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Expert DRAFTing Week 2

 A how-to-guide to beating this week's snake drafts on DRAFT

 

DRAFT offers weekly fantasy contests with 5-man rosters (1 QB, 2 RB, 2 WR/TE) and 0.5-point PPR scoring (the same as FanDuel).  But instead of using a salary cap like other daily fantasy sites, teams are built through live snake drafts with 30-seconds per pick. The most common contest sizes are Head-to-Head, 3-Team, 6-Team and 10-Team.

This weekly article will feature positional breakdowns that rank and break down the top options at each of the three positions. In the positional rankings, we also list the value over replacement level at the position for each contest size. So for example, Tom Brady projects for 21 points. In a Head-to-Head contest his value over replacement is zero points because Aaron Rodgers also projects for 21 points. In a 10-Man contest, the replacement level quarterbacks are Cam Newton, Ben Roethlisberger and Kirk Cousins who each projects for 18 points, so Brady's value over replacement in a 10-Man contest is 3 points. 

In addition to the positional rankings and projections, we will rank every player for each of the four prime contest sizes in the following sections. In these sections, we will also go in-depth on Week 2 strategy for each of the four contest sizes. 

Note: Early in the week, DRAFT only has full-slate contests available. Thus, the rankings will be for the full slate and include Thursday and Monday night players. It will be noted in the article where the post-Thursday strategy changes. In Week 2, there are no elite options in the Thursday or Monday games, so strategy and player values/rankings are more or less unchanged on the Sunday slate compared to the full slate. 

 

Quarterback Breakdown

 

RANKNAMEPOSGAMEPTSH2H3 Team6 Team10 Team
1 Tom Brady QB NE@NO 21 0 0.5 2.5 3
2 Aaron Rodgers QB GB@ATL 21 0 0.5 2.5 3
3 Russell Wilson QB SF@SEA 20.5   0 2 2.5
4 Matt Ryan QB GB@ATL 20     1.5 2
5 Drew Brees QB NE@NO 19.5     1 1.5
6 Derek Carr QB NYJ@OAK 18.5     0 0.5
7 Jameis Winston QB CHI@TB 18.5       0.5
8 Carson Palmer QB ARI@IND 18.5       0.5
9 Kirk Cousins QB WAS@LAR 18       0
10 Cam Newton QB BUF@CAR 18       0
11 Ben Roethlisberger QB MIN@PIT 18        
12 Alex Smith QB PHI@KC 17.5        
13 Sam Bradford QB MIN@PIT 17.5        
14 Marcus Mariota QB TEN@JAX 17        
15 Philip Rivers QB MIA@LAC 17        


The quarterback spotlight is understandably on the Green Bay-Atlanta and New England-New Orleans games this weekend. Aaron Rodgers, Matt Ryan, Tom Brady and Drew Brees each have huge upside in games that Las Vegas expects to be shootouts. Of the four, Brady probably has the best matchup against a young New Orleans secondary that Sam Bradford shredded on Monday night.

Russell Wilson and Derek Carr would be obvious top options this week but for blowout concerns. Both are double-digit home favorites. Can the 49ers or Jets put up enough offense that Wilson and Carr will still be airing it out in the second half?

With Jameis Winston, Carson Palmer, Cam Newton, Ben Roethlisberger, Carson Palmer and Kirk Cousins each in relatively favorable spots, the quarterback position is very deep this week. It should be easy to wait until the final round in drafts of all sizes and still get an option you feel good about.

Running Back Breakdown

 

RANKNAMEPOSGAMEPTSH2H3 Team6 Team10 Team
1 Melvin Gordon RB MIA@LAC 17.5 1.5 2.5 4 6.5
2 Ezekiel Elliott RB DAL@DEN 17 1 2 3.5 6
3 LeVeon Bell RB MIN@PIT 16.5 0.5 1.5 3 5.5
4 LeSean McCoy RB BUF@CAR 16 0 1 2.5 5
5 Kareem Hunt RB PHI@KC 15.5   0.5 2 4.5
6 Marshawn Lynch RB NYJ@OAK 15   0 1.5 4
7 Leonard Fournette RB TEN@JAX 14.5     1 3.5
8 Jay Ajayi RB MIA@LAC 14.5     1 3.5
9 Ty Montgomery RB GB@ATL 14     0.5 3
10 Christian McCaffrey RB BUF@CAR 14     0.5 3
11 Todd Gurley RB WAS@LAR 14     0.5 3
12 Dalvin Cook RB MIN@PIT 13.5     0 2.5
13 Jordan Howard RB CHI@TB 13       2
14 Devonta Freeman RB GB@ATL 12.5       1.5
15 DeMarco Murray RB TEN@JAX 12.5       1.5
16 Carlos Hyde RB SF@SEA 12       1
17 Terrance West RB CLE@BAL 12       1
18 Bilal Powell RB NYJ@OAK 11.5       0.5
19 Lamar Miller RB HOU@CIN 11.5       0.5
20 Tarik Cohen RB CHI@TB 11       0
21 Jacquizz Rodgers RB CHI@TB 11        
22 Isaiah Crowell RB CLE@BAL 11        
23 Jonathan Stewart RB BUF@CAR 10.5        
24 Mark Ingram RB NE@NO 10.5        
25 C.J. Anderson RB DAL@DEN 10.5        

