The Gut Check No. 449: Choose Your Adventure Draft Plan (Moderate Risk) - Footballguys

Matt Waldman creates three choose-your-own-adventure draft plans based on your risk tolerance. He explores the moderate-risk 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 Moderate-Risk Draft

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

  • The amount of eligible players in the first 12 rounds is greater than the conservative plan but smaller than the high-risk plan.
  • It values proven producers but also talent in safe-looking situations.
  • The plan doesn't have as many concerns about player age.
  • The plan has some players recuperating from injuries if they are proven, producers.
  • There are selective recommendations to go beyond the player's average draft position in the early and middle rounds..

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 so it's worth your time to examine these other plans and run a few mock drafts with each to determine where you truly fit.

As is the case with every draft plan, if a player falls from an earlier tier to a later one, he should 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.

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
Melvin Gordon
Le'Veon Bell
David Johnson
Odell Beckham Jr
Ezekiel Elliott
Alvin Kamara
Michael Thomas
Antonio Brown
DeAndre Hopkins
Keenan Allen

Round 1 Commentary: In contrast to the conservative plan, David Johnson and Melvin Gordon earn consideration in this tier. The offensive lines aren't great but their talent and past production are good enough to take a chance. Although Kamara is on the conservative plan, Johnson's upside is a little higher because the Saints seem set on balancing Kamara's workload with another runner even while Mark Ingram is serving his suspension. Antonio Brown also earns a look during the early turn because he's such a proven producer. He arguably could be taken this early in the conservative plan as well, but it's important that conservative drafters get a back in the first round based on the selection of the plan's draft pool.

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
Rob Gronkowski
Rob Gronkowski
Rob Gronkowski
Devonta Freeman
Devonta Freeman
Devonta Freeman
Jordan Howard

Round 2 Commentary: In contrast to the conservative plan, Gronkowski earns consideration with Kelce in the second round. Freeman also gets added to the list with Howard, which gives the moderate-risk drafter more options to begin their draft. Do you want to start with a pair of backs? There are enough choices to do it. You could also mix and match a variety of non-quarterback options.

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
Stefon Diggs
Amari Cooper
Adam Thielen
Stefon Diggs
Adam Thielen

Round 3 Commentary: If you're drafting at the early turn, odds are likely Kelce will fall to you here. If you like to go for backs early, consider taking Kelce here and opting for the values at wide receiver throughout the draft. If you want to start heavy at wide receiver, these are all strong choices. Collins also presents a great choice for a safe back if you haven't picked one yet.

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
Marvin Jones
Marvin Jones
Marvin Jones
Alex Collins
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
Jimmy Graham
Jimmy Graham
Jimmy Graham
Russell Wilson
Russell Wilson
Russell Wilson
Tom Brady
Tom Brady
Tom Brady

Round 4 Commentary: It's a pretty self-explanatory list. Depending on your draft spot, you have a shot at nabbing a top-12 producer at running back and receiver if you can finagle Collins and Jones in the fourth and fifth rounds.

Draft Spot
Early Turn
Middle Spot
Late Turn
Picks
5.01-5.04
5.05-5.08
5.09-5.12
Round 5 Targets
Marvin Jones
Marvin Jones
Marvin Jones
JuJu Smith-Schuster
JuJu Smith-Schuster
JuJu Smith-Schuster
Golden Tate
Golden Tate
Golden Tate
Evan Engram
Evan Engram
Evan Engram
Sammy Watkins
Sammy Watkins
Sammy Watkins
Jimmy Graham
Jimmy Graham
Tom Brady
Russell Wilson
Russell Wilson
Drew Brees
Tom Brady
Tom Brady
Tevin Coleman
Drew Brees
Drew Brees
Delanie Walker
Tevin Coleman
Tevin Coleman
Delanie Walker
Delanie Walker

Round 5: If taking a tight end within the first three rounds is too much Bloomian Fantasy Bacchanalia for your taste but you want an option with that kind of upside. Evan Engram and Jimmy Graham are smart choices here. Most of you following this plan will wait on quarterbacks but if you want to beat the position run, consider taking a passer between the fifth and eighth round.

