Preferred targets: Fantasy football values for 2022

By MIKE HERNDON

In our last post, we looked at some overhyped players to avoid at their current Average Draft Position in fantasy football redraft leagues. But you need to know more than what not to do. If you’re going to win your league, you need to know the value picks to target in the mid-to-late rounds of the draft. It’s here that you can set yourself apart from the rest of your league.

ADPs can change between now and the end of August and, depending on when your draft is, what looks like a value today might be properly priced or even overpriced a month from now. But regardless of whether you target receivers or running backs early, whether you wait for a tight end or go after one of the top options, identifying value – and potential upside – is a benchmark of any successful drafting strategy.

Here are nine players who appear to be values at their current ADPs:

QB:

Trey Lance, 49ers – There will be uncertainty as long as Jimmy Garoppolo remains on the roster, but the 49ers are trying to trade him and they didn’t draft Lance third overall for nothing. With his rushing ability, he’s got huge upside in an offense with an excellent line and plentiful weapons. And he’s going at QB14 according to FantasyPros’ consensus ADP list.

WR:

Amon-Ra St. Brown, Lions – In the last six games of the 2021 season, St. Brown had 51 catches on 67 targets for 560 yards. That’s what a breakout looks like. The Lions added D.J. Chark in free agency and Jameson Williams in the draft, but Chark’s role is uncertain and Williams is likely to miss time while continuing to recover from an ACL tear in the national championship game. While your leaguemates shy away from the Lions’ offense, go draft yourself a potential league-winner.

Brandin Cooks, Texans – Like Detroit, Houston’s offense is not one that inspires confidence. And yet, Cooks has posted 1,000-yard seasons with six scores in both of his years there. Davis Mills has shown flashes of decent quarterback play and we know this team will likely be trailing a lot this year. Talented rookie John Metchie III just announced his has leukemia and will miss the season. Cooks is coming off the board at WR25 right now according to FantasyPros.

Chris Olave, Saints – Michael Thomas may be back as New Orleans’ WR1, but we don’t know whether he’ll be 100 percent healthy and we don’t know what he’ll look like without Drew Brees. We do know that Olave was one of the best receivers in college football last year, that he can create separation and win at every level of the field, that the Saints traded up to get him, and that he’s being treated as a late-round flier in redraft leagues. Chase the upside.

George Pickens, Steelers — The Steelers have a knack for finding good receivers in the second and third rounds and Pickens may be their latest find. He’s physically imposing and he’s been impressive early in camp. I think he’ll leapfrog Chase Claypool sooner rather than later and become this team’s WR2, which would make him an incredible value in redraft, where he’s basically free .

RB:

Zeke Elliott, Cowboys – If you want to bypass running back in the first round and snap up a stud receiver like Cooper Kupp, Justin Jefferson or Ja’Marr Chase, this is a good year to do it. Because a potential league-winner like Elliott should be available in the third or even fourth round. Elliott has underwhelmed the last couple years and Tony Pollard’s role is growing, but Zeke still posted 1,002 yards and 10 touchdowns last year. He’s still the lead back in a dynamic offense. He’s not a Top 5 back anymore, but he’s not done and while he was roundly overdrafted as a first-rounder last year, the market has overcorrected.

Elijah Mitchell, 49ers – Everybody seems to be scared of 49ers running backs and I’m not really sure why. All they do is produce. Many in the fantasy community seem to labor under the misapprehension that Kyle Shanahan runs his backfields by committee, but in the 11 games in which Mitchell was active he averaged almost 19 carries a game and 4.6 yards per carry, while posting five 100-yard games. The 49ers have indicated they’d like to lighten his load a bit this year and Lance could steal carries as well. But have we not seen in Baltimore the advantages a running quarterback to the running game as a whole? At RB23, Mitchell remains a bargain.

Rashaad Penny, Seahawks – We waited four years for Penny to take over this backfield and now that he’s finally done it, we don’t seem to think he can keep it. Kenneth Walker III is a shiny new toy, but Penny ran for 671 yards in the last five games of 2021, ending the  year with 170 yards against Detroit and 190 against Arizona. He’s going off the board at RB29 right now. Yes, this will be a bad offense, but haven’t backs like James Robinson and De’Andre Swift shown us that backs can still produce in bad offenses? He’s been injury-prone, but he’s too much of a value here to pass up.

Raheem Mostert, Dolphins – Chase Edmonds is a perfect fit for Mike McDaniel’s offense, everybody says. McDaniel has watched him for years in the NFC West. Sure, he watched him get leapfrogged for the lead back role in Arizona by James Conner last year. Meanwhile, he watched Mostert average over 5 yards a carry in his own offense in 2019 and 2020 before he missed 2021 with an injury. Ignore the Edmonds hype and draft Mostert a few rounds later.

TE:

Pat Freiermuth, Steelers – There is a very short list of true difference-makers at tight end – Travis Kelce, Mark Andrews, George Kittle, Darren Waller and, sometime soon, Kyle Pitts. That’s it. Dalton Schultz is a popular option because of the narrowing competition in Dallas’ passing game. But if you miss on those top options, Freiermuth could be a late-round gold mine. He’s not much of a seam-buster, but he’s a monster in the red zone, catching 60 balls and seven touchdowns last year while sharing time with Eric Ebron. Now Ebron’s gone and Freiermuth has a year of experience. He’ll have a new quarterback, but what QB doesn’t love a big, sure-handed tight end in the red zone?

(images from Twitter)



Categories: Fantasy Football

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