There are usually some variations and flexibility built into my plan of action each year, but the fact is the plan for 2016 is pretty much the same plan as it always is: hold off on drafting a QB, try to wait on a TE in an attempt to nail a sleeper, and load up on RBs and WRs. Most of us playing with any stakes these days understand the WRs fly off the board faster than ever, so we need to get in the WR business early, and that it’s silly to invest in a QB early in a draft.
So while I’m happy to map out my plan of action each year, you’re not going to find any magical formula or approach, such as the “zero RB” theory. This article is more about who to target and when than it is about devising a plan of action for each position, and it’s always about a commonsense approach each position based on the depth of those positions, how actively fantasy players are targeting them in drafts, and how appealing the players are based on talent and role.
As usual, there are a number of players I like this year and are excited about, and you’ll find all of them mentioned in this Draft Plan. Things will shift in August, but here’s a general overview of my plan of action in 2016.
Note: I’ve mentioned a lot of players I like this year without reasons why, but stay tuned later this month, when we’ll release our massive and comprehensive 2016 Player Profiles.
The Quarterback Plan
I’m sure there are still some leagues where several QBs go off the board early because of their production, which makes no sense because they’re still productive relative to one another regardless of when they’re drafted, but the vast majority of fantasy owners should be at least locked into not taking one in the first two rounds in 2016. At least we all should be.
The question is, how early is too early to take a QB these days? I think Aaron Rodgers can have a huge season this year, and I’ve already taken him in the 4th in an early-June 12-team PPR mock draft for a magazine. Cam Newton is typically going off the board in the 3rd, and while there’s a speck of value there based on his huge numbers last year, I don’t think he’s going to put up those huge numbers again this year. I’ve seen post-career year regression time and time again with QBs – Peyton, Brady, Luck, etc. – and I’d bet it also happens with Cam this year (despite the return of his #1 WR). But for what it’s worth, my passing on Newton is more about the quality options available later in the draft than it is a lack of faith in Cam.
In an ideal world, I’m loading up on WRs and RBs the first four rounds, but if I’m “stuck” and believe the remaining talent isn’t worthy of a fourth-round pick, there is no shame in selecting Rodgers, whose ADP is down a full round this year even though his supporting cast at receiver looks a lot better than it did last August. And similarly, if I get to the fifth (50+ picks into a draft) and aren’t loving the available options, I have no major qualms with Andrew Luck, who was a top-15 overall pick last year. One player I’m probably going to pass on at his ADP is Russell Wilson. I’m not a Wilson hater, but I just don’t see him keeping his second-half hot streak up right out of the gate in 2016. Of course, if you’re taking Wilson in the fifth round, I’m hard-pressed to call that a “bad” pick (his ADP is right at the beginning of the fifth).
As is always the case, your best chance to draft the best team possible is to hold off at least 5-6 picks before taking your QB, but after that, any high-end producer is fair game, like Tom Brady, Drew Brees, and Ben Roethlisberger, who are all fine picks 75-80 picks into a draft. A round later, I’m more than fine with Carson Palmer and Blake Bortles (although Bortles could be gone by then).
So to recap what I’ve outlined up until this point, my plan at the QB position is to:
- Take Rodgers or Luck in the 4th and 5th rounds, respectively, but only if I don’t see a strong non-QB option remaining on the board.
- Seriously consider getting one of the remaining high-end options like Brady, Brees, Roethlisberger, or Palmer 70-90 picks into my draft
The position once again has fine depth, so productive options remain if I decide to load up on non-QBs while getting even more value for my signal-caller. If I didn’t yet draft a QB heading into the 100-120 range, my targets are:
- Eli Manning – Needs more help to be more consistent, but 35 TD passes in 2015 and improved receiving corps in 2016.
- Matthew Stafford – Value down due to loss of Megatron, but decent receiving corps still and great success in offense in ’15.
- Kirk Cousins – Not a sure thing yet, but posted impressive numbers in 2015 and receiving corps looking better in 2016.
If you’re fortunate enough to continue to have the chance to draft strong options at RB/WR/TE, then holding off even further on drafting your QB is a viable move. I don’t see the need to be overly-proactive for any of these five players because they’re all similar and we still have a lot of decent options still on the board, but I’d next be looking at the following options:
- Andy Dalton – Was 11th in FP/G last year, but lost his OC and several key receivers.
