Some years, picking first overall in your fantasy football draft is a huge perk. But in 2023, I’m not so sure.
While there’s nothing wrong with getting the best player on your draft board, I’m not sure there’s a clear-cut No. 1 player to take similar to Jonathan Taylor last season. And that didn’t work out all that great anyway.
Obviously, there’s more to picking first overall than just that first selection. You’ll have to navigate significant gaps between picks, which requires some planning before your draft. The more you know about your league settings and the people you’re playing against, the easier it will be to navigate those long waits in-between picks.
It’s also important to practice using mock drafts. There’s no better way to do that than using our FREE mock draft simulator!
So how should you go about picking out of the one 1.01 in 2023 drafts? I’ll guide you through my strategy out of the lead-off spot.
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How to Draft from the 1.01 Position in 2023 Fantasy Football Drafts
Here’s a run down of how to approach the 1.01 position in fantasy football drafts.
What To Do With the First Pick?
Obviously, the first decision you’ll have to make is who you’re going with at 1.01. League settings definitely matter here. With so much uncertainty at the top of the running back position, it wouldn’t stun me if people drafting in half-PPR or PPR formats opt for the ultra-safe play and take Justin Jefferson.
I completely understand that mindset. Jefferson is now the No. 3 player on our Expert Consensus Rankings in half-PPR formats. Drafting him fits in with the adage “You can’t win your league in Round No. 1, but you can lose it.”
However, while running back has questions at the top, it’s much thinner than wide receiver. I used our Mock Draft Wizard to play out a few different mocks, and each time I was left with the likes of Travis Etienne, Kenneth Walker and Aaron Jones as the best three running backs available at the 2.12.
However, when I did this exercise and took Christian McCaffrey first overall, I was left with players like Jaylen Waddle, Tee Higgins and DeVonta Smith as the top wide receivers available. I felt better about my roster and maneuverability during the draft when I used McCaffrey as my anchor rather than Jefferson. I value taking a couple of featured backs early before filling out my receivers with the bevy of options in the middle rounds, so starting with CMC feels like the best way to achieve that goal.
Now, if you want to offer that Taylor or Bijan Robinson is a better choice, I get it. But remember that durability is an issue for any running back in any given year. McCaffrey’s upside within the San Francisco offense is too exciting to pass up for me. I advocated for CMC first overall in drafts last year, which paid off handsomely. I’d ride him again, but it’d be wise to take Elijah Mitchell later on.
How To Handle Your Next Two Picks
Whether you went with CMC or another RB at No. 1, I typically use the second and third rounds to take the top receiver left and your preferred player after that. I prefer taking my RB2 at this stage, given the depth available at receiver later on. But I have no problem with taking a tandem of Waddle and Higgins, who are both steady options with plenty of upside. In most cases, I took either Waddle or Higgins along with Etienne or Walker, two players I’d be thrilled to get as my RB2.
Rule of Thumb: Use the Depth at Receiver to Your Advantage
As I mentioned, when you’re picking first, you will have to adapt to what the board gives you. And while that might sound like a disadvantage, there are ways to manage it and make it work.
My biggest piece of advice is to remember that receiver is extremely deep. The dropoff simply isn’t as steep as it is at running back. Last year in half-PPR leagues, the difference between the WR27 (Gabe Davis) and the WR46 (Marquise Brown) was 25 points. That’s pretty marginal, and it proves that while you may have players you prefer, it’s easier to find a comparable player a round or two later at wideout than it is at running back.
Remember that, especially when you’re waiting 23 picks for your next turn. Obviously, don’t force anything and stick to your board. But when in doubt, don’t be afraid of the tailback.
When To Start Considering Quarterback?
Typically, I like to wait as long as I can to grab a quarterback. But in 2023, I may be tweaking that philosophy slightly. I’m still waiting to target QBs like Justin Herbert and Trevor Lawrence. But especially with such a long dropoff between picks in the one slot, I’m willing to reduce a bit of risk and take a QB like Herbert or Lawrence as soon as the 6.12 pick.
I am not a Dak Prescott fan. I don’t trust Deshaun Watson. And while I was a Tua Tagovailoa truther last year, I am apprehensive knowing one big hit could end his season. My point is, I’m a Herbert stan and believe both he and Lawrence could put up massive fantasy seasons.
Example Draft for Picking 1.01
Below is a sample draft that I conducted, picking first overall. For what it’s worth, the Draft Wizard gave it an A grade. Use this as a guide when picking first.
- Pick 1.01: Christian McCaffrey (RB – SF)
- Pick 2.12: Jaylen Waddle (WR – MIA)
- Pick 3.01: Kenneth Walker (RB – SEA)
- Pick 4.12: Drake London (WR – ATL)
- Pick 5.01: D’Andre Swift (RB – PHI)
- Pick 6.12: Diontae Johnson (WR – PIT)
- Pick 7.01: Justin Herbert (QB – LAC)
- Pick 8.12: Elijah Mitchell (RB – SF)
- Pick 9.1: Gabe Davis (WR – BUF)
- Pick 10.12: Darnell Mooney (WR – CHI)
- Pick 11.01: Jaylen Warren (RB – PIT)
- Pick 12.12: Romeo Doubs (WR – GB)
- Pick 13.01: Clyde Edwards-Helaire (RB – KC)
- Pick 14.12: Juwan Johnson (TE – NO)
- Pick 15.01: Dallas Cowboys D/ST
- pick 16.12: Jason Myers (K – SEA)