Fantasy Football Mock Drafts: Drafting for 2022, Ignoring 2021


We’re all subject to recency bias, in life as in fantasy football. If you remember this time a year ago, Ja’Marr Chase was falling down draft boards as a result of his supposed stone hands, while Marquez Callaway was skyrocketing because of a shallow depth chart and an impressive preseason. That led to this poll:


Yes, Chase still won that poll, but the fact that it was even close looked fairly incredible (and ridiculous) within only a few weeks. And that recency bias applies on a broader scale as well — if all you know about two players is that each has a top-10 season in the last two years, with one doing it in 2021 and the other in 2020, you will take the 2021 top-10 finisher 100 times out of 100. Obviously, with only that information, you’d be right to do so, but the point is that even with further context, the 2021 finisher will almost always have a higher ADP.

Should that always be true?

Drafting for 2022, Ignoring 2021

I run this exercise most seasons, because it’s useful as a thought exercise if nothing else: What would happen if you drafted for 2022 while completely ignoring 2021? That’s what I did — I grabbed 2021 average draft position and joined a 2022 mock draft and followed it with (almost) none of my own input. The only modifications I allowed myself were:

  • Rookies: Obviously, 2022 rookies weren’t in last year’s ADP, so I allowed myself to insert the Breece Hall/Drake London/etc. types into my draft pool wherever I felt they were needed. (I actually took no rookies, but I was allowed to.)
  • Retirements/injuries/suspensions: Following ADP religiously would have meant drafting Chris Carson, Calvin Ridley and others, and obviously that’s not really in the spirit of the exercise. I was allowed to skip them.
  • Positional need: Had I followed the 2021 ADP religiously, I’d have taken a lot of running backs before my first receiver. So I was allowed to move down to the top player at whatever position I needed next.

Other than that, my brain wasn’t necessary for this exercise. Put the ADP in order and follow it. Is my team usable? Let’s see.

The Roster

Here is the roster I ended up with in a 12-team PPR mock:

Picks By Round   Picks By Position
1.01 Christian McCaffrey RB CAR QB Kyler Murray ARZ
2.12 Ezekiel Elliott RB DAL QB Justin Fields CHI
3.01 DK Metcalf WR SEA RB Christian McCaffrey CAR
4.12 Darren Waller TE LV RB Ezekiel Elliott DAL
5.01 Allen Robinson WR LAR RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire KC
6.12 Kyler Murray QB ARZ RB Darrell Henderson LAR
7.01 Clyde Edwards-Helaire RB KC RB Myles Gaskin MIA
8.12 DeAndre Hopkins WR ARZ WR DK Metcalf SEA
9.01 Robert Woods WR TEN WR Allen Robinson LAR
10.12 Noah Fant TE SEA WR DeAndre Hopkins ARZ
11.01 Darrell Henderson RB LAR WR Robert Woods TEN
12.12 Robbie Anderson WR CAR WR Robbie Anderson CAR
13.03 Justin Fields QB CHI TE Darren Waller LV
14.12 Myles Gaskin RB MIA TE Noah Fant SEA

I normally wouldn’t take two quarterbacks and two tight ends, but for this exercise it makes things more interesting. Let’s look position by position:


Kyler Murray, Arizona Cardinals (Pick 6.12)
Justin Fields, Chicago Bears (Pick 13.01)

Murray’s stock hasn’t changed significantly from a year ago — he was QB3 in last year’s ADP and is QB6 now, but that’s at least as much a testament to rises from guys like Justin Herbert and Joe Burrow than any slide from Murray.

Fields was a popular pick in an “Imagine how he’ll be when he does get the job” sense a year ago (QB15), only when he did get the job things were only so-so at best. Now he’s QB19.

I can’t imagine anyone complaining about having this duo in fantasy in 2022, so we’re calling this a win.

Running Back

Christian McCaffrey, Carolina Panthers (Pick 1.01)
Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys (Pick 2.12)
Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Kansas City Chiefs (Pick 7.01)
Darrell Henderson, Los Angeles Rams (Pick 11.01)
Myles Gaskin, Miami Dolphins (Pick 14.12)

<img src="" alt="

McCaffrey would be my 1.01 in fantasy drafts this year just like a year ago. Even those who disagree mostly still have him no worse than fourth or fifth, so that one’s solid.

Elliott had his worst year as an NFL player in 2021 and still finished as the RB7 despite a partially torn PCL. He looked more than fine before the injury, has had an offseason to get back to 100%, and suddenly his team has very few receiving options. I have no complaints with him as my RB2.

Edwards-Helaire has been a disappointment in his career so far, but with the Chiefs not going crazy to replace him this offseason and an elite offensive line to run behind, he still has plenty of upside.

Henderson slides from the No. 1 back in his offense to the No. 2 behind the returning Cam Akers. We haven’t seen proof Akers is back to his old self from his Achilles tear, so I have no complaints grabbing Henderson’s upside in the 11th round, but we can’t exactly call this a perfect pick.

Gaskin … is one of the ways this exercise fails. He’s gone from the No. 1 in his backfield to the No. 4 at best, with Chase Edmonds, Raheem Mostert and Sony Michel all landing in Miami this offseason. It’s hard to imagine a scenario where he’s useful in fantasy in 2022.

Gaskin’s obviously basically a wasted pick, but otherwise, I don’t see how you can complain with these results for fantasy in 2022.


Wide Receiver

DK Metcalf, Seattle Seahawks (Pick 3.01)
Allen Robinson, Los Angeles Rams (Pick 5.01)
DeAndre Hopkins, Arizona Cardinals (Pick 8.12)
Robert Woods, Tennessee Titans (Pick 9.01)
Robbie Anderson, Carolina Panthers (Pick 12.12)

For as relatively exciting my quarterbacks and running backs are, my receiver room is much more questionable. There’s a scenario where I have two borderline WR1s for the first six weeks of the season and then three when Hopkins returns from suspension, but everyone here has hangups:

  • Metcalf has either Geno Smith or Drew Lock as his quarterback.
  • Robinson is coming off a miserable season and is now his team’s No. 2 option.
  • Hopkins had his least efficient and most injured season and will miss the first six weeks.
  • Woods is coming off a midseason ACL tear and is on a run-first offense.
  • Anderson could scarcely have been worse in 2022.

I’m not mad at this grouping, but there are serious caveats for all five. It’s the most boom/bust group on my roster.

Tight End

Darren Waller, Las Vegas Raiders (Pick 4.12)
Noah Fant, Seattle Seahawks (Pick 10.12)

Waller had risen as high as TE2 a year ago, but after an injury-plagued year and breakouts from Mark Andrews and Kyle Pitts, and with Davante Adams now in Las Vegas, he’s fallen to TE5 by ADP. That’s still borderline top tier though, so grabbing him as my TE1 is very solid. And then there’s Fant, who like the aforementioned Metcalf is in a bit of QB purgatory, but he’s got all the skill to be a breakout player.


Obviously, you don’t want to ignore what happened last year when you hold your draft. I would never get someone like Ja’Marr Chase, Cooper Kupp or Deebo Samuel in this exercise. But look at that roster above. That’s my roster for 2022 that was done despite knowing essentially nothing about the 18 weeks we saw a year ago. And it’s good. In fact, it’s very good. If I played out a season with that roster, I would expect to make the playoffs and contend.

Don’t ignore 2021 on draft day. But don’t ignore what came before it, either.

Previous Groovin’ with Govier: Fantasy Baseball Roundup (8/15) Next Running Back Handcuff Strategy for 2022 Fantasy Football