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Matthew Freedman’s Perfect 2022 Fantasy Football Draft

Jun 10, 2022
Justin Jefferson

The 2022 NFL season is approaching, and that means it’s time to prepare for your fantasy football draft. What better way to do that than to practice drafting with our free mock draft simulator! Beyond our tools, we’re also going to have you covered throughout the draft prep season with our content.

The goal of every fantasy football manager is to complete the perfect draft. Impossible you say? Let’s call it a stretch goal and strive for fantasy football glory. Here’s Matthew Freedman’s perfect 2022 fantasy football draft.

Fantasy Football Redraft Draft Kit

Matthew Freedman’s Perfect 2022 Fantasy Football Draft

I am a man of the people — a Freedman of the people, as it were — so for each of the past two years I’ve posted my fantasy football redraft plans on Twitter.

Based on what I see right now (early June) in our Average Draft Position Consensus, here’s how I plan to attack 2022 fantasy leagues and achieve the “perfect” draft.

Approach to Rounds 1-2

If I have a top-three pick, I’m going with a running back.

  • 1.01: Jonathan Taylor
  • 1.02: Christian McCaffrey
  • 1.03: Austin Ekeler

Those are the first five players in my 2022 redraft rankings. I don’t think it’s hard to be bullish on any of them.

Last year, Taylor led the league with 865 yards before contact and 946 yards after contact (per our Advanced Running Back Stats Report). He is a monster. He’s the easy No. 1 player in our Value-Based Drafting Rankings.

McCaffrey has played just 10 games over the past two years, but in the seven in which he’s had at least a 50% snap rate he has dominated.

He’s just 26 years old: I think McCaffrey still has it.

Over the past four years, Ekeler has accumulated 4,999 yards and 40 touchdowns on 14 games per season. Ekeler is almost certain to regress from his league-high 20 touchdowns last year, but even if that does happen he should still produce thanks to his receiving ability (80 targets per year since 2018).

Once these running backs are off the board, I am pivoting to my top-three wide receivers.

  • 1.06: Cooper Kupp
  • 1.07: Justin Jefferson
  • 1.08: Ja’Marr Chase

Kupp last year led the league with an obscene 191 targets, 145 receptions, 1,947 yards and 16 touchdowns receiving, which he leveraged into a position-high 21.6 half-PPR points per game (per our Fantasy Football Stats Report). He also had a league-best 37 red-zone targets (per our Advanced Wide Receiver Stats Report). For his career, Kupp has 9.2 yards per target. Even with regression, Kupp should still produce.

Justin Jefferson is No. 1 among all-time NFL players with 3,016 yards receiving in his first two seasons — and he’s still just 23 years old.

The 2021 Offensive Rookie of the Year, Chase is coming off one of the greatest first-year pass-catching campaigns ever with 81-1,455-13 receiving. A big-play machine, Chase had a league-high six plays of 50-plus yards.

After the Big Three at receiver, there are two more backs and two more difference-making pass catchers I like.

  • 1.07: Derrick Henry
  • 1.08: Najee Harris
  • 1.09: Stefon Diggs
  • 1.10: Travis Kelce

Henry missed nine games in 2021, but even so he still managed to have 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns from scrimmage — and he’s the only running back to hit those marks in each of the past four years. Last season, Henry led the position with 23.0 half-PPR points per game (per our Fantasy Football Leaders Report). He’s a Terminator.

As a rookie, Harris last year led all running backs with an average of 57.6 snaps per game and an 84% snap rate (per our Snap Count Leaders Report and Snap Count Analysis Report). With his 307 carries and 94 targets, Harris had more opportunities (401) than any other back in the league in 2021.

Stefon Diggs is the only NFL player with 160-plus targets in each of the past two years, over which time he is 230-2,760-18 receiving. Without veteran WRs Cole Beasley and Emmanuel Sanders, Bills QB Josh Allen could legitimately lock onto Diggs for 200-plus targets.

In QB Patrick Mahomes’ four years starting for the Chiefs, Kelce has averaged 99.3 receptions, 1,276.5 yards and 8.75 touchdowns receiving on 141.3 targets per season. That’s top-tier wide receiver-caliber production — at tight end. Last year, Kelce led the position with 60% top-six and 73% top-12 production rates on a week-to-week basis (per our Boom or Bust Report), and he could dominate even more this year without former No. 1 wide receiver Tyreek Hill.