Draft Spot
Early Turn
Middle Spot
Late Turn
Picks
6.09-6.12
6.05-6.08
6.01-6.04
Round 6 Targets
Marshawn Lynch
Marshawn Lynch
Marshawn Lynch
Royce Freeman
Royce Freeman
Royce Freeman
Sammy Watkins
Sammy Watkins
Sammy Watkins
Dion Lewis
Dion Lewis
Dion Lewis
Corey Davis
Corey Davis
Corey Davis
Drew Brees
Drew Brees
Drew Brees
Tevin Coleman
Tevin Coleman
Tevin Coleman
Delanie Walker
Delanie Walker
Delanie Walker
Emmanuel Sanders
Emmanuel Sanders
Emmanuel Sanders
Marquise Goodwin
Marquise Goodwin
Marquise Goodwin
Michael Crabtree
Michael Crabtree
Michael Crabtree
Chris Hogan
Chris Hogan
Chris Hogan

Round 6 Commentary: Lynch and Freeman are highly recommended here — and you haven't had any truly risky options up to this point. If you embrace 1-2 risks every 5-6 rounds, you won't exceed the bounds of this plan's philosophy. If you are opting for an Upside Down Draft Strategy (UDD), you want three of Lynch-Freeman-Johnson-Lewis-Coleman between rounds 5-7. If you've taken two runners early, it's still wise to follow up with a third back with high upside and a high floor. These backs all qualify.

Draft Spot
Early Turn
Middle Spot
Late Turn
Picks
7.01-7.04
7.05-7.08
7.09-7.12
Round 7 Targets
Drew Brees
Marshawn Lynch
Marshawn Lynch
Marshawn Lynch
Kerryon Johnson
Kerryon Johnson
Kerryon Johnson
Sammy Watkins
Emmanuel Sanders
Sammy Watkins
Delanie Walker
Julian Edelman
Delanie Walker
Emmanuel Sanders
Marquise Goodwin
Emmanuel Sanders
Julian Edelman
Kyle Rudolph
Marquise Goodwin
Marquise Goodwin
Kyle Rudolph
Kyle Rudolph

Round 7 Commentary: See above for thoughts on running back. If you have enough, Sammy Watkins, Emmanuel Sanders, and Marquise Goodwin offer the best combination of risk-reward.

Draft Spot
Early Turn
Middle Spot
Late Turn
Picks
8.09-8.12
8.05-8.08
8.01-.04
Round 8 Targets
Robert Woods
Robert Woods
Marshawn Lynch
Matthew Stafford
Matthew Stafford
Emmanuel Sanders
Jimmy Garappolo
Jimmy Garappolo
Robert Woods
Jordy Nelson
Jordy Nelson
Marquise Goodwin
Ben Roethlisberger
Ben Roethlisberger
Matthew Stafford
Jamison Crowder
Jamison Crowder
Jimmy Garappolo
Cooper Kupp
Cooper Kupp
Jordy Nelson
Devin Funchess
Devin Funchess
Ben Roethlisberger
Jamison Crowder
Devin Funchess

Round 8 Commentary: This is the last chance to take a quarterback before the run usually begins. Stafford is a great choice. If you want a high-risk, swing for the fences because you haven't gone there yet, Nelson is the recommendation. If you want to sneaky-good red zone surprise, go with Kupp. He'll figure more into the Rams red zone plans that most realize.

Draft Spot
Early Turn
Middle Spot
Late Turn
Picks
9.01-9.04
9.05-9.08
9.09-9.12
Round 9 Targets
Robert Woods
Matthew Stafford
Matthew Stafford
Matthew Stafford
Philip Rivers
Philip Rivers
Philip Rivers
Jared Goff
Jared Goff
Jared Goff
Patrick Mahomes
Patrick Mahomes
Patrick Mahomes
Ben Roethlisberger
Ben Roethlisberger
Ben Roethlisberger
Jimmy Garappolo
Jimmy Garappolo
Jimmy Garappolo
Jordy Nelson
Jordy Nelson
Jordy Nelson
Matt Ryan
Matt Ryan
Matt Ryan
C.J. Anderson
C.J. Anderson
C.J. Anderson
Jaguars Def
Jaguars Def
Jaguars Def
Rams Def
Rams Def
Rams Def

Round 9 Commentary: If your mocks realistically land you Stafford in the ninth round and you know when your competition goes for a quarterback, by all means, wait until now. If you can get Stafford, I recommend back-to-back selections of Goff or Mahomes and follow with Rivers. Ryan also works even if his upside is a has greater volatility due to the young, talented, and unproven offensive weapons he'll target when he looks away from Julio Jones.

Draft Spot
Early Turn
Middle Spot
Late Turn
Picks
10.09-10.12
10.05-10.08
10.01-10.04
Round 10 Targets
Patrick Mahomes
Philip Rivers
Philip Rivers
Allen Hurns
Patrick Mahomes
Patrick Mahomes
Sterling Shepard
Jared Goff
Jared Goff
Chris Carson
Allen Hurns
Jordy Nelson
Rams Def
Matt Ryan
Allen Hurns
D.J. Moore
C.J. Anderson
Matt Ryan
Calvin Ridley
Sterling Shepard
C.J. Anderson
David Njoku
Chris Carson
Sterling Shepard
Nick Chubb
Chris Carson
Rams Def
Nick Chubb
Jaguars Def
Rams Def

Round 10 Commentary: See above.

