Fantasy Football 2022: 1st-Round Mock Draft, Projections and Top Team Names

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxCorrespondent IAugust 21, 2022

Fantasy Football 2022: 1st-Round Mock Draft, Projections and Top Team Names

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    Broncos RB Melvin Gordon III (Jamie Schwaberow/Getty Images)

    The second week of the 2022 NFL preseason is nearly over. While many casual fans aren't following the exhibition action, you can bet that many fantasy diehards are. Preseason games are ultimately meaningless, but they can provide plenty of insight for those willing to pay attention.

    Now is the ideal time to draft in season-long leagues. Few starters will see significant action in the preseason finales, which means the risk of losing a key player to injury is minimal (hopefully). By now, we've also seen enough to gauge what players' roles are likely to be.

    Here, we'll dive into a little of what we've learned so far this preseason and make projections for some potential sleepers and busts. We'll also examine two 12-team fantasy mocks—one for standard scoring and one for point-per-reception (PPR) formats—and run through some fun team-name suggestions centered around the league's brightest stars.

Standard and PPR Mock Drafts, Round 1

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    Colts RB Jonathan Taylor will be a popular top pick in all scoring formats. (Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

    Standard, Round 1

    1. Jonathan Taylor, RB, Indianapolis Colts

    2. Christian McCaffrey, RB, Carolina Panthers

    3. Derrick Henry, RB, Tennessee Titans

    4. Dalvin Cook, RB, Minnesota Vikings

    5. Austin Ekeler, RB, Los Angeles Chargers

    6. Cooper Kupp, WR, Los Angeles Rams

    7. Joe Mixon, RB, Cincinnati Bengals

    8. Najee Harris, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers

    9. Justin Jefferson, WR, Minnesota Vikings

    10. Ja'Marr Chase, WR, Cincinnati Bengals

    11. Nick Chubb, RB, Cleveland Browns

    12. Davante Adams, WR, Las Vegas Raiders

    PPR, Round 1

    1. Jonathan Taylor, RB, Indianapolis Colts

    2. Austin Ekeler, RB, Los Angeles Chargers

    3. Christian McCaffrey, RB, Carolina Panthers

    4. Cooper Kupp, WR, Los Angeles Rams

    5. Justin Jefferson, WR, Minnesota Vikings

    6. Derrick Henry, RB, Tennessee Titans

    7. Dalvin Cook, RB, Minnesota Vikings

    8. Najee Harris, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers

    9. Ja'Marr Chase, WR, Cincinnati Bengals

    10. D'Andre Swift, RB, Detroit Lions

    11. Stefon Diggs, WR, Buffalo Bills

    12. Travis Kelce, TE, Kansas City Chiefs

Going Too High: Diontae Johnson, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers

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    Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    Pittsburgh Steelers wideout Diontae Johnson got his new contract, ended his camp hold-in and should be ready to roll by Week 1. However, his average draft position (ADP) of 42 is too high.

    Johnson was more than serviceable last season, finishing with 107 catches, 1,161 yards and eight touchdowns. However, Pittsburgh lost quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to retirement this offseason and appears set to start either Mitch Trubisky or rookie Kenny Pickett in the regular season.

    It's tough to tell what the Steelers will get out of Matt Canada's offense with a new signal-caller under center.

    The other factor to consider here is the potential of rookie wideout George Pickens. The Georgia product has been the star of training camp and could be Pittsburgh's new top target sooner than later.

    "You would expect to see flashes, but not every day. And I mean every day," Mark Kaboly of The Athletic wrote of Pickens. "He is a polished route-runner, he high points the ball with ease, his feet are quick and he shows late hands."

    With Pickens, Chase Claypool, Pat Freiermuth and Najee Harris also competing for targets, Johnson could be poised for a step back in 2022. Don't take him too highly, and don't sleep on Pickens, who has an ADP of 142.

