Best Ball Players I’m Drafting the Most (2022 Fantasy Football)

It’s my favorite time of the draft season for best balls. I love embracing the volatility of drafting before the NFL’s free agency and the NFL Draft. So far, I’ve drafted 11 teams. Below, I’ve highlighted the players I’ve drafted the most at each position.

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I’ve drafted 13 different quarterbacks across my 11 rosters. Josh Allen is atop the heap, appearing on seven of my teams. I recently discussed Allen’s accolades when I touted him as one of three players to target in best ball. Still, I intend on scaling back my exposure to Allen after free agency and the draft. When there’s more situational certainty with the middle-tier and lower-tier quarterbacks and the rookie running backs and receivers skyrocket up draft boards, I’ll pivot to cheaper top-shelf quarterbacks to vary my exposure. For now, I’m delighted to have Allen on so many of my rosters, and I’ll snag him a few more times while enjoying the uncertainty discount baked into the average draft position (ADP) of many prospects at running back and receiver.

Because of my exposure to Allen, I’ve opted for cheap second quarterbacks such as Ryan Tannehill, Matt Ryan, and Baker Mayfield. So, don’t read too much into Matty Ice and Mayfield appearing on the table.

However, I am intrigued by Tannehill’s bounce-back potential. Unfortunately, Tennessee’s offense was ravaged by injuries to Derrick Henry, AJ Brown, and Julio Jones in 2021. Including the Divisional Round loss, Tannehill played with his trio of top offensive weapons in only six games. Yet, according to Pro Football Focus, in those six games, he averaged 243.67 passing yards per game, completed 65.9% of his passes, tossed six touchdowns, with 10 big-time throws, eight interceptions, but only four turnover-worthy plays. Further, Tannehill added 20.17 rushing yards per game and three touchdowns on the ground. Thus, he’s precisely the type of upside, rebound candidate I love to target as my QB2.

I have 22 running backs on my 11 Underdog Fantasy best ball teams. Raheem Mostert is on the most teams, appearing on eight of them. Sadly, he suffered a season-ending knee injury in Week 1 in 2021. Regardless, he’s dirt cheap (182.8 ADP on Underdog Fantasy as of March 7), a free agent, and has a few logical landing spots where he can carve out a significant role.

Last year, the Jets hired former 49ers’ coaches Robert Saleh as their head coach and Mike LaFleur as their offensive coordinator. One of the free-agent moves they made in their first year with Gang Green was signing Tevin Coleman, a veteran running back familiar with their offense. Could they go to the well again with another familiar running back? Maybe. The Dolphins have an even more apparent need in their running back room, and they have hired San Francisco’s 2021 offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel for their head coaching gig. As a result, that’s another potentially favorable landing spot. However, Mostert’s cheap enough that whiffing on the selection won’t derail my teams, but the upside is encouraging to invest in.

Many of the backs on the table won’t come as a surprise to you if you’ve been following along with my offseason articles. For instance, I’ve touted Javonte Williams, Elijah Mitchell, Rashaad Penny, and Cordarrelle Patterson as must-have running backs and shouted out Kenneth Walker as an undervalued best ball player.

In addition, I’ve scooped up Dameon Pierce and Zonovan Knight as post-200 picks in the hopes they land in ideal spots in the NFL Draft. Both backs have earned favorable scouting reports from some of the draft pundits I trust, making them desirable targets as my last or last two backs on teams.

Finally, allow me to address Christian McCaffrey. I’ve picked him from the second spot in the draft once and popped him first overall three out of four times when I’ve held the top selection, grabbing Jonathan Taylor once. I’m skeptical of the Colts having positive game scripts as often this year as they did in 2021, creating the possibility of Nyheim Hines siphoning occasional catch-up work. Obviously, Taylor’s ceiling is sky-high, and I’ll continue to sprinkle him in from the top spot if I draw that selection again. However, CMC is a game-script-proof monster who gets a value boost in Underdog’s half-point point-per-reception (PPR) scoring format. Unfortunately, he’s played in only 10 of 33 games the previous two years. Nonetheless, until I hear the medical professionals in our fantasy football space labeling him an enhanced injury risk, I’m going to cut CMC some slack in the hopes of a rebound. Frankly, his ceiling is unmatched.

Predictably, I’ve picked more receivers than any other position across my best ball teams, snaring 36. Kadarius Toney and Joshua Palmer are a couple of receivers I’ve previously discussed, calling Toney a player to target and Palmer undervalued.

