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Perfect Draft: 12 Team PPR

A round-by-round mapped out Value-Based Drafting strategy to dominate your league.

This is the first of a multi-part series. Updated as of 8/8

I started penning this article in 2002 to put my pre-draft thoughts to paper. Like most things in life, I find I do my best when I plan to succeed. This article is my attempt at that. I work hard at doing projections every year. At Footballguys, we also put together the most comprehensive Average Draft Position Lists. So the information about value is certainly readily available. The trick to having a perfect draft though is to anticipate those "pockets of value" and build your team so that you get the lion's share of these guys.

There is no one way to have a perfect draft. In fact, the biggest criticism I often get is that I am willing to wait on a quarterback and/or tight end in a lot of drafts. Many drafters show me teams where they grab a guy like Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, or Drew Brees early and then knock the rest of the draft out of the park. That's definitely possible. And against weak competition, it can be the preferred game plan.

This article assumes fairly educated drafters. You need to decide whether your league is full of sharks, guppies or a combination of both. Count the number of Footballguys subscriptions and/or Dominator apps and compare that to the number of guys crossing off players from their magazine cheat sheet to get a feel for this if you really are unsure. I state this here because against softer competition the shark move is to grab the quality quarterbacks and tight ends too. You should do this because it's nearly assured you will also get many great players to slide to you at running back and wide receiver. Against great competition, reaching for a player at the wrong time can quickly dismantle your draft and leave you missing the key "pockets of value" that can help your chances at winning.

Before we can have the "Perfect Draft", let's define our measure of success. After the draft, your team should have these qualities:

  1. Against multiple projection sets, your team always grades out as one of the best teams. And to make your life easy here, just run your roster through our Rate My Team application.
  2. You secured a great number of players that will outperform their draft position.
  3. You have quality depth (in the right places) to allow for post-draft trades.
  4. The majority of owners recognize that you have a team that should easily reach the playoffs.
  5. Your late round picks have the potential to be game-changing players

These aren't absolutes, but I list them here so we know what we are trying to build.

Let's start with the two basic principles of Value Based Drafting (VBD). I will expound on them as we go through this.

  • All Players Have Value - Don't love anyone. Don't hate anyone. Get players that will significantly outperform their draft position and you will build a winning team.
  • Understand What the Average Guy Thinks - You may believe someone will be the 10th best WR, but if everybody else does not then you should wait to maximize value.

If you don't follow these principles, you will not have a perfect draft. If you believe rookie WRs are always bad or drafting anyone over 30 is too big of an injury risk, then you will not have the perfect draft. Throw away the biases. Let value guide your draft. Let others succumb to prejudices and generalities. You are here to win your league. And you do that by getting value with every pick.

How do we define value? Value Based Drafting (VBD) has shown us that we can compare unlike positions for comparative value. The cornerstone of VBD starts with solid projections. And these projections can be manipulated to form Top 300+ lists. For this article, I will be using the Top 300 (PPR) list I created for the website. I have highlighted favorable differences in green to indicate players that may be bargains on draft day.

Let's have the perfect draft.

The goal is to get you the best possible team and to make sure you don't overpay for players that can still be had a few rounds later. What I look for are players that I project significantly better than where they are being drafted. The positional analysis tracks to my projections.

This article assumes a 12-team league using scoring that starts 1 quarterback, 2 running backs, 3 wide receivers, 1 tight end, 1 defense, and 1 place kicker. Fantasy points are calculated as follows:

  • Passing touchdowns = 4 points
  • Interceptions = -1 points
  • Rushing/receiving touchdowns = 6 points
  • Receptions = 1 point
  • Passing yardage = 0.05 pts per yard (1 pt per 20 yards)
  • Rushing/receiving yardage = 0.10 pts per yard (1 pt per 10 yards)

The Top 60 Players

Because ADP is a crucial barometer on when players will get drafted, I believe it's important to merge the Footballguys Top 300 with ADP to create a single Top 60 draft list. This list appears here for PPR leagues

  • For players that have a value lower than ADP, use the average of the two numbers.
  • For players that have a value higher than ADP, use the value number.

