10 to Avoid in the First 5 Rounds of 2022 Fantasy Drafts


Identifying good players in fantasy football is only half the battle. In order to truly gain an edge against your opposition you need to understand how to find value. One of the best ways to pull this off is by identifying players that you value noticeably above or below consensus. 

Below I’ll identify 10 players who I’m avoiding based on their current value according to current ADP. 


Round 1

Christian McCaffrey, RB, Carolina Panthers

(Current ADP: RB4, 1.05 overall)

Not long ago, Christian McCaffrey was fantasy football’s biggest cheat code, seemingly a lock to put up 25-plus points every single week. But unfortunately McCaffrey’s last two seasons have been marked with disappointment.

It’s fun to daydream about McCaffrey once again putting up massive points week in and week out, but it’s been two years since he’s been able to see the field consistently. He’s been great when he’s suited up, but he played just seven games last year, three in 2020. In the early first round of fantasy drafts, I want someone dependable who possesses as little risk as possible. In 2022, I’m happy to let someone else chase McCaffrey’s past performances while I look elsewhere with my first-round selection.

Joe Mixon, RB, Cincinnati Bengals

(RB7, 1.11 overall)

Joe Mixon 10 to Avoid in First 5 Rounds Fantasy Football

I understand the appeal with Joe Mixon. He’s the clear RB1 on a Bengals offense that erupted onto the scene last year, and there’s no indication that the offense will be slowing down any time soon.

The problem with Mixon is his workload. He started every game for Cincinnati last year other than a meaningless Week 18 when the Bengals rested their starters. Because Cincinnati made it to the Super Bowl, Mixon’s season was longer than normal, and his workload was particularly high. He started 20 games, ran the ball 359 times, and caught 60 passes for a grand total of 419 touches. This workload was awesome for his 2021 production, but it should be a warning sign entering 2022.

While the Curse of 370 may be a bit outdated, there’s no denying heavy workloads lead to rapid declines at the running back position. The shelf life of an NFL running back is pretty short, and Mixon – who’s no stranger to injuries – will be 26 at the start of season. When you combine the age, workload and injury history, there are too many signs pointing toward a disappointing 2022 for Joe Mixon. I hope for his sake I’m wrong here, but at his current price tag he’s not a risk I’m willing to take.

Round 2

Tyreek Hill, WR, Miami Dolphins

(WR7, 2.15 overall)

I love Tyreek Hill the player, but there are too many red flags to justify taking him in the early-to-mid second round of fantasy drafts. The move to Miami should be great for Tua Tagovailoa and the Dolphins offense, but I don’t see a world where it’s an improvement for Hill’s fantasy output. He’s getting a clear downgrade at quarterback, will face stiff target competition with Jaylen Waddle, and will be operating in an unproven offense that’s orchestrated by a first-year head coach who has no playcalling experience. 

The change in scenery could be enough to scare away some fantasy managers, but Hill’s numbers down the stretch in 2021 are even more frightening. Following Kansas City’s Week 12 bye, Hill finished the fantasy season by eclipsing double-digit points in 0.5 PPR just once in Weeks 13-17. It’s very possible this is a blip on the radar, but considering the Chiefs were willing to let him leave the building this offseason, it’s possible the decline is coming. Hill just turned 28, and it’s not unreasonable to expect a rapid decline from a player whose game is built around being an explosive athlete.

Josh Allen, QB, Buffalo Bills

(QB1, 2.24 overall)

This is one is a philosophical stayaway more than an aversion to Josh Allen the player. Allen was the overall QB1 in fantasy last year, and he’ll have every chance to repeat that performance again in 2021. Even with that in mind, I want no part of drafting any quarterback at the end of the second round.

Last year, Allen averaged 22.6 fantasy points per game. The week-in, week-out production was awesome, and he’s a near-lock to post elite numbers once again this season. However, the reason I’m avoiding Allen is because there were seven quarterbacks who averaged at least 20 PPG last season. The allure of the sure thing you get when drafting Allen is nice, but in my eyes it’s not worth the cost it takes to acquire him. I’d much rather take a flier on a guy like Jalen Hurts (ADP of 72), Tom Brady (89) or Derek Carr (110) in the later rounds and spend my premium picks on positions that are harder to lock down later in drafts.


Round 3

Cam Akers, RB, Los Angeles Rams

(RB13, 3.25 overall)

After tearing his Achilles last offseason, it was a miracle Cam Akers was able to play at all during the tail end of 2021. Unfortunately, the young running back’s performance upon return was far from miraculous. He played in all four of the Rams’ playoff games — an encouraging sign — but he managed just 2.6 yards per carry and fumbled the rock two times in the process.

