Fantasy: Strategy for drafting at the top of the round

Getty

Get ready for your season with theScore's 2022 Fantasy Football Draft Kit and subscribe to push notifications in the NFL Fantasy News section.

theScore's Justin Boone breaks down the best ways to approach your draft depending on where you're selecting in the order.

Draft position

Here's how to attack the draft if you're assigned one of the first four picks in a 12-team PPR scoring league. While the average draft positions (ADP) can vary from site to site, this will help guide you toward building a roster that can be dominant in 2022.

Round 1

Picks: 1.01-1.04

Most sites have Jonathan Taylor as the 1.01 in their average draft position, but given the choice, we're taking Christian McCaffrey.

While CMC only suited up for 10 games over the last two years, the 26-year-old enters the season healthy and ready to re-establish himself as the premier fantasy asset.

In 2019 and 2020, he averaged 25.8 and 27.3 points per game (half PPR), which was 6.8 and 4.7 more per outing than the second-best running backs during those years.

Last season, in the five contests where he played at least 49% of the Panthers' offensive snaps, McCaffrey averaged 126 yards from scrimmage and seven catches per game. He's the RB1 overall whenever he's on the field.

If the top two backs are off the board, then flip a coin over receivers Cooper Kupp and Justin Jefferson, who are both positioned for massive fantasy campaigns.

Roster Player Round
RB1 Christian McCaffrey 1st

Others to consider: Jonathan Taylor, Cooper Kupp, Justin Jefferson

Round 2

Picks: 2.09-2.12

The hero-RB approach tends to be my favorite: Take one running back early and then focus on filling out the other starting spots in your lineup before coming back to the position.

However, the value of getting Alvin Kamara at the end of the second round can't be passed up.

The Saints star is at a discount right now because he's facing a felony battery charge for allegedly injuring a person at a Las Vegas nightclub during Pro Bowl weekend earlier this year. But the hearings have been pushed back multiple times, and ESPN's Adam Schefter recently suggested it's likely Kamara avoids a suspension this season if the case remains unresolved.

Even with some new additions to New Orleans' offense, Kamara's fantasy value is undeniable. The 27-year-old finished as a top-eight back in fantasy points scored per game each of the last five seasons.

If his ADP continues to creep up and you're unable to get him in this range, there are plenty of other quality options, including an elite tight end in Mark Andrews or last year's RB4 in fantasy points per game, Leonard Fournette.

Roster Player Round
RB1 Christian McCaffrey 1st
RB2 Alvin Kamara 2nd

Others to consider: Mark Andrews, Tyreek Hill, Leonard Fournette

Round 3

Picks: 3.01-3.04

With two strong running backs already on our roster, we can start to turn our attention to receiver and maybe tight end - if there's a value in the next few rounds.

There isn't an obvious choice with this pick, so we'll settle on the Eagles' new stud wideout, A.J. Brown.

Despite a down year in 2021 due to injuries, Brown is just one season removed from finishing as the WR6 in fantasy points per game (17.7). Philadelphia's front office was aggressive in acquiring him and he's been the "focal point" of the Eagles' offense in training camp, according to The Athletic's Bo Wulf.

A bounce-back campaign and top-12 fantasy finish among wide receivers is on the way.

Roster Player Round
RB1 Christian McCaffrey 1st
RB2 Alvin Kamara 2nd
WR1 A.J. Brown 3rd

Others to consider: James Conner, Tee Higgins, Mike Williams

Round 4

Picks: 4.09-4.12

Our first three picks were household names and players who have been fantasy stars in past seasons. This time, we're selecting a receiver whose best years are yet to come.

Darnell Mooney had 81 receptions, 1,055 yards, and four touchdowns in 2021 while sharing the field with Allen Robinson. With Robinson gone and no proven receivers added to the Bears' roster, Mooney is about to see another spike in volume.

After averaging the 18th-most targets per game last year, Mooney will almost certainly move up that list. If he can crack the top 10 in targets, things could get interesting; eight of the 10 leaders in average targets per game last year finished as top-12 fantasy wideouts.

