The way that you start your draft is so important. There are land mines in every part of the draft and as analysts (loose term, I prefer good with words and played for a long time or guy who is not allowed within 500 feet of a Dave and Busters), we can only give you an educated guess of where they are. They are buried and we hope that by October we haven’t stepped on any.
I don’t believe in any “avoid” or “zero” position strategies and I also don’t believe in the “best player available” strategy. At that point, you might as well just auto draft. The strategy that I believe in is simple: get the players that fit how you want to build your team. For example: if you believe you can build your receivers around Amari Cooper as your WR1, go ahead and take two strong running backs with your first two picks. If you’re like me, you’re eyeing George Kittle in the third round. So what I’m probably going to do is get James Conner as my RB1 if I land in the back half of the first round and then take Michael Thomas, Odell Beckham Jr., or Mike Evans based on availability in the second round. That way, I have a strong RB1, WR1, and TE to start. Let’s go through the first two rounds in a 12 team PPR draft. If you still play in standard leagues, throat punch your commissioner. Eh, don’t do that, I don’t have bail money for you.
Don’t overcomplicate this in any format. You should take the best player left on the board out of Christian McCaffrey, Saquon Barkley, Alvin Kamara, and David Johnson. I know that I said in the introduction to not just automatically take the best available player, but in this case, each and every player has a chance to finish as the RB1.
How I have them ranked right now:
3. Alvin Kamara
I hate this range this year. The best players are gone and the back half is going to get two picks of the same caliber of player as you are here before you even get to your second pick. Personally, I’m taking DeAndre Hopkins or Davante Adams knowing that I am getting a step above the other wide receivers in the red zone. If you really want to take a walk on the wild side, you can bet on Ezekiel Elliott showing up before week 1.
James Conner’s ADP is creeping up into the 10-11 range, and it should be. James Conner is an elite tackle breaker with pass catching abilities and an eye for the end zone. If Conner is on the board at anytime in this range, I’m scooping him up without hesitation. I’m not concerned about the ankle injury from last season and there is injury risk with any elite running back that I’m willing to take on.
If Conner is off of the board, I either want Odell Beckham Jr. or Julio Jones. I’d take Odell first because that offense is going to be rocking and if Odell stays healthy the motivation should be back for those 1,400 yard and double digit touchdown seasons. Sign me up for The Beckham-Baker touchdown celebrations. If Beckham is gone, Julio has such a high catch and yardage floor and I wouldn’t argue with that at the end of the first round.
You either ended up with James Conner or a pretty solid wide receiver in the first round. You have a couple of options based on how you want to structure your roster. Dalvin Cook should be sitting there and probably Todd Gurley too. I can’t blame you if you want to grab either one of them.
When I’m in this spot, I’m grabbing another wide receiver knowing that I can probably double up on Chris Carson and Josh Jacobs at the 3/4 turn. If one or the other isn’t there Marlon Mack or Devonta Freeman could be at the 3/4 turn as well. Getting back to the second pick, I’m eyeing whoever falls out of Michael Thomas, Odell Beckham, and Julio Jones. If neither of them is there, I’m fine with Mike Evans as a WR2. Bang, now you have two top notch wide receivers and there should be decent RB depth left when you pick again.
I’m not into assuming the Todd Gurley risk, but at the same time it’s tough to advise against it. There’s still value here because although he won’t finish as the #1 RB, he has top 7 capabilities on a limited work load in that offense. You have my blessing. I’m eyeing Mike Evans here knowing that I’m closer to some of the running back talent in the 3rd round than the back of the draft is. If Mike Evans is gone, this is a good Tyreek Hill spot if the rest of your league stayed away. I totally get it if you shy away from him as well. We’re picking humans that we have to root for. If Evans and Hill aren’t options Keenan Allen is looking pretty good here as well. He’s going to be peppered with targets all season and shouldn’t have have any issues clearing 1,250+ yards. Hopefully he can find the end zone more this year.
If you’re picking here, you probably took one of the elite running backs in the first round. If one of Mike Evans, Keenan Allen, or JuJu Smith Schuster has fell to this spot, grab one! The wide receiver drop off after that tier is steep. If all of the receivers that I have mentioned in the second round are gone, I’m all over Aaron Jones or Kerryon Johnson. You can smash at the running back position week in and week out with the combo of either one of those and your first round running back. Now in your 3rd round, you can decide if you want to take George Kittle or reach for a wide receiver. There are so many options! I’ll let you know what I’d do next week.