Fantasy Football: 10 utilization stats to know from Week 2

Here are the utilization stats you should know from Week 2 of the NFL season.

We now have a two-game sample size of fantasy football data to work with from the 2022 NFL season.

It’s still a relatively small sample size, but trends are starting.

Before you make any roster cuts or waiver claims for Week 3, here are 10 utilization notes to know following Week 2.

First 3 Picks: 10-team league

Your first three picks define your fantasy team.

The first three picks define your team and set up the rest of your draft. The optimal team is built by understanding the nuances of a scoring system and how it fits into your league rules.

A 10-team league means positional quality lasts longer. Everyone has a “good” team, so you need less depth and more difference-makers.

To follow are sample three-round drafts for 10-team fantasy football leagues. They use either standard performance scoring, performance plus a point per reception, or “2QB/Super Flex” leagues where you can start two of any position. Those three formats cover almost all leagues.

The names are less important than the positions because each draft slot has its own unique situation. Just as important are your future picks and what you need after three rounds.  Rankings can change daily so these may not exactly match rankings.

Performance scoring league

Performance scoring without reception points means that running backs are at a premium, and quarterbacks are a bit more valuable. Wide receivers and tight ends are devalued but are still usually four starters in a fantasy football league.  Most teams will look to get two running backs in their first three picks, and it’s hard to argue against that logic.

Team 1: RB Jonathan Taylor, RB D’Andre Swift, WR Davante Adams
Standard start for no reception points. Smaller league size allows D’Andre Swift to fall to the end of the second round, which was too tempting to let slide past. Still reached the No. 5 wideout for an advantage at WR1. A strong opening allows best-available picks regardless of position. Wide receiver, running back and quarterback are all considerations for the next handful of picks.
Team 2: RB Derrick Henry, WR Deebo Samuel, RB Travis Etienne
Like Team 1, this size league allows for a strong start of two running backs and a top wideout. Hunt for best value the rest of the way.
Team 3: RB Austin Ekeler, RB Leonard Fournette, WR Stefon Diggs
Slightly deeper than Team 2, it makes more sense to double up on running backs first, then take a higher-ranked wide receiver since, by this point, the top half of starting running backs are ending. Free to take from any position that appeals the most.
Team 4: RB Christian McCaffrey, TE Travis Kelce, RB Devin Singletary
Christian McCaffrey is less valuable without reception points but looks great on the roster, along with Travis Kelce who is less valuable in this format but still an advantage all the same. Two straight wideouts should get some balance for the starters.
Team 5: RB Nick Chubb, RB Alvin Kamara, RB Aaron Jones
This isn’t as risky as it may seem. Locked up starting running backs and the flex for the strength of the roster. Better quality wideouts and a quarterback last longer in this smaller draft and better quality players in later rounds compared to a 12-team league. But the next three picks have to consider two wideouts, and probably a quarterback or the non-RB positions will be a liability.
Team 6: RB Joe Mixon, RB Saquon Barkley, WR Mike Evans
The RB-RB start mid-draft works well when a Mike Evans or CeeDee Lamb last into the middle of the third round. But starting with the No. 6 RB, then the No. 12 RB misses out on a top-tier running back and settles for a riskier Barkley who has upside to be sure, but this team becomes very average if he repeats either of the last two years. Wideouts are up next, but prudent to take that RB3 earlier than later to cover the risk of the RB2.
Team 7: RB Dalvin Cook, WR Justin Jefferson, QB Josh Allen
With running backs so valuable and going so fast, it may seem to be just following the crowd with the seventh-straight taken as the RB1. But also prudent knowing that skipping the position would have likely left no better than the No. 12 running back for a RB1 which hurts. But went with the No. 3 wideout and even snapped up the best quarterback at the 3.07 for advantages in both positions. Should consider two running backs and a wideout over the next three picks.
Team 8: WR Ja’Marr Chase, RB Ezekiel Elliott, WR CeeDee Lamb
Opted to finally take a non-running back and went with a top receiver in the scoring system. Has the No. 11 running back for their RB, which isn’t ideal, but ends up with two of the Top-8 wideouts for an advantage at the position. Won’t need to bother with any more wide receivers for four to six rounds and must start mining for running backs and deciding when a quarterback is their best value.
Team 9: RB Najee Harris, RB James Conner, RB Antonio Gibson
The only real advantage with this plan is a strong RB2, and the other positions will have higher quality last longer in the ten-team league. But now wide receivers are a need pick in at least two of the next three rounds and needs to land a sleeper or two in order to remain above average.
Team 10: WR Cooper Kupp, RB J. Williams, QB Patrick Mahomes
That final pick of the first round grabbed the No. 2 wideout and the No. 9 running back, knowing that leaving RB1 to the end of the third-round would mean a weak spot in the starters. Grabbing Patrick Mahomes as the second quarterback taken offers a difference-maker in a high-scoring position. The running backs won’t be the best unit in the league to be sure, but at least quarterback and wide receiver are headed by top players. Probably should alternate running back and wideouts for the next four rounds.

Reception-point league

This style of scoring boosts the value of wide receivers and elite tight ends and slightly devalues quarterbacks relative to other positions. Running backs are popular in any scoring scenario but the added reception point means the position becomes deeper with third-down backs able to offer “start-able” fantasy value. The consistency of an above-average running back is also a very valuable contributor to the weekly fantasy score.

With a reception point and only ten teams, your roster should look very strong after three picks. All positions are deep in this format.

Team 1: RB Jonathan Taylor, WR CeeDee Lamb, TE Mark Andrews
This is a good use of the first pick. Top running back, solid WR1 with upside and a top tight end. The running backs will be thinning in the fourth round but still offer up Antonio Gibson, Cam Akers, and maybe Breece Hall. Running back will be a need pick with two in the next four picks, but tight end is locked up, and high-quality wideouts remain.
Team 2: RB Austin Ekeler, RB Alvin Kamara, WR Tyreek Hill
Standard start for the No. 2 drafter and smaller rosters meant that Alvin Kamara, Saquon Barkley, James Conner and the like are still there in the fourth.  Can still reach a Top-10 wideout with the third pick. A couple of wideouts and another running back make sense in the next three rounds.
Team 3: RB C. McCaffrey, RB Javonte Williams, RB James Conner
This plan feels so safe – and maybe too safe, but the higher quality later in the smaller draft means it can still work. There’s no pressing need to think about another running back for at least four to six more rounds while the core of the starters are taken.
Team 4: RB Derrick Henry, WR Mike Evans, RB Saquon Barkley
Went with the No. 4 running back, but Derrick Henry could be No. 1. Mike Evans offers a solid WR1 and still reached Saquon Barkley (or Leonard Fournette) with the third pick. That made more sense because the quality of wideout will be better at the 4.07 than would be running back. Upside start but the risk of Barkley would be best served by taking RB3 in the next couple of rounds.
Team 5: WR Cooper Kupp, WR Deebo Samuel, RB Leonard Fournette
This mid-draft plan works better in the smaller ten-team draft since it nets two Top-6 wideouts which is huge in this scoring format. And still allows for Leonard Fournette or Ezekiel Elliott at RB1. Need to consider running backs in two of the next three picks.
Team 6: RB Najee Harris, RB D’Andre Swift, RB Ezekiel Elliott
This is a workable plan like Team 3 that also went RB-RB-RB. It also looks like a drafter who is used to 12-Team drafts and are amazed at finding decent starting running backs in the third round. Mine those wideouts maybe the next three or four rounds and consider a quarterback starting in Round 7 or so.
Team 7: WR Justin Jefferson, RB Nick Chubb, WR Keenan Allen
The running backs are getting thinner, so this plan works with two top wideouts and a legitimate RB1 to start. Wide receivers can wait for several rounds while a couple more running backs are added, and the quarterback and tight end start to be taken. But the safest play remains taking two more running backs in the next two picks.
Team 8: RB Joe Mixon, WR Davante Adams, WR Michael Pittman Jr.
No different from Team 7 other than a better RB1 and a worse WR1. Has to consider running backs next and can wait on that WR3 for several rounds.
Team 9: WR Ja’Marr Chase, RB Dalvin Cook, RB David Montgomery
A Top-3 wideout is an advantage with reception points and then went RB-RB as a safe pick. That meant both running backs are Top-16 (so slightly above average). Not much splash after Chase was taken, but running backs are not a liability here. Should consider wide receivers mostly in the next three picks with a third running back or even a quarterback as an option.
Team 10: TE Travis Kelce, WR Stefon Diggs, RB Travis Etienne
That final pick of the first round always tries to make up ground in different ways and it is a brilliant plan rather than just following well-established runs. Top right end, top wideout, and high-upside Travis Etienne (or Breece Hall) takes a risk to make up ground. Next pick could go anywhere, but RB2 here would get Hall or Devin Singletary. About as strong as a start as the final pick can hope to create.

QB-heavy/Super-Flex league

This sort of league will seed quarterbacks in varying measures depending on how and why quarterbacks are so valuable. The most common is the ability to start two quarterbacks, which change drafts significantly.

It will extend the quality of running backs and wideouts deeper into the draft since quarterbacks fly off the shelves far earlier than usual.  This sample draft assumes two quarterbacks start and that about half of the available starters are taken by the third round.

Viewing the previous year’s results are best for this sort of starting rule because quarterbacks can go slower – or much faster – than what this draft assumes. Keep up with the other picks in the league to make sure you don’t get stuck at the end of a run on quarterbacks.

In a smaller 10-team league with additional valuable players from the quarterback boost, almost every fantasy team looks great so taking elite players is paramount to winning – get your starters before worrying about depth.

Team 1: QB Josh Allen, WR Ja’Marr Chase, QB Matthew Stafford
That first pick in the draft yet again gains a benefit. Has the best quarterback and second-best wide receiver. Then still reached the No. 11 quarterback to lock up the starting quarterbacks. Has to think running backs and maybe a wide receiver over the next three or four rounds.
Team 2: RB Jonathan Taylor, QB Tom Brady, RB Dalvin Cook
Strong start for running backs and Tom Brady is a decent QB1. By the time the 4.10 rolls around, WR1 might be Amon-Ra St. Brown or Adam Thielen. But has to take two wideouts in the next three or four rounds and still think quarterback before QB2 gets too risky.
Team 3: QB Patrick Mahomes, WR Justin Jefferson, RB Nick Chubb
This team went with a safer route – started with a great QB1, then still reached the No. 3 WR. Instead of taking Russell Wilson as a QB2, went safe with the No. 8 running back for RB1.  Balanced opening, that should consider quarterback and running back next, and then just best available to fill out the other starters.
Team 4: QB Justin Herbert, RB Joe Mixon, QB Russell Wilson
Starting with QB1 makes sense at the 1.04,  and the doubling down at the 3.04 created one of the better tandems of quarterbacks that sandwich the No. 6 running back as the RB1. Best path is likely three straight wideouts interrupted with an RB3 before the sixth round. But this plan honors the 2QB format without sacrificing other positions much.
Team 5: RB Austin Ekeler, QB Kirk Cousins, RB D’Andre Swift
Middle of the draft starts with the No. 2 running back and still reaches Kirk Cousins for QB1.  Went with D’Andre Swift for two Top-10 running backs. The backfield can be ignored for the next few rounds that have to net a couple of wide receivers and a second quarterback. Strong start with RB1 but then average for the next two picks. Middle-round drafter needs to avoid an all-average team.
Team 6: RB Christian McCaffrey, QB Jalen Hurts, WR Stefon Diggs
Have to like what this plan attempts. Christian McCaffrey is a Top-3 running back, and then a Top-8 quarterback to prevent a liability. Taking the No. 4 wideout is a solid WR4 though receivers tend to last far longer in this format. Has to consider running backs and a quarterback for the next three rounds or so, unless a wideout falls too far to ignore.
Team 7: WR Cooper Kupp, RB Najee Harris, QB Aaron Rodgers
This is what happens when a quarterback is not taken in the first two rounds. It can still work, so long as the early picks in other positions are elite performers. Certainly the top wide receiver and No. 5 running back are hot starts, but that only leaves the No. 13 quarterback as QB1. Must consider a QB2 in the next two picks which would be no better than Ryan Tannehill or Matt Ryan.
Team 8: QB Joe Burrow, RB Derrick Henry, QB Trey Lance
This looks promising. No. 4 quarterback at QB1 and the No. 4 running back for RB1. That critical third pick accessed Trey Lance in this draft for high upside and yet plenty of risk. Could have been Derek Carr or Trevor Lawrence. This is sort of a generic approach in Super Flex leagues, with that middle pick as the most enticing running back, tight end or wide receiver. The next four rounds or more have to consider either a running back or a wideout.
Team 9: TE Travis Kelce, QB Lamar Jackson, RB Javonte Williams
Started with a big advantage at tight end and still reached the No. 7 quarterback for QB1. Snapping up Javonte Williams (or Alvin Kamara or James Conner) provided a low-end at RB1 but the team also picks at the 4.02 in just two turns. Davante Adams or Deebo Samuel make a great WR1 and a very solid beginning. Wideouts and running backs should dominate the next five or six rounds.
Team 10: QB Dak Prescott, QB Kyler Murray, RB Alvin Kamara 
Drafting at the end of the first round is far less challenging than in a regular league that only starts one quarterback. Those drafts typically wait for around the seventh or eighth round for team owners to recall they want a quarterback. In this, doubling down on the No. 5 and No. 6 quarterbacks made for a powerful start, and the No. 11 running back can still have upside. The 4.01 can be Saquon Barkley or Davante Adams or Mark Andrews. Certainly running back has to make up two of the next five picks, but two high-scoring quarterbacks spitting out weekly points allows for more risk-tolerance on the other starters.

First 3 Picks: 12-team league

Your first three picks define your fantasy team.

Your first three picks define your fantasy football team. Each one is critical because the player pool is ever-shrinking, and you have to select a mixture of available players to produce an optimal team. And those initial rounds determine what you’ll do in the later rounds of the draft. Get them wrong, and you may not be able to recover.

To follow are sample three-round drafts for 12-team fantasy football leagues. They use either standard performance scoring, performance plus a point per reception, or “2QB/Super Flex” leagues where you can start two of any position. Those three formats cover virtually all leagues.