Taking a step back to look at the running back position from a season long perspective, there is a top tier of four running backs now that David Johnson is out for 2-3 months. LeVeon Bell, Ezekiel Elliott, Melvin Gordon and LeSean McCoy are proven talents with impressive weekly production over their last 10+ games. They all run behind solid offensive lines and have pass-catching ability. Each should have a weekly floor of 20 touches and a realistic shot of hitting almost 30 touches in any given week. You really can’t go wrong rostering any of these backs on Draft and they look like a clear top-4 to me. Focusing back in on just Week 2, we need to try to separate these backs. LeVeon Bell is probably going to be the first off the board in most drafts based upon how dominant he was last season. He is also a home favorite. While I like Bell this week, I have more respect for the Vikings defense than I do for the Dolphins defense. Thus, Melvin Gordon is my top-ranked runner this week. Elliott and McCoy are strong plays despite having to go on the road and facing tough defenses.

If any back is going to emerge and join the top tier in the coming weeks, it is probably going to be one of the rookies. Kareem Hunt, Leonard Fournette, Dalvin Cook and Christian McCaffrey were very impressive in their Week 1 debuts. Hunt and Fournette are solid options in 3-Man contests. Cook and McCaffrey are strongly in play in 6-Man contests.

In 3-Man or larger contests, Marshawn Lynch is my favorite RB2 target. I rank him 6th at the position, but he can probably be had much later in drafts. The Raiders are 14-point home favorites and are going to want to make Lynch’s home debut for the hometown team a memorable one. I’m also bullish on Ty Montgomery and will be targeting him heavily in 6-Man and 10-Man contests. He handled over 90% of the snaps last week and should again see heavy usage in a potential shootout against the Falcons. Atlanta’s defensive scheme forces a lot of throws underneath to the running backs and we’ve seen pass catching backs regularly have big fantasy games against the Falcons (like Tarik Cohen last week).

In 10-Man contests the options at the bottom of the board are unattractive, so the position should be the top priority in the first few rounds. 

 

Wide Receiver and Tight End Breakdown

RANKNAMEPOSGAMEPTSH2H3 Team6 Team10 Team
1 Julio Jones WR GB@ATL 16 2 2.5 3 4
2 Antonio Brown WR MIN@PIT 15.5 1.5 2 2.5 3.5
3 Mike Evans WR CHI@TB 15 1 1.5 2 3
4 Jordy Nelson WR GB@ATL 14 0 0.5 1 2
5 Brandin Cooks WR NE@NO 13.5   0 0.5 1.5
6 Doug Baldwin WR SF@SEA 13.5   0 0.5 1.5
7 Stefon Diggs WR MIN@PIT 13.5     0.5 1.5
8 Keenan Allen WR MIA@LAC 13.5     0.5 1.5
9 Tyreek Hill WR PHI@KC 13.5     0.5 1.5
10 Larry Fitzgerald WR ARI@IND 13     0 1
11 Amari Cooper WR NYJ@OAK 13     0 1
12 Michael Thomas WR NE@NO 13     0 1
13 Demaryius Thomas WR DAL@DEN 12.5       0.5
14 Michael Crabtree WR NYJ@OAK 12.5       0.5
15 DeAndre Hopkins WR HOU@CIN 12.5       0.5
16 Rob Gronkowski TE NE@NO 12.5       0.5
17 Golden Tate WR DET@NYG 12       0
18 Adam Thielen WR MIN@PIT 12       0
19 Terrelle Pryor WR WAS@LAR 12       0
20 Odell Beckham Jr WR DET@NYG 12       0
21 A.J. Green WR HOU@CIN 11.5        
22 Davante Adams WR GB@ATL 11.5        
23 T.Y. Hilton WR ARI@IND 11        
24 Jeremy Maclin WR CLE@BAL 11        
25 John Brown WR ARI@IND 11        
26 Randall Cobb WR GB@ATL 11        
27 Pierre Garcon WR SF@SEA 11        
28 Travis Kelce TE PHI@KC 11        
29 Dez Bryant WR DAL@DEN 10.5        
30 Alshon Jeffery WR PHI@KC 10.5        

 

The 3-man top tier is Julio Jones, Antonio Brown and Mike Evans. While Brown is always going to be one of the top options, he has the toughest matchup against a tough Vikings defense and cornerback Xavier Rhodes. Jordy Nelson isn’t too far behind the top group. Atlanta has plenty of talent at cornerback, but Nelson proved again last week that he is basically matchup proof and the Packers will likely have to throw a lot to keep up with the Falcons.

