2022 Fantasy Football Draft Number 1 Pick: Jonathan Taylor Is Our Experts’ Consensus Selection
Joshua Bessex/Getty Images. Pictured: Jonathan Taylor.
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The top of fantasy football drafts in 2022 features three players who mostly sit above the rest. Two are running backs, and one is a record-breaking wide receiver.
Jonathan Taylor and Christian McCaffrey are on their own levels at the top of the RB rankings (just ask Sean Koerner). Then there’s Cooper Kupp, who won plenty of people their fantasy leagues in early 2022.
Our staff of fantasy football writers is aligned with who should be the No. 1 pick, though. Check out their breakdowns below.
Jonathan Taylor should be the consensus 1.01 in 2022 drafts. Even though his receiving upside is limited, he makes up for it with his rushing production.
Many running backs below him in most rankings have seemingly taken steps backward, the likes of Christian McCaffrey, Derrick Henry, Ezekiel Elliott, Saquon Barkley and more. A big reason for that is injuries, which aren’t an issue for Taylor, who hasn’t missed a practice — not a game, not a game — in high school, college or the NFL. No one is truly injury proof, but Taylor has been so far.
He’s the clear No. 1 in drafts this year.
Taylor is the consensus No. 1 essentially everywhere for good reason.
The 23-year-old built off the momentum he had in the back half of his rookie season and tallied a whopping 1,811 rushing yards and 18 rushing touchdowns last season. He tallied 60 more points than Austin Ekeler — the second highest-scoring running back in 0.5-point PPR leagues — in Weeks 1-17.
Taylor benefitted from the Colts’ heavy reliance on the run game, which could decrease slightly with the upgrade in quarterback from Carson Wentz to Matt Ryan. That said, the team did not add any major competition in the backfield during free agency (most notable was Phillip Lindsay), and Taylor’s 5.5 yards per attempt (the second-highest among RBs last season) should mean he can be highly effective without a massive workload.
Taylor is the safest no-brainer pick in all one-quarterback leagues, regardless of scoring.
After averaging an impressive 97.8 scrimmage yards and 0.80 TDs as a rookie, Taylor left the stratosphere in Year 2 with a league leading 2,071 scrimmage yards and 20 TDs. In 33 career games his median for scrimmage yards is 110, and he scored at least one TD in 21, or 64%.
Taylor is set up well to continue to rack up yardage and TDs. The yardage should be there because the Colts have the third-easiest strength of schedule based on opposing win totals, which should allow for plenty of positive game script.
The scoring should be there because the Colts upgraded at quarterback from Carson Wentz to Matt Ryan after a season in which they were still seventh in red-zone opportunities per game. Of course, as with any outlier season, my model expects regression for Taylor, but I’m still projecting him for over 1,600 total yards and 13 TDs.
Even in full PPR formats, I would still give Taylor the nod over Christian McCaffrey. Taylor has now shown he can put up McCaffrey-like point totals and is the younger, more durable player. Taylor won’t turn 24 until January 2023 and has played in 32 of a possible 33 career games. McCaffrey is 26 and has played in 58 of a possible 81 games (72%).
Another alternative is a WR like Cooper Kupp or Justin Jefferson. While I have Taylor and Kupp neck-and-neck in projected PPR points, with Jefferson close as well, I already factor in the added injury risk.
Assuming a non-Superflex league, RB is also the more valuable position. With Taylor in tow, you can usually still snag two WR1s at the Round 2-3 turn.