Draft Spot
Early Turn
Middle Spot
Late Turn
Picks
11.01-11.04
11.05-11.08
11.09-11.12
Round 11 Targets
Allen Hurns
Allen Hurns
Marqise Lee
Chris Carson
Marqise Lee
Giovani Bernard
Rams Def
Giovani Bernard
D.J. Moore
Marqise Lee
D.J. Moore
Calvin Ridley
Giovani Bernard
Calvin Ridley
David Njoku
D.J. Moore
David Njoku
Derek Carr
Calvin Ridley
Derek Carr
Nyheim Hines
David Njoku
Nyheim Hines
Derek Carr
Cameron Meredith
Nyheim Hines
Cameron Meredith

Round 11 Commentary: If you don't like renting defenses, consider taking one now so you can expend more mental energy elsewhere. Why throw another complication into your waiver wire prioritization when you don't have to? If that question resonates with you, consider taking during the next 2-3 rounds.

Draft Spot
Early Turn
Middle Spot
Late Turn
Picks
12.09-12.12
12.05-12.08
12.01-12.04
Round 12 Targets
Cameron Meredith
Cameron Meredith
Cameron Meredith
Derek Carr
Derek Carr
Marqise Lee
Doug Martin
Doug Martin
Giovani Bernard
Mike Williams
Mike Williams
Derek Carr
Kenny Golladay
Kenny Golladay
Doug Martin
Michael Gallup
Michael Gallup
Nyheim Hines
Chargers Def
Chargers Def
Mike Williams
Broncos Def
Broncos Def
Kenny Golladay
Texans Def
Texans Def
Michael Gallup
O.J. Howard
O.J. Howard
Chargers Def
Theo Riddick
Theo Riddick
Broncos Def
Texans Def
O.J. Howard
Theo Riddick

Round 12 Commentary: If you took a defense in the 11th, consider stocking up on upside running backs during the next few rounds and prepare for some excellent value receivers available during the final third of the draft.

Draft Spot
Early Turn
Middle Spot
Late Turn
Picks
13.01-13.04
13.05-13.08
13.09-13.12
Round 13 Targets
Peyton Barber
Peyton Barber
Peyton Barber
Bilal Powell
Bilal Powell
Bilal Powell
Kenny Golladay
Michael Gallup
Michael Gallup
Michael Gallup
Anthony Miller
Anthony Miller
Anthony Miller
Broncos Def
Broncos Def
Broncos Def
Texans Def
Texans Def
Texans Def
Stephen Gostkowski
Stephen Gostkowski
Stephen Gostkowski
Greg Zuerlein
Greg Zuerlein
Greg Zuerlein
Justin Tucker
Justin Tucker
Justin Tucker
Blake Bortles
Blake Bortles
Blake Bortles

Round 13 Commentary: Ronald Jones should eventually be good but fantasy football will be over in March. Take Barber because he's a good "bad-line" runner and despite the outdated "yards per carry" analysis that is thrown at Barber's game, he's a good decision-maker with power, balance, and agility. He has also gotten quicker. If you want a safer pick with a little less upside, Powell is also worth your time. You may have to consider Keelan Cole here if you really want him.

After this point, the conservative, moderate, and high-risk plans will begin to look a lot like because there's greater variability with average draft position and the later you get into the draft the more every plan should embrace depth and upside at non-quarterback positions.

Draft Spot
Early Turn
Middle Spot
Late Turn
Picks
14.09-14.12
14.05-14.08
14.01-14.04
Round 14 Targets
Keeland Cole
Keelan Cole
Peyton Barber
Peyton Barber
Peyton Barber
Bilal Powell
Bilal Powell
Bilal Powell
LeGarrette Blount
LeGarrette Blount
LeGarrette Blount
Paul Richardson
Paul Richardson
Paul Richardson
Anthony Miller
Anthony Miller
Anthony Miller
Broncos Def
Cameron Brate
Cameron Brate
Texans Def
Jordan Wilkins
Jordan Wilkins
Justin Tucker
Case Keenum
Case Keenum
Cameron Brate
Blake Bortles
Blake Bortles
Jordan Wilkins
Samaje Perine
Samaje Perine
Case Keenum
Blake Bortles
Samaje Perine

Round 14 Commentary: Keelan Cole.Peyton Barber. LeGarrette Blount. Paul Richardson. Anthony Miller. I repeat...Peyton Barber. LeGarrette Blount. Paul Richardson. Anthony Miller.