The names are less important than the positions because each draft slot has its own unique situation. Just as important are your future picks, and what you still need after three rounds.  Rankings change daily so these may not exactly match site rankings. Pay the most attention to the positions and how they work together for an optimal start.

Performance scoring league

Average Points Top-10 scoring: QB 412, RB 228, WR  212, TE 127

Performance scoring without reception points means that top running backs are a premium, and quarterbacks are comparatively more valuable. Wide receivers and tight ends are devalued but still total four starters in most  fantasy football leagues.  Most teams take two running backs over their first three picks and it’s hard to argue against the logic because the supply is very low by Round 4.

The above three rounds are an optimal way to start the draft for all twelve draft slots. Let’s consider where each should be looking next after the three-pick start:

Team 1: RB Jonathan Taylor, QB Josh Allen, RB Devin Singletary
Top running back and quarterback are a big start. Cherry picking two wideouts over the next three rounds, and taking a third running back when the value seems best is in order.
Team 2: RB Derrick Henry, WR Stefon Diggs, RB Aaron Jones
The nice part of a top wideout is the consistent points. Best available with this start, but a third running back, a quarterback and another wideout make sense here.
Team 3: RB Austin Ekeler, RB Travis Etienne, WR Mike Evans
Same as Team 2. The next pick is too far to make concrete plans, but team is free to grab whatever. Strong start at running back means can wait on other positions. Best value will be wideout next, then quarterback.
Team 4: RB Christian McCaffrey, RB D’Andre Swift, WR CeeDee Lamb
This plan is pretty standard for the first half of the draft. And it usually works well in this format. This could be very good, but there is risk with McCaffrey and Swift from injury. Feel better to grab a running back and a quarterback next.
Team 5: RB Nick Chubb, WR Davante Adams, WR Tyreek Hill
Need to consider running back next, but will be looking at guys like Kareem Hunt, AJ Dillon, and Clyde Edwards-Helaire at best. Could go tight end and quarterback and then start scraping for upside running backs.
Team 6: RB Joe Mixon, WR Deebo Samuel, RB Antonio Gibson
In the middle of the draft, solid enough picks though nothing elite in any of them. Might consider a quarterback next just for a bigger bang for the buck and at least a slight advantage at the highest scoring position.
Team 7: RB Dalvin Cook, RB Leonard Fournette, WR Tee Higgins
The RB-RB start meant the No. 7 and No. 14 running backs, and there’s no advantage there but feels safe. Rather than collect more average (or worse) running backs, should consider quarterback and maybe even a tight end for the paper-thin advantage there.
Team 8: RB Najee Harris, RB Alvin Kamara, QB Patrick Mahomes
While this was much the same as Team 7, it looks better. Harris loses a lot without reception points but Kamara high-upside pick with, at least so far, risk. Scooping Mahomes up in the third means free to go where ever but needs one or two wide receivers pretty soon.
Team 9: WR Cooper Kupp, RB Saquon Barkley, RB J.K. Dobbins
This is riskier than most but Pick 9 is often the worst slot. Resisted yet another running back and gets advantage at wideout. Barkley is a scratch-off lottery ticket again this year and Dobbins fresh from his ACL tear is a risk. But at least has a core of starters. Next three picks should consider best available among any non-kicker/non-defense.
Team 10: RB Javonte Williams, WR Justin Jefferson, TE Mark Andrews
Drafting this deep, still went with the ninth running back taken. But arguably Top-2 at wideout and tight end offers some advantage. Has to look at running backs for at least the next two picks.
Team 11: WR Ja’Marr Chase, RB Ezekiel Elliott, RB Cam Akers
Chase is great in any format and two running backs just played it safe. Only two picks away from the fourth choice and Justin Herbert would be a nice add. Fifth and sixth picks should likely be a wideout and a running back.
Team 12: RB James Conner, TE Travis Kelce, WR Michael Pittman Jr.
Taking the tenth running back is no advantage, but waiting until the turn at the end of Round 3 would mean Damien Harris or David Montgomery as his best back. Getting Kelce is far less advantageous without reception points, but still makes sense here. Should still consider the 4.01 for running back.

Reception-point league 

Average Points Top-10 scoring: QB 412, RB 278, WR  314, TE 197

This scoring style boosts the value of wide receivers and elite tight ends but devalues quarterbacks. Running backs are popular in any scoring scenario, but the added reception point means the position becomes deeper with third-down backs able to offer “start-able” fantasy value.

After  the first ten or so wideouts are gone, the position will remain slightly better than comparable running backs but are also much deeper.

Team 1: RB Jonathan Taylor, WR Keenan Allen, TE Mark Andrews
The obligatory pick of Taylor was followed by the double scoop at the 2.12 and 3.01. Then went with tenth wideout for a legitimate WR1 and Andrews is more of a difference maker when the reception point is added. The next wrap- around at 4.12 and 5.01 pick from remaining committee backs and maybe take two since Top-3 quarterbacks are gone anyway.
Team 2: RB Austin Ekeler, RB Saquon Barkley, WR Michael Pittman Jr.
Safe enough start that works well depending on which Barkley shows up. But the core is accomplished and best available players are up next. Probably should consider a third running back over the next three picks.
Team 3: RB Christian McCaffrey, WR Tyreek Hill, RB L. Fournette
Bit of risk here for an early pick, but the upside of both McCaffrey and Hill are immense. Picked up the RB2 for a start that could be great if it all falls the right way. Has the luxury of taking the best available for the next two rounds and that probably will be his WR2 and RB3.
Team 4: RB Derrick Henry, RB James Conner, WR D.J. Moore
The safe start feels good but Moore as his WR1 is no advantage. Solid running backs mean two more wideouts are next and maybe a quarterback if a Top-3 still exists by the 6.09.
Team 5: WR Cooper Kupp, RB Alvin Kamara, RB Ezekiel Elliott
This could be deadly if Kamara doesn’t wear an all-orange uniform and Elliott rekindles 2019. But it could also have holes if it goes wrong. The risk of Kamara and Elliott means taking the RB3 sooner than later. But exciting start with upside.
Team 6: WR Justin Jefferson, WR CeeDee Lamb, RB D. Montgomery
By mid-draft, why not start out with two Top-8 wide receivers? Has a great advantage there and has to mine running backs to get lucky on the RB2, but good plan in the middle of a draft.
Team 7: RB Najee Harris, RB Javonte Williams, RB Travis Etienne
This is a big temptation assuming a flex position for Etienne to fill. And running back is the position that is fastest to drain. Now has to mine wideouts and the best will be Darnell Mooney/Mike Williams quality which isn’t terrible. The biggest risk here is that running backs are the most injured positions, and the first three picks have a higher chance of missing time.
Team 8: RB Joe Mixon, WR Mike Evans, RB Aaron Jones
Starts with the No. 6 running back and No. 7 wideout. This tough-to-succeed slot is building an average team. That works only when more than half the league goes to the playoffs (ands they don’t).  Should look at quarterback and tight end next to gets at least some advantage in two positions.
Team 9: RB Dalvin Cook, RB Nick Chubb, WR Tee Higgins
Like Team 8, this is the safest-feeling route but begins with the No. 7 and No. 10 running back, followed by the No. 13 wideout who is a WR2 for his team. No fan of picking ninth, and this looks like another average team. Needs to find some sparks in other positions.
Team 10: WR Ja’Marr Chase, RB D’Andre Swift, RB Devin Singletary
WR1 is spectacular, and combining Swift and Singletary are a safe play. But has the option of  A.J. Brown or Brandin Cooks at the 4.03 and possibly Mahomes or Herbert in the fifth round for a better bang in starters.
Team 11: WR Stefon Diggs, WR Deebo Samuel, TE Kyle Pitts
Picking at the end of the first round in this scoring format should be exciting and unconventional. Teams 8 and 9 went the safe route which felt natural at the time but Team 11 took a swing for the fence. Two Top-6 wideouts mean they can wait for four or even six rounds to start collecting WR3 candidates. Needs running backs, and three of them sooner than later since best available at the 4.02 is probably Cam Akers, Antonio Gibson or Breece Hall.
Team 12: TE Travis Kelce, WR Davante Adams, QB Josh Allen
This is how to handle picking last. There is no major advantage in taking running backs at the end of the first round, but owning the No. 1 tight end and quarterback is big in this scoring format. Taking the No. 5 wideout is rock solid for WR1. This does force need picks for running backs that should happen no later than the 5.12 and 6.01 wrap-around. That would yield at best often injured rushers or the RB2 from a committee backfield. But this can win if a sleeper running back can be found.

Super Flex / QB-heavy league 

Average Points Top-10 scoring: QB 412, RB 278, WR  314, TE 197

This league seeds quarterbacks depending on how and why quarterbacks are so valuable. The most common is the option to start two quarterbacks. That pushes value in other positions deeper into the draft since quarterbacks take up far more of the early picks.  Each 2QB or super-flex league can use different scoring and other aspects that impact player value, so consider the nuances of your league.

This assumes super-flex, where the option to start a second quarterback in a flex position exists and is used by most if not nearly all team owners. Some  leagues can have eight quarterbacks in the first round and six in the second round. In others, maybe half as many. So pay attention and assume the worst when the quarterbacks start flying off the shelf.

It is also assumed that there are reception points. That is by far the most common in that type of league. It is also notable that a team can win without automatically starting two quarterbacks, even when allowed.

Team 1: QB Josh Allen, WR Ja’Marr Chase, QB Aaron Rodgers
Double-dipping on quarterbacks over the first three picks is very common – like taking two running backs in the other league formats above.  The great part is that wideouts tend to last longer. So snapping up a running  back or two makes sense because likely the best available is David Montgomery or Travis Etienne. Wideouts will last longer and they already have a Top-3 WR1.
Team 2: RB Jonathan Taylor, RB D’Andre Swift, QB Trey Lance
They went for strength in running backs, unable to pass Taylor or Swift. By Trey Lance at QB14, the pickings are already riskier if not unlikely to be an advantage. But can look at wideouts over the next three picks with some quality and decide if seeding the QB2 makes sense.
Team 3: QB Patrick Mahomes, RB Dalvin Cook, RB Nick Chubb
Safe play. Getting the Mahomes for QB1 feels great, and two of the Top-9 running backs are at worst solid. QB2 isn’t going to be an advantage even at the 4.10, so shop for wideouts with an eye out for the worst QB2 you can be okay owning.
Team 4: RB Austin Ekeler, QB Russell Wilson, RB Javonte Williams
Similar to Team 3, swapping the first two positions selected. And the same issue exists – needs wideouts and quarterbacks are slipping fast.
Team 5: QB Justin Herbert, QB Matthew Stafford, WR Stefon Diggs
Picking in the middle rounds hurt less in this format. They get a top quarterback and then doubles down with Stafford in Round 2. Still reached a Top-5 wideout in Round 3 but running back becomes a need pick – at least two in the next three rounds.
Team 6: RB Christian McCaffrey, QB Tom Brady, RB Alvin Kamara
This could be spectacular or a flop depending on McCaffrey’s health, Kamara’s legal limbo and if Brady can continue to perform decades after his peers disappeared. This plan is safe and has a ton of upside, but wideouts are on tap in two of next three picks.
Team 7: WR Cooper Kupp, WR Justin Jefferson, QB Derek Carr
Interesting start in this format – could not resist the top two wide receivers. Can wait on WR3 until after the middle of the draft. But mining quarterbacks and running backs are an immediate and pressing need.
Team 8: QB Joe Burrow, RB Joe Mixon, RB James Conner
Another safe play from the dreaded eight-spot. Wideouts and quarterbacks need to take up at least three of the next four picks.
Team 9: TE Travis Kelce, QB Kirk Cousins, WR Davante Adams
This is a little early for a risk taker but this worked out well in this format as this draft unfolded. Kelce is always an advantage but was still able to reach the No. 9 quarterback as QB1 and Adams lasted until the 3.09. That can happen in this format. If wideouts are taken more heavily, it only improves the running backs and quarterbacks at the 3.09. Regardless, running back is a need now but wideouts and tight ends are not.
Team 10: QB Dak Prescott, RB Najee Harris, RB Leonard Fournette
Starting with QB1 makes sense, and Top-5 RB1 is strong. By the 3.10, quarterbacks are into the bottom half of starters and went the safe route with the thirteenth running back as his RB2. Now has to consider wideouts and quarterback.
Team 11: QB Kyler Murray, QB Jalen Hurts, RB Saquon Barkley
This format favors the end of the first round more than the start. They can take two of the Top-8 quarterbacks for a major weekly advantage. The fourteenth running back isn’t much help as RB1 and all positions will be weaker, but the point differential with two starting Top-8 quarterbacks could compensate very well.
Team 12: RB Derrick Henry, QB Lamar Jackson, RB Ezekiel Elliott
Started RB-QB but then had to chose from the No. 15 running back, No. 16 quarterback or the  No. 6 wideout. Picks again immediately and should go with that wideout. But should consider QB2 with the 5.12 even though the remaining options are not great.

Fantasy football draft prep: Breaking biases

Don’t get stuck in your ways of how you view players and situations in fantasy football.

All too often, advanced fantasy football gamers included, owners allow the past to dictate future draft plans through cognitive biases. Even full-time fantasy players need to remember from time to time that the game changes year over year and requires a press of the reset button.

In a sport where 11 constantly moving chess pieces work in harmony against a matching number of defenders trying to stifle any plans of a checkmate, all it takes is a small change to make a huge difference.

What are you waiting for?!? It’s time to get into The Huddle! Sign up today.

I’ve written a number of times about expectations and how we perceive players based on what we think they will do on the field, whether it be weekly or annually. All it takes is being slightly wrong in our view of a situation to see those projections fall apart. We cannot control injuries, and life throws extenuating circumstances into the mix, but recognizing our own biases about teams and players absolutely can be controlled.

Objectivity is arguably the most important element in creating a fantasy championship. Luck always factors in, and remaining on top of the news is thoroughly important as well. Just as being armed with a reliable set of rankings is pivotal, also the ability to check emotions and individual experiences at the door is paramount. A mental checklist of “dos and don’ts” should be on everyone’s brain as they prepare for a draft and evaluate talent.