Example: Player A has a value of 13 and an ADP of 21. His "drafting" value would be 17. (13 + 21)/2. Conversely, if Player has a value of 21 and an ADP of 13, his "drafting" value would be 21.

Doing this for the Top 300 list yields these Top 60 players (ranked from 1st to 60).

*** Note this is a generic PPR list. You can get a tailored list by entering your scoring criteria into the VBD or Draft Dominator applications:

  1. Pick 1.01 - RB1 David Johnson, ARI/8 (ADP = 1)
  2. Pick 1.02 - RB2 LeVeon Bell, PIT/9 (ADP = 2)
  3. Pick 1.03 - WR1 Antonio Brown, PIT/9 (ADP = 3)
  4. Pick 1.04 - WR2 Julio Jones, ATL/5 (ADP = 6)
  5. Pick 1.05 - RB3 Ezekiel Elliott, DAL/6 (ADP = 4)
  6. Pick 1.06 - WR3 Odell Beckham Jr, NYG/8 (ADP = 5)
  7. Pick 1.07 - RB4 Melvin Gordon, LAC/9 (ADP = 10)
  8. Pick 1.08 - RB5 LeSean McCoy, BUF/6 (ADP = 9)
  9. Pick 1.09 - RB6 Devonta Freeman, ATL/5 (ADP = 11)
  10. Pick 1.10 - WR4 Mike Evans, TB/11 (ADP = 7)
  11. Pick 1.11 - WR5 A.J. Green, CIN/6 (ADP = 8)
  12. Pick 1.12 - WR6 Jordy Nelson, GB/8 (ADP = 12)
  13. Pick 2.01 - RB7 Jay Ajayi , MIA/11 (ADP = 15)
  14. Pick 2.02 - WR7 Michael Thomas, NO/5 (ADP = 13)
  15. Pick 2.03 - RB8 Jordan Howard, CHI/9 (ADP = 14)
  16. Pick 2.04 - RB9 DeMarco Murray , TEN/8 (ADP = 16)
  17. Pick 2.05 - WR8 Amari Cooper, OAK/10 (ADP = 18)
  18. Pick 2.06 - WR9 T.Y. Hilton, IND/11 (ADP = 17)
  19. Pick 2.07 - WR10 Doug Baldwin, SEA/6 (ADP = 24)
  20. Pick 2.08 - RB10 Todd Gurley, LAR/8 (ADP = 22)
  21. Pick 2.09 - RB11 Lamar Miller, HOU/7 (ADP = 26)
  22. Pick 2.10 - TE1 Rob Gronkowski, NE/9 (ADP = 19)
  23. Pick 2.11 - QB1 Aaron Rodgers, GB/8 (ADP = 21)
  24. Pick 2.12 - RB12 Isaiah Crowell , CLE/9 (ADP = 31)
  25. Pick 3.01 - WR11 Dez Bryant, DAL/6 (ADP = 20)
  26. Pick 3.02 - WR12 Demaryius Thomas, DEN/5 (ADP = 29)
  27. Pick 3.03 - WR13 DeAndre Hopkins, HOU/7 (ADP = 25)
  28. Pick 3.04 - RB13 Leonard Fournette, JAX/8 (ADP = 23)
  29. Pick 3.05 - QB2 Tom Brady, NE/9 (ADP = 28)
  30. Pick 3.06 - WR14 Keenan Allen, LAC/9 (ADP = 32)
  31. Pick 3.07 - WR15 Allen Robinson, JAX/8 (ADP = 35)
  32. Pick 3.08 - TE2 Travis Kelce, KC/10 (ADP = 30)
  33. Pick 3.09 - WR16 Brandin Cooks , NE/9 (ADP = 27)
  34. Pick 3.10 - RB14 Ty Montgomery , GB/8 (ADP = 40)
  35. Pick 3.11 - WR17 Jarvis Landry, MIA/11 (ADP = 33)
  36. Pick 3.12 - WR18 Michael Crabtree, OAK/10 (ADP = 45)
  37. Pick 4.01 - WR19 Sammy Watkins, BUF/6 (ADP = 36)
  38. Pick 4.02 - RB15 Marshawn Lynch, OAK/10 (ADP = 34)
  39. Pick 4.03 - TE3 Greg Olsen, CAR/11 (ADP = 44)
  40. Pick 4.04 - RB16 Christian McCaffrey, CAR/11 (ADP = 37)
  41. Pick 4.05 - WR20 Alshon Jeffery, PHI/10 (ADP = 39)
  42. Pick 4.06 - WR21 Larry Fitzgerald, ARI/8 (ADP = 57)
  43. Pick 4.07 - TE4 Jordan Reed, WAS/5 (ADP = 47)
  44. Pick 4.08 - RB17 Dalvin Cook, MIN/9 (ADP = 50)
  45. Pick 4.09 - WR22 Tyreek Hill, KC/10 (ADP = 46)
  46. Pick 4.10 - QB3 Matt Ryan, ATL/5 (ADP = 52)
  47. Pick 4.11 - QB4 Drew Brees, NO/5 (ADP = 38)
  48. Pick 4.12 - WR23 Golden Tate, DET/7 (ADP = 51)
  49. Pick 5.01 - RB18 Spencer Ware, KC/10 (ADP = 53)
  50. Pick 5.02 - WR24 Davante Adams, GB/8 (ADP = 42)
  51. Pick 5.03 - RB19 Bilal Powell, NYJ/11 (ADP = 69)
  52. Pick 5.04 - WR25 Stefon Diggs, MIN/9 (ADP = 60)
  53. Pick 5.05 - WR26 Emmanuel Sanders, DEN/5 (ADP = 65)
  54. Pick 5.06 - RB20 Mark Ingram , NO/5 (ADP = 54)
  55. Pick 5.07 - RB21 Carlos Hyde, SF/11 (ADP = 48)
  56. Pick 5.08 - WR27 Kelvin Benjamin, CAR/11 (ADP = 64)
  57. Pick 5.09 - QB5 Russell Wilson, SEA/6 (ADP = 62)
  58. Pick 5.10 - TE5 Jimmy Graham, SEA/6 (ADP = 61)
  59. Pick 5.11 - WR28 Willie Snead, NO/5 (ADP = 68)
  60. Pick 5.12 - RB22 Joe Mixon, CIN/6 (ADP = 43)

