Razzballers and other people of the internet, it is time for us to get to know each other. I’m not talking a/s/l, hobbies, or dreams in life. We aren’t that close. I’m talking about draft strategy. It is important for you to have an overall background on how I approach drafts prior to reading player profiles to understand the lens I am looking at players through. If you disagree with my philosophy that wouldn’t necessarily make the analysis useless, but it might make the risk level associated with certain players that I am willing to accept, less acceptable to you, or vice versa.
My strategy for standard PPR leagues is essentially best player available while leaning running back heavy. There really isn’t a rule for the running back portion of the strategy outside of if it is a rankings toss-up I will always pick the running back. I typically aim to have my RB/FLEX positions filled by the end of round 5 at the latest, often much earlier, with at least one additional bench back well before the double digit rounds.
The reason that I lean heavy RB is the pursuit of multiple RB1s on the same roster without having to rely on the waiver wire in season for running back help to succeed. Additionally, this strategy allows me to focus on higher upside early-mid round running backs providing a larger overall roster ceiling, because I will have additional depth behind them. This allows me to focus my waiver wire attention on cheaper WRs to stream, or attacking running back situations a week earlier than my opponents who are focused in on immediate needs.
*All ADP data from FantasyFootballCalculator
Quarterbacks: I have every high-end quarterback evaluated and know the point that I am willing to draft them if the room lets them slide. For example, if Patrick Mahomes makes it to round 5, or DeShaun Watson is sitting there in round 8 I’m always willing to draft them. However, if it is a single QB position league with shallow rosters these players rarely make it to that value point, and many times I won’t draft a quarterback. If necessary, I will take my week 1 streamer in the last rounds prior to K/DEF (If those are required to be drafted). In a deeper bench league (8 spots+) if I anticipate 20+ QBs being rostered I will typically draft an upside QB in the early double digit rounds and track the rest of the rosters. If that 20+ QB rostered mark is going to hit I will take a safer QB at that point with great matchups in the 1st quarter of the schedule. I spend a lot of my draft prep evaluating early season schedules for quarterbacks. Players that fit the mold are Dak Prescott, Lamar Jackson, and…. Kirk Cousins.
Running Backs: Early and often. My first back is typically the least risky in my rankings, while my second and third back are riskier hoping that one will finish as an RB1 such as Aaron Jones, or Derrick Henry. I typically try to find backs with a positive offensive environment where it only takes one change in circumstance for them to get a majority of the touches. I stay away from players with huge week-to-week variance such as Tarik Cohen, or who are in a continuous time share in which case even if the other portion of the timeshare gets injured will still have a heavy split, like Austin Ekeler. I favor players such as Ito Smith in the later rounds because of situation, talent, and if an injury were to happen to Devonta Freeman there isn’t much in the path of a full workload.
Wide Receivers: Some might think based on the content of this article that I don’t value wide receivers at drafts, but that isn’t really the case. The real reason I prefer running backs is that outside of injury top 12 ADP WRs are much safer than their RB counterparts as long as you avoid the age drop-off. The only WRs drafted in the top 12 ADP in the last 2 years that didn’t suffer an injury, and were under the age of 32 that failed finish in the top 20 at the position were Dez Bryant and Amari Cooper in 2017. The best part about these top end WRs is that they typically make it past the 2/3 turn. I almost always try to grab one of the top 12 guys, and then load up on high upside wide receivers that are either an upside secondary option in an explosive offense, or single change in circumstance away from becoming a target funnel in the middle rounds. The average WR2 provided 12.3 fantasy points per week in 2018, and 11.5 points in 2017. The average WR3 provided 10.0 in 2018, and 9.5 in 2017. You can find similar WR3 numbers on the waiver wire every week to stream. This is the “get your guys” portion of the draft for me. The players you need to focus on drafting are those with the greatest chance of becoming WR1s like Dede Westbrook and Calvin Ridley.
Tight Ends: The 2017 and 2018 top 6 tight end finishes were comprised of 7 tight ends drafted in the 7th round or later. Additionally, 6 of the 13 tight ends drafted inside of the top 7 rounds failed to finish within the top 10 in their respective seasons. However, 7 of 9 tight ends drafted in rounds 7-9 returned similar value, or broke out. This is where I like to live at the tight end position. Travis Kelce might be the largest test to this philosophy as I do believe his probability of failure this season is minimal and could provide a huge advantage at the position. In all likelihood, he will not make it to a position I am comfortable giving up an advantage at RB, or a secure WR1.