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Must-Have Fantasy Football Players To Draft - Ellis' Essential NFL Picks for 2022

George Kittle - Fantasy Football Rankings, NFL Injury News, Draft Targets

It’s flag-planting season! Just like last year, I’m coming at you with my essential fantasy football players to draft in 2022. Last season was definitely a mixed bag with standouts like Ja’Marr Chase and the Rams passing attack, but also hot takes on Calvin Ridley and Lamar Jackson. Whoops.

This season, I’m hoping to be a little more consistent with my picks. After a wild free agency and an off-season full of trades, it’s a perfect time for flag planting and draft day values. This year’s article focuses on players that I feel will easily outperform their fantasy football draft value. I give players for each position and try to cover an array of draft values.

My name is Ellis Johnson and this is my fourth year writing for RotoBaller. I want to thank the entire team there for supporting my work and letting me do what I love! Catch me every week during the season as I supply the Thursday Night Preview. Thanks for checking out my work, I hope you enjoy the article.

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!


Quarterback Fantasy Football Draft Targets

Kyler Murray (QB, ARZ)

I’m not sure if I’ve ever really “bought into” Murray before this season. What has changed this season is that people seem to forget how great he can be for fantasy. Last season was a little rocky after he was injured, but the guy started the season on fire… again.

Over the first seven weeks, he was averaging just under 25 fantasy points and was the QB3. Over this span, he passed for 17 touchdowns, rushed for three, and never had a game with fewer than five rushing attempts.

The mix of rushing and passing upside makes him perfect for fantasy. Although he doesn’t have DeAndre Hopkins to start the season, I think he’ll still manage to make it work.

Plus, with James Conner primed for rushing touchdown regression, Murray could have a big year on the ground. He’s a top three option for me in fantasy and you can steal him at his current ADP of QB6.

Daniel Jones (QB, NYG)

I am quite ready to regret this decision in next year’s article, but I can’t quit it. That’s right, I’m a Jones believer and yes, I’m embarrassed by it. Jones is fascinating in his way, especially for fantasy. D

espite looking like a cross between Napoleon Dynamite and Matt Damon, he’s one heck of an athlete. Over the previous three seasons, Jones has been a lock for nearly 300 rushing yards and a couple of touchdowns on the ground. This helps with his fantasy floor, but the real area for improvement is the passing game.

Last year, Jones managed an abysmal 2.8% touchdown rate. With a new coaching staff and a better offensive line, there’s no way this doesn't increase in 2022. Plus, with Saquon Barkley back and the potential breakout of Kadarius Toney,

Jones could finally have elite weapons. I think Jones has shown enough raw attributes to be a high-upside fantasy QB, now it’s up to him and the Giants to put it all together. I’m optimistic and have him ranked inside my top 20 at the position.

Running Back Fantasy Football Draft Targets

Christian McCaffrey (RB, CAR)

Fooled me once, fooled me twice, why not go for the turkey here? I mean it, I’m going down with this ship even if we get a repeat of the last two seasons. Over the last two seasons, he has played 50% or more snaps in seven games; in these games, he averaged 27.7 fantasy points.

Last season, that would have led all players across positions (Cooper Kupp led the league with 25.9 fpts/game in 2021). Now with Baker Mayfield under center, there is some optimism for this entire offense.

I think this QB change will benefit CMC the most as Mayfield has never played with a mediocre offensive line. As a result, Baker should be forced to throw to the RB, potentially increasing CMC’s astronomical volume.

Based on the past and the optimism of the future, it’s clear CMC is the most valuable player in fantasy when he plays regardless of quarterback or team. Now that’s an advantage I don’t want anyone else in my league to have, making him my first overall selection.

Rashaad Penny (RB, SEA)

Shhhh. Do you hear that? The silence? Sounds like the Ken Walker III hype train to me. After skyrocketing in value after the draft, Walker was looking like an early-season darling. Since then, camp hype has slowly started to quiet down and reports about Penny have picked up.

I think Walker is a great player (and supposedly a great person too), but I think this is Penny’s backfield to lose. Of course, you always have to be cautious of injuries, but at his current ADP as the RB30, I don’t see the risk.

