2022 Fantasy Football Mock Draft
The 2021 fantasy football season just wrapped up, but we’re already looking ahead and focusing on the 2022 fantasy season to come in a handful of months. Just like last year, another crazy offseason of player movement—particularly quarterbacks—lies ahead. That being said, it’s never too early to begin prepping for a future fantasy championship.
Every Tuesday between the end of Week 17 and the Tuesday after the Super Bowl, I’ll be adding one round to my “Way-Too-Early 2022 Fantasy Football Mock Draft,” starting with the opening round on Jan. 4. Bookmark this page and check in often to see the mock draft unfold. Note, if you don't see the current week's round, please refresh the page.
Things to know before reading: This mock draft is based on a 12-team, single-QB, half-PPR league with the following starting positions: QB, RB, RB, WR, WR, TE, FLEX, K, DST. This draft will simulate what I would do if I were drafting for each of these 12 teams. Keep in mind that after the first round, this is not a big board—players will be drafted based on team needs and value, not just my overall personal ranking. All scoring mentioned below for current and future seasons is based on half-PPR and all per-game averages cited are for a minimum of seven games played in 2021 unless otherwise noted.
Let's dive in:
ROUND 1 (Written 1/4/22)
1.1 Derrick Henry (RB - TEN)
The debate over who the RB1 is will rage throughout the offseason. I really don't think you can go wrong with either Derrick Henry or Jonathan Taylor with the top pick, but I'm going to side with the Tennessee Titan here. Before suffering a foot injury on Halloween that cost him the rest of the 2021 fantasy season, Henry was clearly the top player, averaging 23.0 fantasy points per game. This, after finishing as the RB4 in average fantasy points per game in 2019 and the RB3 in that same category in 2020. Henry stayed remarkably healthy prior to his foot injury and it's tough to argue that he's more of an injury risk than any other running back in the NFL. You know the Titans' offense is going to run through Henry, who will get the workload and touchdown production to be an elite fantasy running back week in and week out.
1.2 Jonathan Taylor (RB - IND)
Jonathan Taylor was an absolute stud in 2021. He lived up to all the hype generated from his rookie year late-season surge and then some. He finished 2021 as the No. 1 overall running back and No. 6 overall player in total points behind only Cooper Kupp and a quartet of quarterbacks. There was nearly a 60-point gap between Taylor and RB2, Austin Ekeler. While Taylor fell just shy of Henry's points-per-game mark—23.0 versus 21.4—the Colts' rusher played in twice as many games. There's no reason to expect much to change in 2022. The Colts' offensive success will rest on the legs of Taylor, who should continue to pile up touchdowns at a massive rate. He led the NFL in red zone carries this past season with nearly twice as many as the next-closest running back. Draft Taylor in the top two and don't look back.
1.3 Austin Ekeler (RB - LAC)
It still somehow feels like Austin Ekeler isn't fully appreciated for how good of a fantasy player he's been. The debates over whether or not he should be a first-rounder entering the 2021 season seem foolish now. Despite missing a game, Ekeler finished as the No. 2 RB in fantasy in total points with his per-game totals trailing only Henry and Taylor. His consistency was also quite remarkable, as he only had two games all season in which he scored less than 11.7 fantasy points. He also finally got goal-line carries this year! There isn't much to dislike, making Ekeler a nice consolation prize if you miss out on a top-two pick.
1.4 Alvin Kamara (RB - NO)
Despite incredibly inconsistent (and downright bad) quarterback play in the first year of the post-Drew-Brees era, Kamara put together a really strong season. A knee injury cost him some time, but on a per-game basis, his 16.2 points ranked fifth among all running backs. While there's no guarantee the quarterback situation in New Orleans is any better in 2022, there's a decent chance it could be, and most of the concerns about his ability to perform with Taysom Hill as his quarterback have been eliminated. New Orleans' offense as a whole should be better in 2022, which is only going to help Kamara's fantasy potential.
1.5 Joe Mixon (RB - CIN)
It finally happened. We finally got the Joe Mixon top-five season fantasy managers have been dreaming about for years. Mixon ended the 2021 campaign as the RB3 in total points. The massive spike in receiving work that's always promised in August didn't materialize (yet again), but Mixon was a dominant force for an exciting and resurgent Bengals offense this past season. There was some significant boom-or-bust to Mixon's game, as he had a whopping seven games with 23 or more fantasy points and six games with 10 points or less. However, this Bengals offense shows no signs of slowing down in 2022 and, if healthy, Mixon should thrive yet again.
1.6 Dalvin Cook (RB - MIN)
Dalvin Cook was not his usual dominant self this season. While he did have four games with 19 or more fantasy points, he finished nearly half of his starts with 11.3 or fewer points. His overall average of 15.1 fantasy points per game is significantly down from his previous yearly totals and ranked as just the RB11. While the injury bug cropped back up again for Cook this season, he still has enough league-winning upside to be worthy of a top-half-of-the-first-round pick in fantasy drafts.
