By Scott Engel, The Game Day
The sheer nature of fantasy football drafts lead most of us to take running backs with our first-round picks. Heck, some fantasy players even take two RBs to start their drafts, no matter which wide receivers may jump off the board at them along the way.
For Los Angeles football fans with a high fantasy draft choice in 2022, it may be a lot of fun and also sensible to take Austin Ekeler as soon as the No. 2 overall pick. Last year, Ekeler finally became a regular rushing TD producer and was the second-highest scoring player at running back. He is arguably the most versatile player in fantasy football.
But how about veering away from running back at No. 3 overall? Why not take another Los Angeles superstar with the third overall pick? What do you say to Cooper Kupp at third overall?
Why Cooper Kupp Is The Safest Pick in Fantasy Football
Only Two Running Backs Should Be Picked Ahead Of Kupp In The First Round
Jonathan Taylor will be the consensus No. 1 pick in most fantasy drafts, and it’s hard to make a case against Ekeler at No. 2 overall. Taylor has been a model of durability and high production since he was at Wisconsin, and Ekeler is the best dual-threat in the fantasy game.
After those two are gone, though, no other player in fantasy football will give you the peace of mind that Kupp can. Savvy Rams fans knew Kupp was very reliable before Matthew Stafford was acquired. Now he should play at very high levels for the next few seasons, and there are no apparent reasons to expect a significant drop-off in production any time soon.
The Rams have the luxury of knowing that they will have a superstar anchoring their wide receiver corps in the seasons ahead. In fantasy football, Cooper Kupp is highly likely to deliver outstanding totals again. He is as close to a “sure thing” as there can possibly be, and “sure things” are rare in fantasy football. Knowing you can lock a guy into your lineup every single week for elite production is a gift that is not frequently provided by most players.
Yes, catching 145 passes for 1,947 yards and 16 TDs may not be matchable, and those numbers will likely stand out as a career year for Kupp. But we can’t see any reasons why Kupp cannot catch 120-plus balls for 1,500-plus yards with double figures in TDs as a statistical floor, and he has good chances to better those totals. Outside of an unforeseen injury, there are no apparent factors that would lead us to believe that Kupp cannot have another outstanding year in 2022.
Kupp seems like a near-guarantee to finish as an elite fantasy WR again. Even if he regresses from his historic campaign, he will still finish among the very best at his position. Kupp will be playing with the same quarterback, in the same system, and no one figured out to stop him most of the time in 2021, either. Kupp has arrived as an NFL and fantasy superstar, and there’s no turning back now.
We can’t make a good enough case to take any other top running back over Kupp, because after Taylor and Ekeler are taken, most of them come with significant question marks. Sure, Derrick Henry could bounce back, but he does not catch passes in PPR formats and is coming off two seasons of heavy workloads and one with a major injury.
Dalvin Cook and Christian McCaffrey are annual injury risks. Najee Harris plays in an offense now led by Mitchell Trubisky. Joe Mixon is solid and is coming off a career year, but he has to show that he can play at last season’s levels again. Nick Chubb is another guy who doesn’t catch passes, and Javonte Williams should have a lot of upside this season, but he has much to prove as a starter.
Cooper Kupp Will Be Among The Elite At WR Again
Meanwhile, Kupp does not come with any significant question marks surrounding him. The on-field relationship between Kupp and Stafford is the most dangerous and productive QB/WR fusion in the NFL right now. The results are apparent in real life and in the fantasy game.
Now that Davante Adams has exchanged Aaron Rodgers for Derek Carr, he is unlikely to challenge to be fantasy football’s top WR again. Tyreek Hill is certainly not in the mix anymore after downgrading from Patrick Mahomes to Tua Tagovailoa. Ja’Marr Chase has a ton of upside, but the Joe Burrow/Chase duo is not quite as consistently prolific as Stafford and Kupp. Justin Jefferson may be capable of challenging Kupp for WR supremacy in 2023, but his quarterback is Kirk Cousins, and Stafford has the clear edge there as the better QB for the production of the wideout.
Even if Kupp regresses statistically from his monster 2021 campaign, he seems to be a surefire bet to finish as a top 3 fantasy WR. A minor fall-off from last year’s output would still put Kupp among the top WRs in fantasy football.
When selecting Cooper Kupp third overall, you can still land a very good RB with your second-round selection. Then your third-round pick will come up soon thereafter. In the National Fantasy Football Championships (NFFC), Kupp has an Average Draft Position of second overall in early drafts. The top fantasy players in the nation, who compete for high stakes, are buying in on taking Kupp in the top 3. In the range of their second and third-round selections, they can land RBs such as Antonio Gibson and Aaron Jones, according to the early ADPs.
Fantasy football season does not truly start until the summer. But you can already lock this in as a fact: Cooper Kupp should be taken no later than third overall. There may not be a safer pick you can make in your 2022 drafts.