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Fantasy Football Draft Strategy

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Positional Values, Potential Sweet Spots, General Strategy, with a Miami Twist.

NFL: Miami Dolphins-OTA
Sure to be the highest drafted Dolphin in Fantasy Football
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

I might be jumping ahead a bit, but, it’s the off-season and a very closed off set of Miami Dolphins Organized Team Activities has everyone guessing and speculating. What is guaranteed to pick up in the near future is the start of Fantasy Football leagues. Some of you, like me, have been part of a league for a few consecutive years. Some fan pick up a different league every year with friends. Some will play in an open league with strangers. Some are obsessive and do all three on every platform they can find. I can usually be found in 5-10 varied fantasy leagues a year anymore.

Now is as good a time as any to start planning a fantasy roster, looking at mock draft simulators and grouping players you like for by round. From my experience in Fantasy, the work put in pre-draft is worth it on draft day. I’ve watched people rage quit drafts when they missed the only guy they were looking at in the first or second round. I’ve watched people freak out when a run on a position group happens. So let’s talk strategy to make sure you have the best fantasy drafts possible.

Positional Value

Much like the NFL Draft, drafting in fantasy does have a hierarchy of positions and their relative value to your team. I’ll go down the list, explaining the reason I put them there on the list and give you my current top 5 at each position.

Running Back-

The running back position reigns supreme in fantasy football still. While NFL teams have been moving to running backs by committee, the ability to find a workhorse back in fantasy has become more and more difficult. The rarity of the number of elite 3 down backs pushes the high up the draft value chart. Not to mention in standard scoring your top flight backs will put up the most points.

Top 5-

Leveon Bell, David Johnson, Ezekiel Elliot, LeSean McCoy, DeMarco Murry

Miami Mention: Jay Ajayi is definitely within the top 10 RB’s in Fantasy Football and will likely be a late first or early second round pick in most leagues. This WILL be the first Miami player off of everyone’s draft board.

Wide Receiver -

Wide receivers put up points by design. However, here you have a position group flooded with equitable talent. Which makes it the second most important Fantasy Position. RB getting the edge for rarity at the top of the draft. And if you play in a league with a flex position, having great WR’s is not a terrible thing. The biggest WR 1’s usually go early because of their target percentages in the redzone and overall touchdown production.

Top 5-

Antonio Brown, Odell Beckham Jr., Julio Jones, Mike Evans, AJ Green

Miami Mention: If you find yourself in a PPR league, Jarvis Landry is a first round pick. Period. Otherwise he is also a decent flex option, but I usually let someone else figure out if Jucie’s 6-8 fantasy points per game is worth the draft pick.

Tight End-

Tight End goes lower down the list because in almost every league you only need one, unlike RB and WR. In a 10-12 man league, there are plenty enough for people to have a starter and a lower tier stater as a back-up. However, having a stud TE on the roster is hard to do in any given year due to their rarity in the NFL. Pushing them above my next position on the list.

Top5-

Rob Gronkowski, Jordan Reed, Travis Kelce, Greg Olsen, Delanie Walker

Miami Mention: Julius Thomas can have a great season. Or he can flop completely. Or he has an up and down season offering hope and then remorse in cycles. He’s on my deep sleeper list for fantasy football TE’s. He isn’t a TE 1 but he could serve as a back-up or TE 2.

Quarter Backs-

The antithesis of the real NFL draft, the QB positional value in Fantasy is much much lower than in the NFL. In a standard 10-12 man leagues only the top 20-25 QB’s will even be drafted. On aggregate, where you find them in the draft doesn’t matter much as whichever QB leads your team is likely one of the best in the league anyway. Running QB’s who can also throw at an elite level take precedent over all others because rushing points are easier to acquire than passing points.

Top 5-

Aaron Rodgers, Cam Newton, Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Russel Wilson

Miami Mention: When your team’s running back is going to be it’s highest drafted Fantasty player, your QB usually isn’t going to be drafted very high at all. Ryan Tannehill is a low-end fantasy starter who could climb a bit this year. In years past, I could always count on him to be available in later rounds as a back-up.

Team Defense-

Some people put a lot of stock into having a dominant defense. I’m not one of them. I would rather have a 3 headed dragon at RB or great WR3 flex option than “the best team defense”. However, if the best defense is hanging around at round 9-10 I might go ahead an pounce. I’m also very comfortable dropping and adding defenses based on opponent. So this position drops way down my list.

Top 5-

Denver, Seattle, Kansas City, Houston, New England

Miami Mention: DO NOT DRAFT MIAMI’S DEFENSE!!! You’re Welcome. In a year or two, maybe.

Kickers-

Do you want to know how unimportant kickers are? I’m not even doing a real section on this. Get outta here!!!

Draft Strategy

Early Rounds- 1-5

Here is where I usually like to go RB-RB-WR-WR-TE. If you are using this as standard early round guide and find yourself having to reach for a position, do not do it! Antonio Brown is probably worth more points than a second tier RB. Or finding no second running back in the 2nd, grab a second tier WR. However, never leave the top four round with out both of those starting position filled. And don’t be tempted to be the person to draft Gronk. That person never wins. You can probably nab a Greg Olsen or type of TE in the 5th and be just fine. You’re studs at the other position will more than make up the point differential.

Mid Rounds- 6-10

Rounds 5-7 are when QB’s fly off the board. Get one. Pick a favorite. Don’t pick two unless you got someone injury prone. If you get Andrew Luck get a back-up. If you get Big Ben, get a backup. If you’re playing in league with 12 people or less, I promise there will be someone on the waiver wire for your bye week. Other than your QB draft as many RB’s and WR’s as you possibly can. Consider a defense near the end of these rounds if one of the elite group is still there. Otherwise WAIT!

Late Rounds- 11-15

Sleeper picks, back-up TE’s, Defense and Kickers. Bad sleepers will get waived for bye week QB’s or missed opportunities that went un-drafted. It happens every year. So watch out for it from somewhere this season too.

Hopefully this guide will help you in all of your fantasy football endeavors that are soon to be starting across the country, and world, in the coming weeks and months.