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Fantasy Football Strategy & Advice: Early Snake Draft Picks (2024)

With the earlier set of fantasy football snake draft picks, you must come prepared with an optimal and flexible strategy. It’s less about deciding which players are good/bad (they are being drafted at the very top of the board for a reason, after all) and more about building a strong foundation for success that sets the standard for your roster throughout the draft. Thinking about your player targets in round two should already be on your mind before you make your selection at the start of round one.

That’s why preparing your tier lists with knowledge of average draft position (ADP) — or leveraging FantasyPros’ built-in tiers and rankings — is so critical to success. Knowing you can grab an S Tier WR first overall and follow up with a top-tier running back in round two, makes it easy to go WR first overall. Or perhaps you like starting with a top-three RB such as Christian McCaffrey, Bijan Robinson or Breece Hall because you are confident in the second-round WR crop.

Last year, the biggest question entering fantasy football draft season was a debate between going RB, WR, QB (depending on format), or Travis Kelce at the top end of round one. The correct answer? Not Kelce, not Justin Jefferson or Ja’Marr Chase. Nor Austin Ekeler.

It was Christian McCaffrey. It was Tyreek Hill. And it was CeeDee Lamb. Only three consensus top-12 picks from last year’s ADP were big hits. Fast forward to 2024 and we have a similar cast of characters near the top. Interestingly enough, the top three hits from last season headline the top three overall. Recency bias? No doubt.

But those that have entered the top-12 chat include Breece Hall, Amon-Ra St. Brown, Puka Nacua, Garrett Wilson and Jahmyr Gibbs.

Who you ultimately choose among will impact your drafts as the rounds progress. Your randomized draft slot will make the decision easier for those rewarded the 1.01, 1.02 and 1.03 — as this may be your only opportunity to gain exposure to players with the highest ADPs. This is more so in the best ball portfolio streets where you can only draft McCaffrey with the 1.01 in most cases.

But after that, I expect plenty of variance throughout the first round at selections 1.04-1.12 (where the fun begins).

That’s what I consider “early snake draft picks” with 1.05-1.08 representing the middle snake picks and 1.09-1.12 representing the late snake picks in traditional 12-team fantasy football leagues. I will be referring to Underdog, FFPC Best Ball, Drafters and BestBall10s as my blended ADP sources — with FFPC home to the 2024 FantasyPros Championship.

Fantasy Football Snake Draft Strategy for Early Picks

Let the Draft Begin.

Fantasy Football Draft Strategy: Round 1

Whether it’s best ball or redraft fantasy football, the golden standard approach of selecting a running back with your first or second-round pick has not changed. Ask anybody who drafted McCaffrey last season. Although, of course, the landscape at the very top has changed slightly to favor the league’s top-tier WRs such as Justin Jefferson, Ja’Marr Chase, Tyreek Hill, Amon-Ra St. Brown and CeeDee Lamb. But this isn’t the first time we have seen elite WRs favored against their running-back counterparts.

It wasn’t long ago elite WRs like Davante Adams, Julio Jones, Odell Beckham Jr., DeAndre Hopkins and Antonio Brown were drafted in the top half of round one. Seeing WRs drafted ahead of many RBs is part of the natural fantasy football cycle. There’s a strong argument that today’s top WRs are better than the top RBs. However, with a strong crop of diverse, hungry and young running backs entering the player pool, I’d bet we return to the glory days when RBs reigned supreme as they have done over the last two seasons.

One thing’s for certain, running backs are still the drivers behind fantasy-winning teams, so get your talented studs early. There’s value to be had with your “RB2” slot, but to grab a special league-winning RB, you have to pay the hefty and early-round price of admission.

However, if I get to pick my favorite slot I am 100% taking the 1.04. Because we are not drafting the players that won leagues last season. It’s a brand-new year, and I prefer Ja’Marr Chase, Breece Hall and Bijan Robinson as my favorite top three picks versus the consensus; the sample of the best first-round picks from 2023. Sure, they can fire, and for those that think they can…make them pay full price. I’ll happily choose atop my favorite guys (Chase) at 1.04 or Hall/Robinson with the fifth or sixth overall pick.

That’s how I am approaching the top of the first round. Give me Chase at the 1.04 as my bet on him being “the” WR1 in fantasy football. I love Chase to win the Offensive Player of the Year award.

And I’ll get value at RB later on near the round two/round three turn between De’Von Achane or Travis Etienne Jr. I can also go WR again, between players like Brandon Aiyuk, Michael Pittman Jr., D.J. Moore, Chris Olave or Jaylen Waddle.

And it’s those strong and plentiful WRs that make Robinson/Hall so enticing even with the fourth overall pick. Those two RBs set the stage nicely for the cleverly coined and my personal favorite “Hero RB” approach. With a locked-and-loaded stud in your RB1 slot, you can snag in round two (or round one if you are a mid-to-late snake draft pick). You’ve got one spot dialed in, and the other spot can be filled by the rotating carousel of remaining RBs on your roster.