I understand the hype around Akers. He should be the No. 1 back on a Super Bowl-winning offense coached by Sean McVay. Envisioning him becoming McVay’s next Todd Gurley is a tantalizing thought. But even with his sky-high upside, the risk Akers brings to the table is too much at his current cost. 

We’ve never seen a running back return from an Achilles injury and post elite numbers for fantasy football. It’d be a great sign for Rams fans and fantasy managers alike if Akers winds up being an outlier from an injury perspective, but betting on outliers isn’t a strategy I’m interested in during the third round. 

Antonio Gibson, RB, Washington Commanders

(RB14, 3.26 overall)

Antonio Gibson 10 to Avoid in First 5 Rounds Fantasy Football

My reasons for avoiding Antonio Gibson are the exact opposite of why I’m avoiding Akers. Gibson’s proven on numerous occasions that he can be a solid contributor in the Washington offense, but numerous moves made by the franchise this offseason have me questioning his upside.

During free agency the Commanders brought back J.D. McKissic, a cause of much frustration for Gibson’s fantasy managers last year. They then followed up this move by spending a Day 2 pick on bruising Alabama RB Brian Robinson, only strengthening the narrative that Washington wants to trend towards a committee approach in the backfield. 

Luckily, by all accounts Gibson should be the clear-cut No. 1 in that committee, so he should at least possess a solid floor. If I’m spending a Round Three pick on a player in an uninspiring offense though, I’d want the path toward high volume to be a little clearer.

Round 4

Darren Waller, TE, Las Vegas Raiders

(TE5, 4.37 overall)

Darren Waller missed a handful of games due to injury last year, but he still posted a respectable 9.6 PPG in the games where he suited up. He was one of the only viable options in the Las Vegas passing game last year, but that’ll no longer be the case with Davante Adams now suiting up for the silver and black.

Waller and Derek Carr seemingly have good chemistry with one another, so Adams’ presence shouldn’t completely erase Waller from the Raiders’ game plans. However, there’s no denying that his situation got worse and a decreased number of targets seems likely. Because the tight end position is so frustrating, it’s easy to talk yourself into Waller at his current price tag. If I’m investing an early pick in a tight end though, I’d prefer someone with a less ambiguous situation.

DK Metcalf, WR, Seattle Seahawks

(WR18, 4.48 overall)

While I love DK Metcalf as a talent, the Seahawks passing game is something I want no part of in 2022. Neither Drew Lock nor Geno Smith inspires reason for optimism at the quarterback position, and head coach Pete Carroll wants to trend toward more of a run-first offense. If there are a small number of targets to go around and the quality of those targets is poor as well, sometimes the best option is simply to pass on the group altogether.

Metcalf possesses the talent to post a few matchup-winning weeks on his own. He’s a physical specimen that can take the ball to the house on any given play, but those matchup-winning weeks will likely be hard to predict. There are going to be plenty of weeks this year where Seattle struggles to move the ball offensively, and Metcalf’s fantasy production will likely mirror those struggles more often than fantasy managers would like.


Round 5

Michael Thomas, WR, New Orleans Saints

(WR20, 5.52 overall)

Much like McCaffrey, it’s been quite some time since we’ve seen a fantasy-relevant season from Michael Thomas. He missed all of 2021 due to injury, played just nine games in 2020, and hasn’t eclipsed the 20-point mark in a game since 2019. Since Thomas last hit that 20-point mark, the Saints have lost a Hall of Fame head coach and quarterback, brought in increased target competition and trended toward being more of a run-centric offense.

Round 5 is right around the time where swinging for the fences becomes more appropriate, but there are simply too many questions surrounding Thomas for me to feel comfortable with the risk. It’ll be a tough uphill battle for Thomas to achieve WR1 status again in fantasy football, yet the odds of him being a complete non-factor for your fantasy team still feel pretty high. There are plenty of other wide receivers and running backs available at this point in the draft who I’d rather take a chance on.

T.J. Hockenson, TE, Detroit Lions

(TE6, 5.56 overall)

TJ Hockenson 10 to Avoid in First 5 Rounds Fantasy Football

T.J. Hockenson was last year’s trendy breakout pick at the tight end position, and the primary reason was because he was one of the only mouths to feed in Detroit. Despite the lack of competition for targets, Hockenson finished outside the top 10 at the tight end position (injuries were a factor here) and left fantasy managers wanting a little more.

This year, the Lions aggressively revamped their group of skill position players, yet the fantasy community still seems to view Hockenson as the only game in town. Amon-Ra St. Brown emerged as a legitimate weapon last year, and offseason additions DJ Chark and Jameson Williams mean the Lions are going to have a few more mouths to feed in the passing game this year. Hockenson’s a talented player who may be able to stand out in a suddenly exciting group of pass catchers, but his situation definitely got worse in 2022, and his current price tag doesn’t reflect that.

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