Where do you Pick?

The NFL season is just 10 days away which means fantasy football drafts are occurring at light speed. While nobody attacks fantasy football the same way, we all implement some sort of strategy.

Many use “Zero-RB”, loading up on top level receivers early in drafts. While some were, are, and will forever choose to grab RBs early and often. These strategies can produce championship teams but where you pick in drafts has a lot of influence on potential success. With that, I’ll highlight the players to target when picking from the beginning, middle, or end of the draft.

Round 1

Picks 1-4

Scoring format be damned! I am not passing up the top 4, hell, even 6 RBs in this position. For fun, however, let’s examine different strategies.

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Zero-RB: DeAndre Hopkins is the ideal target for those employing this strategy. He finished 2018 as the no.1 receiver and that was without a viable target opposite him most of the season.

RB early: The big 4 running backs should be atop most draft boards and give me any of these touch monsters at the top all day baby!

Picks 5-8

Zero-RB: My favorite to finish WR1 Julio Jones! TD regression is coming for Calvin Ridley while Julio can only improve on his modest td numbers.

RB early: Hopefully one of the big 4 fell to you. If not, both David Johnson and Le’Veon Bell will be the focal points of their respective offenses.

Picks 9-12

Zero-RB: Hopefully Julio or Devante Adams are on the board, but if not, Michael Thomas is clearly the favorite of Drew Brees and will produce similar numbers once again.

RB early: James Conner will lead the Steelers backfield and worries of Jaylen Samuels stealing touches are overblown.

Rounds 2/3

Picks 13-16

Zero-RB: Adding JuJu Smith-Schuster here in addition to a Michael Thomas or Odell would make your opponent’s quiver.

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RB early: Nick Chubb forced Cleveland to trade Carlos Hyde and will keep Kareem Hunt on the sidelines when he returns.

Picks 17-20

Zero RB: Maybe someone forgot about JuJu but an even better target is Travis Kelce. Baby Gronk has now taken over the thrown as the top TE in the NFL and offers a huge weekly advantage against your opposition.

RB early: Dalvin Cook is one of my favorite breakout players this season and now fully healthy with little experience behind him, he will be the workhorse for a good Vikings offense.

Picks 21-24

Zero RB: Hopefully your fellow drafters were asleep at the wheel and passed by Michael Thomas. If the record breaker is gone, look to a future Hall of Famer Antonio Brown will still produce great weekly numbers.

RB early: If a Cook, or Gurley are here, PULL THE TRIGGER. If you like a balanced lineup however, Mike Evans is a potential league winner this late in the 2nd round.

Getty Images

Picks 25-28

Zero RB: This is the spot where George Kittle or Zach Ertz make your team a forced to reckoned with

RB early: I’m skipping down the rankings list and grabbing either Aaron Jones or Devonta Freeman. Both play on high powered offenses and will threaten the top 10 at RB this season.

Picks 29-32

Zero RB: Look to Minnesota again towards Adam Thielen or Stefon Diggs. Easily the top targets who will command most of Kirk’s looks.

RB early: Since you’ve likely stocked up on top runners, see above

Picks 33-36

Zero RB: At this spot you already have two stud wide outs, but why not one more in Brandin Cooks! He has reached 1k receiving yards every full season and while averaging 15.8 yds/rec over the last 2 years.

RB early: Some will drop him off their board completely, but T.Y. Hilton is still a 5 star hotel. He has never averaged under 13 yds/rec and almost reached 1k receiving yards during Brissett’s first year with the team. Now that his price has dropped, the still super explosive no.1 wide receiver is a bargain for an offense that will be better than most people think.

Frederick Breedon – Getty Images

Round 4

Picks 37-40

Zero-RB: If Zach Ertz or George Kittle somehow fell this far grab one of them. Without them, abandoned the plan and grab the potential workhorse in Oakland Josh Jacobs. Jon Gruden will run the rookie ragged.

RB early: Josh Jacobs is the man of the hour in this area as three-down backs are not normally available this late in fantasy drafts

Picks 41-44

Zero RB: The key to fantasy championships may be Tyler Lockett in 2019. One of the most efficient receivers last year is now the top target for elite deep thrower Russell Wilson.

RB early: Same as above

Picks 45-48

Zero RB: Obviously if Lockett is here, DRAFT HIM! He isn’t? rookie David Montgomery is taking over a role which kept Jordan Howard fantasy relevant and…. Montgomery is better

RB early: Sony Michel is going to see an increase in passing game duty along with his early-down/goal line role, make him a dark horse to finish in the top 12 of the position this year.

