Matthew Freedman’s Favorite Picks for Each Round (2022 Fantasy Football)

What matters almost as much as who you draft in your fantasy football leagues is when you draft them, or at least when you target certain players. Is Round 2 too early for Aaron Jones? Does an upgrade at quarterback mean Terry McLaurin is undervalued right now?

Is Brandin Cooks underappreciated? Is Gabriel Davis going to make a third-year leap?

Could Skyy Moore emerge as the No. 1 wide receiver in Kansas City and grab some of the targets vacated by Tyreek Hill? If you miss out on one of the top few tight ends, you might want to wait until the late rounds to draft one. Which one is Freedman targeting?

See below for some of Freedman’s favorite targets for each round of fantasy football drafts this season.

ROUND 1 (1-12)

In Round 1, I like Steelers running back Najee Harris, the RB6, no. 8 overall in FantasyPro’s average draft position. If you’re at the top of Round 1, obviously some of the other running backs are better options. Christian McCaffrey, Jonathan Taylor, and Austin Ekeler are my top three.

But in the second half of Round 1, I’m happy if I can get Harris, who last year as a rookie led all running backs with an average of 57.6 snaps per game and an 84% snap rate. That information is from the Snap Count Reports you can check out at FantasyPros. With all that playing time, Harris had a league-high 401 combined carries and targets, and without quarterback Ben Roethlisberger the Steelers might rely on Harris even more this year.

ROUND 2 (13-24)

In Round 2, I love Packers running back Aaron Jones, the RB12, no. 20 jumpsuit in ADP. Last year, wide receivers Davante Adams and Marquez Valdes-Scantling collectively accounted for 224 targets for the Packers in the regular season. With them now gone, the Packers might lean more on the running game, which benefits Jones, and they also might reallocate a portion of the available targets to Jones, who — out of all the pass catchers in Green Bay — probably has the best mix of talent and rapport with quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Since 2018, Jones has averaged 6.7 targets in seven games without Adams and 5.2 targets in nine games without Valdes-Scantling. Jones has an incredibly high floor with his increased target volume and his established scoring ability, given his 49 touchdowns in 57 games over the past four years.

I want at least 1 running back before Round 3, so if I miss on one in the first round, Jones is a guy I’m actively targeting in the second.

ROUND 3 (25-36)

Rounds 3-6 are normally called the “Running Back Dead Zone.” I prefer to think of it instead as the “Wide Receiver Power Alley.” This is where I want to load up on high-upside pass catchers, and that starts with Eagles wide receiver AJ Brown in Round 3, the WR11, no. 28 jumpsuit. This is just far too late for a receiver of Brown’s talent to go.

For his career, including the playoffs, Brown has 10.1 yards per target. Out of all players with at least 200 targets over the past three years, that’s no. 3, behind just Deebo Samuel and Justin Jefferson. Even in a run-heavy offense, Brown should surpass his career-high 106 targets this season.

ROUND 4 (37-48)

In Round 4, I like Commanders wide receiver Terry McLaurin, WR16, no. 43 jumpsuit. McLaurin has received 1,030 yards per season for his career, and he has put up those numbers with quarterbacks Taylor Heinicke, Dwayne Haskins, Case Keenum, Alex Smith, Kyle Allen, Colt McCoy and Garrett Gilbert. Some of those names sound made up. Say whatever you want about Carson Wentz, but he’s an upgrade on that collective cohort and probably the best NFL quarterback McLaurin has had.

ROUND 5 (49-60)

In Round 5, I’m targeting Panthers wide receiver DJ Moore, WR18, no. 50 jumpsuit. I don’t even mind reaching for him a little and taking him in the fourth round to make sure I get him. Moore is the only wide receiver with at least 1,200 yards from scrimmage in each of the past three seasons – and he’s just 25 years old. He has the best quarterback of his career with Baker Mayfield, and Moore is clearly still in the ascension phase of his NFL trajectory.

Fantasy Football Redraft Draft Kit

ROUND 6 (61-72)

In Round 6, I love me Texans wide receiver Brandin Cooks, WR25, no. 64 jumpsuit. Cooks is the only established pass catcher on the Texans, and he has gone over 1,000 yards receiving in every season in which he has played at least 15 games. In his final four games last year with quarterback Davis Mills, Cooks had 295 yards and three touchdowns. He has a high floor and an underappreciated ceiling.

ROUND 7 (73-84)

In Round 7, I’d be thrilled to get Bill’s wide receiver Gabriel Davis, who is going higher in best ball leagues, but is WR31, no. 78 jumpsuit in redraft leagues. Quarterback Josh Allen is good enough to support two fantasy-relevant wide receivers, and Davis is dynamic enough to make a third-year leap. Wide receivers Cole Beasley and Emmanuel Sanders are both gone, and 184 targets have opened up in their absence. Slot receivers Jamison Crowder and Isaiah McKenzie will seize their share of those vacated targets, but Davis is locked in as a perimeter player, and he has produced for two years with the Bills with 9.9 yards per target, including the playoffs, when he went off against the Chiefs. With his 12.1% touchdown rate, he’s a legitimate end-zone weapon at 6’2″ and a beefed-up 227 pounds, and he’s just 23 years old. Davis is a massive breakout candidate.

