No worries, friends. This won’t be hidden behind any paywall.
The analysis in this guide is meant to be more of a broad approach to crushing your draft that takes place later this week or next. You know, the one you’ve yet to accept the invite to? I’m looking at you, Kyle.
If you’ve never drafted before, lemme help you out.
Don’t use the default draft rankings on whatever client you’re going to use to draft! If you are going to use them, edit them and give your absentee self a chance! I can show you why you should do this if you simply log into your draft that has yet to happen. On your team’s page is a link that says something like “edit pre-draft player rankings”.
Click on that. It’ll take you to a page that looks like this. My team name is rad. I know.
If you click on an individual position, one of the things I’d like you to do is look at the far right column. That column is that players’ expected point total this season. For the most part, if you look at the expected points and the rankings, they appear to line up at the top of each position. Beyond the top five players or so, though, there is a significant difference between a player’s ranking versus their projected totals and I think it’s set up this way to foil auto-drafters.
A lot of people don’t use anything but the default rankings anyway. You should edit these so you don’t have to use anything else and give yourself a leg up on your cohorts!
TLDR: EDIT YOUR PRE-DRAFT RANKINGS!
Successful fantasy teams are deep and don’t crumble to a single player getting injured, much like actual NFL teams. Isn’t that interesting? That said, most people are in the weeds from the 4th round on in drafts I’ve done so far, and that’s partially because we’re only halfway through preseason by the time you read this. I’ve reordered the ESPN default rankings and I have another tool I use, ( https://jayzheng.com/ff/#/draft-aid ) to make drafting easier.
I’ve done 9 drafts so far (actual leagues) and have varied between 8/10/12 man leagues.
Let’s look at the first 10 players being drafted the most often in PPR leagues so far this year according to FantasyPros.
- Todd Gurley - LAR - RB
- Le’Veon Bell - PIT - RB
- David Johnson - ARI - RB
- Ezekiel Elliott - DAL - RB
- Antonio Brown - PIT - WR
- Alvin Kamara - NO - RB
- Saquon Barkley - NYG - RB
- DeAndre Hopkins - HOU - WR
- Odell Beckham, Jr. - NYG - WR
- Julio Jones - ATL - WR
There are 6 running backs and 4 wide receivers being taken in the first ten picks of the average PPR draft. Notice how there are no QBs taken in the Top 10? There’s a reason for that. Outside of Brady and Rodgers, which you’d have to sacrifice a pick that should have gone to your RB/WR corp, the point disparity between the 3rd ranked QB and the 17th ranked QB over the entire season is less than 20 points, or just over 1 point per week. You say, “I don’t understand big words, Jared. In fact, you’re making me nervous.” Here’s your big bolded command:
DO NOT DRAFT A QUARTERBACK IN THE FIRST SEVEN ROUNDS IF YOU WANT TO WIN YOUR LEAGUE UNLESS YOUR MOST UP TO DATE DRAFT SHEET SHOWS THAT BRADY/RODGERS FELL TO YOU AND IN THAT CASE, SNAP OUT OF IT. YOU’RE DREAMING. QB2 BRADY (RANKED 55TH) AND QB1 RODGERS (RANKED 42ND) WILL BOTH GO TOP 30 AND YOU AREN’T FOLLOWING THAT UP WITH A QB PICK TOO. YOU ARE NOT A LEMMING!
Based on this, we can say that we are very likely to take a running back with our first round pick unless a minimum of Le’Veon Bell, Todd Gurley, David Johnson, and Ezekiel Elliott (in any order, roughly speaking) are off the board. If you aren’t taking Zeke with the 4th pick, Antonio Brown is the only WR coming off the board in the first five picks that I won’t mock you for taking. I’ve been told to give analysis.
After the first five picks, there is a 60% chance you take the best WR left rather than the 5th or 6th overall RB (Kamara and Barkley, respectively). Does that make sense? You don’t have to do that. A lot of people that play competitive fantasy football live by “RB in Round 1 or bust”. I disagree. My draft earlier today, for example, I took DeAndre Hopkins (WR2) 9th in a 10-man PPR draft. I scooped Melvin Gordon (RB7) Round 2 and ran away with the draft from there, but you get my point. You can absolutely take one of the marquee WRs with your first round pick and still have a strong roster.
