By: Scott Ostrowsky
This will be a guide for you to have a near perfect draft in the coming months of the year. There will be a new edition for this guide once a month all the way through the first week of September (the 2017-18 NFL season kicks off September 7th). These next four months will get more and more stressful if you take fantasy football seriously and have finished at the bottom of the standings year after year. The preparation can be the hardest part of the draft especially if you are in a tough draft position. The guide for this month will focus specifically on draft strategies based on what we can expect going into the year. Each strategy will be explained so you can understand the reason why I chose that position in that spot.
Before we get into it, these two strategies are based on generic draft positions in a ten person league with a standard ESPN scoring system. If you have an eight or twelve and over team league then you can still use this guide but tweak it to your liking and base it on how your league scores points.
What I have learned from playing fantasy football for over 7 years, playing in over 20 leagues with multiple formats, is that it takes only one person to change the trajectory of a draft no matter how it may be going. I was in a standard league a year ago and and at the beginning of the 5th round, someone selected Stephen Gostkowski, the kicker for the New England Patriots. Don’t get me wrong, Gostkowski is a gem of a kicker in this league but a kicker should not be a thought for you until you have a foundation set for your team, and trust me, four guys took a kicker in the next round a half.
You are probably wondering why anyone would care if a guy takes a kicker too early in the draft. “It’s just better position guys for you to take” “Kickers don’t make that huge of an impact”. Let me explain this, yes, there are better position guys but you will also lose out on any top tier kickers in the league and if anyone drafted Roberto Aguayo last season, you know how big of a difference a kicker can make so it really can determine the outcome of your draft and season. That is why I am writing these strategies so we can eliminate the “5th Round Kicker”.
This is my first draft guide and this is one of my most generic guides that I have used multiple times in the past couple years. You may have seen it or something like it but this is how my team generally looks early in my draft.
1-RB 2-RB 3-WR 4-WR 5-RB 6-QB 7-WR 8-WR or TE 9-WR or RB 10-QB
Now, I am the guy who is a huge advocate for picking a RB in the first and second rounds, especially in recent years. The running back position has arguably the top 3 guys in the player pool but once you get past players ranked 8-10, it drastically falls off which is why in this guide, your first two picks should be the best players in the draft and leave the positions with higher ceilings for later rounds. This same philosophy goes for rounds 3 and 4 with wide receivers, they will go fast and the reason to take these guys third and fourth looks a lot better after reviewing round 6 later. In round 5, I would suggest taking another running back. It is important to have a backup for your #1 and #2 just in case one goes down or if you look ahead, like me, and check the BYE weeks and prepare for those changes. Round 6, take a quarterback. The quarterback position, of course, can make or break a team, but there is such a huge pool of high potential players that can easily go off for a decent amount of points. The quarterback position has a lot of bang for your buck players (Rodgers, Ryan, Brees, Roethlisberger) but there are so many players worth waiting on in exchange for better RB’s and WR’s. To put it into perspective, the #17 quarterback last year was Andy Dalton. He is no MVP caliber player, but he is a gunslinger and has potential for big games. I am not advocating drafting Dalton as your first quarterback but the fact that he is #17 should be enough to make you realize it is not worth feeling pressure to take a quarterback early. For round 7, refer to round 5.
Rounds 8 and 9 should be drafted carefully. A wide receiver should be taken in this spot if no one is pulling the trigger on tight ends (except Gronkowski who was probably taken in round 1 or 2). You should keep an eye on the tight end position the whole draft especially if three or four are off the board and you haven’t taken one. From this guide you should be able to land Zach Ertz or someone around the same value in this round. Round 9 depends entirely on how you want to stack your team with backups, rotating players, and your FLEX position. How comfortable are you with your receivers and backs? If you feel like you are lacking in a spot, draft that position. For round 10, draft another quarterback. The key here is to pick a guy who has a different BYE week than your starter and has a match-up in his favor. A perfect example would be last year, I drafted Ben Roethlisberger and had Kirk Cousins as my backup. Cousins was a hit or miss guy but when he’s on, he’s one of the best and his BYE week worked with Ben’s and needless to say, it worked to my advantage. Like I usually do after this point in the draft, I’ll start looking at defenses, kickers, best overall and needs. At this point, go with your drafting strength whether that is being aggressive or going with the flow of the other teams.
This is my second draft guide and this one may have some similar spots to the previous one but in the end, a different draft pick can change the outcome completely. So here it is, draft guide #2:
1-RB 2-WR 3-RB 4-RB 5-QB 6-WR 7-WR 8-TE 9-WR or RB 10-QB
“You picked a running back #1 again?” Yes, they still hold the same value and importance and they should almost always be a number one pick. Your second pick, you should get a strong wide receiver. Most likely if you go with a running back in the first round, you’ll miss out on the likes of Brown, Jones, Beckham Jr., Green, and maybe Evans. But it is still possible to land Evans if he slips, or you can likely get Hilton, Thomas, Bryant, Cooper or Hopkins, not a bad WR1 to have on your team. Since we abandoned stacking two running backs at the top of our draft, we need rounds 3 and 4 to be the most important of the draft to land our RB2 and your likely backup. If you do not pick two running backs in these spots, you may have an imbalance on your team and it could prove to be disastrous as you go along. In round 5, I’d suggest going with a quarterback. Having a strong presence at RB1 and WR1, you should try to get a high rated quarterback in this spot. It is possible to get a top 5 quarterback in this spot, but it is most likely you’d settle with Andrew Luck, Russell Wilson, Cam Newton, or Ben Roethlisberger.
Now that you have your quarterback and three running backs, you need to address wide receiver in round 6 to bolster your roster. It is very easy to take best available but you should really consider drafting safe as well in terms of the players durability. If you have Alshon Jeffrey as the best available but someone like Larry Fitzgerald, Julian Edelman, or Jarvis Landry are a few spots below him, consider the latter in this position and think about how healthy he’ll be. Round 7, you should go with yet another pick at receiver to strengthen the position and give you solid depth or a possible FLEX player, try getting the most consistent player on the board, respective to their talent level. At round 8, try getting your TE1. If need be, if there is a really tempting tight end in the 6th or 7th round then take him in that round and use the 8th round for a wide receiver, but, you can land a consistent TE1 with high upside at this spot in your draft if all goes well. Best case scenario, you can land Jimmy Graham or Tyler Eifert in this round. Round 9 is simply for depth at this point and if you feel like your running backs are worse than your wide receivers, go with a running back or vice versa. With your 10th pick you should take your backup quarterback and at this point, you could probably get Ryan Tannehill, Carson Wentz, Carson Palmer, or Andy Dalton in this round, all of which can be a perfect backup to your 5th round quarterback (always check your BYE weeks).
Alternate Route: Be aggressive. In the 9th or 10th round, grab a top 3 kicker that you know will give you consistent points and can ensure you great accuracy. Don’t settle for Phil Dawson later in the draft when you can get Gostkowski, Tucker, Bryant, or Vinatieri.
Thank you for taking the time to read this and I hope this guide helps you on your quest for fantasy dominance. Follow me on Twitter, @ScottOstrowsky and also my sports podcast, @OSportsShow. Also, check out my website for my podcast as well at http://www.osportsshow.com. I will have another draft guide for July as well so make sure you follow the above accounts to make sure you get them when I release them.