1.7 Christian McCaffrey (RB - CAR)
This is an incredibly strange place to find Christian McCaffrey after years of going as the RB1 or RB2. While his talent and upside are undeniable, we can't ignore the alarming injury trend of the last couple of years. He's missed double-digit games in each of the last two campaigns (13 in 2020 and 10 in 2021). But when he's played, he does look like Christian McCaffrey. Before leaving Week 12 early with an ankle injury, McCaffrey was averaging 17.6 fantasy points per game—that ranked fifth among all running backs. He averaged more than 27 fantasy points per game in 2020 in his three appearances. Taking McCaffrey at all in Round 1 is a risk, but it’s hard to argue that he doesn't still have RB1 upside. He's the first real high-risk, high-reward pick of this mock draft.
1.8 Najee Harris (RB - PIT)
Najee Harris lived up to his lofty rookie expectations and then some in 2021. He finished his first professional season as the RB4 in total points and in the top six in average fantasy points per game behind a bad Pittsburgh Steelers offensive line with subpar quarterback play. Unfortunately, neither of those two problems will be fixed by 2022, but there may be some improvement. Like Ekeler, it's the consistency that makes Harris' season so special. He had just three games all year with fewer than 13.2 fantasy points. He's got plenty of room to grow in the touchdown category as well in the years to come.
1.9 Cooper Kupp (WR - LAR)
When you're coming off the all-time greatest fantasy season for a receiver, you deserve to be WR1 and a first-round pick. Kupp blossomed with new Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford and there's no reason to believe he won't experience immense success in 2022 as well. Now, Kupp won't repeat his historic 2021 season—he scored nearly 70 more fantasy points than the WR2—but with uncertainty surrounding Davante Adams' future and players like Tyreek Hill and Stefon Diggs coming off of very good but not great seasons, Kupp shouldn't face much of a challenge to his WR1 throne on draft day.
1.10 Nick Chubb (RB - CLE)
Nick Chubb missed some time, but still delivered five 21-plus-point performances this season and finished as an RB1 in total points and a top 10 RB in fantasy points per game. Aside from the games played category, this type of performance feels like the peak for Chubb—not that that's bad, but he lacks the No. 1 overall RB upside that the players drafted in front of him possess. However, he has a very high floor, is a touchdown machine, and plays for a run-first offense behind a very strong offensive line. You certainly won't regret drafting Chubb in the middle of Round 1.
1.11 Justin Jefferson (WR - MIN)
While the debate over RB1 is fascinating, so is the conversation around WR2. Is it Davante Adams? What if he's not with Aaron Rodgers? How about Tyreek Hill? Maybe, but he's finished outside the top five fantasy WRs as many times (twice) as he's finished among that illustrious group over the last four years—and the Chiefs will surely bring in an upgrade at WR2, right? Stefon Diggs, who was last year's WR2, is still among the WR1s, but won't be pushing for a first-round selection this year. So, why can't Justin Jefferson be the WR2? He finished as the WR6 as a rookie and the WR5 as a sophomore in total fantasy points and is still an ascending talent entering the third year of his career—the season where many receivers take a big leap forward. Jefferson remarkably had just two games all season with single-digit fantasy points and one of those came with Sean Mannion as his QB. Jefferson feels like a lock to be a top-five WR, barring injury.
1.12 Javonte Williams (RB - DEN)
Let's get a little wild to end Round 1, shall we? While this pick is undoubtedly reliant on significant projection to make sense, I loved what I saw from Javonte Williams in a 50-50 role this season alongside Melvin Gordon. Gordon is a pending free agent that won't be back in Denver next year, paving the way for Williams to get the lion's share of the workload. Williams evaded would-be tacklers at an elite pace and showed plenty of physicality when defenders did make contact. Williams finished as the RB17 in total points and RB24 in average fantasy points per game while playing only 50.7% of Denver's offensive snaps. That number will jump significantly in 2022 and he could be taking hand-offs from Aaron Rodgers or Deshaun Watson to boot.
ROUND 2 (Written 1/11/22)
2.1 Davante Adams (WR - UFA)
Previous Pick: Javonte Williams
Davante Adams is as steady as they come at the wide receiver position. He finished as the WR2 in both total and average fantasy points per game in 2021 after finishing No. 1 in those categories in two of the three years prior. He had six games with 25 or more fantasy points this past season and only three games with fewer than 10.9 fantasy points. So why isn't he a first-round pick? The hesitation at this stage is all about his future. Adams is a pending free agent who will likely be franchise-tagged by the Green Bay Packers. He could return with Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay or be a part of a tag-and-trade that sends him and Rodgers together to a new team. But there's also the chance he's tethered to Green Bay with Jordan Love as his quarterback, which would depress his fantasy value. Once his situation becomes clearer this offseason, Adams could easily retain his first-round lock status.
2.2 Tyreek Hill (WR - KC)
Previous Pick: Justin Jefferson
While it's hard to be too disappointed with Tyreek Hill's season—he finished as the WR6 in total and average fantasy points per game, after all—he did score four fewer points per game than he did in 2020. His eight single-digit outings also left a lot to be desired after showing more scoring consistency last year. Still, Hill is an elite wide receiver talent with an elite quarterback and the potential to be a matchup-winner every time he steps on the field. He's more fun to roster in best-ball formats, but at the top of Round 2, I'd be more than happy to draft him in more traditional leagues.
