Expert DRAFTing - Week 3

Rankings and strategies to win this week's snake drafts on DRAFT

DRAFT offers weekly snake draft contests with 5-man rosters (1 QB, 2 RB, 2 WR/TE) with 0.5-point PPR scoring (the same as FanDuel). There is no salary cap on DRAFT which makes it unique to how you play compared to the other daily fantasy sites. Teams are built through live snake drafts that have 30-second timer per pick. The most common contest sizes are Head-to-Head, 3-Team, 6-Team, and 10-Team.

We will explore both the rankings and draft strategies for each of these four DRAFT sizes. When developing these rankings we will be excluding the Thursday Night games and only focus on the main slate on DRAFT, which includes all of the Sunday and Monday games.

If you want to follow me on DRAFT my username is "Eaglezzz" as I sometimes will post contests and would love to play along with fellow Footballguys like yourselves. Please feel free to contact me on Twitter with any questions or if you would like to discuss this article or draft strategies. I welcome constructive feedback on the article and as always best of luck in this week's contests.

Note: While James recuperates from surgery, Dan Hindery has stepped in to write Week 3 of Expert DRAFTing.

WEEK 3 - QUICK NEWS AND NOTES

1. Dalvin Cook Cook left last week’s game with a hamstring injury (though he claimed it was just cramps), which has also limited him to start this week. Keep a close eye on his practice participation. If he is 100%, he is a great target in both 6-Team and 10-Team DRAFTs due to the outstanding matchup against Buffalo.

2. Leonard Fournette Like Cook, Fournette is also dealing with a hamstring injury. His availability is much more in question. With the depth at the position, he is currently undraftable in 6-Team and smaller DRAFTs. However, Fournette is worth a shot in the late rounds of 10-Team DRAFTs. If he scratches before kickoff, DRAFT allows you to pick a replacement. So it isn’t an all or nothing proposition.

3. Giovani Bernard A meniscus injury and subsequent surgery for Joe Mixon opens the door wide open for Bernard to see 20+ touches. The Bengals were dealt a second blow this week when Tra Carson, slated to be the top backup behind Bernard in Week 3 tore his hamstring on Monday. Rookie Mark Walton gets bumped up to second on the depth chart but has looked like a major work in progress. Thomas Rawls was signed off of the street mid-week and isn’t likely to instantly have a big role. The stars are aligning for Bernard to play almost every down on Sunday. A tough matchup at Carolina and Bengals offensive line injuries temper enthusiasm somewhat, but Bernard is a strong option in the fourth round of 10-Team DRAFTs.

4. Corey Clement As of Thursday morning, it is looking like Darren Sproles will be out and Jay Ajayi also looks to be trending towards doubtful. A big role could be in store for Clement in a solid matchup against Indianapolis. Until we get more clarity, the pick is somewhat risky. We can’t just swap Clement out if Ajayi ends up playing. However, it is probably worth rolling the dice on Clement in the final round of 10-Team DRAFTs if you grab a pair of elite WRs early and still want some serious upside at RB2.

Head-to-Head Draft Rankings and Strategy

1. Todd Gurley

2. Alvin Kamara

3. Patrick Mahomes II II

4. Antonio Brown

5. Michael Thomas

6. Tyreek Hill

7. Ezekiel Elliott

8. Julio Jones

9. Christian McCaffrey

10. Tom Brady

The Top Tier: Gurley and Kamara

Todd Gurley is a slam dunk at 1.01 overall. He has picked up right where he left off last season. Alvin Kamara should be the 1.02 in all DRAFT sizes this week. While he hasn’t found much success on the ground to date, the Falcons defense is missing Deion Jones and Keanu Neal, which makes it tough for them to match up to opposing backs in the passing game. We just saw Christian McCaffrey put up 14 catches against this defense last week. The top two backs are in a tier of their own this week.

When to take Mahomes?

The quarterback decision point for me is at 2.01 and whether to take Patrick Mahomes II or a wide receiver. With the next tier of backs all pretty even and not too much separation at the top of the wide receiver ranks from #1 thru #4, it makes sense to aggressively target the red-hot Mahomes. We have seen his ridiculous upside the first two weeks and he has a solid floor in a great home matchup against the 49ers.

The second tier at Running Back and the Case for McCaffrey

The toughest decisions in Week 3 revolve around deciding which running backs to prioritize amongst the deep second tier. Ezekiel Elliott, Saquon Barkley, James Conner, Melvin Gordon III, and Christian McCaffrey are the primary considerations beyond the top two of Gurley and Kamara.

Christian McCaffrey is worth targeting in a surprisingly strong matchup. The Bengals biggest defensive weakness for years has been defending pass-catching running backs. Last season, the Bengals allowed 97 catches and 840 receiving yards to opposing backs. Through two weeks this season, Cincinnati has given up 18 catches (9.0 per game) for 145 yards. In steps McCaffrey, who is averaging 10.0 catches per game. The floor is sky high for McCaffrey in this matchup and the upside is there as well if he can get into the end zone at least once.