Fantasy football mock draft series: June takeaways

Recapping a recent fantasy football PPR draft and more!

It is well into June, and fantasy football drafts are churning along. A recently hosted industry live draft is the source for this recap. Out of respect for the hosts of this draft, no reference will be made to its identity so the content remains fresh on their end, nor will the entire draft results be published here.

The blurbs about my team below were provided to the draft host and will appear in a magazine as part of a larger evaluation of the draft. Before getting into my individual picks, here are a few observations from a 12-team, PPR draft.

  • In last year’s iteration, Round 1 saw nine running backs, two receivers and a tight end come off the board. This time out, we saw seven running backs and five receivers, including Cooper Kupp going at No. 2 and Justin Jefferson as the third selection.
  • Six RBs came off the board in Round 2 in 2021’s draft, followed by one fewer receiver and another tight end. This year was no different.
  • The first QB came off the board in Round 3 last year, and Josh Allen was taken with the opening pick of Round 5 this time around. Justin Herbert went just two picks later, and only a pair of passers came off the board in the next 31 selections (Lamar Jackson and Patrick Mahomes).
  • In the first 100 picks, eight QBs, 38 RBs, 45 WRs and nine TEs — no significant changes from the May version when six QBs, 39 RBs, 45 WRs and 10 tight ends.
  • This was the first time I had selected from the No. 1 hole, and there’s one and only choice to be made to create a stress-free situation.
  • Having the first pick meant my second and third selections were chosen consecutively, which effectively means the order is irrelevant. Coming out of the first three rounds with at least two running backs is almost always my plan when selecting in the first four spots. Wide receiver is so ridiculously deep that gamers can hold off, making the preferred strategy is to come out of the first three rounds with a single wideout.
  • Quarterback remains quite deep, too, with a viable starter being available into the 13th round. Tight end remains a little top-heavy, just like last year. Following the consensus top-six TEs — all of whom went in the first five rounds — the position gets really dicey. If you’re not comfortable playing the matchups, make sure to secure one of Mark Andrews, Travis Kelce, Kyle Pitts, George Kittle, Darren Waller or Dalton Schultz.
  • I was not entirely sure what to expect for my first receiver entering the draft, since many owners in this league tend to favor wideouts early, but it worked out nicely as you’ll read in a moment.

Here’s a snapshot of the first 10 rounds broken down by number of positional picks:

1st: 7 RBs, 5 WRs
2nd: 6 RBs, 5 WRs, 1 TE
3rd: 7 RBs, 4 WRs, 1 TE
4th: 2 RBs, 8 WRs, 2 TEs
5th: 2 QBs, 4 RBs, 5 WRs, 1 TE
6th: 2 QBs, 1 RB, 7 WRs, 2 TEs
7th: 1 QB, 4 RBs, 5 WRs, 2 TEs
8th: 3 QBs, 6 RBs, 3 WRs
9th: 2 QBs, 3 RBs, 7 WRs
10th: 2 QBs, 5 RBs, 4 WRs, 1 TE

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My team

We were asked to write 35 words per pick to give a little insight as to our draft thoughts:

Fantasy football draft prep: 12 common mistakes to avoid

A dozen rules fantasy footballers must follow for consistent success.

Our annual “draft prep” series mostly caters to novice players, but every once in a while a veteran player requires a refresher on basics we may take for granted.

These rules are in no particular order, and they apply to all levels of experience among fantasy owners. Just as important as the “what you should do” to create a winner in fantasy drafting, avoiding simple pitfalls is a must.

1) Living in the past: Assuming successes and failures from last year automatically will carry over to this year’s results is a quick trip to Loserville. Each year is brand new and requires a reset of the old memory bank.

2) Stay sober: While it may seem silly, don’t let one draft party of hard boozing affect an entire season of fantasy football. Party it up after the draft and celebrate your soon-to-be championship roster.

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3) No one likes a homer: Well, except for that Homer. Heavily drafting players from your favorite team tends to lead to an entire season of hangover-filled Monday mornings. This also includes taking a specific player over a better option just because that player is on your favorite team. Be objective.

4) Draft by the rules: Not knowing your league’s scoring structure, lineup composition, and/or bylaws generally results in utter failure. At a minimum, it translates into lost points.

5) Stretch it out: Flexibility in fantasy drafts is essential. Gamers with a rigid strategy miss out on key value due to their inability to zig when others are zagging.

6) No F.O.M.O.: All too often owners will see or sense a miniature run at a position and overreact out of the fear of missing out. Always having a sound backup plan alleviates concern in this area.

7) Mocking mock drafters: “I don’t need preparation!” declares the eventual last-place owner on draft day. Everyone needs practice. Look back at all of the things in life that required some repetitions before you improved. Don’t take my word for it … ask your significant other.

8) Bye week blues: This cuts both ways — getting caught up in not paying attention to bye weeks as well as outright passing on talent because it would create multiple players at the position on bye. Later in the year, bye weeks are easier — not harder — to overcome due to months of roster manipulation.

9) Leaving money on the table: Specifically for those who participate in auctions, leaving any amount of money on the table is inexcusable. Spend it all, even if you have to pay up at the end of the auction on an inconsequential player.

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10) Peer pressure: Let’s face it, even seasoned veterans of fantasy don’t enjoy being ridiculed by 11 mates after making a questionable pick. There’s a major difference between being laughed at for taking a kicker in Round 1 and reaching a round or two for a sleeper at a skilled position.

11) ADP obsession: Time after time, owners get hung up on what the average draft placement suggests. It is merely a guideline, and whenever a service offering ADP compiles the data, it is impossible to completely weed out all variations and nuance. Look for ADP charts that offer date ranges and flexible sorting. Use it for nothing more than a ballpark idea of when positional trends typically begin.

12) Drafting to trade: For some unknown reason, every year I have gamers asking me about which players to target solely for trading purposes. Drafting players for a potential trade bargaining piece down the line is unwise. Way too much can (and usually does) go wrong in this scenario. This is where strictly choosing the “best player available” can lead to unwanted consequences.

Targets, Touches and TDs: Week 10

Making sense of recent fantasy football performances.

Week 9 was the crazy, unpredictable, off-the-rails week we see every NFL season.

Ten of 14 pointspread underdogs covered and four touchdown-plus favorites lost outright.

The fantasy realm certainly wasn’t spared from the wackiness:

  • Journeyman New York Jets backup Josh Johnson was pressed into action Thursday night and wound up scoring more fantasy points (29.6) than Patrick Mahomes and Joe Burrow combined (26.3).
  • Arizona Cardinals No. 2 running back James Conner paced all players, regardless of position, with a career-high 40.3 fantasy points.
  • Elijah Moore, Olamide Zaccheus and Malik Turner were three of the eight wide receivers who finished the week with 20 or more fantasy points.
  • The top 10 highest-scoring fantasy tight ends of the week included a trio of Los Angeles Chargers in Stephen Anderson, Donald Parham Jr. and Jared Cook.

Like we said, unforeseeable unruliness.

But which of the eye-catching (or eyesore) Week 9 fantasy performances are we buying as indicators for the rest of the season, and which are we brushing off as one-week abnormalities?

Let us delve deeper into five of the more notable fantasy performances from the wild and wacky Week 9 …

Patrick Mahomes finished 24th among quarterbacks on the week with 12.1 fantasy points (Huddle Performance scoring).

Mahomes somehow got outscored by his quarterback counterpart in the same game, and that was Green Bay Packers second-year QB Jordan Love, who completed only 19-of-34 passes for 190 yards and a touchdown for 15.8 fantasy points himself.

Over the last four seasons, Mahomes’ 12.1 fantasy points Sunday marked his regular-season, full-game low point and only the fifth time in 62 career complete games, including the postseason, in which he’s failed to total at least 15 points.

BUYING or brushing off: Stunningly, two of those five aforementioned sub-15-point outings have come in the last three weeks and were sandwiched around an 18.75-point game in Week 8.

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Mahomes has thrown for two TDs and two interceptions in those three games and has averaged fewer than 5.89 yards per attempt. His career average is 8.1 yards per attempt.

Mahomes, obviously hasn’t been connecting for nearly as many big plays, but even the rest of the Chiefs’ aerial game is off as he’s completed 60.4 percent or fewer of his passes in each of the last three weeks — again well below his 65.9 career completion percentage.

Even more alarming, Mahomes and the Chiefs have the toughest remaining fantasy QB schedule in the league, according to The Huddle’s nifty Strength of Schedule tool.

Add it all up, and we’ve come to the shocking conclusion that Mahomes is no longer a set-it-and-forget-it, locked-in QB1 every week, depending on the week and your other options.

Joe Burrow scored 14.2 fantasy points in Sunday’s 41-16 loss to the Cleveland Browns, coming in 23rd at the position for the week.

It was a season-worst showing for the second-year Cincy QB, who posted only his second sub-20-point outing of the campaign.

Burrow entered the game on a serious fantasy roll, having thrown for three touchdowns and posted at least 24.85 fantasy points in three straight games. But even though the Bengals defense surrendered a season-high 41 points and the opposing Browns came into the contest allowing the eighth-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks, Burrow couldn’t keep up. He failed to throw a TD pass for the first time in his last 12 games, dating back to last season, while tossing a pair of interceptions.

In eight previous games this season, Burrow had at thrown for at least two TDs.

Buying or BRUSHING OFF: The Browns, fresh off a division home loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers and dealing with the Odell Beckham Jr. distraction last week, clearly entered Sunday’s game as a team on a mission and played like it.

Burrow was sacked a season-high-matching five times and was hit 12 times while completing 28-of-40 pass attempts for 282 yards.

Go-to wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase was targeted a game-high 13 times, but they only netted six completions for 49 yards and his third touchdown-less outing of the season.

In reality, though, Burrow is going to endure some ups and downs. He’s a second-year QB, who’s made 19 total starts with last season’s knee injury, and even with Sunday’s poor showing, he remains fantasy’s 10th-best quarterback with an average of 23.2 points per game.

And pairing Burrow’s talent with that of his young supporting cast, there’s simply too much upside to be had with the second-year passer.

James Conner scored a trio of TDs en route to 40.3 fantasy points — three more than any other player in Week 9, quarterbacks included.

Conner has now played in 59 career games, but Sunday’s showing produced a career pinnacle in fantasy points (point-per-reception scoring) as he topped 30 points for only the fifth time in five seasons.

To get there, it took 21 rushes for 96 yards and two TDs and five catches on five targets for 77 yards and another score to power the Cards’ 31-17 road upset win of the division-rival San Francisco 49ers. Starting QB Kyler Murray and leading wide receivers DeAndre Hopkins and A.J. Green were all absent Sunday due to injury/illness while — more significantly for Conner — starting running back Chase Edmonds left after only one 3-yard carry with what was later diagnosed as a high-ankle sprain.

That left Conner to shoulder the backfield load and he wound up accounting for 26 of Arizona’s 36 running back touches. Conner entered the contest averaging 12.4 touches, 49 total yards and 11.5 fantasy points per game.

BUYING or brushing off: With his three TDs Sunday, Conner leapfrogged the injured and idle Derrick Henry and standout wideout Cooper Kupp for the league touchdown lead with 11.

On Monday, word then came down that Edmonds would miss multiple games — likely to include an injured reserve stint — with his high-ankle sprain. Prior to Sunday’s one-carry game, Edmonds averaged 13.1 touches and 79.8 yards from scrimmage over the Cards’ first eight contests.

Now Conner moves into the lead role on the league’s second-highest scoring offense (32.8 points per game) with Eno Benjamin in relief. And if Sunday’s explosion is any kind of indication, Conner will be a weekly RB1 start as long as Edmonds remains sidelined.

Conner hasn’t been in that role since 2018 in his second season with the Steelers when he finished sixth among running backs with 280 total PPR points (21.5 per game).

L.A. Chargers WR Mike Williams totaled 7.8 fantasy points Sunday and wound up 46th in Week 9 scoring at the position.

In the Bolts’ 27-24 win over the Philadelphia Eagles in Philly, Williams caught two of his five targets for 58 yards and no TDs. One of his catches went for 49 yards, and he did finish second on the team in receiving yards and targets, but four other L.A. pass-catchers finished with more fantasy points, including the three aforementioned tight ends.

And if Williams’ five-target, two-reception stat line sounds familiar, it’s because it is. Those have been his exact totals from each of his last three games, totaling six catches, 104 yards, no scores and 16.4 fantasy points during that span.

In four of his first five games (Weeks 1-3 and 5), Williams had at least nine targets, seven receptions, 82 receiving yards and 22.1 PPR points while totaling six TD grabs in those four contests.

But in his other four outings (Weeks 4 and 7-9), Williams hasn’t more than five targets, two receptions, 58 receiving yards or 7.8 fantasy points while failing to score.

Buying or BRUSHING OFF: Just barely as we’re holding off for another game or so to see if things turn around.

Williams’ numbers certainly are trending in the wrong direction, and there have been reports that a nagging knee issue has helped slow him down in recent weeks.

But we remain big believers in the Chargers’ passing game. QB Justin Herbert ranks fourth with 211 total completions and fifth at the position with an average of 26.4 fantasy points per outing — and the 6-foot-4, 220-pound Williams looked way too good over the first five games of the season to believe he’s now only a WR 3/4.

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ Pat Freiermuth totaled 21.4 fantasy points Monday night to wind up pacing all Week 9 tight ends.

The rookie tight end reeled in five of his team high-matching six targets for 43 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the Steelers’ 29-27 win over the Bears.

It was the third straight game with at least 12.8 fantasy points for Freiermuth, who has totaled 16 receptions for 145 yards and three TDs during that span, which includes Pittsburgh’s Week 7 bye. It’s also an average of 16.2 fantasy points during that stretch, which is tops among tight ends who have played multiple games since Week 6.

BUYING or brushing off: Most definitely.

It’s the tight end position, first and foremost. Nothing more needs to be added there.

And it’s also the perfect offense for a tight end to thrive in.