Note: There are five quarterbacks that appear on this list, but I am going to tell you a simple truth. Your team will end up a lot better if you wait until after this list is exhausted before choosing a quarterback. The reason for this is because there is value at quarterback once everyone in the league drafts one. In years where there were just a handful of difference makers, you could make an argument that you need an elite one. This year the quarterback pool is as deep as ever. Trust me here. Don't draft an early quarterback.

Building Your Core - Your First 5 Picks

You are looking to grab the best player available until this list is exhausted. But use some common sense while you do this. For example, you can't draft running backs every round and have the Perfect Draft since you are limited in the number you can start each week.

I would pay little to no attention to bye weeks during this phase. You have plenty of time to adjust after these Top 60 players are gone.

I would limit myself to just one tight end from this list unless the extra tight end is drafted in the eighth round or later (trade value alone makes the selection worthwhile).

After the Top 60 - Assessment Phase

The transition from the Top 60 to rounding out your team based on need is a critical one. Your analysis here can instantly turn a good draft into a great one. Here are the questions you should be asking yourself to determine your weaknesses:

  • How many backs did you secure? The average owner should have 1.83 running backs. Do you have two or more including one in the first round? Is this a position of strength for your team?
  • Did you draft a quarterback or tight end (the average owner should have 0.42 quarterbacks and 0.42 tight ends) yet? If so consider yourself done at this position until much later in the draft. If you have not drafted these positions yet, do not panic. Good ones will be available later.
  • Assess your bye week situation. If three or more of your first five players are off on the same bye week, I will usually sacrifice that week so that I can be strong in every other week. If that is not the case, then I look to patch the holes with complimentary players that could have big weeks during these rough spots. Teams lining up against San Francisco, Cleveland, New Orleans, Indianapolis, and Chicago should all yield good results during these weeks.