After the aforementioned five pass catchers, I will be happy to take any of these four running backs from the 1-2 turn to the end of Round 2.

  • Dalvin Cook
  • Aaron Jones
  • Joe Mixon
  • D’Andre Swift

Cook has back-to-back-to-back seasons with 1,300-plus yards from scrimmage, but last year he had just six touchdowns vs. 30 in the two years prior. Barring injury, Cook should almost certainly score more in 2022 (per our Touchdown Regression Report).

Jones is one my top players to target for 2022. Last year, WRs Davante Adams and Marquez Valdes-Scantling collectively accounted for 224 targets for the Packers in the regular season. With Adams and Valdes-Scantling now gone, the Packers might lean more on the running game, benefitting Jones, and they also might reallocate a portion of the available targets to Jones, who — as wild as this sounds — probably has the best mix of talent and rapport with QB Aaron Rodgers out of all the pass catchers in Green Bay. Since 2018, Jones has averaged 6.7 targets in seven games without Adams and 5.2 targets in nine games without Valdes-Scantling (vs. 3.7 and 3.9 targets in 50 and 48 respective games with them). Jones has an incredibly high floor with increased target volume and his established scoring prowess (49 touchdowns in 57 games since 2018). I’m high on Jones relative to the expert and ADP consensus, so that means he’s the back I’m likeliest to draft in Round 2.

Mixon last year had 1,888 yards and 17 touchdowns on 359 carries and 69 targets in 20 games (and he also threw a six-yard touchdown in the Super Bowl). He’s young enough (26 in July) and big (6-1, 220 pounds) — and he has a high-volume three-down role in an ascending offense.

It might be easy to underappreciate Swift because he’s on the Lions, but last year he was a top-eight back with his 67% snap and 18% target shares. He’s an arbitrage version of Ekeler.

If I don’t go with a running back in Round 2, I hope to land one of these two pass catchers.

  • CeeDee Lamb
  • Mark Andrews

Lamb already has back-to-back seasons with 1,000-plus yards from scrimmage, thanks in part to his Robert Woods-esque jet sweep ability (19-158-1 rushing), and now he could see a significant bump in usage without WRs Amari Cooper and Cedrick Wilson, who have vacated 165 targets with their departures from Dallas. Lamb has the upside of a top-three wide receiver.

Last year, Andrews was the No. 1 tight end with 153 targets and a 25.8% target share (per our Most Targeted Players Report and Advanced Tight End Stats Report). Without former No. 1 WR Marquise Brown, he could enjoy even more target volume.

Notes for Rounds 1-2

I hope to leave the first two rounds with at least one running back. I respect the Zero RB strategy, but I’m not that brave.

Plus, I want to go heavy on wide receiver in Rounds 3-6. So that means I want 1-2 running backs in Rounds 1-2. It’s Hero RB or Superhero RB for me.

Approach to Rounds 3-6

This area in the draft is sometimes referred to as the “Running Back Dead Zone.”

I prefer to think of it as the “Wide Receiver Power Alley.”

In these four rounds, I want to take 2-4 wide receivers (depending on how many I select in Rounds 1-2), and these are the guys I’m happy to draft at ADP, listed here in the order I currently rank them.

  • A.J. Brown
  • D.J. Moore
  • Tee Higgins
  • Mike Evans
  • Mike Williams
  • Michael Pittman Jr.
  • Terry McLaurin
  • Diontae Johnson
  • D.K. Metcalf
  • Brandin Cooks
  • Courtland Sutton
  • Amari Cooper
  • Marquise Brown
  • Michael Thomas
  • Jerry Jeudy

A.J. Brown has 10.1 yards per target for his career (including postseason). He’s ballerlicious.

D.J. Moore is the only wide receiver with 1,200-plus yards from scrimmage in each of the past three seasons — and he’s just 25 years old.

Last year, Higgins matched No. 1 wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase with 7.8 targets per game (including playoffs).

Evans has an NFL-record eight seasons with 1,000-plus yards receiving to open his career.

No disrespect to Keenan Allen … but Williams might be the No. 1 wide receiver on the Chargers.

Pittman gets an upgrade with QB Matt Ryan, and he could see more usage this year without WRs T.Y. Hilton and Zach Pascal, who have vacated 106 targets.