- Derek Carr – An ascending player still, but he’s a little overvalued compared to the rest in this group.
- Philip Rivers – Has faded in the second half two years in a row, but he’s also put up huge yardage numbers.
- Marcus Mariota – Needs to run more for fantasy and may not with their RBs, but promising rookie season and some upside.
- Tony Romo – 34 TD passes on only 435 attempts in 2014, but does have availability concerns.
If I did wait on QB until the 100-120 range overall, I probably drafted someone with some red flags, so it wouldn’t be a bad idea to secure another QB ranked within our top-25 at the position. The next best options, all of which are in our top-25 and are very good backups, includes Joe Flacco, Jameis Winston, Matt Ryan, Jay Cutler, and Ryan Tannehill. Ryan Fitzpatrick will also be in this mix if he’s re-signed by the Jets. I hate to admit it after last year, but I like Tannehill the best out of this group, mainly because I think he has a little more upside than the others.
There is a drop-off to the next tier with guys like Tyrod Taylor, Alex Smith, Brock Osweiler, and Teddy Bridgewater, and I don’t want any of them as even my QB2. But with some very good options being drafted 125+ picks into a draft, and with high-quality starters lasting until 50+ picks into a draft, it’s wise to try to hold off on selecting both your starter and your backup.
The Running Back Plan
I’m still very willing to take a RB in the first round of a fantasy draft, but I really hope I don’t have to because, not only are they more susceptible to injury than the WRs, they’re getting to be poor values these days. Especially in high-stakes and expert drafts, the top-20 WRs fly off the board, so you’re probably better off going with the flow as opposed to cutting across the grain and taking a RB in the first. That’s because, with more owners shying away from RBs early in drafts than ever, you can go WR-WR to open a draft and still get a quality back like C.J. Anderson, Mark Ingram, or LeSean McCoy.
However, while others on our staff may not agree, I don’t see more than 5-6 WRs who are truly worth selecting in Round One this year, so I do expect to go RB more often than I’d probably like this year. This is why I’d prefer to draft at the top of the first round to get a crack at either Antonio Brown, Odell Beckham, or Julio Jones. I’m taking any of those three over any RB, but after that your decision-making is more difficult.
I haven’t yet published our top-100, but we will soon. My early look at the top-12 is as follows:
- Antonio Brown
- Julio Jones
- Odell Beckham
- Le’Veon Bell
- Todd Gurley
- Adrian Peterson
- DeAndre Hopkins
- A.J. Green
- Rob Gronkowski
- Ezekiel Elliott
- David Johnson
- Dez Bryant
As you can see, I’m expecting to force-feed some RBs onto myself simply because I don’t think there are 10 or even 7-8 WRs worth taking in the first. I do like A.J. Green a lot this year, but that’s reflected in his ranking. And honestly, I doubt I’d be willing to take DeAndre Hopkins at his ADP of 4-5. Rob Gronkowski has to be a top-12 pick, but he’s not for me (more on that below).
2015 was a nightmare for RBs, but I haven’t forgotten that 2014 wasn’t, as Le’Veon Bell, DeMarco Murray, Eddie Lacy, Arian Foster, Jamaal Charles, Matt Forte, and Marshawn Lynch all had big years and were mostly drafted into the top-20 (and all inside the top-30). So I’m willing to take a RB like Le’Veon Bell, Todd Gurley, Adrian Peterson, Ezekiel Elliott, or David Johnson. One “problem” with doing that this year, and it’s prevalent when you’re drafting at the end of the first round, is when you go RB and then in the second round the best player available is clearly another RB, like Elliott. Well, now you’re hurting at WR if you can’t pass up Elliott. If I think something like that will happen to me with, say, David Johnson available in the second round, I may suck it up and take a WR in the first just because I know the best option in the second is likely a RB.
Every league is different, but my general observation from viewing and participating in what should be considered “good” drafts, is that a wise plan is to get at least two RBs with your first five picks. Others may say that it’s fine to go 5-6 rounds without taking one, but I’m wired to strongly consider any talented RB at any time. I’ve adjusted my thinking to go with the times, though, and only a pair of RBs in the first five rounds leaves plenty of room to load up on quality WRs.
