These are 15 players that I think you should be targeting before your buddies can get their grubby hands on them. Some of which are massive values, some are just better options than the landmines around them.
No specific order, so we’ll start with player 1.
1.AJ Dillon- This man is a beast. 6 feet. 250. And he is in a true split backfield. The thing I love about AJ is that he hands stand alone value, and he has immense upside if something were to happen to Aaron Jones. Over 1k total scrimmage yards last season and 7 TD’s. He catches too, 34 on the year. Scratching the surface. Round 4 is the earliest I’d take him, but don’t let him slip past 5 in a 12 team league.
2.Jalen Hurts- After Allen, Jackson, Herbert, and Mahomes are off the board- I’m on Hurts. And I could even talk myself into taking him over Mahomes this year. The rushing upside is obvious. You layer in the addition of AJ Brown, the continued emergence of Devonta Smith, and you’ve got fantasy gold. Rushing QB’s are a cheat code, and he’s going to absolutely ball out this year.
3.Mark Andrews- One reason I don’t take Travis Kelce with a 1st or 2nd round pick, is because I actually like Andrews better this year, and he’s slightly cheaper. Now, I don’t usually end up with either, but if you target Andrews, I think that’s the play @ TE. Think about this…everyone is scrambling to get Kelce because Hill is gone. But Kelce is actually better when Hill is on the field. Kelce without Hill drops off to a rate of 18% targets per route run, Andrews without Hollywood Brown- actually up 22%. Massive difference. Take the youth and last year’s TE1.
4.Kyle Pitts- So if you don’t take Andrews, snatch Pitts, and if you don’t get either, just hold for a while. Pitts felt like a disappointment in fantasy last year, but he was actually phenomenal when you compare him to other rookie TE’s in history. Mike Ditka is the only other rookie TE to ever reach 1k yards receiving. Year 2 should be a monster boost for Pitts.
5.Breece Hall- I love this pick when you’re sitting right there in round 5 and you only have 1 RB on your squad. Smash the draft button! Rookie RB’s with heavy real-life draft capitol pan out almost every year. Even on bad teams. Being on the Lions hasn’t held DeAndre Swift back, so don’t be deterred by this jets stuff.
6.Terry McClaurin- I think if you look @ ADP, there’s a very real drop off from where McClaurin is to who is going after him. He is the cutoff of anything that resembles elite WR1 potential. After McClaurin you’ll see guys like A-Rob, Jerry Jeudy, Gabe Davis, Brandin Cooks, DK Metcalf. Don’t be scared off by the QB either, let’s not forget, Wentz unlocked the potential of Michael Pittman and now look at the way people fawn after him. McClaurin is an elite route runner, and Wentz is an above average deep ball QB. Good pairing.
7.Amon-Ra St. Brown- Just watch Hard Knocks. You’ll get it. 90 catches as a rookie. No real competition for consistent targets and it took him a minute to get going last year. He’s a real candidate for 130 targets. Top 20 lock.
8.Darnell Mooney- I don’t really want a big piece of the Bears offense but he’s the only one I’m taking the plunge on. 10 games with double digit fantasy points, a ton of targets, he was top 12 in that department last year and this year there’s no Allen Robinson, so he might actually climb up the list. He’s a big play receiver too, so while the Bears are dull, he’s exciting.
9.Hunter Renfrow- Long forgotten member of the Raiders WR room. He’ll be running free this year with Davante Adams on the field, and Adams can’t get all the targets. Renfrow will be flex start worthy week 1.
10.Brandon Aiyuk- Right now he’s WR41, that’s ridiculous. I know we all got burned pretty hard last year, but now he’s priced properly, or cheap even. Trey Lance can uncork some passes and he looks to be a better deep threat than Deebo, so he could have a very specific role carved out.
11.James Cook- Now don’t overdraft James Cook but still keep him as a target. Keep this in mind, the Bills did not throw to their running backs last year…and while that doesn’t sound like an endorsement of Cook, who is primarily a receiving back…it actually is. Cook was drafted because they weren’t able to land JD McKissic in free-agency. Clearly, they want to change their offensive approach a bit. Cook will be used a lot.
12.Dameon Pierce- I don’t see any real competition standing in his way to be the #1 guy in Houston. So if you start your draft with a McCaffrey, Harris, JT…and then you load up at every other position. You can still find your RB2 in round 8.
13.Nyheim Hines- Jonathan Taylor out-touched all running backs in 2021, and you know the Colts want to preserve him a little bit better than they did last year, now he’ll be fine, because he’s hyper efficient with his touches, but I think that means more work for Hines. Plus, the obvious disaster scenario, which I will not even say out loud.
14.Gabe Davis- Now, this is one that the casual draft community caught on to a while back, so this is not a well kept secret, but Davis has the chance to be an absolute monster this year. He’s scored 13 touchdowns in his first 2 seasons, and that’s while he was the 4th or 5th option in the pass game. Now, he’s 2nd. If he doubles up his target total from 63 to 126…will his yards and TD’s double too? That would be 70+ catches, over 1k yards, and touchdowns into the teens. Those are Mike Evans numbers.
15. A Chiefs player- Get a cheap one. Get a share of this offense. We have no idea, outside of Travis Kelce, who is going to dominate targets. Mecole Hardman is cheap, Skyy Moore is relatively cheap, Isaiah Pacheco is practically free. Get one of these guys. It’s like buying a lotto ticket for a dollar at the gas station.