The lead back in Seattle should be a top 20 guy, and we’ve seen that Penny has the juice. To me, it’s a no-brainer selection for any team, whether RB needy or just looking for depth. 

Darrel Williams (RB, ARI)

This one surprises me. Regarding the circumstance he was in, Williams truly had a breakout season last year. Finishing as the RB22 last season while being firmly entrenched in a committee backfield is no easy feat.

In 2021 he finished with the ninth most receptions at the position, and fifth in receiving yards. This kind of production fits perfectly into the old Chase Edmonds role.

Before his injury in week nine, Edmonds managed to be the RB20 despite scoring only a single touchdown. With James Conner’s affinity for finding the endzone, this is amazing news for Williams.

Although there appears to be a competition for the second RB spot on the roster, I struggle to see Williams losing out to either Eno Benjamin or Keontay Ingram. The final piece to this puzzle is Conner’s injury history.

This makes Williams have the potential to be a flex option with Conner, and the upside of being the lead guy if Conner misses time. To me, his fantasy relevance just seems to make sense. Who’s with me? 


Wide Receiver Fantasy Football Draft Targets

A.J. Brown (WR, PHI)

I was devastated after this trade and have now done a complete 180. I've come to terms with the Eagles being bottom of the league in passing yards, passing attempts, and passing touchdowns in 2021.

What really helped me to get over their abysmal passing game in 2021 was that neither the Titans nor the Eagles are pass-heavy, and we have seen Brown utilize his efficiency to consistently produce for fantasy.

I think this will continue in his new home and potentially see an increase in targets as the undisputed alpha on this team. My largest concern is Jalen Hurts’ 16 passing touchdowns last season, but I'm also quite confident that they will increase this season, but by how much?

For Brown to remain a WR1, he’ll need Hurts to at least crack 24+. The more I think about the situation, the more faith I have in the chemistry between these two players. Not many players possess the talent and physical ability to be a superstar in this league, but A.J. Brown is one of them.

Currently sitting as the 11th receiver off the board, it's not uncommon to see him fall farther, in which case I'll bet on talent over the situation and scoop him up where I can. 

Courtland Sutton (WR, DEN)

I have been eating up all the Sutton hype this entire off-season. It seems that everything is there for the taking. Now, after Tim Patrick's devastating injury (wishing him a speedy recovery), the hype train is leaving the station.

Thankfully, there are still some tickets left as he is currently going as the WR26! I’m in the camp that thinks Russell Wilson will quickly find Sutton to be his next D.K. Metcalf. This comparison is not too big of a stretch, as Sutton is the largest WR on the team by far at 6’4”, and he also thrives in contested catch situations.

I am sure Jerry Jeudy will have his own big games (much like Lockett), but Sutton is the one with the potential to be a top fantasy player in 2022. He’s a top-10 WR for me this year – Let’s Ride.

Allen Robinson (WR, LAR)

Usually I am not a fan of aging receivers on new teams. However, everything from camp this offseason has been positive around Robinson. Not only is he looking good at practice and developing chemistry with Stafford, but the team has not managed to re-sign Odell Beckham Jr. (at least not yet).

Plus, with Van Jefferson currently recovering from an injury, Robinson should cement himself as the clear second option to Kupp. This is the same role that had Robert Woods producing as the WR12 before his injury.

Although there is some risk on whether Robinson still has “it,” he’s in the perfect situation to thrive. For 2022 he’s my WR23 and I wouldn’t be surprised if he continues to rise in my rankings.

Robert Woods (WR, TEN)

There are four guarantees in life; death, taxes, Ochocinco will always be open, and Borreal Bobby will be underrated in fantasy leagues. I am shocked how few people have discussed the impact A.J. Brown leaving will have on Woods.

As mentioned above, Woods was the WR12 through the first nine weeks of the season. Although Treylon Burks is a great prospect, I don’t expect an immediate impact, leaving Woods to be Tannehill’s guy.