Roster Player Round
RB1 Christian McCaffrey 1st
RB2 Alvin Kamara 2nd
WR1 A.J. Brown 3rd
WR2 Darnell Mooney 4th

Others to consider: Diontae Johnson, Brandin Cooks, Rashod Bateman

Round 5

Picks: 5.01-5.04

We continue to fill out our receiver room with Brandin Cooks, who might be the most underrated fantasy player in the league.

At 28 years old, he's topped 1,000 yards in six of the last seven seasons.

Since arriving in Houston, he has at least 80 catches and six touchdowns both years - leading to back-to-back top-20 fantasy campaigns. And, yet again, there isn't much target competition on the Texans' roster.

The fact that his ADP has him going as the WR25 and outside the top 50 picks should be talked about more until he moves up.

Roster Player Round
RB1 Christian McCaffrey 1st
RB2 Alvin Kamara 2nd
WR1 A.J. Brown 3rd
WR2 Darnell Mooney 4th
WR3 Brandin Cooks 5th

Others to consider: Rashod Bateman, Elijah Mitchell, Chris Godwin

Round 6

Picks: 6.09-6.12

If you miss out on an elite tight end early, only one other player at the position is worth a pick in the middle rounds.

Dalton Schultz stands out because of his recent production and the opportunity he's about to receive.

With Amari Cooper no longer in Dallas, Michael Gallup out until the second half of the season, and newcomer James Washington sidelined for a couple months, the Cowboys will need to rely heavily on CeeDee Lamb and Schultz.

Schultz has already delivered in fantasy: He was a top-12 tight end each of the last two seasons and averaged the fifth-most fantasy points at the position last year.

Roster Player Round
RB1 Christian McCaffrey 1st
RB2 Alvin Kamara 2nd
WR1 A.J. Brown 3rd
WR2 Darnell Mooney 4th
WR3 Brandin Cooks 5th
TE1 Dalton Schultz 6th

Others to consider: Brandon Aiyuk, Drake London, Chase Edmonds

Round 7

Picks: 7.01-7.04

This range of the draft really tests how you want to fill out your starting lineup. There are still some young promising receivers on the board, as well as a few post-hype sleepers at running back.

However, quarterbacks tend to get scooped up more quickly in most home leagues, and at this point, there are only a couple left who offer significant upside.

To avoid being caught on the wrong end of a quarterback run, we spend up to secure our favorite breakout QB for 2022 - Trey Lance.

Everyone knows about Lance's rushing ability and his outstanding supporting cast, but it's his big arm and willingness to throw downfield that'll help make the 49ers' offense more dangerous. His 76-yard touchdown pass to rookie Danny Gray in the preseason was the perfect example.

Roster Player Round
QB1 Trey Lance 7th
RB1 Christian McCaffrey 1st
RB2 Alvin Kamara 2nd
WR1 A.J. Brown 3rd
WR2 Darnell Mooney 4th
WR3 Brandin Cooks 5th
TE1 Dalton Schultz 6th

Others to consider: Brandon Aiyuk, Chase Edmonds, Clyde Edwards-Helaire

Round 8

Picks: 8.09-8.12

Our receiver corps is strong, but it could use another proven producer in the flex.

Robert Woods managed to avoid the active PUP list to start training camp - a great sign for a veteran player coming back from a torn ACL. He's also shed his knee brace and appears to be close to 100%, according to multiple beat writers.

With first-round rookie Treylon Burks still getting acclimated to the pros, Woods has an excellent chance to enter the year as Tennessee's No. 1 pass-catcher.

As we outlined in five risky picks to gamble on, the 30-year-old was a remarkably consistent PPR scorer during his time with the Rams. Woods finished as a top-20 receiver in fantasy points per game each of the last five seasons.

