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Take Stefon Diggs in the First Round of Fantasy Football Drafts

Stefon Diggs - Fantasy Football Rankings, NFL Injury News, DFS Lineup Picks

When you write/talk about fantasy football year-round, you tend to forget that many walk away from this game when the season ends and return the following summer. There are times when there is a “take” that seems consensus but to some may seem crazy. It’s why there is always an ADP shift in August (along with preseason).

I was reminded of this a couple of weeks ago when I tweeted that I would take Stefon Diggs, who is my fourth-ranked wide receiver, with a top-10 pick. There were responses saying that Diggs is not worth anywhere near a first-round pick. I was surprised cause Diggs often would go in the first round of early best ball drafts. But then I realized that many people who have not spent the last few months digging into numbers probably do not think Diggs is as valuable as I think he is.

You certainly do not have to draft Diggs in the first round just because that is what I would do. But first I am going to lay out the case for Diggs being a first-round pick! 

Editor's Note: Our incredible team of writers received five total writing awards and 13 award nominations by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association, tops in the industry! Congrats to all the award winners and nominees including Best NFL Series, MLB Series, NBA Writer, PGA Writer and Player Notes writer of the year. Be sure to follow their analysis, rankings and advice all year long, and win big with RotoBaller! Read More!


The Case For Stefon Diggs as a First-Rounder

After finishing as the third-best wide receiver in both total fantasy points and fantasy PPG in 2020, Diggs dropped to the WR7 overall and WR10 per game last season. While he still had a good season, he failed to live up to the expectations or draft cost to get him.

He also saw his targets, catches, and receiving yards decrease last season. So it is understandable why there would be some doubts. But, there was also a lot to like from Diggs' 2021 campaign. 

Diggs led the NFL in end zone targets - the most valuable kind of target - and it wasn’t even close. Diggs saw 23, which was six more than the next closest player, and the most any player saw in a season since DeAndre Hopkins in 2017.

He finished with 34 targets in the red zone, which was second among receivers and more than double his previous season number of 16. This usage led to Diggs scoring a career-high 10 touchdowns. 

Diggs also averaged nearly double-digit targets per game (9.6), and his air yards per game went up a tick from the previous year (from 106 to 108). He was also a very consistent fantasy option, scoring at least 15 fantasy points in 10 games, which was the fifth-most at his position. He’s been the fourth-best fantasy receiver since he arrived in Buffalo. 

But even knowing that about Diggs, you may be wondering why he should get drafted higher than where he finished last year. Diggs would have to improve upon his numbers, and there is a clear way he can get better without much changing from last season.

Last year, Diggs posted a catch rate of 62.8 percent - the worst since his rookie season. The year prior, it was 76.5 percent, which was a career-high. Before last year, Diggs had never posted a catch rate below 67 percent since his rookie season.

From his second year until 2020, his catch rate was 71.4 percent. Diggs should see positive regression in this category, meaning that his catch rate will likely not sit below 67 percent and we already know it could potentially be much higher. 

The catch rate increasing and the usage staying the same as 2021 would lead to a career year for Diggs. With the targets and air yards he sees, his receiving yards would climb closer to where it was in 2021. But the real key would be the end/red zone usage remaining high, while him just catching some more of those targets.

An improved catch rate paired with high usage near and in the end zone on an offense that scores as much as the Bills, means Diggs could realistically lead the NFL in receiving touchdowns in 2022. 

Speaking of that offense, it is another big reason why you should be optimistic about Diggs. Last season, the Bills' offense ranked fifth in pass attempts, ninth in passing yards, and seventh in passing touchdowns. As long as Josh Allen remains healthy, the Bills will very likely finish top-10 again in each category and the upside is they can finish as high as first overall. 

But Diggs and his stats alone are not the only reason to invest a first-round pick on him. 


The Draft Board Allows You To Wait on RB

That is right, the draft board, at least how it is currently constructed, favors taking a receiver in the first round. In past years, the first round would be almost completely filled with running backs.

But this year, the first round has five receivers going off the board, according to consensus ADP. That just naturally pushes more running backs down the board. 

In the second round, you will be able to get names like D'Andre Swift, Aaron Jones, Leonard Fournette, Saquon Barkley, Alvin Kamara, Javonte Williams, and Nick Chubb, with some even falling to the third. And in the third round, you can find upside players like Travis Etienne, and Breece Hall, or go more proven routes with James Conner, David Montgomery or Ezekiel Elliott. Then there's Cam Akers and J.K. Dobbins, who are fantasy community darlings. 

In 2020, the third and fourth rounds were considered part of the RB dead zone, but this season that range is alive and well. It is after this range that the running back landscape gets much murkier.

But being able to find RB talent in Rounds 2-4 allows you the option to take a receiver early on. And it is looking like a wise investment to do so this year.

You may not have heard, but there was a lot of quarterback and receiver movement this offseason. That means there are much more players coming with some level of uncertainty.

After the elite three in Cooper Kupp, Justin Jefferson, and Ja'Marr Chase go, Diggs is right there with Davante Adams. But with Diggs, he is tied to the better QB and he did not change teams. 

Being able to take one of the elite receivers who come without question marks and then pairing them with the RB talent available in Round Two is looking like an optimal start. Which is just another reason to draft Diggs in the first round of fantasy drafts. 

Make sure to follow Michael on Twitter, @MichaelFFlorio.

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