Fantasy Football Draft Strategy 2022: Latest Mock Draft and Cheatsheet Tips
We're down to one week remaining in the 2022 NFL preseason. This means that we're in prime fantasy-draft season, as rosters are a little clearer and many starters are done until Week 1.
By this point, managers should know which players they really want to target in season-long drafts and which carry the biggest risks. However, it never hurts to do a little late cramming just before draft day.
After all, building a nice foundation atop the draft is great, but it's not the only factor. Finding middle- and late-round value while avoiding early busts is the key to a successful fantasy roster.
Here, we'll dive into a few draft tips for season-long point-per-reception (PPR) leagues. We'll also break down a two-round mock draft—crafted using FantasyPros' mock draft simulator—and provide a quick-reference cheat sheet covering the key skill positions.
2022 Two-Round Fantasy Mock
1. Jonathan Taylor, RB, Indianapolis Colts
2. Christian McCaffrey, RB, Carolina Panthers
3. Derrick Henry, RB, Tennessee Titans
4. Austin Ekeler, RB, Los Angeles Chargers
5. Najee Harris, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers
6. Dalvin Cook, RB, Minnesota Vikings
7. Cooper Kupp, WR, Los Angeles Rams
8. Justin Jefferson, WR, Minnesota Vikings
9. Ja'Marr Chase, WR, Cincinnati Bengals
10. D'Andre Sift, RB, Detroit Lions
11. Joe Mixon, RB, Cincinnati Bengals
12. Davante Adams, WR, Las Vegas Raiders
1. Travis Kelce, TE, Kansas City Chiefs
2. Stefon Diggs, WR, Buffalo Bills
3. Aaron Jones, RB, Green Bay Packers
4. Deebo Samuel, WR, San Francisco 49ers
5. Alvin Kamara, RB, New Orleans Saints
6. Nick Chubb, RB, Cleveland Browns
7. Saquon Barkley, RB, New York Giants
8. Leonard Fournette, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
9. CeeDee Lamb, WR, Dallas Cowboys
10. Michael Pittman Jr., WR, Indianapolis Colts
11. Mark Andrews, TE, Baltimore Ravens
12. Jaylen Waddle, WR, Miami Dolphins
Mock Draft Analysis
While running fantasy mock drafts won't tell you who to select, they can provide insight into where players are going.
In this mock, for example, bell-cow backs like Jonathan Taylor, Christian McCaffrey and Derrick Henry kick off the first round. This should come as no surprise, as every-down backs touch the ball more than any other offensive player—except for the quarterback and center, of course.
Finding volume should be the goal in the first two rounds. Managers should target players who not only have high upside but who also have a high floor. Players with boom-or-bust potential should be saved for the middle rounds.
High-volume receivers like Cooper Kupp (191 targets in 2021), Justin Jefferson (167) and Ja'Marr Chase (128) qualify here, particularly in PPR formats. While no No. 1 receiver can catch every ball thrown his way, those with frequent opportunities are valuable.
Wideouts who regularly average eight-plus targets per game tend to be high-floor.
Mocks can also help you craft the right early-round draft plan. It helps to know where you're going to select in your real-world draft—if that information is available—and, of course, your scoring format.
In this mock, for example, the first four teams selected running backs in the first round and pass-catchers in the second. This is a tried-and-true strategy that provides both an elite RB and a high-level pass-catcher to kick off the draft.
Teams 5 and 6 doubled up on ball-carriers, which is another traditional approach. This can provide two low-end RB1s, a solid alternative to a high-end RB1 and mid-tier RB2. The risk in this strategy is that getting a legitimate WR1 in Round 3 isn't guaranteed. In PPR leagues, it can be worth ensuring that you have a WR1 within the first two rounds.
Note that in this mock, tight ends Travis Kelce and Mark Andrews are valued as traditional No. 1 receivers might be. This is logical because of the situations both face. The Kansas City Chiefs traded No. 1 receiver Tyreek Hill in the offseason, while the Baltimore Ravens traded Marquise Brown.
This means that heading into the season, Kelce and Andrews are de facto No. 1 options. This is a clear example of why knowing roles is beneficial on draft day.
Teams 8 and 12 doubled up on pass-catchers to start their drafts. This is a solid plan for PPR leagues, but it requires focusing heavily on running backs over the next couple of rounds. True starting backs don't last long, and you don't want to be left without at least one high-volume runner—even in PPR.
Draft Strategy and Tips
The first basic rule of fantasy drafting, which we've already touched on, is to target high-floor, high-volume players early. These first few picks are going to build the backbone of your roster and should be players who don't come out except during their bye weeks.