Roster Player Round
QB1 Trey Lance 7th
RB1 Christian McCaffrey 1st
RB2 Alvin Kamara 2nd
WR1 A.J. Brown 3rd
WR2 Darnell Mooney 4th
WR3 Brandin Cooks 5th
TE1 Dalton Schultz 6th
FLEX Robert Woods 8th

Others to consider: Cordarrelle Patterson, Kareem Hunt, Treylon Burks

Round 9

Picks: 9.01-9.04

At this stage of the draft, with our entire starting lineup set, we can begin to take more shots on pure upside picks.

James Cook is far from a sure thing, but the rookie adds value in the PPR format as the Bills' best pass-catching back.

Reports out of camp have been extremely positive about the new element Cook brings to the offense as someone who can be flexed into the slot or out wide, presenting mismatches for linebackers.

Cook is a more explosive playmaker than teammates Devin Singletary and Zack Moss, so he could emerge as Buffalo's highest-scoring fantasy back during the season.

Roster Player Round
QB1 Trey Lance 7th
RB1 Christian McCaffrey 1st
RB2 Alvin Kamara 2nd
WR1 A.J. Brown 3rd
WR2 Darnell Mooney 4th
WR3 Brandin Cooks 5th
TE1 Dalton Schultz 6th
FLEX Robert Woods 8th
Bench James Cook 9th

Others to consider: Cordarrelle Patterson, Tyler Lockett, Darrell Henderson

Round 10

Picks: 10.09-10.12

We'll continue to load our bench with backup running backs who can provide weekly flex value while also having high-end upside if their starter gets hurt or struggles.

In that role last season, Kenneth Gainwell had six contests where he topped 40 yards from scrimmage and scored a touchdown, including the Eagles' playoff loss.

Miles Sanders hasn't run away with the starting job and continues to have trouble in the passing game. The veteran is also dealing with a hamstring issue at the moment.

Gainwell has received plenty of snaps with the starting offense in training camp, so don't be surprised if this is a more even split than people expect.

Roster Player Round
QB1 Trey Lance 7th
RB1 Christian McCaffrey 1st
RB2 Alvin Kamara 2nd
WR1 A.J. Brown 3rd
WR2 Darnell Mooney 4th
WR3 Brandin Cooks 5th
TE1 Dalton Schultz 6th
FLEX Robert Woods 8th
Bench James Cook 9th
Bench Kenneth Gainwell 10th

Others to consider: Khalil Herbert, Jahan Dotson, George Pickens

Late rounds

After the 10th round or so, you no longer need to pay close attention to ADPs. You should focus on stocking your bench with as many high-ceiling players as possible, setting your sights on running backs and receivers.

Remember, single-play positions like quarterbacks or tight ends can always be streamed or acquired by trading a bench player. So don't load up your bench with backups, and do leave your final two picks for a defense and a kicker.

In the late rounds, you should only chase players who have a path to significant fantasy numbers. Don't waste your time plugging holes in your roster with average talents who you feel more comfortable with.

Khalil Herbert fits the same mold as James Cook and Kenneth Gainwell, only at a cheaper price. However, if his camp hype continues, his ADP might rise a couple rounds before the end of August.

The same goes for rookie wideout George Pickens, whose fantasy stock has been strapped onto a rocket that launched the moment he arrived on the Steelers' practice field. When a prospect like Pickens shows the kind of consistent playmaking ability that we've seen in training camp and the preseason, it should be a flashing sign for fantasy managers to invest.

Roster Player Round
QB1 Trey Lance 7th
RB1 Christian McCaffrey 1st
RB2 Alvin Kamara 2nd
WR1 A.J. Brown 3rd
WR2 Darnell Mooney 4th
WR3 Brandin Cooks 5th
TE1 Dalton Schultz 6th
FLEX Robert Woods 8th
Bench James Cook 9th
Bench Kenneth Gainwell 10th
Bench George Pickens 11th
Bench Khalil Hebert 12th

Draft position

Comments
Fantasy: Strategy for drafting at the top of the round
  Got something to say? Leave a comment below!

Daily Newsletter

Get the latest trending sports news daily in your inbox