As the fantasy season approaches, there are quite a few players that have stood out in terms of must draft players. I constantly find myself taking these guys in mock drafts, and I think they will pay huge dividends in 2022. Here are 5 guys you should be drafting in fantasy this season:
QB Justin Herbert (LAC)
In today’s fantasy football, you pretty much need to have elite production at the QB position to have a chance at a championship. Yes, they will require early draft capital, but it is worth it. Justin Herbert finished 2021 as the QB2, but he was more of a value pick last season. Now, Herbert is going off the board as the QB2-3, but he can certainly play to that expectation. If you are in a more casual league, Herbert will be drafted within the first three rounds. However, you may be able to get Herbert in the fourth or fifth round, which is perfect. There are only a handful of elite QBs each season, and Herbert is guaranteed to have another Top-5 finish with the high-powered offense around him.
QB Matthew Stafford (LAR)
If you happen to miss out on the elite QBs early in the draft, Stafford would be a much cheaper, yet top option during the mid rounds. Going off the board as the QB12, Stafford has an elite QB ceiling. The Rams have an elite offense with a plethora of weapons. They will be in the redzone often. In 2020, Stafford threw for nearly 5,000 passing yards and 41 touchdowns. He did lead the NFL in interceptions (17), but he was third among starting QBs in yards-per-attempt (8.1). In games where Stafford did not throw a pick, he finished with 23+ fantasy points. Considering Stafford finished as the QB5 last season, it is surprising to see him go his late. IF you cannot land a top QB during the first 5-6 rounds, wait a few rounds later and take Stafford.
RB Saquon Barkley (NYG)
Barkley is more of a value pick in 2022 than he ever was, and I am starting to buy into it. He comes with a ton of risk. We know already that. However, his ADP has taken a huge dive, not being drafted until the end of the second/early third rounds. Despite getting injured multiple times, the Giants have still shown patience with Barkley as their starting RB, although he will be a free agent after the season. As a rookie in 2018, he finished as the RB1 in PPR and the RB2 in Standard. What made him so effective that season was 1300 rushing yards, 5 yards-per-carry, over 700 receiving yards, and 15 total touchdowns. To clarify, we are not drafting Barkley in 2022 to be what he was four seasons ago. BUT, a fully healthy Saquon (which he reportedly is close to) has elite RB1 upside, and you are getting him as a potential FLEX. That value is insane to pass up. The Giants offense can also take a huge leap this season under new head coach Brian Daboll.
WR Michael Pittman Jr. (IND)
As a true WR1 in 2021, Pittman finished the season as a Top-20 fantasy WR. That was with Carson Wentz as his QB. This season, veteran Matt Ryan is at the helm. Ryan should be able to not only sustain Pittman for another good season, but also elevate him even more. Pittman is being drafted as the WR13-15 with the potential to finish Top-10. Many experts have called Pittman to be a breakout candidate this season, so I am targeting Pittman in drafts as much as I can. He is certainly one of these must draft players.
WR Elijah Moore (NYJ)
Between Weeks 8-13, Moore was the WR2 in fantasy, putting up multiple 20+ point performances with three different QBs. Moore did not finish the season due to injuries and COVID, but 2022 looks very promising for the sophomore. There is one fantasy trend that has been proven true time and time again, and it is to always target the second-year WRs. Despite the Jets drafting Garrett Wilson in the first round this past draft, expect Moore to have a very solid season with a much-improved roster. Zach Wilson, also going into his second year, can help the ascension of Moore this season. Moore is being drafted as the WR28-32, and he will smash that ADP. I am drafting him every time. No questions asked.
Honorable Must Draft Players: WR Darnell Mooney (CHI), WR DeVonta Smith (PHI), WR Brandin Cooks (HOU), RB D’Andre Swift (DET), TE Dalton Schultz (DAL)