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Faceoff: Deep Positions

The Footballguys staff discusses the deep positions and the best strategy at those positions

What positions are the deepest this year? Does this depth change your strategy at this position?

Jason Wood: I know most are going to say quarterback, and then argue that you should wait on drafting a quarterback as a result.

I disagree. I'll put aside my debate about whether you should target elite quarterbacks or not for another time, and focus on my choice for the deepest position -- wide receiver. In PPR leagues, in particular, it's very easy to field three players each week that you're genuinely excited about. This mock draft season I've found that I have six to eight receivers that I would be thrilled to have as my bench options (with high upside) yet it's so late in my draft I only have room for one or two of them. I've kept passing on WRs (after grabbing at least one elite option early) in favor of other positions and letting the value fall my way.

Matt Waldman: In PPR? It's running back according to my projections. My RB24, WR17, TE3, and QB2 are similar value. It tells me a higher risk, upside down strategy still has value this year if my projections are close to reality. There's always a danger that's not the case, but if I trust my legwork, RB is actually pretty deep in PPR.

In non-PPR it's closer between RB14 and WR12 and TE is much deeper without the catch bonus. In this case, I'm waiting on tight end and taking backs earlier.

Jeff Pasquino: The WR2/3 group is very deep, as Woodrow points out. I agree with Jason that you can wait and grab 3-4 guys in Rounds 6-11 that are all pretty comparable in value. If you can load up with a stud QB, two or three running backs, a stud tight end and good WR1 then you can pool guys for your WR2 and WR3 (and possibly flex too) - especially in PPR.

I can understand why Matt might say RB2 is deep, but RB1 is not - so that's why I would often go RB/RB if I could get two feature tailbacks.

Stephen Holloway: The wide receiver position is the deepest position for me. I recently participated in the one of the Anarchy Drafts, a 16-team draft and go league that includes the NFL playoffs. This league goes 18 rounds and you are limited to a combination of eight wide receivers and tight ends. Even with increased 2 ppr for tight ends, there have been almost 90 wide receivers drafted and there are still players on the board that have reasonable expectations of scoring into triple digits on the season. I tend to draft wide receivers before running backs, but in almost every mock that I have participated this year, the wide receiver value outlasts the running backs and quarterbacks by a far margin.

Andy Hicks: Like most of the other guys have mentioned, I have to guy with wide receiver. For me, quarterback, running back and tight end have definite elite groups and then pronounced drop offs.

I'm pretty confident that my 60th wide receiver will do almost as well as my 36th, and there is not that much difference between WR21 and WR36 for me either. Once you have one or two elite wide receivers, you can definitely load up in the middle part of the draft as Jeff mentioned.

Ryan Hester: Wide receiver is the deepest position, but it's not the one on which I will wait the longest. That position is tight end. Because there are just two or three elite players at the position who will all go at points in the draft where I'd rather load up on backs and receivers, I'll wait on tight end.

In my personal rankings, I have 10 tight ends ranked in my Top 100 overall, but five of those are ranked 84 or lower (79 or lower in PPR). Clusters like this tell you that there's no need to reach for the 84th-ranked player because the drop-off from him to the next couple players at his position isn't very severe.

Quarterback is also deep, at least through the top 12. I'd take anyone in the top-12 as my QB1, so I'm most likely selecting the 10th, 11th, or 12th quarterback off the board. Most of my teams will have at least three backs and three receivers before I take a quarterback. I'm likely to have as many as five backs, six receivers, and a quarterback before selecting my first tight end.

Adam Harstad: I'm going to have to agree with Wood here - both that quarterback isn't as deep as it first seems, and that there's so much more exciting WR talent late in the draft than at any other position. I mean, in the WR4 range (37th-48th receivers off the board), you're seeing guys like Kenny Britt, Danario Alexander, Josh Gordon, and Justin Blackmon, any one of whom could produce like a top 12 receiver without raising any eyebrows. Going deeper still, you see names like Alshon Jeffery, Vincent Brown, and Ryan Broyles being drafted as WR5s despite being 2nd options (or, in Brown's case, possibly even the first option) in potentially potent passing games. Going later still, in the WR6 range you've got guys like Julian Edelman being drafted as a WR6 despite playing in an elite offense with absolutely no one to throw to, and you've got Stephen Hill and Jeremy Kerley (actually drafted as a WR7), who play in a bad offense, but one of whom is likely going to be the #1 option this year. Rounding out the WR7s, you've got a passel of young, highly-pedigreed receivers on the rise such as A.J. Jenkins, Justin Hunter, Keenan Allen, and Markus Wheaton. I wouldn't want to draft an entire receiver corps of nothing but these late-round guys, but anyone who grabs too many receivers early is going to miss out on a goldmine of value late. I think the smart play is grabbing one of the top-tier options or possibly a pair of WR2 types and then loading up on lottery tickets late in the draft.

I also agree completely with Waldman that there's a lot of serviceable RB2 types in PPR leagues. People rail against the trend towards RBBC, and it certainly thins out the pool of potential RB1s, but one advantage is that it gives us a lot of committee backs like Fred Jackson, Shane Vereen, or Danny Woodhead who might only rush for 500 yards, but who'll chip in 40+ receptions and still put up startable numbers, much like Joique Bell and Danny Woodhead managed last year.

Mark Wimer: As most have pointed out, after the elite tier of wide receivers, there is a lot of players with the potential to be decent fantasy #2/#3 wide receivers. In almost all of my drafts this year, I've gone with an elite (Calvin Johnson) wide receiver early in the draft, then taken two high-upside running backs followed by quarterback, tight end, and then finally more wide receivers. I agree with Matt Waldman that the second tier of running backs is pretty deep in PPR leagues, and there are guys in the third tier who have top-ten potential as well, in my opinion - I'm not afraid of a running back stable that doesn't have one of the top five guys in it, especially in PPR leagues.

In short, anchoring your team's wide receiving corps with one of the likely 100+ reception guys (Calvin Johnson, Demaryius Thomas, Dez Bryant, A.J. Green, Roddy White, Brandon Marshall) and then waiting on your second-through-fourth wide receivers is a solid strategy this year - it's what I've been doing all summer long in my drafts.

Will Grant: I have to agree with Ryan here - I think that tight end is the position to wait on this season. Not because the position is 'deep' per se - in fact, the only real lock at tight end this year is Jimmy Graham. After that, I think the next tier probably has two or three guys in it and then there is a third tier that gets pretty deep. Guys like Vernon Davis, Greg Olsen, Kyle Rudolph and Owen Daniels all see like solid options for a starting tight end. But I think I'd rather have one of those guys and pair them with another guy who has some potential like JerMichael Finley or Martellus Bennett. I really feel like a tight end by committee strategy is probably your best approach if you miss out on the top guys. You could very easily play match-ups with some lower tier guys and end up with a higher point per game result than taking one of the higher-ranked guys.

I don't think the top tier of quarterbacks is very deep this year, and I don't think that you can close the gap as easily with a QBBC approach that you can by taking some of the middle-tier tight ends.