15 … 14 … 13. Your heart begins to race as the draft clock ticks away on your first-round pick. Many analysts say that leagues are not won in the first round, but they can certainly be lost there. The clock now falls to single digits and pressure begins to mount as opposing managers chat sarcastically about your indecisiveness. Reluctantly, you begin to click your computer mouse on Andre Johnson, but then take another hasty glance at both Aaron Rodgers and Rashard Mendenhall on your cheat sheet. You realize that choosing the right player is not the dilemma, but rather determining which position to draft with your first pick, in fact, is the true conundrum.
Turn back the clock to 2010 to see which positions generated the most fantasy points in standard leagues. Of the Top 25 in a standard head-to-head league with traditional scoring, you will find 11 quarterbacks, 11 running backs and four wide receivers. Injuries to Antonio Gates, Jermichael Finley and Dallas Clark hindered any cause of a tight end landing on this elite list. Regardless, quarterbacks and running backs continue to dominate fantasy scoring. If you rewind further to 2009, the trend continues as 20 of the Top 25 were quarterbacks and running backs. Although it may be tempting to dig deep and grab Gates or Andre Johnson early, is the reward worth the risk?
As you scrupulously whittle down your Top 25 list, it is also imperative to understand your league’s format, including roster and scoring settings. The data mentioned for 2009 and 2010 applied to standard head-to-head leagues with traditional scoring. Auction and rotisserie leagues may impart a different strategy. Or, leagues with a flex position, points per reception, or lowered points for quarterback touchdowns are also variables that can change your positional draft strategy. For instance, running back Michael Turner was a very consistent fantasy option last season as he earned 205 points in standard leagues, which was more than wide receiver Roddy White’s 193 points. However, White’s value in a points per reception league was significantly higher where he earned 308 points to Turner’s 217 points. As you can see, it is important to understand league format, scoring settings and positional scarcity when determining whether to grab a signal caller, a wideout or a back with those important “oh, so important” first two picks.