Solidifying a top RB dog early also helps you avoid reaching for running backs in the upcoming RB Dead Zone, where your primary focus should be drafting WRs poised for significant leaps in 2024. There’s a long tier of RBs drafted after the top guys, where you are much better off just waiting with such a gradual decline in projection. It’s important to identify RBs that CAN stand out from the crowd. If you are going to take an RB early, you can’t have any reservations about their upside. If you do, you are better off waiting for RBs with similar median projections at much better prices.

It’s not till the later rounds you take shots on RBs with potential red-zone roles and pass-catching chops. You’ll also want to hone in on impending 2025 free agents, proven running backs and RBs in ambiguous backfields. That’s where we’ll typically find the next breakout at the running back position.

It’s the exact balancing act of drafting up-and-coming running back breakouts with the elites/top talents, while also playing matchups and avoiding red flags, that will help you draft the perfect team.

But, like with all successful strategies, being flexible is supercritical. Don’t be so hyper-focused on grabbing a workhorse running back no matter what. Some WRs represent equal, if not better, value.

If you miss out on the S Tier 1 crop of RBs — Christian McCaffrey, Bijan Robinson, Breece Hall — be open to drafting an elite wide receiver in the second half of round one. This is less so the move in half-PPR formats because receivers can’t make up ground versus running backs as easily without being rewarded a full point per reception.

From 2018 to 2020, in PPR scoring, wide receivers have the highest percentage of top-12 finishes (55%). In 2021, seven of the top 12 overall finishers (58%) were WRs, with six finishing in the top eight. That was true in both PPR and half-PPR. However, the trend did not continue in 2022. Just six WRs finished inside the top 12, with five RBs and one tight end (Travis Kelce). Only four inside the top eight, and an even split between WRs/RBs inside the top six. In half-PPR, five running backs finished inside the top eight overall, with just three WRs.

In 2023, half-PPR scoring was evenly split between top-12 finishers between WR/RB. For three straight seasons, fewer WRs have finished inside the top 12. Four running backs finished inside the top seven compared to three WRs. In the last two seasons, only three WRs have finished inside the top eight of overall scoring. Current ADP has five WRs drafted inside the top eight, compared to 3 RBs.

There are WRs going early that will be outscored by running backs selected after them. Again, to be clear, it’s less likely in PPR than in half-PPR.

I’ve touched on only 1-QB leagues to this point, so I did want to shed some light on the 2-QB/Superflex strategy. In these formats, I am 100% drafting an elite quarterback if I own a top-four selection. I am drafting a quarterback most likely if I hold a top-seven pick.

In TE-premium formats, such as the FFPC, you won’t need to draft any tight end in the first tound. Travis Kelce is entering his age-35 season and can’t be viewed as the same bulletproof tight end he has been looked at in past seasons.

Round 1 Takeaways

  • Running Back Dominance: Despite the rising prominence of elite wide receivers (WRs) like Justin Jefferson and Ja’Marr Chase, running backs (RBs) are still considered the backbone for fantasy-winning teams, especially in the early rounds. Historically, even when WRs were favored with top draft picks, the cycle eventually swung back to favor RBs.
  • Top WRs vs. RBs: There’s a current trend where top-tier WRs are preferred over RBs in early draft positions. However, a new generation of talented and young RBs may shift this balance back to RB dominance in future drafts.
  • Strategic Draft Positioning: The optimal strategy for first-round picks includes selecting high-impact players. If picking early, the recommendation is to secure a top WR like Ja’Marr Chase at 1.04, followed by securing strong RBs like Breece Hall or Bijan Robinson slightly later.
  • Hero RB Strategy: This approach involves securing a strong RB in the early rounds and then rotating other RBs in the roster. It helps avoid reaching for lesser RBs in the so-called “RB Dead Zone,” where it’s better to focus on WRs with the potential for significant improvement.
  • Importance of Flexibility: While drafting a workhorse RB in round one is traditional, flexibility is crucial. It’s recommended to remain open to drafting elite WRs in the first round if top-tier RBs are already taken, particularly in PPR formats where WRs can score comparably to RBs.
  • Emerging QB and TE Strategies: In 2-QB/Superflex leagues, drafting an elite QB with a top-four pick is highly advantageous. For TE-premium formats, such as the FFPC, drafting a tight end in round one is generally unnecessary, even for high-performing veterans like Travis Kelce.

Fantasy Football Draft Strategy: Rounds 2-4

As I explained in the introduction, you should already have a plan set in place about what you will do with your second pick before you make your first. If you were rewarded with a top WR you have options at both RB/WR.

The potential non-first-round/second-round running backs — Jonathan Taylor, Saquon Barkley, Kyren Williams, De’Von Achane, Travis Etienne Jr. — provide more than enough production for a roster’s RB1 slot. Keep in mind many of those RBs don’t need to be drafted in the second round. Be aware of the ADP based on where you are drafting to extract the best values.

If you went with Christian McCaffery, Bijan Robinson or Breece Hall early, then you go with a WR remaining from the next tier of Brandon Aiyuk, Michael Pittman Jr., D.J. Moore, Chris Olave, Jaylen Waddle or Davante Adams.

In 2024, I prefer the WR-RB start as opposed to the latter, presuming I can get one of the top five WRs (Chase, Jefferson, Lamb, Hill, St. Brown).

