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Andrew Erickson’s Players to Avoid (2022 Fantasy Football)

Aug 12, 2022
Ezekiel Elliott

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.

One of the most important aspects of completing a successful fantasy football draft is knowing who to target. Sure, there could be ‘value’ that presents itself through the draft, but sometimes there’s a reason a player is ‘falling’ down draft boards. You need to know when to scoop up value and when to move on.

Here are a few of my top players to avoid in 2022 fantasy football drafts with additional insight on how to approach each position provided directly from my 2022 Perfect Fantasy Football Round-By-Round Draft Strategy. You can find the full list of my players to avoid in our 2022 Fantasy Football Draft Kit.

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Fantasy Football Redraft Draft Kit

Andrew Erickson’s Players to Avoid

QUARTERBACKS

A few quarterbacks might go off the board before Round 6, but the opportunity cost is too high for fantasy football’s most easily replaceable position. The priority among the onesie positions should be to lock up the tight end position at value, which already leaves rosters thinner than most at RB/WR.

If you desire a QB, draft whichever top-tier passer — Josh AllenPatrick MahomesKyler MurrayLamar JacksonJustin Herbert, or Jalen Hurts — remains. Joe Burrow feels a bit expensive grouped with these guys, but his QB5 ADP demands attention.

Don’t feel pressured to draft a signal-caller, because there are still plenty of great options in the following rounds. Oftentimes, one slips into Round 7.

Patrick Mahomes II (QB – KC) ADP: 34 OVR, QB2

Best real-life quarterback? Of course. The clear-cut No. 2 option in fantasy? Not worth the price of admission.

Patrick Mahomes ranked fourth in fantasy points per game (22.0), tying Justin Herbert with 12 weekly top-12 QB finishes in 2021. Still, Mahomes averaged fewer fantasy points per game than in 2020 (25.2). And that was with Tyreek Hill in the fold.

My findings from the QB boom-or-bust report was also glaring.

– Mahomes posted the highest bust rate among QBs inside the top 3 ADP (25%).
– The Chiefs QB’s average fantasy finish in 7 games that Hill busted in 2021: QB11. One top-five finish.
– The Chiefs QB’s average fantasy finish in games that Hill finished top-20 or better in 2021: QB7. Five top-five finishes.

Heading into 2022, Hill’s departure cannot be ignored. The duo ranks second in combined passing touchdowns (41) since 2016 — despite Mahomes not becoming the starter until the 2018 season. There’s genuine concern about his top-tier weekly ceiling without Hill that is not being factored into his top-3 ADP and ECR ranking.

Especially coming off a season where he posted a career-low PFF passing grade (77.5) and a career-high in interceptions (16). He’s being overvalued as the QB2 in early drafts on name recognition alone.

Dak Prescott (QB – DAL) ADP: 73 OVR, QB8

With their backs up against the salary cap, the Dallas Cowboys didn’t have an offseason to remember for Dak Prescott’s 2022 fantasy prospects. They gave up Amari Cooper and lost two key starting offensive pieces on the offensive line in La’el Collins and Connor Williams for little return.

They did re-sign Dalton Schultz and Michael Gallup, but reports on Gallup indicate he won’t be ready for Week 1 coming off the torn ACL. Dallas’ biggest move in free agency and the NFL Draft to combat their losses was signing former Steelers wide receiver James Washington (already hurt), drafting Jalen Tolbert in Round 3, and selecting an offensive tackle project, Tyler Smith, in Round 1.

With many other quarterbacks benefiting from better team offseasons, Prescott has fallen in my rankings well past his QB8 ADP, making it less likely I draft him. He finished as the QB9 last year in points per game.

He will be slightly overrated in redraft after leaving a lot on the table with a 33% bust rate in 2021 — the highest among the top-14 QBs based on ADP. I can’t say that his current offensive situation – albeit his rushing could mitigate these factors – is better than last season. Therefore he will likely be pretty volatile.

Obviously if he falls into the late-round QB territory with guys like Kirk Cousins, Russell Wilson or Derek Carr,  I’d be more open to take a shot on Dak, because the high pace of play — first in the offensive pace of play last season — in Big D lends itself to fantasy goodness.

RUNNING BACKS

Solidifying running backs in Rounds 1 and 2 also helps you avoid reaching on running backs in the upcoming RB Dead Zone, where your primary focus should be pounding WRs poised for significant leaps in 2022. Do your best to push RB out as much as possible in the middle rounds. Not surprisingly, that’s where the majority of my running back avoids are often selected.