At the conclusion of 4 rounds, the rosters could possibly look like:

Zero RB

1-4: DeAndre Hopkins, Antonio Brown, George Kittle, David Montgomery

5-8: Julio Jones, Travis Kelce, Adam Thielen, Tyler Lockett

9-12: Michael Thomas, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Brandin Cooks, Josh Jacobs

RB early

1-4: Top 4 RB, Mike Evans, Devonta Freeman, Sony Michel

5-8: David Johnson, Dalvin Cook, Stephon Diggs, Tyler Lockett

9-12: James Conner, Nick Chubb, T.Y. Hilton, Josh Jacobs

As you can see, both strategies offer some pretty intriguing lineups. After the first few rounds most strategies can be abandoned in order to build around your studs and construct the best week to week team. For the remainder of the draft, I’ll highlight players to target each round. (QBs will not be included)

RD 5: Mike Williams is about to prove why the Chargers drafted him in the 1st round. He is now the unquestioned no.2 target with Tyrell Williams in Oakland, which will lead to a dramatic increase in target share. He caught a touchdown every 4 receptions last year, HE ONLY HAD 43 CATCHES!

RD 6: A.J. Green will likely miss a couple games to begin the season but when healthy, he is a top 10 receiver. At this point in the draft you will likely have your top WR and can afford to snag A.J. who will help you compete for some Green down the stretch in 2019.

RD 7: The Saints keep marching on as Latavius Murray takes over for Mark Ingram. Ingram missed the first 4 games of the season, played second fiddle to Kamara, and still wound up with 7 tds. Murray will take over this role to help keep Kamara healthy. He will be a threat to find the end zone every week, and should Alvin get injured, Latavius will skyrocket up the ranks.

RD 8: Sometimes the best play is the safe play, and Larry Fitzgerald is as safe as they get. A new up-tempo offense with an emphasis on quick passes will benefit the legend as he’ll quickly become the favorite of rookie Kyler Murray.

Justin Edmonds – Getty Images

RD 9: Similarly to Larry Fitzgerald, Emmanuel Sanders is being forgotten and taken as late as the 11th round. He would have easily surpassed 1k yards while approaching 8-10 tds receiving were it not for a season ending Achilles injury suffered in early December of last season. Joe Flacco will lean on his veteran target while becoming more comfortable in Denver.

RD 10: South Beach has some amazing beaches, fun night life, and a new running back who we’re all swooning over in Kalen Ballage. The injury to Kenyan Drake has opened the door for Ballage to take the starting job and steal touches going into the season. A monster in the mold of ex-Giant Brandon Jacobs, Miami will get him more involved no matter the health of Kenyan Drake.

RD 11: Staying at the RB position, I’m targeting another guy who is in a preseason battle for playing time Ronald Jones. Currently competing with the not exciting Peyton Barber, Jones fits the down field aerial attack that Bruce Arians would like to run. In round 11, Jones offers the upside and explosiveness of a top 30 running back.

RD 12: The human bulldozer C.J. Anderson was all but retired before the Rams rode him to the Super Bowl. He is now in Detroit and contrary to popular opinion will be involved in the Lions running game. A near 50/50 split with the starters during preseason shows how they’ll want to deploy their ground game and Anderson could be a huge steal again this season.

RD 13: Back to the Big Easy I go with Tre’Quan Smith. The sophomore will reap the benefits of a full off-season learning the offense, and learning from some of the best. In round 13 you can’t go wrong with the potential number 2 wide receiver for a Hall of Famer.

RD 14: Remember Jordan Reed? He is still playing on track to play week 1 after a concussion scare. The Redskins will be starting Case Keenum, and Reed will be the security blanket while he still adapting to the offense. Even if Reed only gets you half a season, it is difficult to pass up a guy who could routinely finish top 10 at the position in round 14.

RD 15 (Mr. irrelevant): Cover your eyeballs as this name may hurt to read. Devante Parker is the perfect boom or bust last pick for your fantasy drafts. He did not see eye to eye with the previous regime, and his involvement suffered as a result. He will be the best red zone target for a team who will be losing a lot. As a result, this will be his best season yet! If I’m wrong, it costs you nothing, and if you check out the Angle of Pursuit podcast, it will cost me dearly.


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