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Friday, September 30, 2022

Experts’ Fantasy Mock Draft 2022: Strategy tips, advice for 12-team PPR leagues

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The NFL preseason has already begun, and fantasy football owners are eagerly waiting for their drafts to begin. Most leagues host their drafts in late August/early September, but true fantasy football aficionados can’t wait that long to get in on the action. Many will get involved with mock drafts to help test their cheat sheets, rankings, and see where sleepers are landing to flesh out a draft strategy.

Mock drafts can take a while to complete, though, especially if there are slow drafters in your mock. If you’re busy, you can check out the FantasyPros Mock Draft Simulator, which allows you to do a mock draft in minutes.

That said, if you want to be on the clock in a pressure-packed environment, participating in a 10- or 12-team mock draft can be beneficial. I recently participated in a 15-round mock draft with Walter Cherepinsky of WalterFootball.com. We did a PPR mock draft during which I put The Sporting News’ top 200 PPR rankings to the test to see what type of team I was able to get.

DOMINATE YOUR DRAFT: Ultimate 2022 fantasy cheat sheet

I had the No. 10 overall pick in this mock draft, so my strategy was simple. I wanted to land a top-tier running back if one made it to the 10th selection, but if not, I would take a top receiver and then whichever back came around to me. Per usual, I was only looking to add RBs and WRs in the first six rounds. After that, I focused on QB, TE and sleepers at other positions to bolster my depth.

QBs | RBs | WRs | TEs | D/STs | Kickers | Top 200 | Superflex

Without further ado, here’s a look at our fantasy football PPR mock draft results.

QBs | RBs | WRs | TEs | D/STs | Kickers | Top 200 | Superflex

2022 Experts Fantasy Mock Draft: 12-Team PPR league

*This draft was for a standard league that starts 1 QB, 2 RBs, 2 WRs, 1 TE, 1 FLEX, 1 D/ST, 1 K and has 6 bench spots

Round 1, Pick 10: RB Najee Harris, Steelers. When I took the No. 10 pick in this mock, I never expected that Sporting News’ No. 2 overall player for PPR formats would still be on the board. However, a run on receivers ensured that Harris made it to the 10th slot where I quickly snapped him up.

Harris was tied with Austin Ekeler as the most targeted RB in the NFL with 94 targets. He caught 74 of them for 467 yards and three touchdowns. Harris might not get quite as many targets in 2022 with the noodle-armed Ben Roethlisberger gone, but he should have more running room with improved play at quarterback and along the offensive line. He could be the best RB in PPR, so he’s a great value with the No. 10 overall pick.

Round 2, Pick 15: WR Stefon Diggs, Bills. This seems like the year to build a balanced team, so I wanted to get a receiver coming back. I managed to do that by landing Diggs.

Like Harris, Diggs may see a slight drop in production as circumstances around him have changed. Gabriel Davis may siphon off some of his targets, but Diggs’ floor in PPR is still sky high. He has averaged 165 targets, 115 catches, 1,380 receiving yards and nine touchdowns per season in his two years with the Bills. He led the league in catches and yards in 2020, and if he returns to that form, he will be the No. 1 receiver in PPR. As it stands, he is a great WR1 for this quad.

QBs | RBs | WRs | TEs | D/STs | One from each team

Round 3, Pick 34: RB Antonio Gibson, Commanders. This pick may look like a reach, but it must be noted that it was made before the third-year back’s lackluster preseason debut. Even still, Gibson has PPR potential and could emerge as a receiving threat out of the backfield given that he played receiver at Memphis.

Gibson has averaged 39 catches per season in his first two NFL campaigns. That has come despite him missing three total games and being banged up in others. Gibson eclipsed 1,000 rushing yards last season and could do that again if he can avoid fumbling as much as he did last year (six fumbles in 300 touches). He’s a risky RB2 given his recent negative momentum, but he’s not a bad gamble at the position.

