There is no greater feeling in the world than coming to one’s fantasy football draft armed with a sound strategy and a self-made cheat sheet (Well maybe one, but I can’t help you there). Here’s the anatomy of a strategy that I have generally been sticking to this year, and an example of the strategy in action in a recent draft that I took part in.
First Round: In the first round, always go with the best value on your draft board.
With the eighth pick: C.J. Spiller, RB1 – I actually had Spiller ahead of Ray Rice and Trent Richardson on my cheat sheet; so to me, this was a steal at No. 8.
Second Round: If you didn’t draft a running back in the first round, you should draft one here. If you did, go with the best available value. Unless you see incredible value at the quarterback position, avoid it. Do not draft a tight end in the second round.
With the 17th pick:
, RB2 – A no-brainer selection in the middle of the second round. Matt Forte, Frank Gore or Stevan Ridley would have worked here, too; but if I could have gotten A.J. Green, I would have.
Third Round: If you only have one running back so far, draft a second one here. If you already have two running backs, generally go with the best available wide receiver. There is a sharp drop off at the wide receiver position after this round; and the wide receiver position as a whole tends to have the least turnover in value from year to year. Seven of the 12 wide receivers ranked in the top-12 preseason last year finished in the top-12. That’s more than any other position. Get a consistent WR1, and you can take fliers or WR2s later.
With the 32nd pick:
, WR1 – Kind of a tossup between Jackson and Larry Fitzgerald here. My cheat sheet gave Jackson the edge.
Fourth Round: Freebie! Take the best available player regardless of position. This year, it seems that a lot of elite quarterbacks are falling here, so since you should have the foundation of your team already laid with two running backs and a wide receiver, this is a great round to scoop up that quarterback talent.
With the 41st pick:
, QB – Getting a 20 points-per-game quarterback in the fourth round gives me some inkling into how it must feel to rob the federal reserve bank.
Fifth and Sixth Rounds: I separate the first six rounds into three round blocks. The first three rounds, I build a core with two running backs and one wide receiver. The following three rounds I want a quarterback, a running back (in leagues where I can start three), and a wide receiver or tight end (two wide receivers or one wide receiver and one tight end in leagues where I only start two running backs).
With the 56th pick:
, TE – This was kind of a homer pick, as I am a huge Atlanta Falcons fan; but, with so much uncertainty at the tight end position, it seems a safe way to go in the fifth.
With the 65th pick: Le’Veon Bell, RB3/Flex – Not a great offensive line, but the Pittsburgh Steelers like to establish a ground game; and he’s definitely their kind of running back. Rashard Mendenhall, Ahmad Bradshaw, and BenJarvus Green-Ellis were available still. Better to go with the devil you don’t know than the one that you do.