Top tight ends enter the conversation starting in round two in TE-premium. But I prefer the latter pair of Mark Andrews/Dalton Kincaid in round three/round four given my five-man elite tier in my 2024 tight end rankings.

Before Andrews’ injury, he was the TE3 overall averaging 12.2 points per game — a mark that would rank first among all TEs in 2023. He’s now the TE4 in ADP.

But if you find yourself in a draft room where the top-end RBs are flying off the board (more likely in home leagues and not Underdog best ball drafts) don’t feel scared to go WR-WR-WR. Rather do the “WR Turkey” than overdraft a sub-optimal running back. The same goes for draft rooms where WRs are drafted aggressively.

Not all hero RBs are created equal. It’s in the eye of the beholder whether you believe a certain RB can be a stalworth part of your RB1 slot. I’ve got seven RBs in my first two tiers of RB rankings who can fill the “hero” RB role. After that, it gets more risky and I am better off waiting to scoop up RB value.

Rachaad White and Joe Mixon (sometimes available in round five) are my favorite targets in this range of the draft.

I recommend blindly following a Hero RB or Zero RB approach rather than a Zero WR or Robust RB one. Every draft is different, so you should always remain fluid in your approach. But based on the data at our disposal, following the former should set your roster up for success in the early rounds.

If you focus on drafting the three best overall players inside the top 36 (which will be WRs more often than not), you are setting a strong foundation for your team. Value is king.

There’s more “depth” in the RB2 slot than you can imagine. But waiting too long to draft your third and fourth WR can be very risky.

Round three is where we have typically seen the elite quarterbacks come off the board. Last year it jumped to round two with mixed results, as alluded to in some earlier best ball research. But being the first to draft a quarterback doesn’t always grant you the highest return on investment (ROI).

Value is what matters, which is why I stress a pseudo-late-round “elite” quarterback strategy — getting the last or second-to-last quarterback with top-tier upside to capitalize on value. This will change based on where QBs fall in ADP but rounds 4-6 are the appropriate range.

As Tom Strachan pointed out: “There are more ways than one to find quarterback points and it can pay off to take a mixed approach across your portfolio of drafts.”

The middle tier tends to be where I gravitate toward the most when it comes to my first QB, with guys going outside the top 100 rounding out my second/third QBs. Look for value while also pursuing top-10 fantasy quarterback production in some form on your roster.

And this year in particular is just so chock-full of late-round QB options, that I feel no need to overly address the position super early.

Lamar Jackson, Patrick Mahomes and Anthony Richardson are my favorites in rounds 4-5. I’d select whomever falls the furthest. But it has to be in round four or at the beginning of the middle rounds (rounds 5-9).

Rounds 2-4 Takeaways

  1. Plan Your Picks: Always strategize your second pick based on your first. If you start with a top WR, you can comfortably choose from available RBs or continue with another strong WR. Understanding player availability and value based on average draft position (ADP) is crucial.
  2. Diversifying Early Picks: If you secure a top RB like Christian McCaffrey, Bijan Robinson or Breece Hall early, aim for a high-tier WR next. Preferred choices include Brandon Aiyuk, Michael Pittman Jr., D.J. Moore, Chris Olave, Jaylen Waddle or Davante Adams.
  3. TE-Premium Strategy: While top tight ends may be considered in round two of TE-premium leagues, better value might be found with players like Mark Andrews or Dalton Kincaid in rounds 3-4. Adjust according to the dynamics of the draft room and the flow of picks.
  4. Avoid Overdrafting RBs: In scenarios where RBs are going fast, consider adopting a WR-heavy strategy early (termed “WR Turkey”) instead of reaching for a less optimal RB.
  5. Targeting “Hero RBs”: Not all RBs fit the “hero” role equally. Identify and target a select few from the top tiers of your RB rankings who can reliably fill this role. Post these tiers, it may be more strategic to wait and find value in later rounds.
  6. Mid-Round Value: Players like Rachaad White and Joe Mixon might still be available around rounds 3-5 and can provide good value. Always stay adaptable and react to the draft’s progression.
  7. Drafting Quarterbacks: The optimal QB drafting strategy involves waiting until the middle rounds (rounds 4-6) to pick one with top-tier upside. This approach leverages value by not rushing to draft a QB early.

2024 Dynasty Fantasy Football Guide Overvalued Dynasty Rookies to Avoid

Fantasy Football Draft Strategy: Rounds 5-9

In the middle rounds of drafts, you must come prepared with an optimal and flexible approach. Following up on a strong start is critical to your success. The player pool isn’t as strong as at the beginning of the draft, but the difference in hitting on the right guys in this range can make or break your roster. Don’t try to be perfect; get as many shots on net as you can.

Four rounds deep, you have already drafted a good chunk of your team. This is your core. Your strategy may differ slightly depending on the foundation you built during the early portion of your draft. Ergo, if you already roster three strong running backs (or at least ones you spent high draft capital on) there’s virtually no need to address the position in any capacity. Depth, especially in leagues where you have access to the waiver wire, tends to be overrated in fantasy football.