Beyond the top four the picture is muddy. Brandin Cooks has a massive ceiling in his return to new Orleans. He is still working on his chemistry with Tom Brady however and carries some risk. Doug Baldwin has plenty of chemistry with Russell Wilson and has a nice floor this week. But his upside is questionable in a game where Seattle should be playing from ahead. Stefon Diggs and Tyreek Hill starred in Week 1 and should be hot commodities again this week. Keenan Allen didn’t put up big numbers, but also impressed in a difficult matchup against Chris Harris, Jr. He’ll have a much more favorable matchup on Sunday.

Larry Fitzgerald should see an increase in targets after the David Johnson injury. The Colts defense was awful in Week 1. Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree have great matchups on paper, but might not get a lot of work in the second half if the Raiders build up a big lead. Michael Thomas is an interesting case. He’s the go-to receiver for Drew Brees and playing at home in a game that should be a shootout. But the Patriots have a knack for taking the opposing team’s top option away and Thomas is the obvious candidate this week.

If you’re playing the Thursday slate, DeAndre Hopkins and A.J. Green are decent options in 10-Man and maybe even 6-Man contests despite tough matchups. Both should see plenty of volume.

Head-to-Head Strategy and Rankings

  1. Julio Jones
  2. Antonio Brown
  3. Melvin Gordon
  4. Ezekiel Elliott
  5. LeVeon Bell
  6. Mike Evans
  7. Tom Brady
  8. Aaron Rodgers
  9. LeSean McCoy
  10. Jordy Nelson

Other considerations: Russell Wilson, Matt Ryan, Kareem Hunt, Brandin Cooks, Doug Baldwin

In all other draft sizes, the focus this week has to be on locking up as many of the top running backs as possible. However, in Head-to-Head, you are guaranteed two of the four elite options. There doesn’t have to be as much of a rush to snag running backs early. Of course if you feel strongly about any of the backs this week, it is absolutely viable and advisable to snag your top-ranked running back with your first pick.

Personally, I like the idea of grabbing Julio Jones at 1.01 and trying to gain separation at wide receiver where the drop off from #1 to #4 is steepest. If my opponent grabs his top two running backs at 1.02 and 2.01, I can come back with Antonio Brown and my top quarterback and still know that my worst case is LeVeon Bell and LeSean McCoy as my running back duo. Plus, while Melvin Gordon is my top back, he probably isn’t for most people. So there remains a decent chance that I get my top options at both receiver and running back.

Similarly, if drafting second, I will be hoping my opponent grabs a running back first and I’m coming back with Julio Jones and Antonio Brown at the 1/2 turn. The floor for the top two receivers is so high and the weekly upside is also through the roof, so there is some separation there compared to the receivers ranked #4 and lower. 

3-Man Strategy and Rankings

  1. Melvin Gordon 
  2. Julio Jones
  3. Ezekiel Elliott 
  4. Antonio Brown
  5. LeVeon Bell
  6. LeSean McCoy 
  7. Mike Evans 
  8. Jordy Nelson 
  9. Brandin Cooks
  10. Kareem Hunt
  11. Tom Brady
  12. Aaron Rodgers
  13. Marshawn Lynch
  14. Doug Baldwin
  15. Russell Wilson

Other considerations: Matt Ryan, Leonard Fournette, Jay Ajayi, Ty Montgomery, Stefon Diggs

In a 3-Man contest, my top priority is making sure I don’t get shut out from the top-four running backs. If I take a wide receiver first overall, it’s entirely possible that the elite tier of backs would all be gone by the time it makes it back around to me at 2.03. At 1.01, it makes the most sense to lock in your top-rated running back. You know that either Jones, Brown or one of the top backs will make it back to you at 2.12 and Mike Evans will be there at 3.01.

