How free agency, Davante Adams and Tyreek Hill trades impact Rounds 1 and 2

The 2022 NFL free agency period was bonkers and sent massive shockwaves around fantasy football. That impact is being felt in how managers conduct their current mock drafts. Just over a month away from the NFL Draft, which will bring another set of changes, how does a 2022 1QB fantasy football mock draft stand today?

For reference, this mock was run with a 1QB/2RB/2WR/TE/Flex roster format with a 10-team league and standard scoring settings. Also, this is me trying to guess what happens in the offseason as moves are made. Surely, this will be 100% accurate, and the NFL will do precisely what I expect.

1.01) Jonathan Taylor, Indianapolis Colts (RB1)

If you’re looking for a pure running back, Jonathan Taylor is your guy. His vision of him between the tackles is unmatched, and for being a bigger back (225 pounds), Taylor’s elusiveness in the hole makes it so difficult to get a clean hit on him.

In two NFL seasons, Taylor has cemented himself as the best RB in the league. After rushing for 1,169 yards and 11 TDs in Year 1 while splitting with Marlon Mack for part of the season, Taylor was even better last season. In 17 games, Taylor rushed 332 times, totaling 2,171 yards from scrimmage with 20 touchdowns. Lock Taylor in as the 1.01 in fantasy until further notice.

1.02) Dalvin Cook, Minnesota Vikings (RB2)

For the first time since 2018, Dalvin Cook failed to top 1,500 scrimmage yards and double-digit touchdowns in a season.

Cook still finished with 1,301 yards from scrimmage and 6 touchdowns while averaging 15.9 PPR fantasy points per game. In standard scoring, volume is king, and Cook has the role locked down in Minnesota though Alexander Mattison is ready to pounce if given a chance.

1.03) Derrick Henry, Tennessee Titans (RB3)

If you can guarantee me and all other fantasy managers Derrick Henry will be back to full strength and his pre-injury self, Henry at 1.03 is honestly a value.

Since 2019, Henry has been averaging 23 rushes per game. He has 900 rushing attempts in 39 games. In his last two seasons (24 games), Henry has 15 games of 100+ yards. The Titans’ offense is built around King Henry. Now we have to see if he’s ready to recapture his crown from him.

1.04) Najee Harris, Pittsburgh Steelers (RB4)

As a rookie, Najee Harris led the NFL in touches with 381, accumulating 1,667 total yards and 10 touchdowns. Of those touches, 307 were carries, second only to Taylor. Harris’ 1,200 yards were also fourth-most, and he did all of this behind one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL.

Given the upgrades at OL, Harris should see much more efficient touches where he’s not fighting off first contact in the backfield. While his receptions from him do not count in this format, the additional 467 yards and 3 TDs translate regardless of the scoring parameters. Harris appears to be a locked-in top-five pick in 2022 fantasy football mock drafts.

1.05) Nick Chubb, Cleveland Browns (RB5)

The run on running backs continues. This time with one of the best — if not the best — pure rusher in the NFL, Nick Chubb. Over his last three seasons (42 games), Chubb has averaged 238.7 carries for 1,273.3 yards, with 9.3 touchdowns while sharing a backfield with Kareem Hunt. From a per-game perspective, that’s 90.9 rushing yards an outing.

Of his 58 career regular-season games, Chubb has eclipsed the 100-yard mark on 22 occasions. That’s a near 40% chance of 100 yards a game with Chubb, which outside of potentially Taylor, no other RB brings to your lineup. Add in the new offensive wrinkle with Deshaun Watson, and we could see Chubb close in on a new career-best season.

1.06) Austin Ekeler, Los Angeles Chargers (RB6)

Last season, Austin Ekeler finished No. 2 behind Taylor in fantasy with 62.4% of the rushing share, 15.1% of the targets, 1,459 yards from scrimmage, and 20 touchdowns. For a player who is heavily used in the passing game, Ekeler’s value is just as high in non-PPR formats due to his workload of him. While I do prefer him in PPR formats, as a mid-first-round pick, I will gladly smash the draft button on Ekeler.

1.07) Christian McCaffrey, Carolina Panthers (RB7)

The slide stops here for the most polarizing RB this season. When healthy, is there a better fantasy back than Christian McCaffrey? I’d argue probably not. However, I don’t know which version we are getting in 2022.

In 2018 and 2019, McCaffrey was unstoppable, averaging 1,242 rushing yards with 936 yards as a receiver. Yet, as noted, this was two years ago. In those years, McCaffrey also recorded 223 receptions on 266 targets. Even if that were to happen again, they wouldn’t count in this format apart from the yards and TDs. As a fan of the game, I hope McCaffrey is back in 2022. Fantasy football is better when he is a part of it.

1.08) Joe Mixon, Cincinnati Bengals (RB8)

No one is going to want to play the Cincinnati Bengals this season. What they did in 2021 was not fluke. While all eyes were on the Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase connection, Joe Mixon was also having an outstanding season.

He recorded the third 1,000-yard rushing season of his career (1,205) while scoring 16 total touchdowns (13 rushing) for the Bengals in 16 regular-season games. However, what cannot be understated is the improved offensive line he will be rushing behind in 2022 due to the additions of G Alex Cappa, C Ted Karras, and OT La’el Collins. Fantasy football managers do not pay enough attention to offensive situations. It’s a trend that needs to change.

1.09) Javonte Williams, Denver Broncos (RB9)

I swear one of these picks will not be a running back. It’s just the switch to standard scoring forces the elite RBs up my board. Speaking of elite running backs, be sure to include Javonte Williams in this discussion.

In a 50/50 timeshare with Melvin Gordon last season, each back saw exactly 203 rushes for the Broncos. Williams turned those into 903 rushing yards and 4 TDs. He did lead the pairing in the receiving game, catching 43 of 53 targets for 316 yards and 3 additional scores.

Weeks 12 through 14 gave fantasy managers a glimpse of what Williams could do in 2022, averaging 19.4 PPR points as the lead back. Not to even mention he gets to share the backfield with Russell Wilson, forcing defenses to respect the passing game.

Unless Gordon re-signs, the case could be made Williams is a top-four RB in fantasy football mock drafts in 2022. This is a value even at the back-end of the first.

1.10) Cooper Kupp, Los Angeles Rams (WR1)

Alright, that’s gone long enough. It’s time to take Cooper Kupp. In 2021, Kupp was the receiving triple crown winner, leading all WRs in 138 receptions (138), yards (1,829), and touchdowns (15).

This also left him the No. 1 WR in fantasy scoring, averaging 17.3 points per game. While the receptions don’t count, the volume is what makes me confident in Kupp. Those opportunities turn into yards which create touchdowns. The Rams will be a dominant force once again in 2022, with Kupp a critical component of their success.

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