7-11 Drafting: Focusing on the Middle Rounds - Footballguys

How to use the middle rounds of your draft plan to map out your overall draft day strategy

Today is the day - Draft Day. You've prepped all offseason - you know who you are picking in the first round. It doesn't matter what draft spot you get tonight, because you are tuned in and you have read everything on Footballguys.com about Todd Gurley, LeVeon Bell, Ezekiel Elliott, David Johnson and Alvin Kamara. You have your stud running backs ranked from 1 to 12 along with some wide receiver studs and Rob Gronkowski and you are set to go once the draft order is announced. Bring on the draft!

Pssst. Did you remember that you have 19 more rounds to go?

Wow, did you forget about the rest of the draft? Are you too focused on which stud running back to take first that you haven't had a chance to run a mock draft and see who to take next?

Well, maybe this is not a good description of you. You have already run 20-30 mock drafts and you know who goes in which round this year. You know your ADPs better than your ABCs. You have a list of 40-50 guys to target and two dozen different sleepers that are begging to be picked for your team. But wait - is that too many? How am I going to get all that talent on my roster?

OK - don't panic. I got you covered. It is called 7-11 Drafting.

I know what you are thinking. Jeff, seriously, I love your articles and all, but I think you might be a little frazzled with all those "by committee" articles you have been pulling together. What does a Slurpee have to do with my fantasy draft plan? Allow me to explain.

What I am proposing to you is to plan out your draft strategy a little backward. Not quite Matt Waldman’s Upside Down Draft plan, but I am asking you to look at Rounds 7-11 with some fresh eyes and decide who you want to take in those rounds. By knowing your plans for the middle of the draft – the point at which many fantasy owners’ eyes start to roll back in their heads, ask for a break in the draft, or head for the bathroom, beer fridge or both – you will be far ahead of the competition. Trust me here, and let’s get started.

ROUNDS 7-11

The first thing to do is to take a look at the current ADP data for Rounds 7-11. I used the 2018 PPR Data from Footballguys, but the same strategy will work with standard, non-PPR data. My assumption here is a standard PPR league, where you start 1 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, 1 TE, 1 K and a defense.

Looking over the players that are likely to be picked in Rounds 7-11 (Picks 73 through 132), I can start to plan my strategy. With 60 players to select from (and possibly a few more, if I look into Round 12), I have the ability to decide what positions I will address in these rounds. That information will guide my decision-making process for Rounds 1-6 and help me to build the best team possible. It will also allow me to confirm or question my overall strategy for how to set up my team overall.

Normally, in a 1-2-3-1-1-1 league, I would like to have my skill position starters addressed plus one backup after 11 rounds. That means I want to first think about having two quarterbacks, three running backs, four wideouts and two tight ends by the end of Round 11. That is not always the case for every league, but it is my starting point for my planning process. The next step is to look over the players I will use to get to that point – or to consciously decide to deviate from that basic strategy. Either way, I will have more information and a better plan before I ever make my first pick.

Let’s start the process, position by position.

QUARTERBACKS

Taking a look at the players that will be available in Rounds 7-11, Picks 73-132, I see that 11 quarterbacks are going to go off the board in most drafts. These players represent QB8 through QB18, which tells me I have three options:

  1. I can do the Perfect Draft approach for 2018, which means to wait until 11 quarterbacks are gone and take eitherBen Roethlisberger, Matthew Stafford, Jimmy Garoppolo, or Philip Rivers as my starter. That means I should count on one QB pick in Rounds 7-11, likely an 8th or 9th round selection.
  2. If I want a stud quarterback this year (QB1-7), I need to act on that in Rounds 1-6.
  3. I can wait even further and do a QBBC approach, but that means I will be likely committing two picks in Rounds 7-11 to ensure I get two quarterbacks in the Top 18.

All three strategies are valid, and it depends on your own outlook on how to build your fantasy squad. I am more in favor of Option 3 this season with Alex Smith and Jameis Winston representing huge value, but I cannot fault anyone taking one of the four names in the first option.

