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If Your League Drafted Today (2022 Fantasy Football)

by Matthew MacKay | @Matt_MacKay_ | Featured Writer
Dec 1, 2022
NFL Week 17 Player Prop Bet Odds, Picks & Predictions (2022)

We’re nearing the end of the 2022 fantasy football season and it’s been a whirlwind of upsets, blowouts, and elite production. Fantasy drafts that happened in August and September seem like they happened years ago instead of just a few months. The NFL is truly a week-to-week league, filled with parity, and a variety of coaching strategies and schemes allow teams to adapt quickly and prepare for their next opponent.

Predicting how players will perform throughout a season is very difficult, no matter how much data is available to consume. For example, players like Gabe Davis (WR – Bills), D’Andre Swift (RB – Lions), and Diontae Johnson (WR – Steelers) have been huge disappointments in terms of consistent production. Beat reporters, fantasy pundits, and many others were high on these players based on their historical talent and usage, but it doesn’t always manifest the way that it’s anticipated going into fantasy drafts. Injuries, game script, and opponents play significant factors in fluctuation, which is a fantasy manager’s worst nightmare. Rostering volatile players with boom-or-bust outcomes is less than ideal, but even the best prospects will have down weeks.

Note: Performance/Usage is the standard basis for these actions – not injuries; half-point PPR is the scoring format.

This is the final article in this recurring series, so let’s turn back the clock one more time and use the data that we have now to draft the ideal fantasy roster.

Draft a High-Usage Quarterback Early

In the previous edition of this series, I suggested drafting mobile quarterbacks. However, this isn’t necessarily accurate. What we should’ve done is prioritize a high-usage quarterback, which means any quarterback who has the ability or the trust of their coach to utilize their arm or legs to move the offense downfield. Patrick Mahomes (QB – Chiefs) and Joe Burrow (QB – Bengals) are both ranked inside of the top five at their position while attempting under 50 carries through 11 games played. Of course, Jalen Hurts (QB – Eagles), Josh Allen (QB – Bills) and Lamar Jackson (QB – Ravens) are more active in the running game for their teams, which boosts their ceiling but don’t be afraid to gravitate toward quarterbacks with huge arms and talented surrounding personnel during the first five or six rounds.

Draft Travis Kelce (TE – Chiefs) and Punt All Other Tight Ends

I mentioned this before and I’ll repeat it. If you’re not drafting Travis Kelce as your early tight end, don’t bother looking at any other tight ends. This includes Mark Andrews (TE – Ravens), as the gap between him and Kelce is massive. Kelce is averaging 18.4 fantasy points per game, while Andrews is down at 11.9 per game. Yes, injuries played a bit of a factor in his downturn, but drafting Patrick Mahomes’ alpha target should continue to be a priority if you want to secure an advantage at the tight end position during fantasy drafts. All other tight ends should be punted, as plenty are available in the mid-to-late rounds with enough upside to crack weekly TE1 finishes.

Target Bell-Cow Running Backs Early

Identifying bell-cow running backs can be difficult, but generally, there’s enough of a data sample to gauge the role of players at the most top-heavy position in fantasy football. For instance, Josh Jacobs (RB – Raiders), who was playing on special teams in the preseason, has ascended to the RB1 through 11 games played, averaging over 20 points per game as the Raiders’ engine within the offense. Derrick Henry (RB – Titans), Nick Chubb (RB – Browns), and Austin Ekeler (RB – Chargers) were likely drafted in the first and second rounds of fantasy football drafts, but they each offer high-volume upside in different ways. Ekeler has caught 80 receptions, leading all other running backs, while Henry, Chubb, and Saquon Barkley (RB – Giants) have all handled at least 200 carries. The difficult aspect of targeting bell-cow running backs is how they will be used in a new season, as we’ve seen Dalvin Cook (RB – Vikings), Jonathan Taylor (RB – Colts), and Alvin Kamara (RB – Saints) be productive in spurts. Still, the volatility in production has been less than ideal. Getting a high-volume RB1 in the first or second round should be a priority, even in full-PPR formats.

Trust Proven WR1s

When it comes to going ZeroRB, you need to make sure you’re maximizing a high-floor wideout that also possesses a high ceiling. Stefon Diggs (WR – Bills), Justin Jefferson (WR – Vikings), Davante Adams (WR – Raiders), Tyreek Hill (WR – Dolphins), and Cooper Kupp (WR – Rams) are the current WR1-WR5 in half-PPR formats, showing us that talent and experience in the league outweigh new personnel. Drafting Gabe Davis, JuJu Smith-Schuster (WR – Chiefs), and Terry McLaurin (WR – Commanders) early isn’t the same as going all out for the big-name wideouts who have shown elite production year after year in the league. Trust proven WR1s and don’t try to get cute buying into the hype from beat reporters or other analysts when there are big names still on the board demanding volume with the skillset to finish.

Fade The Hype

Last but arguably the most important piece of advice when it comes to re-drafting players this season has to be fading the hype. Whether it’s high-profile rookies, players landing on new teams, or players who popped in the playoffs or during another small sample size, trusting your gut instinct and going with proven talent usually wins out. As previously mentioned, players like Gabe Davis, A.J. Dillon (RB – Packers), Russell Wilson (QB – Broncos), and Robert Tonyan (TE – Packers) have popped in the past, but buying into the pre-season hype surrounding them, which inevitably raises their ADP in fantasy drafts, can quickly burn fantasy managers in the long term. If you like a player for whatever reason, trust your gut, and fade the hype surrounding other pricey prospects, who are immediately pressured into producing high-floor, high-ceiling finishes due to ADP. Play the board and get your guys, but don’t feel pressured to reach on a player that gained hype throughout the offseason, as it often results in disappointing results that sink your chances of making the fantasy playoffs.

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Matthew MacKay is a featured writer for FantasyPros. For more from Matthew, check out his archive and follow him @Matt_MacKay_.

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