FINALLY! The calendar flips to July and, for most of you, that means it’s time to start getting serious about the 2022 fantasy football season. After the craziest offseason in NFL history, the fantasy football landscape is going to look a lot different than it did last year. While most of our redraft leagues won’t draft until later next month, completing a mock draft gets us in the mindset as to where we can expect most players to come off of the draft board. We will also be able to see which player values rise and fall week-to-week as training camp progresses and Week 1 approaches.
For the next 10 weeks, every Monday, I will be completing a fantasy football mock draft on what I like to call “Mock Draft Monday.” This series is a favorite of mine and one of the articles I look forward to the most during fantasy football draft season. I encourage you to review these mock drafts and complete some of your own!
Each week, I will select a mock draft team selecting players from a different draft spot with an analysis as to why I picked each player where I did and when I did. As I break down the results of each mock draft, I guarantee my reasoning for every pick will help guide your own decision-making process when it comes time to select your teams for the upcoming fantasy football season. So, follow along all summer long!
Picking First Overall in the First Mock Draft
The following mock draft was completed, simulating my strategy and results for a 10-team, 1 quarterback, Points Per Reception league. The hypothetical roster consists of 3 wide receivers, 2 running backs, 1 tight end, and 1 RB/WR/TE Flex position. I drafted from the first overall pick in this mock draft and will make selections from different draft positions each week. For this mock draft, I will break down just the first 10 of the total 16 rounds as many Average Draft Positions, particularly for the later rounds, are bound to change once NFL training camps begin. As always, I spend my final two picks on a Defense/Special Teams and Kicker so they won’t be included as we focus on individual player analysis.
1.01- Christian McCaffrey (CAR RB)
1.02- Jonathan Taylor (IND RB)
1.03- Austin Ekeler (LAC RB)
1.04- Cooper Kupp (LAR WR)
1.05- Dalvin Cook (MIN RB)
1.06- Derrick Henry (TEN RB)
1.07- Najee Harris (PIT RB)
1.08- Ja’Marr Chase (CIN WR)
1.09- Justin Jefferson (MIN WR)
1.10- Travis Kelce (KC TE)
MY PICK: Christian McCaffrey
To some of you, I may be starting this mock draft on a controversial note with this pick. The way I see it, when healthy, McCaffrey still has the highest ceiling of any running back on a game-by-game basis. That’s just it, though: when healthy. Since finishing as the best player in fantasy football at any position in 2019, McCaffrey has just 10 games to account for since.
However, in those 10 games, even after leaving a handful of them with injury, McCaffrey averages 21.78 Points Per Reception (PPR) points per game. If you extend that average across a 16-game span each of the last two seasons, he slides in as the overall RB2 each time. I’m willing to take McCaffrey’s massive potential, and safe floor, with the top pick in this mock draft. For what it’s worth, I do expect a more capable quarterback than Sam Darnold under center by Week 1 in Carolina which will only help McCaffrey and this entire offense’s efficiency. Just make sure, if you do land McCaffrey, to get D’Onta Foreman on your roster as his handcuff.
2.01 – Davante Adams (LV WR)
2.02- Joe Mixon (CIN RB)
2.03- Nick Chubb (CLE RB)
2.04- D’Andre Swift (DET RB)
2.05- Mark Andrews (BAL TE)
2.06- Stefon Diggs (BUF WR)
2.07- Deebo Samuel (SF WR)
2.08- Alvin Kamara (NO RB)
2.09- Javonte Williams (DEN RB)
2.10- Aaron Jones (GB RB)
MY PICK: Aaron Jones
I absolutely love having back-to-back picks here from this spot in the mock draft. As my pick drew closer and closer, I knew I was going to land two studs at the tail end of this round and at the beginning of the next. As the 12th running back to come off of the board, I get an absolute steal here in Aaron Jones.
Jones boasts a top-10 finish in overall PPR points at the position each of the last three seasons. You will see, however, that his points per game average has declined from 19.9 points in 2019, to 18.5 in 2020, to 15.3 this past season. A.J. Dillon’s powerful running style is an obvious threat to Jones’ workload. However, Jones’ role as a pass-catcher out of the backfield has increased each of the last three seasons, as well.
Aaron Jones has ranked 14th, 12th, and 7th in receptions amongst all running backs in 2019, 2020, and 2021 respectively. Furthermore, Jones caught the second-most receiving touchdowns (7) amongst all backs last year. Given the departure of Devante Adams and his 169 targets (tied for 2nd most league-wide), I expect Jones to have an expanded role in Green Bay’s passing game in 2022. He should see similar work and production to that of Alvin Kamara or Austin Ekeler of seasons past.