This differs in best ball, where you’ll find that just having the most remaining bodies provides an advantage.

However, the overarching approach to the middle rounds remains static for the most part regardless of what you already did. The focus is still on drafting the best player available (BPA). Too often drafters make the mistake of drafting for need in the middle-rounds — when the priority should be filling your roster with as many potential level jumpers or league-winners as humanly possible. Especially at the wide receiver position. Because it’s easy to find plug-in production (especially at running back) later on. Focus on drafting players that have difference-making upside in their range of outcomes.

As I outlined in previous publications, the name of the game with wide receivers is to scoop up value in the middle-to-later portions of drafts, with the position counting for the biggest part of your roster. Take advantage of WRs that fall in ADP, while other teams “reach” on running backs they think they need. The same goes for the reverse narrative. Take advantage of RBs that fall in ADP while others reach on subpar wide receivers they think they need.

You will be shocked how quickly the WR position dries up despite the false narrative that the position is deep every year. It’s not deep. If anything, it’s extremely diluted, which makes it much more essential you draft the remaining wideouts toward the start of the middle rounds. You’ll feel (and perform) much better knowing you aren’t trudging out WRs ranked outside the top 40 as your weekly WR3.

Wide receivers in the middle rounds tend to take massive leaps and vastly outperform their ADP. When in doubt, keep drafting WRs that have breakout potential. Chances are they all won’t hit…but all you need is one to hit big to reap the benefits. Draft rookie WRs. Aggressively.

Gravitate toward the pass-catchers in a high-powered offense with some target ambiguity versus the guy who has a more obvious high-end target floor in a bad offense. And do not shy away from the real-life No. 2 WRs…as these players often represent the best fantasy values because their ADPs are almost always suppressed as they aren’t their team’s “No.1.”

But be wary that you need to be price-sensitive to these WR2s. For example, last season, the most expensive WR2s – Jaylen Waddle, DeVonta Smith and Tee Higgins – failed to live up to expectations.

The majority of cheaper real-life WR2s by ADP — Brandon Aiyuk, Mike Evans, Christian Kirk, Jordan Addison, Courtland Sutton, Puka Nacua, Brandin Cooks, Romeo Doubs/Jayden Reed — were excellent value selections who drastically beat their ADPs.

Make sure you are getting the real-life No. 2 WR discount. Because you should be, or else it’s a bad deal.

Some of my favorite WR targets from rounds 5-9 (picks 50-100) include Amari Cooper, George Pickens, Xavier Worthy, Tank Dell, Christian Kirk, Calvin Ridley, Ladd McConkey, Tee Higgins, Chris Godwin, Diontae Johnson, Marquise Brown, Brian Thomas Jr. and Christian Watson.

In 2024 early drafts, some of the cheaper real-life No. 2 WRs include Jaylen Waddle, DeVonta Smith, Cooper Kupp, Tee Higgins, Jordan Addison, Marquise Brown, Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Chris Godwin, DeAndre Hopkins, Christian Watson, Jameson Williams, Jakobi Meyers, Josh Downs, Mike Williams, Jahan Dotson, Marvin Mims Jr. and Joshua Palmer.

To hammer your edge at wide receiver, you need to hit on these discounted No. 2 WRs in the middle-to-late rounds as the actual difference-makers/level-jumpers. The RB Dead Zone and the WR Shred Zone are the same.

Another thing to consider is that scoring tends to be flatter. Again, you have the elite WRs at the top. Last season, the top five scorers were at 17+ points per game (PPG). They were also top-seven overall picks in ADP.

If you can draft a truly elite fantasy WR in rounds 1-2, as alluded to at the top, it’s worth it. But after the elite guys, we see things stagnate and scoring flatten. Wideouts ranked sixth to 20th fluctuate between 15.0 and 12.5 PPG. Receivers from 21st to 46th score between 12 and 9.5 PPG.

The significant point drop after the elite tier (top-five) indicates a flatter scoring curve for the wide receivers ranked sixth and beyond, up to WR46. This flatter scoring curve implies the difference in fantasy output among the WRs in these lower tiers is less pronounced than the gap between the top five WRs and the rest.

Given this distribution, the data suggests it’s a viable strategy to wait on drafting WRs after the elite options are off the board, particularly in drafts where the value of securing top performers at other positions (such as running backs or quarterbacks who may have a steeper drop-off in scoring) could outweigh the benefits of selecting a WR outside the top five. The reasoning here is that you might still be able to draft WRs with similar scoring expectations later, allowing you to maximize value at other positions in the earlier rounds.

The standard deviation from WR6 to WR20 (0.84 points per game) is almost identical to WR21 to WR46 (0.92 points per game). The scoring is clustered around their group’s average and less spread out.

Ergo, non-elite fantasy WRs tend to just be fantasy WR2s. And low-end fantasy WR2s are just a massive tier that leaks into the WR4 range.

This supports the strategy of potentially waiting to draft WRs after the top performers are off the board, as the variance in performance increases, but it doesn’t drastically change once you move past the top 20 WRs.

If a WR in the middle rounds looks and smells cheap, they probably are. And the same goes for if you feel they are overvalued. They most likely are.

