Expert DRAFTing Week 1

 A how-to-guide to beating this week's snake drafts on DRAFT.

DRAFT  offers weekly fantasy contests with 0.5-point PPR scoring (the same as FanDuel).  But instead of using a salary cap, teams are built through live snake drafts with 30-seconds per pick. The most common contest sizes are Head-to-Head, 3-Team, 6-Team and 10-Team. This article will include draft rankings and strategy discussion for each of the four prime contest sizes. 

Early in the week, DRAFT only has full-slate contests available. Thus, the early week rankings will be for the full slate and include Thursday night players. On Friday, the article will be updated to reflect just the players available for the contests starting Sunday morning.

The rankings use a combination of projected scoring and positional depth to determine the most valuable players overall. The key number to focus on in the four ranking charts is the overall value of each player in the far-right column. The decision to stick to round numbers for projected points and overall value was made both for the sake of simplicity and to illustrate how there is wide latitude to personalize your own rankings within each value tier.

HEAD-TO-HEAD DRAFT PLAYER RANKINGS

RANKPLAYERPOSGAMEPOINTSH2H VALUE
1 David Johnson RB ARI@DET 22 5
2 Le'Veon Bell RB PIT@CLE 22 5
3 Antonio Brown WR PIT@CLE 17 3
4 Julio Jones WR ATL@CHI 16 2
5 Aaron Rodgers QB SEA@GB 21 1
6 LeSean McCoy RB NYJ@BUF 17 0
7 Ezekiel Elliott RB NYG@DAL 17 0
8 A.J. Green WR BAL@CIN 14 0
9 Jordy Nelson WR SEA@GB 14 0
10 Cam Newton QB CAR@SF 20 0

Head-to-Head Draft Strategy Early-round strategy is straight forward and neither the first or second draft slot gives any major advantage. There are two elite plays at both running back and wide receiver.  Each owner should lock up one guy from each of those tiers through two rounds. If you are drafting first, you need to grab either Bell or Johnson. The slight lean in the rankings is towards David Johnson due to Detroit's struggles defending opposing running backs in the passing game last season. 1.02 should be whichever of the top two running back options still available (Bell or Johnson). 2.01 should be your top wide receiver. The rankings lean is very slightly towards Brown due to higher red zone usage rates in recent seasons. Pick 2.02 should be the last remaining elite receiver option (Brown or Jones).

Depending upon whether you pick first or second, you get to make either the Bell vs. Johnson call or the Brown vs. Jones call. If playing head-to-head, ranking within these two top tiers is of crucial importance and should be something you've decided before the 30-second clock starts. 

The fifth overall pick (3.01) is where things get very interesting. Each of the remaining players reside in basically the same tier.  A.J. Green and Jordy Nelson face tougher matchupsr. However, if you have a strong preference between LeSean McCoy and Ezekiel Elliott, you could take first choice of the second-tier backs. McCoy looks to have a slightly better matchup, but both are strong options. Lastly, it could make sense to just lock in your top quarterback play with the fifth pick if you have a strong preference there. The Chiefs defense is very good, but so is Tom Brady at home. He is the top quarterback option Week 1 over Aaron Rodgers, Matt Ryan, Cam Newton and others, but there is little very separation at the top of quarterback scoring projections.

3-Man Draft Player Rankings

RankPlayerPosGamePoints3-Man Value
1 David Johnson RB ARI@DET 22 6
2 Le'Veon Bell RB PIT@CLE 22 6
3 Antonio Brown WR PIT@CLE 17 3
4 Julio Jones WR ATL@CHI 16 2
5 LeSean McCoy RB NYJ@BUF 17 1
6 Ezekiel Elliott RB NYG@DAL 17 1
7 Aaron Rodgers QB SEA@GB 21 1
8 Amari Cooper WR OAK@TEN 14 1
9 Jordan Howard RB ATL@CHI 16 0
10 Devonta Freeman RB ATL@CHI 16 0
11 A.J. Green WR BAL@CIN 13 0
12 Jordy Nelson WR SEA@GB 13 0
13 Dez Bryant WR NYG@DAL 13 0
14 Matt Ryan QB ATL@CHI 20 0
15 Cam Newton QB CAR@SF 20 o