2.3 Ja'Marr Chase (WR - CIN)
Previous Pick: Nick Chubb
Remember how ridiculous Justin Jefferson's rookie season was? His former LSU teammate Ja'Marr Chase bested it by nearly 12% in per-game scoring. Just like I saw no reason not to rank Jefferson as a top-seven receiver last season as a sophomore, the same can be said for Chase, who will continue to be surrounded by a ton of talent both at quarterback and wide receiver. Chase is an elite pass-catching talent, and we've known that for quite some time. He finished as the WR4 in both average fantasy points per game and total points as a rookie and it's only onward and upward from here. Draft him as a top-five wide receiver.
2.4 Cam Akers (RB - LAR)
Previous Pick: Cooper Kupp
We'll get a better look at Cam Akers during the Los Angeles Rams' postseason journey, but let's think all the way back to last summer and remember the upside Akers had. From Week 12 on (2020 season), Akers ranked as the RB16 in average fantasy points per game, but it was his strong playoff showing that really got fantasy managers excited. In the Rams' two playoff games against the Seattle Seahawks and Green Bay Packers, Akers turned a whopping 49 touches into 272 total yards and a pair of touchdowns. He was being drafted as a fringe first-rounder before a pre-season Achilles injury sidelined him until Week 18. He's in line for massive usage in 2022—Sean McVay wants to run the ball early and often and Sony Michel is a pending free agent. Plus, it's encouraging we'll get to see him play real football in the coming weeks so we're not guessing going into draft season. I had Akers ranked as an RB1 last year and he retains that spot going into 2022.
2.5 D'Andre Swift (RB - DET)
Previous Pick: Najee Harris
It was a very weird year for D'Andre Swift. There was the pre-season injury and the random, fabricated rumor that we won't repeat here that depressed his draft-day value. Yet, he played the Lions' first 10 games without much of an issue—and he scored 19.4 points or more in half of those contests—before being hurt on Thanksgiving against Chicago. Through Week 11, Swift ranked as the RB9 in average fantasy points per game, but he only played 46 offensive snaps after that for the remainder of the fantasy season. I'm still buying in on the talent, pass-catching ability, and the volume he should continue to receive during the Detroit Lions' rebuild.
2.6 Ezekiel Elliott (RB - DAL)
Previous Pick: Christian McCaffrey
Ezekiel Elliott may not be as fun to roster as he was in years past, but he's still proven to be a productive running back that should be on the fringe of RB1 contention. While many Dallas Cowboys fans and fantasy managers have been clamoring for more Tony Pollard, the Cowboys have a heavy financial investment in Elliott getting a big workload. Elliott played more than double the snaps of Pollard in 2021—even if you extrapolated out Pollard's average snaps over the one game he missed, Elliott bested his workload by nearly 94%. Elliott finished as the RB6 in total points and RB14 in average fantasy points per game this past season. Elliott's numbers dipped right about the time Dak Prescott's did as well due to injury. Hopefully, Prescott will be healthier next season.
2.7 Stefon Diggs (WR - BUF)
Previous Pick: Dalvin Cook
It wasn't reasonable to expect a full repeat of his breakout season, but I was surprised that Stefon Diggs finished more than three full points off his 2020 pace. So too were those who spent a late first-round pick on him this past summer. Still, it's not like Diggs wasn't good. He scored more touchdowns in 2021 than he did in 2022, and had arguably the second-best season of his career—2018 vs. 2021 is a fun debate. He finished as the WR7 in total points, WR10 in average fantasy points per game, and had only four single-digit performances all season. He's no longer worthy of a first-round pick, but his connection with Josh Allen in the very pass-heavy Bills offense isn't going away. He's a great player to lead your fantasy receiving corps.
2.8 Deebo Samuel (WR - SF)
Previous Pick: Joe Mixon
2021 was an absolutely sensational season for Deebo Samuel. Whether he was catching the ball or running with it, Samuel turned out to be one of the biggest steals of the year for fantasy managers. Finishing as the WR3 in total and average fantasy points (only 0.8 total points behind Davante Adams), Samuel carried many a fantasy team to the playoffs and beyond. Samuel had six 20-plus point performances and averaged more than 15 fantasy points per game in Trey Lance's two starts, which is encouraging for next season. If anything, pick No. 20 may be too low for Samuel.
2.9 Antonio Gibson (RB - WSH)
Previous Pick: Alvin Kamara
Between COVID, random J.D. McKissic weeks, and fumbling issues, the 2021 campaign was an odd one for Antonio Gibson. Despite scoring fewer than nine fantasy points six times, Gibson finished 2021 as the RB12 in total points (he was the RB12 in 2020 as well). However, his per-game ranking is more reflective of the season he had (RB20). I'm willing to buy in on a bit of a bounce-back season, assuming Gibson comes with an RB2 price tag. He's still clearly the lead back in Washington and they have to have an upgrade at the quarterback position in 2022, right? Let's just hope the fumbling issues are behind us.
