The Best Value Draft Picks in Every Round (2022 Fantasy Football)
The 2022 NFL season is less than two weeks away. That means we are in the heart of redraft league drafts. 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.
Beyond our fantasy football content, be sure to check out our award-winning slate of Fantasy Football Tools as you prepare for your draft this season. From our free mock Draft Simulator – which allows you to mock draft against realistic opponents – to our Draft Assistant – that optimizes your picks with expert advice – we’ve got you covered this fantasy football draft season.
Round 1 – Dalvin Cook (RB – MIN): ADP 7.7
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. All he needs is to repeat his efficiency numbers from last year and hit double-digit touchdowns. Cook has overall RB1 upside this year, so to get him in with a mid-first round pick is a steal.
Round 2 – Saquon Barkley (RB – NYG): ADP 22.5
The former No. 2 overall pick had a historic rookie season, averaging 22 touches and 24.1 fantasy points per game. Unfortunately, Barkley has struggled to stay healthy since his rookie season, missing 42.9 percent of the games the past three years. However, the Giants have done everything possible to help Barkley out this offseason, including improving their offensive line. They also haven’t added any real competition for touches, giving Barkley an easy path to a featured workload. Health is the key for Barkley. Before suffering a torn ACL in 2020, he scored 14 or more fantasy points in 24 of 30 games. If he stays healthy, Barkley could end the year as the overall RB1.
Round 3 – Tee Higgins (WR – CIN): ADP 33.1
While Ja’Marr Chase deserves every ounce of credit he gets, Higgins is very underrated. The former Clemson star was a top-13 wide receiver on a fantasy points per game basis last season, averaging 15.6 fantasy points per contest. Furthermore, Higgins had a team-high 7.9 targets per game last season, while Chase averaged 7.5 targets per game. More importantly, Joe Burrow looked Higgins’ way in the red zone. Higgins had a 26% red zone target share and 13 red zone targets in 14 games, while Chase had a 20.7% red zone targets share and 12 red zone targets in 17 games. Chase is a superstar, but Higgins is the much better value at his ADP.
Round 4 – Michael Pittman (WR – IND): ADP 37.5
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 be a WR1 and could end the year as a top-three wide receiver.
Round 5 – Mike Williams (WR – LAC): ADP 52.5
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 – Darnell Mooney (WR – CHI): ADP 70.3
Coming off a solid rookie season, Mooney broke out last year. He ended the season as the WR23, averaging 12.9 fantasy points per game. Furthermore, he was a WR2 despite scoring only four receiving touchdowns. However, Mooney’s production improved once Allen Robinson got hurt. He averaged 9.4 targets and 14.2 fantasy points per game in the five games without Robinson. Over a 17-game pace, Mooney would have ended the year as the WR17. When the Bears let Robinson leave in free agency, they did very little to replace him. Mooney will be among the league leaders in targets this season, making the former fifth-round pick a steal as the 29th wide receiver off the board.
Round 7 – JuJu Smith-Schuster (WR – KC): ADP 82.1
While JuJu has finished outside the top-60 wide receivers two of the past three years, that was not his fault. In 2019, he 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 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. As the 34th WR off the board, JuJu is a steal despite his minor knee injury.
Round 8 – Rashod Bateman (WR – BAL): ADP 92.1
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 excellent production this year.
Round 9 – Trey Lance (QB – SF): ADP 103.2
While he played sparingly last season, Lance was productive when given a chance. He started two games 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, as he has top-three upside.
Round 10 – Chris Olave (WR – NO): ADP 119.1
The Saints have three talented wide receivers in Michael Thomas, Jarvis Landry, and the rookie Olave. Thomas has received most of the hype during training camp after missing the past 1.5 seasons with an ankle injury. However, Olave is a sneaky pick to be the No. 1 wide receiver on the team this season. He has flashed during training camp, winning one-on-one matchups against the Green Bay Packers’ starting cornerbacks in joint practice and the Week 2 preseason game. Furthermore, Olave’s route-running skills should make his transition to the NFL smooth. While Thomas is the favorite to be the No. 1 wide receiver in New Orleans, don’t be surprised if the rookie takes over the role by midseason.
Round 11 – Dameon Pierce (RB – HOU): ADP 131.8
Pierce had under 375 touches in his four-year career at Florida. However, 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. After getting the Week 2 preseason game off with Brandin Cooks, Pierce has reportedly locked up the starting role. His ADP will only rise from here. Grab him in the double-digit rounds while you still can.
Round 12 – Cole Kmet (TE – CHI): ADP 138.8
While he had a disappointing sophomore season, Kmet was second on the team with 93 targets last year. Furthermore, he averaged 6.8 targets and 9.2 fantasy points per game in the five games Robinson missed. More importantly, Kmet was very productive in Justin Fields‘ final four starts. While Fields left the Week 11 matchup early with an injury, Kmet averaged 7.3 targets and 10.8 fantasy points per game in the other three games. His 10.8 fantasy points per game average would have made him the TE5 over a 17-game pace despite not scoring a touchdown. Kmet is a prime breakout candidate this year and my favorite tight end to draft in the double-digit rounds.
Round 13 – Justin Fields (QB – CHI): ADP 147.5
The Bears don’t have many appealing fantasy players. However, the few they do, are players I want on my fantasy team. 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 six times. He then averaged 16.4 fantasy points per game over his final five games last season, scoring over 16.8 fantasy points in four contests. While the Bears will struggle to win games this season, Fields has the potential to end the year as a top-10 quarterback.
Round 14 – George Pickens (WR – PIT): ADP 158.3
Pickens has been the talk of training camp in Pittsburgh. He has repeatedly made highlight reel plays in practice while not backing down from veteran defensive players. More importantly, Pickens has flashed when it matters. He had an impressive touchdown catch from Mason Rudolph in the Steelers’ first preseason game. Furthermore, Pickens has locked himself into a starter role as a rookie. With Smith-Schuster now in Kansas City, Pickens will start next to Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool. Given Johnson’s struggles with drops and Claypool’s disappointing 2021 season, no one should be surprised if Pickens is the best wide receiver in Pittsburgh by the end of the season.
Round 15 – David Njoku (TE – CLE): ADP 172.4
While he has struggled 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 – Romeo Doubs (WR – GB): ADP 190.2
I have led the Doubs hype train since early May. After trading away Davante Adams and losing Marquez Valdes-Scantling in free agency, the Packers have arguably the worst wide receiver core in the NFL. The duo had a combined 224 targets and 37.8% target share last year. More importantly, Doubs has repeatedly received praise from Aaron Rodgers. He has made several impressive plays in training camp, repeatedly beating starting cornerbacks in one-on-one situations. Allen Lazard projects as the No. 1 wide receiver for the Packers, but his career-high in targets is 60 (from last season). Doubs has a chance to become Rodgers’ top pass catcher as a rookie and massively outperform his late-round ADP.
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 – which 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.