Round-By-Round Draft Strategy Based on Early ADP: Rounds 1-8 (2020 Fantasy Football)
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As we move further into the offseason, many of us will (or should) use the extra free time we have to start mock drafting. But you don’t have to start from square one. Below I have laid out a simple round-by-round strategy to navigate the early rounds in your draft and build a solid foundation for your team. They are by no means prescriptive, and every draft you do will bring a unique set of challenges. However, by using some of the ideas below in each round, you will give yourself the best opportunity to dominate your draft.
Earlier this month, I wrote up round-by-round draft targets for Rounds 1-8 based on ADP. In a couple of days, I hope to follow this with an article examining players to avoid. Early next month, I will publish a late-round guide based on ADP, complete with targets, players to avoid, and strategy.
*ADP provided by Fantasy Pros is correct as of 14th of June
|1||Christian McCaffrey (CAR)||RB1|
|2||Saquon Barkley (NYG)||RB2|
|3||Ezekiel Elliott (DAL)||RB3|
|4||Michael Thomas (NO)||WR1|
|5||Alvin Kamara (NO)||RB4|
|6||Derrick Henry (TEN)||RB5|
|7||Dalvin Cook (MIN)||RB6|
|8||Davante Adams (GB)||WR2|
|9||Joe Mixon (CIN)||RB7|
|10||Tyreek Hill (KC)||WR3|
|11||DeAndre Hopkins (ARI)||WR4|
|12||Nick Chubb (CLE)||RB8|
Round 1 Strategy
At this time last year, I was hoping to draft one of at least six running backs in the first round before I even started to look at what was left on the board at receiver. This year is different. In my time spent playing fantasy, I have never seen such a shallow group of top receivers.
Conversely, you can snag yourself a viable starting RB as late as the fifth round. Unless you’re in the top-three picks, do yourself a favor and take a wide receiver here. You’ll find great value picks at RB in the coming rounds while the other teams in your league reach for second-tier receivers.
If you end up with a late pick and see no receivers you like, Nick Chubb comes with great upside. Read more about my thoughts on Chubb here.
|13||Josh Jacobs (LV)||RB9|
|14||Aaron Jones (GB)||RB10|
|15||Patrick Mahomes (KC)||QB1|
|16||Julio Jones (ATL)||WR5|
|17||Lamar Jackson (BAL)||QB2|
|18||Chris Godwin (TB)||WR6|
|19||Travis Kelce (KC)||TE1|
|20||George Kittle (SF)||TE2|
|21||Miles Sanders (PHI)||RB11|
|22||Austin Ekeler (LAC)||RB12|
|23||Kenny Golladay (DET)||WR7|
|24||Kenyan Drake (ARI)||RB13|
Round 2 Strategy
Once Julio Jones is off the board, the top-tier receiver well is dry. However, if you’re able to scoop up one of the running backs in this round, you’re well set. Austin Ekeler genuinely has top-five RB upside. While Tyrod Tyrod will almost certainly hold a significantly lower ADOT than Rivers carried last year, that’s almost never a bad sign for a receiving back.
Both Kenyan Drake and Miles Sanders have some serious upside as RBs with receiving ability and a large share of the workload in explosive offenses. Don’t reach for a second-tier receiver here; you’ll be able to find one with similar upside as late as the fourth round.
|25||Mike Evans (TB)||WR8|
|26||Adam Thielen (MIN)||WR9|
|27||Amari Cooper (DAL)||WR10|
|28||Allen Robinson (CHI)||WR11|
|29||Leonard Fournette (JAX)||RB14|
|30||Chris Carson (SEA)||RB15|
|31||Melvin Gordon (DEN)||RB16|
|32||Cooper Kupp (LAR)||WR12|
|33||Clyde Edwards-Helaire (KC)||RB17|
|34||Le’Veon Bell (NYJ)||RB18|
|35||Mark Andrews (BAL)||TE3|
|36||D.J. Moore (CAR)||WR13|
Round 3 Strategy
Here is where taking a receiver in the first round will really start paying off. This round is littered with talent across both the WR and RB positions. Being able to take the best player available, while the other teams in your league look to fill a neglected position, will set you up well.
If you have already secured a high-upside runner, you can find backs with little competition for touches in this round. If you prefer to solidify your receiver group, you’ll find three WRs (Allen Robinson, D.J. Moore, and Cooper Kupp) who ranked in the top 12 of most targeted receivers last season. Draft these players based on your preference and what is left on the board.
|37||A.J. Brown (TEN)||WR14|
|38||Devin Singletary (BUF)||RB19|
|39||Zach Ertz (PHI)||TE4|
|40||Courtland Sutton (DEN)||WR15|
|41||Odell Beckham Jr. (CLE)||WR16|
|42||Mark Ingram II (BAL)||RB20|
|43||James Conner (PIT)||RB21|
|44||Calvin Ridley (ATL)||WR17|
|45||Todd Gurley (ATL)||RB22|
|46||Keenan Allen (LAC)||WR18|
|47||Dak Prescott (DAL)||QB3|
|48||JuJu Smith-Schuster (PIT)||WR19|
Round 4 Strategy
As shallow as the first tier of receivers is, there is tremendous depth in the second tier. In the fourth round, that value finally starts to manifest.