If your gonna take one…better make sure they are the cheapest one left.

Ezekiel Elliott (RB – DAL) ADP: 29 OVR, RB15

Ezekiel Elliott’s main fantasy appeal is the touchdown opportunity he will see in a high-powered offense, coming off another season with poor rushing efficiency marks. The Dallas Cowboys running back finished fifth-worst in PFF’s elusive rating (25.0) and averaged fewer fantasy points per game than in 2020 (14.6 versus 15.4) in a better offensive situation. There is a caveat with Zeke’s inefficient rushing: He reportedly played with a torn PCL last season.

However, history doesn’t necessarily indicate that Elliott is in for a significant comeback in 2022 based on running backs that have had similar careers.

Steven Jackson, Walter Payton and Clinton Portis profile closest to Elliott based on their workloads and age, per Stathead.com. Each running back totaled over 1,800 touches before their age-27 season.

But the feedback was negative, with each running back seeing a dip in average PPR points per game (1.34) and total fantasy points (-18). And that came with each of them still seeing 370-plus touches on the season.

Elliott hit a career-low in total touches (284) and touches per game last season (16.7) — nearly three fewer than in 2020.

Dallas has every right to feed Zeke to their heart’s desire with an out in his contract at the end of the season. But they are also in the business of winning games and understand that Elliott breaking down at the end of last season did not help the offense.

Meanwhile, backup running back Tony Pollard quietly averaged 11.3 touches — three more than the year prior — and flashed elite rushing ability as PFF’s second-highest-graded rusher.

Elliott barely out-scored Pollard during the second half of the season (10.5 versus 11.5) despite scoring 6 TDs versus Pollard’s one.

Pollard was also dynamite as a receiver, ranking third in yards per route run (2.03) on the 10th-most targets. Zeke finished 6th in targets… but 57th in yards per route run.

I hate to be the one to bury an older running back as washed, as that burned me last season somewhat with the likes of James Conner and Leonard Fournette. However, I am not overly convinced that Elliott will be a volume monster in 2022 after the team dialed back his usage while Pollard continued to impress at every opportunity he received.

And even if Elliott’s efficiency increases slightly after a lackluster season, the Cowboys’ offensive line might mitigate any of those benefits if they take a step back with a plethora of moving pieces.

If Zeke follows in the same path as the previous backs I’ve mentioned, he’s looking at 235 fantasy points (low-end RB1 last season) if he plays a full slate of games. But his points per game fall in the back-end RB2 range at RB22, averaging 13.5 points per game.

Chances are that Elliott will probably beat his ADP because he is an iron man and doesn’t miss games. He’s missed just one game due to injury over his NFL career.

But even the greatest Zeke fans will admit the ride for him to finish as RB10-12 hardly will feel smooth when he’s hanging middling RB2 production most weeks. He’s finished as a top-12 fantasy RB1 in just 35% of his games the past two seasons. Elliott won’t end up being a true difference-maker at this stage in his career, and the cost of drafting him over league-winning WRs in the middle rounds is something I can’t justify.

Keep in mind that 13.5 PPR points per game equated to the WR29 last season. And that point projection is nearly identical to his 2022 projection.

And if the sole argument for drafting Zeke is touchdowns (valid argument), why not just draft Josh Jacobs instead at a discount? Or cheaper guys like Antonio Gibson, Elijah Mitchell, Damien Harris and David Montgomery, who all finished as RB1s at a similar percentage (greater than 32%) in 2021? 

Javonte Williams (RB – DEN) ADP: 20 OVR, RB11

Running back Melvin Gordon signed a one-year deal with the Denver Broncos this offseason, ultimately halting the Javonte Williams 2022 breakout season. The idea of Williams playing a three-down role was salivating, but Gordon’s return should not be overlooked after a seriously underrated 2021 campaign.

The 29-year-old 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).

MG3’s return definitely hurts Williams’ top-tier fantasy ceiling. He’s going to split work with another capable back in Gordon, which is precisely what new head coach Nathaniel Hackett desires and spoke on at the NFL owners’ meeting in March. The team has no plans to abandon its two-back rotation even after changing coaches. Williams said that the way they operated last season — an essential 50/50 split — would be the plan of attack in 2022.