I’m trying to approach the position wisely, knowing that I’m still inclined to strongly consider some appealing RBs but that it’s also risky to heavily invest in the position early, so if I opt to select a back like Bell, Gurley, Peterson, Elliott, and Johnson in the first, I’m going to be inclined to take a WR in the second, just so I don’t get shut out of the high-end options at this critical position. However, since most RBs are falling down draft boards these days, I’m not necessarily locked into taking a RB in the second round if I go WR in the first.
If I do go WR in the first, especially if I get one of the Big Three (Brown, Beckham, and Jones), I’d prefer to get a RB in the second, and the guys I’d be looking at are:
- Devonta Freeman – His drop-off in the second half of the season and the presence of Tevin Coleman are concerns, but he should be fine in PPR formats.
- Lamar Miller – He’s about to get the ball like he’s never gotten it in Houston, and he’s shown enough to merit a #2 pick.
- Eddie Lacy – Dead to me in December, there’s a lot to like about Lacy and his situation in a contract year – assuming he shows up to camp in good shape.
- Jamaal Charles – Touch totals won’t be through the roof, but he’s still an elite player that I’d be perfectly willing to select in the second round if all is well with his knee.
That’s really it in terms of the RBs I’d be comfortable with in the second round, although I did take C.J. Anderson recently in a magazine expert draft with the second-to-last pick of the second round after taking Julio Jones. Anderson’s viable at that point if you’re fairly desperate for a RB, but his ADP (in the 40-45 range) tells us we can get him a round later.
Moving onto the third round, I see only a few very good options at the position, and they are:
- C.J. Anderson – As mentioned above, there’s a very good chance he slips to the third round, and he’s a solid pick at that point.
- Mark Ingram – Very good player who always produces these days, but his availability is a pretty big concern.
- LeSean McCoy – Has a lot of mileage on his legs, but he was very effective as a volume back when he was on the field in 2015.
These three players are especially appealing in the third round if I went WR-WR to open a draft, but I wouldn’t call them must-haves if I used one of my first two picks on a RB, and, in fact, I’d probably lean to a WR like Brandin Cooks, T.Y. Hilton, or Jarvis Landry in this round if I already drafted a back.
The way the ADP looks early on this year, the fourth round of a typical 12-team draft isn’t loaded with attractive options, which is a case for getting at least one RB with one of your first three picks. I can’t say I love the group available in this range, but if I was desperate for a RB in the fourth, I may select one of the following:
- DeMarco Murray – I’m not a big Derrick Henry fan and think Murray will be on the field a lot and will likely get 18-20 touches most weeks.
- Carlos Hyde – Talented enough to be a difference-maker and in a good spot with Chip Kelly, but concerns about injuries and a bad offense linger.
- Dion Lewis – He’ll obviously have to prove healthy this summer to be viable this year, and this is only for PPR leagues (he was top-5 in PPG in PPR in seven games last year).
Moving on to the fifth round, if I’m still in the RB business because I’ve only drafted 1-2 of them, there are two main guys I’m targeting as of now:
- Matt Jones – Despite a poor YPC average and his fumbling, I’m bullish on his potential as a heavy volume runner and receiver in a very good offense.
- Jeremy Hill – He’s a great value in the 6th round, but if desperate for a quality RB2 after loading up on high-end 2-3 WRs, I’m perfectly willing to take him here despite his struggles in 2015. I’d expect them to lean on their running game more this year, and he’s a 23-year-old RB with 21 TDs in 32 career games.
Through five rounds, I’d like to get at least two RBs, which again shouldn’t preclude me from snatching up 2-3 quality wideouts, which is what most fantasy players are looking to do these days. Assuming I do, I’m obviously not done adding to my RB corps, so I’ll be looking for a quality RB3 and good depth. From picks 60-80, here’s who I like:
- Danny Woodhead – Ideally in the PPR format, as Woodhead was actually the #3 RB scorer in PPR last year, but he was also 12th in non-PPR, thanks mainly to his 9 TDs. That’s going to be tough to duplicate, but he does have 6 receiving TDs in each of his two big seasons in SD (only 20 touches in his other Charger season due to injury).
- Ryan Mathews – I’m sure he’ll get hurt, but he’ll be productive with volume while he’s out there, and if he can actually play 14 games he’ll be a nice value.
