John Paulsen helps fantasy owners picking in spots #1 – #3 develop a round by round plan for their upcoming drafts.
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Welcome to our series that is intended to help fantasy owners develop a draft plan based on their position in the first round. Today’s post focuses on those owners picking #1 – #3 in 12-team drafts. Using the ADP Draft Planner, I’ll go round-by-round (through the 8th round) and mention a few players at each pick that fantasy owners should be targeting.
Keep in mind that these picks are for PPR scoring formats (with 4 pt per pass TD), but I will outline standard scoring strategy as well. I’m going to assume a starting lineup of 1 QB, 2 RB, 2 WR and 1 TE (along with a kicker and defense). If your league allows you to start three RBs, you’ll want to focus a little more on the RB position as the draft wears on. (Same thing goes if your league requires three starting wide receivers.) Conversely, if your league only requires one starting RB, you can focus more on the other positions.
Let’s jump right in…
1.01 – 1.03
Congratulations, you have a top 3 pick! Your job in the 1st round is a lot easier than those owners picking 4th through 12th. Unless your league gives six points per pass TD, you really should be looking at Arian Foster, Ray Rice or LeSean McCoy. Foster is the clear #1 RB, and we’d lean Rice at #2 in PPR formats and McCoy at #2 in standard leagues.
Standard Scoring: Draft Foster, McCoy and Rice, in that order. McCoy and Rice are a tossup, so pick your favorite.
2.10 – 2.12
In PPR formats, Darren Sproles is a great guy to target on the way back. He ranks #10 in overall value in PPR, and is a safe pick. Plus, he’s likely to be there.
Standard Scoring: The chances of Jimmy Graham or Rob Gronkowski being available at 2.10 are fairly slim (12%), and the chances of Tom Brady or Drew Brees slipping are even slimmer, so you’re probably looking at a running back here. Either DeMarco Murray or Jamaal Charles should be available (70%), and barring Brady slipping they are your best bets anyway. If they’re both gone, you have some options. You could grab the next best running back, Steven Jackson, or hope he’s there in the 3rd round (likely — 81%) and grab Matthew Stafford or Cam Newton here.
3.01 – 3.03
With your top two RB slots taken care of, you can shift your focus to other positions. It’s possible that Stafford or Newton will be there (27%), but they actually hold less value than the WRs that should be there. Assuming Larry Fitzgerald is gone, Roddy White, Wes Welker, Julio Jones or A.J. Green should be available (80%). if not, look to go Stafford/Newton.
Standard Scoring: You can use a similar strategy, but QBs would take priority over the best available wide receiver. Still, you’re likely to end up with a WR here.
4.10 – 4.12
There is a drop off at both quarterback and tight end that indicates we should not be thinking about either position until the 6th round. So you should be looking to take a wide receiver and running back, in whatever order, with your next two picks. I would strongly consider Reggie Bush at 4.10 if he slipped, but there’s a 62% chance that Bush, Doug Martin, Fred Jackson or Michael Turner will make it to 5.03. So you could look for best available wide receiver here. There is a 92% chance that Percy Harvin, Jordy Nelson, Steve L Smith, Marques Colston or Jeremy Maclin will be available at 4.10. Dez Bryant, Steve Johnson, Miles Austin and Demaryius Thomas are other options, so if there is a RB that you like at 4.10, grab him. There should be a good WR available at 5.03.
Standard Scoring: Same strategy, though RBs have more value in standard formats.
5.01 – 5.03
If you took a running back in the 4th, it’s probably time to take a receiver. If you took a wide receiver, draft a running back.
Standard Scoring: Same strategy as PPR.
6.10 – 6.12
Provided you didn’t draft a quarterback earlier on, now is a good time to take one. There is an 86% chance that Matt Ryan, Eli Manning, Tony Romo, Philip Rivers or Peyton Manning will be available at 6.10.
Standard Scoring: Essentially the same strategy as PPR. Time to get a QB.
Note: If you pick 6.10 or 6.11, and you notice that the owner(s) picking between your 6th and 7th round picks already have a QB, then you can wait until the 7th round to draft a QB and instead draft the best available TE in the 6th. It’s unlikely that owner would burn a 6th/7th round pick on their backup quarterback. The same strategy holds if there are two QBs available from this list at 6.10 but only one owner picking before your 7.03 pick needs a QB. You may want to go ahead and grab a QB if you don’t feel solid about both options (e.g. Matt Ryan vs. Peyton Manning).
7.01 – 7.03
Assuming you didn’t get Graham or Gronkowski in the 2nd round, now it’s time to grab a tight end. There is an 86% chance that Jason Witten, Antonio Gates, Jermichael Finley, Vernon Davis or Fred Davis will be available at 7.03. If you do already have Graham or Gronkowski on your roster, you will likely want to shore up either RB or WR. If none of these tight ends make it to you, take the best available RB or WR and target someone like Jermaine Gresham, Brent Celek, Tony Gonzalez or Brandon Pettigrew later on.
Standard Scoring: Same strategy as PPR. Draft a tight end.
Note: If you drafted Foster, you probably need to use either your 6th or your 7th round pick to handcuff Ben Tate. He has been available at 8.10 only 33% of the time. If you do decide to draft Tate on this turn, you could plan to use your 5th round pick on a QB or a TE. The other option is to play QBBC or plan on Celek/Gresham/Gonzo/Pettigrew as your TE1.
8.10 – 8.12
Provided all went to plan, you should be looking for your third receiver here. There is an 85% chance that Reggie Wayne, Denarius Moore, Pierre Garcon, Darrius Heyward-Bey or Robert Meachem will be available at 8.10. Torrey Smith could even slip, though it’s unlikely.
Standard Scoring: Grab a receiver.
That wraps up the first eight rounds for both standard and PPR formats. Here are realistic sample teams for each format:
PPR: Rice, Sproles, White, R. Bush, Maclin, Eli, F. Davis and Garcon
Standard #1: McCoy, Murray, J. Jones, S. Smith, Turner, Ryan, F. Davis and D Moore
Standard #2: Foster, Stafford, S. Jackson, S. Smith, Maclin, Finley, Tate and D. Moore
Regardless of format, I doubt the other owners in your league are going to want to play your team. Two of these three teams are built around the strategy of waiting on a quarterback and a tight end. While I would definitely advocate drafting Graham/Gronkowski in the 2nd round or Stafford/Newton in the 3rd round, it’s just not likely that those players will be available at that point in the draft. If you happen to nab Graham in the 2nd and/or Stafford in the 3rd, simply use your 6th and/or 7th round picks on RB and WR depth.
Finally, consider drafting Lance Moore in the 9th round as your WR4. If you pass on him there is only a 46% chance that he makes it back to you in the 10th round. With Robert Meachem gone, he should make some noise in New Orleans.