2.10 Aaron Jones (RB - GB)
Previous Pick: Austin Ekeler
Longtime readers and/or listeners to the TDN Fantasy Podcast know about my affinity for Aaron Jones. Jones seems to get under-drafted every season, but this might finally be the year where even I'm cautious. Sure, Jones finished as a top-10 RB in total points and a top-15 RB in average points in 2021, but there's very little clarity about what 2022 holds. We know Jones will be back in Green Bay, but will Aaron Rodgers be there? A.J. Dillon is primed for a bigger role as well, but I'm more concerned about who Jones' quarterback will be because of his value in the receiving game. The 27-year-old will move around a lot in my offseason rankings, but I'm essentially splitting the difference here a bit and slotting him at RB15 until we know more about Green Bay's 2022 roster.
2.11 Travis Kelce (TE - KC)
Previous Pick: Jonathan Taylor
For the first time since 2017, we had a new TE1. Travis Kelce was dethroned in 2021 by a second-half surge from Baltimore Ravens tight end Mark Andrews, but Kelce remains my TE1 entering 2022 drafts. The remarkable consistency is the main reason why. Kelce has finished as either the TE1 or TE2 in every single season since 2016. Even if he's lost a quarter-step (which is debatable), he's still got an elite quarterback throwing him the ball. Plus, if his touchdowns spike over double-digits again, he'll likely outperform this draft slot. While we're leaving the draft-a-TE-in-Round-1 days in 2021, I probably wouldn’t let Kelce get out of Round 2.
2.12 Mike Evans (WR - TB)
Previous Pick: Derrick Henry
Is Mike Evans still kinda-sorta underrated? There doesn't seem to be much love for him in the expert fantasy community right now—I saw him ranked as low as WR24—and I don't understand why. Evans has been a model of consistency since entering the NFL and has finished as the WR10 and WR9 in his two seasons with Tom Brady. He finished as the WR11 in average fantasy points per game in 2021 and certainly won't be losing targets to Antonio Brown in 2022. He may not be losing targets to Chris Godwin, either. Lock up your 1,000 yards and double-digit touchdowns with this pick and don't look back.
ROUND 3 (Written 1/18/22)
3.1 Leonard Fournette (RB - UFA)
Previous Picks: Derrick Henry, Mike Evans
The emergence of "Playoff Lenny" from the Buccaneers' Super Bowl run carried over to the 2021 regular season—and what a remarkable year it was. Leonard Fournette finished as a top-five RB in total points and the RB7 in average fantasy points per game. I'd be willing to buy in on Fournette being a low-end RB1 and a second-rounder if he returns to Tampa Bay, but the Buccaneers, unlike last year, are going to have to say goodbye to some key members of their team this offseason. The uncertainty about his next destination hurts his draft stock right now, but being the RB16 is nothing to scoff at.
3.2 Keenan Allen (WR - LAC)
Previous Picks: Jonathan Taylor, Travis Kelce
Despite the growth of quarterback Justin Herbert, 2021 was a bit of an 'off' season for Keenan Allen. Now, Allen is so good that an ‘off’ year equated to him finishing as the WR11 in total points and WR12 on a points-per-game basis. The lack of 'boom' games is to blame for his relatively modest ranking. After having three 20-plus point outings in 2020, he had none this past season. However, Mike Williams is a pending free agent and is no lock to return to Los Angeles. Allen has several years of proven production and absolutely must come off the board among the WR1s.
3.3 A.J. Brown (WR - TEN)
Previous Picks: Austin Ekeler, Aaron Jones
There's no real way to sugarcoat A.J. Brown's 2021 season, but sometimes you've just got to bet on the talent. Many fantasy managers were burned by taking Brown in the second round of fantasy drafts last season only to see him finish as the WR26 in average points per game (WR34 in total points). But all the reasons why we loved Brown last offseason will still apply in the coming year. Even on a run-heavy offense, Brown's large target share is enough to potentially produce elite fantasy numbers. At his new discounted price, I'm willing to risk it for the upside.
3.4 Diontae Johnson (WR - PIT)
Previous Picks: Alvin Kamara, Antonio Gibson
I couldn't let a talent like Diontae Johnson drop too far. Much like Evans, Johnson still feels like he's underrated. He finished as the WR8 in total and average fantasy points per game in 2021 after ranking as a WR2 the previous year. He had just three single-digit outputs all season long and scored a dozen or more fantasy points in his other 12 games played. I expect an upgrade at quarterback for Pittsburgh this offseason that should only continue to strengthen his WR1 case.
3.5 David Montgomery (RB - CHI)
Previous Picks: Joe Mixon, Deebo Samuel
While a new head coach running the show and the flashes of brilliance from Khalil Herbert may scare some away, I'm more than happy to draft David Montgomery as a mid-level RB2. Despite a turnstile at quarterback and some incompetent offensive coaching, Montgomery finished as the RB12 in average fantasy points per game in 2021 (RB19 in total points)—he scored 20 or more fantasy points in a quarter of his games. There was certainly a level of boom or bust to his fantasy production and at least some unknowns about his role moving forward, but Montgomery already looks like a very solid value heading into 2022 fantasy drafts.