- Jay Ajayi – He’s a tough call and we’ll be watching to see if he add another RB of note, but he’s talented enough to produce nicely with volume, which he should get as a runner and receiver.
- Ameer Abdullah – He burned people last year and Theo Riddick’s huge role in the passing game is a killer, but Abdullah was actually 9th in the NFL among all RBs with 50 or more carries the final eight games of the season, with 4.7 yards per carry, and he’s a dynamic runner who’s expected to take a step forward after getting valuable experience last year.
Once we’re this deep into a draft, the WR talent will have seriously dried up, and while there’s still talent on the board, it’s hard to differentiate between that talent, and I don’t see many players standing out. So it’s a good time to add some depth for my RB3 and RB4. In this range, I’m targeting:
- Frank Gore – Again, as bad as the Colts were last year, Gore was pretty serviceable, and they are banking on him to handle a huge role, so he’s a very good value this late.
- Duke Johnson – He’ll likely have an unstable QB situation and is a nothing as a runner, but he was fourth in RB receptions as a rookie and will have a large role under Hue Jackson.
- Charles Sims – He was sneaky-good last year, averaging 4.9 YPC and 11.0 YPR, and the arrow is still pointing up as Doug Martin is looking more and more like an Alfred Morris type (yes, Martin’s better than Morris).
From 100 picks on, I’m looking for sneaky values and options who have upside and a legit chance to greatly exceed their ADPs. Starting with the upside guys, I’m usually focused on the rookies and this year’s no exception:
- Jordan Howard – Should be able to carve out a significant role quickly unless Jeremy Langford greatly improves in year two.
- DeAndre Washington – We liked his college tape a lot and aren’t very high on Latavius Murray’s game.
- Wendell Smallwood – Explosive player who’s already opened eyes in spring practices, and they are very thin behind injury-prone starter Ryan Mathews.
Note: These three RBs are much cheaper than fellow rookies Kenneth Dixon and C.J. Prosise, so I’m holding off on fitting them into this plan until we know more about their roles this summer.
As for the sneaky and cheap values, I won’t get into all of them here, but most of the following players have a chance to get enough touches and have enough talent to out-produce their ADPs, which range from 100-200: Theo Riddick, Karlos Williams, Isaiah Crowell, Rashad Jennings, Bilal Powell, Shane Vereen, Justin Forsett, Jerick McKinnon, C.J. Spiller, Andre Ellington, and James White.
The Wide Receiver Plan
This is an important plan, as evidenced by the multiple mentions of this position in this article so far. As stated above, if I get a chance at either Antonio Brown, Odell Beckham, or Julio Jones, taking one of them is an easy call. What’s not easy for me is differentiating between guys like DeAndre Hopkins and Le’Veon Bell, and Dez Bryant and Ezekiel Elliott.
The safe play, of course, is to just take the WR, but there’s more to it than that as I outlined in the RB section. Say for example you have the 4th overall pick and you want to take Todd Gurley. I’m not against that and I’ve actually done it with success, since I was able to get Brandin Cooks in the second round and Demaryius Thomas in the third round, so drafting a stud RB and still being strong at WR is possible. Then again, in another draft, I took Julio Jones at #2 overall and when it came back to me I missed Eddie Lacy in the second by one pick (this was a staff expert draft), and the best player available was a WR, so I might have actually been better off taking Gurley in the first and then Brandon Marshall in the second.
It’s difficult for me to lock in a definitive plan that has me going WR-WR, WR-RB, or RB-WR, but it’s fair to proclaim the WRs as being more reliable and also safer, so you want to target them early and often. It’s not easy to have everything in a draft, but I’d like to get two of the following wideouts as my foundation at the position:
- Antonio Brown
- Julio Jones
- Odell Beckham
- DeAndre Hopkins
- A.J. Green
- Dez Bryant
- Jordy Nelson
- Allen Robinson
- Brandin Cooks
- Brandon Marshall
- Alshon Jeffery
- Mike Evans
- Amari Cooper
- T.Y. Hilton
- Demaryius Thomas
- Jarvis Landry
- Keenan Allen
- Randall Cobb
You may need a little luck to get two of these guys above and also a stud RB, but it’s possible. As far as I can tell from studying ADPs and participating in and observing a lot of early drafts, if I wind up taking a RB with one of my first two picks, I’ll still have a crack at one of the following:
- Jarvis Landry – He was one of my guys last year, and he came through nicely.