McLaurin has 1,030 yards receiving per season for his career, and he has done that with QBs Taylor Heinicke, Dwayne Haskins, Case Keenum, Alex Smith, Kyle Allen, Colt McCoy and Garrett Gilbert. Say whatever you want about Carson Wentz, but he’s an upgrade on that collective cohort.

Johnson is a volume monster with 10.3 targets per game over the past two years (including postseason).

Metcalf has 2,270 yards and 22 touchdowns receiving since 2020, and last year — albeit in just three games — he had more half-PPR points without longtime QB Russell Wilson (14.9) than with him (11.7).

Cooks is the only established wide receiver on the Texans, and he has gone over 1,000 yards receiving in every season in which he has played 15-plus games.

Among wide receivers with 25-plus targets, Sutton was No. 4 last year with a 15.4-yard average depth of target (aDOT), and now he’s partners with QB Russell Wilson, who was No. 1 with 9.9 air yards per pass attempt.

Cooper has averaged over 1,000 yards receiving per season across his seven-year career, and QB Deshaun Watson is probably the best pure passer he’s ever had.

Marquise Brown is reunited with college QB Kyler Murray, so they have a strong #ShowerNarrative connection, and Brown should benefit to start the year without No. 1 WR DeAndre Hopkins (suspension).

Thomas is a risk-seeking selection, but he has 9.1 yards per target for his career, and the last time he played more than seven games in a season he had an NFL-record 149 receptions.

Jeudy … I don’t know what to say: I like to live dangerously.

If I draft only one running back in Rounds 1-2, I’m likely to try to get 1-2 of the following backs in Rounds 3-6, listed according to my current ranking.

  • Leonard Fournette
  • Saquon Barkley
  • James Conner
  • Travis Etienne
  • A.J. Dillon
  • Clyde Edwards-Helaire

Last year, Fournette had 1,373 yards and 12 touchdowns from scrimmage on 193 carries and 93 targets in 15 games (including playoffs) — and No. 2 running back Ronald Jones is now gone.

Barkley has been limited by injuries for the past two seasons, but he’s still just 25 years old, he amassed 3,469 yards and 23 touchdowns from scrimmage in his first two campaigns, and the Giants offense should be improved under new HC Brian Daboll. Unfortunately, his ADP has moved up over the past two months, so he’s available in Round 3 less and less.

Since 2018, Conner has averaged 1,062 yards and 11 touchdowns per season, and now he has the Cardinals backfield to himself thanks to the departure of RB Chase Edmonds, in whose absence he put up 20.6 half-PPR points on 16.6 carries and 5.6 targets per game in five starts last year.

Etienne has first-round draft capital and a three-down skill set (48-588-2 receiving in final season at Clemson), and RB James Robinson (Achilles) might be limited to start the year after suffering a potentially career-altering season-ending injury in December.

The Packers might rely on the running game more this year without WRs Davante Adams and Marquez Valdes-Scantling, and Dillon put up 1,116 yards and seven touchdowns last season as just a change-of-pace option.

Edwards-Helaire underwhelmed in 2021 — perhaps because of the gallbladder surgery he had in the offseason — but this year he could operate as a full-fledged three-down lead back now that the Chiefs are without RB Darrel Williams and WRs Tyreek Hill, Byron Pringle and Demarcus Robinson.

Notes for Rounds 3-6

I’m a devout late-round quarterback drafter and have had success identifying quarterbacks to target after Round 6 over the past several years.

  • 2018: Patrick Mahomes
  • 2019: Lamar Jackson
  • 2020: Josh Allen
  • 2021: Jalen Hurts

I like the quarterbacks going in Rounds 1-6 this year: They should be going early in drafts. But I don’t like them at their ADPs.

Similarly, after Travis Kelce and Mark Andrews, the tight ends going in Rounds 3-6 are unlikely to have significant representation on my fantasy teams unless they fall past their ADPs. The reason: I want to focus primarily on wide receivers in Rounds 3-6, and I can find tight ends I like later in the draft.

As a result, I want to leave Round 6 with this general positional breakdown.

  • QB: Nothing
  • RB: 1-2
  • WR: 3-4
  • TE: Top two or nothing

Approach to Rounds 7-8

Starting in Round 7, upside is what I want the most in the guys I draft.

What is upside?