The reports out of training camp have been all over the place about the Broncos’ RB usage ranging from an absurd 80-20 in favor of Williams, to it being a full-blown 50/50 committee. Safe to say there’s a lot of ways these could play out, but Gordon seems slated for some role most likely in a 60/40 kind of split with Javonte as the 1A.

I think that’s the best way to conservatively view the situation when both guys are healthy. Williams gets more work as a second-year player, but Gordon stays involved — likely to the chagrin of many fantasy managers. Especially with Gordon getting buzz as a receiver over Williams.

Plugged-in Broncos reporter Cecil Lammey spoke upon Gordon getting plenty of reps in padded practices, while also calling out fantasy football GMs for drafting Williams too high at his ADP.

And Broncos OC Justin Outten recently spoke on the RBs being on a pitch count throughout the season. Most likely an approach to keep both RBs upright for the 18-game season. Great for Williams’ availability season-long, but not his weekly ceiling which will likely stay in the RB2 range unless he earns the lion’s share of high-value touches. 

Therefore… Juggernaut Javonte falls just outside of the fantasy RB1 conversation for me in redraft because it’s hard to envision him significantly surpassing his RB17 finish in half-point scoring from a season ago with a similar split workload expected. His current ADP at RB10 is expensive.

Let’s not forget that Gordon finished ahead of Williams as RB16 and played one fewer game through 18 weeks. In Gordon’s missed game, Williams finished as the highest-scoring running back of the week.

Many Javonte fans will harp on the touchdown upside of Williams playing in a better situation than last season, but the red zone role between the two backs was nearly split in 2021 with a slight lean towards the veteran.

Name GP TOT RZ TD TOT RZ TOUCHES TOT RZ TD ATT Inside 20 ATT Inside 10 ATT Inside 5
Melvin Gordon III 16 10 46 6 40 20 11
Javonte Williams 17 7 37 4 31 21 10

Even if the Broncos’ offense presents more scoring opportunities, it doesn’t necessarily greenlight all those high-value touches for Williams.

Simply put: The wide margin in ADP between Williams and Gordon (RB36) needs to be much closer. All things considered, I’d just wait to draft Gordon several rounds after Williams to get a cheap piece of the Broncos’ backfield.

That being said — Williams is no longer a “bust” player for me. But rather somebody I’d try to avoid at ADP or hope that he slips. He’s no longer featured in my 2022 busts article, because the worst case scenario seems like he finishes in the mid-range RB2, which doesn’t necessarily tank your team.

Because the best-case scenario — RB1 overall upside — is still in Williams’ range of outcomes should the Broncos make him their featured back. It’s a situation where drafters are willing to take a slight loss — Williams failing to be a backend RB1 — for the massive gain they get him becoming a top-5/top-3 running back.

But at the same time…there’s case to be made for other RBs with “RB1 potential” that you can get for a fraction of the cost.

WIDE RECEIVERS

The middle rounds are chock-full of wide receiver talent, which should be the primary focus. But be wary that the ones most likely to tank your season come attached either bad offenses or bad quarterbacks.

Deebo Samuel (WR – SF) ADP: 19 OVR, WR7

There’s no reason to believe that Deebo Samuel will be able to sustain that same elite production from last season. Natural regression is firmly in play considering that no WR earned more fantasy points above expectation than Samuel did in 2021. And that number doesn’t come as a surprise considering that nearly 30% of Samuel’s fantasy points came from rushing alone — 365 rushing yards, eight rushing touchdowns — and that Samuel scored three touchdowns of 75-plus yards.

Samuel’s usage in the San Francisco offense seems destined to change with him voicing displeasure over his RB/WR hybrid deployment. That’s also not factoring in the rushing attempts and short-to-intermediate targets that Samuel could lose with mobile second-year QB Trey Lance becoming the starter, or increased target competition from a fully healthy George Kittle and out-of-the-doghouse Brandon Aiyuk.

It’s forgotten that Samuel’s fantasy numbers and target share would have dipped during the second half of the season had it not been for the rushing, with Aiyuk and Kittle both fully installed in the offense.

There’s no guarantee that the planets align for Samuel — in fact, it’s very unlikely — that made him a fantasy revelation in 2021. His long injury track record dating back to college should also not be overlooked, nor should the overall run-heavy nature of the 49ers’ offense that can make targets scarce.

He’s just too expensive as the WR6, which assumes everything he did last season will happen again.