Because inherently the way WR scoring is, the guys with higher ADPs are more difficult bets to return on their ADP. They are preferred for a reason — upside arguments, etc. But there’s no denying you can always grab another WR a round later that will probably meet or potentially exceed a player before them in scoring.

However, you must acknowledge you can’t keep punting off the WR position because there is a cliff after the WR4 tier. Eventually, you need to compile points at the position, even if it’s neutral or -EV selection at the time of drafting.

At least this is how the points were distributed last season.

Be firm and concise in creating three tiers for WRs, with an elite tier (potential for top-five scoring), a top-20 tier and then a 21-48 range tier where you can pick your flavor. Based on the site draft ADP you can mix up your WR exposure in this range.

For me, the top five WRs are clear as day. It’s not until we get to Mike Evans (and to a lesser extent, George Pickens) that things start to taper off in the back-end WR2 range. And after we hit Christian Watson as my WR46, there’s a clear drop-off in the WR rankings.

Only once you’ve got a plethora of breakout WRs to work from do I permit you to dive back into the running back pool before we enter the double-digit rounds. I can guarantee you will feel better about overloading with WR breakouts than settling for an RB2 because you have to.

Because after WRs, breakout RBs are the next target in the middle rounds. Specifically, once the drafts enter the late RB2/early RB3 range (RB20-RB38) or RBs with a top-40 ADP.

That group presented the greatest hit rate for fantasy running backs.

Running backs that hit in this general range last season: James Conner, James Cook, D’Andre Swift, Alvin Kamara, Rachaad White, David Montgomery, Isiah Pacheco, Brian Robinson Jr., Raheem Mostert and Kyren Williams.

Keep in mind that the majority of RBs in this range can be found in my Tier 4. Here are some of my favorites in 2024: James Conner, Zamir White, Tony Pollard, Jaylen Warren, Trey Benson, Devin Singletary, Brian Robinson Jr., Chase Brown, Blake Corum and Gus Edwards.

You can find the full-tiered rankings in my 2024 fantasy football rankings.

Here’s some additional information to keep in mind for RBs in the middle rounds as outlined in my Best Ball Strategy: How to Approach the Middle Rounds (2024 Fantasy Football):

  • Identify running backs with the potential to see/possess goal-line roles in high-scoring offenses. Pinpointing a team’s primary red zone back is an easy way to hit on a fantasy running back.
    • Last year’s examples? Kyren Williams, Raheem Mostert, Isiah Pacheco, Javonte Willaims, Gus Edwards
  • If you are low on the “starter” you should naturally be higher on the No.2 RB in the same backfield.
  • Target impending free agent running backs. The biggest hits from 2023 include Josh Jacobs, Saquon Barkley, Tony Pollard, Miles Sanders and Jamaal Williams. Last year it wasn’t as successful, but I’d trust the process. Especially with almost the same crop of RBs likely playing on one-year deals again.
  • Notable free agents at the end of the 2024 season include Nick Chubb, Aaron Jones, James Conner, Samaje Perine, Najee Harris (declined fifth-year option), Jeff Wilson, Javonte Williams, Justice Hill, Rhamondre Stevenson, Chuba Hubbard, Kenneth Gainwell, Elijah Mitchell, Khalil Herbert and A.J. Dillon.
  • Target running backs on quality offenses (cumulative offensive ADP deemed above average).
  • Aim for running backs on teams with no clear-cut starter ie. ambiguous backfields. This is where breakout running backs are often found.
  • Other major hitters were running backs that boasted pass-catching chops.
  • Volume is and remains king.
  • When in doubt, draft the guy who has a proven track record.
  • Do not prioritize running backs on offenses that have not yet proven to be above average while treading lightly on running backs that don’t have a lot of job security. With running backs, ask yourself: What would it take for RB “X” to lose the starting job?
  • Fade early-season opportunities in favor of late-season production when the weeks and points become more critical in specific best ball formats.
  • Hitting on the right running back late can be the true difference-maker.

For the remaining onesie positions, you are once again playing the value game.

My favorite QBs to target in the middle rounds (picks 50-100) include Joe Burrow and Kyler Murray.

The same approach goes for the tight end position. By zero means am I willing to draft a tight end in the middle rounds that doesn’t have elite upside. And again, they need to fall into ADP. That’s why using tiered rankings is so critical to your success, as it helps you unearth draft values by preventing reaches.

“Stay out of the middle” at tight end.

The only tight ends I am actively targeting in the middle rounds (considering ADP) are Dalton Kincaid, Evan Engram and David Njoku. I am still not sure how I feel about Kyle Pitts. TBD.