Draft Spot
Early Turn
Middle Spot
Late Turn
Picks
15.01-15.04
15.05-15.08
15.09-15.12
Round 15 Targets
Peyton Barber
Peyton Barber
LeGarrette Blount
LeGarrette Blount
LeGarrette Blount
Paul Richardson
Paul Richardson
Paul Richardson
Tyrell Williams
Tyrell Williams
Tyrell Williams
Chris Ivory
Cameron Brate
Cameron Brate
Harrison Butker
Jordan Wilkins
Jordan Wilkins
Martavis Bryant
Case Keenum
Case Keenum
Ricky-Seals Jones
Blake Bortles
Chris Ivory
Dez Bryant
Chris Ivory
Harrison Butker
Christian Kirk
Harrison Butker
Martavis Bryant
Martavis Bryant
Ricky Seals-Jones
Ricky Seals-Jones
Dez Bryant
Dez Bryant
Christian Kirk
Christian Kirk

Round 15 Commentary: See Round 14. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

Draft Spot
Early Turn
Middle Spot
Late Turn
Picks
16.09-16.12
16.05-16.08
16.01-16.04
Round 16 Targets
Chris Godwin
Chris Godwin
Chris Godwin
Frank Gore
Frank Gore
Frank Gore
Rob Kelley
Rob Kelley
LeGarrette Blount
DeSean Jackson
DeSean Jackson
Rob Kelley
Spencer Ware
Spencer Ware
Paul Richardson
Chris Ivory
Chris Ivory
DeSean Jackson
Harrison Butker
Harrison Butker
Spencer Ware
Martavis Bryant
Martavis Bryant
Chris Ivory
Ricky-Seals Jones
Ricky-Seals Jones
Harrison Butker
Dez Bryant
Dez Bryant
Martavis Bryant
Christian Kirk
Christian Kirk
Ricky-Seals Jones
Austin Ekeler
Austin Ekeler
Dez Bryant
Christian Kirk
Austin Ekeler

Round 16 Commentary: Who knows how long Godwin, Gore, Kelly, and Cole will be available this late. This is borderline nutty that these options are here because all four are a piece of the starter puzzle and potentially have top-15 value at their positions.

Draft Spot
Early Turn
Middle Spot
Late Turn
Picks
17.01-17.04
17.05-17.08
17.09-17.12
Round 17 Targets
Chris Godwin
Chris Godwin
Chris Godwin
Frank Gore
Frank Gore
Frank Gore
Rob Kelley
Rob Kelley
DeSean Jackson
DeSean Jackson
DeSean Jackson
Austin Hooper
Austin Hooper
Austin Hooper
T.J. Yeldon
T.J. Yeldon
T.J. Yeldon
Spencer Ware
Spencer Ware
Spencer Ware
Tyrod Taylor
Martavis Bryant
Martavis Bryant
Courtland Sutton
Ricky-Seals Jones
Tyrod Taylor
Dez Bryant
Christian Kirk
Tyrod Taylor
Courtland Sutton
Courtland Sutton

Round 17 Commentary: See Round 16's commentary.

Draft Spot
Early Turn
Middle Spot
Late Turn
Picks
18.09-18.12
18.05-18.08
18.01-18.04
Round 18 Targets
T.J. Yeldon
T.J. Yeldon
T.J. Yeldon
Ben Watson
Spencer Ware
Spencer Ware
Tyrod Taylor
Ben Watson
Ben Watson
Courtland Sutton
Tyrod Taylor
Tyrod Taylor
Dan Bailey
Courtland Sutton
Courtland Sutton
Matt Prater
Dan Bailey
Dan Bailey
Dede Westbrook
Matt Prater
Matt Prater
Kenneth Dixon
Dede Westbrook
Dede Westbrook
Kenneth Dixon
Kenneth Dixon

Round 18 Commentary: Yeldon, Ware, Watson, and Taylor are safe options with upside. If you waited on a kicker, take one now so you can have more upside picks at receiver and runner to end your draft.