It’s the underappreciated potential to provide a massive return on draft capital. It’s “big boom, little bust.” It’s asymmetry in action.

It’s what wins fantasy championships.

In Rounds 7-8, here are the upside running backs I want to target.

  • Miles Sanders
  • Ken Walker
  • Cordarrelle Patterson
  • Kareem Hunt
  • Tony Pollard

Sanders is a prime positive regression candidate for 2022, given that he has averaged 1,101 scrimmage yards per season and had six touchdowns in each of his first two campaigns but had zero scores last year.

With his size (5-9, 211 pounds), speed (4.38-second 40-yard dash), draft capital (pick No. 41) and final-season college production (263-1,636-18 rushing, 13-89-1 receiving), Walker has a real shot to be a slightly lesser version of 2020 Jonathan Taylor.

Patterson is already 31 years old, but he has relatively little wear on his body, given that last year was his first with 100-plus carries. As a Deebo Samuel-esque “wide back” hybrid, Patterson amassed 1,166 yards and 11 touchdowns from scrimmage in 2022. This year he has a decent chance to replicate his usage of 153 carries and 69 targets given that the Falcons will be without RB Mike Davis (release) and WRs Calvin Ridley (suspension) and Russell Gage (free agency). As intriguing as fifth-round RB Tyler Allgeier might be, he’s unlikely to push Patterson off the field, and first-round WR Drake London probably won’t claim all 146 targets vacated by Ridley and Gage.

In 32 regular-season games with the Browns (so almost the equivalent of two seasons), Hunt has 2,169 yards and 19 touchdowns from scrimmage primarily as a change-of-pace option. If RB Nick Chubb suffers an injury or if the Browns trade Hunt to a team looking for a lead back, Hunt could go off.

No. 1 RB Ezekiel Elliott has had back-to-back subpar seasons (for him), and he’ll be 27 years old when the season starts. Pollard is an elite handcuff who will continue to see regular action in a change-of-pace role, and he could see more usage in the receiving game without WRs Amari Cooper and Cedrick Wilson.

At wide receiver, I want the following upside players in Rounds 7-8.

  • Rashod Bateman
  • Drake London
  • Gabriel Davis
  • JuJu Smith-Schuster
  • Elijah Moore

In the absence of former No. 1 WR Marquise Brown, Bateman is primed for a second-year breakout thanks to his draft capital (pick No. 27), athletic profile (6-0, 210 pounds, 4.41-second 40-yard dash) and college production (96-1,691-13 receiving in 18 games in two final seasons).

London is precisely the kind of rookie receiver I want to take a chance on. He’s big (6-4, 219 pounds), he’s young (21 years old in July) and he’s entering the NFL early (as a junior). He has elite draft capital (pick No. 8), and he had strong college production (88-1,084-7 receiving in eight games in his final season). The USC product could be the next Larry Fitzgerald or Mike Evans with those attributes. If I’m a year too early in drafting him, so be it.

QB Josh Allen is good enough to support two fantasy-relevant wide receivers, and Davis is dynamic enough to make a third-year leap. Wide receivers Cole Beasley and Emmanuel Sanders are both gone (free agency), and 184 targets have opened up in their absence. New slot WR Jamison Crowder will seize his share of those vacated targets, but Davis has produced for two years with the Bills (9.9 yards per target, including playoffs). He’s a legitimate end-zone weapon (6-foot-2, 210 pounds, 12.1% touchdown rate), and he’s just 23 years old.

For the past three years, Smith-Schuster has been hamstrung (pun intended) by injuries and the diminishing ability of former QB Ben Roethlisberger. But in his first two seasons he amassed 2,343 yards receiving, which puts him No. 4 on the all-time receiving list for players under the age of 23, behind only Justin Jefferson, Randy Moss and Josh Gordon. Turning 26 in November, Smith-Schuster is still young, and now he has a chance to be the No. 1 wide receiver for QB Patrick Mahomes. WRs Tyreek Hill, Byron Pringle and Demarcus Robinson have vacated 260 targets. Here be the dragon of opportunity.

Elijah Moore balled out as a 20-year-old true junior in the SEC (86-1,193-8 receiving in eight games), he can line up across the formation, he has top-end speed (4.35-second 40-yard dash), and he flashed in his final six games as a rookie last year (34-459-5 receiving, 4-35-0 rushing).

