The Fantasy Football Draft Guideline You Shouldn’t Tell Anyone In Your League About
There are a lot of fantasy football insiders out there, and a lot of people who claim to know the winning formula for an epic fantasy football draft.
Let’s face it, you probably can’t win a league out-right JUST from a good draft. You’ll have injuries, and busts, and you’ll need to be active on the waiver wire to really make a championship run. But starting off 3-1 with a phenomenal draft is a lot better than starting off 1-3 after phoning in the most important day of fantasy football season.
Why trust me? I’ve been playing, and winning, fantasy football for the last 12 years in every standard, .5 point PPR, PPR, individual man defense, keeper, dynasty league out there. While each of these league types has something unique and peculiar about them, the basic draft guideline is essentially the same. Whether you’re a newbie or a veteran, this easy to follow guide is going to give you a season long advantage:
Do NOT be a homer – it doesn’t matter who you’re favorite team is in fantasy football, you need to be completely unaffiliated when drafting a winning team. I’m a die-hard Jets fan, but I’m not about to take Josh McCown of Tom Brady. Just like you shouldn’t take Devonta Freeman over Le’Veon Bell if you’re a Falcons fan.
Do NOT draft a kicker until the last round – No, not even the top ranked kicker. It’s much better to drop and add kickers throughout the season who play against weak defenses, then to keep one mediocre kicker on your team the whole season.
Do NOT draft a defense until after Round 10 – Even then, I would only draft a defense in Round 10 if it was a top 3 ranked defense. I usually wait until the second to last round and draft a defense with a good Week 1 and Week 2 match up. (Defenses are historically unpredictable until teams settle in.)
Okay, let’s get into it…
Rounds 1 through 4:
DO: Pick the best available RBs or WRs (according to projected points)
DO NOT: Pick a quarterback or a tight end.
I don’t care if it’s Rob Gronkowski or Aaron Rodgers. I don’t care if you’re first pick or last pick in the round. Fantasy football championships are won by skill position players, especially wide receivers and running backs.
Let someone else take Aaron Rodgers in the first, you can pick up their skill position player they left on the board in the next round, and take Matt Ryan in the 9th (who is only ONE year removed from a top-2 Fantasy season).
Some people love taking 4 running backs first, some people love taking 4 wide receivers first. I personally choose to fill my roster with the absolute best top 4 players I can, regardless of their skill position.
Hopefully it turns out you have 2 great players in each category, but sometimes you’ll have 3 and 1 or sometimes you’ll have 4 great running backs and 0 receivers – and that’s completely fine. There is plenty of talent left on the board.
DO: Focus on Skill Positions
DO NOT: Draft Any Quarterback NOT Named Aaron Rogers.
If Rodgers is till on the board… at this point… maybe I would take him. But I still want to focus on WR/RBs because there are SO MANY great options at QB available later on in the draft.
This is where you might want to correct your previous 4 picks. If you drafted 4 receivers, it’s time to pick the best available RB. And vice versa. You want to fill out your skill positions and even 1 or 2 bench spots before you start thinking about a quarterback.
Do: Continue to Focus on Skill Positions
Do: Start to consider tight ends
The ONLY tight ends I would take in the 6th round are Zach Ertz and Evan Engram (Gronk & Kelce should be gone already). Even then, did you know Kyle Rudolf was the 3rd best tight end the last 4 weeks of the season? And he’s available 2 rounds later then the previous tight ends. So I’d still stick with a WR or RB in round 6.
Round 7 & 8:
Do: Prioritize Tight End over Quarterback
If you’ve listened to me so far you should have 3 RBs and 3 WRs. That’s what I always aim for around round 7. That is your core. That lets you have a major injury or a major bust in both those positions and still have suitable players.
Grab the best available tight end in round 7, followed by a quarterback in round 8.
Why? The difference between the 7th ranked TE and the 10th was 20 points over the season. That same difference at QB was only 10, meaning pretty much any QB between 5 and 10 are going to be just fine to have on your team.
Do: Get right back into WR and RB
Do NOT: Draft a backup tight end
Tight Ends can be picked up off the waiver wire every week. A good late round RB can help win your league. Isiah Crowell is leading the Jets backfield but falling largely unnoticed. This is a running back who has proven he can be a fantasy relevant RB2, but since he is on the Jets, he’s getting overlooked.
These are also the rounds to start looking at High Risk, High Reward players. You have your consistent core, now you want to take some risks.
Last two rounds:
Pick Your Defense: I like to pick my defense off the first 2 weeks of the schedule. A team playing Buffalo or Miami in week 1 should help you win that match up. (The rest of the season, I drop and add defenses according to the weeks best match-ups, called “Streaming” the defense.)
Pick Your Kicker: Any kicker will do. Really – it’s such a volatile and unpredictable position, so try to pick a veteran with at least 3 or 4 years under his belt on a team with a serviceable offense. (The rest of the season, I drop and add kickers like the defense, streaming the kicker.)
There you have it! I just did a mock draft using this strategy and this is my team:
QB: Andrew Luck
WR: Odell Beckham Jr.
WR: Demarious Thomas
RB: Dalvin Cook
RB: Alex Collins
TE: Jordan Reed
K: Harrison Butker
FLEX: Lamar Miller
DST: Baltimore Ravens
BN: Jay Ajayi
BN: Isiah Crowell
BN: Kenny Stills
BN: DeSean Jackson
BN: Giovani Bernard