As draft day approaches in your leagues it is smart to formulate some sort of strategy beforehand so we aren’t completely blind going in and just pick whoever pops up as best available. A good way to start is by figuring out what positions are more valuable to you than others. Just so we are all on the same page, this analysis is going to be based on a fairly standard roster makeup that consists of a QB, RB1, RB2, WR1, WR2, Flex (RB/WR/TE), TE, K, D/ST, and 6 Bench spots.
Let’s start by taking a look at each position and talk through who is available as we build our approach.
QB: Quarterback is more valuable in real life than on your fantasy team. If you take a look at the rankings I see about 13-14 quarterbacks that I wouldn’t mind starting on a week to week basis. With most leagues consisting of 10-12 teams you could see why one wouldn’t be as quick to take a quarterback this year. Now if you look at the list of quarterbacks and can’t imagine starting Jimmy G or Matt Ryan then you can adjust your valuation up a notch for this position. Since there are so many viable options here I will be using the earlier rounds to fill out the other skilled positions first. Now it is a balancing act with what your league is doing so don’t wait too long. After a majority of the teams have a QB or when someone drafts a backup you should probably think about grabbing a starter.
RB: A popular strategy has been to draft running backs early and often. That trend will continue this year even though the field of running backs is a lot deeper than previous years. There are at least 10 or so viable RB1s along with another 8-10 viable RB2s. As with anything the draft is a give and take. If you load up on running backs then you are going to be digging through scraps looking for value at other positions. Personally, I am fine with that and am leaning toward rolling with the masses and grabbing my running backs early. This position has the least variance so you can usually count on a consistent level of production that can be the foundation for drafting and building your team.
WR: Wide receiver has the most variance of any position. If you have had Julio on your team you have seen this first hand as one week he may go off for 40 fantasy points and the next get 6. Not sure if there is anything much more frustrating than that excluding injuries. A lot of this variance we see comes from matchups on a weekly basis. There are more teams that have a lockdown corner than there are teams that have a lockdown run game. Outside of Antonio Brown and Deandre Hopkins (if you think Deshaun picks up where he left off), there are very few consistent receivers that produce on a weekly basis. Because of this I am lower on receivers, even the top guys, more so than most other experts.
TE: Top heavy as it has been in recent years, though you could make a case that it is more a big 3 (Gronk, Kelce, Ertz) before the talent drops off to the second tier of another 4-5 solid players (Olsen, Engram, Graham, Rudolph, Walker). Regardless, Gronk is in a league of his own so if I am taking a tight end earlier than everyone else, that is who I’m taking. If I pass on him then I want to make it a priority to snag one of the other 4-5 mentioned above because there is a big gap in potential after they are off the board and you will be throwing darts each week for your Tight End spot. If darts is your thing then you could pass on drafting a tight end altogether and wait to the end to pick up what’s left to stream.
K: Not going to waste much time here. If you are that person who drafts a kicker in round 7 then at least take Gostkowski. One could also argue for Tucker especially if your league gives 5 points for making 50+ yard field goals. Note that I haven’t actually checked kicking stats to see if they back this reasoning up because I don’t care enough about this position. If you feel the same way then just wait and draft a kicker with your last pick like I will be doing. All kickers are going to be close as far as the value you get out of them so don’t stress on this too much. Alright I wrote too much here so let’s move on..
D/ST: Defense and Special Teams is another position I do not like jumping on early. Now this position is not as even across the board as Kickers are so a little more thought should go into it but again not too much. Most teams will keep one D/ST on their roster to start so even if you don’t draft a defense until the last pick you should still be able to get a top 10-15 squad and be able to stream week to week against a rebuilding team. On top of this it is fairly hard to predict what defense is going to be dominant each year before seeing them play a few games as so many factors play a part in their performance. To give an example of this, think about who drafted the Eagles Defense or Jaguars Defense last year. I am fairly sure they were both top 5 fantasy defenses and if your leagues were anything like mine, no one drafted them.
Bench: If you read everything above you should know where I am headed with this. The bench should be used mainly for RBs and WRs that have potential for a breakout season. Gamble on some picks with a rookie that may have a more expanded role instead of keeping a second kicker or defense. If you are streaming a position, i.e. picking up free agents weekly to exploit a matchup or future matchup, then having a second QB, TE, D/ST (if you really want) makes sense too when streaming. Handcuffs as well can be picked up in the later rounds as needed. Personally, I don’t handcuff my players, I hope they stay healthy and adjust as needed at the time if they do get injured.
So by now you should have a feel about how I am planning on handling my drafts. Here’s the Sparknotes version if I bored you…
- QB – I can wait.
- RB – loading up here. 3 out of my top 4 picks could be a RB.
- WR – very few consistent options, no real rush to draft any until the RBs are off the board
- TE – Focusing on getting a top 8 guy here so I can avoid playing darts with Eifert.
- K – ha.
- D/ST – stream and play the matchups.
- Bench – boom or bust options, streamers, handcuffs
Good talk and good luck.