Rounds 5-9 Takeaways

  1. Strategic Preparation is Key: Entering the middle rounds with a flexible, yet targeted approach based on your early-round picks (your core team) is crucial. If you have already secured strong RBs, it might not be necessary to focus on that position further.
  2. Best Player Available (BPA) Strategy: Focus on drafting the best player available rather than drafting for need. This approach helps in accumulating potential league winners, particularly among wide receivers, where there’s a higher chance of finding game-changers later in the draft.
  3. Wide Receiver Focus: The middle rounds often see WRs that can significantly outperform their ADP. Target WR2s on teams, especially those in potent offenses or with ambiguous target shares, as they tend to offer excellent value compared to their projected output. Be cautious with highly-priced WR2s as they might not live up to expectations, unlike their cheaper counterparts who offer excellent returns on investment.
  4. Quarterback and Tight End Strategy: For quarterbacks and tight ends, avoid middle-round mediocrity by targeting those with elite potential that fall into a favorable ADP. Notable quarterback targets include Joe Burrow and Kyler Murray, while preferred tight ends in these rounds might be Dalton Kincaid, Evan Engram and David Njoku.
  5. Running Backs in Middle Rounds: After securing WRs, focus on RBs that might emerge as breakout stars, especially those drafted as late RB2s or early RB3s. These positions often provide the highest return in the middle rounds.
  6. Scoring Plateaus for WRs: Understand that the scoring difference between WRs ranked sixth to 20th and then from 20th to 46th isn’t as drastic as it might seem, suggesting that waiting on WRs after the elite ones have been drafted could be a viable strategy. This allows for flexibility in securing value in other positions early on.
  7. Leverage ADP for Draft Success: Use tiered rankings to identify and select players that represent the best value relative to their average draft positions, preventing reaches and maximizing draft success.
  8. Stay Value-Focused: Always seek value, aiming to draft players who can outperform their ADP, especially in positions like WR and RB where late-round picks can still yield high rewards.
  9. Draft Philosophy on Onesie Positions: Be very selective with quarterbacks and tight ends in the middle rounds; only draft those who show signs of elite potential or those who fall significantly in the draft, ensuring optimal value for these positions.

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Fantasy Football Draft Strategy: Rounds 10 & Beyond

You should be actively implementing “what if” thought exercises in the late rounds of your fantasy football drafts. Simply put, “if “x” happens, what would that do to “x” player’s value.” Again, this is most commonly seen from injuries, with players seeing spikes in production/value when a teammate goes down. Some players have that factored into their ADPs with injury-prone teammates, but others do not. And at the end of the day, it’s full-contact football. Guys we expect to get hurt and guys we don’t expect to get hurt will miss games. We can’t project when/if said injuries will happen but savvy drafters can stockpile the back of their drafts with talented players who are being discounted because of their situation.

Worry not about what Player A’s role will be in Week 1 when you draft them in the late double digits. Chances are that doesn’t matter. Focus on their range of outcomes should he see an expanded role as the season wanes. Fantasy championships aren’t won in September or October.

Don’t overvalue early-season opportunities versus talent. Just buy the dip when ADP is so suppressed due to the situation. And don’t forget about the players who delivered worthwhile performances in the past when they were presented with opportunities. Being a proven asset in some capacity matters.

Puka Nacua, Brandon Aiyuk, Zay Flowers, Nico Collins, George Pickens, DeVonta Smith, Jayden Reed, Jordan Addison, Jahan Dotson, Joshua Palmer, Romeo Doubs, DeMario Douglas, Dontayvion Wicks and Demarcus Robinson all either increased their production or commanded targets at a high rate due to injuries to teammates around them this past season. Not all of them will be late-round picks, but some definitely will. And those are the archetype of players you should be looking to target.

Some of my favorite late-round WRs (outside the top 100) include Ladd McConkey, Keon Coleman, Gabe Davis, Rashid Shaheed, Jahan Dotson, Troy Franklin, Xavier Legette, Dontayvion Wicks, Darnell Mooney, Ricky Pearsall, Marvin Mims Jr., DeMario Douglas, Javon Baker and Jermaine Burton.

I also believe in another thought exercise of, “He’s the discount version of Player X.” I find it very useful.

Players with defined roles that go extremely late can also be beneficial targets. The constant bombardment of “upside-centric” analysis makes these players not talked about enough. There’s an upside to playing an every-down role on an offense when heavily discounted.

Still, chasing the upside-centric dragon is not wrong. You want upside on your fantasy football teams. But some balance never hurts. Because “only-upside” players typically also have extremely shaky floors. And too many guys that fail to fire will leave your squad helpless.

Last note. Chase players that project for air yards and rookies. Air yards tell us how often a player is being used downfield, which is part of the formula when it comes to spike weeks of fantasy production. Particularly at WR and TE.

Some potential late-round guys in 2024 drafts that commanded a high end of their team’s air yards (20% or higher) in 2024 include Diontae Johnson, Marquise Brown, Christian Watson, Mike Williams, Jerry Jeudy, D.J. Chark, Zay Jones, Kendrick Bourne, Darius Slayton, Michael Wilson, Joshua Palmer, Gabe Davis, Kyle Pitts, Rashid Shaheed and Jameson Williams.

Players with high aDOTs (average depth of target) include Jalin Hyatt, Tre Tucker, A.T. Perry, Van Jefferson, Christian Watson, Gabe Davis, D.J. Chark, Marvin Mims and Jameson Williams.

When it comes to rookies, you need to be aggressive in drafting them throughout the summer months. Specifically for rookie WRs.

