The fantasy football diehards have been preparing since the Super Bowl and their drafts are likely in the books, but if you’re like millions of more casual fantasy players out there, you might be scrambling to figure out a draft strategy as you drive home from work on Wednesday Night.
If you’re in that situation, The Professor and BeerLife Sports have you covered with this 2022 Fantasy Draft Board. We’re going to walk through the Groups of players that I’m drafting from as I work my way through Draft Boards, and what you can anticipate in terms of players going off the board, but it’s a good idea to download a copy of the spreadsheet from that Google link; you can either print it out or have it on your computer, but I find it makes my draft far less hectic if I cross off names as I go. Typically, my decisions come down to one or two players, and the shape of my team defines itself according to the draft.
For more detail on the player projections, you can check out The Professor’s Boards for Quarterbacks and Tight Ends, Running Backs, and Wide Receivers. There are a couple of changes in position tiers from those articles to this board based on recent draft trends; those will be noted as we go. This draft board was developed using half-PPR scoring, but can be generalized to either No PPR or Full PPR. Position Tiers are denoted in (); when multiple Position Tiers fit in the same Draft Group, the higher tier takes precedence.
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2022 NFL Fantasy Draft Board
These are the Top 8 players on the board. Bengals running back Joe Mixon, who finished as the #3 fantasy back in 2021 and returns in an offense that could be even better, is typically going in the second round, leaving me with a Group 1 player to build around even when drafting in the back end of the first round. The market is clearly against the move, but Mixon strikes me as a sound pick as a talented back with a role as a rusher and receiver in one of the NFL’s top offenses.
Steelers back Najee Harris is listed at the top for the convenience of crossing him off; as much as I enjoy watching Harris, his offensive line is a trainwreck, and his relatively low rank on this board means he’s almost certain to be gone. Similarly, some folks prefer Alvin Kamara or Dalvin Cook to Mixon, but I’m comfortable with that position. Aaron Jones, Javonte Williams, and Nick Chubb have all been in play depending on draft position.
This board is higher than the market on Cowboys receiver CeeDee Lamb, which means he is available in most drafts. I’m bullish on Lamb’s combination of target share, talent, and quarterback; the other four receivers in the group are more proven commodities, but they play with far better complements than the unproven group around Lamb and aren’t projected for the same lofty target share.
Mark Andrews is still listed as TE2 on ADP boards, but from the drafts I’ve seen recently, he is neck-and-neck with Travis Kelce. I still have it Kelce-Andrews due to the nature of their respective offenses, but I’m high on Andrews, and to get him, he likely needs to be targeted in this range.
The first quarterback appears in Group 3; Josh Allen has not ended up on any of my rosters, as I prefer to wait on the deep pool of Tier 3 quarterbacks in Group 5, but this is the range he would need to be targeted.
The way most drafts have proceeded, I’ve gotten my second receiver from this group after securing two running backs and a receiver in the first two groups. Typically, three or four of the Group 3 receivers are available, which has allowed me to assemble a good mix.
Cam Akers has ended up on a team or two, but outside of the fact that I wouldn’t mind adding Leonard Fournette at some point, I’m ok with my competitors jumping in front of me for the rest of the Group 3 backs, which has been a fairly common theme.
This is also where my first “Roster Min” comes in; you should be alarmed if you have not selected a running back by the time this pool is empty. If I found myself in that situation, I would look to use my next two picks on backs and hope to nab a couple of the Group 4 options.
Travis Kelce and Mark Andrews have narrowly eluded me at the tight end spot, but Darren Waller, Kyle Pitts, and George Kittle have all been in play at various times with the way this board has played out. All three could be difference-makers if they pull away from the rest of the tight-end pack.
At receiver, D.J. Moore is typically gone well before I’m this far down the board, but every other option has been in play. Amari Cooper is the one name that could have been dropped down to Group/Tier 5, but the prospect of Cooper settling into a rhythm with quarterback Deshaun Watson and posting a 27% target share down the stretch keeps him with this group.
AJ Dillon was hanging around in several drafts, and I nearly moved him either to the bottom of this Group, or the top of the next one, but then saw him go off the board a few picks before I thought I would have a choice between Dillon and Travis Etienne. As a result, he sticks up here.
