Your Team’s Core: Your First Three Picks
It is time to get into the meat and potatoes of how to win. Last time, I told you the key to winning depends on how much effort you put into research during the preseason. Now it is time to focus on how to draft.
There is a very important saying in fantasy football. “Never sit your studs.” This is extremely true. Who are your studs? Your studs are the guys who spent a very high draft pick on to acquire. These are your players who are required to be taken in the first three rounds of the draft. Most people believe your studs are obtained during the first two rounds of the draft; however your third rounder may very well be the most important pick you make. The third player on your team will dictate the tone of your team and complete a solid foundation for your season.
Before you even get to your draft, there is one last crucial thought process to go through. You must know what you want your team to look like. To do this envision your team after the entire draft is over. After you choose what type of direction you want to be headed, break your roster down into smaller chunks and see how you can go about obtaining the end result.
The first and most important chuck is your team’s core players. Before drafting, know exactly what positions you want to have filled after your first three picks. How you decide what positions are most important should be dictated by your league’s scoring system. If your league rewards tons of points to quarterbacks, you will probably want a top tier player at the position.
There are tons of opinions out there on how to draft the early rounds. Some will tell you to draft two running backs in a row. Some say grab a running back, a top quarterback, and a wide receiver. Some say do not even worry about a quarterback until later and load up on running backs and wide receivers. However, you choose to draft your first three rounds is entirely up to you. You can win with any of these strategies, but each one has down sides that must be made up for later in the draft.
Round one should always be dedicated to taking a running back. This is because running backs will score more points on a consistent basis than players from any other position. A first round pick needs to be solid. This is not the time to reach on a player who may or may not be as good as what people think. A lot of people get side tracked and decide to take the best wide receiver or the bets quarterback. Do not let this be you. After the first round, the top running backs are gone. In today’s game, there are very few running backs that get over twenty touches a game. If you do not take a true work horse back with your first pick, you will be hard pressed to get a guy who is going to put up a large number of points on a consistent basis.
The second round is where you begin to take your team in a specific direction. By this point you should have a star running back. You are now open to choose whatever position you desire. Obviously, you do not want to take a kicker here, but feel free to take a second running back, a quarterback, or a wide receiver.
Taking a second running back in the second round is probably the most popular option. It is because there are not too many of them out there. If you wait until the third round to grab another one, you will be flipping through backs all the time. However, if a top three quarterback is available, there is no reason to not take him.
A big trend last year was to wait to take a quarterback because of how many good ones there were. One thing to understand is no matter how many quality players there are at a position there are always thresholds between the best and next few levels of quality. One of top three quarterbacks is always a solid pick. You normally only start one quarterback; taking one of the best means you will never need to think twice about who is going to take that starting position and you can always count on them for a good game. This quickly changes after these guys. There are no guarantees that anybody outside of the best of the best will be a great start every week.
Taking a top tier wide receiver is also a good option. It will allow you a lot of room in later rounds to take different positions. A wide receiver in the second round is a great choice simply because you are open to take a number of different positions in the next few picks. Be forewarned though, do not reach. If the best are gone go with another option. More than likely if you are picking late in the second round, the top guys have been taken and you should just wait until later to grab you first wide receiver.
It changes a little bit in Point-Per-Reception (PPR) Leagues. If you are in a league that awards points for any time a player catches a ball, you absolutely must take a wide receiver in the first two rounds of the draft. Wide receivers are the most important player in these types of leagues.
Now it is time for the most important part. A strong pick in the third round dictates everything from this point on. You should have known going into the draft exactly what, maybe even who, you wanted in the first two rounds. The third round is where you are going to start having to improvise. A lot of this will depend on your position in the draft.
The first rule of thumb is to never draft three running backs in a row. Picking this way will make entirely too weak at other positions. Some leagues have flex players where you can start either a running back or a wide receiver. You still will not want your three picks dedicated to running backs, because you will be hurting so badly for a quarterback or strong wide receiver.
If a top three quarterback is still on the board, pull the trigger and grab him. You will eventually need a quarterback, but you will be getting a top notch guy at a rock bottom price. If none of the top three are available, you probably should consider a different option because quality passers will be available later.
This is the only time in the top three rounds where it is acceptable to draft a tight end. However, if the tight end is not the absolute best in the league, do not waste your pick. There will eventually be a run on tight ends at some point in the upcoming rounds. I will discuss more on how to draft this position later, but if Jimmy Graham is on the table and you do not feel comfortable with any other players on the board go ahead.
Wide receivers are the most popular option for this round. Picking one is very dependent on who you have already chosen and when your fourth round pick is. If you do not have a wide receiver at this point, you should definitely look into pick one. If you do have one, you are much more open. You can think about what you have already and pick based on that. The most important thing to remember is what is around the corner. The fourth round is a massive run on wide receivers. If you are picking late in the fourth round, it is highly advised to grab one while you still can.
If you only have one running back at this point, you have a lot to consider. Yes, running backs are the most important position in fantasy football. Yes, you need good ones to win. However, by the third round there probably are very few left who are worth taking. If your pick comes and no good ones are still available, wait until later. More than likely, a player of similar quality at running back will be there in the next round. On the other hand, if you have an early third rounder, you still may have the opportunity to draft a decent third running back. If this is the case and you only have one running back, you need to go ahead and take him before you are left with the bottom of the barrel.
The key to drafting is knowing what you want your team to look like. This requires a great deal of forethought and the ability to see what is coming in the next round. Always be one step ahead of yourself. Know and understand the consequences of drafting a certain position before you make a pick. Making a strong core is an essential part to a successful draft. You want player that are consistent and are going to be out on the field as often as possible. These are the guys who are going to give you the majority of your points each week. After you have a solid foundation in place, you can start getting a little creative in your draft.