The second rule of early-round drafting is to avoid players who concern you. If you don't believe that McCaffrey can stay healthy for a full season, trust your gut and pick another player. Missing out on a stellar season stinks, but it's not nearly as bad as drafting a first-round bust when your initial instinct was to go in a different direction.
At the same time, it's smart to pay attention to the latest buzz and health information. New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley, for example, is not trending as a first-round pick after two injury-plagued seasons. However, he's reportedly healthy and could provide first-round value.
"Barkley has looked the best he has in years," ESPN's Jordan Raanan wrote. "...Barkley should be more involved in the passing game this season, and there isn't much depth behind him. So his workload will be huge."
Avoid drafting tight ends other than Kelce, Andrews and perhaps Kyle Pitts in the first few rounds. After those three, there is a wide second-tier that includes the likes of Darren Waller, George Kittle, Dallas Goedert and Dalton Schultz. There isn't likely to be a huge gap in production between them, so there's no need to overdraft a second-tier tight end.
Kittle, for example, had 71 receptions, 910 yards and six touchdowns last season. Schultz had 78 receptions, 808 yards and eight touchdowns. Kittle has an average draft position (ADP) of 40, while Schultz's ADP is 63. By targeting Schultz instead of Kittle, you can potentially sneak in an extra starting-caliber RB or WR while still getting great TE value.
The same approach works for quarterbacks. Josh Allen and Patrick Mahomes will come off the board early. However, a dual-threat quarterback like Jalen Hurts or Trey Lance could provide similar value in the middle rounds.
And the middle rounds are where you want to round out your starting lineup. It's great to have a fourth starting-caliber RB, but you shouldn't do so at the cost of having a low-end starting receiver.
The late rounds were where to target positional depth, potential sleepers and, of course, get your defenses and kickers.
For depth, look for players who can fill in for starters with injury risks. Targeting a player on the same team—a "handcuff"—is one approach. For example, drafting Dalvin Cook early and Minnesota Vikings backup Alexander Mattison late will provide injury insurance. It's fine, though, to draft a starter from a different team for the same purpose if the opportunity is there.
Depth is also important when bye weeks are involved. For example, Taylor and the Indianapolis Colts are on bye in Week 14 this year. It wouldn't hurt to have a starting running back who isn't on bye that week as a fill-in. Yes, you can play the waiver-wire game, but if your team is successful, you're going to pick late in the wire order.
For sleepers, target rookies and players who are likely to see expanded roles in 2022. Washington Commanders rookie running back Brian Robinson started over veteran Antonio Gibson in Week 2 of the preseason. Yet, his ADP is still just 125. This makes Robinson a prime sleeper candidate.
Positional Cheat Sheet
1. Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills
2. Justin Herbert, Los Angeles Chargers
3. Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs
4. Lamar Jackson, Baltimore Ravens
5. Kyler Murray, Arizona Cardinals
6. Jalen Hurts, Philadelphia Eagles
7. Joe Burrow, Cincinnati Bengals
8. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
9. Russell Wilson, Denver Broncos
10. Tom Brady, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
1. Jonathan Taylor, Indianapolis Colts
2. Christian McCaffrey, Carolina Panthers
3. Austin Ekeler, Los Angeles Chargers
4. Dalvin Cook, Minnesota Vikings
5. Derrick Henry, Tennessee Titans
6. Najee Harris, Pittsburgh Steelers
7. Joe Mixon, Cincinnati Bengals
8. Saquon Barkley, New York Giants
9. D'Andre Swift, Detroit Lions
10. Aaron Jones, Green Bay Packers
1. Cooper Kupp, Los Angeles Rams
2. Justin Jefferson, Minnesota Vikings
3. Ja'Marr Chase, Cincinnati Bengals
4. Stefon Diggs, Buffalo Bills
5. Davante Adams, Las Vegas Raiders
6. Deebo Samuel, San Francisco 49ers
7. Keenan Allen, Los Angeles Chargers
8. CeeDee Lamb, Dallas Cowboys
9. Tyreek Hill, Miami Dolphins
10. Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
1. Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs
2. Mark Andrews, Baltimore Ravens
3. Kyle Pitts, Atlanta Falcons
4. Darren Waller, Las Vegas Raiders
5. George Kittle, San Francisco 49ers
6. Dalton Schultz, Dallas Cowboys
7. Dallas Goedert, Philadelphia Eagles
8. Zach Ertz, Arizona Cardinals
9. T.J. Hockenson, Detroit Lions
10. Cole Kmet, Chicago Bears