There are many ways to build a team for fantasy football dominance. Some people prefer to go zeroRB, while others go RB heavy. Whatever your choice, I wish you nothing but the best. But for my money, this is my idea of the best way to build a lineup.
This is an eight-round mock draft of all starting positions for a team in a 12-man league. The picks will be made with the anticipation of a 0.5 PPR league, starting one QB, three WRs, two RBs, one TE and one flex position.
I will also be drafting from the No. 6 slot for purposes of ADP data.
All ADP data will be from Fantasy Football Calculator, as of the time of writing.
Without further ado, here is the best lineup money can buy… outside of College Station, Texas that is.
Round 1 | Justin Jefferson, WR, MIN
I would have loved to start out with Cooper Kupp in this draft. Unfortunately, he is currently being taken at the No. 5 slot in many drafts. If my league mate were to decide on Najee Harris or Dalvin Cook, I would immediately make Kupp my pick. Justin Jefferson is not a consolation prize though. He is the clear No. 1 WR for the Minnesota Vikings. Despite the harshness aimed at Kirk Cousins, he has still turned Jefferson into one of the top receivers in the NFL during his first two seasons.
After a rookie season which saw Jefferson have a line of 88 receptions for 1,400 yards and seven touchdowns, Jefferson had an even better statistical season in 2021. In a season which saw him make his second Pro Bowl in two years, Jefferson upped all his numbers. With 108 catches, 1,616 yards and 10 touchdowns, he is now clearly on the path to being one of, if not the top receiver in the league soon — a fact he pointed out himself to Complex in a recent interview.
- Others to consider: Najee Harris; Dalvin Cook; Ja’Marr Chase
Round 2 | Deebo Samuel, WR, SF
I normally do not like to take two wide receivers to start a draft. But in this case, the ADP of the running backs does not make it conducive to do anything else. Alvin Kamara would be the running back at this ADP. With his pending legal situation, the risk is not worth it currently. Therefore, I am going to grab another receiver. In this case, a receiver who can also provide me the ability of an RB2.
On 77 receptions in 2021, Samuel had 1,405 receiving yards. This was an average of 18.2 yards/catch. On top of this, Samuel averaged 6.2 yards/attempt in the run game with 365 yards on 59 carries. With 14 touchdowns in all, Samuel was named to the Pro Bowl as well as being a first team All-Pro selection along with division foe Cooper Kupp. There’s a chance for him to finish as the No. 1 overall fantasy WR, instead of the measly No. 2 he finished in 2021.
Round 3 | Antonio Gibson, RB, WAS
Although I love J.D. McKissic, the backfield in Washington is going to belong to Antonio Gibson, and that’s even with Brian Robinson drafted by the team out of Alabama.
I have an affinity for pass catching running backs. Coming out of Memphis as a wide receiver, Gibson certainly fits this bill.
The offensive line in Washington should be solid. This will allow new quarterback Carson Wentz to return to some semblance of his No. 2 overall draft pick form. They always say, third time is a charm, right? Let us hope the third team is the charm for Wentz.
Even so, Antonio Gibson will be a large part of the Washington offense.
Although he was only on the field for 57% of the teams’ offensive snaps in 2021, Gibson still carried the ball 258 times for 1,037 yards and seven touchdowns while also catching 42 passes for 294 yards and an additional three touchdowns. Although McKissic is returning to the Commanders, his role will be more so to pass block while Gibson should finally see more than 65% snap share. In 16 games in 2021, Gibson averaged 14.3 fantasy points per game. This had him finish as the No. 10 RB for fantasy. With an increased snap share leading to increased numbers, a Top 8 finish is not off the table, especially as others like Ezekiel Elliott take a step backwards.
Round 4 | Michael Pittman, WR, IND
With 88 receptions for 1,082 and six touchdowns, Michael Pittman had a breakout season with underwhelming Carson Wentz at quarterback. On top of this, he was also on the team with the best running back in fantasy in Jonathan Taylor, who averaged 22 fantasy points/game in the 2021 season. While I do not expect Taylor to take a step backwards, new quarterback Matt Ryan is a leap forward from Wentz. And he knows how to use an elite receiver from his time with Roddy White followed by Julio Jones and, briefly, Calvin Ridley and Kyle Pitts. With Ryan headed to the dome, Pittman is set for a huge season, and so are the Colts.
At 6’4″ and 225 pounds, Pittman will be able to out-muscle opposing cornerbacks for the 50/50 balls. Even at 37 years old, Ryan still has the arm and accuracy to find Pittman on those throws. This is going to be a fun pairing and I want a part of it.