I would tell you to not sleep (again) on the perennial WR2, but it seems the community is already counting sheep and drafting him as the WR40. Say what you will about Ryan Tannehill and the offense running through Derrick Henry (literally), it won’t take a lot for Woods to return draft value. I have him as my WR25 this season and will be grabbing him everywhere.

Tight End Fantasy Football Draft Targets

George Kittle (TE, SF)

Arguably the best NFL tight end is starting to be viewed outside of the top tier for fantasy. That’s right, Kittle is currently being drafted as the TE5 behind Travis Kelce, Mark Andrews, Darren Waller, and Kyle Pitts.

This list is at least two names too long in my opinion. It’s hard to argue with Kelce and Andrews, but Kittle should be the clear-cut third TE off the board. Last season he finished as the TE4 despite missing three games.

Unfortunately, it’s expected that Kittle will miss some time almost every season; however, he’s played 14 or more games in all but one of his seasons. In his last three seasons playing 14 or more games, he’s finished as the TE three, two, and four.

This kind of consistency entrenches him as an elite option, and with the upside of Trey Lance, it might only take one healthy season to see him as the top fantasy option this year.

Bonus Fantasy Football Pick

The Packers' Run Game

Last season, I spotlighted the Rams' passing attack in this section which sets the bar pretty high for this year. It seems weird having Green Bay and elite fantasy run game in the same sentence.

Despite always having a formidable defense, we’ve only seen Aaron Jones be a fantasy star on one of the league's best offenses throughout a season. Thankfully, I think Jones is in for another big year and so is his backfield partner A.J. Dillon.

The Packers are primed to start playing game managing football with the luxury of turning to the reigning two-time MVP when needed. The team is built for this style of play, possessing a rock-solid defense and skilled offensive line.

Particularly, ESPN predicts the Packers’ O-line to be second in the league in run blocking. Plus, it’s no secret that the running backs tend to benefit the most from vacated targets, and Davante Adams vacates nearly 170 targets.

I think both of these backs will find double-digit touchdowns on the season and supplant the Browns for the best backfield duo in the league. Currently, Jones and Dillon have an ADP of RB10 and 26 respectively. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to see both these backs substantially outperforming this draft value in 2022.

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Running Back Waiver Wire Pickups for Week 5: Top Free Agent Adds Include Mike Boone, Nyheim Hines, Tyler Allgeier, Brian Robinson

As you now read this week’s recommendations from the waiver wire, the planning process for your Week 5 roster construction has already begun. The matchups of Week 4 included a whopping nine different 100-yard performances from running backs, while the injuries that have been sustained by Jonathan Taylor, Javonte Williams, and Alvin Kamara have become... Read More

George Pickens - Fantasy Football Rankings, Draft Sleepers, Waiver Wire Pickups

Wide Receiver Waiver Wire Pickups for Week 5: Top Free Agent Adds Include Romeo Doubs, George Pickens, Jahan Dotson, Corey Davis

Week 4 was a fun week in the NFL. We got to see Bailey Zappe almost lead the Patriots to a win over the Packers, which is cool for me, a long-time Zappe fan dating back to his time at Houston Baptist University. We also got to see some big wide receiver performances, including DK... Read More

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Tight End Waiver Wire Pickups for Week 5: Top Free Agent Adds Include Tyler Conklin, Mo Alie-Cox, Taysom Hill, Robert Tonyan

2022 has not exactly been the Year of the Tight End in fantasy football. Atlanta’s Kyle Pitts has no touchdowns and three games of 25 receiving yards or less. San Francisco’s George Kittle has all of 28 yards thanks to an early injury. Dallas’ Dalton Schultz has 80 yards on the season and has done... Read More

Zach Wilson - Fantasy Football Rankings, NFL Injury News

Top Quarterback Waiver Wire Pickups and Streamers for Week 5: Jared Goff, Ryan Tannehill, Zach Wilson, Kenny Pickett

Week 4 is coming to a close and teams are continuing their struggles on offense. Just 10 teams scored over 25 points in Week 4. A lot of that comes from another underwhelming passing week as teams struggle to navigate a higher volume of two-deep coverages. Just four quarterbacks (Jared Goff, Matt Ryan, Justin Herbert,... Read More



