2022 Fantasy Football Top Ten Safest Players

by Mike Bonni
2023 Fantasy Football RB Must Draft List

Welcome everyone to the 2022 Fantasy Football Top Ten Safest Players article!

The gist of this article is as straightforward as you can get. I will be going over the players who are the safest to draft. You can (and should) take these players at ADP (or before) and feel confident doing so.

Unlike my last article (Riskiest players), I won't be counting down from Ten (Least-Safest) to One (Safest). This time I will just be breaking it up into position groups.

So without further ado, welcome to the 2022 Fantasy Football Top Ten Safest Players article. First up, the quarterbacks.

2022 Fantasy Football Top Ten Safest Players

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Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills - QB1; Overall= 25

The No. 1 QB for two-straight seasons, Josh Allen is hitting on all strides. He is in a pass-first offense, got the weapons, and has a ton of rushing upside. Since coming into the league, Allen has averaged 6.5 touchdowns a year.

According to fantasypros.com, he was a top-3 QB seven times (1st). He was also a QB1 (top-12) 69% of the time (tied for 2nd). Easily one of, if not, the most consistent fantasy QBs. It's worth mentioning that Josh Allen only busted twice. This was tied for the lowest among QBs.

Stat-wise, Josh Allen may have had a "down year" and he still finished as QB No. 1 (Avg. 24+ FPPG). If that's the case, expect him to boost his numbers and finish as QB1 again. Draft him as much as you can.

Don't let the loss of Emmanuel Sanders and Cole Beasley scare you away. If anything, the weapons got better in Buffalo.

Tom Brady, Tampa Bay Buccaneers - QB10; Overall= 86

If you know anything about me, you know how I feel about GOAT Brady. He is a phenomenal fantasy QB, even in this day and age (running QBs run the world). The GOAT just got even more weapons (Julio Jones), so getting him at QB10 is an insane value right now.

Tom Brady is currently going behind Dak Prescott, who has only finished the season as a QB1 (top-12), three times. He is also going behind Joe Burrow, whose highest finish was QB7 (2021). As for Brady, he has finished as a QB1, in seven of the past eight seasons. Since joining Tampa Bay, he has a QB7 (2020) and a QB3 (2021) finish. Expect the same in 2022.

Another noteworthy tidbit (thanks to fantasypros.com), Tom Brady was a top-3 QB, six times (2nd). He was also tied for second in top-12 finishes.

With even more weapons, please draft Tom Brady as your QB. At least draft him over Prescott and Burrow.

Running Backs

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Jonathan Taylor, Indianapolis Colts - RB1; Overall = 1

Jonathan Taylor had himself quite the breakout season in 2021. He had a career year in every stat category, albeit it was his second season.

J.T. finished as the RB1 in 2021, 30 points more than 2nd place (Ekeler). He rushed the ball 332 times for 1811 yards and 18 touchdowns. This was first in NFL in those categories. Taylor was also targeted 52 times and caught 50 of them for 360 yards and two touchdowns.

He was first in top-12 finishes (three games more than next), tied for first in top-24 finishes, and only "busted" one time.

*Incoming interesting stat I found*

In his first five games of 2021, Taylor was only the RB11. In those five games, his snaps were under 60% and he only had one game over 100 yards and two touchdowns scored.

After week five (6 to 18), he went mental. Jonathan Taylor had nine straight 18+ fantasy point games, including a massive 54-point performance in Week 11. During those nine games, he had 15 touchdowns and seven games over 100+ yards. This was good enough to make him RB1 by 64.2 points.

There are a few things that scare me, just slightly though. His receiving work is iffy, to put it mildly. There were eight games where he saw two or fewer targets, including two games where he saw ZERO targets. There is a new offense in town, with a new QB (pass-happy) and he is a prime candidate for touchdown regression. Another thing of note is it's been a few years since the No. 1 RB has repeated that finish the next year.

This doesn't scare me away from J.T., nor should it scare you. Draft away.

