season and outside the top 40 in points per game.

He’s still too cheap outside the top 60 WRs based on his standalone value, and production spike upside should an injury occur to either Cooper Kupp or Allen Robinson.

Tyler Higbee falls into the same bucket. When he came back from the COVID list he commanded at least 40 receiving yards along with targets totals of six, nine, six, four and six. All in all, he averaged a 19% target share over the last four weeks after struggling to earn any worthwhile target share as an afterthought in the Rams’ passing attack.

Considering Higbee is always on the field in LA’s one-TE offense — 93% route participation in the Divisional round, 76% during 2021 — he will have productive outings in the confines of a high-powered offense.

He should be good to go by Week 1, barring any setbacks from his knee surgery.

And as a worthy honorable mention, I’d still bet on Odell Beckham Jr. making a return to L.A. versus all other teams. He’s dirt cheap with him unsigned coming off an injury. But as I explained in my Best Ball Values to Target Based on ADP, he could be the final puzzle piece to breaking the Week 17 best ball slate when the Rams take on the Chargers on Sunday Night Football. Just be warned that OBJ could also be a total zero coming off a extremely late torn ACL that could sideline him up to 15 months. 

11. SAN FRANCISO 49ERS – MEAN ADP (98)

The 49ers are juiced up to 11th overall in terms of aggregate ADP and that is scary for a run-heavy offense that projects to start a second-year mobile quarterback.

Bottom line: Teams that are predominantly run-orientated don’t create super fantasy-friendly offenses that feature three-plus guys that hit. It’s not to say nobody can be a fantasy star in a run-heavy offense, but in those cases, it’s because the offense is super concentrated on one to two players.

That’s why I have myself struggling to pay up for guys like Deebo Samuel, George Kittle and Elijah Mitchell knowing that it’s a longshot for them to all meet or exceed expectations at their ADPs.

However, I know that this offense will likely be efficient regardless, so I need to get portions of it through other means ie. Trey Lance, Brandon Aiyuk and Tyrion Davis-Price.

Lance only started two games as a rookie but flashed the rushing prowess that excited fantasy managers during last year’s draft season. The 49ers’ first-year signal-caller averaged 22.4 expected fantasy points (QB4 last season) and 60 rushing yards per game.

Lance averaged 54 rushing yards per game in his three games played with at least a 50% snap share. The mark was the highest ever by a rookie quarterback.

All we need is the 49ers to officially move on from Jimmy Garoppolo to buckle in for the Lance fantasy hype train.

And I particularly like the fit (and ADP cost) of Lance with third-year wide receiver, Brandon Aiyuk, who turned his season around during the second half.

His yards per route run increased substantially (2.16, 13th), and he averaged 13.1 PPR fantasy points per game as the WR24. The former first-round pick also ranked sixth in yards after the catch per reception (6.9).

If Aiyuk can roll over his second-half production into 2022, he could be a smashing fantasy value in a similar way that Samuel was viewed in 2021. His overall disappointing sophomore campaign should not overshadow his electric rookie season.

There’s a lot of general ambiguity about how the San Francisco 49ers’ offense will look with Lance under center, but we know the upside is sky-high from a fantasy perspective. There’s no denying Aiyuk’s talent/production when given the opportunity, and there’s a chance he could form a special downfield connection with Lance’s rocket arm.

49ers’ wide receiver coach Leonard Hankerson also believes that Year 3 is the perfect time to expect Aiyuk’s impending breakout.

Take the chance on a suppressed Aiyuk, who won’t cost nearly the arm and leg that Deebo will cost to draft. Their target rate per route run was nearly identical (21%) during the second half of the season.

Davis-Price (RB50) benefits from the 49ers’ offense, which breeds an efficient running game like no other that will easily open lanes to feature the rookie’s speed. It’s not hard to envision a scenario where the 49ers are forced to turn to their physically bruising rookie running back in the wake of a potential injury to an undersized Elijah Mitchell in 2022 or just use the two in tandem.

San Fran’s coaching staff liked the way Davis-Price bullied defenders in the 4th quarters of games at the college level, so it’s easy to picture him in a similar “finisher” role in the pros.

And as noted in my article titled “best ball ADP from Underdog,” the 49ers’ fantasy RB to roster in fantasy football is almost never the first one off the draft board.

12. PHILADELPHIA EAGLES – MEAN ADP (101)

Similar to the 49ers’ offense, the Eagles feature a mobile quarterback that may limit the fantasy ceilings of those around him. The Action Network’s Sean Koerner laid this out in an older episode of the FantasyPros podcast in reference to him not being overly bullish on A.J. Brown. Not necessarily because he’s low on the player, but the price was too steep. Although I wouldn’t say I’m out on Brown even at cost — I believe the Eagles will up their pass game in 2022, as do others close to the team — the sentiment rings true

But there’s a way to get access to Brown’s elite talent at a fraction of the cost, by selecting Jalen Hurts as your fantasy quarterback. He’s someone that I am extremely high on and could not recommend more as a target as a Round 6/7 selection.