- Brandin Cooks – He’s been my guy for two seasons and he’s getting better and better and hasn’t reached his ceiling yet.
- T.Y. Hilton – With Coby Fleener and Andre Johnson gone, and with Andrew Luck back, I’m very high on the dynamic Hilton this year and love him in the third.
- Demaryius Thomas – There’s a QB issue here, or else he wouldn’t be available in the third, but shaky 2015 and all, I’ll take my chances with a stud in his prime who has averaged 100 catches and 10 TDs a season his last four seasons as the X receiver in Gary Kubiak’s offense.
- Randall Cobb – He could actually slip to you in the fourth round, but late in the third isn’t bad for a guy who’s logged in three excellent seasons in terms of points-per-game and is still only 25 (26 in August).
If I’m still looking for a WR right after these guys go off the board, there’s one guy I really like, and it’s:
- Golden Tate – We’re looking at 100 balls for Tate this year with Calvin Johnson gone.
I’m not in love with the next-best options in the 4th or 5th round, but Eric Decker, Jordan Matthews, Larry Fitzgerald, Jeremy Maclin, and Kelvin Benjamin are all in our top-25, and rightfully so. And I love Julian Edelman in general, but I’m not going to push him or raise him up our rankings until we know more about his foot injury (May surgery, but the expectation is that he’ll be ready).
If you have three of the WRs listed above through the first 5-6 rounds, you’ll be in great shape, but you may also be a little thin at another position. If you opted to grab a QB or TE or couldn’t pass on three RBs, you might still be looking for your WR3 around the 6th round (about 70 picks in), and my favorite picks from this group that hasn’t yet been listed are:
- Donte Moncrief – We love Hilton this year, but also Moncrief, who we undersold last year but pushed hard as a rookie (for keeper leagues).
- Marvin Jones – Our Greg Cosell thinks he’s one of the most underrated receivers in the NFL, and his targets are about to go up in Detroit with arguably a better QB slinging him the pill.
- DeVante Parker – His inconsistent tape scares me, but I’m more scared of missing the boat on a second-year breakout under Adam Gase.
- John Brown – He’s incredibly impressive, but I don’t push him very hard because there are arguably three #1 WRs in this offense.
The next group of WRs I’d be looking at if I still hadn’t added a WR3 are:
- Michael Crabtree – Nothing wrong with his production last year.
- Willie Snead – A sneaky sleeper who could really surprise with 85+ catches.
- Kevin White – 80 or so picks into a draft, I’m more than willing to bet on his talent, and it’s a nice situation opposite Alshon Jeffery and with Jay Cutler.
- DeSean Jackson – Usually not my cup of tea, but he could be deadly on the field with Jordan Reed in this good offense.
- Stefon Diggs – Impressive start to his career and now some help with the #1 pick Laquon Treadwell, and Diggs is ahead of the curve compared to the rookie.
- Vincent Jackson – Getting little love so better option as a WR4.
- Michael Floyd – Bruce Arians does still love him and his production was strong last year, and he’s in a contract year in 2016.
- Allen Hurns – I’ve never been a big backer and I probably won’t be this year, but the guy’s been productive.
As usual, when rounding out my WRs corps, I’m looking for cheap values among the veterans and the unexciting, and I’m looking for upside sleeper types. Here’s a quick look at both groups:
- Cheap values: Steve Smith, Mohamed Sanu, Robert Woods, Chris Hogan, Markus Wheaton, Stevie Johnson, Victor Cruz, Terrance Williams, and Torrey Smith.
- Upside sleepers: Tyler Lockett, Sterling Shepard, Laquon Treadwell, Corey Coleman, Travis Benjamin, Breshad Perriman, Tavon Austin, Nelson Agholor, Dorial Green-Beckham, Devin Funchess, Phillip Dorsett, Sammie Coates, and Josh Doctson.
The Tight End Plan
As stated above, I just don’t love taking Rob Gronkowski in the 1st, even though he totally deserves to be drafted in that round. It could be because I only play in “expert” leagues, but I’m usually left with a glaring deficiency somewhere else on my roster when I select Gronk.
