Draft strategy to build a solid fantasy football team


In 2023 I think it is time for us to re-think our fantasy football draft strategies of the past and change with the times.

When I first started playing fantasy football in the early 2000s you routinely drafted QBs in the first round or RBs because they scored the most points. Then PPR became mainstream which inflated the WR and the RBs that caught passes. This in turn devalued the QB and there wasn’t a huge discrepancy in points between QB1 and QB15.

So, we went from drafting heavy QBs and RBs to drafting heavy RBs. I used to say get at least three RBs in the first five rounds and wait on QB until round seven or later.

Now we have seen the NFL become a passing league and RBs are sharing backfields instead of having one “three-down” bell-cow back. Wide receivers are taking on a larger role and seem to be more reliable than RBs who are getting injured more often. Gone, for now, are the days of taking a reliable QB in the later rounds and having them hit.

So, let’s change our draft strategy.

For me, in the first round I am looking at getting a top end WR like Justin Jefferson, Ja’Marr Chase, Cooper Kupp, Tyreek Hill, Stefon Diggs and CeeDee Lamb. If you want an RB then Christian McCaffrey, Austin Ekeler and ye, Bijan Robinson. So, a heavier dose of WRs versus RBs. Current Average Draft Position (ADP) is seeing 14 WRs going in the Top 24 picks, compared to seven RBs. In fact, you are starting to see QBs creep into the Top 24. The reason for this change in QBs being drafted starting in the second round is the points they are scoring. Last season six QBs averaged more than 20 points per game, the rest of the Top 12 averaged over 18 points per game, then you start to drop off into the 16 point and 15 points region. These are huge point swings from the haves and have-nots. You need to be looking at drafting one of the Top 10 QBs in the early rounds, you can’t afford not to. Look at the teams that won your leagues. I bet most of them had Mahomes, Hurts, Burrow, Allen or Fields on them.

OK, so in the first round you are going to draft either a WR or a RB, and then the opposite in round two. Get one stud WR and one stud RB. In round 3, depending on how your league is drafting, I am probably looking at one of those Top 10 QBs. Mahomes, Hurts, Allen, Burrow, Fields, Jackson, Watson, Lawrence.

Now, let’s say you miss out on one of the top QBs, I am a huge fan of taking the discount on Russell Wilson in the 10th round. I hear you now … “But Jeremiah, Russell was a bust last season.” Russell was a bust because his head coach and play calling were terrible. I’m in on the Denver Broncos under new head coach and offensive mind Sean Payton. If you miss out on a top QB in the first four rounds, fill your roster and grab Wilson in the 10th.

Ok let’s get back on track. We drafted a WR/RB, WR/RB and a QB, we should have three studs coming out of the third round. So, what are we looking at in the fourth and fifth rounds? I’m going back to WR/RB and WR/RB. In a standard redraft build of QB, RB RB, WR WR WR, TE and flex, we should leave the fifth round with our QB, two RBs, and two WRs. In the 6th round, I am going to give you name that you want to leave your draft with and that is Denver RB Javonte Williams (told you I was in on Denver).

As of this writing, his ADP was the 7th round. I know he is coming off an ACL tear and I know I should be scared away, but he didn’t start camp on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list and he is leaning toward starting Week 1. When you see Javonte Williams, think Alvin Kamara when Payton was the Saints head coach and Joe Lombardi was the offensive coordinator. Think about getting 20 points per game in the 6th round. That is a steal. Williams probably won’t be there in the 6th on draft day but even if he’s there earlier as your second RB, I don’t think you will regret it. Other players I like in the 6th are WRs Brandon Aiyuk, Jerry Jeudy and Marquise Brown.

I have filled out my main starters, but I need a TE and then a flex position player. This is rounds 7-9. I am targeting TEs like Dalton Schultz, Pat Freiermuth, and Evan Engram. I am also trying to grab RBs and WRs like Chris Godwin, Mike Evans, James Cook, George Pickens, Johan Dotson and AJ Dillion.

The rest of my roster, I am filling it with handcuff RBs, and solid WRs. Wait until the last two rounds to draft your kicker and defense.

At the end of the day, let the draft come to you. If there is a run on WRs and RB is sitting there that you can’t pass up, grab him. Don’t miss out on one of the Top 10 QBs, if you do, grab a QB like Russell Wilson or Daniel Jones later. Don’t stress out on getting a Top TE, wait on them. Wait until the last two picks for your defense and kicker.

Don’t depend on ADP, get the players you want, when you want. Do lots and lots of mocks so that you are mentally prepared. At the end of the day, have fun and when someone grabs the Chargers defense in the first round, don’t lose your mind.

For more information visit www.facebook.com/thefantasyholics.

An Air Force veteran, Jeremiah Orcutt lives in Wilmington. You can find the rest of his work year round on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/FantasyHolics.

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