Football season is on the horizon so that means it is time to start thinking about fantasy football. As you gear up to get into your leagues this year, you will likely do ample research on who to draft and what strategies you should implement. While there are multiple articles about strategy, here is a one-stop shop if your league is going to be a 12-team, points-per-reception (PPR) league.
When it comes to creating your fantasy league, once you decide how many members your league will have, the scoring format, most sites make it very intuitive for any other settings you would like to alter. The main setting you will need to decide on is roster construction. How many quarterbacks do you want to start? How many FLEX spots do you want? Who can be included in the FLEX?
While it can seem overwhelming, the “standard” is one quarterback, two running backs, two wide receivers, a tight end, a FLEX (that can be RB/WR/TE), a team’s defense/special teams and a kicker.
First round pick
When it comes to your first-round pick, you are selecting a player that is expected to be the backbone of your fantasy team for the season. A lot is going to happen through the 18-week fantasy season, but your first round pick is supposed to lead your team to the championship at the end of the season.
Running backs are typically targeted early in fantasy drafts. Since this is a PPR league, the best wide receivers in the league tend to jump into the first round. The first 12 draft picks should be a mix of running backs and wide receivers, depending on which direction you want to take your roster. I think wide receiver is a little deeper of a position, so I like to take a pass-catching running back in the first round of a PPR draft.
When to draft a QB?
While running backs and wide receivers will dominate the first round of your draft, your roster starts with the quarterback. The icon is sitting there staring you in the face, so when should you fill the position?
The honest answer is that it depends on how the draft board falls. If you start your draft out looking at the average draft position (ADP) of quarterbacks, you will see that Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen is being selected at the end of the second round, and Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes is being chosen about halfway through the third round. If you can get one of those quarterbacks a little after their ADP, take them because then they are values.
With 12 teams in your league, there will be 12 starting quarterbacks each week. The first 12 quarterbacks are taken by the eighth round's halfway point. The flow of the draft will be unique to your league and format but in one quarterback leagues, keep an eye out for your starting quarterback by the eighth round. The longer you wait on a quarterback, the more you are hoping for them to greatly outperform their projections.
When to draft a TE?
Tight end is another position that is hard to plan. It is easily the clearest tiered position in fantasy football. Travis Kelce reigns supreme atop the position and is followed by Mark Andrews and George Kittle. Kyle Pitts and Darren Waller would be right beneath them, with a clear break between them and the rest of the field. The rest of the tight ends, you are hoping for upside but prepared for disappointment.
Based on ADP, 12 tight ends are projected to be selected within the first 10 rounds. I would say this isn’t going to be super likely, and if you don’t get a top-tier tight end, you can wait on the position. There is usually a tight end that goes undrafted in fantasy football drafts that end up finishing as a fantasy-relevant tight end. So, if you end up with a bad one, it isn’t the end of your reason.
When you are going through your fantasy football drafts, you want to maximize the value with every selection. What that means is that you are looking to draft players that are going to greatly outperform their ADP. For instance, JuJu Smith-Schuster of the Kansas City Chiefs is being drafted as the WR35. He is on a new team but will have Mahomes passing him the ball, easily the best quarterback he has played with. Smith-Schuster has a good shot to finish in the top 20 for wide receivers, so he would be a good value pick. Also, I think there are solid sleeper tight ends in Robert Tonyan of the Green Bay Packers and Austin Hooper of the Tennessee Titans.
Players to fade
ADP isn’t the end-all, be-all when it comes to fantasy football drafts. Just because a player is being drafted highly doesn’t automatically mean they will finish there. One example of this is that many people are fading Christian McCaffrey because of his injury history. If he can stay healthy, he will challenge for the overall number one running back spot, but he has gotten hurt in the last two seasons. Other players to fade include quarterback Kyler Murray who will be without DeAndre Hopkins for the first six weeks of the season, Rashaad Penny who is sharing the backfield with Ken Walker III now and Treylon Burks who is reportedly having a tough time adjusting to the NFL in Tennessee.
All in all, your draft is going to be unique to your league. If you are playing with people that you know, you can pick up on trends and try to guess what move they will make next. If you are drafting with random people, try to have an idea of the strategy that you are going to want to implement as you get into your draft. Be flexible, though, and if the draft board skews one way, make adjustments to maximize your pick's potential. Most of the fantasy football season is won weekly, so all you are trying to do now is set yourself up for the most success you can for now.