Eric Moody’s favorite fantasy football draft targets

Since the conclusion of the NFL Draft in late April I’ve participated over 60 fantasy football mock drafts.

Based on those mocks, here are the players that keep ending up on my teams. I have included ADP (average draft position) from our live draft trends.

You can read draft notes written by my colleague and projections maestro Mike Clay by clicking on a player’s name.

Quarterbacks

Russell Wilson, Broncos (ADP: 88.7, QB11)

Wilson has sky high expectations in 2022 from the Broncos and fantasy football managers, and I believe he can meet them. Denver has had suboptimal quarterback play since Peyton Manning retired at the end of the 2015 season while Wilson thrived in Seattle. Since 2016, he is ranked eighth in completions (1,956), sixth in passing yards (23,085) and third in touchdowns (186) for a Seahawks offense that was 31st in total passing attempts (3,124) over that time frame. Wilson could finish as the top fantasy quarterback for a Broncos team that will lean heavily on the passing game in high scoring matchups in the AFC West that include the Kansas City Chiefs, Los Angeles Chargers and Las Vegas Raiders.

Derek Carr, Raiders (ADP: 109.8, QB13)

Carr is another underappreciated fantasy quarterback with top-five upside in 2022 with Davante Adams as his new No. 1 receiver. Manning (33,189) and Matt Ryan (32,757) are the only quarterbacks to throw for more yards than Carr (31,700) in their first eight career seasons. He threw for a career-high 4,804 passing yards last season, but only threw 23 touchdowns. Adams will be able to help him in this area. According to NFL Next Gen Stats, Carr had the ninth-highest passing score on deep attempts in 2021. These factors, along with new head coach Josh McDaniels’ offensive mindset, position Carr well for a breakout season.

Tua Tagovailoa, Dolphins (ADP: 152.6, QB16)

In 2022, Tagovailoa’s starting job and future with the Dolphins are at stake. Even in the face of adversity, Tagovailoa has a chance to exceed expectations. Tyreek Hill and Chase Edmonds are among the playmakers the Dolphins have added to his offense this offseason. Since 2010, there have been 29 quarterbacks selected in Round 1 of the NFL Draft to have a pass attempt in their third season. Twenty five of 29 played more than 50% of their team’s games while 17 of the 25 had 3,250 or more passing yards. Tagovailoa could throw for 4,000 or more yards and 25 or more touchdowns with the supporting cast the Dolphins have around him. If you’re playing a superflex league, he makes a great QB2.

Running Backs

D’Andre Swift, Lions (ADP: 18.0, RB8)

Swift is readily available in the late first round. He had 213 touches, 1,069 total yards and seven touchdowns in 13 games last season, and his prowess as a receiver elevates his fantasy ceiling. The only running backs who had a higher target share than Swift (13.9%) last season were Austin Ekeler (14.3%), Alvin Kamara (14.3%) and Najee Harris (14.4%). Swift’s fantasy prospects will be bolstered by the Lions’ offensive line, which is expected to be a strength. In his career, he has only had 20 or more touches in four games. Swift has prioritized working on playing through minor injuries this offseason, so this could change in 2022.

AJ Dillon, Packers (ADP: 101.3, RB32)

For a Packers offense desperately seeking dependable playmakers, Dillon is a flex option with upside for fantasy managers. Over the last two seasons, the only other teams with a higher run block win rate than the Packers (73.5%) were the Philadelphia Eagles (73.8%) and the Washington Commanders (74.4%). While only two of Dillon’s running attempts last season went for more than 20 yards, and he was one of just seven running backs in the league to carry the ball 150 or more times and have two or fewer runs of 20 or more yards, Dillon is likely to have better luck in this area and could see more targets as a receiver.

Melvin Gordon III, Broncos (ADP: 124.5, RB37)

Javonte Williams has captured the attention of the fantasy community, and rightfully so, but the Broncos re-signed Gordon in late April before the NFL Draft. In 2021, he started most of Denver’s games while splitting touches with Williams, and that could again be the case in 2022. Among active running backs, Gordon ranks No. 4 with 6,144 career rushing yards. Mark Ingram II, Ezekiel Elliott and Derrick Henry are the only running backs with more. He is firmly on the flex radar.

Dameon Pierce, Texans (ADP: 164.1, RB47)

The Texans need to boost their running game after finishing last season with 1,422 rushing yards and 3.4 yards per carry, the worst in the NFL. That boost has come with Pierce, their fourth-round rookie out of Florida. He scored 13 rushing touchdowns for the Gators in 2021. As a team, the Texans scored eight rushing touchdowns in 2021, which was tied for the fewest in the NFL. Pierce is surrounded by veteran backfield players Marlon Mack, Rex Burkhead, Dare Ogunbowale and Royce Freeman in an uninspiring Houston backfield. He is worth taking a flier on late in fantasy drafts.

Gus Edwards, Ravens (ADP: 168.4, RB53)

The Ravens’ running game will be built around quarterback Lamar Jackson and running backs J.K. Dobbins and Edwards. In 2020, when all three of them were healthy, they accumulated 3,071 rushing yards, the third-highest total in NFL history. It is reported that Dobbins won’t be ready for Week 1. In light of the uncertainty surrounding Dobbins availability, I would prefer to target Edwards late in fantasy drafts.