Our first round rule is RB unless you’re taking Brown 4th or later, then it’s a coin-flip the rest of the round. You can’t miss with any guy ranked 6-10 with picks 6-10. Miss me with that “who should I take 7th” question. You have to be in the moment and look at the information you have available to you at that time. Best player available? Probably a RB?
YOU ARE WASTING YOUR TIME WITH DRAFT SHEETS BECAUSE THERE ARE A MILLION OF THEM AND THEY SHOULD CHANGE DAILY BECAUSE THIS IS A VIOLENT SPORT AND PLAYERS GET HURT EVERY DAY. IF YOUR DRAFT SHEET CAME OUT IN JULY OR EARLY AUGUST (ESPN, I’m looking at you), THEN YOU’RE LIKELY GOING TO DRAFT WITH AN OUTDATED DRAFT SHEET.
You don’t need sheets or lists to pore over. There are so many sheets out there. Seriously, Google “Fantasy Football PPR Draft Sheet”. You can sift for days. Most of the draft sheets available to us are not updated regularly.
As a general rule that no one follows, DON’T DRAFT A K OR D/ST UNLESS YOU HAVE NO INTENTIONS OF WINNING YOUR LEAGUE AND INTEND TO SURVIVE SIMPLY AS A MEME. Any draft I’ve ever done, someone always takes a defense in like the 6th round. I am free to assume (given the depth available at WR/RB) if you take a defense in the middle of a draft that you aren’t a football fan. This means you have run out of names of players you know and have moved on to team names. Your K and D/ST score as many points as your 4th or 5th RB/WR per annum and we have to consider injuries to your starters. During your season, look at the projected points for your K/D/ST and then look at your FLEX spot. If your K or D/ST is projected to outscore your FLEX player, you’ve made mistakes during your draft that you can avoid this year.
It starts with understanding that we are going to draft 1QB, 1TE, 1K, 1D/ST and we need multiple WR and RB per week to be competitive. We need more options as the season goes by and we need to prioritize depth at those positions and worry less about our TE/QB situation during the draft for the simple reason that if you look at projected fantasy points for QBs using the default rankings, Alex Smith (WAS - QB) is projected to score 288 points this year. He’s being drafted outside of the Top 15 QBs (basically he isn’t being drafted at all), and if you sort the QB rankings by projected points, 288 points puts Alex Smith at QB6 by season’s end. Basically, don’t reach, youngblood!
Rob Gronkowski (NE - TE) is TE1 and comes in ranked 20th overall. If you take him prior to the 3rd round, you’re probably reaching to do so because there’s an above 50 percent chance he misses games, and guys like TE2 Kelce (KC - TE) and TE3 Ertz (PHI - TE) could wind up outpacing him. Kelce and Ertz are ranked 32nd and 47th, respectively.
Again, don’t reach!
You could be drafting your 2nd WR or RB or even your FLEX, which are more important to you over the course of your season.
I’m not at all saying you take your QB in the 13th round, your TE in the 14th, you K in the 15th and a D/ST last, but ideally you’ll be one of the last to take each or close to it. It’s also acceptable to take any player you want when they’re the best player available (BPA) according to whatever rankings you have or draft sheet you use.
TE7 Evan Engram (NYG - TE) went down with a concussion a few days ago. Should/could this impact his ADP?
Marqise Lee (JAX - WR) went down with a really bad knee injury. Who steps up? Rookie Keelan Cole?
What did we learn today? Nothing! Perfect.
- Edit your pre-draft rankings. You can do this by sorting by projected points if you don’t have another resource to use. That said, find another resource to support your rankings!
- Draft the best running back or wide receiver available, for the most part, during the first several rounds of your draft (and then do it for most of the rest of the rounds as well). Remember that you have to play at least two RB/WRs per week.
- If a QB or TE falls to you based on the rankings you have during your draft, take them. You can even reach a little! They won’t, so don’t take a QB or TE until after the 7th round as a good guideline.
- Take your Kicker and D/ST with your final two picks. You can save yourself from being mocked and ridiculed by your friends by doing so.
- Lastly, have fun and do what makes you happy. Don’t fret about not having the most up to date draft sheet. No one does. For all we know, Andrew Luck will be the Colts leading rusher and Jack Doyle will be the 2nd receiver. Where does it say that on your draft sheet?