I’ve been getting a ton of questions about draft strategy, especially which positions should be drafted when. There’s simply no answer for that. Every draft is different, and needs to be treated that way. The best answer I have is when you’re faced with a tough decision, take a look at your roster and see which player fits that roster best. This is called roster construction. It’s important to keep your options open, and let the draft come to you. Here are a few things I consider during a draft:
Try not to draft on tilt by creating solid foundation
I typically want a guy who’s closest to elite as possible as my first RB and my first WR, which means my ideal first two picks would be one RB and one WR. There are a couple of reasons why I like this strategy. If I don’t have that close-to-elite WR as my WR1, I’m most likely not going to have one the rest of the year unless I trade for one. WR1’s usually don’t pop up on the waiver wire, and WR2s usually don’t upswing into WR1 opportunity because of an injury. You can get a RB1 on your team without necessarily drafting one in the first round because of an injury to a starter and other reasons, but I like to lock up a 3-down RB to at least have someone who catches passes and someone who’s seeing the field most of the game, regardless of game script. With that starting base of a very solid RB and WR, I don’t have to be on tilt the rest of the draft; I can choose players based on value and not because I “need” someone to fill that RB1 spot or that WR1 spot in the third or fourth round. If I picked two RBs in the first two rounds, there is a ton of pressure for me to pick a WR in the third round, and same thing if I pick two WRs in the first two rounds. There might actually be a third RB I really like but can’t or wouldn’t pick because my team will be very unbalanced. With all this being said, if I’m faced with a decision of a close to elite RB and unexciting WRs, and vice versa, I will pick the player I’m much more excited about, and go from there; I won’t get locked into this strategy no matter what.
When faced with a tough decision, I compare the players I’m considering, and look at who has the biggest drop off after them. For example, if I’m in the middle rounds and I’m looking at the last starting early-down RB who’s followed by a few solid backup RBs, that’s a significant dropoff in value. If I’m comparing him to a couple of PPR WRs who have solid floors, I might go towards that RB because I might be able to get what’s left of the tier of solid floor WRs on the way back to me. It’s important to understand that if you’re drafting near the turn, to take your guys because they might not make it back to you. A lot of these picks might seem like a reach, but it’s better you reach for them than them not making it back to you.
Balanced starting lineup
In the middle rounds, I take a look at how my roster has shaped up so far. Do I have consistent players? Do I have a few boom/bust players? I want to have a balance. If most of my guys have solid floors, I might want to draft someone with a high ceiling to bring my overall team ceiling up, while not worrying about his floor because I have other high floor players that should make up for it. If I realize I have some boom/bust players, I want someone who I know will have a certain amount of opportunity in a game, and might not have a high ceiling, but will have a solid floor week in and week out.
Creating solid depth at RB and WR
Filling up my bench with RB and WR depth. You never know who’s going to break out Week 1. The more RBs and WRs I have on my bench, the more opportunity I have to having one of those players who can crack my starting lineup and make a significant impact on my team moving forward.
Not drafting backup QB or TE
Do you really need that backup tight end or quarterback? I won’t draft a second if I’m only starting one of each. I’m comfortable being able to stream off the waiver wire if necessary, especially in 10-12 team leagues. I rather use those roster spots for late-round fliers that have an opportunity to blow up Week 1.
Identify your late-round fliers
Identify your fliers. I like to take chances at guys who have any chance of grabbing a hold of significant opportunity on the team if things go their way, even if it’s a small chance. Late in drafts, especially in 12-team or more leagues you’ll be making random picks if you don’t know which guys to take a flier on. You want guys who can either make an impact Week 1 so that you know what you have. You might strike gold and have one or two legit asset to either start or trade. I would look at RBs who have a chance of getting significant playing time, and at WRs on teams where the #1 isn’t clearly defined.
Recognize rest of league’s rosters
Keep an eye on your league’s rosters. You might be able to get a better idea of who’s taking what position, especially if you’re near the turn. I like to take the guy that I think my league-mate most likely would have took if I’m in between two players, and hopefully that other player makes it back to me. If I’m picking 10th in a 12-teamer, and the two teams after me already have at least one QB, I would probably take my chances with a non-QB, and have a good level of confidence that the remaining QBs are making it back to me on the turn.