Tyreek Hill (WR – MIA) ADP: 21 OVR, WR8

Heading into 2021, Tyreek Hill was a consensus top-three receiver option. But he came in slightly under expectations. Nevertheless, the ‘Cheetah’ wrapped a bow on the year as the WR6 overall and in points per game (14.2).

It’s worth noting that Hill posted a career-low in yards after the catch per reception (4.3, 42nd) and yards per route run (2.14, 11th). Hill’s average depth of target (aDOT) also dipped dramatically to 10.6, which was the lowest since his rookie season.

Hill was then traded to the Miami Dolphins this offseason, but it’s undeniable that going from Patrick Mahomes to Tua Tagovailoa is a massive downgrade for Hill. Tagovailoa has yet to show that he can properly fuel a fantasy WR1, so it’s hard to expect Hill to deliver a top-10 season with a lesser passer. His current ADP and ECR ranking is WR8.

Especially with Tagovailoa’s lack of a confident deep ball — 34th in aDOT last season — a prominent running game, and second-year wide receiver Jaylen Waddle also heavily involved in the offensive game plan.

Waddle posted nine top-24 PPR finishes in 2021 – eighth-best at the position and more than Hill did in KC with Patrick Mahomes. And through the second half of the season, their cumulative numbers were nearly identical across the board. Except for efficiency marks and fantasy points per game – where Waddle was superior, averaging 14.8 half-points per game versus Hill (12.7).

Sure, Hill will have his weeks when he is peppered with low-value targets in PPR formats, but the massive downfield touchdowns will happen much less frequently.

Case in point, quick-hitters, and yards after the catch (YAC) will be the focal point of the Dolphins’ offense in 2021 as new head coach Mike McDaniel stems from the 49ers’ YAC-heavy passing offense. Hill finished seventh in yards after the catch last season, so he’s a candidate to take full advantage of Tagovailoa’s “YAC attack.”

49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo ranked 29th in aDOT in 2021 (7.6) after ranking 39th and 35th in the category the two years prior.

With Hill’s efficiency marks trending in the wrong direction amid a massive quarterback downgrade, he remains a player you need to be extremely price-sensitive about drafting. 

Full disclosure, I’m not particularly high on the Dolphins’ passing offense heading into the 2022 season, which is why I think exposing the obvious value in their backfield is the best approach. After all, Mike McDaniel found his success in the 49ers system as a run game coordinator.

Case in point, over the last three seasons, only the Titans have been more run-heavy under neutral game script conditions than the 49ers.

Diontae Johnson (WR – PIT) ADP: 34 OVR, QB2

Diontae Johnson’s expert consensus rating (ECR) of WR15 is super aggressive. It’s vastly higher than my rank (WR23). And it’s a pretty price to pay up even for a target hog like Johnson when he will almost surely see inefficient targets.

Too often last season, I was drafting WRs in the third and fourth round who were projected to be target magnets with bad quarterbacks — Terry McLaurin, D.J. Moore — and those ended up being poor fantasy selections. Johnson looks like he is in that similar ilk, so I am hesitant to get excited about drafting/ranking highly.

Let’s not forget that last year’s heavily-coveted rookie quarterback class produced almost zero reliable options outside of Brandin Cooks (WR20), Darnell Mooney (WR26) Jakobi Meyers (WR33) and Kendrick Bourne (WR30).

Moreover, by most accounts, new Steelers’ rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett would be drafted after all the 2021 signal-callers, so what makes the experts so confident that he can fuel a fringe WR1 season for Johnson?

The Steelers are one of those offenses that have the chance to totally bottom out in 2022, with major question marks at quarterback.

And I know that arguments and takes will be made as to why Trubisky is a better option at quarterback than Ben Roethlisberger was last season; it’s possible that happens.

Just be aware that in Trubisky’s best season (2018) as an NFL quarterback, the Bears’ offense ranked 24th in yards per game (344) and 10th in points per game.

The room for an improved offense is realistic, but I’m not as bullish on paying the premium price for a wide receiver like Diontae Johnson in Round 4 with so much uncertainty under center.

Johnson already threaded the needle with bad quarterback play last season – finishing as the lone top-10 WR in half-point scoring on an offense that generated a negative EPA per dropback.

Four more finished in the WR18-WR24 range.

Receivers like Johnson are fantasy WR2s and won’t be fantasy WR1s on their existing bad offenses unless they see absolutely absurd target volume.

It also needs to be considered that the new quarterbacks have zero ties to Johnson being their primary target. Chase ClaypoolPat FreiermuthGeorge Pickens, and Calvin Austin III will all be vying for targets in the Steelers’ passing attack.