    Stat Projection: 80 receptions, 1,028 receiving yards, 6 TDs

Going Too Low: Melvin Gordon III, RB, Denver Broncos

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    Hyoung Chang/The Denver Post

    Fantasy managers are betting big on second-year running back Javonte Williams, who has an ADP of 15. While Williams may have a great season, many are sleeping on his Denver Broncos backfield mate Melvin Gordon III.

    Gordon has an ADP of only 99. The disparity between the two is glaring, especially given the lack of disparity between on-field results in 2021.

    Last season, Williams and Gordon each carried the ball 203 times. Williams finished with 903 rushing yards, 43 receptions, 316 receiving yards and seven combined touchdowns. Gordon finished with 918 rushing yards, 28 receptions, 213 receiving yards and 10 combined touchdowns.

    Yes, the younger Williams has more upside, especially in PPR formats. Yes, the arrival of Russell Wilson at quarterback will lighten the rushing workload in Denver. However, managers should expect to see an even split again between Williams and Gordon.

    New head coach Nathaniel Hackett and offensive coordinator Justin Outten both came from the Green Bay Packers. Last season, the Packers relied heavily on a two-back approach with AJ Dillon and Aaron Jones. They seem to be plotting a similar approach in Denver.

    "It's going to be a pitch count throughout the season and making sure we are very smart with those guys," Outten said, per Aric DiLalla of the team's official website.

    Managers shouldn't expect Williams to be the bell cow, and they shouldn't expect Williams to fall off the proverbial fantasy map.

    Stat Projection: 865 rushing yards, 24 receptions, 290 receiving yards, 8 TDs

Sleeper to Watch: Dameon Pierce, RB, Houston Texans

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    Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    Rookie running backs often provide tremendous sleeper value because they are unproven and don't carry the expectations of their veteran counterparts. Houston Texans fourth-round pick Dameon Pierce may be even more undervalued because, well, he plays for Houston.

    The Texans had a dismal offense in 2021 that ranked dead-last in both rushing yards and yards per carry. To remake their backfield, the Texans added Pierce, Marlon Mack and Dare Ogunbowale this offseason.

    While there are a lot of bodies at the position, Pierce may have already locked up the starting role. He didn't appear in Week 2 of the preseason, and according to coach Lovie Smith, it's because Houston wanted to look at other backs.

    "Dameon Pierce did not play tonight," Smith said, per Deepi Sidhu of the team's official website. "That was the plan was to let Marlon have a lot more carries."

    We will still likely see a committee in Houston, and the Davis Mills-led offense may not be electric. However, Pierce—who tallied 49 yards on five carries in the preseason opener—appears ready to be the primary ball-carrier.

    With an ADP of only 119, Pierce could reward managers in a big way this season.

    Stat Projection: 858 rushing yards, 23 receptions, 270 receiving yards, 7 TDs

Fantasy Team Names

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    Chargers QB Justin Herbert (Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)

    Justin Atural (Justin Herbert)

    Joey B. Badd (Joe Burrow)

    What's Up, Mahomes? (Patrick Mahomes)

    Mile High Cookin' (Russell Wilson)

    No Risk It, Trubiskit (Mitch Trubisky)

    Return of the Mac (Mac Jones)

    Derrick of the Edmund Fitzgerald (Derrick Henry)

    Dalvin and the Chipmunks (Dalvin Cook)

    Mixon it Up (Joe Mixon)

    Nuthun' But Najee Thing (Najee Harris)

    Feel the Breece (Breece Hall)

    Free Pierce-ing (Dameon Pierce)

    Pickens a Winner (George Pickens)

    London's Balling (Drake London)

    Tyreek of Greatness (Tyreek Hill)

    Ja'Marr's Rover (Ja'Marr Chase)

    Spicy Olave (Chris Olave)

    Jefferson Airplane (Justin Jefferson)

    To-Go Kupp (Cooper Kupp)

    Kelce'n Ghosts (Travis Kelce)

    Put the Kittle On (George Kittle)

    *Draft positioning from FantasyPros.

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