• After sitting out the Hall of Fame Game with the rest of the Jacksonville Jaguars starters, RB Travis Etienne appears primed for a major role in 2022, making him the perfect Round 3 option in fantasy football drafts.
• It’s advantageous to wait at wide receiver before picking in the mid-to-late rounds. Great mid-round options include the Minnesota Vikings‘ Adam Thielen, Atlanta Falcons‘ Drake London, Las Vegas Raiders‘ Hunter Renfrow and Seattle Seahawks‘ Tyler Lockett.
It’s impossible to have an exact fantasy football draft strategy without knowing which pick you're starting with. But it's essential to plan ahead since the route to a fantasy title looks different depending on where you pick.
This is obvious in the first round: You're never going to land someone like Jonathan Taylor in the back half of the first. Players generally come off the board near their ADP, especially early in the draft. It's usually bad to reach for a player early, but once the draft begins to play out, your draft strategy should start to take shape.
We begin this series on the perfect draft strategy by looking at how to approach one of the first three picks in a 2022 fantasy football draft. We'll consider the average draft position and which players we can expect to be available with later picks.
This exercise assumes a 12-team league with PPR scoring. We won't plan for any dramatic ADP fallers, but it's important to remain flexible and take advantage of opponents' mistakes when that does happen.
Last Updated: August 10, 2022
Round 1, Picks 4-6: Draft a RB or WR
Possible Targets: Justin Jefferson, Austin Ekeler, Najee Harris, Derrick Henry
The best-case scenario is one of the top-two wide receivers falling to this spot. Every running back carries some level of risk, but we can be much more confident Cooper Kupp and Jefferson will remain one of the top wide receivers this season. Jefferson often falls to the No. four spot, but it will be more difficult to land a receiver when selecting in the middle of the first round.
Ekeler is the best running back option here if the wide receivers don’t fall. He finished with nearly 100 more receiving yards than any other running back last season and led all backs in receiving touchdowns with eight. The Los Angeles Chargers added Isaiah Spiller in the draft, but they were already siphoning Ekeler's volume to keep the talented back fresh; however, this year, a different back will have that role.
Round 2, Picks 19-21: Draft a TE
Possible Targets: Mark Andrews
The first round is too early for a tight end this season, but ideally, Andrews or Travis Kelce will fall to the middle of the second. Typically, Kelce is off the board before this point, but Andrews is often still available.
The Baltimore Ravens tight end led the position in fantasy points, securing a 32-point gap between him and every other tight end. He did this by not only playing well but also dominating volume. Even if his red zone targets were cut in half, he would still rank in the top 10 at the position. Baltimore will likely run the ball more this year than last, but the team also traded away Marquise Brown, making the Ravens' pass game even more dependent on Andrews.
If both Andrews and Kelce are off the board, draft a running back — such as Leonard Fournette or Saquon Barkley — and save tight end for Round 4, where George Kittle or Darren Waller should still be available.
Round 3, Picks 28-30: Draft a RB or WR
Possible Targets: D.J. Moore, Tee Higgins, James Conner, Travis Etienne
If a wide receiver was selected in the first round, then it’s time to target a running back. If a running back was picked in Round 1, then selecting a wide receiver would be here.
Moore and Higgins are both great WR1 candidates for this fantasy football team. The Carolina Panthers wideout has consistently gained over 1,100 yards each season and is only 25 years old. Moreover, the Baker Mayfield addition should lead to more big plays. The Cincinnati Bengals receiver is entering his third season and has already displayed great chemistry with quarterback Joe Burrow. He outscored teammate Ja’Marr Chase, who showed the world his elite skill set during Cincinnati's run to the Super Bowl.
The available running back options hail from Tier 4, meaning they are clear starters that have some concerns. Conner's main issue is touchdown regression, as he accumulated the second-most carries inside the five-yard line (18), which he converted into touchdowns at an above-average rate. If he sees fewer carries inside the five-yard line or just doesn't convert as often, he will have a notably diminished touchdown total.
Etienne is a bit of an unknown after missing his entire rookie season. The Jacksonville Jaguars coaching staff who drafted him is already gone, but he’s already turned heads in training camp and was important enough to be among the starters to sit out the Hall of Fame Game. He should be the focal point of the Jaguars offense, and any running back who fits that description is a solid Round 3 pick.