 3-Man Draft Strategy The luck of the draw is key here. Landing one of the top two spots provides a real advantage because those two owners get to lock in one of the two elite RB1 options. The third spot is tough. The best play is probably to draft the top two receivers at the turn, even if it means you miss out on McCoy and Elliott. However, if there is another receiver you feel strongly about in the second tier, drafting McCoy or Elliott at 2.01 and waiting until 3.03 for your second WR/TE is another strong option. The 2.02 and 2.03 should be whoever is left amongst the tier with McCoy, Elliott and Jones.

The final three rounds are wide open. There are many players at each position with similar projections, so it will come down to personal preference. You will likely see some players from outside of this list drafted. Players like Melvin Gordon III, Devonta Freeman, Rob Gronkowski, Dez Bryant, Russell Wilson and Marcus Mariota should also be in the conversation in the fourth and fifth rand aren't reaches late in a 3-Man contest if you feel strongly about them.  

6-MAN DRAFT PLAYER RANKINGS

RANKPLAYERPOSGAMEPOINTS6-MAN VALUE
1 David Johnson RB ARI@DET 22 9
2 Le'Veon Bell RB PIT@CLE 22 9
3 Antonio Brown WR PIT@CLE 17 5
4 LeSean McCoy RB NYJ@BUF 17 4
5 Ezekiel Elliott RB NYG@DAL 17 4
6 Julio Jones WR ATL@CHI 16 4
7 Jordan Howard RB ATL@CHI 16 3
8 Devonta Freeman RB ATL@CHI 16 3
9 Odell Beckham Jr Jr WR NYG@DAL 15 3
10 DeMarco Murray RB OAK@TEN 15 2
11 A.J. Green WR BAL@CIN 14 2
12 Melvin Gordon III RB LAC@DEN 15 2
13 Jordy Nelson WR SEA@GB 14 2
14 Amari Cooper WR OAK@TEN 14 2
15 Tom Brady QB KC@NE 21 2
16 Aaron Rodgers QB SEA@GB 21 2
17 Rob Gronkowski TE KC@NE 13 1
18 Dez Bryant WR NYG@DAL 13 1
19 Doug Baldwin WR SEA@GB 13 1
20 Cam Newton QB CAR@SF 20 1
21 Russell Wilson QB SEA@GB 20 1
22 Marcus Mariota QB OAK@TEN 20 1
23 Michael Thomas WR NO@MIN 13 1
24 Todd Gurley RB IND@LAR 13 0
25 Dalvin Cook RB NO@MIN 13 0
26 Matt Ryan QB ATL@CHI 19 0
27 Carlos Hyde RB CAR@SF 13 0
28 C.J. Anderson RB LAC@DEN 13 0
29 Brandin Cooks WR KC@NE 12 0
30 Keenan Allen WR LAC@DEN 12 0

6-Man Draft Strategy Johnson and Bell are the clear top two. 1.03 through 1.06 are wide open but there is a clear second tier that includes Brown, Elliott, McCoy and Jones. Round 2 should also be a running back/wide receiver round. There is more of a dropoff at these positions than there is at quarterback. Grabbing one of the higher floor running back options is the preferred option in Round 2, though Beckham Jr. and Green are also strong considerations.

In the final three rounds it is worth starting to think about whether you want to stack your quarterback with a top WR/TE option. A 6-Man contest is just big enough to start placing some value on correlation plays. The most attractive stack for Week 1 is Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski. The duo arguably has the highest touchdown upside. A couple other top stacks are Aaron Rodgers/Jordy Nelson and Russell Wilson/Doug Baldwin.

