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NFL Draft: Day Two Awards for 2022 Fantasy Football

The 2022 NFL Draft continues to roll right along. Rounds Two and Three are usually full of future fantasy football assets for the upcoming season or to stash in dynasty leagues for future production. This NFL Draft is no different. Nearly half of the first 20 picks of the second round were either wide receivers, running backs, or tight ends.

As we have more time to analyze and gather news, especially during training camp, we will have a better idea of each player as they relate to fantasy football. For now though, I will continue to hand out made-up superlative awards to best summarize my thoughts on what each player’s landing spot means for their fantasy football outlook.

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NFL Draft: Fantasy Football Superlative Awards for Rounds 2-3

The “It’s About Damn Time” Award: Christian Watson to the Green Bay Packers

For the 20th straight NFL Draft, the Packers did not draft a wide receiver in the first round. They came close, though, spending the third-overall pick in the second round on Christian Watson from North Dakota State University. Filling Davante Adams’ shoes is a nearly impossible task. However, between Adams and Marques Valdez-Scantling alone, there are 224 vacated targets from the 2021 season in Green Bay.

It won’t be hard to spot Watson on the field with his 6’5″ frame. Additionally, he has 4.4 40-yard dash speed. That sets the stage for plenty of big plays with Aaron Rodgers tossing him the long ball as well as Watson dominating any potential mismatches across the line of scrimmage.

We are going to see a lot of Watson sooner than later. His 20.7 yards per reception average from 2019-2021 should translate well to this offense especially. It’s certainly not Davante Adams, but it’s about damn time we have a new, exciting receiver to talk about in Green Bay. I think he can return solid WR3 value in PPR leagues. I’ll be keeping him in mind in dynasty drafts as a top target for Rodgers over the next few seasons.

Most Likely to Be Drafted 1.01 in Rookie Drafts: Breece Hall to the New York Jets

Breece Hall should still be the top rookie draft pick in dynasty leagues. There are better landing spots Hall could have ended up on, but he will still thrive as a New York Jet. Hall’s 215-pound size and 4.3 40-yard dash speed make him a perfect fit for this young, up-and-coming offense. Providing second-year quarterback, Zach Wilson, a running back who can churn out yards and move the ball downfield is extremely valuable to the development of this offense.

Hall definitely limits the potential that second-year running back, Michael Carter, Jr., had even just a week ago in fantasy football. Carter now figures to work in as a passing-down option, though Hall is a good enough pass-blocker that he could remain on the field more.

The Jets have arguably won the 2022 NFL Draft through the first three rounds. Investing in their players, especially in dynasty leagues, is a wise decision. Therefore, Hall likely cements in as the top pick in upcoming rookie drafts at a common position of need. I think he will rack up plenty of yards this year, but may struggle to find the end zone as this team goes through its growing pains. Hall is likely a rock-solid RB2 for the 2022 fantasy football season.

The Most “On Brand Pick” Award: Kenneth Walker III to the Seattle Seahawks

If you aren’t aware by now, Pete Carroll wants to run the football in Seattle. That’s never been more clear as the Seahawks used the 40th-overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft this year on Kenneth Walker II out of Michigan State University. The team now looks to enter this season with Walker, Rashaad Penny, and Chris Carson at running back, though Carson could be released for the cap space savings.

Walker gives the Seahawks a chance to get younger and healthier at their favorite position. Drafting an offensive lineman in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft also bodes well for Walker’s future. The downside for Walker is the lack of reliability at the quarterback position, with Drew Lock set to start Week 1, as of now. Seattle ran the fewest offensive plays per game last season. I don’t expect much improvement, if at all, in that statistic with Lock under center.

I think Walker is a volume-based RB2. He is an explosive runner whose cutting ability should earn him a few extra yards per play with the potential for more. Walker will have to score touchdowns to jump into RB1 territory, especially with just 19 receptions in his three-year collegiate career. He will be the second running back off of the board in dynasty drafts. It wouldn’t shock me if he ends up having more touches in Seattle this season than Breece Hall will have in New York.

The Seeing Double Award: Wan’Dale Robinson to the New York Giants

Drafting Wan’Dale Robinson out of the University of Kentucky very much feels like drafting Kadarius Toney out of Florida University in last year’s NFL Draft. For those who don’t know, Robinson is a shifty slot receiver. He is quick, great in the open field, and will make tacklers miss. Sound like anyone you know? (Hint: Toney!)

With Robinson joining the New York Giants at the 43rd-overall pick, it can’t bode well for one of the wide receivers already on the roster. I would have liked to have seen the team select a player like George Pickens then do everything in their power to get rid of Kenny Golladay and his contract.