I love trying to mine sleepers at this position, so my usual TE plan is to hold off 75 or so picks and try to snag a great value, but I can be swayed if I see a TE standing out as the best player available, which could often be the case in drafts this summer with Jordan Reed at the end of the 3rd or beginning of the 4th round. Reed would be a 2nd round pick if he didn’t have his injury history, but there is still downside to taking Reed. But again; I’m a big BPA guy and if he’s standing out as the best player available, I’d take Reed, especially if he slips to the 4th round (his ADP at 34.4, is technically in the 4th round).
Greg Olsen’s an incredible player and a hell of a guy, but I’m planning on passing on him at his ADP of around 50 overall. It’s deserving because his consistency is rare, but I’m worried about his advancing age and more so how there are more strong targets in the passing game than there’s ever been in Olsen’s tenure. I do prefer Travis Kelce a round later if it came down to those two, and I’m not against rolling with Kelce in the 6th round if he’s the BPA, especially if I haven’t yet drafted a QB (ideal) because I know I’ll be strong at RB/WR already.
It would be nice to get a little more value for my TE, though, and the two guys I really want due to draft value + potential can be had in the 7th or 8th rounds, and they are:
- Coby Fleener – Of course I’m going to be high on a solid talent in this offense available 80+ picks into a draft.
- Zach Ertz – I’m higher on Ertz this year than I ever have been, and we did like him last year.
We do have guys like Delanie Walker, Antonio Gates, and Gary Barnidge in this range, and deservedly so, but they don’t really excite me. If I didn’t yet have my TE, I’m moving on to Plan B, which probably will entail taking two upside-oriented options and hoping one of them hits. There are a few more options than usual this year, so here’s a quick look at my targets:
- Eric Ebron – If he delivers on his talent with a huge role, he could make a lot of teams great this year considering how affordable he is. Ebron really stands out to me as one of the best “sleepers” at the position this year, so I’ll be looking to add him as my TE2 as often as I can even if I took a guy like Jordan Reed or Travis Kelce as my starter.
- Jimmy Graham – Things don’t look rosy for him in terms of Week 1, but he is still Jimmy Graham and he’s likely available 100 picks into a draft.
- Julius Thomas – His injuries are frustrating and he was TD-dependent in 2015, but he’s still a high-end talent in a good offense, and he’s getting very little love in drafts.
- Zach Miller – If he can somehow stay healthy, he’s a good bet to put up top-12 numbers with a featured role in Chicago.
- Dwayne Allen – Another injury-prone guy, but he’s the man now and at worst he could be red zone money with 8-9 TDs (8 TDs on only 29 catches in 2014).
- Ladarius Green – I’m skeptical he can assimilate quickly here and produce like a TE1, but his physical talent is still intriguing and he’s worth a shot if you’re looking for a sleeper.
- Clive Walford – They do love him and he should be better-equipped to produce in his second season.
If I really held off on TE and took one of the seven players listed above, I’ll likely try to find a strong value with some upside as my TE2, and Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Kyle Rudolph, Charles Clay, and Jordan Cameron fit the bill well. All of them except ASJ are incredibly cheap in fantasy drafts.
The Place Kicker Plan
Last year, four of the top-five kickers weren’t drafted, so this position remains a crapshoot after stud Stephen Gostkowski. I’m okay with paying a small premium for Gostkowski, who’s been a top-2 kicker four years in a row and a top-3 kicker five years in a row.
Otherwise, it’s best to use only your last pick on a kicker, as Chris Boswell, Graham Gano, Chandler Catanzaro, and Josh Brown were all top-5 in points per game and probably weren’t even drafted by members of their family in 2015.
I always like Steven Hauschka, Justin Tucker, Dan Bailey, and Mason Crosby, and I do this year. Blair Walsh is a great pick coming off a big year and now kicking indoors, but I wouldn’t want to use anything more than my next-to-last pick to get our #2 ranked kicker. Some other intriguing options not yet listed included Brandon McManus, Adam Vinatieri, Cairo Santos, and Robbie Gould.
The Team Defense Plan
In this day and age of streaming defenses, let’s not forget that, while that 11th-round pick of a DT (in a 16-round draft) may make your roster look good, what happens if they have an early bye or a bad matchup? You’ll probably drop them, thus wasting your pick.