As an example, Let's say you landed this team after five rounds (from the ninth position):

  • 9. RB Devonta Freeman, ATL/5
  • 16. WR Amari Cooper, OAK/10
  • 33. WR Allen Robinson, JAC/8
  • 40. RB Ty Montgomery, GB/8
  • 57. RB Bilal Powell, NYJ/11

Quick analysis yields these weaknesses at present: You have not selected a quarterback or tight end.  You have two players with a week 8 bye.

Unless significant value presents itself, my plan for the next few rounds would be:

  • Look for players not on a week 8 bye
  • Grab another quality wide receiver
  • Fill out roster need at tight end
  • Fill out roster need at quarterback
  • Grab a player sliding at running back ONLY if he represents exceptional value.

Note the departure from looking for value at all cost here. Running back may represent value at your next pick, but this selected player is not a roster need. It is generally better to fill out your key roster spots instead of amassing a lot of value that you may not be able to use. So use your head. Are you able to select a running back, tight end, or a quarterback that represents at least fair value (ADP and value numbers are in line with the selection)?

Let's look at another example. This one from the 2nd position:

Quick analysis yields these weaknesses at present: You have no quarterbacks and no tight ends. Two of your three top players have a week 9 bye.

Unless significant value presents itself, my plan for the next few rounds would be:

  • Look for players, not on Week 9 bye
  • Grab a running back.  
  • Fill out roster need at quarterback
  • Fill out roster need at tight end
  • Grab a player sliding at wide receiver ONLY if he represents exceptional value.

Moving to Fill Positional Needs

Quarterbacks

If you followed this plan up to here, you should not have selected a quarterback within the Top 60 picks.

The league has morphed into a passing exhibition on most weeks. Fifteen quarterbacks finished the year with 4,000+ combined passing and rushing yards. Let that sink in. For every drafter taking a quarterback early, someone waiting still got a player who finished with 4,000 combined yards much later in the draft.

There have never been more quality quarterbacks playing each week than what is available this season. So for every drafter that pulls the trigger to get an Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Drew Brees, or Matt Ryan early, some drafter (read YOU if you are wise) will grab someone like Philip Rivers, Kirk Cousins, Eli Manning, Dak Prescott, or Matthew Stafford as many as six to seven rounds later. I am telling you that there is not enough difference to make getting the elite guys worthy of a draft strategy this season.

Waiting is for Winners...draft the 12th quarterback...or later.

From my own projections, here are my top fantasy quarterbacks for this year:

  • Aaron Rodgers, GB (393 Fantasy Points in 16 games)
  • Tom Brady, NE (381 Fantasy Points in 16 games)
  • Matt Ryan, ATL (358 Fantasy Points in 16 games)
  • Drew Brees, NO (353 Fantasy Points in 16 games)
  • Jameis Winston, TB (352 Fantasy Points in 16 games)
  • Russell Wilson, SEA (351 Fantasy Points in 16 games)
  • Andrew Luck, IND (342 Fantasy Points in 16 games)
  • Cam Newton, CAR (336 Fantasy Points in 15 games)
  • Marcus Mariota, TEN (330 Fantasy Points in 15 games)
  • Philip Rivers, LAC (330 Fantasy Points in 16 games)
  • Ben Roethlisberger, PIT (329 Fantasy Points in 15 games)
  • Dak Prescott, DAL (327 Fantasy Points in 16 games)
  • Kirk Cousins, WAS (325 Fantasy Points in 16 games)
  • Eli Manning, NYG (316 Fantasy Points in 16 games)
  • Derek Carr, OAK (315 Fantasy Points in 15 games)
  • Andy Dalton, CIN (314 Fantasy Points in 15 games)
  • Tyrod Taylor, BUF (307 Fantasy Points in 15 games)
  • Matthew Stafford, DET (306 Fantasy Points in 16 games)
  • Carson Wentz, PHI (301 Fantasy Points in 16 games)
  • Blake Bortles, JAX (293 Fantasy Points in 16 games)
  • Alex Smith, KC (274 Fantasy Points in 15 games)
  • Joe Flacco, BAL (273 Fantasy Points in 15 games)
  • Carson Palmer, ARI (263 Fantasy Points in 15 games)
  • Jay Cutler, MIA (242 Fantasy Points in 15 games)
  • Sam Bradford, MIN (234 Fantasy Points in 14 games)
  • Jared Goff, LA (222 Fantasy Points in 16 games)
  • Brian Hoyer, SF (214 Fantasy Points in 14 games)

