Fantasy Football Draft Strategy 2022 - Draft Strategy from the 2nd Spot in a 12-Team Non-PPR League

Austin Ekeler Los Angeles Chargers

Draft Strategy from the 2nd Spot in a 12-Team Non-PPR League (2022)

Playing in non-PPR leagues slightly devalues the wide receiver and can destroy pass-catching running back’s values. This inherently increases the significance of landing a workhorse running back early and often. Since all that matters in non-PPR leagues are yards and touchdowns, this also devalues multi-purpose running backs such as Austin Ekeler as he will need to repeat his career year in touchdowns (20) if he will finish as a top running back once again - he just does not receive the number of carries required to finish up high. On the other hand, non-pass-catching running backs like Derrick Henry get a boost. Henry is undoubtedly the workhorse running back on the Titans who, when healthy, can consistently push for the rushing title and is all but a lock for 8-10 rushing touchdowns at a minimum. We are not going to push Ekeler too far down our non-PPR rankings but Henry does find himself above him due to the heavy running volume.

When selecting later in drafts you won’t have the luxury to add an RB2 on your team who is a one-dimensional pass-catcher such as J.D. McKissic or James White in recent years or this year’s rookie James Cook. Adding them won’t have the same effect as if you were in a half or full-PPR league. Last week I completed a draft from the 1st spot in a half-PPR league where the backup RBs who could catch was selected a bit higher than in this draft.  At the end of each week, those RBs are not going to have much value if they are not punching one into the end zone and therefore become very risky plays. For this reason, I usually like loading up on a few running backs within the first 5 rounds to ensure I have a good running back group. Take a look at the ADP for non-PPR leagues to see how this compares to half or full-PPR leagues.

With the wide receivers, I don’t want to load up on them too soon until I land a couple of decent running backs. Even in a league that has a couple of flex positions, there is no real benefit to rostering a WR in that spot unless the alternative is a backup running back likely to not see much work that week. Some WRs are notorious for getting 40 yards a game and 8 catches - while this is a nice baseline, in full-PPR leagues he scores 12 points, whereas in non-PPR leagues that score is reduced to 4. In non-PPR leagues, draft the best player overall since you don’t need to worry about the point total you’d be receiving from an extra couple of catches per game.

Let’s review a recent draft I completed with a run down on how the draft went by the first few rounds in addition to some commentary about why I chose who I did and any mistakes that were made along the way. I drafted based on the following league starter requirements: 1 QB, 2 RB, 2 WR, 1 Flex, and 1 TE. Kicker and defense will be left out of the discussion as they should be the last two picks of the draft.

Round One - Lock in Your RB 1

Since Jonathan Taylor was off the board first, Christian McCaffrey was the pick. Even though I would select CMC first in a half-PPR league over Jonathan Taylor due to his overall upside, I would give Taylor the nod over him in a non-PPR league. Easy pick, onto round two.

Round Two - Best Player Available

A ton of RBs go off the board in the first 22 picks and we now are faced with choosing the best player available - more often than not RB or WR. We could take Mark Andrews but I didn’t want to select an early TE in this draft. That left me with Tyreek Hill and Mike Evans at WR, and Leonard Fournette or Cam Akers at RB. Chris Godwin did not get placed on the training camp PUP which appears positive for his overall look. And, at the time of writing this, the Bucs just signed Julio Jones to a small 1-year deal. Mike Evans might have more competition than originally thought. I took Tyreek Hill with the pick as he’s an explosive playmaker that does not rely on a ton of catches per game to make a fantasy impact. He’s going to get a lot of underneath work and is going to be a YAC monster once again under Mike McDaniel.

Round Three - Early Tight End?

Mark Andrews was not selected by Team 1 and we are now faced with a choice - early TE, or add to our running back or wide receiver depth. With this being a non-PPR league, I opted to add another running back in Cam Akers. He’s coming off a remarkable recovery from his injury and the Rams trusted him right away, including in the Super Bowl, where he was given the majority of RB touches (even though that didn’t amount to much at the time). Being the RB in the Rams’ offense has been valuable and Akers is that much more removed from the injury and has been able to prepare for the season ahead.