Notes for Rounds 7-8

In Rounds 7-8, I want to continue to attack running back and wide receiver and bypass quarterback and tight end.

As a result, I want to leave Round 8 with this general positional breakdown.

  • QB: Nothing
  • RB: 3-4
  • WR: 4-5
  • TE: Top two or nothing

Approach to Rounds 9-18

As I move into the second half of the draft, I start swinging for the fences and trying to get as many of “my guys” as possible while keeping roster requirements in mind.

Quarterbacks for Rounds 9-18

Here are the quarterbacks I like starting in Round 9.

  • Trey Lance
  • Trevor Lawrence
  • Justin Fields
  • Daniel Jones

The ability some people have to misinterpret tweets or incorrectly extrapolate from them is extraordinary.

The closer we get to the season with Garoppolo still on the roster, the likelier it is that he will still be on the team during the season, which will makes him a latent threat to Lance throughout the campaign, especially if the 49ers struggles. But the likeliest outcome is that Lance will start in Week 1 — and if that happens, he could dominate. In 10 quarters of action as a rookie, he was 598-4-2 passing and 31-161-0 rushing.

Lawrence no longer has Urban Meyer as his head coach. That’s the blurb.

In his six final full games of 2021, Fields averaged 15.5 fantasy points per game. The former passing game coordinator for the Packers, new OC Luke Getsy will likely be a play-calling upgrade on HC Matt Nagy and OC Bill Lazor.

Last year, Jones dealt with injuries — to himself and his supporting playmakers — and also had to endure the injustice of running plays called by OCs Jason Garrett and Freddie Kitchens.

Running Backs for Rounds 9-18

Here are the running backs I like for Round 9 and beyond.

  • James Cook
  • Melvin Gordon
  • Isaiah Spiller
  • Dameon Pierce
  • Alexander Mattison
  • Gus Edwards
  • Tyrion Davis-Price
  • Brian Robinson

Cook doesn’t have the size of a lead back (5-11, 199 pounds), but neither did Jamaal Charles (6-0, 200 pounds). Charles was faster (4.38-second 40-yard dash vs. 4.42) and more productive in college (1,818 yards, 18 touchdowns in final season vs. 1,012, 11), but Cook has the edge in draft capital (pick No. 63 vs. 73) and opportunity (Devin Singletary as the incumbent starter vs. Larry Johnson). If the Bills were pleased with Singletary, they likely wouldn’t have selected Cook in Round 2.

Gordon hasn’t shown any large signs of slowing down since joining the Broncos in 2020, and over the past half decade he has put up 6,139 yards and 55 touchdowns.

Last year, the Chargers gave 137 carries and 33 targets to backup RBs Justin Jackson, Joshua Kelley and Larry Rountree. Those opportunities are up for grabs. Jackson left the team in free agency, and if the Chargers were satisfied with Kelley and Rountree, they almost certainly wouldn’t have drafted Spiller. The former Aggie fell to the fourth round because of a poor pro day with a 4.63-second 40-yard dash but remains a potential-laden player as a 21-year-old early-declare rookie with a four-star recruitment pedigree and three years of three-down SEC production (541-2,993-25 rushing, 74-585-1 receiving). Starting RB Austin Ekeler is coming off a career year with 276 touches. Either through a scaled-back workload or injury, he seems unlikely to replicate that usage, which means Spiller could have a valuable change-of-pace and handcuff role.

Pierce is a slowish (4.59-second 40-yard dash) fourth-round rookie who never had even 800 scrimmage yards in a college season and is now on an offense likely to underwhelm — but he’s younger than Rex Burkhead (32 years old in July) and healthier than Marlon Mack (career-altering Achilles tear in 2020).

Mattison is a marquee handcuff. In four starts last year without No. 1 RB Dalvin Cook, Mattison leveraged 22.5 carries and 5.5 targets into 129.5 yards, 0.75 touchdowns and 19.8 half-PPR points per game. With a new coaching staff, Mattison might have more of a regular change-of-pace role than he’s had previously.

Edwards (knee) will be more than a year removed from his ACL tear when the season starts, and the Ravens seem likely to rely on the running game in 2022 after trading away No. 1 WR Marquise Brown. Edwards has been a top-three north-south runner each year of his career (per Next Gen Stats’ Efficiency metric).

