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The Gut Check No. 448: Choose Your Adventure Draft Plan (Low Risk) - Footballguys

Matt Waldman creates three choose-your-own-adventure draft plans based on your risk tolerance. He explores the conservative plan in this post. 

Choose your own adventure books were a big part of my early childhood. And choices are a something we all want — even when we look to others for answers. This year, yours truly has created three draft plans based on your risk tolerance as a fantasy player: conservative, moderate, and high risk-reward.

The players are listed in order of preference by round. Depending on the risk profile of the adventure, some players will be higher or lower in one plan than they are in another.

These plans are best for 12-team, serpentine drafts with PPR scoring and at least 3 receivers and 2 running backs as part of the starting lineup requirements.

Profile of the conservative Draft

The conservative draft plan has a series of underlying characteristics that differentiate it from the moderate and high risk-reward plans:

  • The amount of eligible players in the first 12 rounds of the conservative draft is smaller than the others.
  • It has fewer players coming off injury.
  • It values proven producers.
  • The plan has fewer older players.
  • The plan has fewer players recuperating from injury.
  • There's less reaching beyond the player's average draft position.
  • When there's an opportunity to take a proven player well before a potential run at the position, it will recommend it.

Because of these characteristics, you may think you identify with a conservative approach until you examine the recommendations. You will discover that the shape of the conservative draft is not part of the herd mentality that runs rampant through fantasy drafts.

Most of you will identify with the moderate plan. However, it's often the plans at the far end of each spectrum that give fantasy players the greatest opportunity to excel.

As is the case with every draft plan, if a player falls from an earlier tier to a later one, he should be remain near the top of your list. Spend a few minutes mapping out potential rosters with these lists. I recommend using Draft Dominator mock drafts to determine when it's best to target running backs, tight ends, and quarterback because there aren't as many running back options with this plan as others.

If you find that you need to add a player or two to specific tiers, consider the characteristics of the conservative plan to find the best possible fit.

Draft Spot
Early Turn
Middle Spot
Late Turn
Picks
1.01-1.04
1.05-1.08
1.09-1.12
Round 1 Targets
Todd Gurley
Antonio Brown
Odell Beckham Jr.
LeVeon Bell
Alvin Kamara
Michael Thomas
Ezekiel Elliott
DeAndre Hopkins
Keenan Allen

Round 1 Commentary: The backs have strong offensive line play, proven production, and youth on their side. The receivers are all high-volume options in the prime of their careers and they are catching targets from veteran quarterbacks. There are more receivers than backs to lead off the conservative draft because backs are volatile options. However, it would be wise to consider drafting 3-4 backs within the first seven rounds because there aren't a lot of recommended options within the first 10.

Draft Spot
Early Turn
Middle Spot
Late Turn
Picks
2.09-2.12
2.05-2.08
2.01-2.04
Round 2 Targets
Davante Adams
Davante Adams
Davante Adams
A.J. Green
A.J. Green
A.J. Green
Travis Kelce
Travis Kelce
Travis Kelce
Jordan Howard

Round 2 Commentary: Rob Gronkowski's history of back injuries keeps him off this list whereas Kelce is far more attractive, especially with a quarterback who is willing to throw tight-window targets. Kelce in the second round is a slight reach, at best, and it guarantees the conservative drafter a top-volume option in an offense that will help Kelce become a double-digit touchdown producer. The only runner in this tier is Howard. Despite the fact that there are more good running backs in the league than before, it doesn't change that running backs have a greater rate of volatility than other positions due to dependence on offensive line play and injury rates. If you're a conservative drafter, you want proven commodities. Although rookie backs tend to have strong production early, you want to identify those with good offensive lines and a starting opportunity.

Draft Spot
Early Turn
Middle Spot
Late Turn
Picks
3.01-3.04
3.05-3.08
3.09-3.12
Round 3 Targets
Travis Kelce
Aaron Rodgers
Alex Collins
Jordan Howard
Tyreek Hill
Doug Baldwin
Aaron Rodgers
Alex Collins
Amari Cooper
Tyreek Hill
Doug Baldwin
Larry Fitzgerald
Alex Collins
Amari Cooper
Jay Ajayi
Doug Baldwin
Amari Cooper

Round 3 Commentary: Collins and Rodgers stand out in this tier. Rodgers is arguably the best quarterback in the league and the Packers won't run enough to lower Rogers' fantasy ceiling. Injuries to Kenneth Dixon makes Collins one of the safest early picks in the draft. He's young, proved he could deliver, and did it without a fully-activated offensive line. Marshal Yanda's return and Dixon's injury issues rendering a big gap between Collins and the rest of the depth chart makes the Ravens runner a easy choice. If you're drafting from the middle or late turn and embracing a draft with elements of the Upsdie Down Draft Strategy, Collins should be the top option on your list because there aren't as many runners in this strategy as the others.

Draft Spot
Early Turn
Middle Spot
Late Turn
Picks
4.09-4.12
4.05-4.08
4.01-4.04
Round 4 Targets
Alex Collins
Alex Collins
Alex Collins
Marvin Jones
Marvin Jones
Marvin Jones
Jay Ajayi
Jay Ajayi
Jay Ajayi
JuJu Smith-Schuster
JuJu Smith-Schuster
JuJu Smith-Schuster
Demaryius Thomas
Demaryius Thomas
Demaryius Thomas
Golden Tate
Golden Tate
Golden Tate
Russell Wilson
Russell Wilson
Russell Wilson
Tom Brady
Tom Brady
Tom Brady

Round 4 Commentary: There are enough strong values at receiver this year that if you opt to double-up with the combination of Collins and Ajayi, you're not crazy. However, the best value of this draft remains Marvin Jones. He should be available in the fifth round, but you can do so mocks to determine the best place to target him, if at all. After you go through this list and map out potential teams you can build with this plan, you may find that this is also a good time to consider a quarterback and Wilson and Brady are among the safest options around.

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