DraftKings Daily Fantasy Basketball Picks (10/3/22): Preseason NBA DFS Lineups

NBA DFS is back! Yes, we still have two weeks until the season officially tips off, but that doesn't mean we can't get ahead of the field by playing some NBA Preseason DFS! Is it risky? Absolutely! Can it be fun and possibly lucrative? Also, yes! Preseason rotations are never easy to figure out and... Read More

The Time Is Now: Third-Year Fantasy Basketball Breakouts

Not every player can set the world on fire as a rookie. Or as a second-year player. Sometimes, young players take time to develop. A lot of star players take a leap in year three, but there are also players who aren't stars but become solid role players in that third season. Anthony Edwards is... Read More

Thunder Dan's 2023 Draft Rankings: Fantasy Basketball

I am quite possibly more excited for this NBA season than I have been for any previous season since I was a kid. I grew up watching the golden age of the NBA in the '80s and '90s and have been an NBA fan ever since. But this season is hopefully going to be like... Read More

Alex Burns' 2022-23 Fantasy Basketball Rankings and Draft Analysis

I know what you're probably thinking."Fantasy basketball rankings in September? We haven't even begun training camp. Does he have nothing better to do with his time?" While I do find myself suffering from significant boredom during the NBA offseason, I want to clarify one thing: It is NEVER too early to begin discussing fantasy hoops.... Read More

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NBA Draft Room 101: Keys to Building a Contending Fantasy Basketball Roster

Ask anybody that plays a fantasy sport what the best part of the season really is, and most of them will say it's the draft itself. Almost all of us know why too. Not unlike when you were a kid and got to be a captain for dodgeball on the playground, picking your own team... Read More

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Five Players With Fantasy Basketball Bust Potential

The NBA season is just around the corner. You're probably doing a bunch of fantasy basketball prep right now, so here's something to help you with that: a piece about potential busts. For the purposes of this piece, I'm basically talking about two kinds of busts. There are players who are being drafted too high... Read More

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Enough Already: Third-year Players To Give Up On In Fantasy Basketball

Not every player can set the world on fire as a rookie. Or as a second-year player. Sometimes, young players take time to develop. But other times, those struggles in years one and two can be signs that those players are on their way to washing out of the NBA. Below are five third-year NBA... Read More

2022-23 Fantasy Basketball Forgotten Players Worth Tracking (Part 1)

Whether it is because of injuries, because of a perceived lack of talent, or because of any other reason you can think of, some professional athletes find themselves on the outside looking in at some point in their careers. They get forgotten, they become part of their sport's past, and they have to make a... Read More

2022-23 Fantasy Basketball Forgotten Players Worth Tracking (Part 3)

This is the thirdpart of the ongoing series about "forgotten" NBA players I decided to write this preseason to bring some names back to the fantasy basketball forefront. I wanted to bring some players whose names have already (or could soon) entered the "forgotten" realm in the NBA, so that's why I'm highlighting them in... Read More

Fantasy Basketball Category Studs: Blocks And Steals

Blocks and steals, the two defensive stats used in typical category leagues, may seem secondary but they are just as important to manage as rebounds or assists, and they should not be overlooked. Yes, it feels cool to grab all the guys who can score points and average double-doubles, but if you aren't rostering players... Read More

NBA Draft: Second-Round Rookies to Watch Early for Fantasy Basketball

It's funny that every year at the NBA Draft, once the end of the guaranteed money and live appearances arrives at the end of the first round, everybody tunes out and refers to the 60th pick as "Mr. Irrelevant." That's not very accurate though, is it? Speaking historically, the title of "Mr. Irrelevant" could just... Read More

Fantasy Basketball Breakouts, Busts, And Locks - Philadelphia 76ers 2022 Outlook

Welcome to a new series that we are debuting here at RotoBaller in order to start getting you ready for the 2022-2023 fantasy basketball season! If you play fantasy football, you'll probably recognize the format here as we had a series of preseason NFL articles that followed the same outline. The idea here is to... Read More