Now consider the people that took any of the top 10 names based on ADP. Are they looking to add a quality backup? Would you if you drafted Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Drew Brees or Matt Ryan? This dynamic defines the solution. Once 11 people have drafted their QB1, a lull happens before they get a suitable backup.  This "lull" is the sweet spot where you want to be selecting your QB1. Who is it? It depends on your draft, but usually, three of these will still be on the board (Philip Rivers, Ben Roethlisberger, Kirk Cousins, Dak Prescott, or Eli Manning).  All represent massive value at a discounted price.  All of these guys would have that "quality starter tag" before the league became the passing exhibition it is today.

My trigger on drafts is these three players:  Derek Carr, Marcus Mariota, and Cam Newton.  I generally wait until all are three are selected and that prompts me to look hard at the position soon. But David...what if someone snipes all these other guys from me? This is the beauty of waiting. You aren't penalized by this at all; There are still plenty of solid quarterback options that could easily threaten the top 12.  Guys like Andy Dalton, Tyrod Taylor, Matthew Stafford, Carson Wentz, and Blake Bortles should still score nearly 275 fantasy points at the position.  

Running Backs

In most leagues, elite running backs are golden. Their value lies in their ability to both run and catch.  The reason they are golden is that there are simply not enough of them to go around. More and more teams are using a committee approach to the running back position...pulling the starter both on obvious passing downs and sometimes in goal line situations. It has made the workhorse backs (that do all three roles) even more valuable. It has also created a bigger pool of next tier backs that don't do it all. If you followed the Top 60 plan from above, you likely have a decent stable of backs on your roster to build the rest of your team around.

But two or three quality backs don't make a powerhouse fantasy roster...Having depth at running back does.

Here are the other running backs that I would target for value (outside of the top 60 picks):

  • Terrance West, BAL/10 (Value = 68, ADP = 103) in the 7th round or later
  • Duke Johnson Jr, CLE/9 (Value = 73, ADP = 110) in the 8th round or later
  • Giovani Bernard, CIN/6 (Value = 97, ADP = 150) in the 10th round or later
  • Darren Sproles, PHI/10 (Value = 101, ADP = 144) in the 12th round or later
  • Chris Thompson, WAS/5 (Value = 112, ADP = 182) in the 13th round or later
  • Shane Vereen, NYG/8 (Value = 123, ADP = 193) in the 13th round or later
  • Robert Turbin, IND/11 (Value = 143, ADP = 258) in the 16th round or later
  • Tim Hightower, SF/11 (Value = 177, ADP = 228) in the 18th round or later

Wide Receivers

The biggest key to having a great wide receiver corps is following the Top 60 plan above and then swooping in and stealing the players that slide unnecessarily in a draft. Here are some guys that should represent excellent value this year (outside of the Top 60):

