Dynasty draft strategy when picking fifth overall
While there is no “one size fits all” draft strategy for dynasty fantasy football, having the fifth overall pick places managers in a prime position to quickly react to trends they see taking place in the draft. As leagues continue to be filled with more and more managers making the leap to dynasty, we go over a potential fantasy football mock draft for your team if selecting from the fifth slot.
For this draft, we will be using a 12-team league with PPR (point per reception) scoring and a 1QB format with two running backs, two receivers, a tight end, and two flex spots as the starting roster. Also, rookies will be included in the startup. Depending on your league settings, you might need to tweak your draft strategy to match your scoring format and roster requirements.
1.05) CeeDee Lamb, WR, Dallas Cowboys
For being on the “earlier” side of the draft, I have to say the fifth spot is not my favorite. It’s not late enough to hit a certain value window, and it’s typically too late to secure one of Ja’Marr Chase, Justin Jefferson, or Jonathan Taylor.
With that said, you have plenty of options. Christian McCaffrey is in this window, as are Najee Harris and D’Andre Swift. Kyle Pitts won’t make it back, so if you value your tight ends or have TE premium scoring, now would be the time. Receiver also has a few interesting players for fantasy, including my pick here, Dallas Cowboys WR CeeDee Lamb.
When on the clock, I went with the longevity of the position and the upside of Lamb, who finds himself the unquestioned alpha of the Cowboys’ passing attack. With Amari Cooper in Cleveland, Lamb could explode in 2022.
Lamb just turned 23 and is progressively getting better. As a rookie, Lamb played in all 16 games and caught 74 of 111 targets for 935 yards and five TDs. Lamb’s 1.78 PPR points/target were just 0.02 behind Cooper (1.80), despite the latter having 40% more red zone targets.
Then, in 2021, Lamb took another step forward in every category. His targets were up to 120, as were his receptions (79), yards (1,102), touchdowns (six), and points per target (1.88). Finishing as the WR19, Lamb has posed WR2 or better seasons in both years, with 44% of his weekly finishes inside the top 24.
Cooper Kupp likely has a higher chance to finish as the overall WR1 in 2022, but given the age difference (23 vs. 29), I want to secure a cornerstone player for years to come. Lamb brings the upside I need for my dynasty roster and is on my radar when picking fifth overall.
2.08) Stefon Diggs, WR, Buffalo Bills
As we wait for our second pick, the usual cast of characters flies off the board. Harris, Swift, McCaffrey, Austin Ekeler, Javonte Williams, Derrick Henry, and Pitts round out the top 12. No real surprises here, as there tends to be a significant RB run in this portion of the draft.
It continued into Round 2, with Dalvin Cook, Joe Mixon, Breece Hall, and Alvin Kamara falling off the board. Josh Allen was the first QB selected, and both Deebo Samuel and A.J. Brown were snagged too. I would have no complaints selecting any of these players if they fell to us.
Given who was selected, I cannot pass up on Stefon Diggs, as he remains my favorite second-round target if you have an earlier draft slot. Since joining the Bills, Diggs has found nothing but success, averaging 18.6 PPR/game in his 33 active games. Over that same time, he finished as a WR1 in 27% of his games and inside the top 24 (WR2+) in 53%.
Playing in 17 games, Diggs hauled in 103 of 163 targets for 1,225 yards and 10 TDs to finish as the WR7 in fantasy (10th in PPR/game at 16.8). Diggs was No. 10 amongst WRs in team target share (27%) and 12th in intended air yards (35.4%). However, given the verticality of this offense, his 35.4% was still 1,841 air yards (second-most in the NFL).
The Bills are Super Bowl favorites for a reason, and Diggs and his connection with Allen are at the center of it all. Having gone WR/WR, I am likely looking for an RB to fall to me as other managers start drafting their first receivers.
3.05) Saquon Barkley, RB, New York Giants
I am fully aware some of you reading this absolutely hate this pick with a fervent passion. I get it. But if you are telling me I can now draft Saquon Barkley in the third round of a dynasty draft, I’ll bite and take that shot on the upside. And no, this had nothing to do with his shirtless pictures — although those did subtract a solid half-second in the time it took me to click the “Draft” button.
Yes, Barkley has played in just 15 of 33 games the last two seasons. With that said, the term “injury-prone” is being unfairly applied to him. But some guys are just simply unlucky. For me, that’s Barkley. In 2019, he stepped on a defender’s foot in Week 5 against Dallas after the play was dead. It swelled up like a beachball on the sidelines. That’s not being “injury-prone.” Then in 2020, it was the ACL. These are not reoccurring hamstring or other soft-tissue injuries. Sometimes, guys just get unlucky.
In 2019, Barkley tried to be a hero and came back too soon. His production suffered. That is, until he was healthy. Once he had a clean bill of health, he helped you win a title that year, but we don’t talk about the good times, right?
Was anyone happy when Barkley struggled in 2021 with 162 carries for 593 yards and two touchdowns? Of course not. But it was unrealistic to assume he would be ripping off 100-yard games out of the gate with a newly repaired ACL.
We know the volume will be there for Barkley as long as he is healthy. He is a 215-240-touch RB with no competition for carries, and he could also bring in 50 or more receptions. In a make-or-break year, I am betting on Barkley to — at a minimum — maintain the value of this pick, if not blow it away.
