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! 


2020 Sleeper Runningbacks

In this article, Eric examines three options for sleeper runningbacks for the 2020 season.

There’s no doubt that the running back has quickly become the most valued position in fantasy football, with 14 out of the first 20 picks in PPR leagues being starting running backs. Being able to find a “sleeper” running back outside of these first 14 runningbacks can prove to be an invaluable asset for depth or for trade purposes. In particular, there are three quality sleeper running backs I am attempting to target late in my drafts. 

I think it’s important to understand why so many people are attempting to draft so many RBs so early. Last year, in 2019 PPR leagues, the “premium” RBs (Aaron Jones, Dalvin Cook, Ezekiel Elliot, Austin Ekeler, Alvin Kamara, Saquon Barkley, Derrick Henry) averaged a little under 20 PPG (McCaffery averaged 30 which blows my mind). Mark Ingram and Nick Chubb were next up with approximately 16 PPG, which is nearly a 20% decrease in points. This leads you to the second tier of running backs (Miles Sanders, Josh Jacobs, Joe Mixon, Le’veon Bell, Todd Gurley, etc), who were all around 14 PPG. Drafting one of those premium backs gives you a 30% point advantage over a tier 2 starter, which ends around RB 20. Wide receivers and quarterbacks have a way more stable core. For receivers, we don’t see a 30% fall off from the premium receivers until you exit the top 30.  Quarterbacks have a quicker fall off, but most standard leagues only draft one quarterback so there are more than enough solid fantasy options. 

The top RB 1 options(McCaffery, Zeke, Cook, Barkley, etc) are talented running backs who have the sole control of their backfield. Finding a runningback of their talent as a sleeper is always difficult, however finding options who are in position to take the bulk of snaps is not. One of the most important things I look at is the opportunity for success. This is why I believe David Johnson can finally return to his 2016 form, as he is the primary option for a Texans offense that will need to generate offense without DeAndre Hopkins. It is also why I believe David Montgomery will be able to out-perform his draft position by a large amount as the sole option on the Chicago Bears. Jerick McKinnon also has a chance to become a huge contributor to one of the leagues top rushing offenses. 

David Johnson: Currently being drafted at RB 20 (according to FantasyFootballCalculator), David Johnson has a legitimate chance at finishing in the top-10 RBs. Finishing as RB1 in 2016 and RB10 in 2018, injuries have prevented him from succeeding in 2017 and 2019. I feel like most fantasy owners have been burned by him at least once in the past few years (I know I have), but I believe he is worth one more shot. Bell, Fournette, Carson, Gordon, and Gurley are all being drafted slightly ahead of David Johnson. However, unlike Carson and Gordon, Johnson represents the clear-cut starting RB in his backfield. Bell is forced to rush behind a nearly brand-new offensive line who get 14 padded practices to gain chemistry and face one of the hardest schedules in football. Fournette’s breakout season last year was fueled by his high volume of targets and receptions. However, the signing of new OC Jay Gruden’s favorite third down back, Chris Thompson, doesn’t bode well for his pass volume. 

David Johnson comes to a team that just provided Carlos Hyde a 1,000 yard season behind a run-blocking offensive line that ranked slightly above average with the addition of Laremy Tunsil (per Football Outsiders). On the Cardinal’s offensive line that was ranked one spot below the Texans, Johnson was able to reach RB 7 through 6 weeks before his injury in 2019. He showed he could be a reliable pass catcher after his 2017 wrist injury, and continued to show his explosive running until he went down with an injury. By the time he recovered, HC Kliff Klingsbury was focused on seeing what the Cardinals had with RB Kenyan Drake, and benched Johnson for the season. Bill O’Brian made a career-deciding trade when he sent Hopkins to the Cardinals in exchange for David Johnson and draft picks. If David Johnson fails, Texans fans will be calling for O’Brian’s head. It is in his best interest to set Johnson up for success, and by trading that much, I feel like that is his intention. If David Johnson can avoid freak injuries, I believe he will easily surpass his RB 20 ADP and should give you that “premium” RB point advantage. 

