First time drafting? Have had a series of bad drafts? Looking for a new strategy to make everyone fear you team? Or maybe just looking to change things up? Look no further! In this following article we will break down our drafting strategy that has made us successful for the last five years!
Few key words to know for a first year fantasy football player.
- ADP: Average Draft Position
- Sleeper or Dark Horse: Players with a late round ADP who have a good chance of finishing above their ADP.
- RB: Running Back
- TE: Tight ends
- WR: Wide receivers
- D/ST: Defense/ special team
- Flex: Either a WR, RB or TE
- Superflex: Either a QB, WR, RB, or TE
- FPPG- Fantasy Points Per Game
Note: Rankings, sleepers and players to avoid are all linked throughout the strategy to provide you with the most optimal level of success.
Round 1: Draft a Running back. If you don’t know which RBs to target take a look at our RB rankings here. It’s simple, there are 32 teams in the NFL and each team has either one workhorse back or they are going with the committee approach. After looking into every team, there are truly only about 16 backs that have the sole role of being the workhorse on their team. Of those 16 backs about 10 to 12 of those are proven in both, the run and the pass game. Depending on how many people are in your draft (most leagues are 8-14) these running backs will be high in demand during round 1. The exceptions to drafting an RB is if you are targeting Michael Thomas towards the mid-first round or drafting Devante Adams with picks between 12-14 in round 1. This is because these receivers have proven to be consistent WR1s who put up points weekly against even the best corners in the NFL.
Round 2: If you have an early second round pick (first 3), draft as if you have a late first so use the same rules as above, choosing a running back or one of the receivers mentioned. As you get to the mid-second round (next 4) you should start looking at Julio Jones or Tyreek Hill as the WRs to draft. Other than them, you should continue to target an RB based on the rankings or their ADP. We push our new drafters to go with the RB-RB strategy, taking a running back in round 1 and round 2. During the late-second round target RBs because by this time there are only about 2-4 of those “sole role RBs” left.
Round 3: This round you can go either RB or WR, however, if you drafted one RB and one WR we strongly urge you to draft a RB here. This is because there are 2 consistent WRs per team compared to 1 RB as previously mentioned so there will be chances later to target a WR. Now if you went with RB-RB then here is where you’ll draft your first WR. If you don’t know which WRs to target look at our rankings here and go off on who is available. Workhorse (this means they are the sole backs on their team and will average more than 15 carries a game) running backs to target in this round include but aren’t limited to David Johnson, James Conner, Nick Chubb and Todd Gurley (respectively). One trend that we have been seeing is drafting a tight end here but it isn’t a huge priority since there are many TEs to target later.
Round 4 thru Round 6: Fill up on WRs and RBs here. Good place to draft a rookie RB that is due for a big season, if you don’t know much about rookie RBs click here. Also check out our tweets (here and here) on why to avoid Colts RB, Jonathan Taylor. I have seen people very high on him and drafting him at his current ADP which we believe is way too high. Towards rounds 5 and 6 it is also worth looking at a TE as well. TE rankings available here.
Round 6 thru 8: This is where we recommend looking to target a QB. Don’t know which QBs to target? Click here for our QB rankings. There is an excess of quality fantasy quarterbacks that can be drafted in this range. In these rounds, look to target a dual threat QB like; Dak Prescott, Russell Wilson, Deshaun Watson, Kyler Murray, Carson Wentz or Josh Allen (Note: I did not mention Cam Newton or Tyrod Taylor because they have extremely late ADPs). If all these QBs are gone when it gets to your pick, do not panic, draft a flex player here. There are many other sleeper QBs that you will be able to target in the later rounds. During rounds 7 or 8 if you are drafting a flex ADP isn’t as important, and you should go for the high-upside players you feel confident in! This is also a good place to start looking at some rookie WRs (click here to see which ones to pursue). Also these rounds are a good place to target a sleeper TE if you don’t already have one. Click here to see our sleeper TEs, be vary of their ADP however, you might be able to get one of these TEs way later.
Round 9 to Round 10: These rounds have led us to a few victories over the years and here is why; we call it “handcuff season”. In these crucial rounds you should look to draft a handcuff RB to one of the major workhorse backs. Handcuff RBs are the backup running backs to starters like Ezekiel Elliot and Dalvin Cook who don’t see much time on the field unless the starter goes down. If the starter does however get traded or unfortunately suffers an injury this handcuff RB automatically becomes a first round pick that you got in the 10th round! Don’t know which RBs are good handcuffs? Go for Chase Edmunds (AZ), Tony Pollard (DAL), or Alexander Mattison (MIN)!
Late rounds: Here you target players that are low risk high reward at the running back and WR position. Click here for our WR sleepers and here for our RB sleepers. You might even target a QB if you haven’t grabbed one yet, Mathew Stafford and Jared Goff can give you great value out of this position. We advise holding off on kickers and defenses because of how unpredictable they are on a year-to-year basis. Our normal strategy is to draft some players who are doing great in training camp and see if they can make their way into a starting spot. If they don’t cut them before week 1, go for a kicker and defense. Jerick McKinnon (SF) is a good example of one of these players (explained in our Sleeper RB article).
Last Round: This where you can target a defense if you don’t want to worry about any picking one up before the season. Click here to see which defenses to target and which ones to avoid. For kickers, it’s simple unless your league settings force you to draft a kicker, do not draft one. Kickers are too hard to rank as no one knows which offense will be high scoring in terms of field goals and touchdowns combined. So what we advise is to pick up a kicker closer to when the season starts (literally the day before) by dropping a player who has been underperforming at training camp. To pick a kicker do it based on an easy matchup for week 1. After about week 3 you will see a trend of a team that’s getting to the red zone but struggling to score yet also keeping the games close and that is the kicker you want on your roster. In 2018 that was the Niners kicker, Phill Dawson, in 2019 it was Josh Lambo for the Jaguars and Zane Gonzalez for the Cardinals.
This concludes our strategies for your fantasy football drafts. As the season goes on and you are wondering if you should take a certain trade, our DMs are open (both instagram and twitter)! Also follow us or subscribe to our mailing list to get season updates on sits and starts for the week, as well as waiver wire targets. Finally just remember Fantasy Football is a fun way to stay engaged with the NFL so don’t stress too much and just enjoy football!