Gabriel Davis has been a polarizing player on fantasy football Twitter. I’m in the pro-Davis crowd. However, the percentage of teams I’ve drafted him on has also been increased by my desire to stack him with Allen. Relatedly, I’ve snagged Cole Beasley and Isaiah McKenzie as late-round picks for their potential connection to Allen. Beasley is a restructure, cut, or trade candidate. Now, since they’ve permitted him to seek a trade, I’m guessing he’ll be cut or traded. So, I’m unlikely to continue pulling the trigger on Beasley. Meanwhile, McKenzie is a free agent. If the Bills get rid of Beasley, perhaps McKenzie will return as the slot receiver.

DeVante Parker and Julio Jones have jumped out at me as screaming values. Sadly, Parker played in only 10 games last season. However, he was targeted seven or more times, eclipsing 40 receiving yards with at least four receptions eight times. So, he has the attention of Tua Tagovailoa.

Jones also battled injuries. Still, he was sharp when he played. According to Pro Football Focus, out of 72 receivers targeted at least 40 times in the regular and postseason, Jones was tied for 25th with Stefon Diggs for Yards per Route Run (1.84 Y/RR). Perhaps, his body will fail him again in 2022. Thankfully, the cost of taking a chance on better health has been affordable.

Mike Williams has been a player I’ve routinely scooped up. The big-bodied wideout demonstrated a more well-rounded skill-set than we’ve ever seen. According to Pro Football Focus, he had a career-low 12.0-yard average depth of target, and career highs in Yards per Route Run (1.97 Y/RR), routes (582), targets (122), receptions (76), and receiving yards (1,146), hauling in nine touchdowns. He’s a free agent. However, the Chargers could place the franchise tag on him. If he returns to Los Angeles, he’s paired with a burgeoning superstar at quarterback. Further, if he signs elsewhere, he will likely be as a No. 1 receiver for his new club. In other words, I’m anticipating loving Williams’ 2022 situation.

Finally, I’ve loaded up on the incoming rookie receivers. However, I’ve specifically avoided the most expensive rookie receivers in favor of the cheaper alternatives that could zoom up draft boards, depending on when they’re picked in the NFL Draft and where they land. Will all of the rookies I’ve taken end up in ideal situations? But, of course, they won’t. However, as cheap as I’ve gotten most of them, it’s more likely they climb than fall from their present ADP. So, when some of my highest-exposure rookies are more expensive, I might pivot to the rookie receivers I’ve faded at earlier ADPs to vary my exposure. Basically, I’m playing the draft market.

That’s not a typo. I have picked Rob Gronkowski on all of my best ball teams. I’ve previously voiced my optimism for Gronk playing again this year, noting he called Joe Burrow a quarterback he’d most like to play with, following Tom Brady’s retirement from him. Since then, it has been rumored the Bills are interested in signing Gronk. Dawson Knox broke out for the Bills last year. So, the Bills might reduce Gronk’s workload to keep the veteran healthy for the most critical part of the season with a blossoming talent at the position already in tow. Regardless, Buffalo’s offense is one of the best in the league, providing Gronk massive touchdown upside since he’d presumably regularly play in the red zone. Still, it remains to be seen if he’ll play and where he’ll sign. None, he’s primed to pick a good situation if he plays. The investment cost was cheap enough not to kill my rosters if he retired.

Beyond Gronk, I’ve picked 11 more tight ends. Donald Parham is the only other tight end I’ve selected more than twice. I mentioned Knox above, and he’s essentially my motivation for picking Parham. This time last year, there were questions abound about the tight end position for Buffalo’s electrifying offense and rumors of their interest in Zach Ertz. As it turned out, the Bills trusted Knox to take a step forward, and he rewarded them. Could the same thing occur for the Chargers? Maybe. Further, having exposure to a Justin Herbert-led offense is probably good for best ball business.

Finally, I’ve emphasized picking a top-shelf tight end, selecting Mark Andrews twice, George Kittle twice, and Darren Waller once. I’ve also picked Dallas Goedert twice and view him as a candidate to leap into the upper tier. His usage and production of him erupted after the Eagles traded Ertz, something I discussed when tabbing him an undervalued player.

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Josh Shepardson is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Josh, check out his archive and follow him @BChad50.

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