In his five years with the 49ers, HC Kyle Shanahan has had five different No. 1 running backs.

That doesn’t mean Elijah Mitchell won’t have success in 2022. He played well last year (1,100 yards in 11 games). But he’s not built like a lead back (5-10, 200 pounds), and the 49ers might consider him replaceable given his 2021 draft capital (pick No. 194). He’s vulnerable — and Davis-Price could be the guy to steal his job, given his size (6-1, 219 pounds), athleticism (4.48-second 40-yard dash) and draft capital (pick No. 93). If I can get a Shanahan back on the cheap with a foreseeable path to touches, I’m doing it.

Robinson didn’t shine until his final college season, but that’s understandable given that he played behind Damien Harris, Josh Jacobs and Najee Harris in his earlier years. As a redshirt senior, Robinson flashed a strong three-down skill set (271-1,343-14 rushing, 35-296-2 receiving in 14 games), and he has the size (6-2, 225 pounds) and sufficient athleticism (4.53-second 40-yard dash) to be an NFL lead back.

As a rookie, Robinson is likely to play behind veteran RBs Antonio Gibson and J.D. McKissic, but if either one suffers an injury he could markedly outproduce expectations, and his draft capital (pick No. 98) gives him a chance of carving out a real role in 2022.

Wide Receivers for Rounds 9-18

These are the wide receivers who are “my guys” starting in Round 9.

  • Allen Lazard
  • Kadarius Toney
  • Chase Claypool
  • Julio Jones
  • Skyy Moore
  • Will Fuller
  • Jahan Dotson
  • Christian Watson
  • David Bell
  • Wan’Dale Robinson
  • K.J. Hamler
  • Laquon Treadwell

WRs Davante Adams and Marquez Valdes-Scantling have vacated 224 targets, and Lazard for his career is 9.3 yards per target and an 8.4% touchdown rate (including postseason).

In his four games last year with eight-plus targets, Toney averaged 83.75 yards and 13.5 half-PPR points. Given his recent success with the Bills, new HC Brian Daboll could use Toney in a Stefon Diggs-like fashion.

Claypool is an athletic marvel (6-4, 238 pounds, 4.42-second 40-yard dash) who should enjoy positive regression after scoring 11 touchdowns in 2020 but just two last year.

We all know that Jones has been a great player throughout his career: He’s a Hall-of-Famer. What a lot of people don’t seem to realize is that, even though he missed significant time over the past two years, when he was on the field he averaged an elite 10.4 yards per target, which suggests that he’s still the player he used to be — except maybe more fragile.

In his 13 games since 2020 with a snap rate of more than 50% (including playoffs), Jones has 72-1,071-4 receiving on 101 targets. That plane will fly. Jones is old (33 years), but with the Buccaneers he (like Antonio Brown in previous seasons) won’t have the pressure of needing to play every snap, so he has a better chance of staying healthy, and he’ll likely be targeted heavily as a specialist when he’s on the field. As the No. 3 wide receiver, Jones will face the softest coverage of his career, and he’ll also have the best quarterback of his career in Tom Brady. The stars are aligned: As long as just one thing happens — he stays healthy — Jones should crush. It’s not a given that he’ll stay healthy. A lot of people doubt that he will. But that’s why this call is bold.

As much as I like JuJu Smith-Schuster, he has underwhelmed for the past three years, and WRs Tyreek Hill, Byron Pringle and Demarcus Robinson have vacated 260 targets. Moore has the route-running skills to play in the slot, the speed (4.41-second 40-yard dash) to play on the perimeter and the draft capital (pick No. 54) and college production (95-1,292-10 receiving in 12 games in final season) to be an impact rookie.

Fuller is still a free agent, but I bet he’ll sign with a team by August, and when that happens his draft position and consensus ranking will rise, so I’m looking to get ahead of that now. For his career, Fuller has averaged 9.2 yards per target. Over the past five years, Fuller hasn’t played more than 11 games in any season, so he’s the human embodiment of a red flag — but his 166-2,501-22 receiving stat line for the past half decade prorates to 1,037 yards and nine touchdowns over a 17-game season. You can’t ignore Fuller’s upside at his price.

Dotson might be the No. 5 pass catcher on the Commanders after WRs Terry McLaurin and Curtis Samuel, RB J.D. McKissic and TE Logan Thomas — but he has the draft capital (pick No. 16) and college production (2,084 yards, 21 touchdowns in 21 games in two final seasons) to be a fantasy-relevant receiver.