After Hurts, DeVonta Smith and Dallas Goedert come in at so-so prices. I wouldn’t be extremely bullish over drafting that ahead of their ADPs based on the potential nature of the Eagles’ offense with an alpha like Brown added to the fold.

However, they each possess talent that probably isn’t reflected enough in their ADPs. In 11 games played post-Ertz trade — including the postseason — Goedert averaged 11.8 fantasy points per game, which would have ranked as the TE8 from a season-long perspective. His ADP is TE9. Definitely, some concern he’s maxed out where he is being drafted unless Brown/Smith gets hurt.

Honestly, I am more interested in Smith as a player that could take a leap in Year 2 as we traditionally witness.

The second-year wideout will have his fair share of spike weeks with his ability to win downfield, and there’s no guarantee AJB stays healthy all year long. Smith’s 21% target share from 2021 suggests he will be able to command targets in the offense if that scenario plays out, giving him sneaky upside that won’t be considered enough in his ADP.

But all in all, the Eagles’ 12th-ranked offense indicates that we are entering the territory of more of the league’s average-to-above-average offenses, rather than ones that require vast exposure to.

13. GREEN BAY PACKERS – MEAN ADP (102)

Aaron Rodgers is a quarterback to avoid in fantasy football, but he’s still a future Hall-of-Famer that will likely orchestrate an offense that will feature fantasy-viable options. The cheaper options I like are A.J. Dillon (RB25) and Allen Lazard (WR45).

Dillon has been the epitome of efficiency since entering the NFL. He is PFF’s fifth-highest graded running back (90.1). The bruising back is also due for major positive touchdown regression in addition to his role alongside Aaron Jones in the offense.

Dillon was used heavily around the goal line all season, and that doesn’t seem likely to change entering Year 3. He finished 11th in red-zone touches and saw more carries inside the 10-yard line than Jones. And in the last five games the duo played during the regular season, the rushing attempts favored the younger back. Dillon out-carried Jones (13 to 9.6 per game). Jones had superior pass-game usage (3.4 targets versus 2.4 targets per game) — albeit not by a massive margin.

All things considered, their fantasy points per game were nearly identical in PPR, but Dillon was averaging more expected fantasy points per game (14.0 versus 11.3).

Rodgers trusts Lazard after they have spent the last four seasons together, and their chemistry was on full display over the final five weeks of the 2021 regular season. Lazard was the WR8 in PPR scoring on the back of 21 receptions for 290 receiving yards and five touchdowns. Someone on Green Bay will have to replace Davante Adams’ elite red-zone production, and Lazard looks to fit the mold at 6-foot-5.

The former Iowa State product has also stepped up in Adams’ absence before, most notably back in 2020 against the New Orleans Saints. With Adams sidelined, Lazard caught six of eight targets for 146 receiving yards and one touchdown.

Robert Tonyan is the cheapest piece of this offense that I like to come away from drafts with. Tonyan wasn’t particularly effective last season before his injury — only two games with over 10 fantasy points and TE29 in fantasy points per game — but the path to upside exists in an offense led by Rodgers.

Don’t be too quick to forget that Tonyan caught 11 touchdowns in 2020, and there are many red-zone opportunities left with Adams removed from the equation. The new Las Vegas Raiders wide receiver has earned 28 red-zone targets over the last two seasons — most by any player.

As long as Tonyan remains just outside the middle-range tight end ADP, he is definitely worth an 11th or 12th round selection.

14. LAS VEGAS RAIDERS – MEAN ADP (103)

The Raiders are somewhat of a surprise to see down at No. 14 considering all the positive buzz they have generated this offseason. Their top four players all command at least a Round 8 ADP. Derek Carr at QB14 is probably the most cost-effective way of gaining access to the Black Hole offense, followed up by taking deep dart-throws on running backs not named Josh Jacobs and projected No. 3 wide receiver/deep threat Mack Hollins.

Carr’s 3.7 TD rate in 2021 was below his career average (4.3). And his 23 total passing touchdowns were seven below expectation.

Fully anticipate Carr throwing for 30-plus laser scores bare minimum with Adams at his disposal. Every quarterback last season that threw for at least 30 touchdowns finished inside the top 10 in 2021.

The Athletic’s Vic Tafur believes that Hollins will have a sizable role in 2022.

