We are getting closer to the opening of NFL training camps, which means many fantasy football players are starting to think seriously about the upcoming season.
In mid-June, the Fantasy Sports & Gaming Association (FSGA) officially kicked off the 2022 fantasy football season with its first experts draft of the year. At the FSGA Summer Conference in Detroit, 14 fantasy sports companies set out to compete in the FSGA Central Conference Experts League Draft.
These expert drafts are held early in an effort to give all fantasy players a good picture of what analysts are thinking in advance of the 2022 season. Reviewing these early drafts can provide a head start on planning for the upcoming campaign.
Representing The Game Day, I had the eighth overall pick. Where you draft should never be a significant concern, as a good fantasy football player can draft effectively from any spot in the order. Every draft will have its own unique flow, so you need to be ready to adjust on the fly.
All of the team representatives came well prepared for a June draft, so you can learn a lot from this first major industry experts draft of the 2022 season. Below, we share our insights on how we built our roster and how some other teams approached the draft.
FSGA Experts League Draft Results
You can view the full draft results below and listen to archived in-depth coverage of the draft any time on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio.
FSGA Experts League Rules
- Starting lineups consist of 1 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, 1 TE, 1 FLEX (RB/WR/TE), 1 K, and 1 DST.
- Each team is allowed six reserves.
- Standard PPR Scoring
- Six teams will reach the playoffs.
- Draft held on RTSports.com.
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The Game Day’s FSGA Draft Process and Results
Be ready for anything in the first round
Many fantasy players try to predict what will happen in the first round and who may fall to their draft slot. That often turns out to be a wasted exercise. Just be ready to take the top-rated player on your board when it is time to pick.
I did not expect the player ranked third on my board, Cooper Kupp, to fall to the No. 8 spot, but I was pleasantly surprised to see it happen.
Before the first round of every draft, I simply list the amount of top players that match my pick number. So I had eight players queued up for round one, and my worst-case scenario would have been to take Najee Harris, who was selected at No. 10.
Kupp cannot be expected to match last season’s historic totals, but even as his numbers slip a bit, his statistical floor will still be higher than the ceiling of most other receivers. He will be working in the same role with the same quarterback, as Kupp and Matthew Stafford will run it back for another big year.
Kupp is one of the safest picks in fantasy football to return superstar-level production once again.
Stay on running back and wide receiver targets
While some teams took quarterbacks as early as the second and third rounds, I always prefer to build out the core of my running back and wide receiver positions in the first six rounds or so. I can wait on a top 10 quarterback, as I was able to land Russell Wilson in the ninth round.
In the first seven rounds of most drafts, I usually target three running backs, three wide receivers, and a tight end, in no specific order. If I draft Mark Andrews or Travis Kelce, the tight end position may be filled in the earlier rounds, but going with Dallas Goedert in the seventh round was comfortable for me here.
When a league requires you to start three wide receivers and a flex, running backs naturally fly off the board early, but it is essential to load up at WR and RB. Leonard Fournette and David Montgomery were not the sexiest picks for me in rounds two and three, but they were solid selections.
I went for upside with Gabriel Davis in the fourth round, though, as I strongly believe he will have a breakout year as a big-play guy in a prolific passing offense. I filled out the RB/WR core with Jerry Jeudy, who can finally start to meet expectations playing with Wilson, and James Cook, who should be very busy as a receiving back for the aforementioned Buffalo passing attack.
I did not intend to pair Wilson with Jeudy or project two Bills to be in my starting lineup, but that is how it worked out.
Rookies can be good value picks
I came into this draft well-versed on the rookie class and drafted a few that could end up being impact performers, starting with Cook. He was my sixth-rounder, and I took first-year players with three of my next four picks.
Raiders running back Zamir White was one of my favorite selections in the eighth round. He could start threatening Josh Jacobs’ status atop the depth chart as soon as this year. In the 10th round, I nabbed Colts wide receiver Alec Pierce, who may quickly become the No. 2 WR for Matt Ryan.
