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Fantasy Football: Dwain McFarland’s favorite targets in 2022 drafts

Arizona Cardinals QB Kyler Murray and Philadelphia Eagles QB Jalen Hurts offer differentiating league upside in Round 6 while your league mates expend precious capital on middle-round RB candidates who carry big bust potential.

New York Giants RB Saquon Barkley, Jacksonville Jaguars RB Travis Etienne and Miami Dolphins RB Chase Edmonds are explosive pass-catching options fantasy managers should target.

Minnesota Vikings WR Justin Jefferson, Buffalo Bills WR Stefon Diggs and Dallas Cowboys WR CeeDee Lamb are hard-to-resist options in the early rounds while Detroit Lions WR Amon-Ra St. Brown, Baltimore Ravens WR Rashod Bateman and New York Jets WR Elijah Moore are going too late.

Atlanta Falcons TE Kyle Pitts and Philadelphia Eagles TE Dallas Goedert are two uber-talented options that provide big upside at different points in fantasy drafts.

Estimated reading time: 10 minutes


Every year there is a group of players I want to be overweight on versus the field at their average draft position (ADP). This group forms the bedrock for my roster construction strategies and often determines how my fantasy season goes.

For the earlier rounds, I typically diversify due to the number of quality options. However, there is an inflection point each season where I gradually turn up the roster frequency versus my peers.

For 2022, my goal is to leave the first two rounds with an anchor RB and either an elite WR or an elite tight end. However, based on this year’s ADP, you can also double tap RB or WR given the flexibility to attack high-quality options in the later rounds.

I have broken down my strategies in detail by player position and draft position and put these theories into play in sizeable national redraft contests like the FFPC.

Another way to think about this article is that if I could only draft one team, these are the players I would be aggressively pursuing.

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ROUND 1

WR JUSTIN JEFFERSON, MINNESOTA VIKINGS

Jefferson has stood atop my wide receiver rankings since May. He already has WR7 and WR4 finishes to his credit, averaging 16.9 and 19.5 points per game. Since 2011, only three wide receivers have eclipsed 15 points per game in their rookie and second seasons: Odell Beckham Jr.Michael Thomas and Julio Jones. The latter two went on to post 23-plus point campaigns before Year 5 of their careers.

PPR Points per game and rank over the next five seasons after Year 2:

Player Year 3 Year 4 Year 5
Julio Jones 20.0 (5) 23.2 (2)
Odell Beckham Jr. 18.7 (4) 18.3 (9)
Michael Thomas 20.0 (6) 23.4 (1)

Jefferson can win underneath or stretch out the field, as 24% of his targets came 20-plus yards down the field. No other receiver in the NFL provides a stronger combination of demanding targets (27%) and delivering explosive plays — 27% of his targets turned into 15-plus yard receptions. He plays with a quality quarterback on an offense pegged to win nine games.

Once you add in the fact that he is only 23 years old with the arrow is still pointing up, you could easily talk yourself into Jefferson at the 1.01. At a minimum, he should be the first WR off the board in drafts and you can attain his services as the No. 6 selection drafts.

WR STEFON DIGGS, BUFFALO BILLS

Diggs took a step back in 2021 after two consecutive 2.40-plus YPRR seasons with a dip to 1.90 and a career-low in YAC (3.1). He still managed a top-eight finish thanks to a 25% target share in a high-volume passing attack led by Josh Allen.

The 29-year-old has multiple paths to the WR1 overall in this unique environment. He could pull down a 30% target share in an attack that lacks a clear No. 2 target magnet, or we could see a bounce back in the efficiency or catch rate (dropped from 78% to 65%) departments.

Can you imagine a player that offers a 150-target floor and a 200-target ceiling? I can. We shouldn’t be able to draft this sort of profile with the No. 12 selection in fantasy drafts. You can take Diggs as high as No. 6 and sleep like a baby in PPR formats.


ROUND 2

RB SAQUON BARKLEY, NEW YORK GIANTS

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