4.08) Lamar Jackson, QB, Baltimore Ravens
I tend to be a late QB guy myself, especially in 1QB dynasty formats. It’s a dynasty draft strategy that tends to work. However, there is something to be said for never needing to worry about the position. Following the Barkley selection, six running backs and four QBs are off the board: Justin Herbert, Patrick Mahomes, Joe Burrow, and Kyler Murray. Double-tapping RB was on my radar, but here I make a pivot for the last player in his tier, Lamar Jackson.
After a season to forget due to injuries and illness, Jackson is back and in full form for the Ravens in 2022. I expect to see a philosophical change from a year ago when the Ravens were a pass-happy team. That, in my opinion, came from necessity after losing J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards before the season even began, virtually removing a fundamental element of their game.
Baltimore will be back to their rushing ways in 2022, and this is an offense we know Jackson can thrive in. The former NFL MVP still finished the season second in PPR/g at 23.8 and seventh in fantasy points per game (21.3). With a healthy team around him and a defense that can give him and the offense the ball back, Jackson will bring weekly top-four upside.
5.05) Travis Etienne, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars
My strategy heading into this dynasty draft was to capitalize on value. Travis Etienne is a continuation of that approach. Etienne missed all of his rookie season with a foot injury, but according to reports and well-timed hype videos, he has been impressive in training and with his recovery.
Etienne is a running back I am trying to buy low in dynasty. Jacksonville desperately needs him and his big-play capabilities. Since 2020, the Jaguars have just 31 explosive plays of 20 yards or more (last in the NFL).
This is Etienne’s specialty. While at Clemson, he led the NCAA with 55 runs of 20+ yards during his four years (2017-2020). On those plays, he had 21 TDs and rushed for 2,053 yards (37.3 ypc). Etienne also had six receptions of 30 or more yards, giving him 61 explosive plays.
This should be an RB-friendly offense under Doug Pederson, but also one which will implement a committee approach. I went with Etienne because he will be the receiving option for this team and still record roughly 180 carries in 2022. He is on the shortlist of RB breakout candidates, and while a bit more proven stability in my RB room would be nice, Barkley and Etienne offer a staggering amount of upside and should outperform their ADP. That’s the goal of every dynasty draft strategy, regardless of your position.
6.08) Rashod Bateman, WR, Baltimore Ravens
Starting around the end of the fourth round, we are in one of the sweet spots of the draft. There are so many wide receivers I love in his range, and if I had the opportunity, I would like multiple picks here. Alas, I have but one dart to throw. But that’s okay because we hit a bullseye on Rashod Bateman.
Following Hollywood Brown’s departure, the WR1 role is undoubtedly Bateman’s. Last year, I felt he was one of the most complete, NFL-ready WRs in his class and believed he would be the Ravens’ top dog out wide. I just didn’t think it would go this way.
Heading into year two, Bateman is primed for a ridiculous target share of 25% or more. He’s competing with Devin Duvernay, James Proche, and Tylan Wallace. That’s it. In 2021, Brown commanded the 12th-highest target share (26.1%) and was 21st in air yard share at 31.3%. Where do you think most of that is going to go?
Remember, Bateman was a stellar prospect who had multiple years of high-level production and was inside the top 20 against both man and zone coverage at Minnesota. According to Matt Harmon’s Reception Perception, Bateman was 74th percentile vs. man, 85th vs. zone, and 81st against press coverage in 2021.
Bateman also has no fear of catching the ball in traffic. In fact, he was No. 7 in contested catch rate last season. It is #BatemanSZN, everyone. Get on board now before it is too late.
7.05) Courtland Sutton, WR, Denver Broncos
I am not saying he is the next Kupp, as I don’t see anyone putting up the numbers he did last year. But if I were picking a mid-round wide receiver who could explode and vault into the WR1 range, it’s Courtland Sutton.
I’ve been on record many times saying the gap between Sutton and Jerry Jeudy is further than it is for Tim Patrick and Jeudy. At cost, I am drafting Sutton and Patrick, but that is a different conversation for a different day.
In 2019, Sutton had a breakout year with 72 catches, 1,112 yards, and six touchdowns, earning his first Pro Bowl selection. Now, over a full year removed from a 2020 torn ACL, Sutton is Russell Wilson’s new version of DK Metcalf. I think we are all aware of how fruitful of a role this is for fantasy points.
Last year, only 51% of Sutton’s air yards (1,509) were converted into actual yards (776). Paired with Wilson, one of the most accurate deep ball passers who led the NFL in intended air yards (9.9 IAY/A), and a revamped offense under new head coach Nathaniel Hackett, Sutton has the chance to crack the top 12 in scoring. He is still only 26 years old and received a massive payday. Whether it is dynasty, redraft, or best ball, my draft strategy is to make sure I end up with Sutton on my team, plain and simple.
Dynasty draft strategy from the fifth overall spot | Rounds 8-15
8.08) Tony Pollard, RB, Dallas Cowboys
9.05) Pat Freiermuth, TE, Pittsburgh Steelers
10.08) Melvin Gordon, RB, Denver Broncos
11.05) Kadarius Toney, WR, New York Giants
12.08) Alexander Mattison, RB, Minnesota Vikings
13.05) David Njoku, TE, Cleveland Browns
14.08) Jahan Dotson, WR, Washington Commanders
15.05) Nyheim Hines, RB, Indianapolis Colts
Projected Week 1 roster
QB – Lamar Jackson
RB – Saquon Barkley
RB – Travis Etienne
WR – CeeDee Lamb
WR – Stefon Diggs
TE – Pat Freiermuth
Flex – Rashod Bateman
Flex – Courtland Sutton