Round 5 | Miles Sanders, RB, PHI
Miles Sanders had zero touchdowns in 2021. This happened even with Sanders touching the ball 163 times in 12 games for the Eagles. If positive regression to the mean is a real thing, Sanders certainly has some touchdowns coming his way in 2022.
While A.J. Brown comes to town to improve the pass game, this will also take pressure off Sanders and the rest of the running backs. With the threats of Brown and Devonta Smith in the pass game along with tight end Dallas Goedert, Jalen Hurts should be able to find Sanders on more dump offs. With this in mind, Sanders’ receptions should swell to more than the 28 and 26 he caught in 2020 and 2021, respectively.
Round 6 | Kareem Hunt, RB, CLE
Like I said, I love running backs who catch the ball. Kareem Hunt fits this mold. Nick Chubb is going to be a Top 10 running back, but he makes his money on the ground. He is not utilized much as a pass-catching back. For the past two seasons under Kevin Stefanski, this has been the role of Hunt.
In those two seasons, Hunt has compiled a total of 97 receptions and six touchdowns in the pass game. While not being the primary rushing down back, Hunt has also rushed the ball a total of 319 times in that span for an additional 13 touchdowns in the run game. With the uncertainty surrounding Deshaun Watson entering the season, the possibility of Jacoby Brissett starting a large chunk of the schedule is high. This will mean even more chances in the dump-off pass game for Hunt to take one to the house.
As an RB3/Flex, there is a high chance for Hunt to finish as a Top 20 fantasy running back. Getting him here in the sixth round is amazing.
Round 7 | Dalton Schultz, TE, DAL
Schultz had a breakout season in 2021. With 78 receptions for 808 yards and eight touchdowns in 17 games, Schultz more than doubled all his career stats from his previous 43 games. This led to the Dallas Cowboys franchising the tight end, a move they hope will result in a long-term contract after the 2022 season finished.
With Amari Cooper traded to Cleveland in the offseason, the 6’5″ Schultz will be counted on to repeat his 2021 numbers. If he does, the Cowboys could easily win the division yet again. A repeat winner in the NFC East? This is something which has not happened since the 2003 Philadelphia Eagles. If Schultz takes a step back to his previous form, the Cowboys offense will be hard pressed to be elite without the services of Cooper. At this point in the draft, I love the value I am getting in the tight end. With other options on the board earlier, I did not want to use a premium pick on a Travis Kelce or Mark Andrews. I am extremely content waiting until now and getting Schultz, or one of the other later round tight ends.
Round 8 | Derek Carr, QB, LV
Enter Davante Adams. After a sluggish start to his career, Adams has been one of the best wide receivers in the NFL over the past half-dozen seasons. Now, after a trade and a huge contract, he is reunited with college quarterback and good friend Derek Carr.
With Hunter Renfrow and Darren Waller also in the mix, the weapons for Carr are better than any he has had in his career to this point. While Adams and Waller will get the attention, do not sleep on Renfrow, who will use his pedestrian looks and talented teammates to shield him from being defended by the opponents’ best. All of this leads to one conclusion. Derek Carr is in for a season to remember.
In a division defined by offense, the Las Vegas Raiders could have the best receivers and the best offense. If Josh Jacobs and Kenyon Drake play their part, there is a chance the Raiders can make a return trip to the playoffs in 2022.
Despite leading the Raiders to the playoffs, Carr had a mediocre season in 2021. In 17 games, Carr only managed to throw 23 touchdowns and was picked off 14 times. Although his 4,804 yards passing worked out to a solid 282 yards/game, he will need to get his touchdowns up to bring a return on the faith I am placing in him with this selection. With Adams, Renfrow, and Waller there, I am willing to risk it. A season closer to 35 touchdowns in in store for Carr.
- Others to consider: Kirk Cousins; Matt Ryan
After filling out your starting lineup, which is not imperative, the remainder of the roster should be filled with high-upside players. In most instances, this should be running back heavy, as running backs are harder to replace. You do not need to find the handcuff of your starter until late in the season. But for the regular season and the playoff push, it is best to find players who can fill in when needed, even if one of your starters does not get hurt.
When it comes to the one-off positions of QB and TE, it does not make much sense to have a spare on your roster unless there is special scoring which makes using more than one. i.e., TE premium or SuperFlex. Otherwise, do not bother wasting a roster spot. Whatever you decide, I wish you nothing but the best of luck in your league. And more importantly, have fun and do not fight over petty stuff. It is just a game.
(Top photo: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports)
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