Austin Ekeler, Los Angeles Chargers - RB3; Overall = 3

Personally, Austin Ekeler is one of my favorite players in the NFL. This isn't the only reason he is on this though, Ekeler had a career year in 2021. He finished as RB2, averaging 21.5 points (one of two RBs to average 20+). Ekeler rushed the ball 206 times for 911 yards and 12 touchdowns. He also added 94 targets (1st), catching 70 (2nd) of them for 647 yards (1st) and 8 touchdowns.

Austin Ekeler was second in RB1 finishes (nine), tied for first in RB2 finishes (13), and was one of four RBs to not "bust". In fact, Austin Ekeler hasn't "busted" in 25 games (dating back to 2020).

According to playerprofiler.com, Ekeler wasn't the most efficient on the ground (22nd in true YPC and 29th in juke rate) but that shouldn't sway you away from drafting him. His receiving prowess is what gives him value and that isn't going away any time soon.

Joe Mixon, Cincinnati Bengals - RB7; Overall = 11

In 2021, Joe Mixon finished as the RB4. He rushed the ball 292 times for 1205 (3rd) yards and 13 touchdowns (4th). Which was his career-high for all of them. Mixon was also targeted 48 times and caught 42 of them for 314 yards (career-high), with three touchdowns.

It's worth mentioning that Joe Mixon was one of four RBs (Ekeler, Henry, and Jacobs) to not "bust", according to fantasypros.com. He had seven games over 25 fantasy points, three of them came after his bye week (10). Speaking of his performance after the bye week, Joe Mixon was RB3 during this time.

The offensive line is much improved, it will be impossible to stack the box with this offense, and he should see an uptick in targets in 2022 (according to playerprofiler.com, he was seventh in routes ran, 5th in route %, and 2nd in catch rate; only had a 9.4% Target Share (25th)). All signs point to another fantastic season for Joe Mixon. He is currently going as RB7 (Overall; 11), which is behind Najee Harris (new QB play), Dalvin Cook (oft-injured), and Davante Adams (no longer tied to MVP Aaron Rodgers).

Please give me Joe Mixon over the likes of these players.

Wide Receivers

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Cooper Kupp, Los Angelas Rams - WR1; Overall = 4

Cooper Kupp was a god amongst men in 2022. He scored 95 points more than the WR2 in fantasy but that's not all of it.

Kupp was targeted 191 times (T. 9th all-time), caught 145 of them (2nd all-time), had 1947 yards (2nd all-time),  scored 16 touchdowns (T.15th), and had 439.5 PPR points (Most all-time). He truly had a historic season and nobody really saw THAT coming.

In 2021, Cooper Kupp had six games over 30 points, 14 over 20, and none lower than 11 points. According to fantasypros.com, he had ZERO busts (1st), top-12 WR 13 times (six more than the next player), and only finished lower than WR24, once.

He also led the whole year in WR fantasy scoring; no one was even close.

It's practically impossible he puts up these types of numbers again but that shouldn't stop you from drafting him. Cooper Kupp is guaranteed a top-three WR finish in 2022.

Justin Jefferson, Minnesota Vikings - WR2; Overall = 6

Justin Jefferson ascended into superstardom in 2021. He was targeted 167 (4th) times and caught 108 (4th) of them for 1616 yards (2nd). He also added 10 touchdowns (6th). Jefferson was seventh in top-six finishes, fifth in top-12 finishes, and only busted once (T. 2nd). After his bye week (Weeks 8 to 18), Justin Jefferson was the WR2 averaging 19.9 FPPG.

According to playerprofiler.com, Jefferson has a lot of fantasy opportunities still to be seized. He was eighth in unrealized air yards (867), even while being first in air yards. Wild! I know. Jefferson was also first in air yard share, and deep targets. I don't expect this to change at all. If anything, I expect his numbers to go up.

*One thing to note*

Justin Jefferson led the league in drops (11), don't expect to see that again.