Round Four - Running Backs > Wide Receivers

In round 4 I wanted to draft another running back since I was not confident that Breece Hall would make it back to me if I selected D.J. Moore in round four. I’m happy with the pick as Team 1 chose two running backs after my selection. Hall is going to see a ton of volume in the Jets’ offense and has little chance to lose the role. Team 1 was forced to take A.J. Dillon with his round 5 pick which isn’t as great as it is in a half or full-PPR league. Hall should be able to scoop up most of the TDs on the ground this year and should be able to get near 950-1,000 yards (or more) if all goes well - he’s that good!

Rounds Five & Six - Time for WR Depth

After having selected 3 RBs in the first 4 rounds it was time to load up on a couple of WRs. Luckily, I had great value fall to me in the 5th and 6th rounds in D.J. Moore and Brandin Cooks. Both are WR1s on their respective teams and are both underrated receivers in general. Both receivers should be able to surpass 1,000 yards and a handful of touchdowns - with upside for a lot more. In the 5th and 6th round, as my WR2 and an option as a flex play, I will gladly take that.

Rounds Seven & Eight - Best Players Available

The team now sits at 3 a piece for the RBs and WRs. Usually, in the middle rounds, I will try to take the best player available from here on out until we take a QB and TE. I just missed out on Courtland Sutton as my WR4 and so I selected Gabriel Davis as my consolation prize. Davis has a lot of upside as the WR2 in Buffalo as we know he ended the season against Kansas City with a ridiculous 4-touchdown game. While we won’t get this every week, he’s a great flex play on any given week and provides depth. With my next pick, I wanted Rhamondre Stevenson but knew Team 1 already had 4 RBs - I was hoping he wouldn’t take an RB in the next couple of picks and went with JuJu Smith-Schuster. JuJu will play from the slot and should be able to rack up a ton of yardage with Patrick Mahomes, on a team that is desperately looking for its new WR1.

Rounds Nine & Ten - RB Depth and Finally a TE

In the 9th round, I was glad to see Rhamondre Stevenson made it past Team 1 and gladly scooped him up. He’s a player I like to target in these later rounds as it seems like James White’s injury isn’t fully healed and Damien Harris is a couple of fumbles away from losing his job. Stevenson is a pass-catching threat so he doesn’t receive the benefit of the added 0.5 or 1 point per reception. In the 10th I finally went with Zach Ertz as he should be the main target receiver for the Cardinals during Hopkins’ 6-game absence to start the year. Even when he returns, Ertz has constantly commanded targets, plus, during the 6 games, he will be a top-10 TE and you can always look for a replacement if one pops up on the waiver wire.

Rounds Eleven to Thirteen - Late-Round QB Fail and More RB Depth

I usually like to pick a late-round QB, but I did have trouble landing one I loved. I picked Tua and Watson in back-to-back picks which isn’t the worst selection, but I generally don’t love drafting 2 QBs if I can avoid it. Four teams drafted 2 QBs and one team drafted 3 QBs - you should know what your league-mates like to do, and if you’re in a similar spot, take your QB earlier than I did. For my last positional player before selecting DST and K, I took a swing on Isaiah Spiller from the Chargers. He’s on a top-5 scoring offense and we know that Austin Ekeler doesn’t play 65-70% of the snaps. There is always another running back that gets some meaningful work and if somehow there is an injury, he’s likely to be in for most of the work.

Compare how this draft unfolded versus how strategizing would work drafting from the 6th spot in a 12-team, non-PPR league . Every draft spot has its perks and unique set of challenges when it comes to deciding between a group of players. Completing multiple drafts from different starting positions will set you up for success if you don’t receive your draft position until an hour before the draft.

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