ROUND 8 (85-96)

In Round 8, I’m taking Falcons running back Cordarrelle Patterson, RB33, no. 88 jumpsuit. Patterson is already 31 years old, but he has relatively little wear on his body, given that last year was his first with 100 carries. As a Deebo Samuel-esque “wide back” hybrid, Patterson amassed 1,166 yards and 11 touchdowns from scrimmage in 2021. This year he has a decent chance to replicate his usage of 153 carries and a nice 69 targets, even if fifth-round rookie running back Tyler Allgeier gets some playing time.

ROUND 9 (97-108)

In Round 9, I’m targeting 49ers quarterback Trey Lance, QB13, no. 101 jumpsuit. Jimmy Garoppolo is still on the roster, and if he stays with the team into the season, he could eventually take back the starting job if the 49ers struggle, but if that happens, no big deal, you can drop Lance and pick up another guy , because he’s just the QB13. At his ADP, he’s all upside, especially with his rushing ability. In 10 quarters of action last year, Lance had 161 yards on 31 carries. With all his receiving weapons and head coach Kyle Shanahan calling plays, Lance could be a league winner.

ROUND 10 (109-120)

In Round 10, I’m taking Packers wide receiver Allen Lazard, WR46, no. 115 jumpsuit. Lazard could be the No. 1 receiver for the Packers. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers has talked him up as the top guy, and wide receivers Davante Adams and Marquez Valdes-Scantling have vacated 224 targets. For his career, Lazard has 9.3 yards per target and an 8.4% touchdown rate (including the postseason). He’s better than people think.

Fantasy Football Redraft Draft Kit

ROUND 11 (121-132)

In Round 11, Chiefs give me wide receiver Skyy Moore, WR54, no. 132 jumpsuit. Wide receivers Tyreek Hill, Byron Pringle and Demarcus Robinson have vacated 260 targets. Veterans JuJu Smith-Schuster, Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Mecole Hardman have all been disappointed over the past three years, so the rookie Moore could emerge as the No. 1 wide receiver for quarterback Patrick Mahomes. He has the route-running skills to play in the slot, the speed to play on the perimeter and the second-round draft capital and high-end college production to be an impact NFL player.

ROUND 12 (133-144)

In Round 12, I like Broncos tight end Albert Okwuegbunam (Oak-woo-WAY-boo-nam), TE15, No. 141 jumpsuit. Third-round rookie Greg Dulcich is getting some training camp hype, but I’m not buying it: Day 2 tight ends almost never do anything as rookies, and last year Oak-woo-WAY-boo-nam (among all tight ends with at least 40 targets) was No. 7 with 2 yards per route and no. 9 with 4.2 routes per target. He’s a playmaker.

ROUND 13 (145-156)

In Round 13, it’s fine to start reaching for your guys, since everyone in this range is basically a dart throw, and one of my guys is 49ers rookie running back Tyrion Davis-Price, RB61, no. 200 jumpsuit. In his five years with the 49ers, head coach Kyle Shanahan has had five different No. 1 running backs. That doesn’t mean running back Elijah Mitchell won’t have success in 2022, but he’s not built like a lead back at 5’10” and 200 pounds. He’s vulnerable, and Davis-Price has the size, athleticism, and third-round draft capital to steal work from Mitchell and maybe take the starting job.

ROUND 14 (157-168)

In Round 14, I like Commander’s rookie running back Brian Robinson Jr. , RB62, no. 202 jumpsuit. He’s big, he’s sufficiently athletic, and he has a three-down skill set. He’s an Alabama back with top-100 draft capital, and every guy to fit that description in the Nick Saban era has had at least one season of 1,000 yards. He’s behind veterans Antonio Gibson and JD McKissic, but he’ll have big upside if either of them suffers an injury.

ROUND 15 (169-180)

In Round 15, I’ll take Chargers wide receiver Joshua Palmer, WR74, no. 220 jumpsuit. He’s being used as the no. 3 wide receivers in training camp, and last year as a rookie he had 154 yards and 3 TDs on 22 targets in his 3 games with a snap rate of at least 60%. With Justin Herbert at quarterback, Palmer has some value anyway, and his production could skyrocket if either Keenan Allen or Mike Williams were to miss time.

ROUND 16 (181-192)

In Round 16, I’m drafting free-agent wide receiver Will Fuller, WR82, no. 250 jumpsuit. When Jarvis Landry and Julio Jones signed with teams, their ADPs moved up aggressively. I bet that Fuller will sign with a team before the season starts, so I’m just trying to get him at a discount now. For his career, Fuller has averaged 9.2 yards per target, and his stat line for the past decade prorates to 1,000 yards and nine TDs for a 17-game season. If he doesn’t sign with a team by Week 1, just cut him and no big loss. If he does sign with a team, he’s basically free money.

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