With training camp just a few weeks away, it’s not too early to start thinking about fantasy football. In fact it’s never too early to start thinking about fantasy football. Of course there are many strategies upon approaching the draft, beginning with the classic choice of sealing up running backs in the first two rounds.
With the influence of rules implemented in the NFL over the last few seasons to protect the quarterback (the Brady rule, in particular), the league has turned into more of a passing league. Many teams have broken away from having a one horse power back to sharing the work load with multiple runners, leaving the depth of dominant backs lacking. With that being said, the theory of grabbing two backs right away is not as prevalent as it used to be.
So what’s the appropriate strategy heading into your draft this year? Prepare for any scenario, whether it’s securing the first pick or having to wait until the middle or end of the first round. In the end it all comes down to health, a little luck, and striking some gold on the waiver wire. With that being said, here are some early questions to consider that might help with your draft.
1. Is there a consensus overall No. 1 pick?
That would have to be Adrian Peterson. After suffering a torn ACL at the end of the 2011 season, Peterson bounced back to have one of the most productive seasons by a running back in NFL history. Will he put up the same numbers this year? More than likely not. But if last year showed anything, it’s that Peterson is a hard worker and he proved anyone that doubted him wrong. A guy that determined is somebody you want on your team. Plus, throw in Minnesota’s subpar passing game, and Peterson is primed for another big season.
2. Which free agent will have the biggest fantasy impact on their new team?
Wes Welker has been Tom Brady’s favorite target, catching more than 100 passes in five of the past six seasons. If used appropriately, there’s no reason he can’t have the same success in Denver with Peyton Manning. He will have to share the wealth with fellow receivers Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker. Also look for running backs Steven Jackson, Ahmad Bradshaw and Reggie Bush to fit in and contribute with their new teams, while wide receivers Mike Wallace and Greg Jennings might struggle with new and lower-grade quarterbacks throwing them the ball.
3. Which Robert Griffin III will you draft this year?
Early signs are showing that Robert Griffin III could be ready for Week 1 after undergoing surgery in January to repair torn ligaments in his right knee. There’s no doubt that a healthy Griffin III would be ranked as a top quarterback. If not, he will be a mid-round pick. Although Griffin III’s talents make him hard to avoid, it might be a safer bet to pick a passer with a better track history. Sill Griffin III could be worth taking a chance on, while also drafting a viable backup in case injuries continue to be a problem. It’s a chance that could help you win your league.
4. Who’s going to be catching the ball in New England
This off season Tom Brady’s receiving core has been dropping like flies, with Wes Welker and Danny Woodhead signing with other teams, Brandon Lloyd being cut, Rob Gronkowski undergoing back surgery and Aaron Hernandez looking at life in prison. Gronkowski will begin the preseason on the Physically Unable to Perform list, and it’s still unclear if he will be ready to start the regular season. Receiver Danny Amendola has the biggest upside here, replacing Welker in the slot with the potential to put up some big numbers. He needs to stay on the field, though, playing only 12 games over the past two seasons. Rookie receiver Aaron Dobson has the tools to make an impact if he can build a rapport with Brady. If Gronkowski ends up missing regular season games, Jake Ballard could be a sleeper at the tight end position.
5. What rookies are worth drafting?
There’s definitely a few to consider. The player at the top of most lists is Tavon Austin, the wide receiver for the St. Louis Rams. They traded up to draft him eighth overall in April’s draft, and Austin has the speed and quickness to become a favorite target for Sam Bradford. Another receiver that could contribute right away is DeAndre Hopkins for the Houston Texans. He could complement Andre Johnson as a second receiver and reap some of the benefits. The running back position might be a little deeper, beginning with Montee Ball, who should be the featured back in Denver. Other runners to keep an eye on are Pittsburgh’s Le’Veon Bell, Cincinnati’s Giovani Bernard and Green Bay’s Eddie Lacy.