That said, I do want to at least try to pick a good defense on the chance they’re worth keeping and starting all year. I see eight defenses that I’d like to target, but I’m still only going to use one of my final 2-3 picks on one (ideally my next-to-last pick). You’re probably going to have to be a little proactive about acquiring the Houston Texans and the Denver Broncos, but as long as we’re talking one of your final 2-3 picks, that’s okay. Unless I’m getting a lot of credit for points/yards allowed, I’m going to avoid overpaying for the Seattle Seahawks, who have been very underwhelming two years running now. They do, however, have a very good schedule the first month of the season.
The Kansas City Chiefs, Minnesota Vikings, Carolina Panthers, Arizona Cardinals, and Los Angeles Rams won’t likely cost more than a next-to-last pick, and they’re all solid options to enter the season with. Unfortunately, other than Seattle and Arizona, I don’t see many high-end defenses with great early-season schedules to take advantage of, so the defenses in general simply aren’t a top priority.
The Ideal Draft
This time of the year I usually feel like I have a very strong grasp on about 75% of the fantasy player pool, and that other 25% isn’t made clear until training camps kick off, so as I mentioned at the top, consider this initial plan to a guideline, but an incomplete one. The 2016 season seems fairly settled early on, but there are plenty of RBs who aren’t getting love in June but who could be hot commodities in August, and every year there are players at every position who are off the radar in June but wind up trending upward in August.
For now, here’s quick look at some possible drafts from three different draft locations. I’ll go only 12 picks deep at this early stage, and later this summer, I’ll go deeper and will cover specific draft slots in the first rounds. I’m using our current ADP data to determine which players are available for each of my picks.
Picking 3rd overall:
- Odell Beckham
- Eddie Lacy
- Brandin Cooks
- Matt Jones
- Travis Kelce
- Drew Brees
- Donte Moncrief
- Marvin Jones
- Charles Sims
- Vincent Jackson
- Eric Ebron
- Shane Vereen
This one may not be realistic in August, but it’s doable now, per the current ADP. I didn’t get great value for my TE or my QB, but I didn’t pay a hefty premium, either. I’d be very happy if I drafted this team.
Picking 7th overall:
- Adrian Peterson
- Mike Evans
- T.Y. Hilton
- Golden Tate
- Jeremy Hill
- DeVante Parker
- Coby Fleener
- Frank Gore
- Kirk Cousins
- Matthew Stafford
- Eric Ebron
- Kenneth Dixon
I’m sticking with my two-RBs-with-my-first-five-picks approach, and it’s working out well. If I use my first pick on a RB, I’m immediately all about the WRs, as you can see. It might be a pain holding two comparable QBs, but playing the matchups and/or riding the hot hand, I should be in solid shape at the position, which is all you can ask for if you wait around 100 picks before selecting your QB.
Picking 11th overall:
- A.J. Green
- Jamaal Charles
- Randall Cobb
- LeSean McCoy
- Tom Brady
- Jeremy Hill
- Coby Fleener
- Frank Gore
- Willie Snead
- Tavon Austin
- Eric Ebron
- Nelson Agholor
This team’s a little old and probably has more downside than the others, but it still looks like a productive squad.
It’s still early, and I still have to truly define what exactly the perfect draft is, which will come later. But the basic principles won’t likely change:
- Hold off on drafting and get top value for your QB
- Plan on addressing WR often, possibly with your first two picks
- Plan on taking two RBs with your first five picks to give yourself a solid foundation at that position
- Hold off on drafting a TE until after you’re 75 picks in unless Jordan Reed or Travis Kelce really stand out in the 4th and 6th round, respectively.
- Be smart by targeting sneaky values and upside options in the second half of your draft.
If you follow this plan of action and don’t make too many errors with player evaluations and picks, you’ll be in great shape this year.
Source: Fantasy Guru
As a non-profit entity, we do not have the staff to cover the NFL like other great websites. When we find great articles, we pass on the information and give credit where credit is due. The content on our website is provided for FREE and solely to assist the participants in the Fantasy Gives fantasy football fundraiser, where we utilize fantasy sports as a means to support non-profit groups.
This post was adapted from their premium service and WE HIGHLY RECOMMEND PAYING FOR A SUBSCRIPTION TO THEIR WEBSITE! Please visit Fantasy Guru for subscription details.