3.6 DeAndre Hopkins (WR - ARI)
Previous Picks: Dalvin Cooks, Stefon Diggs
For the first time in his remarkably healthy career, DeAndre Hopkins missed significant time. He dealt with a mid-season hamstring injury that cost him a few games before a torn MCL sidelined him for Week 15 and beyond. However, Hopkins was having a semi-disappointing season even if you exclude his injuries. Hopkins was not a WR1 in 2021, averaging only the 16th-most fantasy points per game last season. He did not see the sort of target volume we've been accustomed to during his time in Houston and his first year in Arizona. Still, Hopkins is undeniably supremely talented and may have less competition for targets in 2022 with both Christian Kirk and A.J. Green set to hit free agency. Hopkins still has top-five WR upside without the price tag.
3.7 Chris Godwin (WR - UFA)
Previous Picks: Christian McCaffrey, Ezekiel Elliott
There are a lot of question marks surrounding Chris Godwin as we head into the offseason. He tore his ACL in December, which may put his Week 1 status in doubt. Also in doubt is where he'll play next season as a pending UFA coming off the franchise tag. A return to Tampa Bay would be ideal for fantasy managers, but we do have to account for the decent possibility he's playing elsewhere in 2022. Godwin finished as the WR9 in average fantasy points per game this past season and still ranked as the WR12 in total points despite missing the final two games of the fantasy season. He's got a boatload of talent and a tremendous rapport with Tom Brady. But his injury and pending free agent status force him to fall to the top of WR2 territory for now.
3.8 Calvin Ridley (WR - ATL)
Previous Picks: Najee Harris, D’Andre Swift
*Insert shrug emoji here* I've written a lot about 'unknowns' this round, but there is no player that personifies that more than Calvin Ridley. First and foremost, the fantasy community wishes nothing but the best for the star receiver mentally. From a fantasy perspective, this is a high-risk, high-reward player with the potential to return top-three wide receiver upside. But he can't be ranked inside WR1 territory until we know if he's going to play in 2022 and where he's going to call home. He was only putting up high-end WR3/FLEX-caliber numbers in his five games played in 2021, but I still believe in the talent.
3.9 Mark Andrews (TE - BAL)
Previous Picks: Cooper Kupp, Cam Akers
Mark Andrews finally dethroned Travis Kelce for the TE1 spot in 2021, but I'd still take him as the overall TE2. Andrews proved to be a true target hog down the stretch, receiving eight or more in 75% of his games from Week 11 on despite three different quarterbacks throwing him the ball. Andrews had a remarkable 10 double-digit games this season with four games of 22.5 fantasy points or more. Andrews is and will remain the No. 1 pass-catcher in the Baltimore Ravens offense and if you take him as your TE1, I wouldn't bat an eye.
3.10 Jaylen Waddle (WR - MIA)
Previous Picks: Nick Chubb, Ja’Marr Chase
Jaylen Waddle had a sensational rookie season, setting the new record for most receptions by a first-year player (104). Waddle finished as the WR21 in average fantasy points per game as a rookie and finished strong as a top-10 wide receiver from Week 9 on. If Tua Tagovailoa remains Miami's starting quarterback, there's no reason to believe his volume should dip. Waddle's explosion could be way more utilized, however, if a QB upgrade is made (i.e. Deshaun Watson). Either way, Waddle should have no issue returning WR2 value next season if he remains healthy.
3.11 George Kittle (TE - SF)
Previous Picks: Justin Jefferson, Tyreek Hill
Despite playing in only 13 games during the fantasy season, George Kittle ranked as the TE3 in total points—he was the TE3 in average points per game as well. Upon his return in Week 9, Kittle scored double-digit fantasy points in six of his nine games to end the season, including three games with 17 or more points. Will he remain healthy in 2022? Will he be as productive with Trey Lance as he was with Jimmy Garoppolo? Those are fair questions to ask, but it's hard to make a strong argument for any other tight end to displace Kittle from the TE3 spot given his talent and upside.
3.12 CeeDee Lamb (WR - DAL)
Previous Picks: Javonte Williams, Davante Adams
2021 was a year of highs and lows for CeeDee Lamb. He dropped 19.9 fantasy points on opening night but was held to 8.0 points or fewer in two of his next three games. He had a very impressive run from Week 5 to Week 10 where he averaged 18.3 fantasy points per game (only trailing Cooper Kupp), but finished poorly, ranking as the WR40 from Week 11 on. In all, Lamb finished as the WR17 in average fantasy points per game. Assuming Dak Prescott has a healthier season in 2022 than he did in 2021 (a fair assumption), Lamb could be poised for a spot in WR1 territory. For now, however, I'd draft him as a mid-level WR2.
ROUND 4 (Written 1/25/22)
4.1 Darren Waller (TE - LV)
Previous Picks: Javonte Williams, Davante Adams, CeeDee Lamb
It was a bit of a strange year for Darren Waller. After starting the season on fire with a monster 19-target, 21.5-fantasy-point performance, things were kinda, sorta 'meh' from there on out. He had a combined 44.8 points in the five weeks that followed opening weekend before an injury and bye week kept him on your bench for Weeks 7 and 8. He was up and down upon his return before a knee injury suffered on Thanksgiving ended his fantasy season—he didn't return until Week 18. Waller finished as the TE5 in average fantasy points per game (10.3) but that's not much of a consolation prize to fantasy managers who drafted him high in 2021. Still, he deserves to be the fourth tight end off the board in 2022 fantasy drafts, but don't spend a top-30 pick on him—and don't spend a top 40 pick if Derek Carr is gone.