RUNNING BACKS

Taking a look at the players that will be available in Rounds 7-11, Picks 73-132, I see that 18 running backs are going to go off the board in most drafts. These players represent RB30 through RB47, which tells me I have three points to keep in mind:

  1. It is critical to get as many feature tailbacks as possible in Rounds 1-6. The Top 20 backs are not going to last, and the Top 18-20 will go quickly.
  2. If I want a top-notch handcuff (like a Tevin Coleman or Tarik Cohen), these are the picks I need to expand on them (Rounds 7-11).
  3. If you are lucky, a solid RBBC can be built here - but odds are that is a Rounds 5 and 6 plan.
  4. The RBs in Rounds 7-11 are flex options at best, barring injury.

All four observations are valid, and now you have information here to decide what you want to accomplish in Rounds 1-6. Odds are that you will go heavily after two, possibly three running backs with your first six selections.

WIDE RECEIVERS

Taking a look at the players that will be available in Rounds 7-11, Picks 73-132, I see that 21 wide receivers are going to go off the board in most drafts. These players represent WR30 through WR50, which tells me I have three points to keep in mind:

  1. It is critical to get as many top-notch wide receivers as possible in Rounds 1-6 unless you love the WR30-50 group. The top pass catchers are not going to last, and the Top 20-25 will go quickly.
  2. If I want to have a WR3BC approach to your roster, this is the area of the draft (Rounds 7-11) to do it.
  3. The wide receivers after about WR45-WR50 are not as sketchy as they usually are, with some strong values available. I like getting some value players in Rounds 9-11 and load up on some depth here if my other positions (and at least three RBs) look solid.

All three observations are valid, and now you have information here to decide what you want to accomplish in Rounds 1-6. Odds are that you will go heavily after two, possibly three wide receivers with your first six selections and still load up on your WR4, WR5 and possibly even WR6 in Rounds 7-11.

TIGHT ENDS

Taking a look at the players that will be available in Rounds 7-11, Picks 73-132, I see that six tight ends are going to go off the board in most drafts. These players represent TE8 through TE12, which tells me I have four points to keep in mind:

  1. If you want a Top 4 tight end, you better plan on using a pick on one of those four options in the first 4-5 rounds.
  2. TE8 to TE13 are rather similar in value and represent similar tiers, so waiting on TE is not a bad idea if you miss out on the first five.
  3. If you have your heart set on having two strong tight ends for roster / flex / backup flexibility, you better plan on snagging your second tight end by the end of Round 11.
  4. If all else fails, the Tight End by Committee approach is your biggest friend here. David Njoku should last until Round 10 and there are plenty of options to pair with him in the back half of your draft.

All these observations are valid, and now you have information here to decide what you want to accomplish in Rounds 1-6. Odds are that you will try and get a Top 4 tight end, but if that plan does not work this is the area of the draft you will pick up your starter. Even if you have to "settle" for TEBC, I like the pairing of Njoku and Eric Ebron or a Tampa Bay option (O.J. Howard or Cameron Brate) this season.

SUMMARY

There are clearly several options and directions to go, but if I am planning a "bottoms up" draft approach, I am targeting to get a tight end before Round 7 starts and then to have my TE2 to be David Njoku in Round 10. My quarterback can come in the first value group in Round 9, or just wait on Alex Smith and Jameis Winston. Be sure to get a Top 20-22 QB2 just to be safe. but that should still be available to you in Rounds 12-14. Allocating a QB and TE for two picks in these rounds leaves three picks in Rounds 7-11, which could easily be my WR3BC for this year (Cooper Kupp or Robert Woods along with a few different choices like Devin Funchess or Robby Anderson) in Rounds 7-9 along with a running back value play such as Chris Thompson or Carlos Hyde. As a result of all this, I am going to look for two Top 20 wide receivers and two Top 20 running backs in Rounds 1-4 and a strong RBBC in Rounds 5 and 6. That overall strategy gives me 5 RBs, 4 WRs, 1 QB, and a top tight end after 11 rounds. That gives me a solid 1-5-4-1 start for my team, and Rounds 12 and 13 will target either Alex Smith or Jameis Winston, a WR5 or my TE2. This is a great start, and my plan is pretty solid before Round 1 ever starts.

So there you have it – Convenience Store Drafting at its finest. Good luck with your fantasy draft this season, and don’t get brain freeze if you go Slurpee-style with your 7-11 Draft Plan.

Questions, suggestions and comments are always welcome to pasquino@footballguys.com.