Draft Spot
Early Turn
Middle Spot
Late Turn
Picks
19.01-19.04
19.05-19.08
19.09-19.12
Round 19 Targets
Ben Watson
Matt Prater
Matt Prater
Tyrod Taylor
Eric Decker
Eric Decker
Dan Bailey
John Brown
John Brown
Matt Prater
Mason Crosby
Mason Crosby
Eric Decker
Vernon Davis
Vernon Davis
John Brown
Lamar Jackson
Lamar Jackson
Mason Crosby
Ted Ginn
Ted Ginn
Vernon Davis
Jake Butt
Jake Butt
Lamar Jackson
Dante Pettis
Dante Pettis
Ted Ginn
Terrelle Pryor
Terrelle Pryor
Jake Butt
Dallas Goedert
Dallas Goedert
Dante Pettis
Terrelle Pryor
Dallas Goedert

Round 19 Commentary: Some of my favorite upside picks are Brown, Pettis, and Jackson. If Robinson is still here and you aren't a believer, it's time to take a risk. You also have to consider options like James Washington of Pittsburgh and Jake Kumerow of Green Bay.

Draft Spot
Early Turn
Middle Spot
Late Turn
Picks
20.09-20.12
20.05-20.08
20.01-20.04
Round 20 Targets
Matt Prater
Matt Prater
Matt Prater
Eric Decker
Eric Decker
Eric Decker
John Brown
John Brown
John Brown
Mason Crosby
Mason Crosby
Mason Crosby
Vernon Davis
Vernon Davis
Vernon Davis
Lamar Jackson
Lamar Jackson
Lamar Jackson
Ted Ginn
Ted Ginn
Ted Ginn
Jake Butt
Jake Butt
Jake Butt
Dante Pettis
Dante Pettis
Dante Pettis
Terrelle Pryor
Terrelle Pryor
Terrelle Pryor
Dallas Goedert
Dallas Goedert
Dallas Goedert
Jonathan Stewart
Jonathan Stewart
Jonathan Stewart
Chase Edmonds
Chase Edmonds
Chase Edmonds
John Kelley
John Kelley
John Kelley
Cole Beasley
Cole Beasley
Cole Beasley
Keke Coutee
Keke Coutee
Keke Coutee
Ryan Switzer
Ryan Switzer
Ryan Switzer
Taywan Taylor
Taywan Taylor
Taywan Taylor
Taylor Gabriel
Taylor Gabriel
Taylor Gabriel

Round 20 Commentary: See Round 19.

Early draft spot Moderate-Risk Sample team (1st Spot)

I took three running backs in the first five rounds with this draft and still landed a receiving corps that I feel good about.

  1. Todd Gurley
  2. Travis Kelce
  3. Jordan Howard
  4. Marvin Jones
  5. Jay Ajayi
  6. Sammy Watkins
  7. Robert Woods
  8. Marshawn Lynch
  9. Jordy Nelson
  10. Philip Rivers
  11. Patrick Mahomes
  12. LA Rams Def
  13. Keelan Cole
  14. Cameron Meredith
  15. Peyton Barber
  16. LeGarrette Blount
  17. Anthony Miller
  18. Matt Prater
  19. John Kelly
  20. Keke Coutee

middle draft spot Moderate-Risk Sample team (7th Spot)

This is a fun squad although a little higher than moderate risk because I waited until the final rounds to select a tight end. I'm thrilled with the receivers, quarterbacks, and running backs. Nick Chubb is a flyer on talent at a good price. The rest are really sensible picks based on talent, situation, and value.

  1. DeAndre Hopkins
  2. Michael Thomas
  3. Jordan Howard
  4. Alex Collins
  5. Sammy Watkins
  6. Royce Freeman
  7. Marshawn Lynch
  8. Robert Woods
  9. Philip Rivers
  10. Patrick Mahomes
  11. LA Rams Def
  12. Keelan Cole
  13. Cameron Meredith
  14. Nick Chubb
  15. Peyton Barber
  16. Chris Godwin
  17. Harrison Butker
  18. Samaje Perine
  19. Ricky Seals-Jones
  20. Jake Butt

late draft spot Moderate-Risk Sample team (12th Spot)

With a high-risk plan, I'd probably forego Ajayi in the fourth and Woods in the eighth. However, this is a more balanced team on paper.

  1. Odell Beckham, Jr.
  2. Michael Thomas
  3. Alex Collins
  4. Jay Ajayi
  5. Sammy Watkins
  6. Marshawn Lynch
  7. Jordan Reed
  8. Robert Woods
  9. Jared Goff
  10. Philip Rivers
  11. LA Rams Def
  12. Paul Richardson
  13. Frank Gore
  14. Peyton Barber
  15. Chris Godwin
  16. Anthony Miller
  17. Harrison Butker
  18. John Kelly
  19. Vernon Davis
  20. Dante Pettis

For more Choose Your Own Adventure Draft Plans, check out the conservative and high risk-reward options.