Week one of the NFL preseason is in the books and fantasy coaches around the globe are starting to zero in on their draft day. My advice is to select your team as close to the start of the season as possible to avoid picking someone only to see them go down before the ‘proper’ campaign starts, but as drafts start to commence it’s important to remember these six lessons.
All stats/numbers provided are based on ESPN fantasy leagues
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1 – Understand your scoring system
First things first, you need to wrap your head around how points are accrued in your league. The two most common setups in fantasy football circles are PPR (points per reception) and standard scoring. PPR leagues give players an extra point for each catch they make while standard doesn’t give them an additional point. You may also come across different league formats and it’s important to know how yours works. Head-to-head leagues are the most common, with each team competing against one another over the course of a week’s worth of games, but there are also total point leagues that count all the points over the duration of the season to organise the standings. Make sure you know what you’re signing up for before you hit the draft.
2 – Take a running back (or 2) early
There are a high number of running backs that I’m enthusiastic about drafting this season, but a lot of them will be off the board within the first 30ish picks. Depending on your league size, it’s important to prioritise your RB’s with a deep WR group allowing you to target some pass catchers in the middle rounds. That doesn’t mean you MUST take a running back with your first-round pick, but I’d want to have two RB’s on my roster with my first three or four picks.
Image from rotoheat.com
3 – Players to target in the first few rounds
Everyone will have their own personal preference on who they want to draft in 2022, however, there are a few players that I’m higher on than most. Here are the stars you should look at snagging early.
Justin Jefferson, WR, Vikings, ADP 6.4
Dalvin Cook, RB, Vikings, ADP 10.7
Stefon Diggs, WR, Bills, ADP 13.2
CeeDee Lamb, WR, Cowboys, ADP 16.5
Deandre Swift, RB, Lions, ADP 18.2
Travis Kelce, TE, Chiefs, ADP 21.1
Saquon Barkley, RB, Giants, ADP 31.1
Mike Evans, WR, Buccaneers, ADP 33.8
4 – Wait on a quarterback
The temptation to take a quarterback in the MVP conversation like Josh Allen, Patrick Mahomes or Lamar Jackson is real, however, I’d much rather utilise my picks in the early/middle rounds to strengthen my RB/WR/TE positions. There’s so much value to be found in the QB market, with Jalen Hurts set to be a big improver and sliding into the late 60’s. If you strike out until the second half of your draft, you could even potentially snap up an AFC West star in Russell Wilson (ADP 89.2) or Derek Carr (ADP 120.2) with Super Bowl winner Matthew Stafford (ADP 107.1) another QB who could be worth drafting later in the piece.
Image from dknation.draftkings.com
5 – Players to target in the middle-late rounds
The picks you make in the second half of your draft will differ slightly depending on your roster needs, but there’s plenty of value to be found. If you need a boost in a certain area, I’d prioritise these players with your later selections.
Brandin Cooks, WR, Texans, ADP 60.8
Jalen Hurts, QB, Eagles, ADP 69.5
T.J. Hockenson, TE, Lions, ADP 78.2
Adam Thielen, WR, Vikings, ADP 84.6
Allen Robinson, WR, Rams, ADP 85.7
Russell Wilson, QB, Broncos, ADP 89.2
Dallas Goedert, TE, Eagles, ADP, 95.4
DeAndre Hopkins, WR, Cardinals, ADP 98.4
AJ Dillon, RB, Packers, ADP 107.2
Brandon Aiyuk, WR, 49ers, ADP 116.7
Derek Carr, QB, Raiders, ADP 120.2
Kenneth Walker III, RB, Seahawks, ADP 126.6
James Cook, RB, Bills, ADP 132.0
Mecole Hardman, WR, Chiefs, ADP 150.3
Alexander Mattison, RB, Vikings, ADP 162.7
6 – Draft a D/ST and K last
Perhaps the most important lesson to take away from this article is to avoid drafting a defence/special teams unit and a kicker until your very last picks. Some coaches tend to prioritise the top D/ST on the board with the Buffalo Bills currently being selected 77th overall! Last season, Pittsburgh held the title of the first D/ST unit drafted, and yet, they ended the season as the 20th-ranked fantasy defence. The story was no different with kickers, with Daniel Carson from the Raiders finishing as the best kicker in 2021, but on ADP he was the 14th kicker coming off the board. Don’t get sucked in, instead, use those late rounds to take a flier on the players who could become difference makers over the course of the season.