At 1.02 and 1.03 the running back vs. wide receiver decision is much more difficult. From these draft positions, you are guaranteed at least one of the top four running backs even if you take Jones or Brown in the first round. There is certainly some attraction to trying to lock in an advantage at WR1. On the other hand, the idea of locking in two of the top backs and building an advantage at RB2 is also an attractive option. 

6-Man Strategy and Rankings

  1. Melvin Gordon 
  2. Ezekiel Elliott 
  3. LeVeon Bell
  4. LeSean McCoy 
  5. Julio Jones
  6. Antonio Brown 
  7. Mike Evans 
  8. Marshawn Lynch 
  9. Jordy Nelson 
  10. Kareem Hunt
  11. Brandin Cooks 
  12. Tom Brady
  13. Aaron Rodgers
  14. Doug Baldwin
  15. Russell Wilson
  16. Leonard Fournette
  17. Jay Ajayi
  18. Matt Ryan
  19. Ty Montgomery
  20. Stefon Diggs
  21. Christian McCaffrey
  22. Keenan Allen
  23. Tyreek Hill
  24. Todd Gurley
  25. Drew Brees
  26. Larry Fitzgerald
  27. Amari Cooper
  28. Michael Thomas
  29. Dalvin Cook
  30. Derek Carr

Other Considerations: Jameis Winston, Ben Roethlisberger, Carson Palmer, Cam Newton, Jordan Howard, Devonta Freeman, DeMarco Murray, Demaryius Thomas, DeAndre Hopkins (TR), A.J. Green (TR), Rob Gronkowski

6-Man contests are where we really start to see running back value come to the forefront. The WR2 and QB options in the final rounds are more attractive than the final few RB2 options, so it makes sense to try to lock up your two starting running backs in the first three rounds if possible. 

We also start to see the top quarterback options become a bit more attractive as third round options. There is a small but noticeable tier drop after the top four or five passers. 

6-Man contests are also big enough that it makes sense to start considering stacking your quarterback with his top target. Each of the top-6 passers also has a wide receiver ranked in the top-12, so there are plenty of strong combinations available. 

10-Man Contest Strategy and Rankings

  1. Melvin Gordon
  2. Ezekiel Elliott
  3. LeVeon Bell
  4. LeSean McCoy
  5. Kareem Hunt
  6. Marshawn Lynch
  7. Julio Jones
  8. Leonard Fournette
  9. Jay Ajayi
  10. Antonio Brown
  11. Ty Montgomery
  12. Mike Evans 
  13. Todd Gurley
  14. Tom Brady
  15. Aaron Rodgers
  16. Christian McCaffrey
  17. Dalvin Cook
  18. Jordan Howard 
  19. Jordy Nelson
  20. Brandin Cooks 
  21. Russell Wilson
  22. Devonta Freeman
  23. DeMarco Murray
  24. Doug Baldwin 
  25. Matt Ryan
  26. Drew Brees
  27. Stefon Diggs
  28. Keenan Allen
  29. Tyreek Hill
  30. Carlos Hyde
  31. Terrance West
  32. Larry Fitzgerald
  33. Amari Cooper
  34. Michael Thomas
  35. Bilal Powell
  36. Lamar Miller (TR)
  37. Derek Carr
  38. Jameis Winston
  39. Carson Palmer
  40. Demaryius Thomas
  41. Michael Crabtree
  42. DeAndre Hopkins (TR)
  43. Rob Gronkowski
  44. Tarik Cohen
  45. Ben Roethlisberger
  46. Cam Newton
  47. Golden Tate (M)
  48. Adam Thielen
  49. Terrelle Pryor
  50. Odell Beckham Jr (M)

Other Considerations: Kirk Cousins, Jacquizz Rodgers, Isaiah Crowell, Jonathan Stewart, Mark Ingram, C.J. Anderson, A.J. Green (TR), Davante Adams, T.Y. Hilton, John Brown, Randall Cobb, Travis Kelce, Dez Bryant, Kelvin Benjamin

In 10-Man contests, it is all about running back value. You want to avoid at all costs being one of the last to draft your RB2 because you are left looking at options like Bilal Powell, Tarik Cohen, Jacquizz Rodgers, Isaiah Crowell and Jonathan Stewart in the fifth round. 

The most depth is at quarterback, where even the lower-ranked options like Carson Palmer, Ben Roethlisberger and Cam Newton have legitimate upside. 

The WR/TE position is also deep. Especially on the full slate where DeAndre Hopkins, A.J. Green, Golden Tate and potentially Odell Beckham, Jr. (if healthy) add to the WR2 depth. Even on just the Sunday slate, there are big-name players in substandard matchups (Dez Bryant, T.Y. Hilton, etc.) who should be available in the final picks and still possess decent upside.