DRAFT offers weekly fantasy contests with 5-man rosters (1 QB, 2 RB, 2 WR/TE) and 0.5-point PPR scoring (the same as FanDuel). Instead of using a salary cap like other daily fantasy sites, 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.
First, we will dive into the player rankings and draft strategy for each of the four Draft sizes. If you are interested in why the players are ranked where they are in the overall rankings, make sure to check out the in-depth breakdowns of the top options in the positional rankings.
Please feel free to contact me (email or twitter) with any questions or if you are just looking for some extra advice for this week’s drafts. Constructive feedback on the article format and content is always appreciated.
Theme of the Week: Predicting Touchdowns One of the things this article focuses in on every week is touchdown expectation. With Draft’s scoring system having no yardage bonuses and only 0.5 points per reception, it is difficult to win any size contest without scoring a few rushing and/or receiving touchdowns. The need for touchdowns gets more desperate in 6-Team and 10-Team contests in which it is difficult to separate from the field without touchdowns. While touchdowns are difficult to predict, we still have to dig into the matchups and expected usage to make sure we are rostering the players with the best chance of getting into the end zone.
Touchdown expectation is an especially important issue to tackle this week because many of the players with the highest yardage projections have been on cold streaks in terms of touchdowns. The lack of touchdowns doesn’t seem to be hurting these players average draft position quite as much as maybe it should. The biggest decisions this week center upon how to value these talented players who aren’t scoring touchdowns.
Before moving into the rankings and strategy for each Draft size, let’s dive into an extended look at touchdown expectation for some of the most important players on the slate:
Michael Thomas Thomas is a big-bodied possession receiver who runs good routes and can win contested balls in the red zone. On paper, that sounds great. His skillset makes him the clear top receiving target for Drew Brees. However, a player with Thomas’ skillset is highly dependent upon getting targets in the red zone to score touchdowns. Thomas ran a 4.54-forty at the combine and has never been a player who excels at running past defenders for long touchdowns. While it is puzzling that Thomas hasn’t scored since Week 4, digging deeper to look at his red zone usage, it is entirely understandable. Thomas’ poor touchdown production this season is entirely beyond his control. He has a touchdown rate of 100% on targets inside the 10-yard line this season but has only seen two such targets all season (way back in Weeks 3 and 4). Since Week 5, Thomas has seen just one red zone target and zero targets inside the 10-yard line. The Saints have been winning, so there isn’t much incentive for the team to change the red zone offense. Thus, we have to downgrade Thomas’ weekly touchdown expectations based upon his current role in the Saints red zone offense.
Julio Jones Jones’ problems finding the end zone this season are a much tougher nut to crack. Jones has a proven ability to score from anywhere on the field. He can run past defenders for long touchdowns and is dangerous after the catch. The fact that he has just 1 touchdown on 86 targets is tough to fathom. Early in the season, we could point to red zone usage as the problem, as Jones had had just one red zone target through five games. However, lack of red zone usage hasn’t been a problem of late. In the last five games, Jones has 9 red zone targets (6 of which came inside the 10-yard line). Unlike with Thomas, there is no easy explanation for Jones scoring 0.1 touchdowns per game this season. While “touchdown regression” is a logical fallacy, we can look at Jones’ skillset, huge target share (third-most in the league) and recent red zone usage and say that his chances of finding the end zone in Week 12 are much better than his 1 touchdown in 10 games season-to-date might suggest.
Kareem Hunt Hunt has a prime matchup at home against a Buffalo Bills defense that has been getting smashed in recent weeks. But what type of touchdown expectation does Hunt carry in this matchup? Have we ever seen a rookie come in and score six touchdowns in his first 3 games, see a slight increase in touches, and then go seven straight games without a score? If we view Hunt’s long touchdowns in early weeks as somewhat fluky, his scoring drought makes sense. Over the last six games, Hunt has just 3 touches inside the 10-yard line. Over the same six-game stretch, Mark Ingram II has scored 6 touchdowns on his 11 touches from inside the 10-yard line. With Hunt seeing less than 30% of the opportunities Ingram has been seeing near the goal line, you can’t place a similar touchdown expectation on the two players heading into Week 12.
