The 2022 NFL free agency period was bonkers and sent massive shockwaves around fantasy football, and that impact is being felt in how managers conduct their current mock drafts. With just a month until the NFL Draft, how does a 2022 1QB PPR fantasy football mock draft stand today?
2022 Redraft PPR Fantasy Football Mock Draft | Round 1
For reference, this mock was run with a 1QB/2RB/2WR/TE/Flex roster format with a 10-team league and PPR scoring settings.
1.01) Jonathan Taylor, Indianapolis Colts (RB1)
We have a new running back atop the ranks for the first time in two seasons as Jonathan Taylor has supplanted Christian McCaffrey for the No. 1 spot in 2022 fantasy football mock drafts.
In two NFL seasons, Taylor has cemented himself as the best RB in the league. His innate combination of vision, speed, and receiving ability make him the complete package. While I am not going to project Taylor to score 20 touchdowns again in 2022, his volume and efficiency should more than make up any difference. That’s especially true on a Colts team that should be more balanced with Matt Ryan under center. Assuming a clean bill of health, Taylor is the 1.01 in fantasy.
1.02) Austin Ekeler, Los Angeles Chargers (RB2)
For the last three seasons, Austin Ekeler has proven to be the perfect modern running back for fantasy football. He was the RB4 in 2019 and averaged 16.5 points per game in 2020 (10 games). Last season, Ekeler finished No. 2 behind Taylor with 62.4% of the Chargers’ rushing share, 15.1% of their targets, 1,459 yards from scrimmage, and 20 touchdowns.
We assumed Ekeler would see the Alvin Kamara role in Joe Lombardi’s Los Angeles offense, and that’s exactly what happened. Over the last three seasons, including 2019 with Melvin Gordon, Ekeler has finished as an RB2 or better in 76% of his games while averaging 19.7 PPR points per game. The Chargers became an even better team during free agency. I won’t be surprised if Ekeler is the top-scoring RB of the 2022 season in PPR formats.
1.03) Cooper Kupp, Los Angeles Rams (WR1)
More times than not, wide receivers are a safer pick in fantasy football. In PPR formats, that is especially the case. No one proved that more last season than Cooper Kupp, who was on a different level than his peers.
Kupp was the receiving triple crown winner last season, leading all WRs in receptions (138), yards (1,829), and touchdowns (15). You’re not chasing points by drafting Kupp — you’re securing a weekly high-level ceiling.
1.04) Najee Harris, Pittsburgh Steelers (RB3)
A big part of me wants to put Najee Harris as the RB2 in this 2022 fantasy football mock draft. Say what you want about this Pittsburgh Steelers offense (and there is a lot to say), but what Harris did on this team is nothing short of remarkable.
As a rookie, he led the NFL in touches with 381, accumulating 1,667 total yards and 10 touchdowns. His 94 targets tied Ekeler for the league lead. I expect to see this drop, but 60-70 looks from Mitchell Trubisky are well within the realm of possibility. The improvements on the offensive line should help Harris be more efficient. Add in his youth, and Harris should be able to avoid the sophomore slump.
1.05) Justin Jefferson, Minnesota Vikings (WR2)
The dilemma between Justin Jefferson and Ja’Marr Chase is the dealer’s choice. There is no wrong answer. Today, I lean Jefferson, but it could be Chase tomorrow morning. It’s honestly that close.
What Jefferson has done is awe-inspiring. After smashing Randy Moss’ rookie records with 88 receptions, 1,400 yards, and 7 TDs, Jefferson followed it up with 108 receptions on 167 targets for 1,616 yards and 10 touchdowns. His 3,032 yards are the most in NFL history for a player in their first two years in the league, and he’s only getting better.
1.06) Ja’Marr Chase, Cincinnati Bengals (WR3)
As a rookie, Chase was the WR5 in PPR scoring despite tying for 17th in targets (128) and 18th in catches (81). He ended the fantasy season with 1,450 yards from scrimmage and 13 touchdowns.
On any play, Chase can go for a 75-yard score. Defenses also have to respect Tee Higgins, who would be a WR1 if on virtually any other team. Add in the OL upgrades of Alex Cappa, Ted Karras, and La’el Collins, and Joe Burrow will finally have time to scan the field. The sky is the limit for Chase in 2022, and he should be a first-round pick in fantasy football mock drafts.
1.07) Christian McCaffrey, Carolina Panthers (RB4)
The slide stops here for Christian McCaffrey. He is the most polarizing RB this season. When healthy, is there a better fantasy back than McCaffrey?
Since 2018, McCaffrey has averaged 25.6 ppg while finishing as an RB2 or better in 90% of his games. He scored 24+ points in four of his six outings in 2021. But the 23 missed games in the last two seasons have left a sour taste in fantasy managers’ mouths. There is a risk with McCaffrey, but there’s also a massive reward if he returns to form in 2022.
1.08) Derrick Henry, Tennessee Titans (RB5)
Speaking of great RBs with injury concerns, Derrick Henry falls in a similar category. The concern is that Henry’s foot injury is a product of over-usage. And people who I respect when it comes to injury advice are worried about a 240-pound back coming off a Jones fracture.
Since 2019, Henry has averaged 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 or more. While his rushing title streak ended in 2021, there is no denying what King Henry can do.
1.09) Dalvin Cook, Minnesota Vikings (RB6)
For the first time since 2018, Dalvin Cook failed to top 1,500 scrimmage yards and double-digit touchdowns in the fantasy season.
He finished with 1,301 yards from scrimmage and 6 touchdowns while averaging 15.9 ppg. He is still an RB1, but health is a big question mark heading into 2022.
1.10) Joe Mixon, Cincinnati Bengals (RB7)
At 25 years old, Joe Mixon made his first Pro Bowl in 2021 and bounced back in a big way after his injury in 2020. 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.
Mixon also saw utilization in the passing game for the first time, taking advantage of Giovani Bernard’s move to Tampa. His 48 targets were his highest since 2018. There is a concern he wore down as the season went on, as he averaged less than 3.9 yards/carry in his last five games. However, what cannot be understated is the improved offensive line he will be rushing behind in 2022. I have complete confidence that last season’s performance was no fluke from Mixon, and he is worthy of first-round consideration in 2022 fantasy football PPR mock drafts.