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My Guys: Pianow's target players for 2022 fantasy football drafts

No major preamble needed on this one. Here are the players I have notable convictions on for 2022 fantasy, be it because I’ve drafted them often or seek to do so later. These are My Guys for Fantasy Football 2022. I’ll batch them together by position and keep the explanations short. You don’t need 500 words per player; I know we live in a TL;DR world. Don’t bore us, get to the chorus.

Quarterback: Don't sweat the easiest position to solve

Quarterback is the most critical position in sports — and the least important fantasy field position. We have to mind that gap. I am more of a value shopper at this position, though I understand the desire to draft someone who has top-five finisher in their range of outcomes.

A few times Justin Herbert has slipped mildly off his ADP; I can take a vanity QB in those instances. The Chargers have difference-makers at every key part of the field. Russell Wilson is interesting to me in his getaway season; he’s getting an upgrade at the perfect time. Remember the 2020 spike Tom Brady had in Tampa Bay? Wilson can do similar things.

The value hound in me loves the ADP on Derek Carr (three dynamic pass-catchers; the Raiders could struggle to run the ball, too), and Kirk Cousins (offensive upgrade was much needed, and Justin Jefferson can drag anyone to greatness). Jared Goff is a late-round get for Superflex purposes, surrounded by good receivers and likely to play in plenty of pinball games.

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You can make an argument for so many quarterbacks, which underscores why it’s not an exciting position in fantasy. Every league I organize will be Superflex in nature, minding this depth. Three notable QBs I’m unlikely to draft: Josh Allen (ADP is too pricy), Aaron Rodgers (where is the downfield help? This has a Brady 2019 feel) and Trey Lance (I see his upside case, but others want to pay for him like he’s a sure thing).

Running Back: Chasing upside, trying to stay young

I grab Jonathan Taylor in a second at 1.01, mostly with a nod to his floor, but it’s not like he doesn’t offer upside. He just finished at RB1 after all. I’m encouraged by the fact that he’s never missed a practice or game since he began playing football.

Aaron Jones is a perfect second-round pick, the primary back in Green Bay. His receiving work has both floor and upside, as the Packers surely will center their offense around their two star running backs.

You have to bake in improvement if you want to land Javonte Williams; perhaps the Broncos won’t toss Melvin Gordon into a lesser role. But Williams is seven years younger, and that’s a monumental age gap at this position. I want to skate to where the puck might be headed. The phrase “league winner” is overused, but Williams deserves the tag of a potential league winner.

Javonte Williams #33 of the Denver Broncos has huge fantasy upside
Could Javonte Williams reach the fantasy potential we all expect from him? (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

Speed Round: I have drafted Darrell Henderson a few times, mostly because I don’t trust Cam Akers . . . Rashaad Penny was electric down the stretch last year and Ken Walker won’t be ready right away, coming off groin surgery . . . Kyle Shanahan has such a wandering eye at running back, you need to consider a speculative play. Jeff Wilson is my chip there, but there are several candidates . . . Follow the money in Miami, draft Chase Edmonds . . . The price is rising on Dameon Pierce, but I'll still consider him in the sixth round of sharper leagues. In more casual pools, you can likely wait another round or two. Pierce was sharp all summer, his competition is mild, and the Houston line isn't bad.

Wide Receiver: Top 20 at the position overloaded with talent

My most common roster build is one anchor running back surrounded by several “they play themselves” wide receivers. So I’ll be overweight on several of the wideouts in the top 20. If I can’t land Taylor, I’m perfectly content to scoop up Cooper Kupp (I’m not worried about the Matthew Stafford injury; Sean McVay's scheming gets so many layup targets for Kupp), Justin Jefferson (he could be on all the magazine covers next year), or Ja’Marr Chase (remember at LSU, he was seen as the generational star, not Jefferson). All of these guys are fun picks, and receivers are less likely to get hurt than running backs.

Everyone will miss the Aaron Rodgers to Davante Adams show, but Adams and Derek Carr lit up the sky at Fresno State, and should be fun in Vegas. CeeDee Lamb will get as many targets as he can handle in Dallas, and Dak Prescott is a plus quarterback. Mike Evans has lived in the end zone since Tom Brady arrived; that’s not going to change. And Brady is the type of quarterback who wants his receivers to hit their incentives.

The Michael Pittman bandwagon is overflowing, but save me a seat. His career has a tidy takeoff arc, like an airplane, and now it’s time for Year 3 and an improved quarterback. DJ Moore has been unlucky with touchdowns his entire career, but Baker Mayfield (when healthy) is an obvious upgrade over the sketchy QBs Moore has been tied to previously. Mike Williams outproduced Keenan Allen last year and still has the cheaper ADP. Not sure I understand that.

Bargain Hunting: Adam Thielen is the classic boring value vet. I never feel like I'm aggressively going after him, I just accept him when the rest of the room shrugs . . . Darnell Mooney is Chicago’s target hog and the coaching probably can’t be worse than it was last year . . . Hunter Renfrow fits perfectly into a Josh McDaniels offense, and he offers some of the boring shrug-value angle that I described with Thielen . . . Christian Kirk was paid to be Jacksonville’s No. 1 guy . . . I don’t see Allen Lazard breaking the game, but he should be Green Bay’s busiest downfield receiver . . . Brandon Aiyuk’s receiving stats were better than Deebo Samuel’s in the second half; we can’t ignore Deebo’s rushing juice, but Aiyuk is much more likely to pay off his ADP . . . Nico Collins looks set as Houston’s No. 2 receiver, and Davis Mills isn’t bad . . . Yes, I worship The Sun God. We can't unsee what Amon-Ra St. Brown did down the stretch in 2021. Jared Goff will never be great, but he's good enough. Better yet, Goff's skill set links directly to what St. Brown is good at.

Tight End: Lesser tiers still offer value

I’ll probably eschew the vanity tight ends, though it hurts to watch Kyle Pitts land on someone else’s roster. I’m open to shopping in the next tier, where Dalton Schultz has a secure role without an X on his back (thanks to CeeDee Lamb, breakout stud), and Dallas Goedert has efficiency metrics to die for.

Dropping a tier, Dawson Knox can win at all three levels and even if the Buffalo offense has some crowding issues, his touchdown rate might remain fairly stable. Cole Kmet was comically touchdown-unlucky last year, but the bogarting Jimmy Graham is gone, and Justin Fields might be ready to take a leap. If you want a boring 70 catches, Austin Hooper is needed to reprise his Atlanta role for the Titans and should fit nicely with Ryan Tannehill.

Defense: Focus on early season matchups

Nobody came here for a DST chat, but I’ll offer this brief hack: I like to look at the immediate schedule and throw everything else in the shredder. I’ll treat my defenses like cell phone burners, short-term rentals and soon discard after. The Broncos (at Seahawks, Texans) and Colts (at Texans, at Jaguars, though you wish these were home games) both have favorable early-season schedules; good enough for me.

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