How Free Agency Exchanges, Davante Adams and Tyreek Hill Impact Rounds 1 and 2
The NFL’s free agency period in 2022 has been bonkers and has sent massive shockwaves around fantasy football. This impact is felt in the way managers conduct their current mock drafts. With just over a month to go until the NFL Draft, which will bring another round of changes, how does a fake 2022 1QB Fantasy Football Draft look like today?
For reference, this simulation was run with a 1QB/2RB/2WR/TE/Flex roster format with a 10-team league and standard scoring settings. Also, this is me trying to guess what happens in the offseason when moves are made. It will surely be 100% accurate, and the NFL will do precisely what I expect.
1.01) Jonathan Taylor, Indianapolis Colts (RB1)
If you’re looking for a pure running back, Jonathan Taylor is your man. His vision between tackles is unmatched, and for being a bigger back (225 pounds), Taylor’s elusiveness in the holeshot makes it so hard to get a free kick on him.
In two seasons in the NFL, Taylor has established himself as the best RB in the league. After rushing for 1,169 yards and 11 touchdowns in the first year while separating from Marlon Mack for part of the season, Taylor was even better last season. In 17 games, Taylor rushed 332 times, had 2,171 scrimmage yards with 20 touchdowns. Lock down Taylor as 1.01 in fantasy until further notice.
1.02) Dalvin Cook, Minnesota Vikings (RB2)
For the first time since 2018, Dalvin Cook failed to top 1,500 scrimmage yards and double-digit touchdowns in a season.
Cook still finished with 1,301 scrimmage yards and 6 touchdowns while averaging 15.9 PPR fantasy points per game. In standard scoring, volume is king and Cook has the role locked in Minnesota although Alexander Mattison is ready to pounce if given a chance.
1.03) Derrick Henry, Tennessee Titans (RB3)
If you can guarantee me and every other fantasy manager Derrick Henry will be back at full strength and his pre-injury condition, Henry at 1.03 is honestly a value.
Since 2019, Henry has averaged 23 rushes per game. He has 900 run attempts in 39 games. In his last two seasons (24 games), Henry had 15 games over 100 yards. The Titans offense is built around King Henry. Now we have to see if he is ready to take back his crown.
1.04) Najee Harris, Pittsburgh Steelers (RB4)
As a rookie, Najee Harris led the NFL in touches with 381, racking up for 1,667 total yards and 10 touchdowns. Of those keys, 307 were staves, second only to Taylor. Harris’ 1,200 yards were also ranked fourth, and he did it all behind one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL.
Given the improvements at OL, Harris should see much more effective touches where he’s not fighting first touch in the backfield. While his receptions don’t count in this format, the 467 yards and 3 extra touchdowns translates regardless of scoring metrics. Harris appears to be one of the top five picks locked in the 2022 fantasy football sim drafts.
1.05) Nick Chubb, Cleveland Browns (RB5)
The running back race continues. This time with one of the best – if not the best – pure rusher in the NFL, Nick Chubb. Over his last three seasons (42 games), Chubb averaged 238.7 carries for 1,273.3 yards, with 9.3 touchdowns while sharing a backfield with Kareem Hunt. On a per-game basis, that’s 90.9 rushing yards per outing.
In his 58 career regular season games, Chubb has passed the 100-yard mark 22 times. That’s nearly 40 percent 100-yard chance per game with Chubb, which outside of potentially Taylor, no other RB brings to your roster. Add to that the new offensive wrinkle with Deshaun Watson, and we could see Chubb one step closer to another career-best season.
1.06) Austin Ekeler, Los Angeles Chargers (RB6)
Last season, Austin Ekeler finished No. 2 behind Taylor in fantasy with 62.4 percent rush share, 15.1 percent from targets, 1,459 scrimmage yards and 20 touchdowns. For a player heavily used in the passing game, Ekeler’s value is just as high in non-PPR formats due to his workload. While I prefer him in PPR formats, as a mid-first-round pick I’d happily smash the draft button on Ekeler.
1.07) Christian McCaffrey, Carolina Panthers (RB7)
The slide stops here for this season’s most polarizing RB. In good health, is there a better fantasy than Christian McCaffrey? I would probably say no. However, I don’t know which version we will have in 2022.
In 2018 and 2019, McCaffrey was unstoppable, averaging 1,242 yards rushing with 936 yards as a receiver. Yet, as noted, that was two years ago. During those years, McCaffrey also recorded 223 receptions on 266 targets. Even if it were to happen again, they wouldn’t count in this format other than yards and TDs. As a fan of the game, I hope McCaffrey is back in 2022. Fantasy football is better when it’s a part of it.
1.08) Joe Mixon, Cincinnati Bengals (RB8)
No one will want to play against the Cincinnati Bengals this season. What they did in 2021 was no accident. While all eyes were on the connection between Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase, Joe Mixon also had a standout season.
He recorded the third 1,000 rushing yards season of his career (1,205) while scoring 16 total touchdowns (13 rushing) for the Bengals in 16 regular season games. However, what cannot be understated is the improved offensive line he will rush behind in 2022 due to the additions of G Alex Cappa, C Ted Karras and OT La’el Collins. Fantasy football managers don’t pay enough attention to attacking situations. This is a trend that must change.
1.09) Javonte Williams, Denver Broncos (RB9)
I swear one of those picks won’t be a running back. It’s just that the switch to standard scoring forces elite RBs up my board. Speaking of elite running backs, be sure to include Javonte Williams in this discussion.
In a 50/50 timeshare with Melvin Gordon last season, each guard saw exactly 203 rushes for the Broncos. Williams turned them into 903 rushing yards and 4 touchdowns. He led the pair in the receiving game, catching 43 of 53 targets for 316 yards and 3 extra scores.
Weeks 12-14 gave the fantastic managers a taste of what Williams could do in 2022, averaging 19.4 PPR points in the lead. Not even mentioning that he shares the backfield with Russell Wilson, forcing defenses to respect the passing game.
Unless Gordon re-signs, the case could be made. Williams is one of the top four RBs in fantasy football sims in 2022. It’s value even at the back of the first.
1.10) Cooper Kupp, LA Rams (WR1)
Alright, that’s been long enough. It’s time to take Cooper Kupp. In 2021, Kupp was the three-time crown winner, leading all WRs in 138 receptions (138), yards (1,829) and touchdowns (15).
It also left him the No. 1 WR in fantasy scoring, averaging 17.3 points per game. While receptions don’t count, volume is what makes me confident in Kupp. Those opportunities turn into yards that create touchdowns. The Rams will once again be a dominant force in 2022, with Kupp a vital part of their success.