Aging QB Ben Roethlisberger entered the week ranked 25th among passers with a 6.6-yard average per attempt, and one of his prime short-area targets of recent seasons, WR JuJu Smith Schuster, was lost for the season in Week 5 with a shoulder injury.

Enter the Penn State rookie who has stepped up and showed out in the Steelers’ three straight wins.

Put it all together, and that makes Freiermuth a TE1 going forward.

Drafting a fantasy football team over the weekend? Take this with you.

Snapshot view of player value based on the latest ADP trends

Fantasy footballers drafting this weekend still can go through all of our in-depth coverage, but if you’re short on reading time, here’s a one-stop shop approach for player valuation to take into your draft based on the latest ADP trends in PPR scoring.

2021 fantasy football draft advice: Sleepers, busts, value buys

Table legend

Profit potential
Bust/overvalued
Risky ADP
Inconsistent but effective
Safer than most

2021 fantasy football ADP cheatsheet

Pick ADP Name Pos Team Bye Notes
1 1.01 Christian McCaffrey RB CAR 13 Risky by virtue of ADP investment a year after playing only 3   games
2 1.03 Dalvin Cook RB MIN 7 Slight injury risk but well worth the price
3 1.03 Alvin Kamara RB NO 6 Will see extreme defensive scrutiny early in the year. Does   that even matter?
4 1.05 Ezekiel Elliott RB DAL 7 About as safe as they come at RB
5 1.06 Davante Adams WR GB 13 Lock to be the top WR, barring unlikely injury
6 1.06 Derrick Henry RB TEN 13 Mild risk from extreme workload, but built for handling it.
7 1.07 Aaron Jones RB GB 13 Workhorse in an ideal offensive system for his skills. Make   sure to handcuff A.J. Dillon.
8 1.08 Austin Ekeler RB LAC 7 132 attempts single-year high; Kamara-like PPR role validates   this spot.
9 1.08 Travis Kelce TE KC 12 Seems high to draft a TE, but he was top four as WR the 2 years.
10 1.10 Nick Chubb RB CLE 13 Arguably the best pure runner in the NFL in committed offense.
11 1.10 Tyreek Hill WR KC 12 Hard to argue with Hill in any scoring format. He does it all and as well as anyone.
12 1.12 Saquon Barkley RB NYG 10 Too rich for the risk; elite talent, poor circumstances this year.
13 2.01 Najee Harris RB PIT 7 Suspect OL, tons of weapons in passing game could negate large role.
14 2.02 Stefon Diggs WR BUF 7 Has fought through a knee issue of late but should be fine. Supremely consistent in 2020.
15 2.02 Jonathan Taylor RB IND 14 Tougher schedule, more defensive attention. Great OL, QB still a question mark.
16 2.03 Antonio Gibson RB WAS 9 Elite potential; could be top-five back if healthy as three-down guy.
17 2.05 DeAndre Hopkins WR ARI 12 2 missed games ever, 150+ targets six straight years.
18 2.06 Calvin Ridley WR ATL 6 WR1 in offense with few proven weapons on a team w/ weak defense.
19 2.07 Joe Mixon RB CIN 10 Durability concerns and suspect OL. Poor defense may limit rushing attempts.
20 2.07 D.K. Metcalf WR SEA 9 Freakish measurables, premium skill set, and excellent QB.
21 2.08 Clyde Edwards-Helaire RB KC 12 Year 2 breakout potential if offensive line holds up.
22 2.09 Darren Waller TE LV 8 Focal point of an offense that lacks proven playmakers.
23 2.10 Justin Jefferson WR MIN 7 Tough to see him being much better than 2020, but this is a reasonable price to find out.
24 2.11 Pat Mahomes QB KC 12 It’s hard to consider any QB being a safer bet. Just don’t reach above this ADP.
25 3.01 A.J. Brown WR TEN 13 Should be healthier and now has Julio Jones running interference. Awesome talent.
26 3.02 Keenan Allen WR LAC 7 Only 2 missed games in last 4 years; WR1 w/ great QB; yardage rebound coming.
27 3.02 David Montgomery RB CHI 10 Safe, fits the offense. Could lose TD chances if Justin Fields starts at QB.
28 3.04 James Robinson RB JAX 7 Back to RB1/RB2 borderline utility after the loss of rookie Travis Etienne.
29 3.04 Chris Carson RB SEA 9 Last of the possible RB1 workhorses with a track record of success.
30 3.05 George Kittle TE SF 6 Injury risk, QB concerns. Could live up to TE3, but safer bets in Hockenson & Andrews.
31 3.06 CeeDee Lamb WR DAL 7 Certainly has upside, but scoring more than 250 points to justify this ADP is a stretch.
32 3.06 Terry McLaurin WR WAS 9 Slight room for profit here; better value than Lamb, Kittle. No. 26 is ceiling.
33 3.09 Allen Robinson WR CHI 10 Possible QB change in the season is irrelevant after he thrived despite Trubisky/Foles in 2020.
34 3.09 Josh Allen QB BUF 7 Just far too good in ’20 to confidently say anything negative about him. Don’t reach above this spot.
35 3.10 D’Andre Swift RB DET 9 Injury risk but has serious upside in an offense starving for playmakers.
36 3.11 Robert Woods WR LAR 11 Rock-solid play over past few years and has a QB upgrade.
37 3.12 Josh Jacobs RB LV 8 Inconsistent, TD-dependent, has to share touches, OL overhaul a concern.
38 4.02 Miles Sanders RB PHI 14 Shaky OL, WRs may not scare defenders, QB who can steal TDs. Not encouraging.
39 4.02 Mike Evans WR TB 9 TD dependency, full season of Antonio Brown could eat into numbers.
40 4.04 Amari Cooper WR DAL 7 Injury risk, CeeDee Lamb is ascending … saving grace is Dak loves Cooper.
41 4.04 Kyle Pitts TE ATL 6 Extremely high placement for a rookie TE, but he’s not like any other rookie TE.
42 4.05 Kyler Murray QB ARI 12 Guaranteed volume and offers bonus points on the ground; QB1 overall upside.
43 4.06 Cooper Kupp WR LAR 11 Room for slight profit after WR4 overall in 2019; no worse than mid-WR2 in PPR.
44 4.07 Mike Davis RB ATL 6 Can he do it for a full year basically by himself?
45 4.08 Diontae Johnson WR PIT 7 Poised to repeat strong showing from a year ago. Arguably the safest of all PIT WRs.
46 4.08 Darrell Henderson RB LAR 11 Talented, but will lose touches to Sony Michel & has durability concerns of his own.
47 4.10 Myles Gaskin RB MIA 14 Don’t worry much about other RBs on MIA. Gaskin is easily the most gifted.
48 4.11 Julio Jones WR TEN 13 If healthy, possibly a top-20 overall player. Slight risk, but crazy potential.
49 4.12 Chris Godwin WR TB 9 Injuries in 2020 robbed him, but will Evans, AB, Gronk, Gio Bernard, etc. do it this year?
50 5.01 Tyler Lockett WR SEA 9 Elite WR in D.K. Metcalf protects Lockett and helps his odds of thriving. Strong value here.
51 5.02 Lamar Jackson QB BAL 8 Should be better than last year. Mid-tier QB1 is an appropriate value.
52 5.03 Gus Edwards RB BAL 8 Benefits greatly from the unfortunate injury suffered by J.K. Dobbins.
53 5.03 Mark Andrews TE BAL 8 Lamar Jackson’s BFF and has double-digit TD upside. Super safe with upside = win.
54 5.04 Javonte Williams RB DEN 11 Melvin Gordon is just a dude. Williams steals the job at some point this year.
55 5.05 Adam Thielen WR MIN 7 Way too dependent on TDs last year. Now 31 years old, No. 2 behind Jefferson.
56 5.06 Kareem Hunt RB CLE 13 Instant RB1 if Nick Chubb misses time again. Still has flex role if not. Handcuffing pair is advised.
57 5.07 Damien Harris RB NE 14 Has struggled to stay healthy even as a backup; great opportunity, but not a lock.
58 5.07 Brandon Aiyuk WR SF 6 Wildly talented. Will QB situation hold him back? Doubtful, since he is money after the catch.
59 5.08 T.J. Hockenson TE DET 9 One of the surest bets in fantasy for leading his team in targets.
60 5.10 D.J. Moore WR CAR 13 QB change shouldn’t make much of a difference. If Bridgewater kept him relevant, Darnold can, too.
61 5.11 Aaron Rodgers QB GB 13 Last ride in the green and gold? Rodgers has incentive to be close to as good as last year.
62 6.01 Tee Higgins WR CIN 10 Joe Burrow keyed in on him in 2020. Defense is weak, which promotes passing volume. Nice WR2.
63 6.01 Chase Edmonds RB ARI 12 RB plays 2nd fiddle to ARI WRs; Murray & Conner will steal TDs; PPR upside, though.
64 6.02 Raheem Mostert RB SF 6 Major durability questions; studly rookie waiting to take over.
65 6.02 Chase Claypool WR PIT 7 Huge play can happen on any touch, but so many mouths to feed, plus more running expected.
66 6.04 Jerry Jeudy WR DEN 11 Ideal skill set for Teddy Bridgewater’s deliberate ways and   precision accuracy.
67 6.05 Dak Prescott QB DAL 7 No worries about his ankle. Bombs away! Great value placement, too.
68 6.07 Trey Sermon RB SF 6 Should overtake starting job at some point in 2021. Perfect fit for system.
69 6.08 Russell Wilson QB SEA 9 Ignore last year’s second half. Too talented, too many weapons.
70 6.08 Odell Beckham Jr WR CLE 13 ACL tear not as much of a concern for a WR, but run-first offense, lacks QB chemistry.
71 6.10 Logan Thomas TE WAS 9 Broke out at age 29 after a position change. Curtis Samuel should interfere with targets.
72 6.10 Justin Herbert QB LAC 7 Fantasy darling, but he does have a new offense, so don’t get too overzealous. Fair value here.
73 6.11 Michael Thomas WR NO 6 Misses first 5 games, may return after Week 6 bye. Too much uncertainty in 1st half of drafts.
74 6.12 Antonio Brown WR TB 9 Soaring stock right now; was on pace for 90 catches last year; Tom Brady loves him.
75 7.02 Melvin Gordon RB DEN 11 Only a matter of time before rookie Javonte Williams replaces him.
76 7.02 Robby Anderson WR CAR 13 Sound value. Sam Darnold loved him in New York.
77 7.04 Michael Carter RB NYJ 6 Undersized rookie RB in a time share on a team with a terrible defense. Iffy.
78 7.06 DeVonta Smith WR PHI 14 WR1 talent. QB question marks. Durability may be an issue for  slender build.
79 7.06 Ronald Jones II RB TB 9 A billion receiving targets, Leonard Fournette & Gio Bernard to fight with for touches. No thanks.
80 7.07 Tom Brady QB TB 9 Despite his body ignoring Father Time, there is risk. The ADP is fair, but nab a quality backup.
81 7.07 A.J. Dillon RB GB 13 Might be inconsistent; has enormous TD potential. Becomes RB1 if something happens to Jones.
82 7.07 Ja’Marr Chase WR CIN 10 Has battled drops after taking a year off in 2020 FBS season. Good situation but could take time.
83 7.08 Noah Fant TE DEN 11 If healthy, look for chemistry with his accurate QB. Volume may be inconsistent.
84 7.10 JuJu Smith-Schuster WR PIT 7 Role change has yielded high-volume, low-yardage results.
85 7.12 Laviska Shenault Jr. WR JAX 7 Serious upside here. Came on strong late last year, has a legit QB1 now.
86 7.12 Courtland Sutton WR DEN 11 ACL recovery is 100%. Looking like former self. Will benefit from Bridgewater’s ball placement.
87 7.12 Zack Moss RB BUF 7 Will pop off a few big games in 2021. Fights QB for TDs, loses 3rd-down work.
88 7.12 Kenny Golladay WR NYG 10 Already a question mark for Week 1 with a hamstring issue. Terrible QB situation. Avoid.
89 8.01 Matthew Stafford QB LAR 11 Ideal offensive fit, great weaponry; may not be a 5k volume guy but has high floor.
90 8.02 Robert Tonyan Jr. TE GB 13 Way too reliant on TDs last year; disappeared when not in the end zone. But, worth the pick.
91 8.04 Marquez Callaway WR NO 6 Jameis Winston’s WR1 while Michael Thomas is out first 5 games has season-long utility.
92 8.05 Corey Davis WR NYJ 6 Zach Wilson loved him in the preseason. Fair market value here.
93 8.06 Leonard Fournette RB TB 9 Lombardi Lenny will be more comfy in offense now, but so many mouths to feed.
94 8.07 Jamaal Williams RB DET 9 D’Andre Swift (groin) still isn’t 100%. Williams will return on this ADP and then some.
95 8.07 Sony Michel RB LAR 11 Has to learn offense quickly; could be slow to start, but nice depth for 2nd half of season.
96 8.08 Deebo Samuel WR SF 6 Could be considered an injury liability. QB situation is disconcerting to a degree. Risk-reward WR3.
97 8.09 Tyler Higbee TE LAR 11 Huge upgrade at QB; not a volume TE, but could see starting-worthy spurts during the year.
98 8.10 Devin Singletary RB BUF 7 Zack Moss & Josh Allen damper his upside. Best drafted as an RB4 in PPR.
99 8.11 Ryan Tannehill QB TEN 13 Nice consolation if you choose to wait on the position.
100 9.01 James Conner RB ARI 12 Flex upside if he stays on the field. Will be reliant on TDs more than most RBs.
101 9.02 Tyler Boyd WR CIN 10 Could be a strong PPR guy early in the year while Ja’Marr Chase gets up to speed.
102 9.03 Dallas Goedert TE PHI 14 Zach Ertz remains on the team & likely isn’t going anywhere. Goedert isn’t as appealing as in June.
103 9.04 Jaylen Waddle WR MIA 14 Elite physical traits but undersized rookie who may need time. QB is still a work-in-progress.
104 9.04 Jalen Hurts QB PHI 14 Rushing ability should be his defining characteristic
105 9.05 Mecole Hardman WR KC 12 Even in Round 9, it’s tough to see him making a dent outside of a few splash plays.
106 9.07 Kenyan Drake RB LV 8 Could be a hot-hand scenario. Josh Jacobs has durability issues. Drake is intriguing depth.
107 9.07 Michael Pittman Jr. WR IND 14 Huge profit potential if Carson Wentz stays healthy. No T.Y. Hilton (neck) is a huge W for Pittman.
108 9.08 Tony Pollard RB DAL 7 Will be a top-5 back if something happens to Zeke. Pollard does it all and really well.
109 9.09 Brandin Cooks WR HOU 10 Assuming no Deshaun Watson, Cooks still can outdo this ADP. He has performed at every stop.
110 9.10 Phillip Lindsay RB HOU 10 One of three, maybe four, RBs in a rotation. Shaky OL, uncertain QB situation. Fade.
111 9.12 Alexander Mattison RB MIN 7 Handcuff to Dalvin Cook. Speculative buy as an RB4/5.
112 9.12 Pittsburgh Defense DEF PIT 7 No valid reason to draft any defense this early.
113 10.01 Darnell Mooney WR CHI 10 WR2 gets shielded behind Allen Robinson. QB situation is so-so, but Mooney is legit.
114 10.03 LA Rams Defense DEF LAR 11 No valid reason to draft any defense this early.
115 10.04 Jakobi Meyers WR NE 14 Could emerge as a sneaky PPR guy, but there’s as much upside as downside.
116 10.05 Joe Burrow QB CIN 10 ACL is behind him. Awful defense will lead to huge passing volume. Has the WRs to shine.
117 10.05 D.J. Chark WR JAX 7 Already looking like an injury waiting to happen with persistent dings and dents.
118 10.07 Mike Gesicki TE MIA 14 Consistent, has chemistry with QB. The last of the TE1s to be confident about drafting.
119 10.07 J.D. McKissic RB WAS 9 Won’t be RB17 again, but this late he’s all profit, even with Curtis Samuel here.
120 10.09 Tampa Bay Defense DEF TB 9 No valid reason to draft any defense this early.
121 10.09 Mike Williams WR LAC 7 The nature of Williams is inconsistency. Effective when he hits, but good luck guessing when that is.
122 10.11 Trey Lance QB SF 6 Polarizing, but legs will keep him afloat if he enters the lineup. Don’t reach for him.
123 10.11 Jarvis Landry WR CLE 13 About as safe and solid as you’ll find in PPR. Baker Mayfield gravitates toward Juice.
124 10.12 Nyheim Hines RB IND 14 Nice PPR buy for the occasional start to cover byes or injuries.
125 10.12 David Johnson RB HOU 10 Too many RBs. Poor QB outlook. WRs are sketchy. OL is worse. Don’t bother.
126 11.01 Rhamondre Stevenson RB NE 14 Rookie phenom in the preseason is a Damien Harris injury away from fantasy stardom.
127 11.01 Giovani Bernard RB TB 9 Already nicked up (ankle). Pigeon-holed as a 3rd-down back. So many other targets. Yuck.
128 11.02 Washington Defense DEF WAS 9 No valid reason to draft any defense this early.
129 11.03 Henry Ruggs III WR LV 8 Miserable rookie year, but is an incredible athlete who is still learning. Give him a WR4 stab.
130 11.04 Justin Fields QB CHI 10 Will struggle to maintain consistency. Legs are his best weapon as he learns the ropes. Don’t reach.
131 11.05 Marvin Jones WR JAX 7 Shoulder injury has his stock down. Will play in Week 1. Awesome QB, terrible defense. Big value.
132 11.08 Jonnu Smith TE NE 14 Can score from anywhere as a TE. Rookie QBs like the position. Smith will be erratically productive.
133 11.08 Will Fuller WR MIA 14 Suspended 1 game. New offense, QB. One-trick pony as a deep threat. Meh.
134 11.09 Chuba Hubbard RB CAR 13 Even with Royce Freeman’s signing, the rookie could thrive if McCaffrey gets hurt again. Handcuff.
135 11.09 James White RB NE 14 Arrow points north now that Cam Newton is gone. White will be a PPR specialist again.
136 11.10 Baltimore Defense DEF BAL 8 No valid reason to draft any defense this early.
137 11.11 Irv Smith Jr. TE MIN 7 DO NOT DRAFT — Likely out for the season. TE Chris Herndon replaces, worth a late-round gamble.
138 11.11 Elijah Moore WR NYJ 6 May eventually take over as the primary slot guy, but there’s no worthwhile profit, even this late.
139 11.11 Matt Ryan QB ATL 6 Loses Julio Jones, gains Kyle Pitts. Ryan will take a step back but volume is on his side.
140 12.01 Latavius Murray RB NO 6 Should fend him off Tony Jones. Fantasy value solely linked to scoring TDs.
141 12.01 Baker Mayfield QB CLE 13 Run-heavy offense. Tons of weapons, but chemistry with TEs & OBJ has yet to materialize.
142 12.01 Russell Gage WR ATL 6 Stepped up after Julio went down last year. Kyle Pitts will steal looks, but nice PPR value here.
143 12.03 Justin Tucker PK BAL 8 No valid reason to draft any kicker this early.
144 12.03 Michael Gallup WR DAL 7 Say something happens to Amari Cooper (ankle) or CeeDee Lamb. Instant WR2 option.
145 12.03 San Francisco Defense DEF SF 6 No valid reason to draft any defense this early.
146 12.05 Jameis Winston QB NO 6 Needs to get the most out of unproven WRs w/o Michael Thomas. Improves in 2nd-half of year.
147 12.06 Rob Gronkowski TE TB 9 Should be better in than in ’20. May not be any more consistent, however.
148 12.07 Harrison Butker PK KC 12 No valid reason to draft any kicker this early.
149 12.07 Indianapolis Defense DEF IND 14 No valid reason to draft any defense this early
150 12.07 Marquise Brown WR BAL 8 Injury risk, sure, but few receivers have his wheels, and Lamar has a cannon.
151 12.08 Tevin Coleman RB NYJ 6 Chance to resurrect his career behind a beefy OL. Porous defense & rookie QB working against him.
152 12.08 Younghoe Koo PK ATL 6 No valid reason to draft any kicker this early.
153 12.09 Curtis Samuel WR WAS 9 Coaching staff couldn’t get anything out of him in CAR, so little confidence they can in WAS.
154 12.09 Trevor Lawrence QB JAX 7 Awesome QB2 target for upside. Even could be a rotational starter if that’s your thing.
155 12.10 Rashaad Penny RB SEA 9 Injuries up the wazoo for the former first-rounder. He’s a fringe backup target at this point.
156 12.11 Greg Zuerlein PK DAL 7 No valid reason to draft any kicker this early.
157 13.01 Jason Sanders PK MIA 14 No valid reason to draft any kicker this early.
158 13.01 New England Defense DEF NE 14 Should improve at getting to the QB from last year’s weak showing.
159 13.02 Ben Roethlisberger QB PIT 7 Arm didn’t fall off in 2020 after elbow surgery. So many weapons. Solid value buy as QB2.
160 13.03 Tyler Bass PK BUF 7 No valid reason to draft any kicker this early.
161 13.04 Rondale Moore WR ARI 12 Talented rookie but undersized and need help for enough PT to consistently matter.
162 13.04 Ryan Succop PK TB 9 No valid reason to draft any kicker this early.
163 13.04 Gabriel Davis WR BUF 7 Could thrive once again after strong rookie season. Likely top WR if Stefon Diggs got hurt.
164 13.06 Terrace Marshall Jr. WR CAR 13 Up-and-coming fantasy stud; rookie outplayed veteran David Moore and will matter some weeks.
165 13.06 Rodrigo Blankenship PK IND 14 No valid reason to draft any kicker this early.
166 13.07 Matt Prater PK ARI 12 No valid reason to draft any kicker this early.
167 13.07 Jared Cook TE LAC 7 Reunited with Joe Lombardi, a Sean Payton disciple. Excellent QB, good but not great WRs.
168 13.07 Darrel Williams RB KC 12 Nice handcuff for CEH and at a bargain price, too.
169 13.08 Zach Wilson QB NYJ 6 Showed promise as to why he was the No. 2 pick in the draft. At best, QB3 in deep leagues.
170 13.09 Hunter Henry TE NE 14 Like Jonnu Smith, Henry benefits from Mac Jones starting. But this will be a bumpy ride some weeks.
171 13.09 Kenneth Gainwell RB PHI 14 Strong preseason won him the top backup job to Miles Sanders. Handcuff and upside for more.
172 13.10 Cole Beasley WR BUF 7 Has his QB’s eye but also could be a liability based on COVID protocols.
173 13.10 Bryan Edwards WR LV 8 Love the upside here for a 6-foot-3, 4.45-second 40 guy. LV desperately needs a WR to make plays.
174 13.10 Denver Defense DEF DEN 11 Awesome schedule, could surprise
175 13.11 Cleveland Defense DEF CLE 13 Has the front line to get there and mask question marks elsewhere on this defense.
176 13.12 Tony Jones Jr. RB NO 6 Intriguing late-round flier as RB5/6
177 13.12 Buffalo Defense DEF BUF 7 Sound buy at an appropriate price if the rest of your league is foolishly reaching for defenses.
178 14.01 Tua Tagovailoa QB MIA 14 Slowly showing he is figuring it all out. Has the weapons to be a spot-starter.
179 14.01 Evan Engram TE NYG 10 Injured already (again). Even when healthy, struggled to make a difference in 2020.
180 14.01 Pat Freiermuth TE PIT 7 Tough not to like him, but Eric Ebron is the starter, and this offense is loaded.
181 14.01 Gerald Everett TE SEA 9 Has Russ’ eye already. Knows offense from LAR, and could emerge with an injury at WR.
182 14.02 Mark Ingram RB HOU 10 Probably washed up. Either way, the situation is dreadful.
183 14.03 Zach Ertz TE PHI 14 Wants to stay in Philly. Still could get traded at some point, but he’s shaping up to be a value.
184 14.03 Devontae Booker RB NYG 10 Handcuff for Saquon Barkley owners
185 14.03 Amon-Ra St. Brown WR DET 9 Polished rookie with a tremendous opportunity on a bad team. Love him as a WR5. Flex upside.
186 14.03 Mac Jones QB NE 14 Beat out Cam Newton for the starting gig. Improves players around him. Iffy fantasy value, though.
187 14.04 Damien Williams RB CHI 10 Handcuff for David Montgomery. Knows the offense and fresh after sitting out 2020.
188 14.04 Mason Crosby PK GB 13 A kicker behind a prolific offense … so there’s that going for the veteran.
189 14.06 Randall Cobb WR GB 13 While Aaron Rodgers begged for him, it doesn’t mean he has weekly use in fantasy.
190 14.06 A.J. Green WR ARI 12 Hall-of-Fame talent, career decimated by injuries. Worthwhile flier at this stage, but may be toast.
191 14.07 Kirk Cousins QB MIN 7 Gets a bad rap but has finished outside of top-11 QBs once in last five years.
192 14.07 Robbie Gould PK SF 6 Veteran kicker, so-so offense = recipe for field goal tries.
193 14.08 Matt Gay PK LAR 11 LAR’s 3 kickers in 2020 combined for the 11th-most FGAs.
194 14.09 DeVante Parker WR MIA 14 All comes down to staying healthy and showing he’s on the same page as Tua. Worth the risk.
195 14.10 Miami Defense DEF MIA 14 Loaded with talent but playing in a division that has improved.
196 14.12 Tyrell Williams WR DET 9 Sat out all of 2020 w/ shoulder injury. Play-action deep threat on a team w/o a defense.
197 14.12 Justin Jackson RB LAC 7 Could be a nice pickup this late if something happens to Austin Ekeler.
198 15.03 Jason Myers PK SEA 9 Finished PK12 last year despite kicking the 22nd-most FGAs. XPAs kept him alive.
199 15.08 Wil Lutz PK NO 6 Injured, shouldn’t be drafted, but he’s a waiver target upon his return.
200 15.11 Daniel Carlson PK LV 8 Tied for PK1 in most scoring formats last year. Great value for a PK, if there is such a thing.