4.2 Josh Jacobs (RB - LV)
Previous Picks: Justin Jefferson, Tyreek Hill, George Kittle
Josh Jacobs is one of the most frustrating players to roster in fantasy football. His name value has consistently exceeded the eye test, yet he tends to get enough work and touchdowns to be a very viable RB2. He comes in here as the RB18 after finishing as the RB19 in average fantasy points per game and RB16 in total points in 2021. He saw a career-high in targets and receptions last season, which is encouraging since we've been waiting for him to be relevant in that area since the Raiders drafted him. While Jacobs had only four single-digit games this past season, his abundance of 10-14 point games with no 20-plus point performance left something to be desired. The middle of RB2 territory feels like the right spot for Jacobs, as there isn't a ton of risk (barring injury) of the floor falling out but not a lot of hope for top-eight upside unless we see a massive touchdown spike.
4.3 Michael Carter (RB - NYJ)
Previous Picks: Nick Chubb, Ja’Marr Chase, Jaylen Waddle
I'm a huge fan of Michael Carter and I'm willing to take him in the top 40 in 2022 fantasy drafts. His all-around skill set as a rusher and receiver was evident at North Carolina and on display late in the season for the New York Jets. The forward steps Mike LaFleur, Zach Wilson, and the Jets' offense took to close out the year was very encouraging. I don't anticipate the Jets spending draft capital or actual capital on a running back that could take meaningful touches away from Carter next season—I expect Carter and Ty Johnson to be 'the guys' with either La'Mical Perine or a cheap veteran mixed in. Carter should get the majority of the workload as a sophomore and flash the top-15 RB upside he showed from Weeks 5-11 before getting hurt.
4.4 Terry McLaurin (WR - WSH)
Previous Picks: Cooper Kupp, Cam Akers, Mark Andrews
Man, I really wish I had Terry McLaurin higher than WR17. However, I don't want to make the same mistake I did last year assuming there will be a major update at the quarterback position. While that seems likely, the major upgrade may come in the form of a rookie, who would help McLaurin's long-term value but may not change his 2022 projection all that much. Still, as I've said at various points in this mock draft, I'm going to bet on the talent despite McLaurin finishing as the WR34 in average fantasy points per game this past season (WR25 in total points). I can't see how the quarterback play in Washington is worse next year, so this spot splits the difference between McLaurin's upside and floor.
4.5 Adam Thielen (WR - MIN)
Previous Picks: Najee Harris, D’Andre Swift, Calvin Ridley
It always seems like Adam Thielen gets underdrafted—and I feel like I'm playing into that by having him this low. He finished as the WR14 in average fantasy points per game and as the WR23 in total points despite missing three games. He has a nose for the end zone and has been continuously productive for several seasons in a row. But I do have to factor in the season-ending ankle injury and the fact that he'll be 32 by the time the next regular season begins. Maybe more importantly, who is Minnesota's QB next season? I can see Thielen going a few spots higher than this in future mocks, but I'm content keeping him right here as a borderline top-20 wide receiver
4.6 Marquise Brown (WR - BAL)
Previous Picks: Christian McCaffrey, Ezekiel Elliott, Chris Godwin
Marquise Brown had a rough finish to the 2021 season, but it's tough to say for certain if it was him 'coming back down to earth' or just an effect of not having Lamar Jackson at quarterback. To begin the season, with Jackson, Brown ranked as the WR13 in average fantasy points per game (13.8). In those 11 games, he had six with 16 or more fantasy points. Once Jackson got hurt, Brown never had another double-digit performance. While the potential rise of Rashod Bateman as a sophomore is something to note, as is the potential addition of another pass-catcher, Brown looks like a solid value here in the middle of Round 4.
4.7 Elijah Mitchell (RB - SF)
Previous Picks: Dalvin Cook, Stefon Diggs, DeAndre Hopkins
From real-life sixth-round pick to fantasy star, it's hard to ask for a more successful rookie season than what Elijah Mitchell accomplished. While fantasy managers were clamoring to draft Raheem Mostert or Trey Sermon—and trying to stash Jeff Wilson Jr.—it was Mitchell who emerged as the top running back for the San Francisco 49ers. He only played in 11 games during the fantasy season but was the RB16 in average points per game. While his potential is much higher than this RB20 slot, we do have to be cognizant of Kyle Shanahan's penchant to switch up top RBs year to year, and the presence of Sermon still looms... not large, but medium. This will be a backfield to monitor closely during training camp and the preseason.
4.8 D.J. Moore (WR - CAR)
Previous Picks: Joe Mixon, Deebo Samuel, David Montgomery
Can we get this man a competent quarterback, please? D.J. Moore always feels on the cusp of superstardom, but catching passes from Teddy Bridgewater, Sam Darnold, Cam Newton, and P.J. Walker won't get him there. Sadly, it looks like Carolina is poised to go another trip around the sun with Darnold as their starting QB and the recent hiring of Ben McAdoo does the opposite of inspiring confidence. Still, Moore finished as a top-20 WR in total points and as the WR27 in average fantasy points per game. Barring injury, I don't suspect his floor is lower than that.
