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2022 Fantasy Football First-Round ADP Preview

Jonathan Taylor - Fantasy Football Rankings, NFL Injury News, DFS Lineup Picks

Everyone loves a mock draft. Whether it be a mock of the NFL Draft in April, or a look ahead to next season and the looming fantasy draft. Well, here at RotoBaller, we love them too. Here is our first look at 2022 fantasy football ADP for the first round.

Many of the names will be different than in previous years. Christian McCaffrey, the reigning consensus number one overall pick? Not so much anymore. In fact, he might not even crack the first round in some drafts this season.

On the other hand, there may be more receivers present in the draft than you might expect. With running backs near the top taking a major downturn this season, more young receivers have a chance to creep into the mix. With eight months left to go before the official start of the new season, this is likely to change, but it is still fun to forecast. **For our purposes, we are using a league with ½ point PPR and no tight end premium with 12 teams.

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Pick 1: Jonathan Taylor (RB, IND)

Taylor is a slam dunk No. 1 pick for many early drafters but this could easily be argued for Derrick Henry instead. The difference in my mind is not just the age but also the offense.

While Derrick Henry is a big, bruising running back coming off injury, he is getting a bit older. Jonathan Taylor, on the other hand, is just entering his third season in the NFL. With an offensive line anchored by stud Ryan Kelly and Quenton Nelson blocking for him, his ability to run is far easier than the path Derrick Henry will have in 2022. Coming off a Jones fracture which caused him to miss half of the 2021 season, Henry is just slightly behind Taylor due to risk.


Pick 2: Derrick Henry (RB, TEN)

In only eight games during the 2021 season, Derrick Henry compiled 935 yards and 10 touchdowns on 219 rush attempts. These numbers were by far the best in the NFL at the time of his injury. He led all Flex-eligible players with 23 fantasy points per game (half-PPR).

The Tennessee Titans, even with the addition of Julio Jones, were a run-first team. They will continue to be the same in 2022 but Derrick Henry is not getting any younger.

At 6’3 and 250 pounds, Henry has the body to take punishment. However, his size also will lead him to break down a bit quicker once the end comes near. Despite missing half of the 2021 season, Derrick Henry still has over 600 carries on his body since the start of the 2020 season. Entering his age 28 season, this could be the last elite season he has. With Jonathan Taylor being four years younger, this gives him the slight nod in this discussion. If someone were to take Derrick Henry at number one, I would not be shocked or dismayed.


Pick 3: Dalvin Cook (RB, MIN)

Although third here, Cook is the most well-rounded of the three top backs. His pass-catching ability is far superior to that of Derrick Henry and is better than the numbers you can expect from Jonathan Taylor in Indianapolis.

Dalvin Cook is also on the best offense of these three. Meaning, he does not have to be the do-it-all the other two do. Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen are one of the best wide receiver duos in the NFL and despite the hatred, Kirk Cousins is the best quarterback any of these three have on their team.

Coming off a dislocated shoulder to run for more than 200 yards against the Detroit Lions shows the ability Cook has to come back from injury. This is also where he falls short of the other two. While Derrick Henry missed the last half of the 2021 season with a broken foot, he has remained healthy for the rest of his career. Thus far in his career, Jonathan Taylor has had no major injuries to deal with. Unfortunately for Cook, he deals with something every week.

After missing much of his rookie season with a torn ACL suffered in Week 5, it took him the entire next season to get back to full strength. Since then, he has dealt with other ailments from hamstrings to the dislocated shoulder this season. He is still far too talented to drop extremely far down the draft order. But of the top three running backs, he has the most risk and therefore the lowest draft slot.


Pick 4: Nick Chubb (RB, CLE)

This is where things get murky. I decided to go with Nick Chubb, but there are a few other talented running backs and wide receivers who belong here as well.

