With training camps set to begin across the National Football League over the next few weeks, many fantasy football players are left wondering who they should select in their upcoming drafts. Thankfully for Wisconsin Badger fans, there is a wide array of former players across the NFL that can be an asset to any fantasy team. Here is a breakdown of some of those fan favorites.
Running Back – Indianapolis Colts
Jonathan Taylor cemented himself as the NFL’s premier running back with a 2021 campaign that included leading the league in rushing yards and rushing touchdowns, partially due to the Tennessee Titan’s Derrick Henry’s injury. The unanimous All-Pro accomplished this behind an offensive line missing three of its starters.
Taylor will look to repeat the feat, as he now runs behind a fully recovered offensive line and alongside a new quarterback in veteran Matt Ryan. After averaging 19.6 fantasy points per game, Taylor is a likely number one overall pick in many leagues.
Analysis: First-Round Pick
Quarterback – Denver Broncos
Following an injury-plagued 2021 season and a blockbuster trade from the Seattle Seahawks to the Denver Broncos, Russell Wilson looks to return to form as one of the league’s best passers. Now under first-year head coach Nathaniel Hackett, the nine-time Pro Bowler will have every opportunity to maximize his potential.
Throughout his ten-year career, Wilson has averaged 19.3 fantasy points per game. A diamond in the rough for years, Wilson is a proven asset who can lead any fantasy team to success as the starting quarterback.
Analysis: Eighth-Round Pick
Melvin Gordon III
Running Back – Denver Broncos
Following consecutive 900 rushing yard seasons, Melvin Gordon III signed a one-year contract extension to return to the Broncos. However, Gordon is once again expected to be the team’s second running back behind Javonte Williams. Averaging 12.5 fantasy points per game for his career, Gordon offers potential to serve as a fantasy team’s third running back or in the flex position. For that reason, teams should look to draft the two-time Pro Bowler in later rounds.
Analysis: Ninth-Round Pick
Wide Receiver – Detroit Lions
Quintez Cephus began the 2021 season with a promising start before suffering a collarbone injury during Week Five that ultimately sidelined him for the rest of the season. As he returns to the field, Cephus will attempt to carve out a larger role for himself as the Lions currently have few weapons behind wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown.
However, due to lack of success at the pro level — and with Jared Goff at quarterback — many do not expect Cephus to put up flashy numbers. Averaging only 6.9 fantasy points per game in 2021, the third-year pro best serves a fantasy team looking to add a high upside receiver to its bench.
Analysis: Fifteenth-Round Pick
Tight End – Dallas Cowboys
ESPN currently ranks Jake Ferguson — the only rookie making this list — the second tight end on the Dallas Cowboys’ depth chart behind Dalton Schultz. A staple in the Paul Chryst offense for all four years, the young tight end has proven star potential.
Given the uncertainty of Ferguson’s early role, his greatest value currently comes in dynasty leagues. Due to his lack of experience at the professional level, fantasy teams would be wise to overlook Ferguson in the draft and make their decisions following the preseason.
Analysis: Undrafted Free Agent
Outside Linebacker – Pittsburgh Steelers
T.J. Watt capped off a spectacular 2021 season by earning the NFL Defensive Player of the Year award. He did so by tying Michael Strahan’s record for most quarterback sacks in a single season with 22.5 — all while missing two games.
Increasing his fantasy production each year over his five-year NFL career, Watt averaged 13.6 fantasy points per game in 2021. However, due to the priority of drafting offensive players in fantasy drafts, his overall draft stock will be limited to later rounds. Overall, Watt will likely be a top three defensive pick in Individual Defensive Player leagues that can bolster any defense into championship form.
Analysis: Twelfth-Round Pick
Defensive End – Arizona Cardinals
J.J. Watt started slow with his new team in 2021 before suffering a shoulder injury in Week Seven that sidelined him until the Cardinals’ only playoff game. Watt is extremely valuable when healthy, but recent injury-plagued seasons have hurt the star’s production.
The three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year has averaged 9.7 fantasy points per game over his eleven-year career. Because there are younger players with higher ceilings, fantasy teams will benefit from passing on Watt until they are ready to begin filling their benches.
Analysis: Sixteenth-Round Pick