First 3 Picks: 10-team league

Your first three picks define your fantasy team.

The first three picks are going to define your team and set-up the rest of your draft. The optimal team is built by understanding the nuances of a scoring system and how it fits into your league rules.

A 10-team league means positional quality lasts longer. Everyone has a “good” team. You don’t need depth, you need difference-makers. Depth is less important and owning elite players are even more critical.

To follow are sample three-round drafts for 10-team fantasy football leagues. They use either standard performance scoring, performance plus a point per reception, or “2QB/Super Flex” leagues where you can start two of any position. Those three formats cover almost all leagues.

The names are less important than the positions because each draft slot has its own unique situation. Just as important are your future picks and what you need after three rounds.  Rankings can change daily so these may not exactly match rankings.

Performance scoring league

Pick Round 1 Pick Round 2 (reverse) Pick Round 3
1.01 RB Christian McCaffrey 2.10 QB Patrick Mahomes 3.01 WR Justin Jefferson
1.02 RB Dalvin Cook 2.09 RB Saquon Barkley 3.02 WR DK Metcalf
1.03 RB Derrick Henry 2.08 WR Calvin Ridley 3.03 RB Clyde   Edwards-Helaire
1.04 RB Alvin Kamara 2.07 RB Aaron Jones 3.04 RB Josh Jacobs
1.05 RB Nick Chubb 2.06 RB Chris Carson 3.05 QB Josh Allen
1.06 RB Jonathan Taylor 2.05 WR Davante Adams 3.06 RB J.K. Dobbins
1.07 RB Ezekiel Elliott 2.04 RB David Montgomery 3.07 WR DeAndre Hopkins
1.08 TE Travis Kelce 2.03 RB Antonio Gibson 3.08 RB D’Andre Swift
1.09 RB Joe Mixon 2.02 WR Tyreek Hill 3.09 TE Darren Waller
1.10 WR Stefon Diggs 2.01 RB Najee Harris 3.10 QB Kyler Murray

Performance scoring without reception points means that running backs are a premium and quarterbacks are a bit more valuable as well. Wide receivers and tight ends are devalued but are still usually four starters in a fantasy football league.  Almost all teams will look to get two running backs in their first three picks and it’s hard to argue against the logic.