Watson is big (6-4, 208 pounds) and fast (4.36-second 40-yard dash), and future hall-of-fame QB Aaron Rodgers needs someone else to throw to besides Lazard.

Bell is the top rookie on his team. For a guy of his size (6-1, 212 pounds), Bell isn’t fast, but he’s also not egregiously slow (4.65-second 40-yard dash) — and his mediocre athleticism is more than outweighed by his third-round draft capital and four-star recruitment status. A consensus All-American as a junior, Bell broke out as a true freshman and balled out for the entirety of his college career with 232-2,946-21 receiving in 29 games. Ready to inherit the “Jarvis Landry role” as a big-bodied Anquan Boldin-like power slot, Bell could be an immediate fantasy contributor.

Imagine a world in which Toney is disliked by a new coaching staff that didn’t draft him, Kenny Golladay is dust, Sterling Shepard (Achilles) is still recovering from the season-ending (and perhaps career-altering) injury he suffered in December and Darius Slayton is just a rotational player. That world’s actually not hard to imagine — and in it Robinson could be the new No. 1 wide receiver for the Giants, given his draft capital (pick No. 43) and playmaking skill set (104-1,334-7 receiving as a full-time receiver in final season, 134-580-4 rushing as a hybrid receiver/back in first two seasons).

Maybe Hamler will be QB Russell Wilson’s new Tyler Lockett.

I’m mainly joking about Treadwell … but in his seven games as the fill-in No. 3 receiver last year — after WRs D.J. Chark (ankle) and Jamal Agnew (hip) suffered season-ending injuries — Treadwell (31-405-1 receiving, 44 targets) outproduced then-No. 1 receiver Marvin Jones (31-346-1, 48 targets). Treadwell has a shot to beat out WRs Zay Jones and Laviska Shenault for the No. 3 role in training camp — and I’m not impressed with WRs Christian Kirk and Marvin Jones as the guys at the top of the depth chart. You don’t actually need to draft Treadwell, but I want to call attention to him now as someone to monitor throughout the season … if he manages to make the team.

Tight Ends for Rounds 9-18

Here the tight ends I’m targeting starting in Round 9.

  • Albert Okwuegbunam
  • Cole Kmet
  • Irv Smith Jr.

I’ve been bullish on Okwuegbunam ever since the Broncos traded for QB Russell Wilson and traded away No. 1 tight end Noah Fant.

Last year, Okwuegbunam had just 40 targets, but among tight ends to hit that threshold he was seventh and ninth in yards per route (2.0) and routes per target (4.2). The target competition will be tough with WRs Jerry Jeudy, Courtland Sutton, Tim Patrick and K.J. Hamler — but if Okwuegbunam becomes a regular contributor he will likely smash market expectations.

Kmet had 93 targets last year and should see more this year without WR Allen Robinson. He’s a prime candidate for positive regression as a scorer, given his 612 yards and zero touchdowns in 2021.

Smith (knee) missed all of last year with an injury, but he was a full participant at minicamp, and now he should be a full-time player without TEs Kyle Rudolph and Tyler Conklin competing for snaps. In his four season-closing games without Rudolph in 2020, Smith averaged 11.0 half-PPR points on five targets per game.

Notes for Rounds 9-18

By the end of the draft, I want this general positional breakdown.

  • QB: Watson, Lance, Lawrence, Fields or Jones
  • RB: 5-8
  • WR: 8-11
  • TE: Kelce, Andrews, Okwuegbunam, Kmet or Smith
  • DST: Nothing
  • K: Nothing

If league settings allow, I usually forgo defense and kicker in the draft and opt instead for two additional running backs, just in case a starter suffers an injury in the preseason and the handcuff becomes the new No. 1 back. As the season approaches, you can always drop these backs and pick up a defense and kicker as needed.

Matthew Freedman’s 2022 Redraft Fantasy Football Rankings

 

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If you want to dive deeper into fantasy football, be sure to check out our award-winning slate of Fantasy Football Tools as you navigate your season. From our Start/Sit Assistant – which provides your optimal lineup, based on accurate consensus projections – to our Waiver Wire Assistant – that allows you to quickly see which available players will improve your team and by how much – we’ve got you covered this fantasy football season.

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