Playing in 13 games, Chubb had the same number of rushes (219) that Derrick Henry had through his eight games. Despite the 219 rushes, Nick Chubb still managed to average 5.5 yards/attempt on his way to more than 1,201 yards thus far with one game to go in week 18. Though not to the crazy 36.8 rushes per game of Derrick Henry, 16.8 rushes per game for Chubb is nothing to sneeze at. Especially considering he is sharing a backfield with another talented running back in Kareem Hunt.

The Cleveland Browns want to be a run-first team. After seeing what Baker Mayfield has emerged into, this is the best thing for them. While the future of Baker Mayfield with the Browns is uncertain, the future of Nick Chubb on the team is set in stone. He will remain the lead back and whether it be Mayfield or a new quarterback, the Cleveland Browns will again be near the top of the heap in terms of rush percentage in 2022. Getting the lead back in this offense seems like good business sense.


Pick 5: Davante Adams (WR, GB)

Of course, this completely depends on Davante Adams and Aaron Rodgers both returning to the Green Bay Packers. If they do, this is an easy pick. If not, all bets are off to where he may land in the draft.

Aaron Rodgers loves Davante Adams and the same can be said for the inverse. When Rodgers was staging his mock holdout this off-season, Adams continually came to his side and showed his support. The connection is real, and it will continue in 2022.

While I love Cooper Kupp and have since he was drafted, Davante Adams is still the best wide receiver in the NFL. Not to mention Aaron Rodgers is better than Matthew Stafford. This is the true key in deciding between the two for this position. You cannot go wrong either way here. But as long as the Rodgers and Adams connection is in Green Bay, they deserve the nod at this pick.


Pick 6: Austin Ekeler (RB, LAC)

There is going to be plenty of debate about where RBs outside the top three should fall. This may be one of the main points of contention as this slot could easily go to Alvin Kamara. Both players have similar skill sets. The difference is the surrounding offense.

While we are uncertain about the quarterback situation in New Orleans for 2022, we know Justin Herbert will be there for the long haul. Coming off a season in which he set the franchise record for touchdown passes, Herbert is ascending into the elite realms of NFL quarterbacks. The balanced offense helped Ekeler to score 18 TD during the fantasy football season. He may see regression, but it won't be drastic enough to keep him from producing first-round value if he stays healthy.

Alvin Kamara may in fact be the more talented player, but talent alone cannot overcome the offensive struggles in New Orleans. If the Saints are able to get Deshaun Watson or Russell Wilson, this pick could easily switch to Alvin Kamara. As things stand now, Ekeler gets the slight advantage.


Pick 7: Alvin Kamara (RB, NO)

He is just so damn talented. 210 rushes and 752 rush yards does not seem like an elite running back, but Alvin Kamara really makes his waves in the receiving game. Much like Christian McCaffrey, Kamara is as good, if not better, as a receiver than as a runner. Even in a down year in 2021, Kamara has 45 receptions on 65 targets. This despite playing with the likes of Taysom Hill and Trevor Siemian behind center for most of the season. Add his 423 receiving yards and his five receiving touchdowns to his rushing numbers and it is clear to see the elite nature of Alvin Kamara in the New Orleans offense.

Next season should be much different in New Orleans. Whether it be Jameis Winston or another quarterback, the position should be in a better place in 2022. This means Kamara will be in a much better position as well. With this in mind, Kamara cannot realistically drop much lower in drafts than right here.


Pick 8: Cooper Kupp (WR, LAR)

The best receiver in the NFL this season, Cooper Kupp comes off as the number two wide receiver here. With 138 receptions, 1,829 yards and 15 touchdowns, Kupp is on pace to lead the league in all three categories for the season. Although he contends that any records he sets should come with an asterisk, they will not, and he could be the single-season leader in receptions and yards come Sunday night.

Kupp, although entering the league only four years ago, is older than you might imagine. He will be 29 entering the 2022 season and although he still looks at the top of his game, there is still that age bias some people will need to get over if he is to be drafted any higher.

