Andrew Erickson’s Draft Pick Slot Analysis & Strategy (2022 Fantasy Football)
I was supposed to be on a wedding venue visit with my fiancee this past weekend. And by GPS tracking I was. But my mind and body couldn’t have been farther apart as I was on the clock to pick my draft slot in one of my home fantasy football leagues.
Editor’s note: Please hope she never finds this.
I was lucky enough to have the first crack at any of one of the 10 spots (10-team league), thinking the 1.01 would be the easy selection.
And eventually after loads of self-doubt, contemplation, and running hundreds of mock drafts on the FantasyPros DraftWizard, I chose the 1.01 as my preferred draft slot.
But I’ll be honest. There’s still a case to be made for other draft slots that could be just as good — if not better — than the highly-coveted 1.01.
Top of the Draft (Picks 1+2)
There’s no denying having your choice of any player with the first overall pick is enticing. The last few seasons have been tougher for the No. 1 overall pick with injuries derailing guys like Christian McCaffrey and Saquon Barkley, but I’d hardly view that as gospel.
Injuries vary from year to year, and avoiding the first overall pick because past guys have failed to hold up seems to be an analysis wrapped up in recency bias. CMC and Barkley getting hurt has zero impact on whether 2022’s consensus 1.01 — Jonathan Taylor — will play up to snuff.
Because it needs to be noted that repeating as the RB1 overall in fantasy football is a very difficult task to achieve. It hasn’t been done since 2007.
If you draft the future RB1 overall
Your chances of winning in fantasy football increase by more than 50%
Here are four sneaky players that could finish as the highest scoring RB this year
— Alex Caruso (@AlexCaruso) July 18, 2022
Selecting Taylor first overall doesn’t guarantee you that your roster will boast fantasy football’s No. 1 running back when the dust settles.
But what it does is set your squad up with a super high floor, which should be valued highly in traditional home leagues. Remember, you only need to beat 50-75% of 10-12 opponents to make the postseason. JT has been a super durable runner dating back to his college days at Wisconsin.
And although the buzz for Christian McCaffrey is growing to be the No. 1 selection based on a higher per-game ceiling than Taylor in PPR formats — 26 fantasy points per game in four healthy starts last season — I personally don’t feel the need to take that risk with the first overall pick.
I still am in the camp that CMC is the clear-cut 1.02 because of his top-tier upside, which is why the No. 2 is still firmly in play as one of my preferred draft slots.
Selecting either first or second locks you into one of the league’s best running backs, and I love that start to my draft. My perfect fantasy football draft strategy features at least one running back in the first two rounds, so having picks at the very top is ideal.
You’ll then have the luxury of snagging a surplus of talented wide receivers near the Round 2 or Round 3 turn. After that, you can follow up on any running back that slips near the Round 4 or 5 turn that you like — Cam Akers, Travis Etienne Jr., Breece Hall — or just punt the RB2 slot and continue loading up with WRs and/or a premium tight end.
RB Breece Hall, New York Jets
The Jets selected the Iowa State product at the top of Rd 2, signifying his status as RB1
— Andrew Erickson™ (@AndrewErickson_) July 17, 2022
I’m not overly bullish on targeting any of them with a top-five pick, which is reflected in my 2022 fantasy rankings. I love the Minnesota Vikings’ offense this season and have Dalvin Cook/Justin Jefferson ranked above ADP for that reason. I also feel pretty confident about Ja’Marr Chase — who almost never costs a top-five pick.
They’d be my main targets inside the top five picks — but if I want to get them at the best value. And that’s where the game theory in picking your draft slot comes into play. You need to be familiar with your league settings and website ADP.
Because even though I’d draft Jefferson as high as No. 3 overall, knowing his ADP is 6 means I can take a middle-range pick to set myself up better for future selections. By identifying my player targets beforehand and their ADPs, I can extract the most draft value versus ADP and still get my guys.
Middle of the Draft (Picks 5+6) and Late Picks (11+12)
Selecting from the middle also affords me the luxury of not falling victim to positional runs.
Although I’ll admit that picking fifth or sixth is not for the faint of heart. You will constantly be trying to cross-reference other rosters and ADP to ensure you don’t reach on guys and have values fall into your lap. But savvy drafters will be up to the challenge and take full advantage.
If you are picking in the middle — the FantasyPros Draft Wizard is going to help you A TON. The predictor tool will be a godsend, providing drafters everything they need to navigate the middle rounds like an absolute pro.
But the best part about picking from the middle is that regardless of whichever position you draft first (RB/WR), there will be an awesome player at the other position available in Round 2. Saquon Barkley, Mike Evans, A.J. Brown, and Tee Higgins to name a few.
Even with Ja’Marr Chase’s epic Week 17 eruption…
Tee Higgins led CIN in tgts, recs and yards over the last 8 weeks of the season.
— Andrew Erickson™ (@AndrewErickson_) July 18, 2022
In Rounds 3 and 4 from the middle, you’ll find a similar situation. Breakout WRs as far as the eye can see along with a few aforementioned dead-zone RBs worth drafting if you so choose. My preferences being Cam Akers, Travis Etienne Jr., and Breece Hall.
I also don’t stand alone on my draft slot preference take from the middle. Both FantasyPros analysts Joe Pisapia and Derek Brown agreed on the subject on the latest episode of the FantasyPros Football Podcast.
After the middle rounds, I’m likely passing on picks 7, 8, 9, and 10 — unless I can ensure Cook at eighth overall ADP or Chase at ninth overall ADP — and opt for the end of Round 1.
One of my favorite starts in PPR from the tail end of Round 1 is double-tapping elite WRs or pairing one WR with D’Andre Swift.
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.
— Andrew Erickson™ (@AndrewErickson_) June 27, 2022
All in all, if I can’t get a top-two pick — most often picks taken — I am more than fine taking a middle pick at either 5 or 6. I’ve laid out the case that the drop-off is not so stark from the top of the draft and that the following rounds fit so nicely for optimal drafting from the center of draft board.
If you want to dive deeper into fantasy football, 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, which allows you to quickly see which available players will improve your team and how much – we’ve got you covered this fantasy football season.