This is the quarterback pool – as noted in the Quarterback Article, I’m not interested in Kyler Murray given the depth of options and situation in Arizona, but he could certainly finish top 5. You could drop Trey Lance to the bottom of the quarterback pool, as he’s consistently going at that point in drafts, but the point of the Tiers is that I’m indifferent between the players.
The wide receivers are organized for convenience – you might start to cross the top names off before any of the Group 5 receivers are gone, but I’m out on the Miami and Seattle tandem, where two high-end receivers are sharing a low-end quarterback, and Diontae Johnson’s situation in Pittsburgh, where the Steelers have two other receivers, a tight end, and a back to feed in what could be a lackluster passing game. All five are great players who would be top-20 receivers (top-5 in Tyreek Hill’s case) in better situations, but whose offenses may not pile up many touchdowns.
The cluster of DeAndre Hopkins, Chris Godwin, and Michael Thomas, who are either actively dealing with suspension (Hopkins), injury (Godwin), or two years away from the field (Thomas), strike me as good value at this range, but competitors have typically been a bit more aggressive taking on this risk, which strikes me as unnecessary at such a loaded position.
The running back and tight end pools have both come into play, the running backs to build out depth, and the tight ends as solid bets to produce average value as starters.
As the roster minimums note, you should have your starting quarterback, your top two running backs, and a combination of two receivers, or a receiver and a tight end. If you were able to get running backs or receivers from higher groups and end up with a roster that is tilted to a 1:3 or 3:1 ratio, that’s ok, but you should aggressively target the other side with your next pick. Likewise, if you don’t have a quarterback, you need to grab Kirk Cousins or Derek Carr, preferably along with Trevor Lawrence.
If you are playing in a ten-team league, Group 6 is where you will round out your roster. This is where I typically pull my final running back, and I’ve gotten tight end Dawson Knox both as a starter in a draft where the running backs and receivers were too good to grab an earlier option and a backup in a draft where he lingered late.
The surprise name on the list is Packers receiver Romeo Doubs; I have been able to grab Doubs as the last player on all of my rosters. It might seem high, given that all of the first-round receivers are a group lower, but I have watched enough tape of Doubs to throw out his draft grade. It’s something I consider to be an advantage in my process; I don’t watch any college film and rarely tune into broadcasts, so I have no attachment to preconceived notions of players. I go straight off what I see on the NFL field, and what I see in Doubs, in terms of impact as a mid-round pick, is the next Terry McLaurin. Veterans such as Sammy Watkins and Randall Cobb may stop Doubs from getting out of the gates as fast as McLaurin did in a memorable performance against the Eagles, but I’ll push the chips in on his talent winning out.
As mentioned, if you are in a ten-team league, you may be wrapping up with the exception of a backup tight end, and with the homogeneity of options between TE11 and TE24, I’ve had drafts where I snag a pair of Group 6 running backs and count on using the Waiver Wire to fill my tight end role in the BYE week. It’s not as if any one tight end in Group 7 is going to make me feel a lot better about my team, but I love the idea of building out extra running back depth with a potential co-starter like Rashaad Penny or James Robinson.
This tier is more relevant to round out rosters in 12-team leagues, or leagues with deeper flex options or benches. There is a huge stack of rookie/second-year receivers in this stack. The backs are all secondary pieces in timeshares, and the tight ends are touchdown-dependent options who are unlikely to play the receiver-like role you want from the player you slot into the TE role. Mike Gesicki could be a monster in a different offense, and David Njoku could explode down the stretch when Cleveland’s quarterback returns, but as it stands, their prospects aren’t as strong.
The quarterbacks are an interesting group and speak to the depth of the position; Justin Fields and Daniel Jones would need to rack up yards on the ground to jump into the NFL’s top half, but it’s not out of the question, and Jameis Winston and Trevor Lawrence both bring clear upside.
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Steven Clinton, better known as "The Professor", is a former D-1 Quality Control Assistant (Northwestern, Toledo) who holds a B.A. in Economics and M.S. in Predictive Analytics from Northwestern University. He maintains an end-to-end NFL game projection model and is a film junkie who breaks down the tape of every NFL game.