David Montgomery: Montgomery has an ADP of 42, putting him at RB 23. I completely understand if you want no part of the Bear’s offense (except for Allen Robinson of course). Trubisky essentially became a national joke with his terrible 2019 season. David Montgomery, who was drafted as a top-30 pick last year, largely disappointed with his RB 25 finish. The Bear’s offensive line was a large part of his struggle. Projected to finish as a top-10 unit, the line had the 28th worst run blocking metrics in the NFL (per Football Outsiders). David Montgomery was in the bottom 30 for yards before contact, as the line struggled to communicate and make the right blocks. The Bears offensive line made multiple improvements, signing two former top-50 picks and drafting a couple depth pieces. If they can exceed their atrocious finish last season, Montgomery should see a huge increase in rush yards.

There are many positives for Montgomery other than an improved line. In 2019, he gained 44% of his yards after contact. Montgomery, who was one of the best tackle-breakers in all of NCAA history, was 6th in the NFL with 28 broken tackles. Now, his rehab doctor reported he dropped 4% body fat and gained one pound, which means he put on a huge amount of muscle in the offseason. His new-found strength should prove a huge asset in the red zone as well. In fact, Montgomery led the NFL by taking 85% of his team’s red zone carries, the highest in the NFL. If Trubisky can fix some of his struggles (which Chicago beat writers are saying he has), Montgomery should see way more scoring opportunities to improve his 6 touchdowns in 2019. While Montgomery may not have the proven ceiling of David Johnson, he is the only lead back left on the draft board past the third round. A prolific college runner, Montgomery has the chance to explode and give you a massive advantage in your league. He faces a league average rushing strength of schedule (per FantasyPros). At the worst, he retains his RB 25 spot from last season, and you get what you drafted. But if you are able to grab a WR or two before this pick, I think he offers a safe floor with a high ceiling.

Jerick Mckinnon: McKinnon hasn’t been fantasy relevant since his Vikings days three years ago, but you wanted a sleeper right? With an ADP outside of the top-170, he is likely going undrafted in nearly all leagues. The 49ers seemed to have found their lead back in Raheem Mostert, but I wouldn’t be so sure. Remember, two seasons ago, Kyle Shanahan signed McKinnon and made him a top-5 paid back in the league. When he tore his ACL in the last practice of the preseason, Shanahan said he was worried because his whole playbook was designed around McKinnon. One of the highest scoring offenses in the league with a lead back sounds like fantasy football gold. It’s why people are so enticed by Clyde Edwards-Helaire. The 49ers beat reporters are saying McKinnon looks great in camp, and still appears to have his game-breaking speed and agility. He has been taking multiple passes and it appears like he will play a swiss army knife role in Shanahan’s offense this year, lining up all over the field. 

For essentially a free pick, you get a handcuff with possible stand-alone value in an offense that dominated with the run last season. Mostert has struggled with injuries in the past and Tevin Coleman was wildly inefficient last year. If Jerick McKinnon looks like what Shanahan paid so much for years ago, I wouldn’t be surprised if he finishes in the top-30. We saw what Shanahan could do with UDFA Matt Brieda just based on his speed. If McKinnon is given similar opportunities, he should pull off big plays left and right. After not playing for two seasons and taking heavy heat from 49ers fans left and right, I wouldn’t be surprised if McKinnon plays with a chip on his shoulder this year.

With running backs all being drafted so early, it is difficult to find a supposed “sleeper”. I believe that David Johnson and David Montgomery will both outperform their ADP by a wide margin, and provide extreme value in one of fantasy football’s most desired positions. While McKinnon may not amount to anything this season, he has the potential to be the lead back for the 49ers. He is the one late dart throw I am taking in many of my leagues just to hold onto, solely because of what I perceive his ceiling to be. Of course, many others may disagree, and if you do let us know on Twitter! 

GeekSports 2020 PPR RB Rankings

Here are our rankings for the 2020 season! These will be updated as the offseason continues! (Currently adjusted for Covid opt-outs, Guice release, NE signing of Lamar Miller)

If you have any questions as to our rankings let us know on twitter! Check out our social media at the bottom of the page.