4.9 Amari Cooper (WR - DAL)
Previous Picks: Alvin Kamara, Antonio Gibson, Diontae Johnson
After going berserk on opening night to the tune of 13/139/2 on 17 targets, it was a rather underwhelming season for Amari Cooper. He finished as the WR25 in average fantasy points per game, just cracked the top 30 in total points, and felt more like an elite flex option than a must-start each week. Everything about his talent and Dallas' offense says he should go higher than this, but the consistent production hasn't been there—even Jerry Jones has sort of called him out since the Cowboys' season ended. Sign me up among the late WR2s, but I'm not paying the top-15 WR price tag again.
4.10 Tee Higgins (WR - CIN)
Previous Picks: Austin Ekeler, Aaron Jones, A.J. Brown
Ja'Marr Chase went bonkers as a rookie, but that didn't really stop Tee Higgins from having a very strong fantasy season as well. Higgins finished as the WR13 in average fantasy points per game, buoyed by a sensational finish to the season. From Weeks 12-17, Higgins was the No. 4 overall wide receiver in scoring (17.8), behind only Cooper Kupp, Davante Adams, and Amon-Ra St. Brown. He's got an upper-tier QB throwing him the ball and the physical toolset to exploit any defense overly focused on Chase. I can honestly see him rising higher than this spot here as the WR22 as the offseason goes on.
4.11 D.K. Metcalf (WR - SEA)
Previous Picks: Jonathan Taylor, Travis Kelce, Keenan Allen
Another year, another poor second half for D.K. Metcalf. While you can blame a good portion of the struggles he had in 2021 on Russell Wilson missing time, what's his excuse for 2020? This trend is worrying and something fantasy managers must consider given the high volume of quality pass-catchers available at this point in the draft. Still, no one's doubting Metcalf's talent nor his ability to have matchup-winning performances—he had four games with 19-plus points in 2021. Still, his worrying second halves and the possibility of playing without Wilson land him here at the back end of the fourth round.
4.12 Tyler Lockett (WR - SEA)
Previous Picks: Derrick Henry, Mike Evans, Leonard Fournette
Tyler Lockett always seems to be a trendy value pick but was drafted more appropriately last year and I expect the same for him in 2022. The big question here, like with Metcalf, is whether or not Wilson is throwing him the ball. Lockett was very boom-or-bust in 2021. He had three 20-plus point games in the first eight weeks of the season, but every other performance was either 8.2 points or less. He came out of Seattle's bye week flat but had a strong end to the fantasy regular season before underperforming in the fantasy playoffs. The borderline between WR2 and WR3 feels about right for Lockett given his production variance and the small but not insignificant risk of not having Wilson next season.
ROUND 5 (Written 2/1/22)
5.1 Brandin Cooks (WR - HOU)
Previous Picks: Derrick Henry, Mike Evans, Leonard Fournette, Tyler Lockett
Year after year, quarterback after quarterback, Brandin Cooks keeps plugging along. No Deshaun Watson? No problem. Cooks finished the 2021 fantasy season ranked as the WR20 in average fantasy points per game and WR16 in total fantasy points after putting up at least a dozen points in nine of his 15 games. Should Davis Mills take another step forward in 2022, assuming health, Cooks should easily provide his customary WR2-caliber return.
5.2 Saquon Barkley (RB - NYG)
Previous Picks: Jonathan Taylor, Travis Kelce, Keenan Allen, D.K. Metcalf
With an initial ranking of RB21, I will once again be among the lowest in the industry on Saquon Barkley—I was right in 2021, wasn't I? While Barkley is a supremely talented athlete who should be healthier next season, it's hard not to wonder if we've already seen his peak. A new head coach/offensive coordinator in New York could boost his value, but we just haven't seen Daniel Jones target Barkley with the same frequency Eli Manning did very early in the running back's career. Barkley was hanging out with the Darrel Williams' and Myles Gaskins' of the world in 2021 per-game production, and looked like a shell of himself. I don't believe he has top-three RB upside anymore, and I'll let someone else take the risk on his first-round-caliber upside given his new floor.
5.3 Josh Allen (QB - BUF)
Previous Picks: Austin Ekeler, Aaron Jones, A.J. Brown, Tee Higgins
Finally, a QB comes off the board. I simply don't believe in taking a quarterback in the top 50 in single-QB formats—I fully expect a handful of passers to be off the board based on ADP at this point, though. As for Josh Allen, he's the clear choice to be the first QB taken in 2022. Allen was the QB1 in 2020, the QB1 in 2021, and is showing no signs of slowing down. He finished nearly two full points above this year's QB2 (Justin Herbert) on a points-per-game basis. Allen has rushing upside nearly as sky-high as his passing upside. No hesitation here with my QB1.
5.4 Elijah Moore (WR - NYJ)
Previous Picks: Alvin Kamara, Antonio Gibson, Diontae Johnson, Amari Cooper
Elijah Moore's rookie season was cut short, but the impressive flashes that got people so excited in the pre-draft process were evident as his role grew following the New York Jets' bye week. While Moore ranked as the WR31 in average fantasy points per game, from Weeks 7-13—following the bye and preceding his injury—Moore ranked as the WR8 in average fantasy points per game (15.2). Considering the small improvements shown by Zach Wilson late in the season that didn't benefit Moore in 2021, the sky's the limit for this soon-to-be-sophomore receiver in 2022.