3.01- Ceedee Lamb (DAL WR)
3.02- Leonard Fournette (TB RB)
3.03- Tyreek Hill (MIA WR)
3.04- James Conner (ARI RB)
3.05- Saquon Barkley (NYG RB)
3.06- Josh Allen (BUF QB)
3.07- A.J. Brown (PHI WR)
3.08- David Montgomery (CHI RB)
3.09- Cam Akers (LAR RB)
3.10- Keenan Allen (LAC WR)
MY PICK: Ceedee Lamb
With two running backs on my roster in this mock draft, it’s time to land a top-tier receiver. Of the remaining choices, Lamb has the best chance to lead them all in targets and, therefore, receptions, and hopefully, touchdowns. Lamb enters the 2022 season as the reigning target leader (120) amongst all Dallas Cowboys from last season. Additionally, of the other three wide receivers that saw 60+ targets last season, two are no longer on the roster (Amari Cooper, 103, and Cedrick Wilson, 61) while Michael Gallup (62) will be recovering from a late-season ACL tear.
This paves the way for Lamb to continue his rise as a top receiver in the league. He’s going to be a major third-year breakout and finally land into the top-10 in overall points in PPR formats at his position. It’s worth noting that in Lamb’s first season, Dak Prescott was lost to a season-ending ankle injury in Week 5. Prescott is now nearly two years removed from said injury which will only help Lamb with his connection and production.
Looking at the rest of this round of the mock draft, I see that the first quarterback, Josh Allen, comes off of the board. He is a no brainer selection to be the top quarterback taken. I’m just not willing to spend the 21st pick on him knowing how many other good quarterback options I can have later, especially when I only need one to start.
4.01- Kyle Pitts (ATL TE)
4.02- Jaylen Waddle (MIA WR)
4.03- Mike Evans (TB WR)
4.04- Tee Higgins (CIN WR)
4.05- Ezekiel Elliott (DAL RB)
4.06- Dionte Johnson (PIT WR)
4.07- Patrick Mahomes (KC QB)
4.08- DeAndre Hopkins (ARI WR)
4.09- D.J. Moore (CAR WR)
4.10- D.K. Metcalf (SEA WR)
MY PICK: D.K. Metcalf
After four full rounds of this mock draft, two quarterbacks and three tight ends are off of the board. That’s five total picks, of 40 total, that are spent on two positions I’m willing to wait a bit on. In return, I land D.K. Metcalf, who comes at a discount likely because of Russell Wilson’s departure, via trade, from Seattle to Denver this offseason.
Everyone will tell you that the Seahawks want to run the ball. That may be true that they want to, but they’ve run the ball at the 5th, 16th, and 6th-lowest rates league-wide since Metcalf was drafted. The fact of the matter is Metcalf is the best player on this offense. He has yet to log less than 900 receiving yards in three seasons with an average of 1,135 yards and 11 touchdowns per in the last two.
The glaring concern here is who will be throwing the ball to Metcalf this season: Geno Smith, Drew Lock, or some other quarterback not yet on the roster. Whoever it may be, I don’t expect many fireworks from this offense, though Metcalf should still lead the team in targets and is a great WR2 option for this mock draft team.
5.01- Terry McLaurin (WSH WR)
5.02- Cortland Sutton (DEN WR)
5.03- Darren Waller (LV TE)
5.04- Michael Pittman, Jr. (IND WR)
5.05- Brandin Cooks (HOU WR)
5.06- Amari Cooper (CLE WR)
5.07- Mike Williams (LAC WR)
5.08- George Kittle (SF TE)
5.09- Chris Godwin (TB WR)
5.10- Travis Etienne (JAC RB)
MY PICK: Terry McLaurin
I love the value of just about every player that comes off of the board in this round of the mock draft. That’s why we mock draft! To get a glimpse at what to expect when our real drafts come around and get an idea of hypothetical roster construction.
It’s yet to be seen if choosing McLaurin over the other receivers here is the right decision. For the third wide receiver, I’m willing to bank on the player McLaurin is and that he’s going to enter the 2022 season with the best quarterback he will have played with at this point in his professional career, Carson Wentz. While McLaurin may have had the second-most deep targets (31) and the fourth-most air yards (1,656) to his name from last season, he saw just 71.8% of a catchable target rate.
