Mike’s Ultimate Value Hitsquad for 2022

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Ladies and gentlemen… we are inching ever so closer to getting to say for real: It’s Football Time!

Another year and another chance to let the FootClan hunt down values in each round of their fantasy drafts. My annual Hitman-themed article consists of an elite group of men with a special skill set to take down your fantasy opponents. These are my favorite players per round based solely on my projections in the UDK and the value that I see at their current average draft position per Sleeper ADP.

Just for reference sake (and maybe tooting my own horn a little bit), last year’s article didn’t mess around with some absolute smash picks:

Here is my list for 2022.

Editor’s Note: Want more of Mike’s fantasy advice and takes? Make sure you check out the Ultimate Draft Kit for his official Breakouts, Sleepers, and Busts.

Round 1- Justin Jefferson, WR (MIN)

You already know how incredible Justin Jefferson has been through two NFL seasons. He has the most receiving yards ever (3,061) through a WR’s 1st two years in the league… 261 more than Odell Beckham Jr. He’s currently averaging the 2nd most receiving yards per game narrowly behind Julio Jones. He’s unbelievable. I’ve had him ranked as my WR1 ahead of Cooper Kupp all summer long and it seems Best Ball drafts and ADP is trending towards that direction. He’s going to dominate and everything in camp is pointing to another absolute monster season. If you’re in a league that starts three WRs, Jefferson is right there in consideration as a top-3 pick.

Round 2- Aaron Jones, RB (GB)

Aaron Jones is an RB1 in my book and one of my favorite Round 2 values this year. He’s been an RB1 three years in a row flexing his muscles as an efficiency beast averaging the 6th most yards per touch over that span. A.J. Dillon doesn’t worry me at all as the coaching staff and Aaron Rodgers himself said both backs will be on the field at the same time. He’s easily the Packers’ best skill position player and it’s what he did in the playoffs that sets him apart: 9-for-129 through the air! We always talk about vacated targets giving the RB position a bump in target share and Green Bay has the 5th most in the league with Davante Adams and Marquez Valdes-Scantling out the door. I’m comfortable taking a WR in the 1st knowing Jones is sitting there for me to scoop up as my RB1 in the second.

Round 3- James Conner, RB (ARI)

Conner is just too involved in a Cardinals offense that is committed to running inside the 10. Conner dominated there last year with the 2nd most goal-line carries and a league-leading 15 red zone TDs. His age may scare off some fantasy managers but the ADP bakes in those fears. I currently have him ranked as an RB1 but you don’t have to pay that cost in drafts this year. He is the Cardinals backfield with little to no competition and should see an insane workload. In five games without Chase Edmonds last year, Conner saw more than 22 opportunities a game. Give me that value in the 3rd for someone who is going to help anchor your fantasy team.

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Round 4- Michael Pittman Jr., WR (IND)

You already knew what was coming… In this very article last year, I had Pittman as the cover guy going so far as to mention that I had him as a “my guy” before Carson Wentz‘s injury. He broke out last year but in Year 3, I think we’re going to see a true ceiling outcome for Pitty City. Over the last decade, if you look at players who were drafted in the 1st two rounds of the NFL Draft entering their 3rd year in the league… if they saw 120+ targets, they were the WR10 on averagePittman saw 129 targets last year; I have him projected for 146. He has almost no competition for target supremacy in Indianapolis. Parris Campbell? Rookie Alec Pierce? Ashton Dulin? Mo Alie-Cox? Pittman is going to mash with Matt Ryan under center and everything in camp says he’s ready to establish as a true alpha for fantasy. As the major of the city, I humbly welcome all those who want to join in.

Round 5- Courtland Sutton, WR (DEN)

Let’s keep this My Guy train rolling with someone I’ve been hot and bothered by all off-season. Sutton has everything you want in a WR1. In 2019, he broke out going for 1,100 and six TDs before injuries derailed his progress. The question has always been his QB play with the likes of Case Keenum, Joe Flacco, Drew Lock, and Teddy Bridgewater as his QBs. Since 2018, those QBs had TD totals of 19, 16, 21, and 20. Sutton already claimed that “the juice is just different” with Russell Wilson in Denver. Over the last four years, Russ has the most end zone passing attempts which bodes well for Sutton’s 6’4″ frame. There is reason to believe Sutton can not only beat his ADP but finish as a WR1. Going back to 2015, Wilson’s WR1 is basically a locked-in top-15 option:

Year Player
Fantasy Finish
2015 Doug Baldwin WR9
2016 Doug Baldwin WR10
2017 Doug Baldwin WR14
2018 Tyler Lockett WR15
2019 Tyler Lockett WR14
2020 DK Metcalf, Tyler Lockett
WR6, WR8
2021 DK Metcalf WR12

Round 6- Brandin Cooks, WR (HOU)

What else does Cooks need to do to earn respect? Every year it feels like he ends up a screaming value despite a track record of consistent production. He’s been a top-20 WR in six of his last seven years. His splits with Davis Mills were also outstanding averaging 10 targets, 68 receiving yards, and 13 fantasy points per game in their 11 games together. When I’m in drafts, Cooks is always staring at me as a WR3/FLEX play knowing I loaded up on other positions earlier in my draft. I have him ranked the highest among the three of us as he was in serious consideration of being a my guy.

Round 7- Russell Wilson, QB (DEN)

You surprised Trey Lance isn’t listed here? Listen, you know I’m all-in on Lance but Russ is dropping in fantasy drafts to the point where I can’t help but want to stack him with Courtland Sutton. He’s in a more pass-friendly scheme with new HC Nathaniel Hackett and an offensive line that is light years ahead of Seattle’s. Being a QB1 is kind of Russ’ mojo. Before last year, his QB finishes: 11, 8, 3, 3, 9, 1, 9, 4, 6. The fact he’s going as QB9 is basically his floor. It wouldn’t be shocking for Russ to throw for 40 TDs, run for another 3-5 on the ground, and finish inside the top-5 at the position.