3-Team Draft Rankings and Strategy

1. Todd Gurley

2. Alvin Kamara

3. Michael Thomas

4. Antonio Brown

5. Patrick Mahomes II II

6. Tyreek Hill

7. Julio Jones

8. Ezekiel Elliott

9. Christian McCaffrey

10. James Conner

11. DeAndre Hopkins

12. Mike Evans

13. Tom Brady

14. Aaron Rodgers

15. Melvin Gordon III

The 1/2 Turn

Again, Gurley and Kamara are the obvious selections at 1.02 and 1.02, respectively. The tough choices begin at 1.03. Patrick Mahomes II is absolutely in play and if you are taking him at 1.03, it probably makes sense to go all in and pair him with Tyreek Hill at 2.01. Everyone is going to rank the second-tier of running backs differently and none stand out from the pack, so the preferred route here is to simply lock up your two favorite wide receivers. Michael Thomas has been on fire and has a good shot to again see double-digit catches and a touchdown in a potential shootout versus the Falcons. The off-field drama makes Antonio Brown an interesting play this week. Do the Steelers limit his targets a bit since he skipped out on team meetings? Or do they try to appease him by feeding extra targets his way? Probably the latter. Mike Tomlin will want to make Brown happy and get him back on track, even if it reinforces bad behavior.

Late-Round Rodgers?

Rodgers is off to a slow fantasy start in comparison to some of the crazy numbers being put up by Patrick Mahomes II, Ryan Fitzpatrick, and others. He doesn’t have his typical mobility, which hurts somewhat. However, it is also worth noting that he may have faced two of the top three defenses in the league, Chicago and Minnesota. Washington has a solid defense as well, but probably not elite like the two the Packers have faced so far. It feels like a week where Rodgers could serve a reminder he is still a major fantasy force. He is available in the final round of both 3-Team and 6-Team DRAFTs, where he is worthy of strong consideration.

6-Team Draft Rankings and Strategy

1. Todd Gurley

2. Alvin Kamara

3. Michael Thomas

4. Antonio Brown

5. Ezekiel Elliott

6. Patrick Mahomes II II

7. Tyreek Hill

8. Christian McCaffrey

9. James Conner

10. Julio Jones

11. DeAndre Hopkins

12. Melvin Gordon III

13. Saquon Barkley

14. David Johnson

15. Mike Evans

16. A.J. Green

17. Odell Beckham Jr Jr

18. Tevin Coleman

19. Rob Gronkowski

20. Travis Kelce

21. Keenan Allen

22. Dalvin Cook

23. Tom Brady

24. Aaron Rodgers

25. Brandin Cooks

26. Jordan Howard

27. Kareem Hunt

28. Cam Newton

29. Deshaun Watson

30. Ben Roethlisberger

Running Back Scarcity?

As noted in the strategy sections of the Head-to-Head and 3-Team DRAFTs, there is a deep second-tier of running backs. Deciding where the tier ends in your rankings is crucial to success this week. How comfortable are you with Dalvin Cook (RB10) and his hamstring injury? Are you worried about the slow starts for Jordan Howard (RB11) and Kareem Hunt (RB12) or excited about what look like strong matchups on paper for Week 3? If you are comfortable with at least one of these lower-ranked backs, it is easy to load up on elite wide receivers early and not feel like you are giving up much at the running back position. If not, plenty of solid running backs are available in the second and third rounds and there is an opportunity to buy low on elite talents like David Johnson, Saquon Barkley, and maybe even Ezekiel Elliott due to their slow starts.

10-Team Draft Rankings and Strategy

1. Todd Gurley

2. Alvin Kamara

3. Ezekiel Elliott

4. Christian McCaffrey

5. James Conner

6. Michael Thomas

7. Antonio Brown

8. Patrick Mahomes II II

9. Melvin Gordon III

10. Saquon Barkley

11. David Johnson

12. Tevin Coleman

13. Dalvin Cook

14. Tyreek Hill

15. Julio Jones

16. Jordan Howard

17. Kareem Hunt

18. DeAndre Hopkins

19. Mike Evans

20. A.J. Green

21. Odell Beckham Jr Jr

22. Giovani Bernard

23. Kenyan Drake

24. Lamar Miller

25. Rob Gronkowski

26. Travis Kelce

27. Keenan Allen

28. Brandin Cooks

29. JuJu Smith-Schuster

30. Davante Adams

31. Adam Thielen

32. Stefon Diggs

33. Leonard Fournette

34. Chris Thompson

35. T.Y. Hilton

36. Zach Ertz

37. Nelson Agholor

38. Tom Brady

39. Aaron Rodgers

40. Cam Newton

41. Deshaun Watson

42. Ben Roethlisberger

43. Ryan Fitzpatrick

44. Drew Brees

45. Matt Breida

46. Marshawn Lynch

47. Corey Clement

48. Golden Tate

49. Matt Ryan

50. Kirk Cousins

Real Running Back Scarcity

In 10-Team DRAFTs, the defining attribute in Week 3 is the gap between the workhorse backs available in the first couple rounds and the part-time backs ranked outside of the top-15. It should be a primary goal to come away with a pair of strong running backs and to prioritize running backs in the first two rounds.

Quarterback Depth

Quarterback looks very deep this week. We have seen so many passers get off to blazing starts this season, we go at least 10 deep with strong options. There is obviously a case for Mahomes early. Otherwise, wait until the final round and you can still get a quarterback with both a solid floor and massive upside.