Team 1: RB Christian McCaffrey, QB Patrick Mahomes, WR Justin Jefferson

The first team started with a standard Christian McCaffrey and then used the next two picks to snap up the best quarterback and a Top-5 wideout. Certainly a star-filled roster so far, and owning McCaffrey makes delaying running backs feel better. Next up – that all said, has to look at a running back in the next two picks and maybe two of the next four. But a fast start in a smaller league size.

Team 2: RB Dalvin Cook, RB Saquon Barkley, WR DK Metcalf

Start with Dalvin Cook was solid, then opted to control the running back at RB2 of Saquon Barkley not knowing what Team 1 would take. DK Metcalf at WR1 allowed a balanced start. Next Up – the Barkley owner needs to shore up his backfield in case he is slow to start. But the reality is that even if he is eased back into a heavy load, there is never a time that he should be benched if the Giants are starting him. So a running back next is not as big of a need as it may seem. Balanced start means can go anywhere.

Team 3: RB Derrick Henry, WR Calvin Ridley, RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire

Derrick Henry offers even more in this scoring format that it affords the luxury of taking a wideout in the second round (Top-4), and then went back to the well for his RB2 in the third round.  Strong enough start and owns two difference-makers so far. Next up – could consider a quarterback soon for some firepower there. Ridley anchors the wideouts that can wait a few rounds while quarterback and a third running back are valuable options.

Team 4: RB Alvin Kamara, RB Aaron Jones, RB Josh Jacobs

Team went for three straight running backs – it always happens in this format and it can be effective with the right players. It netted the No. 4, No. 13, and the No. 16 running backs. And in this scoring format with smaller rosters, you can still access relatively highly ranked players in other positions. Next up – can go anywhere. Next three picks could be quarterback, tight end, wideout, whatever. Probably should not wait too long on wideout since high-quality players drain quickly even in this format.

Team 5: RB Nick Chubb, RB Chris Carson, QB Josh Allen

Nick Chubb is a beast without reception points an issue and opting to add Chris Carson as the No. 12 running back selected means a very solid backfield core. Love adding the No. 2 quarterback in the third round. No reception points? Starting RB-RB-QB is hard to fault in a ten-team league regardless of the draft slot. Next up – should consider wideouts in two of the next three picks to avoid a liability.  Could even think about tight end though the true difference-makers would already be gone.

Team 6: RB Jonathan Taylor, WR Davante Adams, RB J.K. Dobbins

Still started with a running back, but then went with the No. 3 wideout in Davante Adams for a spark at that position. Safe play going with J.K. Dobbins in the third and he offers some upside without any penalty for his lack of receptions in this format. Next Up – balanced start means can go anywhere. Next three picks should include another wideout, running back, and at least consider a quarterback or tight end if the quality is still high.

Team 7: RB Ezekiel Elliott, RB David Montgomery, WR DeAndre Hopkins

The smaller size of the league makes this more workable. Ezekiel Elliott is the seventh-straight running back, and that seems excessive, but Team 7 also knows that the next three teams are going to mine running backs, and there is a ton of talent in non-running back positions in the second round. Opted for David Montgomery instead of a different position, but hard to argue with the backfield. Went with DeAndre Hopkins for WR1 in the third to lock down a Top-8 wideout. Next up – can be anything but needs to weigh the fourth pick heavily because the fifth will see all the top players from all the positions already gone. Quarterback like Lamar Jackson or Dak Prescott could be difference-makers.

Team 8: TE Travis Kelce, RB Antonio Gibson, RB D’Andre Swift

Travis Kelce could go anywhere in  the first round as the only tight end with such a high reward-to-risk ratio. And following the run on running backs seems counterproductive with Kelce on the board. But taking a tight end with the first pick led Team 8 to grabbing running backs for the next two rounds. Next up – wideouts need to be on tap in two of the next three or four rounds. Kelce is a difference-maker in this format, but this plan (which is very common when Kelce is involved) could end up with him as the only difference-maker.

Team 9: RB Joe Mixon, WR Tyreek Hill, TE Darren Waller

Opted to start with running back even though Joe Mixon was the eighth back taken in the first round of a 10-team league.  The reasoning is that Team 9 knows he wants a running back in the first two picks or they’ll have a hole in a very important position in a non-reception point league. But almost all non-running backs are on the board and only one team go next. Still added Tyreek Hill and then went with Darren Waller at tight end in the third. That’s harder to do in this format, but he is a difference-maker and the team owner picks again in just two more picks. Next up – almost has to be a running back in the fourth. The fifth and sixth picks can look at best available since the core of the starters are taken aside from quarterback.

Team 10: WR Stefon Diggs, RB Najee Harris, QB Kyler Murray

Final pick in the first round comes away with a very nice start. First swing picks netted the best wideout and then high-upside running back with Najee Harris. Had he not taken Harris, his RB1 would have been the No. 18 back for a sure disadvantage. His second wrap-around pair of picks starts with Kyler Murray at quarterback. A top quarterback and wideout offer difference makers and if Harris meets expectations, this is a hot start. Next up – the next pick should consider running back (Mike Davis, Kareem Hunt, Myles Gaskin) that should be good enough to prevent a liability.  The third swing at rounds 5 and 6 can consider best available but likely wideout and running back.

Reception-point league

Pick Round 1 Pick Round 2 (reverse) Pick Round 3
1.01 RB Christian McCaffrey 2.10 TE Darren Waller 3.01 WR DK Metcalf
1.02 RB Alvin Kamara 2.09 RB Saquon Barkley 3.02 QB Patrick Mahomes
1.03 RB Dalvin Cook 2.08 WR Justin Jefferson 3.03 RB Antonio Gibson
1.04 RB Jonathan Taylor 2.07 RB Clyde   Edwards-Helaire 3.04 WR Keenan Allen
1.05 RB Ezekiel Elliott 2.06 WR Calvin Ridley 3.05 RB David Montgomery
1.06 RB Derrick Henry 2.05 RB Najee Harris 3.06 WR Terry McLaurin
1.07 TE Travis Kelce 2.04 RB Aaron Jones 3.07 RB Austin Ekeler
1.08 WR Stefon Diggs 2.03 WR DeAndre Hopkins 3.08 RB D’Andre Swift
1.09 WR Davante Adams 2.02 RB Joe Mixon 3.09 TE George Kittle
1.10 RB Nick Chubb 2.01 WR Tyreek Hill 3.10 WR CeeDee Lamb

This style of scoring boosts the value of wide receivers and elite tight ends but devalues quarterbacks relative to other positions. Running backs are going to be popular in any scoring scenario but the added reception point means the position becomes deeper with third-down backs able to offer “start-able” fantasy value.

With a reception point and only ten teams, your roster should look very strong after three picks. All positions are deep in this format.

Team 1: RB Christian McCaffrey, TE Darren Waller, WR DK Metcalf

Started with Christian McCaffrey, then opted for the No. 2 tight end (Darren Waller) and No. 7 wideout in DK Metcalf. Opened with a balanced approach but will find a riskier (or weaker) RB2 when picking at the end of the fourth round. Next up – has to pick up a running back at their next turn in rounds four and five. Also should consider wideout at that turn.

Team 2: RB Alvin Kamara, RB Saquon Barkley, QB Patrick Mahomes

Alvin Kamara was a great start and then opted to take the No. 12 running back for a solid and safe beginning. Went with Patrick Mahomes for the top dog at the highest scoring position. First three picks addressed the reality of the rapid decline in running back value and the best bet for the highest-scoring player in the fantasy league. Next up – starting RB-RB-QB felt good but now all wideouts and tight ends are not going to be difference-makers and could be a liability. This plan means using most of the next picks on wideouts and adding another running back when the value merits delaying the wideouts.

Team 3: RB Dalvin Cook, WR Justin Jefferson, RB Antonio Gibson

Standard start in this format with a Top-3 running back, then a Top-6 wideout. Followed with a return to running backs to feel safe about the backfield. Decent plan no matter where it is used. Next up – can go anywhere for best available. Top tight ends will be hard to reach, so mostly switching up running back and wideout while deciding where the quarterback makes sense.

Team 4: RB Jonathan Taylor, RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire, WR Keenan Allen

In a reception-points league, this is the safest plan even though it doesn’t so far produce any real difference makers and could end up with an average team. In the end, it is always about picking the best players and avoiding the busts. This is the most risk-adverse plan. Next up – can go anywhere with a balanced start. Would have to overpay for any difference-making tight ends, so wideouts need to be two of the next three or four picks. Can wait a little on RB3, but those using this plan rarely do.

Team 5: RB Ezekiel Elliott, WR Calvin Ridley, RB David Montgomery

This is just Team No. 3 with a better wideout and a slightly worse running back.  In a reception-points league, this is safe and yet yields slightly better results than starting RB-RB-WR. Next up – balanced team probably better off with taking a wideout next before the value starts to decline more rapidly. Solid enough start but needs to keep an eye out for players that are falling in the draft or take some later chances to find difference-makers.

Team 6: RB Derrick Henry, RB Najee Harris, WR Terry McLaurin

The middle of a 10-team league can lead to this sort of plan that doesn’t quite work as well as it seems it will. This year, one of the middle teams is likely to go for Travis Kelce to shake up the run on running backs. Not doing so led to this team with the No. 6 running back (meaning lesser half of the RB1’s in a ten team league), and then the No. 10 running back. Next up – more wideouts and a quarterback should take up the next three rounds.

Team 7: TE Travis Kelce, RB Aaron Jones, RB Austin Ekeler

Finally, Kelce is taken. He goes between the No. 4 and No. 10 picks, it just depends on the league. With reception points, he’s a major difference-maker but still delays all other positions. That led to this plan that doubles down on running backs to prevent any liability in the backfield. Next up – a couple of wideouts are in order and likely two in the next three picks. Could swerve and get a top quarterback in the fourth or fifth but then the wideouts would start to suffer.

Team 8: WR Stefon Diggs, WR DeAndre Hopkins, RB D’Andre Swift

This is a great plan here nearing the end of the first round. Ignoring wideouts makes no sense in the first round and accessed the top receiver. Starting out with two of the top four wide receivers is a huge advantage at the position and there is none to be had with running backs already drained. D’Andre Swift was a need pick in the third but overall this is an exciting to start to the draft. Next up – could accept that running backs are not going to be a strength and opt for quarterback and tight end, then scramble for whatever running back crumbs are left but would have fireworks at all position besides running back. It works better in the ten-team league where running backs last a bit longer.

Team 9: WR Davante Adams, RB Joe Mixon, TE George Kittle

Starting with wideout makes sense since it is better to control the No. 2 wideout than the No. 7 running back. After Davante Adams and Joe Mixon, went for George Kittle who should be the No. 3 tight end and a difference maker as well. It is usually a three-man race for elite tight ends, and Kittle brings some risk but considerable upside. Next up – has to consider running backs one or twice in the next three rounds but otherwise free to take best available regardless of position.

Team 10: RB Nick Chubb, WR Tyreek Hill, WR CeeDee Lamb

This is normally the team that starts WR-WR, but this plan went for RB1 with Nick Chubb before doubling on wideouts with Tyreek Hill and CeeDee Lamb. And it works better in this size league because the running back is slightly better than in a 12-team league, and the wideout in the third round is still the No. 10 wide receiver taken, right before a natural tier-break. Next up – the next pick in the draft belongs to Team 10 who could use that for Josh Allen at quarterback for an advantage at the highest scoring position. That takes some guts though, since anything other than a running back at the 4.01 pick means the RB1 would be no better than the No. 18 to No. 20 taken.

QB-heavy league

Pick Round 1 Pick Round 2 (reverse) Pick Round 3
1.01 RB Christian McCaffrey 2.10 QB Russell Wilson 3.01 RB Aaron Jones
1.02 RB Alvin Kamara 2.09 TE Darren Waller 3.02 WR Calvin Ridley
1.03 QB Patrick Mahomes 2.08 RB Joe Mixon 3.03 RB Najee Harris
1.04 RB Dalvin Cook 2.07 WR DeAndre Hopkins 3.04 WR Justin Jefferson
1.05 RB Jonathan Taylor 2.06 QB Dak Prescott 3.05 WR DK Metcalf
1.06 QB Josh Allen 2.05 WR Tyreek Hill 3.06 RB Clyde   Edwards-Helaire
1.07 RB Ezekiel Elliott 2.04 WR Davante Adams 3.07 QB Aaron Rodgers
1.08 TE Travis Kelce 2.03 QB Lamar Jackson 3.08 RB Saquon Barkley
1.09 WR Stefon Diggs 2.02 RB Nick Chubb 3.09 RB Antonio Gibson
1.10 QB Kyler Murray 2.01 RB Derrick Henry 3.10 TE George Kittle

This sort of league will seed quarterbacks in varying measures depending on how and why quarterbacks are so valuable. The most common is the ability to start two quarterbacks which change drafts significantly.

It will extend the quality of running backs and wideouts deeper into the draft since quarterbacks will go far earlier than the mid-draft than is common in other sorts of leagues. This run-through assumes two quarterbacks and that well over half of the starters are taken by the third round.

Viewing the previous year’s results are best for this sort of starting rule because quarterbacks can go slower – or much faster – than what this draft assumes. Keep up with the other picks in the league to make sure you don’t get stuck at the end of a run on quarterbacks.

In a smaller 10-team league with additional valuable players from the quarterback boost, almost every fantasy team is going to look great so taking elite players is paramount to winning – get starters before worrying about depth.

Team 1: RB Christian McCaffrey, QB Russell Wilson, RB Aaron Jones

After starting with Christian McCaffrey, was able to reach Russell Wilson as the No. 6 quarterback and then played it safer going RB1 with Aaron Jones. In this format, a Top-10 running back can reach the start of the third round. While not taking advantage as much of the reception point aspect, this plan is a solid one in this format regardless of draft slot. Next up – the next two picks should at least consider wideout. Elite tight ends are gone, and there will be a run on the position already started by the 4.12 pick.