Robinson is going to have a hard time carving out a role as a rookie, though he is tough to cover. Given the uncertainty of Daniel Jones’ future and the current crowded wide receiver room, Robinson is unlikely to produce worthwhile 2022 fantasy football value. A nice stash for dynasty benches that can be had cheaper than most selected at this point in the NFL Draft.

Biggest Round Two Head Scratcher: Tyquan Thornton to the New England Patriots

It’s no secret the New England Patriots are trying to upgrade their wide receivers for second-year quarterback, Mac Jones. They’ve acquired DeVante Parker in a trade from the Miami Dolphins and then spent the 50th-overall pick on Tyquan Thornton in this year’s NFL Draft.

This is a head-scratcher because of the available wide receivers still on the board (See: George Pickens, Skyy Moore, etc.). New England continuously struggles to find wide receiver talent in drafts having yet to develop anyone notable in recent years. Thornton is most-known for having the fastest 40-yard dash time at his position at this year’s NFL Combine. That’s all well and good, but it does nothing for us on a consistent basis in fantasy football.

The Perfect Fit Award: George Pickens to the Pittsburgh Steelers

George Pickens is a first-round talent that falls to the Steelers in this year’s NFL Draft at pick 52. He tore his ACL last Spring which undoubtedly affected his draft value this weekend. It is a blessing in disguise. Pickens lands with the Pittsburgh Steelers, which is a perfect fit. This team develops wide receivers better than any other franchise in recent years.

Pickens will join a wide receiver room of Dionte Johnson and Chase Claypool while replacing Juju Smith-Schuster. Johnson is going to continue to serve as this team’s top option in the passing game until further notice. If rookie quarterback, Kenny Pickett, finds himself starting sooner than later, I think he will utilize Pickens’ trustworthy pass-catching to help get the ball out of his hands sooner. Pickens has just a 2.1 drop percentage since 2019.

While it took some time to figure out where Pickens is going to start his professional career, it was worth the wait. He will far exceed his NFL Draft spot and probably go in the mid-to-high first round of rookie drafts. When in doubt, put your faith in up-and-coming Steelers wide receivers.

The Top Rookie Tight End Award: Trey McBride to the Arizona Cardinals

This part could have probably been written prior to knowing where McBride is heading in this year’s NFL Draft. Only now, we know he gets to start his career getting acclimated alongside Zach Ertz in Arizona. McBride plays similarly to Ertz with the ability to catch the ball in stride. He is much better at gobbling up yards after the catch than the aforementioned veteran, though, which provides a lot of fantasy football value.

It’s hard to make a splash as a rookie tight end in redraft fantasy football leagues. In McBride’s case, he will likely have to wait for Ertz to play through most of, or the entirety of, his new three-year deal before he is fantasy football relevant. The Cardinals do like to line up with two tight end sets, as well as in four-wide receiver sets. You could justify selecting McBride as a late first-round dynasty rookie pick if you have the space and patience to wait for his time to shine.

The Sky’s the Limit Award: Skyy Moore to the Kansas City Chiefs

If you’re willing to ignore the corny, made-up award I just gave him, you’ll realize Skyy Moore may have just landed in the spot with the most potential for the 2022 fantasy football season. Of all of the wide receivers taken so far in the 2022 NFL Draft, Moore is heading to the Chiefs who provide a mouth-watering combination of quarterback talent, available targets, and a day one role.

Similar to how I described Christian Watson filling Davante Adam’s shoes, it’s impossible to expect anyone, especially Moore, to be Tyreek Hill. Moore does present a similar skillset, especially in the open field, making defenders miss and the ability to change direction with speed. If there is a quarterback who plays into this sort of skill set, it’s Patrick Mahomes. Moore is going to be a PPR asset perhaps sooner than later, especially given the retooling Kansas City is doing at the wide receiver position.

The Free Agency Re-Do Award: James Cook to the Buffalo Bills

Prior to returning to Washington, running back, J.D. McKissic had verbally agreed to join the Buffalo Bills during free agency last month. Having changed his mind, it’s no wonder Buffalo adds James Cook in this year’s NFL Draft to make up for missing out on McKissic.

James, who is notably the younger brother of Minnesota Vikings star back, Dalvin Cook, is not close to the level of value that Dalvin is. While he does have the open field speed, Cook is more dangerous as a pass-catcher than as a potential 200+ carry workhorse out of the backfield. Good things happen when the ball is in his hands, but I fully expect Devin Singletary, and Josh Allen, to handle the bulk of the 2022 Bills carries.

Cook does have a path to a weekly flex value in PPR leagues. As far as long-term value is concerned, Cook could see a major boost in touches as soon as next season, but it’s hard to guarantee such a thing. Either way, the Bills added a talented playmaker as a redo to missing out on McKissic last month.

