Fantasy News & Analysis

Fantasy Football Strategy: Reverse engineering an adaptable, winning 2022 draft plan

Green Bay, Wisconsin, USA; Green Bay Packers running back A.J. Dillon (28) celebrates after scoring a touchdown in the first quarter against the San Francisco 49ers during the NFC Divisional playoff football game at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark Hoffman/USA TODAY NETWORK

Just as NFL drafts involve teams trying to think multiple steps ahead of their competition, the same mindset is critical to dominating fantasy football drafts. One way you can prepare is by gaming out the draft process in reverse. A few things to consider in this exercise:

  • Identify positions where you are the most and least confident waiting
  • Determine positional cutoffs (i.e., I prefer to have a TE1 and QB1 by this round)
  • Assess how to best use this information to your advantage

By working through these questions, you will be able to adapt your roster-construction plan on the fly and avoid self-sabotage. Whether you are a zero-RB, hero-RB or value-based drafter — or hopefully flexible enough to access any of these from the toolbox — this is a worthwhile activity because each season (and draft, for that matter) is slightly different from the last.

Using the past seven days of ADP data for FFPC Best Ball Slim contests, we will answer the questions above and walk through some hypothetical draft scenarios.

Notes:
  • FFPC Scoring: PPR/TE Premium (1.5 per reception)
  • FFPC Best Ball Slim Lineup Requirements: 1 QB, 2 RB, 2 WR, 1 TE, 2 Flex (RB/WR/TE)

POSITIONAL CONFIDENCE BETWEEN EARLY-MIDDLE TO EARLY-LATE ROUNDS & CUTOFFS

Each year, the beginning and end of this frame can change depending on talent depth. Based on current ADP data, this occurs roughly between Rounds 7-10.

These rounds provide an enormous amount of roster construction flexibility in 2022.

QUARTERBACKS (QB1 = High Confidence)

Round 7: You can wait on a quarterback and sleep like a baby by taking Tom Brady, Russell Wilson or Dak Prescott

Round 8: You can still get Aaron Rodgers or Jalen Hurts in the eighth round if you want to wait a little longer.

Rounds 9 – 10: Trey Lance and Justin Fields provide access to upside as dual-threat arbitrage selections, and Derek Carr and Kirk Cousins provide safer floor options with sneaky pocket-passing upside in the ninth and 10th rounds. 

Ryan Tannehill is currently slipping into the 11th round but also fits in this group due to his rushing floor, the addition of wide receiver Robert Woods and the Titans' interest in rookie receivers and tight ends.

Cutoff: One to two quarterbacks by Round 10

RUNNING BACKS (RB1 = Low Confidence; RB2 = Medium Confidence; RB3+ = High Confidence)

If you pick multiple backs in these rounds, you will have a good shot at coming away with an RB2, but it is likely a tad late to wait for your RB1. This range is plentiful with RB3-4 options.

Rounds 7 – 8: A.J. Dillon, Kareem Hunt and Tony Pollard will all have a role in their offense, providing spike-week potential and contingent upside should their backfield mate go down. Dillon and Pollard could also play a more significant role as young, ascending talents. Hunt's role may not grow, but he is the passing-down option in an offense with limited receiving weapons, and he still has big-play pop.

Damien Harris remains in a three-headed committee in New England, but he is the lead early-down option with a double-digit touchdown upside.

Devin Singletary probably climbs two to three rounds if the Bills don't draft a running back after he held an every-down role to end 2021. If they snare a Day 2 option, he falls a couple of rounds, but some exposure is warranted pre-draft at this ADP.

Round 9: Rashaad Penny is in an offense with more questions, but he possesses the big-play and elusiveness traits that could position him for a lead role even if Chris Carson (neck) is ready. 

Cordarrelle Patterson will likely have a new backfield mate after the draft, but he could still push for a hybrid role as a receiver and explosive playmaker. Despite being an older player, those are two great attributes to target.

Chase Edmonds checks similar boxes to Patterson — he has receiving (20% career TPRR) and explosive-play upside (16% explosive rush rate) in an offense that should be much more innovative under Mike McDaniel.

Round 10: Rhamondre Stevenson and Ronald Jones provide more committee options in this range, but the upside wide receivers will be tough to pass on.

Cutoff: Three to four running backs by Round 10

WIDE RECEIVERS (WR1 = Low Confidence; WR2 = Low Confidence; WR3 = Medium Confidence; WR4+ = High Confidence)

Thanks to first-round rookies from the NFL draft and second- and third-year breakout options, this range is a sweet spot for receivers. Many of these options will move up in ADP based on historical trends, so prioritizing them in early drafts is a good strategy.

Rounds 8 – 9: Garrett Wilson, Drake London and Treylon Burks will all likely go in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft, and if they slip to the late first, it could provide significant fireworks. The Green Bay Packers own Pick Nos. 22 and 28, and the Kansas City Chiefs have Pick Nos. 29 and 30. So, it is tough to see a scenario where at least two of these players don't climb a couple of rounds in ADP.

