Fantasy Football: Outside The Box Draft Strategy

The RB/RB or RB/WR draft strategy has been popular since I started playing Fantasy Football 5 years ago. While this is a solid draft strategy, especially at the top of the pick order, it is not always the most efficient. This year, if you are in the middle or bottom half of the pick order, I am urging you to go a different route: draft TE/WR (ESPECIALLY in PPR leagues). You may get heckled afterward, but come the end of the season, you will likely be holding your head high in the playoffs.

Hear me out: there are only a handful of elite Tight Ends this year, while there is a bounty of RBs. The old "go RB or go home strategy" was more effective when most teams in the league were beginning to lean towards runningback committees, as opposed to every down backs. The trend is on the decline lately; there is very good value to be had at RB in later rounds (and WRs to some degree), but the TEs beyond Graham, Gonzalez and Witten are iffy at best. I will also put Vernon Davis in the potential elite category, since he has been lining up at WR lately, and San Fran really needs talent, but I'm still not sold on how much Harbaugh will utilize him.

You might be thinking "Uhhh Joel... if a RB is expected to get 250 points this season, and a TE is only expected to get 220 in my PPR league, why would I take him?" And the answer is simple: because you can get a 200 point runningback in the 6th round, or later, while the majority of teams in your league are stuck with TEs with 120 point ceilings. 200 + 220 = 420. 250 + 120 = 370. It's all about value.

Now you are thinking: "But Joel, how on Earth will I get a 200 point RB in the 6th round or later!?" Again, a simple answer. DeAngelo Williams was on fire at the end of last season (once the coaching staff finally fed him the ball), but his year long numbers are low, so his projection is low. Jonathan Stuart is already injured, so he doesn't have to compete for carries there, and Tolbert has been less than optimal. I see DeAngelo getting 200+ carries this year, and making good use of them. Also, Daryl Richardson is now THE guy in St. Louis, as well as Reshard Mendenhall showing signs of a promising season ahead. Shonne Green (I know) could also end up in a sort of Lendale White role circa 2009, where he vultures TDs from Chris Johnson. I'm a bit iffy on Green, but he's not a bad flier.

Basically, by the time it gets around to those later rounds, most teams in your league will have stocked up on RBs, and will be searching for TEs, their 2nd/3rd WRs and QBs. Some of them will also likely start drafting defenses too early.

If you are in a FLEX league that includes TE as a FLEX option, don't be scared to draft two TEs, either. That hamstrings yet another team in your league from having consistent points at the TE position.

Here is my first draft of the season as an example of me practicing what I preach:

1. (5) Jimmy Graham TE
2. (20) Brandon Marshall WR
3. (29) Larry Fitzgerald WR
4. (44) David Wilson RB
5. (53) Jason Witten TE
6. (68) DeAngelo Williams RB
7. (77) Tony Romo QB
8. (92) Michael Vick QB
9. (101) Bryce Brown RB
10. (116) Kenny Britt WR
11. (125) Vick Ballard RB
12. (140) Philip Rivers QB
13. (149) St. Louis DEF
14. (164) Denver DEF
15. (173) Caleb Sturgis K

Graham is considered a reach at 5, but in PPR I expect him to go by 15. McCoy, the only RB I would have considered taking here, was off the board at 4. Also, I wanted both Jimmy Graham and Brandon Marshall, so I HAD to take Graham here and hope that Marshall survived until 20. Luckily, he did! This league has the TE in a flex option, so I was very happy to grab a TE with 110 receptions last year in Round 5. I almost always draft QB for value, so I was looking for Romo (he will have a great year) in the 7th from the start. After that, I filled up on fliers in the positions that I drafted for value (RB, QB) and I picked up a couple defenses that could do well this year. I've since dropped Rivers for Detroit's defense.

Having said all this, Fantasy Championships are not won in draft, they are won in waivers. Good drafts give you a leg up, but don't EVER get complacent! Scour that wire and churn the bottom of your roster! I just hope I've inspired a couple people to think outside the box come draft day.

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of The Phinsider's writers or editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of The Phinsider writers or editors.

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