With Matthew Stafford in town and Robert Woods as well as Van Jefferson and possibly Odell Beckham Jr. returning, the Los Angeles Rams offense will be loaded. Much like this season, it will run through Kupp. Matthew Stafford loves him and so do I.


Pick 9: Joe Mixon (RB, CIN)

He is past the injury bug and added to this the Cincinnati Bengals finally have a quarterback to rely on.

With Ja'Marr Chase, Tyler Boyd, and Tee Higgins in tow, some may think this too high to take Mixon with all the competition he faces for production. It has not affected him this season. As the Cincinnati Bengals surprised everyone and won the AFC North division, Joe Mixon put up numbers befitting of an elite running back.

1,205 yards on 292 rushes and 13 touchdowns in the run game added to his 314 yards and three more touchdowns on 42 receptions show a complete package at the running back position. At age 26, he will be in the prime of his career to go along with Joe Burrow and the receivers group headed by Chase. This offense could be destructive in 2022. They were fantasy gold in 2021 and the train should not stop. I want a piece of it and getting Mixon as the seventh running back off the board is excellent value.


Pick 10: Deebo Samuel (WR, SF)

Talk about a dual threat and you cannot do any better than Deebo Samuel. Not only is he leading the San Francisco 49ers in rushing touchdowns, he is doing the same in the receiving game.

Gaining 1,310 receiving yards and six touchdowns would be a great season for any receiver, but with Samuel you get a bonus. He has also rushed 51 times for 320 yards and seven more touchdowns. He is the reverse of most dual-threat running backs and it is a beautiful thing. This makes him just as valuable as those like Alvin Kamara and Joe Mixon.

Being a wide receiver, you do not need to take him quite as high in drafts. That is the reason he falls here at number 10. Injury risk is also a concern with Samuel. It is for everyone, but Deebo Samuel has not had a fully healthy season since he was in high school. If next year can be the first, he could easily be the number one overall fantasy receiver. If he continues to miss a game or two, you can still expect similar numbers to what he put up in 2021. Either way, you will want to draft him.


Pick 11: Christian McCaffrey (RB, CAR)

This one is extremely risky. Would I make this pick? Most of the time, no. There is no doubt that if he comes back healthy, Christian McCaffery is the best running back in the NFL.

Injuries have taken their toll on him the past two seasons. This is the reason he falls so far in an early mock. With the talent considered, he will still find himself being drafted in the first round in many drafts. We devour running backs and they are the linchpin of most fantasy teams. With Saquon Barkley struggling and Ezekiel Elliott sharing touches with Tony Pollard, taking a shot on McCaffrey actually seems like the safer bet here. It is scary of course, but if he can suit up for at least 13 games, nabbing CMC in the late part of the first round will all but win your fantasy league in 2022.


Pick 12: Najee Harris (RB, PIT)

Although the rookie season of Najee Harris can be seen as a bit disappointing due to his rushing average, 296 rushes for 1,172 yards is not too shabby. Especially when Ben Roethlisberger has been so bad this season, most teams knew what was coming.

Not fully utilized as a receiver during his time at Alabama, his 70 receptions for 440 yards this season show his potential to be the next LeVeon Bell in Pittsburgh. That's something the team will count on next season with a new quarterback. Whether that quarterback be a rookie, a free agent, or God forbid, Mason Rudolph.

One thing we know about the Steelers under Mike Tomlin, they count on one running back. From LeVeon Bell and DeAngelo Williams to James Conner, the Pittsburgh Steelers do not deploy a running back by committee approach. Instead, they deploy the run-them-until-they-puke approach. The same can be said for Harris as he has been on the field for 86% of offensive snaps this season and this number will only go up as long as he is healthy in 2022.

With 300 rush attempts and 90 targets coming his way in 2022, getting him with the final pick in the first round to pair with a stud wide receiver on the turn would be a great start to a fantasy team. Can you imagine starting a draft with Najee Harris and Ja'Marr Chase or Justin Jefferson? It could easily happen.

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