  • Pierre Garcon, SF/11 (Value = 61, ADP = 92) in the 7th round or later
  • DeVante Parker, MIA/11 (Value = 66, ADP = 89) in the 7th round or later
  • Adam Thielen, MIN/9 (Value = 62, ADP = 116) in the 9th round or later
  • Tyrell Williams, LAC/9 (Value = 76, ADP = 106) in the 9th round or later
  • Robby Anderson, NYJ/11 (Value = 86, ADP = 172) in the 10th round or later
  • Cole Beasley, DAL/6 (Value = 124, ADP = 171) in the 13th round or later
  • Robert Woods, LAR/8 (Value = 128, ADP = 169) in the 13th round or later
  • Breshad Perriman, BAL/10 (Value = 131, ADP = 167) in the 13th round or later
  • Marqise Lee, JAC/8 (Value = 149, ADP = 196) in the 16th round or later
  • Devin Funchess, CAR/11  (Value = 156, ADP = 238) in the 18th round or later
  • Anquan Boldin, BUF/6 (Value = 176, ADP = 270) in the 20th round or later
  • ArDarius Stewart, NYJ/11 (Value = 185, ADP = 270) in the 20th round or later
  • Kendall Wright, CHI/9 (Value = 190, ADP = 270) in the 20th round or later
  • Chris Conley, KC/10 (Value = 191, ADP = 270) in the 20th round or later
  • Terrance Williams, DAL/6 (Value = 197, ADP = 270) in the 20th round or later
  • Marquise Goodwin, SF/11 (Value = 199, ADP = 270) in the 20th round or later

Some other wide receivers will undoubtedly slip in your drafts besides the bargain list above. In recap, grab approximately three receivers by Round 6 and then wait for the value to emerge because it always does.

Tight Ends

Because so many more teams are utilizing the tight end position, there are almost always bargains at this position late in a draft. In fact, once the top 7-8 names come off the board, there is minimal pressure on the tight end position the rest of the draft (in leagues that start just one tight end).

This presents a dilemma of sorts in drafts. One can grab an elite (top 5 or 6) tight end or wait until the later rounds and grab some upside guys that could crack the top 10 at the position.

I generally prefer a decent tight end, but I think the wise drafting approach is to not reach for one if they go sooner than normal.

Here are the tight ends that I am targeting outside of the top 60 players:

  • Kyle Rudolph, MIN/9 (Value = 65, ADP = 75) in the 7th round or later
  • Zach Ertz, PHI/10 (Value = 80, ADP = 87) in the 8th round or later
  • Hunter Henry, LAC/9 (Value = 88, ADP = 99) in the 9th round or later
  • Jason Witten, DAL/6 (Value = 136, ADP = 147) in the 12th round or later
  • C.J Fiedorowicz, HOU/7 (Value = 146, ADP = 181) in the 13th round or later
  • Charles Clay, BUF/6 (Value = 155, ADP = 203) in the 14th round or later
  • Jesse James, PIT/9 (Value = 163, ADP = 214) in the 16th round or later
  • Austin Sefarian-Jenkins, NYJ/11 (Value = 180, ADP = 247) in the 17th round or later
  • Zach Miller, CHI/9 (Value = 183, ADP = 219) in the 18th round or later
  • Ben Watson, BAL/10 (Value = 215, ADP = 250) in the 20th round or later

Place Kickers

In leagues that go after kickers early, just wait. You can get an adequate kicker in the last two rounds of your draft. In leagues that draft this position real late (most leagues), look towards the second to last round to grab the one kicker you will roster. Suffice it to say that in a lot of leagues now, people wait until their last pick to take their kickers and end up missing the good kickers by a few picks. Most likely that sleeper wide receiver you want in the second to last round will still be there for you in the last round. In waiver-wire friendly leagues (most), don't be afraid to draft just one kicker and add others as necessary during the season to cover the bye weeks and/or exploit matchups.

Instead of targeting any particular kicker this year, I just like to keep these 12 names handy and start crossing them off the list. When 6-8 are gone, jump in and get the top rated guy left. Here are my top 12 kickers:

Gostkowski (NE/9), Bryant (ATL/5), Tucker (BAL/10), Crosby (GB/8), Bailey (DAL/6), Lutz (NO/5), Gano (CAR/11), Santos (KC/10), Hopkins (WAS/5), Janikowski (OAK/10), Vinatieri (IND/11), Sturgis (PHI/10)