Head-to-Head Draft Rankings and Strategy
1. Le'Veon Bell
2. Todd Gurley
4. Tom Brady
6. A.J. Green
10. Travis Kelce
Antonio Brown and Tom Brady have to at least be in consideration at 1.01. However, it is tough to allow your opponent to nab both Leveon Bell and Todd Gurley at the turn. Thus, taking Bell at 1.01 is the best move.
The thought process is similar at 1.02 if your opponent takes Bell or Gurley at 1.01. You don’t want to cede the top two running backs on the slate to your opponent, so taking whichever of the top-two backs is still available is optimal. The decision between Antonio Brown and Tom Brady is difficult but Russell Wilson’s streak of big fantasy games makes it much easier to allow your opponent to have him and instead lock in the clear #1 option at WR/TE.
Beyond the top-4 players, it is wide open. There is a tier of at least four running backs and at least a handful of receivers that all offer similar projections. As mentioned in the introduction, touchdowns are a huge key. As such, it makes sense to lean towards the players with the highest touchdown expectation. At wide receiver, that means Brandin Cooks and A.J. Green inch ahead of the pack. At running back, that means Leonard Fournette and Mark Ingram II rise to the top of their tier.
3-Team Draft Rankings and Strategy
1. Le'Veon Bell
2. Todd Gurley
4. Tom Brady
7. A.J. Green
10. Travis Kelce
11. Julio Jones
12. Alvin Kamara
13. Kareem Hunt
14. DeAndre Hopkins
15. Drew Brees
As discussed in the Head-to-Head strategy section, there are four players that stand out from the pack this week. The top-4 are all strong options in the first round. The second tier at running back and wide receiver are bunched close enough together to make Russell Wilson a strong option in the second round. While the Saints are scoring more on the ground than through the air, making Drew Brees a risky week-to-week play, nearly the entire Seahawks offense flows through Wilson. Incredibly, Wilson has thrown or run for all but one of the Seahawks offensive touchdowns this season.
Running back is strong 1-through-6. Kareem Hunt has been discussed in detail above and also in the running back rankings below and he is certainly a key player who everyone will have to make a decision on this week. On one hand, he hasn’t scored since Week 3 and has rarely been touching the ball down around the goal line. On the other hand, he is playing at home as a huge favorite against a fading Buffalo Bills defense that has allowed 9 rushing touchdowns over the last 3 games. Something has to give here.
6-Team Draft Rankings and Strategy
1. Le'Veon Bell
2. Todd Gurley
6. Alvin Kamara
7. Kareem Hunt
8. LeSean McCoy
9. Tom Brady
10. Brandin Cooks
11. A.J. Green
12. Travis Kelce
13. Julio Jones
14. DeAndre Hopkins
15. Russell Wilson
16. Michael Thomas
17. Mike Evans
18. Doug Baldwin
19. Rob Gronkowski
21. Lamar Miller
22. Drew Brees
23. Cam Newton
24. Carlos Hyde
25. DeMarco Murray
26. Carson Wentz
28. Larry Fitzgerald
29. Jarvis Landry
30. Dion Lewis
There is a massive premium on the running back position this week. The options are unattractive outside the top-10 and there is a clear separation between RB7 LeSean McCoy and RB8 Christian McCaffrey at the top of the next tier. The top-8 picks should see seven running backs go off the board.
The question of when to take Antonio Brown is always especially interesting in 6-Team drafts. In the early part of the first round, it feels like you have to lock in one of the top-7 running backs because there is no chance that one of them will make it back around to you late in the 2nd round and you put yourself at a huge disadvantage without one of the top backs. However, late in the first round, Brown makes sense as a target. At 1.05, if you don’t feel strongly about any of the remaining backs, you can take Brown and know that one of the top-7 running backs is guaranteed to be there for you at 2.02. Thus, 1.05 is the earliest I would consider Brown this week. Of course, he isn’t a lock there. It also makes plenty of strategic sense to take a running back at 1.05 and either grab Brown at 2.02 or grab a second top running back if Brown goes at the turn. Drafting at 1.05 or 1.06 is a great place to be this week.