In the 11th round, I took a shot on 49ers running back Tyrion Davis-Price. He should be a physical complement to Elijah Mitchell and a frequent goal-line option for San Francisco. In the 14th round, I took a flier on Bears wide receiver Velus Jones Jr., as he will have a shot to become a frequent contributor on a WR-needy team.
When it comes to drafting rookies, it is all about evaluating the possible opportunities on their respective teams in their first season, and the ones I drafted should have chances to play important roles in 2022.
Matchups matter when drafting defenses
Most fantasy players draft their defenses based on seasonal outlooks. But defensive units are constantly cut and added throughout the season, as we usually stream our defenses on a weekly basis based on matchups.
With that in mind, I tend to draft defenses that will have the best Week 1 or early-season matchups. My pick was Denver, which opens the season against Seattle and Houston. Also consider the 49ers, who open against the Bears and Seahawks. The Browns’ first four games are against the Panthers, Jets, Steelers, and Falcons.
These defenses are ranked much lower overall, but should be a strong consideration based on those matchups.
FSGA Experts League 2022 Draft Recap
The early flow
As always, running backs dominated the early selections, as seven were taken in the first 10 picks.
D’Andre Swift was a bit of a surprise, going to the Bettor Sports Network at No. 9. In experts and high-stakes drafts, though, competitors will often make bold moves to try and get an edge on the opposition.
Study up for your fantasy football drafts:
Ja’Marr Chase being picked ahead of Justin Jefferson and Kupp by Fanjections can be considered another aggressive move. But after a 1,455-yard, 13-TD rookie year, it would not be shocking to see him finish as the No. 1 fantasy wide receiver this season.
Kelce was taken by Fantasy Alarm at the end of the first round, while Andrews, who overtook Kelce as the No. 1 TE in fantasy football last season, was picked 11 spots later. With Tyreek Hill no longer in Kansas City, Kelce could prove worthy of being taken over Andrews.
CeeDee Lamb, a second-round selection of Spotlight Sports Group, was the seventh wide receiver off the board. He should be worthy of a lofty selection as the clear No. 1 WR for Dallas.
Overall, 14 running backs and 11 wide receivers were selected by the end of the second round.
Veering away from the pack
Only two teams waited until after the second round to pick their first running back. The “Zero RB” theory was not executed by most of the experts in this draft.
Picking from the seventh slot, The Action Network took Justin Jefferson and A.J. Brown to open the draft, walking away with a stellar WR duo. Plus, they added Terry McLaurin as a third WR in the fourth round for a clear advantage at that position. The trade-off, however, was going with Travis Etienne and Chase Edmonds as the top two RBs on the team, along with Clyde Edwards-Helaire as a third option.
Working from the 13th slot, NBC Sports Edge did not pick a running back until the fourth round. They started off with a terrific pairing of Deebo Samuel and Stefon Diggs at wide receiver. Then, they took Darren Waller in the third round. The top two RBs drafted by that team were Elijah Mitchell in the fourth round and Miles Sanders in the fifth.
Our favorite picks from other teams
OwnersBox picked JuJu Smith-Schuster in the sixth round. He caught 97 passes and scored nine touchdowns just two years ago and now will be the No. 1 wide receiver for Patrick Mahomes.
Rotowire’s selection of Kenneth Gainwell in Round 11 could turn out to be a prime value pick. He is versatile and has the potential to be the most productive Eagles running back this season.
Bettor Sports Network made a nifty selection in Round 12, taking Marlon Mack as a quality bargain target. Mack could be primed to reclaim respectability as the lead running back for Houston.
Spotlight Sports Group will get a nice return on their fifth-round pick, Allen Robinson, who should exceed some expectations in his first year working with Matthew Stafford.
Big Guy Fantasy Sports tabbed Allen Lazard in the eighth round. As the projected No. 1 wideout for Aaron Rodgers, he can provide a strong return for a mid-round pick.
NBC Sports Edge took Trey Lance in the ninth round. With his rushing abilities and quality pass-catchers, he could be an exciting fantasy player in his first projected season as starter.