Justin Jefferson is one of the most consistent WRs in the game right now. He has finished as a WR9 in 2020, and WR4 in 2021. With a more pass-centric offense, he could be in for a big year in 2022. I can even see him finishing as WR1, which is a tall order to do. I would take him as the second WR off the board with no hesitation. Hell, I have even taken him over Cooper Kupp a few times.

Draft him when you can and reap the benefits.

Brandin Cooks, Houston Texans - WR20; Overall = 53

This might baffle a few of you but Brandin Cooks has been terrific. Since 2015 (seven seasons), Cooks has finished as a WR2 (Top-24) six times. This includes one WR1 finish (WR9), albeit with Drew Brees.

In 2021, he finished as WR20 and this was with sub-par QB play. Brandin Cooks actually had a career-high in targets (134) and catches (90). His final stat-line was 137 (12th)/93 (13th)-1037 (20th)- 6 (18th).

Cooks had eight games over 15+ fantasy points, including three over 20 fantasy points. He was a top-12 WR, four times which was tied for 5th.

After his bye week (Weeks 11 to 18), Cooks was WR19. This was better than the likes of DK Metcalf, D.J. Moore, Chris Godwin, and Michael Pittman Jr.

Brandin Cooks is currently going as WR20 (Overall; 53), which is behind DK Metcalf, JK Dobbins, and Josh Jacobs. I would much rather take the more consistent player in Brandin Cooks over them.

Don't let Davis "General" Mills scare you away from drafting Brandin Cooks. The Texans didn't add much in the off-season, so expect another highly-targeted season for Cooks.

Now that we are done with the WRs, let's move on to the TEs as we continue the 2022 Fantasy Football Top 10 Safest Players article.

Tight Ends

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Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs - TE1; Overall = 14

Do I really have to say anything here? We all know what Kelce can do.

For those that don't, let me enlighten you.

From 2016-2020 (PPR), Travis Kelce has finished as the number one TE. During this time, he has played in 97% of his games. Health shouldn't scare you, nor should any sort of "decline". In 2021, Travis Kelce finished as TE2 (Just behind Mark Andrews). It's worth mentioning that Travis Kelce was TE1 from Weeks 1 to 13 until Andrews took over.

As for 2022, Kelce should be peppered with targets (Four straight 130+ target seasons). With Tyreek Hill gone, he could see some double-teams but that shouldn't scare you away from him. Draft him as much as you can.

Cole Kmet, Chicago Bears - TE13; Overall = 126

This choice may raise some eyebrows but here me out first. Cole Kmet is now (presumably) the second option in this offense. Yes! This offense isn't going to light up the world, but there are still fantasy opportunities.

In 2021, Cole Kmet finished the season as TE21 (93/60-612-0). He was 8th in targets, 12th in catches, and 12th in yards. With those types of numbers, he should have cruised past TE21. Unfortunately, Kmet had a FAT ZERO in the touchdown column. He saw 12 red zone targets (15th) and couldn't get a score. How is this possible? Expect Cole Kmet to be a prime candidate for positive touchdown regression.

If that didn't start making you think of drafting Cole Kmet, let's go a little deeper.

Before that, I would like to give a big thanks to playerprofiler.com for these advanced metrics. They do great work over there, check it out if you haven't.

According to playerprofiler.com, Cole Kmet was 11th in Target Share (17.3%), 6th in Snap Share (83.7 %), and 14th in routes ran. He was also heavily involved in the downfield passing game. He was 9th in air yards, 6th in deep targets, and 7th in unrealized air yards. As you can tell with all the advanced metrics, Cole Kmet is just screaming to break out. Draft him before one of your draftmates can.

Currently going as TE13, which is behind Zach Ertz, Dawson Knox (TD Dependent), Pat Freiermuth, and Mike Gesicki (Tons of target competition). He out-targeted every single one of them. Please give me Cole Kmet over all four of them.

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