It feels like there is a bit of a tier break after the top-20. The players ranked 21-or-below all carry either higher risk or lower ceilings than the top-20 overall. Within tiers (from #10-20 and #21-30), there is a lot of room to take whichever player you like best but it is probably best to avoid reaching for players from the lower tier over the top-20 options.
10-Team Draft Rankings and Strategy
1. Le'Veon Bell
2. Todd Gurley
5. Alvin Kamara
6. Kareem Hunt
7. LeSean McCoy
9. Tom Brady
10. Russell Wilson
11. Brandin Cooks
12. A.J. Green
13. Travis Kelce
14. Julio Jones
16. DeAndre Hopkins
17. Michael Thomas
18. Mike Evans
19. Lamar Miller
20. Carlos Hyde
21. Drew Brees
22. DeMarco Murray
23. Cam Newton
24. Doug Baldwin
25. Rob Gronkowski
26. Dion Lewis
27. Joe Mixon
28. Duke Johnson Jr
29. Jordan Howard
30. Devonta Freeman
31. Larry Fitzgerald
32. Jarvis Landry
33. Alshon Jeffery
34. Carson Wentz
36. Alex Smith
37. Tyreek Hill
38. Alshon Jeffery
39. Marcus Mariota
40. Matt Ryan
41. Jared Goff
42. Demaryius Thomas
43. Michael Crabtree
44. Davante Adams
46. Emmanuel Sanders
47. Tevin Coleman
48. Adrian Peterson
49. Alex Collins
50. Jamaal Williams
The drop off at running back from the top-7 to the lowest-ranked draftable running backs is massive. While Tom Brady and Antonio Brown will be tempting early, any of the top backs is a better choice in the first round due to how big the drop off is at the position. Even the second-tier ob backs (Christian McCaffrey, Lamar Miller, Carlos Hyde, DeMarco Murray, etc.) gets pushed way up in 10-Team Drafts.
- Tom Brady Brady as the top quarterback on the slate is an easy call. He leads the top passing offense in the league (#1 DVOA) into a home matchup against the league’s 31st-ranked pass defense. New England’s implied team total of 32.3 against Miami is one of the highest of the entire 2017 season. Brady is averaging 314.6 passing yards, 2.2 touchdowns and 0.2 interceptions per game in another MVP-caliber season. He has three games of 339 or more passing yards and at least 3 touchdowns, including last week’s dominant performance against Oakland. Expect another big game against the leaky Dolphins secondary.
- Russell Wilson Wilson has been the Seahawks offense this season. With an atrocious running game, Wilson has been forced to shoulder more of the load as a runner. He has rushed for 182 yards over the last 3 weeks. The lack of a running game has also forced Seattle to pass more than they probably want to and Wilson has 40+ passing attempts in three of his last four games. The matchup looks great. San Francisco’s pass defense ranks 30th in DVOA and has allowed at least two passing touchdowns in five straight games. The Seattle-San Francisco divisional matchup has been lopsided, with the Seahawks winning eight straight. San Francisco also plays at the fastest pace in the league, allowing opposing offenses extra snaps and taxing a defense that lacks depth.
- Drew Brees Brees has been fantastic this season but hasn’t really had to exert himself most weeks. The Saints stifling defense and dominant run game has allowed Brees to be more of a game manager than gunslinger. As his 385-yard passing performance last week showed, Brees still has it in him to dominate as a passer if the game script calls for him to do so. With the Saints going on the road to face the league’s highest-scoring offense, Week 12 sets up as a week in which Brees could again be called upon to throw the ball 40+ times.
- Cam Newton Newton has been incredibly boom-bust as a fantasy option this year. He has three monster fantasy performances, a handful of mediocre ones and a couple complete duds. It is tough to trust him in Head-to-Head or even 3-Team contests. However, in 6-Team or 10-Team Drafts, he is an ideal target. Newton has realistic 30-40 point upside due to his rushing skills and ability to get hot as a passer.
