Daigle's Targets: 21 Players I Want in Every Fantasy Football Draft

Aug 30, 2022
Daigle's Targets: 21 Players I Want in Every Fantasy Football Draft

The player taeks will come, as they have all offseason. I wanted to discuss five thoughts on fantasy football drafts and the offseason before diving in.

It has never been more viable to anchor your lineups with at least one RB in the first two rounds.

Albeit a fragile position, running backs have accounted for 60% of the top-five finishers in PPR points per game over the last decade. The elite tier of wide receivers in the first round (Cooper Kupp, Justin Jefferson, Ja’Marr Chase, Stefon Diggs, Davante Adams) are admittedly tantalizing and rich enough to pair alongside an anchor RB1 with your ensuing selection, but it’s concerning that the WR3-6 in ADP varies person to person; in the last three days alone, all of Diggs, Adams, and CeeDee Lamb have had their names called by pick 1.10 and, in other cases, plummeted anywhere from pick 2.5-2.8 (per Fantasy Mojo ADP).

Since Lamb in particular is widely available in the second round of home leagues, a realistic (and ideal) start from any late position is to open with Dalvin Cook/Saquon Barkley/D’Andre Swift and swoop up the former on the turn. Of course, any combination of the top-five wideouts plus Lamb becomes a viable strategy in leagues that require three starting wideouts (and FLEX options). RB-RB remains my preferred open for 2-WR leagues since…

There has never been a better year to let your opponents make mistakes.

Ask the person next to you to rank WR7-30. I’ll wait. What you’ll soon discover is that they either don’t know what the hell you’re talking about or that their answer is completely different than what you’ve heard elsewhere.

We spend all offseason debating fractional differences we’ll never project correctly only to lose sight of what’s important: the names change, but the strategies don't.

You don’t even have to squint to spot at least one red flag with every wideout being prioritized from the second round on:

Deebo Samuel is unlikely to continue averaging one touchdown for every 9.5 carries.

Mike Evans’ fantasy production has hinged on 13 and 14 touchdowns on less than 7.5 targets per game the last two seasons.

Tyreek Hill is fresh off a career-low in Yards Per Route Run in an outright better offensive environment.

A.J. Brown has more target competition than ever before in a run-first attack.

Tee Higgins is the No. 2 receiver from a quarterback we expect to regress.

And that’s only a few. The list goes on. And since that is the case, we should allow our opponents to use their hubris in projecting this Pacific-Ocean Tier while we soak up the leftovers knowing those players could easily outperform any plucked first.

Allen Robinson, whose ADP in home leagues is caked in recency bias, could out-score Deebo. D.J. Moore could have a better year than Higgins. And Amon-Ra St. Brown, who already proved he has a top-10 ceiling as an every-down player, could usurp Evans. This is why RB-RB and anchor builds have never been more viable — we are allowing our league mates to pretend as if they can make better predictions than the market.

Patrick Mahomes in the 6th?!” will define fantasy football in 2022.

That’s the common sentiment in 1-QB redraft leagues when Mahomes falls to the sixth round, which he frequently does. But I’m on an island in believing he should be there since that range is where I am trying to avoid straying from elite ceilings at RB/WR for the most replaceable onesie position in football.

From a micro perspective, Mahomes responded to an increase in two-high safeties opposite him with 18.8 points per game and only three top-five finishes from Week 7 on; his lone overall QB1-performance (Week 10) during that latter stretch occurred against Gus Bradley’s Raiders which stubbornly schemed zero defensive snaps with two high safeties. The macro argument entails Kyler Murray, Jalen Hurts, and Trey Lance — all of who have overall QB1 in their range of outcomes — still being on the board from the late-seventh on, which would then allow us to draft an RB/WR with Mahomes’ capital.

There are situations where that scenario becomes less valid, including a team from the middle position concertedly stacking Travis Kelce and JuJu Smith-Schuster in the first five rounds — an ordinary strategy in large-field high-stakes leagues — or if every skill player we perceive to have upside in that range are already off the board. In 12-team formats, however, where I’m only required to start a single QB weekly, I truly believe averting strategy for Mahomes in the sixth will prove more costly than not.

The dead zones have never been more dead.

Dameon Pierce certainly impressed during his limited preseason reps, forcing four missed tackles on only 11 carries across two games, but let’s be honest: he’s a byproduct of the RB Dead Zone never being more dead.

Much like stocks, ADPs move up and down frequently. And what we’ve experienced throughout the summer is J.K. Dobbins, A.J. Dillon, and Pierce getting pushed up in pricing, not for their talent, but because no one wants to be the person who selects David Montgomery, Josh Jacobs, or Antonio Gibson. “Sell until you sleep” doesn’t compute since there is no resting after we’ve drafted players in higher ranges for the blemishes of others.

The same goes for tight end, which has resulted in T.J. Hockenson being treated as if he’s worth a seventh-round investment, and surrounding touchdown-or-bust options — Cole Kmet, Pat Freiermuth, Hunter Henry — being selected over ceiling darts (Rachaad White, Isaiah McKenzie, Michael Carter, D.J. Chark, etc.). Reminder if you’re waiting on touchdowns at the tight-end position, truly wait on touchdowns at the TE position.

Be kind to yourself.

I’ve been transparent about my mental well-being dating back to the pandemic lockdown in Stamford and have since improved dramatically. A few months ago, though, my world was shattered. But the event that resulted in endless depression at first forced me to seek help in a way that sparked my internal renaissance. Turns out any adventures and external resources are fleeting, whereas learning how to be kind to ourselves is not.

I used to value myself entirely on what I had accomplished; the next goal then determined my worth. Imagine going through life thinking as much, prioritizing the next achievement on your list as opposed to yourself … ever. And I admittedly didn’t understand why that was wrong when I first sought help. Neglecting myself? I thought. The external activities, if you had asked me then, compensated. I ran five more miles than I did yesterday! How am I neglecting myself?!

But after months of long nights, self-work, and progress that never occurred step-by-step so much as it did inch-by-inch, I’m slowly beginning to learn.

I now find myself whispering Is this enough? more often, and forgiving myself when it isn’t.

I try and return to a centering thought that answers the big-picture anxiety I’m fretting about rather than allowing rogue thoughts to spiral.

I have never been more vulnerable around friends.

I check-in. Often.

I am grateful.

The emotional highs and lows still occur, as they do for everyone, and I am still learning how to just ‘be’ instead of battling. But I have slowed down dramatically to recognize what is happening, and am discovering that being content does not mean that I'm giving up — quite the opposite. Because not knowing is knowing. And I wonder if this is something some of you could be going through now.

Reach out if you've been dealing with similar thoughts.

These are the players and structural situations I’m targeting in season-long fantasy drafts this year:

Dalvin Cook, RB - Vikings

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