While the NFL remains on hiatus, fantasy football builds as managers begin preparations for the 2022 season by testing their draft strategy with PPR mock drafts. While we patiently wait for football to return to the field, here’s a mid-July 2-round fantasy football mock with PPR scoring.

For reference, this mock was run in a 1QB/2RB/2WR/TE/Flex roster format with a 10-team league.

1.01) Jonathan Taylor, Indianapolis Colts (RB1)

There is a clear 1.01 pick in 2022 fantasy drafts and that is RB Jonathan Taylor. RB1 of 2021, after which Taylor finished second Naji Harris (381) in touchdowns with 372 (21.9 per game). Rushing an astounding 332 times, Taylor rushed for 1,811 yards on the ground (5.5 YD), surpassing Nick Chubb under No. 2 for 552 yards. Taylor found the end zone 18 times thanks to his league-leading 85 carries in the red zone.

While the bulk of his work comes in the rush, Taylor also does a lot of passing, which further increases his value. Indianapolis should be a competitive team with a new QB in Matt Ryan. Barring injury, which is a caution for all players, Taylor will be right next to Henry for the league lead in touches and opportunities. He is both the RB1 in our rankings and coming off the board first in 2022 PPR fantasy football drafts.

1.02) Christian McCaffrey, Carolina Panthers (RB2)

Should choose or not Christian McCaffrey second overall comes down to one simple question: do you believe McCaffrey plays in 15+ games? If so, there’s no reason for McCaffrey to slide in drafts or go later than 1.02.

Since 2018, McCaffrey has averaged 25.6 ppg in 90% of his games, finishing as an RB2 or better. In 2021, he scored more than 24 points in four of six games. He is a modern-day LaDainian Tomlinson. The recent acquisition of Baker Mayfield will be the best QB he has ever played with. When healthy, no running back can reach McCaffrey’s ceiling in PPR, as he will be a threat if he doesn’t surpass 100 targets.

1.03) Cooper Kupp, Los Angeles Rams (WR1)

Cooper Kupp was a mid-round pick last year when fantasy managers were debating who was the WR1 for his team. However, after 145 receptions, 1,957 yards and 18 touchdowns, there are no more questions.

Cupp had a historic season en route to capturing the elusive Triple Crown. Leading the NFL in targets and yards per game, Kupp is unlikely to repeat what he did last year, and that’s okay. In 2022, even the 85 percent version of this will be WR1 again. Kupp is the perfect combination of bulk and explosive potential in a high-powered offense that fantasy managers dream of on draft day.

1.04) Derrick Henry, Tennessee Titans (RB3)

2021 has been both successful and disappointing for Derrick Henry’s Chiefs. Through the first eight weeks, Henry led the way in fantasy PPR points per game (23.4) and averaged over 2.5 PPR points per game in his 2020 campaign. He was the best toucher, averaging 29.6 touches per game, seven more than the next closest RB.

And while he didn’t play again until the NFL postseason, Henry still finished 15th in total tackles and RB20 overall in just eight games played. Tennessee might want to tone down those touches, but can they? Hassan Haskins isn’t a pass rusher like Henry, and after the AJ Brown trade, putting the responsibility of the offense on a rookie WR and a 30-year-old receiver coming off a torn ACL might not be entirely smart.

In 2022, Henry will again be among the leaders in terms of volume. At some point the wheels will fall off. The key is to guess when … let’s hope it’s not 2022.

1.05) Austin Ekeler, Los Angeles Chargers (RB4)

Austin Ekeler, one of the best PPR options, was the RB4 in 2019 and followed that up with a 16.5 ppg average in 2020 (10 games). Ekeler finished 2nd only to Taylor in scoring last season, averaging 21.5 PPR/game. With 1,459 yards from scrimmage and 20 touchdowns, Ekeler accounted for 62.4% of the Chargers’ rushes and a whopping 15.1% of their targets.

Over the past three seasons, including 2019 with Melvin Gordon, Ekeler has finished as the RB2 or better in 76% of his games, averaging 19.7 PPR per contest. Los Angeles has done nothing but improve in the offseason while improving the offensive line. Isaiah Spiller should be able to compliment Ekeler, but he won’t push him for extra reps. Ekeler can go as high as 1.02 in mock drafts. Anything above that becomes increasingly better value.