- Carson Wentz Wentz is averaging a pedestrian 243 passing yards per game. However, he leads the league with 2.5 passing touchdowns per game. He is so touchdown-dependent for fantasy production that he is a riskier option than many may assume. But it is hard to bet against a guy who has been on such a touchdown hot streak.
- Ben Roethlisberger Roethlisberger has only topped 20 points once all season. He did it for the first time last week in a primetime matchup at home against a vulnerable pass defense. The situation is exactly the same this week, so it is reasonable to think that Roethlisberger has another big game despite his relatively poor season overall. The Steelers are home with a 27.8-point implied team total against a Green Bay pass defense that has made lesser quarterbacks look good in recent weeks.
- Alex Smith
- Marcus Mariota
- Matt Ryan
- Jared Goff
Running Back Rankings
- Le'Veon Bell Bell has only scored five touchdowns, which is disappointing based on his usage. He has a whopping 58 red zone opportunities (48 carries and 10 targets), which leads the NFL by a wide margin (Todd Gurley is second with 42). The lack of touchdowns for Bell is the only thing that makes the Bell vs. Gurley decision difficult. Based on the usage and Bell’s talent level, you have to feel like Bell is due for his second multi-touchdown game of the season sometime soon. The game script in Week 12 sets up perfectly for Bell to have a breakout game. The Steelers are 14-point favorites against a hapless Green Bay offense. Assuming Pittsburgh can jump out to an early lead, Bell could see a massive workload. The Packers are allowing 1.0 touchdowns per game to opposing running backs, so you have to like Bell’s chances of getting into the end zone at least once Sunday night.
- Todd Gurley The Rams have an implied team total of 28 points in a likely shootout against the New Orleans Saints. The Saints pass defense has been fantastic (4th in DVOA) while the run defense has been exploitable (26th DVOA). On paper, this is a game where the Rams should lean heavily on Gurley. However, it is worth noting that Gurley hasn’t seen less than 20 opportunities (touches plus targets) in three straight games. Plus, the Saints have allowed just 6 touchdowns to opposing running backs on the season.
- Leonard Fournette The matchup against Arizona doesn’t look great on paper and it’s been a long time since Fournette had a big fantasy day, so some may overlook him. He missed time with an injured ankle, had a bye, was suspended for a game and hasn’t found the end zone in either of the last two weeks. However, his performance (and usage) against Cleveland’s #1 ranked DVOA run defense last week was quietly impressive. Fournette had 28 carries for 111 yards and was also targeted three times in the passing game. He could see a similar workload this week. Plus, if the Jacksonville defense dominates Blaine Gabbert and the Arizona offense, Fournette could see some short fields and a great game script to pound away at an Arizona defense that gave up 163 yards and 2 touchdowns to Houston’s running backs last week.
- Mark Ingram II As mentioned in the intro, Ingram has 11 touches inside the 10-yard line in the past six weeks. It isn’t a surprise then that he leads the NFL with 8 touchdowns in the past six games. The otherwise excellent Los Angeles Rams defense has given up 11 touchdowns to opposing running backs and has allowed the 3rd-most Draft points against this season (23.8 per game). Despite the Saints being road underdogs, Ingram still has one of the higher touchdown expectations on the slate.
- Alvin Kamara Kamara’s touchdown expectations are harder to peg than Ingram’s. He does have 5 red zone touches on 23 opportunities this season but isn’t getting as many looks around the goal line as Ingram. Kamara also has the explosiveness to take it the distance from outside the red zone, so there is always the chance he breaks off a long touchdown.
- Kareem Hunt Hunt’s touchdown expectation was discussed in-depth the introduction. He is one of the toughest players to project this week because he simply hasn’t been seeing touches down around the goal line in recent weeks. However, the matchup couldn’t be more pristine. The Chiefs are 10-point home favorites with an implied team total of 28.3 points. The Bills are allowing a whopping 26.2 Draft points per game to opposing running backs and are giving up 1.3 rushing touchdowns per week to running backs. The matchup points toward Hunt finding the end zone at least once. But how much do you trust him to do so given that he hasn’t scored since Week 3?