Aaron Ontiveroz/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Round 8- Chase Edmonds, RB (MIA)

We’ve always been enamored with Edmonds as Cardinals fans but he’s been one of my favorite players to draft this year as an RB3/FLEX in the 8th round. The fact isn’t quite in that “RB dead-zone” of Rounds 3-7 blows my mind. As Jason laid out the case in the My Guys episode, he fits the zone blocking scheme perfectly for new head coach Mike McDaniel. Over the last two years, among qualifying RBs he ranks 6th in fantasy points per touch in PPR scoring. He’s never going to be a huge 20+ touch guy but if he’s seeing 5+ targets a game and Mike Gesicki is phased out from being a focus, Edmonds should crush at his ADP.

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Round 9- Allen Lazard, WR (GB)

My final My Guy has to show up on the list. I’ve been on #TeamLazardKing for years because Aaron Rodgers trusts this guy. Last year, Lazard had the 6th highest QB rating when targeted (132.8) and averaged the 5th most fantasy point per target. His draft cost is absurd considering he’s the clear-cut WR1 for this team. Imagine getting someone with a 20+ percent target share in the 9th round?! Per friend of the show Curtis Patrick, in Rodgers’ 14 years as a starter, his yearly WR1 has averaged a 26.7 percent target share. In 12 of the 14 years, the WR1 posted 24 percent or higher market share. I have him ranked as a top-24 WR and the fact he could start the year as your FLEX or bench player is like stealing.

Round 10- Dameon Pierce, RB (HOU)

The Pierce hype train is steadily getting louder and louder. By next week, he’ll probably be in the 9th round but it seems like he’s going to be the lead back in Houston. The opportunity is there for him to make a dent in this backfield. Although the draft capital (107th overall) isn’t anything special, his only competition is Rex Burkhead and Marlon Mack. He had 16 TDs his senior year in the SEC and he runs with the type of authority you want to see. Everything in preseason and training camp has been positive and it wouldn’t shock me if he finishes his rookie year in fringe RB2 territory.

Round 11- Darrell Henderson, RB (LAR)

We’ve been out on Cam Akers as a group based on his draft cost and his inefficiency throughout the Rams’ playoff run last year. Sean McVay has always heavily utilized one back since the Todd Gurley days but the reports this off-season have been consistently shouting that this could be a 50-50 timeshare. Henderson was highly effective last year but it seems the fantasy community has short-term memory loss. Through the first eight weeks of the season, he was the RB11 including two top-5 performances on the road. He’s a good player and I’ve liked him since he came out of Memphis in 2019.

Round 12- Kenneth Gainwell, RB (PHI)

Speaking of Memphis, hopefully, by now you’ve noticed my affinity for their RBs (RIP Antonio Gibson). Gainwell was someone I liked coming out who was sadly drafted in the 5th round a year ago. He was behind Miles Sanders and Boston Scott but still had three top-12 weeks on the year, as many as Damien Harris and Javonte Williams had. He excelled as a pass-catcher seeing 50 targets, one of 25 rookie RBs over the last decade to hit that mark. The backfield situation is still murky with Sanders’ hamstring and Scott seeing a ton of work in Week 2 of the preseason. This is a running game I want to invest in knowing they had the highest rush rate in the second half of the season in 2021. Is Gainwell the guy? Probably not right away but in Week 1 you get a shot at someone who could be a PPR steal in the later rounds.

Comments

Ian Marlowe says:

Excellent article! And just added to my draft notes. I am in to yahoo leagues and agree that the Xrank and ADP there is wacky compared to Sleeper(I more prefer sleeper btw haha) yahoo’s draft grades are GARBAGE and give false confidence in both directions.

Bill says:

Nice article, thanks.

Borgogin, get your head in the game! The season’s about to start — We can’t afford these metal mistakes!!

Michael says:

Man, the Yahoo rankings have all these guys way higher than the rounds Mike is predicting they’ll go in, assuming this is for a 12-team draft.

For example, Aaron Jones is typically going at the end of the first/early second. Pitty city is an early 3rd round pick.

I’m seeing Sutton getting snatched at the end of the 3rd/early 4th, and Cooks going late 4th, early 5th round.

Love all these guys, but they’re getting snatched up so early

Andrew Hill says:

Love articles like this, great work!

In a 12-man:
1.10 got Justin Jefferson
3.34 got Pitty City
16.183 got Kenneth Gainwell

Buffalo Baller says:

Long time Troll, first time subscriber.

Lazard in the 9th is crazy, I dislike the grimacing QB as much as the next guy but you have to mathematically predict the #1 target for Rodgers higher than this.

Past numbers only indicate his use behind DA who is no longer with the team. I had Deebo as a smash last year in the 4th, I’m in on Lazard on the 6th! that gives me 3 Rbs (one goes in the flex) and 3 solid WRs with huge upside.

The rounds are by current Sleeper ADP.

ymi323 says:

Just an FYI, you have Dameon Pierce listed as a WR instead of RB.

Fixed! Thanks. That’s an editor thing. So I point the finger at … me!

Sean Harrington says:

Great Article,

I was able to draft several of those suggestions last night:
Aaron Jones: Round 2 pick 6
James Connor Round 6 pick 6
Brandin Cooks, Round 5 pick 5 (probably a bit early)
Chase Edmonds, Round 8 pick 5

Now I am feeling a bit better about this draft. Yahoo gave me a C and the Fantasy Footballers I got an A-. I also used the cheat sheet for this draft. It was really helpful.

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