5.5 Patrick Mahomes (QB - KC)
Previous Picks: Joe Mixon, Deebo Samuel, David Montgomery, D.J. Moore
Only two quarterbacks have finished in the top five at the position in total points each of the last two years: Josh Allen and Patrick Mahomes. Mahomes is the most talented QB in the NFL with plenty of weapons and offensive masterminds around him. He doesn't have Allen's rushing upside, but his floor is so, so high. You won't regret this pick unless you take him in the top 40.
5.6 Clyde Edwards-Helaire (RB - KC)
Previous Picks: Dalvin Cook, Stefon Diggs, DeAndre Hopkins, Elijah Mitchell
I really don't know what to do with Clyde Edwards-Helaire. It's hard to ask for a better offensive situation, but we've seen Edwards-Helaire struggle with injuries and inconsistency throughout his brief career. When he was on the field in 2021, he finished as the RB26 in average fantasy points per game. The Chiefs are poised to add someone to the backfield this offseason—and that someone could be an upgrade over Darrel Williams. While I still think there is top-15 RB upside here, there's more risk than I'd like.
5.7 Kyler Murray (QB - ARI)
Previous Picks: Christian McCaffrey, Ezekiel Elliott, Chris Godwin, Marquise Brown
Kyler Murray missed some time in 2021, so he only finished as the QB10 in total points. However, on a per-game basis, Murray joins Josh Allen and Patrick Mahomes as the only passers to finish as top-five scorers on an average per-week basis in each of the last two seasons. Murray has plenty to prove in 2021, but the return of a healthy DeAndre Hopkins should help keep him among the elite fantasy QBs.
5.8 J.K. Dobbins (RB - BAL)
Previous Picks: Najee Harris, D’Andre Swift, Calvin Ridley, Adam Thielen
After a lost season due to injury, Dobbins should be ready to reclaim his top spot in Baltimore's backfield. However, be careful not to overrate him—not just because of the injury, but because of Gus Edwards' return as well. Here's what I wrote about this last year: From Weeks 11-17, Dobbins ranked as the RB10 in total points and average fantasy points per game (minimum four games) as the Ravens leaned on him more and more down the stretch as they phased out Mark Ingram. Ingram likely won’t be back next season, but restricted free agent Gus Edwards should be. A timeshare of some sort is inevitable. Even in Baltimore’s playoff game, the snap-count split was fairly close, 33-29 in favor of Dobbins over Edwards. Dobbins is a tremendous talent who would be a first-round pick if he had a “traditional” lead back role.
5.9 Damien Harris (RB - NE)
Previous Picks: Cooper Kupp, Cam Akers, Mark Andrews, Terry McLaurin
Damien Harris just sneaks inside RB2 territory here as the 24th rusher off the board. That may feel low to some, and in a way it is—I'd bet he'll outperform this draft slot. However, he's a player with limited season-long upside. He'll have some competition for touches and must score a touchdown to be fantasy-relevant on any given week. Luckily, he'll have plenty of opportunities to score in New England and can be a matchup-winner on any given week with a multi-touchdown game.
5.10 Michael Thomas (WR - NO)
Previous Picks: Nick Chubb, Ja’Marr Chase, Jaylen Waddle, Michael Carter
Is there a player with more question marks right now than Michael Thomas? Who is his QB? Who is his head coach? Is he even going to be on the Saints? Can he produce without Drew Brees? Thomas has averaged 13.8 fantasy points per game during his career in Taysom Hill’s starts. Thomas was nearly an 18-points-per-game player back in 2019 with Teddy Bridgewater as his short-term starting quarterback. Neither situation has a big enough sample size to truly gauge his proper value.
5.11 Devin Singletary (RB - BUF)
Previous Picks: Justin Jefferson, Tyreek Hill, George Kittle, Josh Jacobs
Aside from Rashaad Penny, no running back did more to help their 2022 fantasy stock than Devin Singletary. From Week 15 through Buffalo's playoff exit, Singletary averaged 17 carries per game behind the Bills' re-commitment to the running game. He was plenty effective with that workload as well, averaging 71.67 rushing yards per game with eight touchdowns in six games. I'm still not ready to fully believe the Bills will trust in Singletary for an entire season like they did to end the year, so I'll keep him in high-end flex territory for now.
5.12 Miles Sanders (RB - PHI)
Previous Picks: Javonte Williams, Davante Adams, CeeDee Lamb, Darren Waller
2021 was a rough year for Miles Sanders. However, Philadelphia's rushing attack took off in the second half of the season and we saw Sanders take advantage in spurts following his mid-season injury—Weeks 13 and 15 are good examples. I believe in the talent and love the run-heavy approach, but Sanders has a lot to prove if he wants to earn his way back into RB2 territory.
ROUND 6 (Written 2/8/22)
6.1 Justin Herbert (QB - LAC)
Previous Picks: Javonte Willia