Although it is much harder to find players that have truly safe floors, you can still find players with a huge amount of upside. If you like to stock your roster with upside receivers, the fourth round is a great place to find them. Courtland Sutton, Odell Beckham, and AJ Brown are all talented enough so that, if they see the volume their talent suggests they could, they could all push for mid-range WR1 value.
|49||Darren Waller (LV)||TE5|
|50||T.Y. Hilton (IND)||WR20|
|51||David Montgomery (CHI)||RB23|
|52||Tyler Lockett (SEA)||WR21|
|53||Russell Wilson (SEA)||QB4|
|54||Kyler Murray (ARI)||QB5|
|55||Deshaun Watson (HOU)||QB6|
|56||David Johnson (HOU)||RB24|
|57||Jonathan Taylor (IND)||RB25|
|58||D.K. Metcalf (SEA)||WR22|
|59||Robert Woods (LAR)||WR23|
|60||Stefon Diggs (BUF)||WR24|
Round 5 Strategy
This is a place to finish filling your starters. Make sure you leave this round with at least two RBs on your roster. You will be able to find serviceable receivers later, but it’s harder to find dependable running backs past Round 7.
This round, however, provides value at both positions. You should feel great if you can get David Montgomery here. It would shock me if Montgomery records under 200 carries this season. If he is already gone by the time you pick, David Johnson provides some upside in what will be an explosive Houston offense next year. Robert Woods is being drafted criminally low; it would astound me if we don’t see his ADP rise.
|61||D.J. Chark (JAX)||WR25|
|62||Hunter Henry (LAC)||TE6|
|63||DeVante Parker (MIA)||WR26|
|64||Raheem Mostert (SF)||RB26|
|65||Deebo Samuel (SF)||WR27|
|66||Josh Allen (BUF)||QB7|
|67||A.J. Green (CIN)||WR28|
|68||Terry McLaurin (WAS)||WR29|
|69||Matt Ryan (ATL)||QB8|
|70||Drew Brees (NO)||QB9|
|71||Michael Gallup (DAL)||WR30|
|72||Marlon Mack (IND)||RB27|
|73||Jarvis Landry (CLE)||WR31|
|74||Damien Williams (KC)||RB28|
|75||Cam Akers (LAR)||RB29|
|76||Derrius Guice (WAS)||RB30|
|77||Kareem Hunt (CLE)||RB31|
|78||Jared Cook (NO)||TE7|
|79||San Francisco 49ers DST||DST1|
|80||Austin Hooper (CLE)||TE8|
|81||Tyler Boyd (CIN)||WR32|
|82||Marquise Brown (BAL)||WR33|
|83||Sony Michel (NE)||RB32|
|84||Tyler Higbee (LAR)||TE9|
|85||D’Andre Swift (DET)||RB33|
|86||Aaron Rodgers (GB)||QB10|
|87||Rob Gronkowski (TB)||TE10|
|88||Kerryon Johnson (DET)||RB34|
|89||Will Fuller V (HOU)||WR34|
|90||Julian Edelman (NE)||WR35|
|91||Evan Engram (NYG)||TE11|
|92||Brandin Cooks (HOU)||WR36|
|93||Ronald Jones II (TB)||RB35|
|94||Carson Wentz (PHI)||QB11|
|95||Tom Brady (TB)||QB12|
|96||Matt Breida (MIA)||RB36|
Rounds 6 – 8 Strategy
In many ways, the difference between an average draft and a great draft is how you approach team building in the middle rounds. Don’t let the empty slot in your lineup distract you from taking players who have fallen. Do not be the person who drafts a QB early. There will still be serviceable starters at the position available in the late rounds. Wait until at least the eighth round to start looking at tight end. With quality depth at the position, either Evan Engram or Rob Gronkowski will still be there.
The last thing you want to do in these rounds is reach in order to fill your team. Trust that you will find positional value later and take the best player available. If nothing else, this will give you ammunition for trades. In Round 6, you will be able to find young receivers with upside in droves. D.J Chark, Deebo Samuel, and Terry McLaurin are my top picks; let someone else deal with the headache of A.J. Green.
Round 7 provides your last opportunity to get running backs with defined high volume. Don’t let that opportunity go to waste. Both Derrius Guice and Sony Michel should see enough touches in the run game to start them weekly without feeling too bad. That’s a valuable piece to have on your bench or in your flex spot.
Round 8 is where the players you feel OK about starting weekly dry up, but it’s a great place to look for players who have slipped. If no such players take your fancy, look to fill your TE spot with either of the guys going in this range.