On June 1 I released my first two-round mock draft for 2022 fantasy football leagues. Version 2.0 came out on August 15. There was much more change between the first and second renditions but preseason caused me to make a few minor tweaks before the answers were due for the test.
Below is my plan for how I’d personally mock out the first 24 picks of a redraft fantasy league. I also included where each player went in Version 2 so you can see how much, if at all, I’ve moved on these guys.
1.01 - Jonathan Taylor
Previous pick: 1.01
The combination of Taylor’s age, dominant 2021 season and a potential upgrade at quarterback make him my clear first overall selection. Injuries can hit anyone at this position but no player at the top of the running back board inspires this much comfort.
1.02 - Christian McCaffrey
Previous pick: 1.02
Since publishing the June 1 edition of this mock draft, I’ve had the second overall selection in multiple managed league drafts and I took McCaffrey over my top two wide receivers. His usage will not change, and we know his combination of rushing work and high-equity receiving duties is truly rare in fantasy football. You know how this can easily go wrong — just revisit each of the last two seasons — but the reward is so well worth the risk when injuries are largely unpredictable.
1.03 - Cooper Kupp
Previous pick: 1.03
Unlikely to repeat his Triple Crown performance from last year, Kupp is still in a position to dominate high-leverage targets for a great offense. Didn’t bump him down for some of the weird Matthew Stafford-elbow headlines over the last month.
1.04 - Justin Jefferson
Previous pick - 1.04
I would be zero-percent shocked if Jefferson takes another leap and becomes the WR1 overall this season. A growing talent on a rocketship-upward trajectory, Jefferson has a similar outlook to Kupp this season. Jefferson is already a special player.
1.05 - Austin Ekeler
Previous pick: 1.05
Ekeler has gone over 1,500 yards from scrimmage twice in the last three years and is coming off a career-best 20 total scores. The current Chargers coaching staff didn’t put any weird, sized-based limitations on his role in the scoring area. That gives us comfort when chasing that ceiling for another season.
1.06 - Dalvin Cook
Previous pick: 1.06
I’ve bumped Cook up to my RB4 over the last few weeks and therefore his overall slot in this mock needs to reflect that. The more I’ve thought about how much Jefferson has rightly been steamed up the board given the offensive philosophy shift in Minnesota, the more I’ve realized Cook needs a similar bump. He should have more passing game opportunities and easier runs going out of spread-out 11 personnel packages.
1.07 - Derrick Henry
Previous pick: 1.07
Even within a running back crop that feels particularly rocky this year, Henry strikes me as more volatile than most. You can easily tell yourself a story that last year’s injury was a mere blip in an otherwise stellar run and he’s right back at the top of the positional scorers come December.
The negative extreme is just as easy to visualize given the amount of volume he’s handled since 2019. For what it’s worth, the Titans are clearly betting on the former outcome given they doubled down on their run-first, Henry-centric identity with just about every offseason move.
1.08 - Ja’Marr Chase
Previous pick: 1.09
Don’t overthink it.
Ignore things like, “Chase had x-percent of his fantasy points come on just a handful of plays,” or other such noisy nuggets. We should be ecstatic to bet on and project growth for elite young receiving talents tethered to such a juicy situation as Chase’s setup in Cincy.
1.09 - Stefon Diggs
Previous pick: 1.10
Diggs is coming off back-to-back 160-plus target seasons and there’s no reason he shouldn’t moonwalk right into that type of alpha target share once again. The Bills are light on proven pass-catchers behind him, despite the fantasy community’s excitement over Gabe Davis. Diggs should land somewhere between 2020 and 2021 in the efficiency department this season.
1.10 - Aaron Jones
Previous pick - 1.08
I just wanted to move the two receivers here ahead of Jones. The move reflects no negative feelings or backing-off of the prolific Packers runner.
I’m trying to find as many reasons as possible to be ahead of ADP on Aaron Jones this season and I bumped him up again in this updated version. The Packers have always been more run-heavy than you think and given the massive opening in their target share following the Davante Adams trade, Jones could set a career-high in looks. It feels weird to have a back who is likely to split carries slotted this high but the offense should mostly flow through Jones and AJ Dillon.
1.11 - Najee Harris
Previous pick: 1.11
Harris’ recently reported foot injury makes me even more confident going with some of the receivers and higher-ceiling backs I have ahead of him in Round 1. Harris is one of the few backs who is ticketed for 80-plus percent of his team’s backfield touches but I do wonder if his raw target total from 2021 (94) is destined to come down while playing with quarterbacks who don’t just constantly check down.
1.12 - D’Andre Swift
Previous pick: 1.12
Swift cleared 1,000 scrimmage yards in just 13 games last season. He’ll have more competition for targets this season but should remain high in the Lions' receiving pecking order. Swift checks a lot of the boxes we want in our fantasy backs.