Round 4, Pick 39: WR Mike Williams, Chargers. One of the reasons that I took Gibson in the third round was that both Chargers receivers were still on the board. I figured either Williams or Keenan Allen would make it back to me, and Williams did.

Williams and Allen are ranked back-to-back in our PPR WR rankings, so the difference between them is negligible. Allen may catch a few more passes, but Williams still managed 76 catches on a career-best 129 targets for 1,146 yards and nine touchdowns last year. Williams is a serious downfield threat with a career average of 16.1 yards per reception, and his 6-4 frame should allow Justin Herbert to find him in the end zone frequently.

Round 5, Pick 58: WR Darnell Mooney, Bears. Every draft has some sort of “dead zone” within it where there aren’t many top-tier values on the board. That happens in the fifth and sixth rounds of PPR drafts this year, as the available options come with some sort of flaw that makes them risky selections.

Take Mooney, for example. He is our 17th-ranked PPR WR, but he plays for the Bears, who had one of the worst offenses in 2021. The good news is that Mooney will get plenty of targets as the team’s new No. 1 receiver with Allen Robinson gone, but since he doesn’t have a great running mate, defenses will be able to focus on him.

Still, Mooney has more upside than the other players on the board at this juncture, so he’s worth a shot.

2022 AUCTION VALUES (Standard & PPR):
QBs | RBs | WRs | TEs | D/STs | Kickers | Overall

Round 6, Pick 63: WR DeAndre Hopkins, Cardinals. OK, here’s something that would have looked like a value last year but is a bit of a reach this year. Hopkins is suspended for the first six games of the 2022 NFL season, so he won’t be in our lineup for quite some time. However, when he returns, he could be a top-20 fantasy receiver and supplant Mooney in our lineup.

Hopkins only played in 10 games last year because of a hamstring injury and a torn MCL. Before that, he was on pace for 71 catches, 972 yards and 14 touchdowns, the latter of which would have marked a career high. He may experience a bit of touchdown regression with more mouths to feed in Arizona’s offense, but Hopkins still has a high floor. He should be, at minimum, a high-end WR3 once his suspension ends.

Round 7, Pick 82: RB Kenneth Walker, Seahawks. One of the downsides to the fifth and sixth rounds was that the running back value wasn’t great. As such, I waited until the seventh round to select my RB3.

The good news is I landed one of the top sleepers in fantasy football. Walker totaled 1,636 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns at Michigan State last season. He is currently battling for a starting job against Rashaad Penny, but Penny has been injury prone during his career. Walker could emerge as the starter, and if not, he should be a nice tandem with Penny. Both are viable fantasy options, but Walker has a bit more upside.

Round 8, Pick 87: QB Dak Prescott, Cowboys. The top quarterbacks lasted a long time in this mock, and in retrospect, I probably should have taken Patrick Mahomes with either my fifth- or sixth-round pick. Instead, I waited until the eighth round and got Prescott, which is a pretty solid value.

Prescott has totaled at least 30 touchdowns in two of his past three seasons. He recorded a career-high 37 passing touchdowns in 2021, and if he stays healthy in ’22, he may be called upon in that type of role again. His supporting cast is a bit weaker, but if Prescott can average a couple of scores per game, I shouldn’t have any issues at quarterback.

QBs | RBs | WRs | TEs | D/STs

Round 9, Pick 106: TE Dallas Goedert, Eagles. Waiting on a tight end paid off in the same way that waiting on a quarterback did. Goedert became the true No. 1 tight end for the Eagles last year after they traded Zach Ertz, and he fared well, logging 56 catches, 830 yards and four touchdowns.

Goedert (6-5, 256 pounds) may not score as much as some may like because he plays in a run-heavy offense. Still, he averaged 14.8 yards per catch last season, so he will only need a couple of catches on average to post a respectable PPR score at the tight end spot.

