The Best 2022 Fantasy Football Draft Strategy
There is no better time of year for fantasy football managers then draft season! There are many people who tell you that you don’t win your league at your fantasy draft, but that’s really hard to believe, especially after last season. What Cooper Kupp did in 2021 could very well have single handily won you a championship. You need the best 2022 fantasy football draft strategy to win your league.
There are important decisions to make in each and every round. Last year it was choosing between Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods, this year it could be the decision between Courtland Sutton or Jerry Jeudy. Beyond just picking the right player on an offense there is more strategy to uncover like how to value each position, where each positional dead zone is and how to balance floor with upside.
Positional Value in Fantasy Football
The simplest way to approach your fantasy football draft is to just take the best player available each and every time it’s your turn to pick. If that were the case though, there’s a decent chance you may not end up with a tight end or, this season, very few running backs. So any good fantasy football drafter has to be able to have a good feel for runs on positions and what rounds will provide you the most value at each position.
Running Back Draft Strategy
The running back position is arguably the most valuable position in fantasy football for a few reasons. The biggest being scarcity, there are only 32 starting running backs on each team, compared to at least 64 at the wide receiver position. So with typical fantasy football leagues having two starting running backs, there isn’t a lot to go around.
What also makes this position so valuable is how few running backs have workhorse type volume, so the elite players can separate themselves by being very consistent. Only three running backs exceeded 1,500 yards of total offense, all three of them (Jonathan Taylor, Joe Mixon, Austin Ekeler) finished in the top-3 at the position.
No running back has had 30+ carries inside the 5-yard line in the last 10 years other then Jonathan Taylor.
Only other RB's to have 27+:
➡️ 2012 – Arian Foster (29)
➡️ 2016 – LaGarrette Blount (29)
My question is, did we see JT at his #FantasyFootball ceiling this past season?
— Tyler MacKillop (@TylerMacKillop) June 28, 2022
So the question is, how do you address this position in the draft and how do you value them in the early and late rounds? Like any fantasy draft, it depends on how the board breaks down for you, but the general philosophy calls for addressing the position early on. We will get into the details of the “running back dead zone” later on but you should avoid the position in the middle rounds.
You should instead look to address the position with safe, secure volume in the early rounds. More specifically, look to secure at least two RBs in the first five rounds of the draft. You can see exactly who I value by looking at the top-20 of my running back rankings. You can address other positions in the middle rounds and come back to some running back sleepers in the late rounds that make for great handcuffs or have sneaky upside.
Wide Receiver Draft Strategy
The wide receiver position is the deepest in fantasy football and it shows in my wide receiver rankings. There is still great value and production coming from players outside the top-40 at the position in ADP. More likely then not, the best player available in your draft is a wide receiver. So what is the best fantasy football draft strategy for the wide receiver postiion?
Let’s start in the first round, where in previous seasons the position was never really considered until picks 9-12. I think it’s time we start re-evaluating that strategy. If you look at the top-10 non-QB fantasy point producers in PPR fantasy football leagues last season, only three of them are running backs. Cooper Kupp outscored Jonathan Taylor by more than 65 points.
The dilemma comes from the positional scarcity at running back and the high end upside at wide receiver. If you are selecting with pick 6-12 in your fantasy football draft wide receiver is likely your best option in the first round. For example, if both Joe Mixon and Ja’Marr Chase are my best players available at the 9th pick in my draft, I’d go with Chase.
In those middle rounds we referred to earlier on, this is the perfect time to chase upside at the position. These are players that have inherent risk involved but have a path to significant upside. We’ve covered some of these players in our early must draft wide receivers video on the OwnersBox YouTube channel as well as our written content.
Overall, the wide receiver position should be the deepest one on your fantasy football roster. Giving you the ability to mix and match based on matchup and recent performance during the season. This will also afford you the ability to still be successful even if some of your risky. high upside investments don’t pan out.
Tight End and Quarterback Draft Strategy
We’ve paired the quarterback and tight end position together as they are very similar when it comes to draft strategy. You can make an investment in the top rated players at the position or you can “punt” the position and wait until the later rounds to address them. This season both of these strategies can work for you.
Let’s start at QB, the top-5 players in my quarterback rankings are the only players I see having enough upside in finishing as the QB1 overall. Those five players would be the only ones I would consider investing in when it comes to the first five rounds of the draft. Even then, it’s not something I’m prone to do as we discussed earlier on I need to ensure I get two RBs early on.
The quarterback position is not one I’m afraid to stream on a week-to-week basis for the best matchups. But there are three quarterbacks that are going outside of the first 12 rounds that to me you need to consider drafting to your roster. Those would be Justin Fields, Trevor Lawrence and Jameis Winston. These three are capable of breaking out as full time fantasy starters for different reasons. Pairing one of these two with high floor QBs like Tom Brady, Kirk Cousins or Aaron Rodgers is a great draft strategy in fantasy football.
The tight end position is one I’m less strict on when I’ll take them, Travis Kelce and Mark Andrews are going in the early second round and getting one of those two provides a significant positional advantage. The best tight end draft strategy would be to secure a starter at this position before the end of the 11th round.
We talked about Kelce and Andrews in the early rounds, but Dalton Schultz and Zach Ertz have excellent value in rounds 7-8 right now. Not to mention, there are still some great sleepers available in Cole Kmet, Robert Tonyan and Gerald Everett who I have high in my tight end rankings.
In summation, you don’t need to make quarterback or tight end a priority in your draft. Don’t overvalue the position and take these players too early, be patient and be willing to wait on the position until later on. There is still valuable fantasy assets left on the board and it gives
Running Back Dead Zone
If you haven’t heard of the “dead zone” or “running back dead zone”, let’s break it down. The dead zone is a duration of the draft where a position does not have high quality players that have the ability to meet or surpass their draft capital. In those rounds, you should be avoiding that position all together as there are other positions that will return your team more value.
This season the running back dead zone runs from rounds 6-10 and features players like Kenneth Walker, Damien Harris, Devin Singletary, Chase Edmonds and Cordarrelle Patterson. These running backs lack upside and for the most part are in competition for a playing time and touches.
There are both high upside and safe floor players available at other positions like WR, TE and QB. At quarterback you can draft Jalen Hurts, Dak Prescott and Russell Wilson, amongst others, in these rounds. The wide receiver position offers high ceiling players like Brandin Cooks, Darnell Mooney and JuJu Smith-Schuster. At tight end you can find Dalton Schultz, Zack Ertz and Dawson Knox.
Get the Best Fantasy Football Draft Strategy at OwnersBox
We can talk about general draft strategy until we are blue in the face, but you may want to know what to do in specific situations or even round by round draft targets. Be sure to check out our Fantasy Football page along with the OwnersBox YouTube channel to get all of the fantasy football advice you need.