- LeSean McCoy No team has given up fewer receptions (38), yards (235) or touchdowns (0) to opposing running backs through the air than the Kansas City Chiefs. McCoy’s usually healthy receiving projections are significantly lower in this matchup. The Chiefs are allowing 105 rushing yards and 0.9 rushing touchdowns per game to opposing running backs, however. It’s a decent matchup for McCoy on paper but still hard to get excited about. Aside from garbage time against the Chargers last week, McCoy hasn’t scored a touchdown on the road all season. Buffalo is also a 10-point underdog with an implied team total of just 18.3 points.
- Christian McCaffrey The Jets have been very good against opposing running backs but have struggled against slot receivers. McCaffrey is a hybrid between the two positions and should at least find solid success as a receiver. McCaffrey has 11 red zone opportunities over the past two weeks and the Panthers have been designing plays to get him the ball around the end zone, giving him sneaky touchdown upside.
- Lamar Miller Baltimore is allowing just 20.4 Draft points per game to opposing running backs. With D’Onta Foreman injured, Miller should see a heavier than normal workload, however.
- Carlos Hyde Seattle is allowing the 5th-fewest points to opposing running backs (17.4 per game). While the Seahawks are very stingy with yardage allowed, they have given up 8 rushing touchdowns to opposing running backs. Hyde has scored 13 touchdowns in his last 23 games, so his touchdown expectation is relatively solid this week.
- DeMarco Murray Murray has some real upside against the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday.He has averaged 3.7 receptions per game over his last six outings, which helps to give him a solid floor. With Tennessee favored by 3 points against in a game with sneaky shootout potential, don’t be surprised if Murray has one of his bigger games of the season. Murray and Derrick Henry combined for 232 total yards and 2 touchdowns in their Week 6 matchup against Indianapolis.
- Dion Lewis Lewis has had at least 10 carries in each of the past 5 games. He also looked great catching the ball out of the backfield last week (4-40-1). The Patriots are massive 16.5-point home favorites against the Dolphins. With Gillislee out, Lewis has been the back that the Patriots have leaned on to close out games late. Watch the news to make sure Gillislee isn’t expected to be active because assuming he is out again, Lewis has a solid floor and underrated upside due to the potency of the Patriots offense.
- Joe Mixon The Browns defense is stout against the run (#1 in DVOA) but is still allowing 19.2 Draft points per game to opposing running backs. With Jeremy Hill on injured reserve and Giovani Bernard getting only a handful of touches per game, Mixon is locked as the workhorse back for the Bengals. The Bengals are 8-point home favorites and the game script sets up well for Mixon to again see 20+ touches with a few opportunities inside the 10-yard line.
- Duke Johnson Jr The Bengals have allowed the 10th-most yards and the third-most receptions to opposing running backs and Johnson has quietly been one of the league’s best pass-catching backs. Cleveland doesn’t have much talent on offense, so throwing the ball to running backs out of the backfield is the only favorable matchup on paper. Johnson has averaged 5.8 targets per game since Week 6. The Browns are 8-point underdogs and if they fall behind early, Johnson could see extra work.
- Jordan Howard The Eagles have given up the 3rd-fewest Draft points to opposing running backs (16.1 per game) on the season. Much of the damage has actually come from receiving backs, as the Eagles have allowed more receiving touchdowns (4) to running backs than rushing touchdowns (3). Philadelphia leads the league by a wide margin in allowing just 48.5 rushing yards per game to running backs, making this about as awful a matchup as possible for Howard.
- Devonta Freeman As of Friday morning, Freeman is still in concussion protocol. However, Freeman participated in practice on Thursday, which indicates that a return by Sunday is fairly likely. It is possible the Falcons could ease him back in, since Tevin Coleman is such a big part of the offense anyway. The Falcons offense hasn’t been prolific enough this season to support two top fantasy backs, so it isn’t worth reaching for Freeman returning from injury.
