The 2022 NFL season is only a few weeks away. That means it’s redraft season. While there are several strategies you can use during startup drafts, finding the best value in every round is critical regardless of which you deploy. So let’s look at the best value in each round in a typical 12-team, 1QB, PPR redraft league.
Round 1 – Dalvin Cook (RB – MIN): ADP 8.2
Cook averaged 15.9 fantasy points per game last year, his lowest average since 2018. Yet, he averaged 4.7 yards per rushing attempt, matching his career average. The drop in Cook’s production was due to touchdown regression. After scoring 30 touchdowns the previous two seasons, Cook scored only six last year. However, he had 47 red zone touches, including seven goal-line rushing attempts. With new head coach Kevin O’Connell opening up the playbook, expect Cook to have a career year in the receiving game. He has overall RB1 upside this year, so to get him in the mid-to-late first round is a steal.
Round 2 – CeeDee Lamb (WR – DAL): ADP 17.2
Many expect Lamb to take a massive step forward this season. Not only is he entering his third year in the NFL, but Lamb will take over as the No. 1 wide receiver in Dallas. The Cowboys traded Amari Cooper in the offseason, while Michael Gallup is recovering from a torn ACL. More importantly, he had a career-high 20.4% target share in 2021, and that number should take a massive jump this year as Dak Prescott’s new No. 1 target. With Cooper gone and Gallup likely out the first several weeks of the year, Lamb could see enough targets to finish the season as a top-five wide receiver.
Round 3 – Cam Akers (RB – LAR): ADP 31.8
While he hasn’t turned into a fantasy star yet, Akers is one of my favorite running backs to draft this year. After suffering a torn Achilles in July, he played 13 snaps during the 2021 regular season. However, Akers was a fantasy superstar during the 2020 playoffs, averaging 4.8 yards per rushing attempt and 21.1 fantasy points per game. Sony Michel signed with the Miami Dolphins in May, ending any possible return to Los Angeles. Darrell Henderson filled in for Akers last year but has struggled to stay healthy in his career. He was a potential first-round pick a year ago before suffering a torn Achilles. Now, Akers says he’s 100% healthy. If he is, Akers is a steal as a mid-third-round pick.
Round 4 – Michael Pittman Jr. (WR – IND): ADP 40.2
After a mostly quiet rookie season, Pittman ended last year as the WR17, averaging 14 fantasy points per game. He had three top-12 weekly finishes, only one fewer than Stefon Diggs in the same number of games played. More importantly, Pittman is in a great position to break out in his third NFL season. Last year he had a route participation rate of 98.1%, one of the highest in the NFL. He also had a 25% target share in the red zone despite Jonathan Taylor leading the NFL with 92 red zone touches. While they spent a second-round pick on Alec Pierce, the Colts did little to improve their receiving core. Pittman will see enough targets to end the year as a WR1.
Round 5 – Mike Williams (WR – LAC): ADP 51.8
Williams broke out last season with a career year in most statistical categories. He ended the year as the WR12 and had the second 1,000-yard season of his career. Instead of leaving this offseason, Williams re-signed with the Chargers and will have one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL throwing him the ball. More importantly, Williams had four top-12 weekly finishes last year, matching teammate Keenan Allen. Furthermore, he accomplished that feat despite playing 7% fewer snaps and seeing a 4.3% smaller target share. Even if he doesn’t replace Allen as the Chargers’ No. 1 wide receiver this year, Williams has too much upside to be a fifth-round pick.
Round 6 – Jalen Hurts (QB – PHI): ADP 69.8
In his first year as the full-time starter, Hurts was the QB9 and averaged 20.8 fantasy points per game. Furthermore, he tied for the QB6 finish on a points per game basis with Aaron Rodgers. However, he will take another step forward in 2022 after the Eagles made the blockbuster trade for A.J. Brown during the NFL Draft. More importantly, Hurts and Josh Allen were the only two quarterbacks to throw for over 3,000 yards and rush for over 750 yards last season. Hopefully, Hurts can take a massive leap forward with the addition of Brown like Allen did when Buffalo traded for Diggs. If he can, Hurts has overall QB1 upside and becomes a league winner in the sixth round.
Round 7 – JuJu Smith-Schuster (WR – KC): ADP 81.6
While he has finished outside the top-60 wide receivers two of the past three years, that was not his fault. In 2019, JuJu caught passes from Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges. Then he played in only five games last year because of a shoulder injury. However, Smith-Schuster was the WR17 in 2020, averaging 14.6 fantasy points per game. Now, he is in Kansas City and will be the favorite to replace Tyreek Hill and his 25.1% target share from last year as the No. 1 wide receiver. While he isn’t likely to end the year as a top-10 wide receiver, Smith-Schuster is due for a massive bounce-back season.
Round 8 – Rashod Bateman (WR – BAL): ADP 86.6
Bateman is a popular wide receiver to draft this year, given Baltimore’s offseason moves. They traded away Marquise Brown and have yet to replace him with a veteran. While Mark Andrews remains the No. 1 target in Baltimore, Bateman will step into Brown’s role and 26.7% target share from last season. Despite missing a part of camp and the first five games of the season, Bateman had a solid rookie year for fantasy teams. He averaged 8.6 fantasy points per game and had six weekly top-36 finishes. Last year, no one predicted Pittman would end the season as a top-20 wide receiver. Bateman has a similar situation and a chance to have similar production this year.