1.06) Justin Jefferson, Minnesota Vikings (WR2)

You can flip a coin to whoever follows Kupp at wide receiver. The top three is on a level of its own, filled by Ja’Mar Chase and Justin Jefferson. I can make a case for both options, but in this PPR mock draft, Jefferson beats Chase.

After breaking Randy Moss’ rookie records with 88 receptions, 1,400 yards and seven TDs in 2021, Jefferson followed with 108 receptions on 167 targets for 1,616 yards and 10 touchdowns. His 3,032 yards are the most in NFL history by a player through his first two years in the league. After achieving a WR6 and 17.1 PPR points per game in Year 1, Jefferson proved that was no fluke by posting 19.4 points per game and ranking WR4 in 2021.

Jefferson finished in the top 24 in 82% of his games (14). Jefferson is special. Under new head coach Kevin O’Connell, the prevailing opinion is that we’re seeing a more aggressive offense. The sky is the limit for Jefferson in 2022.

1.07) Ja’Mar Chase, Cincinnati Bengals (WR3)

As soon as one of the Chases or Jeffersons leaves, the next must follow. Completing 81 of 121 targets (23.7% target share), Chase was fourth with 1,455 yards and third in scoring with 13. His best game came against the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 17, scoring 55.6 points, where he finished 11th. 12-of-12 receiving for 266 yards and three TDs.

When Joe Burrow needed a big game, Chase was his No. 1 target. The LSU rookie was ninth among receivers with 1,617 yards, 37.06% of the team’s total (10th in the league). Still, Chase was more boom or bust than some would like to admit. He was WR1 in just 29% of his games and WR2 or better (top 24) in 41%.

However, he only had three single-digit scoring contests. After a complete rebuild of the O-line, Joe Barrow will have plenty of time to scan the field for his college teammate. Similar to Kupp or Jefferson, Chase has overall WR1 upside.

1.08) Dalvin Cook, Minnesota Vikings (RB5)

In 13 games, Dalvin Cook rushed 249 times for 1,159 yards (fifth most) with six touchdowns. For the first time since 2018, Cook fell short of 1,500 scrimmage yards and double-digit touchdowns in a season. Cook was still involved in the passing game, which helped his PPR rise. He recorded 34 receptions on 49 targets (27th among RBs) for 224 yards.

Averaging 106.4 yards per game, Cook was fourth in the NFL in total yards, but 16th in fantasy points and 11th in points per game. The lack of scoring dramatically hampered his per-touch upside, as he ranked 45th among the 55 RBs who recorded 100 or more touches (0.73 PPR/touch). I expect Cook to return to his average and be in the double-digit range in 2022.

1.09) Joe Mixon, Cincinnati Bengals (RB6)

Joe Mixon averaged 18 PPR/game in 2022 and was the RB5 overall (minimum eight games played). He rushed for 1,205 yards and 13 touchdowns on 292 carries, adding a career-high 42 receptions for 314 yards and three more touchdowns through the air.

After a season in which he averaged just 1.6 yards per touch, Mixon could set career-high numbers behind the new-look Bengals OL. I don’t know if he has a ceiling going forward, but Mixon should be a lock down RB1 in PPR formats in 2022.

1.10) Naji Harris, Pittsburgh Steelers (RB7)

As a rookie, Naji Harris led the NFL in receiving touchdowns with 381 for 1,667 yards and 10 touchdowns. Of his 1,200 yards, 913 (76%) came after contact. That’s 2.97 yards from his 3.9 punt average.

Of Harris’ 401 opportunities, 94 of them (a first for a RB) came from Ben Roethlisberger and his surgically repaired arm. Harris tied for first in receptions among RBs with 74 for 467 yards with three touchdowns. His work out of the backfield allowed Harris to finish as the RB3 in PPR formats (18.4 PPR/game).

Despite the changing of the guard at QB, Harris’ volume shouldn’t decrease significantly. He is one of the few RBs in the league to bring in over 300 touches. That being said, I don’t believe his passing numbers will be as bright in 2022. If so, Harris, even in the late first round, is significant value in 2022 PPR fantasy football mock drafts.

2022 PPR fantasy football 2-round mock draft: Jonathan Taylor, Cooper Kupp, and Travis Kelce lead their positions

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