Fantasy Football 2022: Jonathan Taylor and Safest Players to Draft No. 1

Michelle Bruton@@michelle_nflFeatured Columnist IVAugust 31, 2022

Fantasy Football 2022: Jonathan Taylor and Safest Players to Draft No. 1

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    Tuesday was one of the NFL's most important deadlines. Following training camp and the preseason, teams had to make their final deliberations on their 53-man rosters and make their cuts by 4 p.m. ET.

    Of course, many of those cut players will remain in the league this year; whether they land on another team's practice squad or the team they were just let go from, there's still room to accommodate those players. However, they're probably not going to be high on your fantasy football draft list.

    There are many strategies and deliberations fantasy managers will have to weigh as they get late into their drafts this week and next. Is it better to stash a third-string, veteran running back on your bench who may not see many snaps, or to take a chance on the rookie who showed promise in the preseason but has no NFL snaps under his belt?

    For our purposes, we're going to remain laser-focused at the top of the draft—the very top, in fact. We'll take a look at three players managers can essentially safely draft at No. 1 overall. There's a clear front-runner you should strive to take—and, no surprise, all three are running backs—but whether you're trying to avoid an undesirable bye week or having too many players from the same team on your squad, these options will make a fine foundation for your redraft league.

    Without further ado, let's get into the rankings.

Jonathan Taylor, RB, Indianapolis Colts

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    If you have the chance to draft Jonathan Taylor in your redraft league this year, by all means, jump at it.

    There's really no argument against taking Taylor at No. 1 overall, and, indeed, his ADP of No. 1 overall and his ranking as RB1 is a consensus among experts, per FantasyPros.

    All Taylor did in his breakout 2021-22 season was lead all running backs in fantasy points, carries, yards and touchdowns. His 1,811 yards was within spitting distance of Eric Dickerson's single-season record of 2,105 yards, and his 18 touchdowns represented three more than the next-highest-scoring running back, James Conner, with 15.

    Plus, Taylor added another 40 receptions for 360 yards and two touchdowns, making him a dream in points-per-reception (PPR) leagues.

    There's nothing to indicate Taylor won't enjoy the same feature role in Indianapolis this year. This season, he'll also enjoy an improved offensive line and a quarterback upgrade in Matt Ryan.

    Taylor is projected to have 1,600 rushing yards, 14.8 rushing touchdowns, 42.5 receptions, 354 receiving yards and two receiving touchdowns in 2021-22, for a total of 291.6 points in standard leagues, 334.1 points in PPR leagues and 312.9 points in half-PPR leagues.

    The next-best Colt you might want to have on your roster is wideout Michael Pittman, and he's ranked WR12 by expert consensus. It's worth avoiding other Colts skill players at the rest of your starting slots to build your team around Taylor.

Christian McCaffrey, RB, Carolina Panthers

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    If, for some reason, you decide not to draft Jonathan Taylor No. 1 overall in your redraft league this year—or your thumb slips or something—Christian McCaffrey is a serviceable second option.

    The expert consensus RB2 with an ADP of No. 2 overall is coming off a season that saw him limited by injuries for the second straight year. He saw action in seven games, totaling 99 attempts, 442 yards and a touchdown, as well as 37 receptions, 343 yards and another score through the air.

    Like Taylor, McCaffrey is a fantastic option in PPR or half-PPR leagues given his large role in the passing game. Some fantasy managers may be gun-shy about his injury history, which is understandable. But there's no denying he's in line for a rise from the ashes this year.

    "Considering the extent of CMC's injuries have not resulted in major surgeries or completely torn ligaments, I like him bouncing back to form in 2022," FantasyPros' Andrew Erickson wrote, noting that when he was on the field last year, he enjoyed at least a 50 percent snap share.

    Projections for McCaffrey include 248.9 points in standard leagues, 337.8 points in PPR leagues and 293.3 points in half-PPR leagues.

    It's also worth remembering McCaffrey didn't miss a single game in his first three seasons in the league, topping 1,000 yards twice. In 2019, he tallied a career-high 15 rushing touchdowns while also topping 1,000 receiving yards. When healthy, McCaffrey will be the anchor of your entire team.

Derrick Henry, RB, Tennessee Titans

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    It's worth stressing again that by expert consensus, Jonathan Taylor is the premier option to select if you have the No. 1 overall pick in your redraft league. However, if you're looking for the player who is going to touch the ball the most, Derrick Henry is worth consideration.

    Last season, Henry missed half the season with injuries. However, when he was healthy, he led all running backs in touches with 29.6 per game on average, seven more than any other player at the position.

    In standard leagues, Henry's season points projection of 264.9 isn't that far off from Taylor because of his sheer volume of touches. However, Henry, who is RB3 by expert consensus, doesn't offer what Taylor or McCaffrey do in the passing game, making them better options in straight PPR leagues.

    However, the Titans passing offense, especially now that A.J. Brown is gone, doesn't look to be strong this season, so there's no question the team will be heavily reliant on Henry. If fantasy managers in standard leagues aren't worried about him bouncing back from injury this season, there's a strategy to taking him No. 1 overall.

    ADP, expert rankings and projections via FantasyPros.

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