There’s also a chance that the Steelers’ pass-play rates drop dramatically with an inexperienced and/or new quarterback. Pittsburgh has ranked second in pass-play rate over the last two seasons with Ben Roethlisberger. During the 2019 season, when Big Ben missed all but two games, the Steelers ranked 23rd in pass-play rate. Nobody on that offense saw more than 100 targets.

Why pay a premium for Diontae Johnson’s 2021 26% target share in Rounds 3/4, when you can take other WRs that project to lead their team in targets ie. Michael Thomas, Cooks, Mooney, Christian Kirk, Kadarius Toney, Allen Lazard that go much later.

Also greatly prefer Chase Claypool at ADP outside the top-100 picks.

TIGHT ENDS

Tight ends can fly off the draft board as early as Round 8 as teams reach for need.

But the middle-of-the-pack tight end tier is not worth overinvesting in because the difference between TE7 through TE16 is marginal. In 2020, the TE7 (Mike Gesicki) outscored the TE16 (Jonnu Smith) by just 19 total fantasy points. In 2021, the TE6 (Zach Ertz) outscored the TE16 (Darren Waller) by 36 points.

The best “hits” from TE6 to TE13 ADP were Dallas Goedert (TE10), Mike Gesicki (TE8), and Noah Fant (TE9), but all they did was meet the expectations of their ADP. They provided zero to little advantage over the tight ends drafted after them.

So although there was a more significant gap between tight ends in the middle to late tiers in 2021 compared to the year prior, the difference between the two ends of the spectrum was negligible at best.

The general strategy in 2022 should be attacking elite tight ends early or waiting long past the top 12.

Travis Kelce (TE – KC) ADP: 13 OVR, TE1

In 2021, the Chiefs tight end posted his worst points per game average (16.6) dating back to 2017 while also posting a career-low in yards per route run (1.84) and PFF grade (81.8).

It seems logical that Kelce’s reign as the perennial consensus TE1 has come to a conclusion as he enters his age-33 season in 2022. However, it’s impossible to ignore the high-end target share that Kelce will command in the Chiefs’ offense after they traded Tyreek Hill. His 20% target share ranked second-best at the position in 2021. Although it was a slight fall-off from his 23% average target share from 2019 and 2020.

Kelce seems much more like the steady safe option at the Round 1-2 turn of fantasy drafts than a true difference-maker like Mark Andrews was last year or Kelce himself for several years previously.

TE Fantasy points per game 2018-2021
2018 2019 2020 2021
Travis Kelce 18.1 16.9 22.1 16.6
Fantasy TE2 16.7 14.6 17.5 16.6
Differential +1.4 +2.3 +4.6 0

Kelce’s still being drafted based on the merits of his outlier 2020 season — 22.1 PPR fantasy points per game — when anything short of 17 PPR fantasy points per game will likely result in a top-20 overall finish based on final scoring the past two seasons. In four games without Hill in 2019, Kelce averaged 16.5 PPR fantasy points per game.

My only exception to fading Kelce in 2022 comes on leagues played in ESPN. His ADP is lowest there versus any other platform.

Mark Andrews (TE – BAL) ADP: 23 OVR, TE1

Last year, Mark Andrews was the early-round tight end who drove rosters to fantasy championships. The Baltimore Ravens’ fourth-year TE led the position with a 25% target share, 28% air yards share, and 17.5 fantasy points per game. He ran a route on 84% of offensive dropbacks, which also ranked first.

With Marquise Brown traded to the Cardinals, Andrews has solidified himself as the clear TE1 with a still unproven second-year wideout as his main competition for targets.

However, be aware that even if Andrews does repeat his efforts as TE1, it may not be to the extent that it was in 2021. His 623 routes run were 209 more than he had in 2020 and fueled the career year. Andrews’ increase in route running was tied to the Ravens’ boosted pass-play rate (56%).

From 2019 to 2020, Baltimore passed on fewer than 46% of their plays. Because Baltimore’s increase in passing was due out of necessity in 2021, I’d project it to regress closer to the 2019-2020 rate for this upcoming season.

Considering Andrews’ second-round ADP is significantly higher than it was in 2021 (fifth round), he’s too expensive for me with him likely regressing statistically as the Ravens get back to the run game.

Andrew Erickson’s 2022 Redraft Fantasy Football Rankings

 

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