Team 2: RB Alvin Kamara, TE Darren Waller, WR Calvin Ridley

Opened with Alvin Kamara and then opted for the No. 2 tight end for an advantage in a position that  nosedives in value after two or three are gone. Was able to take Calvin Ridley as the No. 5 wideout in the third round. Balanced and strong start. Next up – the tight ends are already sewn up. Can go anywhere but more likely to weigh the RB2 and then the quarterback next.

Team 3: QB Patrick Mahomes, RB Joe Mixon, RB Najee Harris

Why not? Patrick Mahomes is scraped off the heap with the 1.03 pick as the top quarterback in a league where elite players make a tremendous difference. Added two straight running backs but still reached the No. 8 and No. 10 players for a solid backfield. Splashy picks like a quarterback at the 1.03 usually prompt team owners to go a little more conservative for the next few picks. Next up – difference making tight ends are gone, but only seven wideouts were taken in the first three rounds. Should strongly consider two or even three in a row.

Team 4: RB Dalvin Cook, WR DeAndre Hopkins, WR Justin Jefferson

After getting Dalvin Cook in the first round, went to double up on wideouts.  The pick before him (2.06) tabbed Dak Prescott as the No. 5 quarterback so there was less advantage in the position since it hits a lower tier. DeAndre Hopkins and Justin Jefferson provide him two of the Top-6 wideouts for a strong start. Next up – The double wideouts means team can ignore the position for several rounds as the other core starters are secured. Should consider RB2 and two quarterbacks over the next four picks.

Team 5: RB Jonathan Taylor, QB Dak Prescott, WR DK Metcalf

Strong opening for a middle pick drafter. Opted for the No. 4 running back and then still reached Dak Prescott in the second. Landed DK Metcalf as WR1 in the third. All top tier players and yet none of the Top-3 in their position. Next up – can go anywhere and will include running back in the next few picks to be sure. But a run on wideouts is coming, so that is more prudent in the fourth and switch back to running back for the fifth.

Team 6: QB Josh Allen, WR Tyreek Hill, RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire

Josh Allen is usually more of a third round pick in the other formats, but he makes sense in the first round in a QB-heavy league. Was still able to grab Tyreek Hill in the second for a Top-3 wideout and then brought on Clyde Edwards-Helaire as a need pick from the declining stock of running backs. Next up – Balanced start allows freedom to take best available. Mixing in running backs and wideouts for the next three rounds is most prudent.

Team 7: RB Ezekiel Elliott, WR Davante Adams, QB Aaron Rodgers

Ezekiel Elliott is a Top-5 running back, but doesn’t offer enough bang for the buck in this format as it is unlikely the next three teams are all going to load up on running backs. Was able to reach Davante Adams as the No. 2 wideout and then opted for Aaron Rodgers since the risk/reward ratio declines for the position.  The Rodgers pick is interesting in that of the next three teams, two already took a quarterback and would be less likely to double down on the position in the third or fourth rounds before it wraps back Next up – Running backs and wideouts over the next several round but seeding an earlier  second quarterback would make up ground from starting the No. 7 as their QB1.

Team 8: TE Travis Kelce, QB Lamar Jackson, RB Saquon Barkley

This plan is a little scary. But if Saquon Barkley returns to form, this plan could be highly effective. Started with Travis Kelce as the ultimate difference-maker of the last four years. Was still able to take Lamar Jackson even though that delayed both running backs and wide receivers. Went with the risky but upside pick of Barkley who could have been Antonio Gibson or David Montgomery. The smaller the league, the more using a first round pick on Kelsey doesn’t hurt you. Next up – next pick is only four turns away and could still reach Allen Robinson, A.J. Brown, Keenan Allen, and the like. That makes this plan start with a great core (assuming Barkley is returns to form, at least eventually). Waiting until the fifth round for that RB2 could still access a starting running back, though obviously a lower tier player.

Team 9: WR Stefon Diggs, RB Nick Chubb, RB Antonio Gibson

The ninth team finally opts for the best wideout on the board, then doubles down on running backs which feels very safe and netted the No. 7 and No. 13 running backs for a solid but unspectacular backfield. At least this plan gives the team freedom with his remaining picks. Next up – quarterback should be on tap in the fourth which is only three picks away. It won’t be an elite fantasy quarterback but still can draw from either Justin Herbert or Tom Brady. Otherwise, the 5.9 pick is 15 selections away and that most likely dips deeply enough into quarterbacks that the team will have one of the weakest QB1’s. Wideouts are a need as well, but can wait a bit for that quarterback and even another running back if the value is there.

Team 10: QB Kyler Murray, RB Derrick Henry, TE George Kittle

The smaller league size and QB-heavy format is kinder to the final team in the first round than usual. Top-3 quarterback with Kyler Murray paired with Derrick Henry at the turn, then in the third added George Kittle for another Top-3 player. Granted – Kittle carries risk after last year, but this is a formidable start. Next up – has to consider wideouts in two of the next three picks while wedging in the best value in running backs.

First 3 Picks: 12-team league

Your first three picks define your fantasy team.

Your first three picks define your fantasy football team. Each pick is critical because the player pool is ever-shrinking, and you have to select a mixture of available players to produce an optimal team. And those initial rounds determine what you’ll do in the later rounds of the draft. Get them wrong and you may not be able to recover.

To follow are sample three-round drafts for 12-team fantasy football leagues. They use either standard performance scoring, performance plus a point per reception, or “2QB/Super Flex” leagues where you can start two of any position. Those three formats cover virtually all leagues.

The names are less important than the positions because each draft slot has its own unique situation. Just as important are your future picks and what you need after three rounds.  Rankings can change daily so these may not exactly match site rankings. Pay the most attention to the positions and how they work together for an optimal start.

Performance scoring league

Round 1 Round 2 (reverse) Round 3
1.01 RB Christian McCaffrey 2.12 RB Josh Jacobs 3.01 WR DeAndre Hopkins
1.02 RB Dalvin Cook 2.11 QB Patrick Mahomes 3.02 RB J.K. Dobbins
1.03 RB Derrick Henry 2.10 WR DK Metcalf 3.03 RB D’Andre Swift
1.04 RB Alvin Kamara 2.09 RB Clyde   Edwards-Helaire 3.04 QB Josh Allen
1.05 RB Nick Chubb 2.08 WR Justin Jefferson 3.05 WR CeeDee Lamb
1.06 RB Jonathan Taylor 2.07 RB Saquon Barkley 3.06 WR A.J. Brown
1.07 RB Ezekiel Elliott 2.06 WR Calvin Ridley 3.07 TE Darren Waller
1.08 TE Travis Kelce 2.05 RB Aaron Jones 3.08 RB Mike Davis
1.09 RB Joe Mixon 2.04 RB Chris Carson 3.09 WR Keenan Allen
1.10 WR Stefon Diggs 2.03 RB David Montgomery 3.10 RB Kareem Hunt
1.11 RB Najee Harris 2.02 WR Davante Adams 3.11 RB Myles Gaskin
1.12 WR Tyreek Hill 2.01 RB Antonio Gibson 3.12 QB Kyler Murray

Performance scoring without reception points means that running backs are a premium and quarterbacks are a bit more valuable. Wide receivers and tight ends are devalued but are still usually four starters in a fantasy football league.  Almost all teams will look to get two running backs in their first three picks and it’s hard to argue against the logic because the supply is very low by round four.

 Team 1: RB Christian McCaffrey, RB Josh Jacobs, WR DeAndre Hopkins

Starting with the top player in the draft usually means having more freedom with the next picks since you already have an advantage and are not locked into a need pick. In this case, team opted to pair McCaffrey with  the best available rusher and receiver for a solid and safe start. Next up –  is likely a quarterback, but the base has been set and wideouts can wait in this format.

Team 2: RB Dalvin Cook, QB Patrick Mahomes, RB J.K. Dobbins

This plan better addresses the realities of player value with no reception points. Obvious pick with Cook turned into scooping the top quarterback in Patrick Mahomes. Grabbed RB2 in the third round for a very effective start. Quarterbacks are more valuable in this format, so reaching the top player at the end of the second round makes sense. Next up – consider a wideout before the position becomes a liability.

Team 3: RB Derrick Henry, WR DK Metcalf, RB D’Andre Swift

Started with Derrick Henry who is a beast in this scoring format, then opted for DK Metcalf in the second. That let him control which wideout he took as the sixth overall and then address RB2 with upside pick of J.K. Dobbins. Next up – probably looking at quarterback or another running back.

Team 4: RB Alvin Kamara, RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire, QB Josh Allen

Nice start in this scoring format that needed a top running back, high upside with Clyde Edwards-Helaire and then opted for the No. 2 quarterback in Josh Allen. Solid start to be sure. Next up – look at wideouts or a third running back if one has fallen in the draft.

Team 5: RB Nick Chubb, WR Justin Jefferson, WR CeeDee Lamb

While this plan doesn’t appear to honor the scoring format as much, it really sort of does. Solid start at running back was joined by two wideouts even without reception points. The plus here is that while wideouts do not score as much in this format, they still matter and the team now owns two Top-10 players in that position. That is an advantage in a position he can now leave alone for several rounds while searching for value picks. Up next – should consider two running backs and a quarterback in the next three rounds.

Team 6: RB Jonathan Taylor, RB Saquon Barkley, WR A.J. Brown

Standard “middle of the draft” path that is safe. Start with two backs that mean the position may be a strength and should not be a liability. Then opting for a difference-making wide receiver before that quality wanes. This is very safe in this format. Next up – Can go anywhere, should consider running back in the fourth before value evaporates but can consider quarterbacks along the way as well.

Team 7: RB Ezekiel Elliott, WR Calvin Ridley, TE Darren Waller

Continued the run on running backs and still ended up with Ezekiel Elliott. Then they reached a Top-5 wide receiver in Calvin Ridley and the No. 2 tight end with Darren Waller. No reception points depress their contributions, but they still represent an advantage in points against other fantasy teams. Next up – have to consider running backs the next two rounds unless someone else falls. Quarterback is down the road in this one. Has to catch up with running backs before the position is a liability which is more damaging in this scoring format.

Team 8: TE Travis Kelce, RB Aaron Jones, RB Mike Davis

Finally, a team doesn’t take a running back. Travis Kelce has been an advantage for the last four years and a season-winner with reception points. Even in this format, he represents a major advantage in a position that nearly doesn’t matter without reception points. Taking running backs the next two picks was almost a need and not a choice. Next up – wideouts and a quarterback need to happen in the next rounds, but grabbing an RB3 always makes sense if a good value is there in the next couple of rounds.

Team 9: RB Joe Mixon, RB Chris Carson, WR Keenan Allen

Always a tough spot. Starting with two running backs certainly feels safe. And the three teams behind could have potentially sucked up six backs before their second pick. This is a draft slot that can be a challenge and this team certainly played it safe. But there is no real advantage in any of the players other than minor having Chris Carson as an RB2. Next up – has to start looking for difference-makers. Should consider quarterback next and maybe even think about an earlier tight end because so far the plan is building an average team.

Team 10: WR Stefon Diggs, RB David Montgomery, RB Kareem Hunt

With the running backs risk going up and value in decline, opted for the top wideout to start, and then went with running backs for the next two to keep up with that run. This is more normal for a reception points league, but owning the best wideout is still an advantage in this scoring format. Next up – should consider running back again over the next pick or two since that all-important position is only average so far. Quarterback and another wideout can be weighed over the next four rounds as well.

Team 11: RB Najee Harris, WR Davante Adams, RB Myles Gaskin

The rookie Harris dips into the first round with no reception points and then the team selected Davante Adams as a Top-3 wideout with plenty of touchdowns. By the time the third round rolled back around, went with Myles Gaskin as RB2 with his fingers crossed. Next up – picks in only two more spots and can consider another running back like Austin Ekeler or Chase Edmonds. But a quarterback and a second wideout still offer very good values. Adding a Lamar Jackson or Dak Prescott in the fourth may force a running back in the fifth, but it is a nice start to be sure.

Team 12: WR Tyreek Hill, RB Antonio Gibson, QB Kyler Murray

Drafting at the end of the round in any format always forces some outside-of-the-box thinking, and this plan works about as well as any other this deeply in the draft in this format. Tyreek Hill is always an advantage at wideout, then nabbed Antonio Gibson at RB1 to prevent a disadvantage. Then taking Kyler Murray makes for a very nice start. That’s a Top-3 wideout, a running back, and a Top-3 quarterback. Next up – must look at running back and maybe again in the fifth round as well. Great start if running backs can cobble together at least average production.

Reception-point league 

Round 1 Round 2 (reverse) Round 3
1.01 RB Christian McCaffrey 2.12 QB Patrick Mahomes 3.01 TE Darren Waller
1.02 RB Alvin Kamara 2.11 WR DK Metcalf 3.02 RB D’Andre Swift
1.03 RB Dalvin Cook 2.10 RB Austin Ekeler 3.03 WR Keenan Allen
1.04 RB Jonathan Taylor 2.09 RB David Montgomery 3.04 WR Terry McLaurin
1.05 RB Ezekiel Elliott 2.08 WR Justin Jefferson 3.05 RB Chris Carson
1.06 RB Derrick Henry 2.07 WR Calvin Ridley 3.06 TE George Kittle
1.07 TE Travis Kelce 2.06 RB Antonio Gibson 3.07 RB J.K. Dobbins
1.08 RB Nick Chubb 2.05 RB Clyde   Edwards-Helaire 3.08 WR CeeDee Lamb
1.09 WR Stefon Diggs 2.04 RB Najee Harris 3.09 WR Allen Robinson II
1.10 WR Davante Adams 2.03 RB Aaron Jones 3.10 WR Robert Woods
1.11 WR Tyreek Hill 2.02 WR DeAndre Hopkins 3.11 RB Mike Davis
1.12 RB Joe Mixon 2.01 RB Saquon Barkley 3.12 WR A.J. Brown

This scoring style boosts the value of wide receivers and elite tight ends but devalues quarterbacks a bit. Running backs are popular in any scoring scenario, but the added reception point means the position becomes deeper with third-down backs able to offer “start-able” fantasy value.