It’s important to denote that his deep-threat profile — fourth in aDOT (16.7) in 2021 — suggests he will be the team’s field stretcher on an offense filled to the brim with elite underneath options between Davante Adams, Hunter Renfrow and Darren Waller.

The subsequent trade of Bryan Edwards further bolsters my take on Hollins carving out that No. 3 receiver role on a high-powered pass-heavy offense.

He will never get doubled with all the other weapons on the Vegas offense, making him an extremely appetizing final-round best-ball option, especially in Raiders stacks.

Among the pricy Raiders’ main pass-catchers — Davante Adams, Darren Waller, Hunter Renfrow — I’d opt for Waller the most at cost. I’d be willing to forego one or fewer targets per game for Waller with the addition of Adams if it means more scoring opportunities.

The big-bodied Black Hole tight end is primed for positive touchdown regression after converting just two of his 10 end-zone targets into touchdowns in 2021.

15. BALTIMORE RAVENS – MEAN ADP (110)

As mentioned previously with the Eagles and 49ers, there’s no need to overload players from run-heavy teams led by mobile QBs. However, blatantly ignoring obvious breakout candidate Rashod Bateman in Round 5 or 6 would be malpractice.

He’s so much cheaper than Mark Andrews and the two players could easily see an equal target share in the offense similar to how Andrews and Marquise Browns split targets atop the Ravens’ passing game in years past.

And Bateman flashed elite talent on a per-target efficiency basis last season – compiling over 500 receiving yards on fewer than 70 targets during his rookie season. The only first-round rookie WR to accomplish that feat since 2010 is Brandin Cooks — arguably the NFL’s most underrated wide receiver.

Entering 2021, Bateman has the opportunity to step in and be the true No. 1 wide receiver for Lamar Jackson. With Brown’s 23% target share departure, Bateman can seize a massive role for fantasy.

As for the Ravens’ rushing attack, Lamar Jackson is the obvious name that you want. But someone I am growing more fond of is rookie Tyler Badie. There’s still a chance that J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards are not ready for Week 1 rehabbing from torn ACL injuries, which gives Badie a runway to emerge as a breakout.

Badie tied Kenneth Walker in rushes of 10-plus yards (46) to lead the 2022 Draft Class.

His two biggest threats are Mike Davis and Justice Hill. I’m shaking.

16. DETRIOT LIONS – MEAN ADP (116)

The Lions roster slides in last among the league’s average offenses, which is surprising based on their lack of wins last season. But there’s no denying that Brad Holmes has put together a solid group of offensive playmakers around quarterback Jared Goff, who can rise to the occasion when he has help.

D’Andre Swift is easily my favorite part of this offense and is well-deserved as a high second-round pick. Swift was RB9 in points per game (half-point scoring) in 10 games played before his injury. He led all running backs in receptions (53) and averaged nearly 19 touches per game. That would have ranked ninth-best last season.

Considering Swift only earned 26 red-zone touches last season — outside the top 30 — there’s room for his touchdown potential to grow. Through the first seven weeks of the year, Swift posted 22 red-zone touches (53-touch pace over a 17-game season).

But on the cheaper side, I like T.J. Hockenson more than Amon-Ra St. Brown at cost. At one point this offseason their ADPs were extremely close, but the second-year WR has gotten the edge as of late.

And it’s mostly related to his late-season surge — WR3 PPR finish from Weeks 13-18 — when both Swift and Hockenson were sidelined due to injury. But before their injuries, ASB was an essential non-factor outside a stretch from Weeks 4-6, where he commanded a 22% target share despite playing fewer snaps than Kalif Raymond.

Meanwhile, Hockenson was the target leader for the offense until his injury. Through 13 weeks, the Detroit Lions tight end ranked sixth in points per game, fifth in targets per game (7), first in route participation (85%), third in target share (19%) and third in air yard share.

CTAs

Quick-Hitters On Teams Outside Top 16

WASHINGTON COMMANDERS

With the 27th-ranked offense, you’d likely assume I’d be completely out on Terry McLaurin. However, with his cost decreasing as he holds out for a new contract, he’s becoming a better value target. And that’s because Carson Wentz — believe it or not — is a massive upgrade for the wideout.

The former No. 2-overall pick has a proven track record of sustaining fantasy viable weapons — most notably Jonathan Taylor and Michael Pittman Jr. from a season ago. His 27 passing touchdowns, seven interceptions and 67.9 PFF passing grade are miles better than Washington’s 20 passing touchdowns, 15 interceptions and 58.3 PFF passing grade in 2021.

Wentz’s six top-10 weekly fantasy finishes last season were equal to or better than that of Derek Carr and Ryan Tannehill.