Defenses

Scoring systems generally come into play and define when defenses are taken. I suggest you wait until 8-9 defenses get selected and then take the highest remaining one left.  It's usually not necessary to take a second defense. Here are my top 15 defenses: Denver (5), Houston (7), Kansas City (10), Seattle (6), Arizona (8), Minnesota (9), Carolina (11), New England (9), Philadelphia (10), NY Giants (8), Baltimore (10), Pittsburgh (9), LA Rams (8), Tampa Bay (11), and Cincinnati (6)

Another winning strategy to deploy after the draft for defenses is simply to look two games ahead in the waiver process. Most teams will have at most one or two defenses meaning that half of the defenses are available as free agent pick ups each week. By looking two to three weeks ahead at who will be playing the Rams, Browns, Texans, 49ers, Vikings, and Jaguars you likely can find a cheap defense that should perform well against subpar offenses. Drop this defense after their quality game so that you can continue to pick up other defenses that will have good weeks. Because of this strategy, I advise you to draft just one defense and look to play matchups the rest of the way. Every year, two or three defenses are predicted to be terrible but end up playing great.

Putting It All Together

1. Draft for value until the top 60 players are exhausted. These are your core and will define how you approach the rest of the draft.

2. Look to select the 12-13th quarterback off the board 20 picks after the 11th quarterback is taken. Add another from the QB13-16 tier soon after taking your first quarterback.

3. Target tight end Zach Ertz (8th round) or Hunter Henry (9th round), but if you miss on him get a veteran like Witten or Charles Clay and match him with an upside player like Jesse James or Austin Seferian-Jenkins late.

4. Add value at running back, wide receiver, and tight end positions in the middle rounds to protect bye weeks, add critical depth, and give yourself a chance to trade off talent to bolster your squad as the season progresses.

5. Use the final rounds to add your kicker, a defense and to go after younger players in a Swing-For-The-Fence mentality. Our Deep Sleepers series and Matt Waldman's article list a lot of these types of guys. Most are dart throws and could need an injury to be relevant.

6. Unless your league has some exotic scoring that elevates defenses, it is best to wait until the last few rounds to grab your defense. Grabbing New England, Philadelphia, or the NY Giants (after 8-9 defenses have been taken) should yield a great return.

7. Wait until the second to last round and grab your kicker. 

Remember, the key is not to just follow the Top 200 list but to see where it differs substantially from average drafts. This is how you get value with every pick. And value is how you build winning fantasy teams.

Let's go throUGH an example from draft position #2:

  • Pick 1.02 (2 overall): RB Le'Veon Bell, PIT/9
  • Pick 2.11 (23 overall): WR Doug Baldwin, SEA/6
  • Pick 3.02 (26 overall): RB Isaiah Crowell, CLE/9
  • Pick 4.11 (47 overall): WR Michael Crabtree, OAK/10
  • Pick 5.02 (50 overall): WR Larry Fitzgerald, ARI/8
  • Pick 6.11 (71 overall): RB Bilal Powell, NYJ/11
  • Pick 7.02 (74 overall): WR Pierre Garcon, SF/11
  • Pick 8.11 (95 overall): TE Zach Ertz, PHI/10
  • Pick 9.02 (98 overall): QB Philip Rivers, LAC/9
  • Pick 10.11 (119 overall): WR Adam Thielen, MIN/9
  • Pick 11.02 (122 overall): RB Giovani Bernard, CIN/6
  • Pick 12.11 (143 overall): WR Robby Anderson, NYJ/11
  • Pick 13.02 (146 overall): RB Chris Thompson, WAS/5
  • Pick 14.11 (167 overall): QB Alex Smith, KC/10
  • Pick 15.02 (170 overall): TE Charles Clay, BUF/6
  • Pick 16.11 (191 overall): TE Jesse James, PIT/9
  • Pick 17.02 (194 overall): RB Robert Turbin, IND/11
  • Pick 18.11 (215 overall): TD Philadelphia, PHI/10
  • Pick 19.02 (218 overall): PK Will Lutz, NO/5
  • Pick 20.11 (239 overall): RB Tim Hightower, SF/11