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Fantasy Football: Top targets, fades and general strategy by round in full-PPR

Tampa, Florida, USA; Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey runs the ball against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the third quarter at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Don’t hate the player, hate the average draft position (ADP), as this mindset helps fantasy managers soak up value throughout drafts of all shapes and sizes by targeting the right positions at the right time depending on where the most upside is available.

What follows is a breakdown of general strategy in full point-per-reception (PPR) formats in 12-man leagues, analyzing the strategy in every round for three subsets of draft positions:

  • Early position: First-round picks 1-4, second-round picks 21-24, third-round picks 25-28, etc.
  • Middle position: First-round picks 5-8, second-round picks 17-20, third-round picks 29-32, etc.
  • Late position: First-round picks 9-12, second-round picks 13-16, third-round picks 33-36, etc.

Special thanks to FantasyPros for their consensus ADP data and make sure you check out PFF’s Fantasy Football Draft Kit for our entire suite of resources ahead of your fantasy football draft.

Round 1

  • Early position strategy: Christian McCaffrey, Jonathan Taylor, Cooper Kupp and Justin Jefferson are my clear-cut top-four players thanks to their mix of extra-terrestrial talent and (especially) massive projected workloads.
  • Middle position strategy: Jefferson/Ja’Marr Chase are auto-picks if they slide; otherwise, target the next tier of elite running backs .
  • Late position strategy: Travis Kelce comes into play after the big-six running backs and big-five wide receivers. Targeting Kelce before taking whichever RB/WR falls into early-Round 2 is my preferred route at the turn.

Don’t be a hero in the first round, as ADPs are generally at their sharpest in the early rounds of fantasy drafts. Take advantage of pretty much anyone that falls five-plus spots.

Targets at ADP: People will always find a way to chastise the idea that McCaffrey should go before Taylor in full-PPR scoring, but nobody in the history of football has averaged more PPR points per game than the former back. He’s my 1.01 due primarily to the fact that it’s much easier to predict workloads than future injuries. Of course, running backs are notoriously a bit more injury prone than wide receivers, so I’m happy to take Chase before any running back other than CMC or Taylor.

Fades at ADP: Joe Mixon and Austin Ekeler are priced more because of what they did in 2021 as opposed to what they are expected to do in 2022. Both are great players in great offenses, which is a good start, but Mixon (lack of targets) and Ekeler (rushing usage capped) simply don’t have the same sort of projected three-down workload as Saquon Barkley, Leonard Fournette, and even James Conner, who are available much later. I’m comfortable targeting Ekeler because he is still my seventh-player overall, but I have a hard time taking him ahead of Derrick Henry, Jefferson and Chase. Mixon is a tough sell for me at the turn, as I’m far more in line with his PFF fantasy projection (RB12) as opposed to his current ADP (RB7).

Round 2

  • Early position strategy: Consider Mark Andrews if there is a clear dropoff at both running back and wide receiver. If available I prefer Fournette or  Barkley.
  • Middle position strategy: Alvin Kamara would be an easy first-round pick without any legal issues hanging over his head. While a 2022 suspension is possible, I’m comfortable embracing the risk in the middle of Round 2. 
  • Late position strategy: Take the best RB/WR available or Kelce. Ideally Stefon Diggs or CeeDee Lamb fall.

It’s tough to find much of a problem with anyone inside the top 24, but Kamara's suspension, or lack thereof, could swing leagues. Kamara won’t have his much-anticipated court hearing until September 29. There are a lot of factors that go into a potential suspension, but the extended timeline makes it more and more possible that no discipline is handed down before 2023.

Top targets: The upside of nailing the Kamara situation is tantalizing, and I’m shooting for the moon – especially if he somehow falls to the third round. Diggs, Lamb, Fournette and Barkley, in particular, stand out as players with second-round ADPs yet first-round-level workloads.

Top fades:  Full-PPR scoring wasn’t made for Nick Chubb, as his status as the RB10 isn’t as egregious as him going as the 18th overall player off the board. I greatly prefer more PPR-friendly options — such as Aaron Jones, Fournette, and Barkley.

Round 3

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