Simply put: Wentz landing in the nation’s capital hardly raises headlines like Russell Wilson landing in Denver, but him being their quarterback is going to boost the fantasy value of McLaurin. He can deliver a deep ball that McLaurin has yet to see throughout his NFL career.

But because the entire world believes Wentz is hot garbage, their ADPs will likely remain too low. Take the value to the bank with McLaurin as a solid fantasy WR2.

ATLANTA FALCONS

My solo exception for targeting expensive players on good offenses will likely be Falcons’ tight end, Kyle Pitts. At just 21 years old, Pitts finished third among tight ends in receiving yards (1,018, 60 per game) through 17 weeks of the season and third in route participation (80%) through 18 weeks.

He’s got so much talent that nobody will be surprised to see him take a massive step forward in Year 2. In fact, the last two 21-year-old rookie years (Justin Jefferson, JuJu Smith-Schuster) to average at least 60 receiving yards per game as rookies — which Pitts also did — reached 1,400 yards in their second seasons.

And there’s a case to be made that tight end target projections are more essential than for wide receivers. In fact, entering last season there was a very strong correlation between TEs leading their team in targets and also finishing top-three at their position.

Last season, the top four tight ends in points scored ranked inside the top eight in total targets (121 target average). Andrews (TE1) and Pitts (TE7) were the only tight ends last season to lead their team in total targets. Ertz was TE4 when he led Arizona in targets after being traded from the Eagles.

Simply put: Targets remain the life and bloodline for fantasy tight ends, even on questionable offenses. Recall that Andrews was the TE1 last season despite playing with backup QBs for a large portion of the season.

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS

The offensive coordinator question marks have gone too far. The Patriots rank 30th in team ADP from their top seven players and dead-last in mean ADP when factoring in all their players with ADPs. It’s ridiculous that a team ranked top 10 in positive generated EPA per dropback is viewed so poorly by the market because of coaching.

News flash people. Coaches don’t play. Players play. And Mac Jones sure looked dynamite at times as a rookie, and I’d bet he takes another step forward in Year 2 regardless of who the offensive coordinator is.

The rookie quarterback was highly efficient as a passer, finishing 18th in PFF passing grade when throwing 10-19 yards, 13th from a clean pocket and 10th on early downs. Those specific metrics tend to be sticky year over year and more predictive than raw counting stats. Still, those numbers were equally impressive for Jones, who posted the sixth-highest passer rating (92.5) and second-highest completion percentage (67.6%) for a rookie quarterback with at least 300 attempts in NFL history.

The majority of Patriots players are being dramatically undervalued, and it’s unwarranted based on New England most likely having at least an average offensive unit in 2022 in their range of outcomes.

NEW YORK JETS

The Jets have a mean ADP outside the bottom 10 offenses. Let that sink in. Zach Wilson has to step up.

SEATTLE SEAHAWKS

Likewise, Seattle’s 23nd-ranked offense suggests the market believes there are nine offenses worse than them from a fantasy perspective. Really?

Round-by-Round Example Mock Draft From Pick 6

Using FantasyPros Mock Draft Simulator

  1. WR Justin Jefferson
  2. WR CeeDee Lamb
  3. WR Tee Higgins
  4. WR Courtland Sutton
  5. QB Justin Herbert
  6. RB A.J. Dillon
  7. WR Gabriel Davis
  8. RB Devin Singletary
  9. TE Zach Ertz
  10. RB Alexander Mattison
  11. RB Rachaad White
  12. WR Russell Gage

Takeaways from Mock Draft

In Round 3, I definitely would have drafted Saquon Barkley had I not been limiting myself to the top offenses. Same thing in Rounds 4 and 5, with Breece Hall and/or Travis Etienne Jr. as top RB candidates after starting with three straight WRs.

It also would have made much more sense to go running back on an elite offense first, rather than WR. Dalvin Cook over Justin Jefferson. As I would eventually find out, it was not difficult to find a plethora of WRs later on good offenses, while RBs not so much.

I felt pigeon-holed into drafting Justin Herbert in Round 5, but there weren’t any other high-powered offense players available around that ADP. And that brings forth a good lesson. Try as you may, you’re probably going to draft some players that aren’t on good offenses.

But as I alluded to earlier, there are ways to do it wisely. For example, investing in running backs that can operate in the passing game and succeed in negative game scripts.

Or investing in offenses that you believe can make a jump into becoming above-average offenses in 2022. My favorite teams outside the top 16 that fall in that category include the Colts, Patriots, Giants, Jaguars, Commanders, Bears and Saints.

My other galaxy brain thoughts are that this exercise made it really easy to avoid RBs in the Dead Zone. Because part of the reason why RBs fall into Round 3-7 — and subsequently fail to deliver — is precisely because they play in bad offenses.

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