Round 10, Pick 111: RB Nyheim Hines, Colts. The three-down backs are all gone at this point, so I needed to land a top-tier receiver. Hines certainly qualifies, as he has been targeted at least 57 times and recorded 40 catches in each of his four NFL seasons.

Hines tied a career-low last season with just 96 total touches, as he typically plays behind Jonathan Taylor at running back. However, Frank Reich seems to be experimenting with playing him at receiver a bit, so Hines’ volume should increase this year. Landing him in the 10th round could pay off in a big way.

Round 11, Pick 130: WR Michael Gallup, Cowboys. OK, taking a second receiver who isn’t going to be able to play in Week 1 is certainly a risky move. Gallup is preparing to return from an ACL tear he suffered last year, but it is unclear when he might be healthy.

Still, it’s hard to pass on an opportunity to pair Prescott with someone who may be his No. 2 receiver. Gallup has averaged 15 yards per catch during his career and has averaged 122 targets per 17 games played over his past three seasons. He will be an appealing flex option so landing him as a WR5 is a great value.

Snake drafts | Auctions | Dynasty | Best ball | IDP

Round 12, Pick 135: WR Jakobi Meyers, Patriots. Consider Meyers the insurance in case things go wrong with Hopkins and Gallup. Meyers caught 83 of 126 targets last season for 866 yards and two touchdowns. Those scores are the only two of his career, so his TD upside isn’t high, but his PPR floor is.

Meyers can fill in as our matchup-based flex while Gallup and Hopkins are out. He’s a safe pick at this juncture of the draft when there aren’t too many left on the board.

Round 13, Pick 154: RB Gus Edwards, Ravens. Edwards may not be ready to start the season, so this team has some serious depth/injury concerns. Still, he was one of the better backs remaining on the board and could emerge as the leader of the Baltimore backfield depending on what happens with JK Dobbins.

Edwards has averaged at least five yards per carry in each of his three NFL seasons and has recorded between 711 and 723 rushing yards each year. In a word, he’s consistent. His issues are that he missed the 2021 season as a result of a torn ACL and has just 18 career catches, which limits his PPR upside. Still, he’s a worthwhile gamble here, as few other potential backfield leaders were still on the board.

Round 14, Pick 159: D/ST San Francisco 49ers. Always wait to take a defense and always take one with a good Week 1 matchup, as you can stream defenses with ease in most fantasy leagues. The 49ers play the hapless Bears in Week 1 and have one of the better front sevens in football.

Round 15, Pick 178: K Matt Gay, Rams. There are only two things to look for in a fantasy kicker. They have to have a big leg and play in a solid offense to be sure-fire successes. Gay will get plenty of opportunities to make field goals for the reigning Super Bowl champions.

Quarterback | Running back | Wide receiver | Tight end

By the end of the draft, this is what my team looked like:


QB Dak Prescott, Cowboys
RB Najee Harris, Steelers
RB Antonio Gibson, Commanders
WR Stefon Diggs, Bills
WR Mike Williams, Chargers
FLEX Darnell Mooney, Bears
TE Dallas Goedert, Eagles
D/ST 49ers
K Matt Gay, Rams


WR DeAndre Hopkins, Cardinals
RB Kenneth Walker, Seahawks
RB Nyheim Hines, Colts
WR Michael Gallup, Cowboys
WR Jakobi Meyers, Patriots
RB Gus Edwards, Ravens

This team should be a PPR playoff team, but there are some serious questions with this roster as a whole. Most notably, the running back position is a bit thin. Gibson could be a solid RB2, but his preseason performance and fumbling concerns could push him into a committee. Behind him, the team has potential in Walker, Hines and Edwards, but nothing is proven.

This team’s strong receiving corps should help to carry it. Landing Prescott and Goedert at quarterback and tight end should prove helpful too. And if things got rough at RB, I could potential trade one of my wideouts to acquire help at the position.

To see the full results of the mock draft, including who I passed and how some other teams were built, click here.


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