Wide Receivers

Stefon Diggs, Bills (ADP: 12.4, WR5)

Diggs has the potential to finish the 2022 season as the fantasy WR1. Since joining the Bills in 2020, Diggs has racked up big numbers, ranking in the NFL’s top 10 in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns. Diggs has also set career highs in targets while with the Bills. He wasn’t quite as effective during his second season in Buffalo, dealing with a high number of double-teams, fewer slot targets and more vertical targets, but still finished as the WR7 in PPR formats in 2021. The Bills off-season additions should provide Diggs more flexibility to see more slot and intermediate targets.

Mike Evans, Buccaneers (ADP: 23.6, WR9)

Throughout his career, Evans has averaged 16.3 fantasy points per game while surpassing 1,000 receiving yards in every season. With Tom Brady under center, Evans has averaged 72.0 receptions, 1,020 receiving yards and 13.5 touchdowns per season. Evan could be leaned on more during the early part of the season as Chris Godwin recovers from a knee injury suffered late last season and Julio Jones works his way into the mix.

Tee Higgins, Bengals (ADP: 33.9, WR11)

In fantasy drafts this summer, Ja’Marr Chase will draw a lot of attention, and with good reason. However, Higgins, who had 74 receptions for 1,091 yards and 6 touchdowns in 14 games last season, could end up being the better value. It is possible for both to see eerily similar target volumes.

DJ Moore, Panthers (ADP: 36.6, WR13)

Moore finished last season with a target share of 28.4%, which was sixth highest in the league. He also ranked fifth in air yards with 1,632. Moore has had three-straight seasons with 1,100 or more receiving yards. The Panthers new offensive coordinator, Ben McAdoo, will also play a pivotal role in Moore’s production this season. With his West Coast, up-tempo and quick-release concepts, Moore should be able to gain significant yards after the catch on passes from Baker Mayfield.

Terry McLaurin, Commanders (ADP: 42.1, WR15)

McLaurin is another receiver who is easy to overlook in fantasy drafts. Last season, he averaged 100 or more air yards per game, ranking among the top 10. In McLaurin’s career, he has averaged 7.76 targets and 67.2 receiving yards per game. On top of all that, Carson Wentz may be the best quarterback he has played with. McLaurin has a good chance to have a career year.

Michael Pittman Jr., Colts (ADP: 42.5, WR16)

Last season, Pittman became the first Colts wide receiver to surpass 1,000 receiving yards since T.Y. Hilton in 2018. And he did so with a 25.7% target share. Pittman has a bright future with Matt Ryan under center, who has a history of peppering his No. 1 receiver with targets. Julio Jones averaged 9.8 targets per game with Ryan during his time with the Falcons. It is possible that Pittman could finish as a low-end WR1 this season.

Darnell Mooney, Bears (ADP: 67.8, WR24)

During Mooney’s second season in the NFL, he led the Chicago Bears in receptions (81), receiving yards (1,055) and targets (140). Mooney also ranked in the top-20 in air yards and target separation. The quality of his targets were less than ideal last season, but that could change in 2022 under a new regime. Quarterback Justin Fields and Mooney have been spending more time together than any other Bears teammates this offseason. Having trained together in Atlanta in March, Mooney stayed with Fields, and since taking part in the off-season program in April, the two have continued to push each other on and off the field. Don’t overlook Mooney at his ADP.

JuJu Smith-Schuster, Chiefs (ADP: 82.1, WR32)

With Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs, Smith-Schuster can have a big comeback season. Fortunately, he’s now in a very creative offensive scheme with Mahomes at his peak. That’s quite a difference from last season when he was catching passes from a weak-armed Ben Roethlisberger in the twilight of his career. Smith-Schuster is Kansas City’s best wide receiver. He’s going to feast in a Chiefs offense that has 360 targets and 2,753 available receiving air yards. Mahomes has had the most slot wide receiver targets over the last two seasons among all quarterbacks.

Christian Kirk, Jaguars (ADP: 101.5, WR39)

Kirk had a career year last season with 77 receptions for 982 yards and five touchdowns. He recorded 722 receiving yards from the slot. This was the fourth-most in the league after Cooper Kupp (1,321), Mark Andrews (901) and Tyler Boyd (766). Whether you agree with the contract offered to Kirk by the Jaguars is immaterial. The Jaguars were in desperate need of wide receivers, and Kirk is expected to lead them in targets, receptions and receiving yards this season.

Tight Ends

Zach Ertz, Cardinals (ADP: 97.1, TE9)

Ertz arrived in Arizona ahead of Week 7. For the rest of the season, the only tight end with more targets than Ertz (79) was Mark Andrews (107). Ertz re-signed with the Cardinals this off-season for a three-year deal worth $17.5 million, and will play a crucial role in the upcoming season. He will continue to be heavily targeted by Kyler Murray, especially in the red zone while DeAndre Hopkins serves his six-game suspension.

Cole Kmet, Bears (ADP: 143.1, TE15)

Kmet seems optimistic about the Bears’ offense under the new coaching regime. While Kmet caught 60 passes for 612 yards and no touchdowns last season, he ranked No. 8 among tight ends in targets (93). Kmet may be more involved in the passing game this year, which is why he has been training with Justin Fields and Darnell Mooney this offseason. Kmet may see more targets in the end zone or near the goal line with new offensive coordinator Luke Getsy.

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