Kadarius Toney ran only 201 routes last season as a rookie but flashed elite underlying metrics. Brandon Aiyuk didn't deliver on his ADP in 2021 and resides in a run-centric offense, but the third-year receiver has talent, which is enough in the ninth round.

Round 10: Rondale Moore, Rashod Bateman and Chase Claypool provide Year 2 and Year 3 breakout potential at a discount. Moore is the most likely to climb draft boards very soon. Rookie Chris Olave and veteran Tyler Boyd are slipping into Round 11 but belong in this group.

Cutoff: Four to five wide receivers by Round 10

TIGHT ENDS (TE1 = High Confidence; TE2 = High Confidence)

Round 8: Rob Gronkowski, Albert Okwuegbunam and Zach Ertz are the last remaining Tier 1 tight end options, and they all come off the board here.

Cutoff: One to two tight ends by round 10

KEY TAKEAWAYS

Rounds 7-10 provide us with plenty of roster-construction flexibility, but we need to think ahead as we build out our teams.

  • If we don't take a quarterback by Round 6, we need to reserve a pick between Rounds 7-10
  • If we don't take a tight end by Round 6, we need to reserve a selection in Round 8
  • If we want to take multiple swings at an RB2 in Rounds 7-10, it is doable, but we should already have a quarterback and tight end and preferably four receivers heading into Round 7
  • If we want access to upside rookie, Year 2 and Year 3 wide receivers, do it by Round 10

Using the guidelines above, below are some different roster construction scenarios based on average draft position.

EARLY DRAFT POSITION SCENARIOS

Rnd R6 RB3 – Wait QB/TE R3 TE – Wait QB/WR4 R5 QB – Wait RB2/TE
1 RB1 Jonathan Taylor RB1 Jonathan Taylor RB1 Jonathan Taylor
2 WR1 A.J. Brown WR1 A.J. Brown WR1 A.J. Brown
3 WR2 Tee Higgins TE1 George Kittle WR2 Tee Higgins
4 WR3 Terry McLaurin WR2 Terry McLaurin WR3 Terry McLaurin
5 RB2 Travis Etienne RB2 Travis Etienne QB1 Lamar Jackson
6 RB3 Kenneth Walker WR3 Marquise Brown WR4 Marquise Brown
7 QB1 Tom Brady RB3 A.J. Dillon RB2 A.J. Dillon
8 TE1 Rob Gronkowski WR4 Kadarius Toney TE Rob Gronkowski
9 WR4 Treylon Burks QB1 Trey Lance RB3 Chase Edmonds
10 WR5 Chris Olave WR5 Chris Olave WR5 Chris Olave

MIDDLE DRAFT POSITION SCENARIOS

Rnd R2 WR2 – R6 QB – Wait RB2/TE R2 TE – R6 RB2 – Wait QB/WR4 R2 RB1 – R6 QB – Wait TE/WR4
1 WR1 Justin Jefferson WR1 Justin Jefferson WR1 Justin Jefferson
2 WR2 CeeDee Lamb TE1 Kyle Pitts RB1 D'Andre Swift
3 WR3 Jaylen Waddle WR2 Jaylen Waddle WR2 Jaylen Waddle
4 RB1 James Conner RB1 James Conner RB2 James Conner
5 WR4 Amon-Ra St. Brown WR3 Amon-Ra St. Brown WR3 Amon-Ra St. Brown
6 QB1 Kyler Murray RB2 Kenneth Walker QB1 Kyler Murray
7 RB2 A.J. Dillon RB3 A.J. Dillon TE1 Albert Okwuegbunam
8 TE1 Albert Okwuegbunam WR4 Garrett Wilson RB3 Tony Pollard
9 RB3 Chase Edmonds WR5 Kadarius Toney WR4 Rondale Moore
10 WR5 Rondale Moore QB1 Kirk Cousins WR5 Chris Olave

LATE DRAFT POSITION SCENARIOS

Rnd R2 WR2 – R6 QB – Wait TE/WR4 R2 TE – R6 WR4 – Wait QB/RB2 R2 RB2 – R6 WR4 – Wait QB/TE
1 WR1 Davante Adams WR1 Davante Adams WR1 Davante Adams
2 WR2 Stefon Diggs TE1 Mark Andrews RB1 D'Andre Swift
3 RB1 Leonard Fournette RB1 Leonard Fournette RB2 Leonard Fournette
4 RB2 James Conner WR2 D.K. Metcalf WR2 D.K. Metcalf
5 WR3 Amon-Ra St. Brown WR3 Amon-Ra St. Brown WR3 Amon-Ra St. Brown
6 QB1 Kyler Murray WR4 Michael Pittman WR4 Michael Pittman
7 RB3 Kareem Hunt RB2 Kareem Hunt QB1 Jalen Hurts
8 TE1 Rob Gronkowski RB3 Tony Pollard TE1 Albert Okwuegbunam
9 WR4 Drake London QB1 Derek Carr RB3 Chase Edmonds
10 WR5 Rondale Moore WR5 Rondale Moore WR5 Rondale Moore
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