Wentz has struggles of his own, but should be able to the get ball into McLaurin’s hands. Even with a dominant RB1 overall finish from Jonathan Taylor last season in Indianapolis, Wentz still managed to support a WR21 overall finish for Michael Pittman, Jr. Even with less than ideal quarterback play in Washington, McLaurin continues to manage low-end, top-25 finishes in fantasy football year after year.
6.01- Michael Thomas (NO WR)
6.02- Amon-Ra St. Brown (DET WR)
6.03- Adam Theilen (MIN WR)
6.04- Marquise Brown (ARI WR)
6.05- Jerry Jeudy (DEN WR)
6.06- Darnell Mooney (CHI WR)
6.07- Josh Jacobs (LV RB)
6.08- Antonio Gibson (WSH WR)
6.09- Justin Herbert (LAC QB)
6.10- Lamar Jackson (BAL QB)
MY PICK: Lamar Jackson
At this point in the mock draft, I have my starting two running backs and three starting wide receivers. I’m the first person to emphasize depth at both of these positions. I’ll also advocate for waiting to draft a quarterback. However, I’m also someone who cannot ignore value when I see it. Getting Lamar Jackson with the 60th overall pick is a value.
Comparatively, only three other teams in this mock draft have a quarterback by the time I select Jackson, but, looking ahead, five other quarterbacks will come off of the board by the time I pick again in the eighth round following these back-to-back selections here.
So, by doing this mock draft, I get to look at which other quarterbacks come off of the board prior to my eighth round selection. Assuming I don’t take Lamar Jackson here, but he gets selected in the group of quarterbacks that do go, I can also assume I would have my choice of the last quarterback taken in that group, Russell Wilson, or another quarterback, if I wanted to, at the 80th overall pick.
I would much rather have Lamar Jackson at 60th overall given his proven potential to finish at the top of the position. In the same number of seasons played, Jackson averages 11.2 rushes per game started compared to Josh Allen’s 6.39. Allen, of course, has better weapons and is a better passer, but Jackson’s ability to move the ball downfield should not be taken lightly. With the risk of selecting Christian McCaffrey first overall, I’m thrilled to get added rushing production from Jackson here in the mock draft.
7.01- Breece Hall (NYJ RB)
7.02- Allen Robinson (LAR WR)
7.03- Robert Woods (TEN WR)
7.04- Hunter Renfrow (LV WR)
7.05- Kyler Murray (ARI QB)
7.06- Drake London (ATL WR)
7.07- Daulton Schultz (DAL TE)
7.08- J.K. Dobbins (BAL RB)
7.09- Joe Burrow (CIN QB)
7.10- A.J. Dillon (GB RB)
MY PICK: Breece Hall
This is my first regretful decision of the mock draft. Another reason why we mock draft. To assess these mock teams, see what we can do better, and perfect our draft strategies when it really matters. It’s not that I don’t look forward to seeing Breece Hall play his rookie season this fall. I just wish I had taken A.J. Dillon instead, a player I think is going to outscore Hall by season’s end.
Especially since I have Aaron Jones on my roster, it would be nice to have both studs in the Green Bay backfield. I actually think they can co-exist and both start on fantasy rosters this season. Additionally, in the event something were to happen to one of them, I then have the other with a major boost in value.
Though some would probably prefer Hall to Dillon in rankings, it’s important to remember that adding a player like Dillon in this scenario is not a reach if it makes sense for your own roster construction. Just don’t draft players multiple rounds ahead of where you know you can get them later.
8.01- Tom Brady (TB QB)
8.02- Elijah Moore (NYJ WR)
8.03- Aaron Rodgers (GB QB)
8.04- Elijah Mitchell (SF RB)
8.05- Treylon Burks (TEN WR)
8.06- Rashod Bateman (BAL WR)
8.07- Juju Smith-Schuster (KC WR)
8.08- Russell Wilson (SEA QB)
8.09- Russell Gage (TB WR)
8.10- DeVonta Smith (PHI WR)
MY PICK: DeVonta Smith
As far as a rookie season goes for a wide receiver, DeVonta Smith’s is one to celebrate, though overshadowed by a few of his peers, namely Ja’Marr Chase. For starters, Smith broke a Philadelphia Eagles franchise record for rookie receiving yards with 916, just 84 shy of 1,000. His first-year campaign includes two 100+ yard receiving games and three WR1 weekly finishes in fantasy football.
While some believe the addition of A.J. Brown to this offense may eat into Smith’s target share, I would argue a lot of the players who saw a good chunk of targets in Philly last year won’t see many, if any, in 2022, such as the 99 total between Jaelon Reagor (57), Zach Ertz (31), and Greg Ward (11). Only four wide receivers logged targets for the Eagles last season with Smith dominating the share.