 

10-MAN DRAFT PLAYER RANKINGS

RANKPLAYERPOSGAMEPOINTS10-MAN VALUE
1 David Johnson RB ARI@DET 22 11
2 Le'Veon Bell RB PIT@CLE 22 11
3 LeSean McCoy RB NYJ@BUF 17 6
4 Ezekiel Elliott RB NYG@DAL 17 6
5 Antonio Brown WR PIT@CLE 17 6
6 Julio Jones WR ATL@CHI 16 5
7 Jordan Howard RB ATL@CHI 16 5
8 Devonta Freeman RB ATL@CHI 16 5
9 DeMarco Murray RB OAK@TEN 15 4
10 Melvin Gordon III RB LAC@DEN 15 4
11 Odell Beckham Jr Jr WR NYG@DAL 15 4
12 A.J. Green WR BAL@CIN 14 3
13 Jordy Nelson WR SEA@GB 14 3
14 Amari Cooper WR OAK@TEN 14 3
15 Tom Brady QB KC@NE 21 3
16 Aaron Rodgers QB SEA@GB 21 3
17 Rob Gronkowski TE KC@NE 13 2
18 Dez Bryant WR NYG@DAL 13 2
19 Doug Baldwin WR SEA@GB 13 2
20 Cam Newton QB CAR@SF 20 2
21 Todd Gurley RB IND@LAR 13 2
22 Dalvin Cook RB NO@MIN 13 2
23 Russell Wilson QB SEA@GB 20 2
24 Marcus Mariota QB OAK@TEN 20 2
25 Carlos Hyde RB CAR@SF 13 2
26 C.J. Anderson RB LAC@DEN 13 2
27 Michael Thomas WR NO@MIN 13 2
28 Marshawn Lynch RB OAK@TEN 12 1
29 Kareem Hunt RB KC@NE 12 1
30 Matt Ryan QB ATL@CHI 19 1
31 Ben Roethlisberger QB PIT@CLE 19 1
32 Dak Prescott QB NYG@DAL 19 1
33 Lamar Miller RB JAX@HOU 12 1
34 Leonard Fournette RB JAX@HOU 12 1
35 Isaiah Crowell RB PIT@CLE 12 1
36 Bilal Powell RB NYJ@BUF 12 1
37 Brandin Cooks WR KC@NE 12 1
38 Keenan Allen WR LAC@DEN 12 1
39 Larry Fitzgerald WR ARI@DET 12 1
40 DeAndre Hopkins WR JAX@HOU 12 1
41 Demaryius Thomas WR LAC@DEN 12 1
42 T.Y. Hilton WR IND@LAR 12 1
43 Michael Crabtree WR OAK@TEN 12 1
44 Stefon Diggs WR NO@MIN 12 0
45 Christian McCaffrey RB CAR@SF 11 0
46 Kelvin Benjamin WR CAR@SF 11 0
47 Martavis Bryant WR PIT@CLE 11 0
48 Derek Carr QB OAK@TEN 18 0
49 Mark Ingram II RB NO@MIN 11 0
50 Kirk Cousins QB PHI@WAS 18 0

10-Man Draft Strategy The first round is where you want to lock in a top running back because quality options at the position run out quicker than at wide receiver or quarterback. Ideally, you want your top running back to carry realistic multiple-touchdown upside. With 10-man contests going 20 deep at running back, it is clearly the shallowest position, so you will likely want to break ties in favor of the running back in the first round. The two possible exceptions to the first-round running back strategy are Antonio Brown and Julio Jones, who fall between the second and third tiers of running backs in terms of relative value. 

Prior to the draft, you want to idefitfy the lower-ranked options you feel comfortable targeting in the final two rounds. For example, if you are extremely high on Christian McCaffrey, Isaiah Crowell or Mark Ingram II as late-round running backs, you will want to wait to take your second running back. On the other hand, if you are most intrigued by a lower-ranked reciever option like Martavis Bryant or Kelvin Benjamin, then you will want to lock both of your running back spots up early. 

Stacking is definitely an option in 10-man contests. Even slightly longer-shot stacks like Cam Newton-Kelvin Benjamin and David Carr-Michael Crabtree are worth pursuing in the late rounds. 

 

 

If you want to talk strategy, always feel free to reach out with questions on twitter @hindery (link), by email (hindery@footballguys.com) or on the message board

 

 


More articles from Dan Hindery

See all

More articles on: Daily FF

See all