Their ADPs often do not fully capture the upside they possess. The ADP acts more like a hedge or median projection when first-year players of recent years are so much more boom-or-bust. They either hit in a big way — Garrett Wilson, Jahan Dotson, George Pickens, Drake London, Chris Olave, Christian Watson, Zay Flowers, Puka Nacua, Jordan Addison, Rashee Rice, Jayden Reed, Tank Dell — or drastically underwhelm — Jonathan Mingo, Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Quentin Johnston, Marvin Mims, Skyy Moore, Treylon Burks, Jameson Williams. They are lottery tickets frequently discounted outside the top 36. Take full advantage. They all won’t hit. But being overweight on rookie will net you in the green.

Keep in mind rookie WR roles often grow as the season progresses. That makes them the perfect backfill targets for best ball formats with prize structures heavily based on the final few weeks of the season. My favorite strategy is drafting veterans and rookie WRs from the same teams. It’s a very underrated strategy that helps you capture an immense upside. Also, it guarantees you at least one “hit” from each WR group you draft.

Last year would have looked like this from some of the top guys:

  • SEA: DK Metcalf, Jaxon Smith-Njigba
  • LAC: Keenan Allen, Quentin Johnston
  • BAL: Mark Andrews, Zay Flowers
  • MIN: Justin Jefferson, Jordan Addison
  • CAR: Adam Thielen, Jonathan Mingo
  • GB: Christian Watson, Jayden Reed, Dontayvion Wicks
  • HOU: Nico Collins, Tank Dell
  • KC: Skyy Moore, Rashee Rice
  • CLE: Amari Cooper, Cedric Tillman
  • DEN: Courtland Sutton, Marvin Mims
  • NYG: Jalin Hyatt, Darius Slayton
  • IND: Michael Pittman Jr., Josh Downs
  • LAR: Cooper Kupp, Puka Nacua
  • NE: JuJu Smith-Schuster, DeMario Douglas

We hardly saw both guys hit (C.J. Stroud, you are a god). But the presence of just one other pass-catcher suppressed the cost of the other making it easier for them to smash their ADPs.

If you missed out on a quality tight end in the early rounds then chasing quantity with multiple guys in the late rounds is your new strategy.

Essentially the TE15-TE32 range. But, in all honesty, this “late-round tier” starts after the top nine guys.

I don’t overextend for any of these TEs because the production will likely be negligible at best drafting toward the beginning of the tier versus the end. Wait and take shots on multiple tight ends. Ideally ones with either a path for receiving volume, an every-down role, and/or above-average athleticism.

My favorite late-round tight ends to target (outside the top 10) include T.J. Hockenson (I’d bet he comes back in full after missing time post-ACL injury), Pat Freiermuth, Hunter Henry, Tucker Kraft, Ben Sinnott and Noah Fant.

Among the late-round QBs, you must draft knowing what their schedule is to open the season. Because they are non-established studs, you need to know they have plus-matchups working in their favor to trust them in your starting lineup.

My favorite late-round quarterback options include Jayden Daniels, Justin Herbert, Trevor Lawrence, Caleb Williams, Deshaun Watson, Geno Smith, Justin Fields and Daniel Jones.

I previously discussed ad nauseam the advantage you can acquire by drafting an elite tight end or quarterback in the early portions of your draft (especially in best ball). But chances are you aren’t doing both. Savvy drafters won’t let the elite onesie positions go by too frequently. There’s a chance you might need to address the position as the middle-rounds kick off.

At quarterback, this is more than acceptable. As previously reviewed, some of the best fantasy quarterback hits came from the QB15-QB21 range (Picks 115-165).

Last season this was the likes of Tua Tagovailoa, Dak Prescott, Jared Goff and C.J. Stroud.

I prefer these quarterbacks to be my fantasy QB2 but it’s still ok to select your QB1 in this range and draft two later. Especially if for some reason one of the elite QBs falls.

There are so many options available with the late-round QB approach that it is my favorite strategy to implement in 2024.

The early-season schedule is also key. Signal-callers with a favorable schedule to start the year include Jared Goff, Caleb Williams, Deshaun Watson, Jordan Love, Trevor Lawrence, Matthew Stafford, Tua Tagovailoa and Daniel Jones.

Among the top-10 quarterbacks last season in total points scored in 2022, eight rushed for at least 250 yards. In 2023, six of the top eight QBs rushed for at least 240 yards. Call it the 55-25 rule. Can quarterback “X” throw 550+ times and/or rush for 250 yards? Those are your top targets. The QBs that accomplished this feat in 2023 were Josh Allen, Patrick Mahomes, Trevor Lawrence, Sam Howell, Jordan Love and Dak Prescott.

Per FantasyPros’ projections, QBs with at least 535 projected pass attempts and 250-plus projected rushing yards are Mahomes, Watson and Lawrence.