2.01 - CeeDee Lamb
Previous pick: 2.01
I know you think this is drafting Lamb at his ceiling. It is not because his ceiling range of outcomes includes being the WR1 overall in fantasy football this year. Dallas throws the ball at a high rate and Lamb will dominate the target share in an offense that has the steepest drop-off in quality of players from WR1 to WR2.
By the way, there’s no question he’s good enough to handle that type of workload.
2.02 - Joe Mixon
Previous pick: 2.02
Mixon seems to have successfully slid into the “safe but boring” era of his career as a fantasy running back. Totally fine. He’s a workhorse back at the center of a good offense.
2.03 - Mike Evans
Previous pick: 2.05
Evans does nothing but pile up touchdowns and 1,000-yard seasons on an annual basis. I knocked Evans down a few slots with Chris Godwin’s health reports slightly better than expected and Julio Jones’ addition but I want to be ahead of consensus. He can lead the NFL in touchdown catches this year. You want to draft that.
2.04 - Davante Adams
Previous pick: 2.06
I’ve elevated Evans and Lamb at wide receiver and a handful of RBs overall ahead of Adams since the first version of this mock was published. That doesn’t mean I want to be straight-fading Adams this year. I don’t want to overcorrect in reaction to his trade to Vegas. Adams is an elite individual talent and Derek Carr is far from some slouch at quarterback. A second-round pick feels right.
2.05 - Saquon Barkley
Previous pick: 2.07
I’ve grown more comfortable with Barkley's outlook after hearing that Edwin Porras of Fantasy Points is bullish on the medical case for him returning to form. If he’s healthy, Barkley is going to hold down one of the best roles in fantasy football. He has next to zero backfield competition for three-down work and he’s the most obvious winner with the Giants adapting the pace and pass-heavy tendencies of Brian Daboll’s offense. He’s worth the risk here in the second round.
2.06 - Alvin Kamara
Previous pick: 2.08
Recent reports seem to indicate Kamara will dodge a suspension this year and his passing-game workload seems likely to dip from the peak Brees years and the Saints offense is volatile in general without Sean Payton in the mix. That said, Kamara looked great in the preseason and the Saints did little to nothing to add competition in this backfield. He should be a workhorse and is a comfortable second-round pick.
2.07 - Mark Andrews
Previous pick: 2.09
Andrews wrestled the TE1 title away from Travis Kelce last season and after months of deliberation, I plugged him ahead of Kelce in my 2022 ranks. I’m buying all the Rashod Bateman hype but still, with Marquise Brown traded away Andrews should own a commanding share of the Ravens’ targets. I’m not interested in his splits with/without Lamar Jackson. Andrews is an auto-pick for me any time he slips to Round 3, which does happen a good bit.
2.08 - Leonard Fournette
Previous pick: 2.04
I’ve bumped a few backs ahead of Fournette (now RB12) in my positional ranks. He still makes his way onto a lot of my teams around the turn. There is no reason to assume Fournette experiences a role change from what he was asked to do last season. A running back who thrived in that sort of three-down, receiving-heavy role on an offense led by Tom Brady is a Round 2 fantasy pick. Simple case.
2.09 - Travis Kelce
Previous pick: 2.03
Kelce has averaged 141.3 targets over the last four seasons and could easily clear that mark in 2022 given the changes in Kansas City’s receiving corps. Kelce will be the lone, proven, familiar face for Patrick Mahomes this season. I’m just not sure he’s a legitimate first-round fantasy pick when I’m ranking him behind Andrews as my TE2.
2.10 - Tyreek Hill
Previous pick: 2.10
I’m far more comfortable with Hill’s outlook now than I was in the first mock. In fact, Hill is the lone Dolphins pass-catcher I’m cool with drafting around their ADP. I struggle to see how a likely run-heavy offense with a still unproven quarterback is going to support multiple set-it-and-forget-it starters in fantasy. If one guy is going to be that, it’s the best player of the bunch. That is Tyreek Hill. The fact that Jaylen Waddle has not had a clean bill of health during training camp only solidifies Hill’s ability to meet ADP.
2.11 - Michael Pittman
Previous pick: 2.11
I considered Pittman over Hill at 2.12 in the original version of this mock and have since worked up the fortitude to get him in this range. I am sky-high on Pittman as an individual talent and think his game is a blend of Allen Robinson and Keenan Allen. Plus, he’s going to dominate targets on a light pass-catching depth chart in Indy and just got a quarterback upgrade. Pittman broke out last year but has room to grow and offer an even higher ceiling.
2.12 - Tee Higgins
Previous pick: 2.11
Don’t let Ja’Marr Chase’s rise let you forget about Higgins. If you include playoffs, Higgins finished last season with 1,400 yards and eight scores. That’s a non-outrageous outcome for him in the upcoming regular season. He is an extremely good young receiver.
Note: I was very close to replacing Higgins with James Conner, who simply isn’t being drafted high enough given the role he owns in Arizona’s offense.