It’s never too early for some fantasy football speculation, so let’s take stock of the Detroit Lions in a very early 2022 mock draft.
The 2021 season is technically not over until Sunday night, when Super Bowl LVI is in the books. But many would say it’s never too early to look ahead to next season, and that applies to fantasy football too.
The Detroit Lions had some fantasy contributors this year, most notably wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown based on his final six weeks that helped win a lot of leagues. But that’s not discount what running back D’Andre Swift, tight end T.J. Hockenson and even quarterback Jared Goff did some weeks.
Jaime Eisner of The Draft Network has a “Way-Too-Early Fantasy Football Mock Draft” that he has been adding a round to every week for awhile now. It’s now out to six rounds, with a basic 12-team, one-quarterback, 0.5 PPR format.
Detroit Lions very early 2022 fantasy football stock report
At pick 2.5 (round two, pick five, 17th overall), we have a Detroit Lion in Eisner’s mock.
"2.5 D’ANDRE SWIFT (RB – DET)Previous Pick: Najee HarrisIt was a very weird year for D’Andre Swift. There was the pre-season injury and the random, fabricated rumor that we won’t repeat here that depressed his draft-day value. Yet, he played the Lions’ first 10 games without much of an issue—and he scored 19.4 points or more in half of those contests—before being hurt on Thanksgiving against Chicago. Through Week 11, Swift ranked as the RB9 in average fantasy points per game, but he only played 46 offensive snaps after that for the remainder of the fantasy season. I’m still buying in on the talent, pass-catching ability, and the volume he should continue to receive during the Detroit Lions’ rebuild."
Our fantasy football review of Swift’s 2021 season agrees with Eisner’s sentiment. Looking to 2022, the ceiling for the Lions’ No. 1 running back is massive (but not without risk). For added context, Swift was RB12 off the board in the early mock.
The wait was long to see another Lion go off the board in Eisner’s fantasy mock. But the addition of Round 6 unveiled a couple.
"6.7 AMON-RA ST. BROWN (WR – DET)Previous Picks: Dalvin Cook, Stefon Diggs, DeAndre Hopkins, Elijah Mitchell, Clyde Edwards-HelaireNo receiver had a more magical run to end the season than rookie Amon-Ra St. Brown. The former USC star took over from Week 13 on. From Weeks 13-18, St. Brown was only outscored by one WR: Cooper Kupp. St. Brown averaged 20.9 fantasy points per game over that six-week stretch and helped several fantasy managers win championships. While WR30 may feel low, I’m not buying that St. Brown will display this WR1 upside over the course of an entire season. Plus, added competition at the wide receiver spot will take some of his large target share away. Love him as a flex, but resist the temptation to push him into WR2 territory."
St. Brown was boosted by a massive target share late this season. But he’s going to be worth drafting as a low-end WR2 in 2022, and if he can be had at WR30 (WR3 range) that will be automatic value.
"6.12 T.J. HOCKENSON (TE – DET)Previous Picks: Derrick Henry, Mike Evans, Leonard Fournette, Tyler Lockett, Brandin CooksT.J. Hockenson played just 12 games, averaging 9.6 fantasy points per game, in a season many in the fantasy community hoped was a breakout campaign. That’s not bad by any means, just disappointing relative to pre-season expectations. I’m buying back in here in the middle of TE1 territory. I don’t think he’ll ever challenge the Travis Kelce’s of the world, but one could argue there is a tier break at the position after Hockenson."
Hockenson is expected to be fine for offseason work after thumb surgery. On a per-game basis he was good in 2021, so as Eisner suggested he’s definitely on the TE1 radar for 2022.
So what do you think? Are the Lions being disrespected in this very early 2022 fantasy football mock? Overvalued? Or just right?