The Most Worth the Wait Award: Desmond Ridder to the Atlanta Falcons

This superlative award speaks to the value Ridder presents after a delay in coming off the board with the 74th pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. As of now, I could see him spending a full season developing behind Marcus Mariota for the foreseeable future. Ridder’s skill set is similar to Mariota’s, both of which are far different than their predecessor, Matt Ryan. It’s clear the Falcons want to keep up with other explosive offenses around the league by preparing an offense around a mobile quarterback with solid arm strength.

That’s what they’re getting in Ridder. As of now, I prefer Ridder’s short-term future as opposed to Malik Willis, who came off the board a few picks later. While I don’t believe Ridder is ready to start Week 1, he should, at the very least, produce a very fantasy-friendly offense with Drake London and Kyle Pitts especially when he does take the field. It will be worth the wait. This is my favorite quarterback pick with landing spot thus far.

Biggest 180° in Fantasy Value from Pre to Post Draft: Malik Willis to the Tennessee Titans

I am rooting for Malik Willis. I’ll admit that after watching his Pro Day throws, I fully expected him to be taken far higher than 86th-overall, but here we are. If Willis ended up in Pittsburgh, I would have a much different, and quite frankly, more positive outlook for the early portion of his career, especially in fantasy football. Instead, he’s set to sit behind Ryan Tannehill on a run-first offense that just traded away their best wide receiver.

This is just the beginning of Willis’ career, so I’m not calling it over before it started. However, for the sake of these NFL Draft superlative awards, the fantasy football value I thought he’d present for this season to the projected complete lack thereof is underwhelming. The closest comparison I can think of is the Trey Lance/Jimmy Garropolo saga in San Francisco. Let’s hope Willis gets handed over the reins of this team sooner, and more clearly, than Lance is eventually supposed to out west.

The “Some Things Never Change” Award: Rachaad White to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers

This NFL Draft superlative award specifically speaks to the, yet again, questionable ranking of the Tampa Bay backfield. Make no mistake, Leonard Fournette is the running back you want in Tampa. However, spending a day two, third-round pick on Rachaad White dings Fournette’s value ever so slightly for me.

Ronald Jones is finally out of this backfield, but here comes White. The Arizona State back is a solid 6’0″ 214-pounds who handles touches any way he can get them. Last season alone, White logged 225 touches for 1,462 total yards for 16 touchdowns. I know Bruce Arians isn’t the head coach anymore, but his presence is still felt here. It wasn’t that long ago that his Arizona Cardinals team selected David Johnson in the third round of the 2015 NFL Draft while also using a Buccaneers 2020 third on Ke’Shawn Vaughn, prior to signing Fournette. Some things never change!

While Fournette did sign a three-year deal to stick with the Bucs, White will have a role to lighten his load which could be a bit of a fantasy football headache. Again, Fournette is still an RB1, but White will eat into his previously perceived bell-cow role. If he can develop as a blocker on passing downs, it will only improve his chances of getting on the field.

The More the Merrier Award: Tyrion Davis-Price to the San Francisco 49ers

Tyrion Davis-Prince is now the second 49ers running back to come off the board in the third round in back-to-back years, having selected Trey Sermon in last year’s NFL Draft. It’s never a question of “if” Kyle Shanahan is going to add running backs to the roster, but “when.”

It’s hard to believe and trust in Davis-Price taking ownership of this backfield any time soon. I do think, however, he fits in nicely to a 49ers committee.  Needless to say, this pick puts 2021 sixth-round breakout, Elijah Mitchell’s, RB1 role in question.

The Quarterback Most Likely to Start First of His Peers: Matt Corral to the Carolina Panthers

Many teams in this NFL Draft were thought to be considering using a top pick on a quarterback. The Carolina Panthers were one of those teams, but decided otherwise with the sixth-overall pick. It’s not until pick 94 that the Panthers make their move to select Matt Corral as the potential future of their franchise.

That “future” may get started sooner than any other quarterback in this draft class. Desmond Ridder and Malik Willis are almost guaranteed to sit behind Marcus Mariota and Ryan Tannehill to start the season. Only Kenny Pickett presents a possibility of winning the starting job over Mitchell Trubisky in Pittsburgh.

Meanwhile, for Corral, his only competition is Sam Darnold. Aside from the first few games last season, where Darnold providing a lot of upside with his rushing ability, he was downright awful. He posted a career low 71.9 quarterback rating with a 9:13 TD:INT ratio.

Corral is a boost for this offense with high upside as a dual threat quarterback. He should be able to create opportunities for Christian McCaffrey and D.J. Moore specifically to make plays in the open field after getting the ball out quick. He doesn’t have the big name in this rookie quarterback class, but if he does win the starting job, the Panthers offense will be better off for fantasy football than with Sam Darnold.

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