Rounds 10 & Beyond Takeaways

  1. Engage in “What If” Scenarios: Consider potential changes in a player’s value if unexpected events occur, such as injuries. This can lead to valuable picks late in the draft when you select players who might step up if a teammate goes down.
  2. Ignore Early-Season Roles: Focus on potential long-term outcomes rather than immediate roles. Players drafted in later rounds are often more about their ceiling in an expanded role as the season progresses, not their Week 1 status.
  3. Value Over Immediate Need: In the late rounds, prioritize talent over early-season opportunities. Look for players whose ADPs are suppressed due to uncertain situations but have proven themselves when given opportunities. Consider players who have defined roles and players who are the “discount version” of more expensive options.
  4. Target Proven Performers and Breakout Candidates: Players who have increased production due to injuries around them, should be on your radar as potential late-round steals. Stockpile talented players discounted due to situations or injury-prone teammates.
  5. Draft Rookie Wide Receivers Aggressively: Rookie WRs often do not have their potential fully priced into their ADPs. Being aggressive with rookies can yield high rewards as their roles expand throughout the season.
  6. Consider Air Yards and aDOT: Players with high air yards and average depth of target are prime candidates for breakout weeks, especially at WR and TE.
  7. Veteran and Rookie WR Combinations: Pairing a veteran with a rookie WR from the same team can be a strategic move, leveraging the potential for one to exceed their ADP if the other underperforms.
  8. Tight End Strategy in Late Rounds: If you miss out on a top TE focus on drafting multiple potential breakout TEs in the late rounds. Players like T.J. Hockenson and Pat Freiermuth might offer good value.
  9. Quarterback Drafting Strategy: Know the early-season schedule of late-round QBs to ensure favorable matchups. This can help in deciding who to trust in your starting lineup.
  10. Emphasize Upside with Balance: While chasing high-upside players is essential, balance your team with some steady performers to avoid too many busts, which could leave your team vulnerable.
  11. Late-Round QB Value: Many viable QB options often emerge from late-round picks. Target QBs who can offer dual-threat capabilities (passing and rushing) as they have a higher ceiling for scoring.

Fantasy Football Draft Strategy: Final Thoughts

You can play the value game until the cows come home. But the key to winning in fantasy football is to pair that value with early-round producers. Sometimes those early-round players don’t feel like values. But, that’s why they are going early. They are projected to be good and don’t necessarily have obvious flaws. And most importantly, nobody remembers the ADPs of guys that hit, unless they were essentially free at the end of drafts. If you are bullish on specific players and the price seems at least reasonable to a slight overpay, take the leap of faith.

To bring in a betting allegory — I am a BettingPros expert, after all — you can have all the closing line value in the world. And that should make you a profitable bettor over time. The same goes for drafting value in fantasy football. However, I’ve got a bookshelf full of closing line value (CLV) trophies that never amounted to anything. It doesn’t necessarily mean you were right about a certain player, team or situation, etc.

Conversely, I’ve made plenty of bets where I missed the value window, but ultimately, I was right, so it didn’t matter. We all want to get the best players at the best draft prices. Nobody wants to overpay. But if you truly believe based on your research, intel and perhaps gut that a certain player or team can be a major difference maker, the price shouldn’t matter. Because when it’s all said and done, the value doesn’t win for you.

And that dovetails nicely into my last (I promise) final thought experiment. You think Player A is going to smash. But my response is if you want him you must draft him in round one. No acceptations. Still feeling bullish?

Do you like this player? Or do you just like the price of said player? Make sure you know the difference between the two types of players you are targeting. Because what often happens is you think you like a player, but you actually just like the price. But once the price changes, you don’t change your stance.

I lied. One more last takeaway.

I don’t know everything, but I can guarantee you will never draft a perfect fantasy football team (despite what my perfect draft article claims). Tournament-winning best ball teams that won millions of dollars have “bad picks” on them. I bring this up because you can strategically draft “misses” to better your team in the aggregate.

To bring up a real-life comparison, I’ll cite my final 2024 NFL Mock Draft for The Huddle Report. I placed very well in it because I attacked it with a different approach. I purposely let certain stud players fall like Quinyon Mitchell and Dallas Turner to teams they had been linked to throughout the process. I was essentially taking a loss in my estimation so I could bolster my picks at the start where I was more confident. I left my pursuit of perfection at the door trying to get all 32 picks exactly right in exchange for a higher hit rate on my other picks.

And it got me thinking about how I could similarly approach fantasy football drafts. After all, I will draft guys that bust or don’t do anything. And so, I bring forward the idea of hedging with your fantasy teams. A lot of this is just RB handcuffing or WR/TE teammate stacking. I’ve been pretty against handcuffing RBs, especially in normal redrafts, but I’ve been more open to the idea when I’ve thought about it more. If I have to sacrifice a double-digit round pick to guarantee I’ll get RB1 production from my first- or second-round pick, I’m for it. And the same can be said for WR/TE stacking. Because once one guy goes down, you know the opportunity will be there for another pass-catcher in the offense to step up. I mentioned this when referencing the veteran/rookie WR draft strategy.

And if the WR/TE starter stays healthy all year long and the rookie never sees the field? Well, I got a starter that produced all year long. I think the less you try to be 100% perfect with every single draft pick you make in pursuit of absurd levels of upside, the better off you will be. Some might cite this as playing scared, but I think it’s smart. The best ability is availability. And you’ll never go broke making a profit. If the opportunity arises in a draft to hedge you should take it.

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