As a fourth wide receiver for this mock draft fantasy team, I could do a lot worse. This dip in value following his WR30 finish is solely based on a lack of belief in Jalen Hurts by some coupled with the run-heavy approach from the Eagles offense last season. Better days are ahead for this passing game and I expect better, or at least no worse, than a top-30 finish from the second-year receiver.
9.01- Gabriel Davis (BUF WR)
9.02- Christian Kirk (JAC WR)
9.03- Tyler Lockett (SEA WR)
9.04- Brandon Aiyuk (SF WR)
9.05- Chase Claypool (PIT WR)
9.06- Clyde Edwards-Helaire (KC RB)
9.07- Miles Sanders (PHI RB)
9.08- Kadarius Toney (NYG RB)
9.09- Damien Harris (NE RB)
9.10- Tony Pollard (DAL RB)
My Pick: Gabriel Davis
Consider this mock draft pick my ticket to board the Gabriel Davis hype train. The last time we saw Davis play football, he caught eight of 10 targets in an AFC Championship game loss for 201 yards and four touchdowns. That’s good enough for 51.2 PPR points.
Cole Beasley and Emmanuel Sanders combined for 184 targets last season and both finished ahead of Davis in the pecking order in total targets. They’re both now out of Buffalo. Sure, the team did add Jamison Crowder, but Davis is going to inevitably see a boost in targets. I want him on my team to see what he can do with them. To get Josh Allen’s assumed WR2 with the 91st pick seems like a steal in this first mock draft.
10.01- Kareem Hunt (CLE RB)
10.02- Rashaad Penny (SEA RB)
10.03- Devin Singletary (BUF RB)
10.04- Dak Prescott (DAL QB)
10.05- Garrett Wilson (NYJ WR)
10.06- Jakobi Meyers (NE WR)
10.07- Allen Lazard (GB WR)
10.08- Cordarelle Patterson (ATL RB)
10.09- Chris Olave (NO WR)
10.10- Chase Edmonds (ARI RB)
MY PICK: Chase Edmonds
I was really hoping to somehow land Rashaad Penny with the 100th overall pick of the mock draft. There is no reason his value should be sitting in the 10th round and I expect it to go up as the summer rolls on. Alas, I land Chase Edmonds as my fourth running back for this mock draft team.
I usually want to enter Week 1 of the season with no less than five running backs on my fantasy football roster. It’s surprising to me to see Edmonds still on the board here this late in the mock draft. The Dolphins clearly see Edmonds as a priority with making him the highest-paid back in Miami with a free agent two-year, $12.6 million deal.
Furthermore, it’s encouraging Edmonds will likely play the most snaps at the position on a roster overseen by new head coach, Mike McDaniel, who comes from a successful, creative San Francisco 49ers offense and run game. Edmonds could be one of the biggest steals in 2022 drafts.
QB – Lamar Jackson
RB – Christian McCaffrey, Aaron Jones
WR – Ceedee Lamb, D.K. Metcalf, Terry McLaurin
TE – Zach Ertz (12.10)
FLEX – Breece Hall
Bench: DeVonta Smith, Gabriel Davis, Chase Edmonds, Melvin Gordon (11.1), Ronald Jones (13.1), Tyler Boyd (14.12)
Mock Draft 1.0 CONCLUSION
I think my first mock draft team carries a lot of risk. It goes without saying Christian McCaffrey is capable of performing like the first-overall pick, but for how many games? Additionally, three of my top-four wide receivers, D.K. Metcalf, Terry McLaurin, and DeVonta Smith, all have question marks, in one way or another, surrounding their quarterbacks. It’s important to look within ahead of fantasy football drafts and decide if you want a safe roster that will get you to the playoffs and maybe win it all or swing for the fences at times by drafting high-risk, high-reward players
Lamar Jackson brings some balance to the risk assessment I’ve laid out amongst my top-five core picks. However, even he carries risk of his own with a lack of proven pass catchers on the Baltimore Ravens roster. Still, after Josh Allen, I think Lamar Jackson presents the best package of a high floor and high ceiling with his rushing ability at quarterback.
Overall, I think there is certainly room for improvement, but that’s to be expected in the first of many mock drafts! I’m looking forward to continuing this series and seeing how values change, especially when training camp gets underway. Mock draft results and PPR rankings are all sure to change. Make sure you follow along and complete mock drafts of your own, as well!