Team 1: RB Christian McCaffrey, QB Patrick Mahomes, TE Darren Waller

This is why everyone hates the first pick. And this absolutely can happen. Starts with the best running back, then the best quarterback, then the No. 2 tight end. There’s tons of advantage there and the position that will be a potential weakness is wideout that is the deepest and easiest to find values and free agents. Next up – the 4.12 is 22 spots away, so not a lot left but has to consider running back and maybe the next two picks if there is a flex.

Team 2: RB Alvin Kamara, WR DK Metcalf, RB D’Andre Swift

Solid start that honors the scoring formant and in this case, with either rock-solid choices or an upside player. Starting RB-WR-RB is a proven solid start for early draft slots that prevent your roster from holes. Next up – can go anywhere. Likely wideouts and another running back in play for the next three rounds.

Team 3: RB Dalvin Cook, RB Austin Ekeler, WR Keenan Allen

This is the flip side of Team 2. Controlled his RB2 instead of his WR1 and came away with a solid start. Again – proven plan that honors the scoring system from this draft slot. Next up – probably a wideout and another running back. Solid but needs upside players or the team can end up average.

Team 4: RB Jonathan Taylor, RB David Montgomery, WR Terry McLaurin

First five draft slots all go running back this year, so the normal plan is to go RB-WR or WR-RB. This plan feels good in the first three rounds but looking back afterward can appear less exciting since no top players. Next up – drifting further from the start of the draft means lesser quality running backs. Should look for some difference makers in other positions to prevent a liability. While it lacks “pizzazz”, it also doesn’t have any holes.

Team 5: RB Ezekiel Elliott, WR Justin Jefferson, RB Chris Carson

Heading into the middle of the draft, the RB1 is good but the WR1 may be great in this format. Opting for Chris Carson in the third means a solid set of running backs, but safe doesn’t usually win championships. Next up – Like Team 4, need something to punch up the roster from another position. Solid teams can reach the playoffs but all too often are not in the championship.

Team 6: RB Derrick Henry, WR Calvin Ridley, TE George Kittle

This may be a middle of the draft team, but so far, the plan looks impressive. Started with the obligatory running back for a good RB1, and then was able to still access a  Top-5 wideout with Calvin Ridley, and found George Kittle in the third.  In this scoring format, drafting from the middle, this is a great start with three players near the top of their positions. Next up – has to consider an RB2 in the next round or round five at the latest or will have a hole that is very hard to fill.

Team 7: TE Travis Kelce, RB Antonio Gibson, RB J.K. Dobbins

Travis Kelce is the most intriguing first-round pick in this format. He’s taken between No. 4 and No. 12, but usually around picks seven to nine. He’s been a tremendous advantage for four years which is good, because using a first-round pick on a tight end sets a team back in everything else. This team went the safe route with double running backs which feels better after spending the first rounder on a tight end. Next up – can go anywhere. Wideouts are an obvious need now and should be heavily considered over the next several rounds.  Can sneak a quarterback in as well, but even wideouts significantly decline in value if waited on too long.

Team 8: RB Nick Chubb, RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire, WR CeeDee  Lamb

Doubling up on running backs is safe and a good base. In this scenario, started with the No. 7 and No. 12 running backs which is solid though without difference-making. Adding on upside wideout CeeDee Lamb as the No. 10 wideout selected is still following the runs. Safe start that needs some lucky picks later on to compete. Next up – can go anywhere, but should think about adding an earlier quarterback for some advantage. Otherwise, next three picks should probably provide two wideouts and a third running back.

Team 9: WR Stefon Diggs, RB Najee Harris, WR Allen Robinson II

The first wideout appears in this RB-hungry fantasy world, and that’s an immediate advantage. Tacked on the high-upside rookie of Najee Harris, then added the No. 12 wideout in Allen Robinson. That’s two Top-12 wideouts, and a rookie running back that, at least for now, offers exciting potential.  The nine-spot is always tough, but this plan worked what was available well. Could have taken a running back in the third, but better off controlling which wideout that was available since the run on them is about to start in a major way. Next up – certainly much consider running back in maybe two of the next three picks. But a fun start that honors the scoring format.

Team 10: WR Davante Adams, RB Aaron Jones, WR Robert Woods

The same plan works for Team 10 as it did for Team 9. He gets the better running back and about the same at wideout. Taking two players from the same team for the first two picks scare some, so a different running back could make some drafters feel more comfortable. Next up – Same as Team 9. Consider two running backs over the next three picks and can take a quarterback if wanted.

Team 11: WR Tyreek Hill, WR DeAndre Hopkins, RB Mike Davis

At the end of the first round, usually at least one team will play contrarian and start with two wideouts. With reception points, owning Tyreek Hill and DeAndre Hopkins means two of the Top-5 receivers are cranking out difference-making fantasy points. But, doing so left team with 18 running backs already off the board and Mike Davis was best available here. Bottle up the feeling after two rounds because it won’t taste quite as sweet with below average players making up much of the remaining starters. Next up – running back is a need, so two more in a row is not a terrible idea. Already team is into the Josh Jacobs, Myles Gaskins, or Chase Edmonds area for RB2. This plan can work – absolutely. But the next three or four draft picks need to all hit to compensate for the initial disadvantage at running back.

Team 12: RB Joe Mixon, RB Saquon Barkley, WR A.J. Brown

This plan seems too safe. Most Team 12’s will consider WR-WR or sneaking in a quarterback or tight end in their first two picks but the way that 2021 plays out, no available tight end or quarterback merit a pick here. So that leaves just running backs and wideouts. Could have started with two wideouts like Team 11 and likely had the same effect. But went safe with Joe Mixon  as the eighth running back drafted for their RB1, and then picked up the constantly falling Saquon Barkley.  Tacked on A.J. Brown at WR1 to prevent a liability. If Barkley can return to past form, then this team got a bargain. If not, it is hard to make up that ground. Next up – need wideouts and should consider reaching for a higher tight end or quarterback to make up some advantage. This is a safe start, and it can work, but needs to hit on later value picks.

 

Super Flex / QB-heavy league 

Round 1 Round 2 (reverse) Round 3
1.01 RB Christian McCaffrey 2.12 QB Aaron Rodgers 3.01 WR Calvin Ridley
1.02 RB Alvin Kamara 2.11 WR DeAndre Hopkins 3.02 RB Antonio Gibson
1.03 QB Patrick Mahomes 2.10 RB Clyde   Edwards-Helaire 3.03 RB David Montgomery
1.04 RB Dalvin Cook 2.09 RB Najee Harris 3.04 TE Darren Waller
1.05 RB Jonathan Taylor 2.08 WR Tyreek Hill 3.05 QB Tom Brady
1.06 QB Josh Allen 2.07 RB Aaron Jones 3.06 RB Austin Ekeler
1.07 RB Ezekiel Elliott 2.06 TE Travis Kelce 3.07 WR Justin Jefferson
1.08 WR Stefon Diggs 2.05 RB Saquon Barkley 3.08 QB Justin Herbert
1.09 QB Kyler Murray 2.04 RB Joe Mixon 3.09 WR DK Metcalf
1.10 RB Derrick Henry 2.03 QB Russell Wilson 3.10 RB D’Andre Swift
1.11 QB Lamar Jackson 2.02 RB Nick Chubb 3.11 RB Chris Carson
1.12 WR Davante Adams 2.01 QB Dak Prescott 3.12 RB J.K. Dobbins

This league seeds in quarterbacks depending on how and why quarterbacks are so valuable. The most common is the ability to start two quarterbacks. That extends  value in other positions deeper into the draft since quarterbacks take up more of the early picks.  Each 2QB or super-flex league can use different scoring and other aspects that impact player value, so consider the nuances of your league.

There are a definite Top-6 in quarterbacks this year. After those are taken,  the perceived positional value becomes less consistent and predictable.

It is also assumed that there are reception points. That is by far the most common in that type of league. It is also notable that a team can win without automatically starting two quarterbacks even when allowed.

Team 1: RB Christian McCaffrey, QB Aaron Rodgers, WR Calvin Ridley

Owning the No. 1 pick is also an advantage, but it plays out differently in this format. Started with Christian McCaffery, but then  six quarterbacks had been taken by the 2.12. Still went with Aaron Rodgers and then accessed the No. 5 wideout with Calvin Ridley. Same plan as Team 1 in the reception points league, but not quite as shiny and impressive. Next up – owning McCaffrey gives confidence that often leaves owners putting off their RB2. That’s still not that prudent and the next picks are the 48th and 49th of the draft. One of those must be running back, if not both.

Team 2: RB Alvin Kamara, WR DeAndre Hopkins, RB Antonio Gibson

Though two quarterbacks may be started, not every team will scramble to get “a quarterback, any quarterback.” Started with Alvin Kamara but went with the No. 3 wideout in DeAndre Hopkins since the Top-5 quarterbacks were already gone. Antonio Gibson in the third starts the team on solid footing with some firepower in those first two picks. Next up – free to go anywhere. Obviously quarterback needs to be address since the position will get drained much faster in this format. Could be fine with a couple of younger, upside quarterbacks.

Team 3: QB Patrick Mahomes, RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB David Montgomery

The most interesting part of the first round is when Patrick Mahomes is taken (or Josh Allen). That feels really good and yields an obvious advantage. But that also left the team doubling up on running backs. Clyde Edwards-Helaire could have been Antonio Gibson or David Montgomery if owning two players on the same team is an issue. Next up – solid start to be sure and allows next few picks to go anywhere. More likely wideouts and a second quarterback by the sixth round.

Team 4: RB Dalvin Cook, RB Najee Harris, TE Darren Waller

While this plan doesn’t include any quarterbacks, it is very workable in this format. If the rookie Najee Harris comes through as expected, then a great 1-2 punch with running backs adds the No. 2 tight end in the third which is possible in this style of league play. The Waller pick gains an advantage at tight end for a solid core. Next up – must mine the wideouts and quarterbacks over the next three or four picks for a balanced team without any holes.

Team 5: RB Jonathan Taylor, WR Tyreek Hill, QB Tom Brady

Started with Jonathan Taylor for a solid RB1 and reached Tyreek Hill as the No. 3 wideout which is possible with five or six quarterbacks showing up in the initial 15 or so picks. The Tom Brady pick (or No. 8 quarterback) was a reasonable attempt to get a Top-10 quarterback since anywhere from two to six more may be gone by the 4.08 when they go again. Next up – free to go any direction, but another running back in the next two rounds is prudent, along with a wideout. Balanced start allows freedom to go at value instead of need.

Team 6: QB Josh Allen, RB Aaron Jones, RB Austin Ekeler

This format encourages taking an elite quarterback this early.  Followed up with safe picks of Aaron Jones and Austin Ekeler. Running backs are not going to be an advantage so far, but every other position may still be. Next up – wideouts and a second quarterback make the most sense. Probably won’t have much at tight end but that is okay.

Team 7: RB Ezekiel Elliott, TE Travis Kelce, WR Justin Jefferson

Maybe there are no quarterbacks here, but this would kill in a reception-points league and can be just as good in a Super-Flex.  Started out with Ezekiel Elliott for a solid RB1 and then added the No. 1 tight end that could fall this far in this format. Added Justin Jefferson as the No. 6 wideout taken. Balanced start with some firepower at three positions so far. Next up – running back and quarterback are needed over the next three or four picks. If a wideout with higher value fell, he could be considered, but loading up on quarterback and running back needs to happen while it still can.

Team 8: WR Stefon Diggs, RB Saquon Barkley, QB Justin Herbert

Opted to start with the No. 1 wideout, then settled for the No. 9 running back in Saquon Barkley, who may become the No. 1 again (or No. 119 again, depending). Went with Justin Herbert as the No. 9 quarterback to ensure no liability at the position. Balanced start though a little risky. Next up – with Barkley, need to load up on other running backs sooner than later in case he has a slow start. But aside from running backs, the balanced start means picking for value in any position.

Team 9: QB Kyler Murray, RB Joe Mixon, WR DK Metcalf

The No. 9 team is not disadvantaged as they might be in other league formats. Missed out on a Top-5 running back but was able to add a Top-3 quarterback. Joined him with Joe Mixon at RB1 and still reached DK Metcalf as a Top-7 wideout thanks to all those other quarterbacks taking up space in the initial rounds. Next up – Like Team 8, balanced start means being able to hunt for best value in any position. The RB2 needs to be added without the next couple of rounds, but a good looking start from a normally tougher draft slot.

Team 10: RB Derrick Henry, QB Russell Wilson, RB D’Andre Swift

The sixth running back comes off the board knowing that the two teams waiting to draft will consider them and the drop-off in running back quality could fall into a lower tier.  Added Russell Wilson as the sixth quarterback taken over the first fourteen picks and the final one from the initial quarterback tier. Went with RB2 of D’Andre Swift for upside. Good core to start but needs firepower from other positions. Next up – wide receivers are an obvious need and should be addressed a couple of times over the next three or four rounds. But the start was solid enough to allow grabbing anyone that seems a great value.

Team 11: QB Lamar Jackson, RB Nick Chubb, RB Chris Carson

The fourth quarterback taken in the first round says this is not your normal league format. But the initial six quarterbacks are almost universally considered as the elite in their position this year. Tacked on Nick Chubb as RB1 and then opted for Chris Carson as RB2 since the elite players were gone from the four main positions.  Since Team 12 had no running backs in their first two picks, it’s a lock they will take one or even two before the 4.02 rolls back. Next up – looking for wideouts has to happen soon, but taking another quarterback or running back works as well if the value is there.

Team 12: WR Davante Adams, QB Dak Prescott, RB J.K. Dobbins

The back-end of the first round is not nearly so bad in this format that adds more valuable players to the pile. Went with the No. 2 wideout and grabbed Dak Prescott  for what could be spectacular results (health willing). Final pick of J.K. Dobbins was prudent and yielded a balanced start. There is firepower at WR1 and QB1, and waiting until the end of the third round still reaches the No. 18 running back. Next up – certainly running back is in order and likely this next pick at the 4.01. But balanced start allows more strategy in how the team comes together in this format over others.