Round 9 – Christian Kirk (WR – JAC): ADP 103.8
Despite the blockbuster trades this offseason, the most surprising headline was the contract the Jaguars gave Kirk. However, he is in a great position for fantasy players. Last year, Kirk had the best year of his career, finishing at the WR26, averaging 12.2 fantasy points per game. However, he averaged 12.9 fantasy points per game in the seven contests without DeAndre Hopkins, scoring over 16.4 fantasy points in two of those games. More importantly, no one on the Jacksonville roster can challenge Kirk for the No. 1 role. The Jaguars will be in negative game scripts for a big chunk of the year, giving Kirk plenty of opportunities to score fantasy points. A top-20 finish isn’t out of the question for Kirk.
Round 10 – Trey Lance (QB – SF): ADP 110.8
While he played sparingly last season, Lance was productive when given a chance. He started two games last season for an injured Jimmy Garoppolo. Lance also played the entire second half of the Week 4 matchup after Garoppolo suffered an injury right before halftime. In those 2.5 games, Lance scored 54 fantasy points. Adjusting for playing only 10 quarters of football instead of 12, Lance averaged 21.6 fantasy points per game last season in a situation where he was the starter. Lance’s ADP has slowly climbed over the past month. Once Garoppolo gets traded, Lance’s ADP could jump into the top 60. Be sure to draft him on the cheap while you can.
Round 11 – Dameon Pierce (RB – HOU): ADP 130.4
The fourth-round rookie was a popular pick in rookie drafts after he got selected by the Texans. While he spent four years at Florida, Pierce had under 375 touches in his career. Derrick Henry had 395 rushing attempts in his final year at Alabama by comparison. Furthermore, he was productive despite a limited workload. Pierce had only two games last season with over nine rushing attempts. Yet, he had 54 or more rushing yards in over half the games last season. More importantly, his competition for the lead role is limited. Marlon Mack has 37 touches over the past two years, while Rex Burkhead had one game with over 47 rushing yards last season. Be sure to draft him now, as Pierce’s value will only rise from here.
Round 12 – Justin Fields (QB – CHI): ADP 141.4
While Fields ended his rookie year as the QB32, averaging only 10.6 fantasy points per game, he improved as the season progressed. Over his first seven games, Fields averaged 6.4 fantasy points per game, scoring under nine fantasy points in six of them. He then averaged 16.4 fantasy points per game over his final five games last season, scoring over 16.8 fantasy points in four of those contests. More importantly, Fields started to run more over the final seven games of the year, rushing for at least 35 yards in all but one game. While the Bears will struggle to win games this season, Fields has the potential to end the year as a top-10 quarterback.
Round 13 – Jakobi Meyers (WR – NE): ADP 145.8
Last year the Patriots had the eighth-fewest pass attempts in the NFL. However, Meyers still ended the year as a top-30 wide receiver despite finishing with fewer receiving touchdowns than Greg Ward. Meyers had a career-high 126 targets last year, the 22nd most in the NFL. He also had seven top-36 weekly finishes and 12 top-48 weekly finishes last year. Some are worried DeVante Parker’s arrival will severely hurt Meyers’ 24.4% target share from last season. However, Parker has missed nine games over the past two years because of injuries. Meyers lacks the upside to finish as a top-20 wide receiver. However, he is the perfect late-round target as a safe-floor flex option.
Round 14 – Darrel Williams (RB – ARI): ADP 163.8
Clyde Edwards-Helaire got all hype in the Kansas City backfield heading into last season. However, Williams was the running back to shine. He ended the year as the RB19, averaging a career-high 11.5 fantasy points per game. Williams also showed he can play a role in the passing game last season, posting a career-high 2.8 receptions for 26.6 receiving yards per contest. Meanwhile, the Cardinals lost Chase Edmonds and his 11.9 fantasy points per game average from last season in free agency. Williams could fill that role and Edmond’s 56.8% snap rate from last season. Furthermore, James Conner has struggled with injuries in his career. If Conner misses time, Williams becomes a league winner and is well worth a pick this late in the draft.
Round 15 – David Njoku (TE – CLE): ADP 172.1
While he has struggled so far in his career, Njoku is one of the more popular breakout names at tight end this year. Last season, he played 63.4% of the snaps and had a route participation rate of 56.6%. More importantly, the Browns released Austin Hooper this offseason and signed Njoku to a four-year contract worth over $54 million. Meanwhile, Njoku played a role in the red zone last year, totaling nine targets and five receptions in the red zone. While Amari Cooper is the best receiving option for the Browns, Njoku has a clear path to the No. 2 role. Whether Deshaun Watson or Jacoby Brissett starts at quarterback, Njoku will breakout this season and has top-eight upside.
Round 16 – Khalil Herbert (RB – CHI): ADP 180.5
Even though he was a sixth-round pick, Herbert was a productive fantasy player last year. He averaged 13.5 fantasy points per game in the four games David Montgomery missed. Furthermore, he was the RB18 during those four weeks. At the very least, Herbert is one of the top handcuffs in fantasy football. Yet, he could have more value this season. Chicago’s new offensive coordinator, Luke Getsy, came from Green Bay. Last year, they used a two-running back situation. Getsy could decide to use both Montgomery and Herbert this season as a 1-2 punch. Fantasy players should use a late-round pick on Herbert and see how the Chicago backfield shakes in Week 1.
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.