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DRAFTING: Hey Diddle Diddle, How to Draft from the Middle

For many leagues, you often find your drafting position in mid-July or early August. Some leagues, however choose to wait until draft day and it can be a dreadful dilemma on who to select and when. This strategy is primarily best for those of you who receive picks 6-12 or 6-10 depending on how many people are in your league.

The middle of the first round can be tough when the horses come off the board. In the horses we mean the big boys with not much competition behind them in terms of distribution of carries and offenses which literally run through them. These thoroughbreds consist of Saquon Barkley, Christian McCaffrey, Ezekiel Elliott, Alvin Kamara, Todd Gurley and Le’Veon Bell. Picking after this can be difficult because many owners will freeze and panic! Don’t be that guy! Adapt and adjust to how the draft falls.

After the Top-5 running backs are off the board, I’ve noticed over the years, some will then chase for another back in the first round thinking to themselves, “Well if I don’t get a running back now, there aren’t going to be any good ones left.” This is falling right into what your opponents want! If you’re in this spot, bypass that question mark running back that you’re unsure of and start the wide receiver run. Draft the best possible player available and at this spot it’s taking the top tier WR1, whoever you feel that may be. On your second round then you can get a running back, right? Wrong! Select another wide receiver who has WR1 upside as well! OK, so now we come back around in the third round and we get yet another wide receiver! We now have three absolute target monster wide receivers, all who are capable of putting up high-end WR1 numbers. This strategy worked for me last year to win a championship and now I’m going to provide examples of the guys who can can bring you that championship and the question marks from which to stay away from.

League-winning Wide Receivers in Round 1

Michael Thomas – An absolute beast with size, hands, and best of all an innate chemistry with stud quarterback Drew Brees. Thomas logged more than 147 targets last year with an insane catch rate of 85 percent. The chemistry is only going to get better with Drew Brees. Thomas finished with 125 receptions, 1,405 yards and nine touchdowns. He has touchdown upside as well.

Davante Adams – You can’t go wrong with this emerging stud either. Adams has been a target hog of Aaron Rodgers and it’s only going to get better. He snagged 111 balls last year for 1,386 yards and 13 touchdowns. Rodgers admitted over the summer he wants to get him even more targets. Davante is going to eat once again!

Deandre Hopkins – Hopkins is the most physically gifted wide receiver in the game today and I stand by that. He consistently catches contested balls in double-teams and makes the tough yards after the catch. Hopkins is a no-brainer from picks six and on. He logged 115 receptions, 1,572 yards and 11 touchdowns last year with an evolving quarterback. I personally see that touchdown total going up to about 14 or so. If you can get Hopkins, squeeze that trigger.

Julio Jones  You know the drill. Every year he nets 150 targets, 100 receptions, 1,500-plus yards and 7-10 touchdowns.

Second Round High-end Capable WR1

Odell Beckham Jr. – An absolutely incredible athlete capable of scoring from anywhere on the field! This guy could jump rope in a cat’s litter box and if you have any chance of getting him in the second round, consider yourself blessed! Do not be scared about his recent injury history either! He had more than 1,000 yards in 12 games played last year and six touchdowns with noodle-armed Eli Manning tossing him the rock. That is phenomenal. I expect Baker Mayfield to pepper Bekcham Jr. and finish with 90-100 receptions, 1,300-plus yards and a fresh bakers dozen of touchdowns!

Antonio Brown – The majority of owners thoughts are as follows … “I’m going to pass on (Brown) because he’s (in Oakland) with Derek Carr throwing to him.” Don’t be that person. If Brown falls to you on the wraparound, snatch him up. Look at the positives in the situation. Carr is going to pepper him targets and Oakland will be trailing a lot, especially playing in such a tough division, so garbage time points will come in abundance. The man is motivated also by the JuJu Smith-Schuster situation as well. Look for him to come out for blood this season with 150-plus targets and more than 1,200 yards and 10-plus touchdowns.

JuJu Smith-Schuster – He is another second-round talent easily capable of putting up high-end WR1 numbers again as Pittsburgh chucks it a ton. Last year he had 166 targets and 1,426 yards. The seven touchdowns should also increase as Ben Roethlisberger’s No. 1 guy.

Third Round Potential Steals

A.J. Green – If healthy, Green becomes almost a gift at his third round average draft position (ADP). If you can get Green at a WR3 value and he stays healthy, it maximizes his value incredibly. Andy Dalton’s No. 1 target has size, speed and hands and makes for a steal at his current ADP.

Mike Evans – Evans is going at borderline late Round 2 and early Round 3 in some drafts. Aerial maniac Bruce Arians now gets to improve Jameis Winston and Evans will be the main beneficiary as we remember Arians with Carson Palmer in Arizona, don’t we?! A consistent producer of 1,000-plus yards and an average of eight touchdowns per season, Evans can be a shoe in high-end WR1 in Tampa.

Adam Thielen/Keenan Allen – Both points per reception (PPR) machines and target hogs over the interior of the field for their quarterbacks. Looking for around 100 catches and 1,100 yards as your WR3? Grab one of these two. Both had more than 130 targets last year and 1,100 yards last season.

About Lou Pepe

Lou is one of our summer guest writers.