We’ve gone over my way-too-early rankings for quarterback, running back, wide receiver, and tight end this week, so today feels like a good time to mash ’em all together and see what I think the first two rounds of next year’s should look like.

Of course, it’s not what they will look like. I can’t see the future, and I certainly don’t align 100% with every other Fantasy football player or analyst out there. We can give our early rankings now, but we know things will change between now and then when next year’s draft season really begins – we’ve got NFL free agency coming up in March, followed by the draft, and then the inevitable injuries in camps throughout the spring and summer. By July, any ranking list will look considerably different. 

But this sets the baseline, and it’s always helpful to know what things look like to start out, so we can compare that to where they end up. It can serve as a reality check throughout the year, or it can serve as a reminder of the recency bias we’re living through right now. 

The Fantasy Football Today team will have our full rankings for 2022 ready after the Super Bowl, and we’ll keep those updates throughout the offseason, but my first crack at the top 24 is here. I’ve also got the results of the 2021 FFT Awards survey that you all voted on this week.

For next week and beyond, we’ll be moving to one or two newsletters per week, and you’ll be hearing from Jamey Eisenberg, Dave Richard, Heath Cummings, and Adam Aizer and hopefully some other special guests too in the offseason too, as we try to bring different perspectives and voices to keep you up to date and hopefully make you a better Fantasy player in time for next season. 

And, with the NFL regular season coming to a close Sunday, I just want to thank every single person who subscribed and read the newsletter and who wrote in throughout the season. I put in a ton of work on this newsletter every single day, and I love hearing from you all every day. Your questions and comments help make this newsletter better every single day, and I truly do love hearing from everyone who reaches out. So, thank you for letting me into your inbox every day. 

Now, here’s one more look behind us and one more look ahead. 


USATSI

All week, you all have been voting in our year-end survey and we got over 800 responses. Here are the winners as chosen by you:

Most Valuable Player

Cooper Kupp (55.8%)
Runner up: Jonathan Taylor (34.4)

The correct answer. As good as Taylor was, you almost certainly had to spend a top-15 pick to get him. Kupp might not have cost a top-50 pick. He ended up putting together one of the best wide receiver seasons ever, and he did it while 16 other wide receivers went ahead of him. Teams that had Kupp on their rosters won 61.8% of the time in CBS Fantasy leagues in 2021, the highest of any player – Taylor wasn’t far behind in third place at 59.9%. Having Kupp gave you such a massive advantage this season.

Rookie of the Year

Ja’Marr Chase (84.3%)
Runner up: Najee Harris (8.5%)

The most obvious choice on the board. Harris was good, maybe even great, but he also more or less lived up to expectations. He was a must-start Fantasy RB, but often not a significant difference maker. Chase had a few more down weeks than Harris, but his big weeks were week-winning types. He broke multiple rookie records for a wide receiver, and might be a borderline first-round pick in 2022. He was massive. 

Biggest bust 

Christian McCaffrey (38.5%)
Runners up: Saquon Barkley (20.2%), Allen Robinson (19.2%), Calvin Ridley (17.1%)

I’ll say this is kind of the wrong choice because you got five excellent weeks from McCaffrey and the rest of the time, you had a replacement in his spot in the lineup. Whereas Barkley had more usable weeks, but also only topped 12 PPR points five times in 12 games. But you probably just kept on starting Barkley over and over again. I would argue Barkley harmed your team more as a borderline first-round pick than McCaffrey did as the No. 1.

Best single-game performance

Jonathan Taylor, Week 11 (204 yards, 5 TD; 66.8%)
Runner up: Joe Burrow, Week 16 (525 yards, 4 TD; 23.3%)

Again, it’s hard to argue with this one, though I will note that nominations for this category concluded before Chase’s 11-catch, 266-yard, three-touchdown game in Week 17. It was the second-best game ever in a Fantasy championship week and likely played a huge role in countless Fantasy championships – teams with Chase had the 14th-highest winning percentage in CBS Fantasy leagues, and that’s despite his one-catch, 3-yard game in Week 15 likely contributing to many losses. Doing that in a championship game matters more to me, and I imagine it would have won here, too. 

Christian McCaffrey #22 of the Carolina Panthers after their game against the New Orleans Saints at Bank of America Stadium on December 29, 2019 in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images

Oh, and there was one other question in that poll: 

Who should be the No. 1 pick in 2022?

  1. Jonathan Taylor (77.8%)
  2. Derrick Henry (11.6%)
  3. Cooper Kupp (6.9%)
  4. Austin Ekeler/Christian McCaffrey (1.8%)

If you read my RB preview Tuesday, you know that I don’t have it ranked this way. In fact, my No. 1 RB and No. 1 overall pick is Christian McCaffrey, who you all ranked in a tie for fourth. 

Look, I get it. I’m less cautious about injuries – especially minor injuries for players in their mid-20s – than most. But I can certainly see the case for Taylor as the No. 1 overall pick. He’s been the best RB in Fantasy this season, he has no real injury history dating back to a massive workload in college, and he’s been better than his season-long numbers for much of the season – his 16-game pace since Week 6 – the first time he topped the 60% snap share mark – is 2,258 total yards and 25 touchdowns. That’s that 400-point mark McCaffrey has been at when healthy since 2019. 

So, I could see wanting to prioritize Taylor over McCaffrey. Perhaps he has a bit less upside, but he’s got less injury risk, surely. The one I cannot get behind at all is Henry ahead of McCaffrey. Henry doesn’t have the same upside as McCaffrey and I’d argue that, at his size, entering his age-28 season, and coming off foot surgery, Henry carries significantly more risk than McCaffrey does entering 2022. 

So, Henry isn’t even in my top-five for 2022 right now. It’s not a knock on him, in my eyes, but I just think he’s likely to see some regression and carries enough injury risk to knock him down to No. 6 – which is still the highest I’ve ever ranked him. 

The toughest players to rank here, in my opinion, are the tight ends. Kelce is entering his age-33 season, and while I think his regression this season was as much about the Chiefs‘ weird mid-season swoon collectively, it could portend the sign of the start of his decline. Andrews was better than Kelce this season, but Kelce’s track record obviously dwarfs Andrews, and that’s enough to push Andrews down a tier alongside George Kittle. But I’m planting my flag on Kyle Pitts as the next potential difference maker at tight end. I wrote about that in Thursday’s newsletter, and I think I’d be willing to reach into the second round to grab a guy who might be a historic producer at tight end. He already is. 

Here’s my way-too-early top-24 for 2022. Let me know what you think at Chris.Towers@ViacomCBS.com. Tell me what I got wrong and who you would include instead!

  1. Christian McCaffrey
  2. Jonathan Taylor
  3. Austin Ekeler
  4. Cooper Kupp
  5. Davante Adams
  6. Derrick Henry
  7. Alvin Kamara
  8. Dalvin Cook
  9. D’Andre Swift
  10. Justin Jefferson
  11. Tyreek Hill
  12. Travis Kelce
  13. Najee Harris
  14. Ja’Marr Chase
  15. Joe Mixon
  16. Mark Andrews
  17. George Kittle 
  18. Stefon Diggs
  19. Keenan Allen
  20. A.J. Brown
  21. Deebo Samuel
  22. Nick Chubb
  23. Diontae Johnson
  24. Kyle Pitts

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