- Tevin Coleman Coleman would be an exciting play if Freeman misses but Freeman’s return to practice on Thursday means he’s more likely than not to play. Keep an eye on the news but unless we get some indication that Freeman may miss again, Coleman is nothing more than a late-round option in 10-Team Drafts.
- Adrian Peterson
- Alex Collins
- Jamaal Williams
Wide Receiver Rankings
- Antonio Brown The case for Brown is always an easy one to make: he is scoring 3.9 more Draft points per game than the #3 wide receiver. Only DeAndre Hopkins is close to Brown in production this season and Hopkins has been less productive without Deshaun Watson. Brown is not only arguably the most talented wide receiver in the league, he also has seen the second-most targets (behind only Hopkins). The Green Bay secondary is beat up and isn’t very talented even at full health. The only question for Brown is whether Brett Hundley and the Green Bay offense can keep it close enough that the Steelers still have to throw the ball in the second half.
- Brandin Cooks Cooks has 28 targets over the past three weeks and is the clear go-to wide receiver with Chris Hogan sidelined. Cooks has an aDOT of 14.6 yards and has the best quarterback in the league throwing him the ball, so the targets are more valuable than average. The Patriots have an implied team total of 32.3 points and are expected to have their way with a fading Miami Dolphins defense that ranks 31st in the league in pass defense DVOA.
- A.J. Green Green is one of the league’s top talents and has a solid matchup against a Cleveland Browns defense that has given up the 4th-most passing touchdowns in the NFL. Andy Dalton has thrown at least 2 touchdowns against the Browns in 5 straight games (13 total). While Green may not put up a huge amount of yards, he is one of the best bets on the slate to find the end zone.
- Travis Kelce Kelce is the 5th-highest scoring WR/TE this season and should be considered amongst the top options on a weekly basis. On the surface, the matchup against Buffalo isn’t great. The Bill have allowed just 8.9 PPG to opposing tight ends. However, in recent weeks the Bills have allowed opposing offenses to do whatever they want and we’ve seen the star offensive players facing the Bills have big games. Kelce has at least 98 receiving yards in half of his games and has scored four more touchdowns than Julio Jones on the season.
- Julio Jones Jones is a safe bet to rack up a bunch of catches and receiving yards. Tampa Bay allows the most catches and yards to opposing receivers. Jones has averaged 9.8 targets per game over the last five games and has a great shot at seeing double-digit targets for the fourth time in six games. The problem with Jones remains touchdown expectation. Touchdowns are a huge key to winning matchups in Draft and Jones is averaging 0.1 touchdowns per game this season. It hasn’t been an issue with not seeing targets either. He has 7 inside the 10-yard line. The Falcons just haven’t found a way to effectively use Jones close to the end zone and it doesn’t make sense to keep expecting that to change.
- DeAndre Hopkins Hopkins has proven to be relatively matchup-proof this season, as he proved again last week when he had a solid game despite facing Patrick Peterson all day. However, we can’t ignore how bad the matchup against Baltimore is. The Ravens allow only 20.0 PPG to opposing wide receivers (2nd best in the league). Houston has an implied team total of just 15.5 points.
- Michael ThomasThomas has had a safe floor but hasn’t scored a touchdown since Week 4. The reasons for this were discussed in-depth in the intro. It is certainly reason for concern and is enough to make him a solid but unexciting option in Week 12.
- Mike Evans
- Doug Baldwin
- Rob Gronkowski The Dolphins are allowing the second-most catches in the NFL to tight ends and Gronkowski is in the top-5 in red zone targets (13 on the season).
- Larry Fitzgerald
- Jarvis Landry The Dolphins are massive underdogs, which bodes well for Landry. He has averaged 12 more receiving yards per game in losses than in wins. Landry has scored a touchdown in 6 of his last 7 games.
- Alshon Jeffery
- Tyreek Hill
- Alshon Jeffery
- Demaryius Thomas
- Michael Crabtree
- Davante Adams Adams has averaged 8.6 targets per game with Brett Hundley. The game script could be favorable for another big workload if the Steelers jump out to an early lead.
- JuJu Smith-Schuster
- Emmanuel Sanders