One of the best ways to succeed during your fantasy football draft is to go in with a strategy. Every fantasy football league is different, and there isn’t a universal blueprint for success. That said, preparing a basic game plan can go a long way to help you identify value throughout the draft.
Fortunately, I’ve done the hard work for you. Below, I’ve outlined my round-by-round strategy for a 10-team, half-PPR league. If you follow this roadmap, you’ll be primed for draft day dominance.
I usually go for a tailback in the first round, as it’s still the most scarce position in fantasy football. In fact, the first eight players on my draft board are running backs. If you’re picking in the top eight, get the best tailback available.
I’d only consider taking a receiver in the first round if I have the ninth or tenth overall pick. I have Davante Adams, Tyreek Hill, and Stefon Diggs ranked from ninth to eleventh, respectively. If you have a late pick, I’d consider grabbing a top-end receiver and scooping up your first tailback in early Round 2.
I’m definitely taking a running back or receiver in Round 2. Don’t be tempted by Travis Kelce, who is awesome but doesn’t deliver as much positional value. If I’ve already got a tailback, I generally subscribe to a best player available strategy in this round. If I went wide receiver in Round 1, I’m probably taking a tailback in Round 2. Some of my favorite players to target in Round 2 are Antonio Gibson, Joe Mixon, J.K. Dobbins, Calvin Ridley, DK Metcalf, A.J. Brown, and Justin Jefferson.
If I’ve only got one running back, the decision is harder and will be dependent on who’s still on the board. Knowing that receiver is deep, I’d be more willing to take a shot on someone like Darrell Henderson, even if it’s at the expense of missing out on someone like Chris Godwin or Robert Woods as a strong WR2. I know I can find receiving upside later on.
My goal is to have at least two tailbacks on my roster after my first four picks. I’m not even opposed to taking three running backs early — that’s how ugly the position gets after this round.
I’d rather take a shot on someone like Chris Carson, Darrell Henderson, or Javonte Williams as my RB3 than someone like Mike Evans, Amari Cooper, or Robert Woods as my WR2. There are higher upside receivers available in Round 5 that I feel just as good about getting.
This is where the draft starts to become a “Choose Your Own Adventure,” exercise. I typically aim to get one of these receivers in this round: D.J. Moore, Brandon Aiyuk, Diontae Johnson, or Tee Higgins. All of them are high-upside WR2’s.
I’m still not considering taking a quarterback or tight end in this round.
If any of the aforementioned receivers are still available here, take them. If not, I don’t mind adding another running back, like Kareem Hunt. This is also a more appropriate time to consider a quarterback or tight end, as Mark Andrews, T.J. Hockenson, Kyle Pitts, Dak Prescott, Russell Wilson, and Aaron Rodgers are all going around this range.
I’d still wait on taking a quarterback or tight end here, but if the running back and receiver options are unappealing for you, don’t feel guilty about it.
This is typically where I really start thinking about landing a starting quarterback or tight end. I’m more willing to wait longer at tight end, but my quarterback target tends to be Justin Herbert in Round 7.
If you’d rather keep waiting (and I normally do), then players like Chase Claypool or Chase Edmonds — and even rookies Trey Sermon and Michael Carter — all interest me. Sermon is the player I’d be most likely to target as a depth tailback with serious upside.
All of the players I mentioned in Round 7 are certainly options in Round 8. However, if quarterbacks are going fast, I’m happy to take Matthew Stafford or Ryan Tannehill here. I’m also interested in taking flyers on tailbacks such as Zack Moss or AJ Dillon, both of whom could have productive roles on their respective offenses.
Unless I’m blown away by a tailback or receiver who’s still on the board, I typically address tight end here. Noah Fant and Logan Thomas are my primary targets. I’m also high on Dallas Goedert’s talent, but I would prefer to see Zach Ertz leave Philadelphia before making him my starter.
Rounds 11 and on
With my starting lineup filled, I tend to go after my favorite lottery tickets starting in Round 11. I’m also willing to target higher-end running back handcuffs such as Alexander Mattison or Darrynton Evans at this point.
Don’t be afraid to reach a little bit in these later rounds for guys you like, as there’s no guarantee they’ll get back to you again. In fact, there’s no such thing as a “reach” this late in the game.
When to take kickers and defenses
If you’re a FantasyPros reader, I know that you’re a smart player who’s probably heard this before. But just in case, I’ll offer one more final reminder: wait until the final two rounds to take your kicker and defense. Both positions are incredibly hard to project each year, and there’s rarely any advantage to being the first to draft one of them.
If you want to dive deeper into fantasy football, be sure to check out our award-winning slate of Fantasy Football Tools as you navigate your season. From our Start/Sit Assistant – which provides your optimal lineup, based on accurate consensus projections – to our Waiver Wire Assistant – which allows you to quickly see which available players will improve your team, and by how much – we’ve got you covered this fantasy football season.