Draft strategy comes with many theories. You’ve certainly been told to take a running back with your first two picks regardless. You’ve undoubtedly heard to forego running backs entirely for three or four rounds, instead stocking up on elite wide receivers, tight ends and quarterbacks.
Want a foolproof plan? Here it is: Have backup plans.
The biggest mistake you can make going into a draft is having a plan. It makes you inflexible, and unable to take advantages of the market swings as the draft goes. With that in mind, I’ve put together three 12-team, four-round mock drafts to show how the foundation of your team will look when drafting in different spots and trying different options. Each draft uses ADP values as of August 8 at myfantasyleague.com. The parameters of each specific draft are listed above each of them.
No more than 2 WR/RB, no more than 1 QB/TE (all teams)
|Adrian Peterson||Doug Martin||Arian Foster||Calvin Johnson||Jamaal Charles||CJ Spiller||Trent Richardson||Ray Rice||LeSean McCoy||AJ Green||Marshawn Lynch||Dez Bryant|
|Maurice Jones-Drew||Larry Fitzgerald||Steven Jackson||Randall Cobb||Chris Johnson||Aaron Rodgers||Demaryius Thomas||Julio Jones||Matt Forte||Brandon Marshall||Jimmy Graham||Alfred Morris|
|Andre Johnson||DeMarco Murray||Rob Gronkowski||Drew Brees||Roddy White||Darren McFadden||Darren Sproles||Victor Cruz||Vincent Jackson||David Wilson||Reggie Bush||Stevan Ridley|
|Danny Amendola||Reggie Wayne||Peyton Manning||Frank Gore||Jason Witten||Marques Colston||Dwayne Bowe||Wes Welker||Jordy Nelson||Lamar Miller||Hakeem Nicks||Cam Newton|
This is just your basic draft going by ADP, without overloading at any position in the first four rounds. The teams I like best picked first, fifth and 10th, though I’d have taken Ridley over David Wilson if not going straight ADP. I like these teams because they didn’t take a QB in the first four picks and got two high-upside runners in the first four rounds—although in a non-PPR (ADP takes all formats into account) I’m a little less psyched about Witten in the fourth round. The teams I had the most problems with were at second, fourth and sixth. The team with the second pick went back-to-back question marks with DeMarco Murray and Reggie Wayne in rounds three and four—Murray who has struggled to stay healthy, and Wayne who’ll get far fewer targets this season. The team that picked sixth took a QB in the second round, which I flat out wouldn’t do regardless of circumstance. Following that up with Darren McFadden, who gets lumped in with Murray as a guy who has largely disappointed fantasy owners in his career, is rough. Then throw in Marques Colston as that squad’s No. 1 receiver and that leaves WR as the position of need in the next two rounds, when there also needs to be some McFadden insurance purchased sooner than later. The fourth team I don’t have as much problem with as the first two, but I still don’t love Frank Gore as my No. 1 runner, and again there’s the quarterback drafted with an early third round pick.
Picks 7/18 no RBs, picks 10/15 2 RBs, no more than 2 WR/RB, no more than 1 QB/TE
|Adrian Peterson||Doug Martin||Arian Foster||Calvin Johnson||Jamaal Charles||CJ Spiller||AJ Green||Trent Richardson||Ray Rice||LeSean McCoy||Marshawn Lynch||Dez Bryant|
|Maurice Jones-Drew||Larry Fitzgerald||Steven Jackson||Randall Cobb||Chris Johnson||Aaron Rodgers||Demaryius Thomas||Julio Jones||Brandon Marshall||Matt Forte||Jimmy Graham||Alfred Morris|
|Andre Johnson||DeMarco Murray||Rob Gronkowski||Drew Brees||Roddy White||Darren McFadden||Darren Sproles||Victor Cruz||David Wilson||Vincent Jackson||Reggie Bush||Stevan Ridley|
|Danny Amendola||Reggie Wayne||Peyton Manning||Jason Witten||Marques Colston||Dwayne Bowe||Frank Gore||Lamar Miller||Wes Welker||Jordy Nelson||Hakeem Nicks||Cam Newton|
This was specifically to show what going against the RB/RB theory would look like from the seventh spot, while going RB/RB near the turn. Now this plays out a little different in ADP in the fact that Calvin Johnson is already off the board, but again you see like in the last mock what a team would start like when taking Calvin early on and then not focusing at all on running backs. Like last time, I’m not a fan in that Brees is taken in the third round. The WR/WR setup for the team with the seventh overall pick isn’t bad, but this ADP skews a bit WR heavy early, so the next one might be more indicative of what that approach would look like.
9 teams RB/RB with 1st two picks
|Adrian Peterson||Doug Martin||Arian Foster||Jamaal Charles||CJ Spiller||Calvin Johnson||Trent Richardson||Ray Rice||LeSean McCoy||Marshawn Lynch||Alfred Morris||Matt Forte|
|Stevan Ridley||Reggie Bush||David Wilson||Darren Sproles||Darren McFadden||Jimmy Graham||DeMarco Murray||Maurice Jones-Drew||Steven Jackson||Chris Johnson||Dez Bryant||AJ Green|
|Brandon Marshall||Julio Jones||Demaryus Thomas||Aaron Rodgers||Randall Cobb||Drew Brees||Larry Fitzgerald||Andre Johnson||Rob Gronkowski||Roddy White||Victor Cruz||Lamar Miller|
|Danny Amendola||Reggie Wayne||Peyton Manning||Jason Witten||Marques Colston||Frank Gore||Dwayne Bowe||Wes Welker||Jordy Nelson||Hakeem Nicks||Cam Newton||Vincent Jackson|
If your draftmates are RB-centric, then you’ve got a much better case for going WR/WR or WR/TE depending on where you’re at. However, there are enough running backs that I like where there are very few scenarios where I wouldn’t take a RB with one of my first two picks. The teams with the last two picks of the first round turned out pretty well, though the Adrian Peterson-led squad is my favorite out of this bunch.
Overall you can’t judge a fantasy team by the first four rounds, but these building blocks set the stage for how the rest of a draft will play out. So, what’s my plan(s)? Fair question.
Ultimately it depends on where I’m drafting, but staying flexible is the overriding theme. I’ll get into a little more detailed draft strategy in a later post, but here are the Cliff’s Notes…
- Wait on QBs until value is amazing or just prior to teams starting to take backup QBs (especially on the turn where you’re susceptible to positional runs).
- At least one RB in the first two rounds, and almost exclusively RBs in rounds five through eight if I leave the first four rounds with just one RB. This could happen, because…
- WR value is pretty solid in those early/mid rounds, with the Colstons, Victor Cruzes and Wes Welkers of the world.
- I’ll take a TE around ADP if that TE is Jimmy Graham or Rob Gronkowski. Otherwise I’ll wait until near the end of my draft and grab who’s left of the guys in my 10-25 range of my cheat sheet who’s upside I like.
- Grab a kicker in the last round.
- Grab a defense in the second to last round.
If you want the Cliff’s Notes to the Cliff Notes, then just remember two words: be flexible.