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Fantasy Football: Players to target for every round in drafts

Tampa, Florida, USA; New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley (26) warms up prior to a game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

• There is significant value targeting New York Giants RB Saquon Barkley and Tampa Bay Buccaneers RB Leonard Fournette earlier in drafts.

• Potential wide receiver breakouts, such as the New York JetsElijah Moore and Philadelphia Eagles' DeVonta Smith are great mid-round selections.

• The Chicago BearsJustin Fields is the preferred late-round quarterback for a strong rushing floor and passing upside.


In this article, I’ve compiled the players I have drafted the most often over the past couple weeks, separated by the round in which I’ve targeted them. 

The ADPs (average draft positions) for these players are pulled from a combination of ESPN, Yahoo and Underdog Fantasy's half-PPR rankings, which I contrasted with my half-PPR rankings to find the most valuable players in each round through Round 12. For the earlier rounds (1-6), I’ll give two players to target, as draft position often dictates the players available in those rounds. 

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ROUND 1

CAROLINA PANTHERS RB CHRISTIAN MCCAFFREY

ADP ranking: 2 | My ranking: 1

I get it, “McCaffrey can’t stay healthy!” While McCaffrey has missed a significant chunk of the last two seasons, his workload — when healthy — has continued to be elite. Plus, McCaffrey didn’t miss a single game his first three seasons while averaging over 300 touches per year. McCaffrey could be available to draft anywhere from the first to the fourth pick in fantasy drafts this year. No back can match McCaffrey’s combination of rushing and receiving prowess.

BUFFALO BILLS WR STEFON DIGGS

ADP ranking: 10 | My ranking: 8

Diggs had an “off” year in 2021, meaning finishing as the WR7 with more than 1,200 yards and 10 touchdowns. That’s a pretty strong floor for a talented receiver in, perhaps, the NFL’s best offense. Diggs will have ample opportunity in 2022 after averaging 165 targets the last two years in addition to Cole Beasley and Emmanuel Sanders‘ departures freeing up 184 targets.


ROUND 2

NEW YORK GIANTS RB SAQUON BARKLEY

ADP ranking: 19 | My ranking: 14

Barkley's ADP on Fantasy Pros and might be behind the curve, as there’s more evidence he’s sliding into the first round of recent drafts. Regardless, if fantasy managers have the chance to grab Barkley with an early second-round pick, they should do it. Like McCaffrey, there’s no indication that Barkley won’t see an elite workload if healthy, and he’s already shown the RB1 overall is within his range of outcomes.

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS RB LEONARD FOURNETTE

ADP ranking: 23 | My ranking: 17

Can we believe in Playoff Lenny? I’m betting yes this season, and Fournette is ripe for the taking in the late second round for drafters looking to start RB-RB with an early pick or pair Cooper Kupp /Justin Jefferson with an elite running back workload. Fournette was the RB5 last season in expected fantasy points per game based on his usage, and there’s no reason for his role to change this year. Betting on Tom Brady’s lead back is an easy call.


ROUND 3

CAROLINA PANTHERS WR D.J. MOORE

ADP ranking: 38 | My ranking: 27

Moore has been a steady producer the last three seasons, ranking fifth in total receiving yards. Nonetheless, Moore’s problem in fantasy has been finding the end zone, as his 12 receiving touchdowns rank 54th. With Baker Mayfield replacing what has been bottom-barrel quarterback play, Moore has the chance to put everything together this season and finish as a top-10 receiver in fantasy. 

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