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How to Avoid Becoming a Lemming at Your Draft

So, you’re preparing for your draft and trying to gather as much information as you can as to not end up as the laughingstock of your league. You’re in a 12-team league with points-per-reception scoring and a snake, or serpentine, style draft. You’ll be starting one quarterback, two running backs, three wide receivers, one tight end, one kicker and one defense/special teams. The more you read, the more you find the same thing over and over again.

The “experts” suggest you:

1) Wait on quarterbacks. You can get a quality starter in the middle rounds, so don’t overpay early in your draft.

2) Load up on running backs early. There is a significant drop after the top backs are off the board, so make sure you don’t miss out.

3)  The wide receiver position is as deep as it has ever been. The NFL has become a pass-happy league and the rules are much more favorable for receivers than defenders.

4) Draft your kicker and defense at the end of your draft. These positions are the hardest to project, so grab one and utilize the waiver wire throughout the season and play matchups.

I agree this strategy is very good, if you are fortunate enough to be picking in the first half of the first round. However, if you follow these suggestions and pick seventh or later, you will be following along like a lemming. Instead, forge ahead as the one to be followed. So, how can you become the leader of the lemmings as opposed to one of the herd?  Take a left turn at the cliff and watch what happens.

Let’s assume you have the ninth pick in your league. According to average draft position (ADP) data courtesy of MyFantasyLeague, found here, you can reasonably expect Adrian Peterson, Doug Martin, Arian Foster, Calvin Johnson, Trent Richardson, C.J. Spiller, Jamaal Charles and Ray Rice to be selected before your pick.

Remember suggestion No. 2 from above?  Load up on running backs. Well, if you take a running back, like everybody else, you’re left with the choice of LeSean McCoy, Marshawn Lynch, Alfred Morris and Matt Forte. While solid choices, each comes with at least a modicum of uncertainty surrounding them. Here is your chance to make that left turn and start leading the pack instead of following them off the cliff. It will take some intestinal fortitude, but if you’re willing to take some risk, this strategy could pay off handsomely.

You want to establish an advantage at other positions and load up on running backs in the middle rounds of your draft. As Calvin Johnson is the only wide receiver off the board at this point, why not go that route? You could gain a considerable advantage by grabbing A.J Green, Julio Jones, Brandon Marshall or Dez Bryant with that first pick. Then, if another of this group falls to you in the second round, double your pleasure. You’ll be way ahead of the curve at wide receiver and will have avoided marching off the cliff.

Another option is to go wide receiver and Jimmy Graham. Graham is the most likely player to finish at No. 1 at his position due to the injury concerns surrounding his biggest two competitors, Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. You could gain as much as a 50-point advantage at tight end if you can secure Graham with one of your first two picks. Be aware, Graham’s current average draft position is 2.05, so there is a chance another non-lemming could snatch him up before your second pick.

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