2017 Fantasy Football Draft Prep: Picking at No. 1 overall in PPR leagues

Drafting from: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12

You've already read and hopefully enjoyed the first edition of our annual pick-by-pick series for standard drafts. If not, what are you waiting for? Now, we're diving into the PPR pool for more analysis.

For those of you reading this series for the first time, this is an exercise we have done for the past several years at CBS Sports to give you a guide on how to draft from a particular draft slot in a 12-team league. This is a three-man draft with my colleagues Dave Richard and Heath Cummings.

It's a blueprint you can follow if you pick from any of these draft spots in your league. The key is to study the strategy and not necessarily the players to see if this works for you.

For example, see what happened after Round 1. Look at when a quarterback or tight end was drafted. Did it make sense to load up on running backs or wide receivers early, and if so, how did the rest of the roster turn out.

I had the No. 1 pick in the standard league, and I also got the No. 1 selection for the PPR format. The first pick remains the same, which is Le'Veon Bell , and the only other player I would consider here is David Johnson .

After drafting Bell is when the fun begins. That's because the hard part with the No. 1 overall pick isn't the No. 1 overall pick. It's what happens with the Round 2-3 turn that can give you indigestion. 

Ideally, you're drafting two standout receivers in a PPR league, and the hope would be getting two guys from the trio of Doug Baldwin , DeAndre Hopkins and Demaryius Thomas based on who should be available. These are the receivers at No. 11, 12 and 13 in my rankings, and this is the cut-off of the receivers I would draft at this spot. 

Since Baldwin and Hopkins were off the board, I went with Todd Gurley and Thomas, which wasn't a bad consolation prize. I expect Gurley to rebound this year, but I don't love only having one receiver through three rounds.

However, it's a good thing that No. 1 receiver is Thomas, who has at least 90 catches, 1,000 yards and five touchdowns five years in a row and should (hopefully) get better quarterback play this season from Paxton Lynch or Trevor Siemian . Thomas also said the hip injury that bothered him most of last year isn't an issue anymore, so maybe better production is in store.

Here is my team at No. 1 overall:

  • 1.1 Le'Veon Bell, RB, PIT
  • 2.24 Todd Gurley, RB, LAR
  • 3.25 Demaryius Thomas, WR, DEN
  • 4.48 Larry Fitzgerald , WR, ARI
  • 5.49 Jamison Crowder , WR, WAS 
  • 6.72 Jeremy Maclin , WR, BAL
  • 7.73 Doug Martin , RB, TB
  • 8.96 Quincy Enunwa , WR, NYJ 
  • 9.97 James White , RB, NE 
  • 10.120 Jack Doyle , TE, IND
  • 11.121 Jacquizz Rodgers , RB, TB
  • 12.144 Philip Rivers , QB, LAC
  • 13.145 Seattle Seahawks DST
  • 14.168 Nick Novak , K, HOU

My goal in Round 4 was to start accumulating receiver talent, which I did with my next three picks in Fitzgerald, Crowder and Maclin. While these might not be sexy names this season, they should be excellent in this format, and I also added a quality sleeper in Enunwa as a No. 5 option.

Fitzgerald has averaged 107 catches, 1,023 yards and six touchdowns the past two years, Crowder is headed for a big bump as the No. 2 receiver in Washington and Maclin benefits leaving Kansas City to become the No. 1 receiver in Baltimore. Enunwa also is now the No. 1 receiver for the Jets.

I like this receiving corps, and I was more than satisfied with my running back depth as well with Martin, White and Rodgers (Martin's handcuff). Having the top two guys in the Buccaneers backfield, as well as a solid pass-catching running back in White, gives me great insurance in case Bell or Gurley get hurt.

My favorite thing about this team was waiting on Doyle and Rivers as late as I could, which is something you will see me do often. Rivers is always going to go late, but he offers top-10 upside every season. And I expect Doyle to have a breakout campaign in 2017 as the new No. 1 tight end for the Colts with Dwayne Allen now in New England.

Favorite pick: Jeremy Maclin

Jeremy Maclin WR / Baltimore (2016 stats with Kansas City)
TAR: 76 REC: 44 YDS: 536 TD: 2

Maclin should be the No. 1 receiver for the Baltimore Ravens , and his main competition will come from Mike Wallace and Breshad Perriman . If healthy, Maclin should easily be Joe Flacco 's favorite target, and remember that Baltimore is without Steve Smith (retired) and Dennis Pitta (hip) this year. That duo accounted for 222 targets, 156 catches, 1,528 yards and seven touchdowns. Maclin struggled through a significant groin injury in 2016 with the Kansas City Chiefs , but he's a year removed from consecutive seasons of at least 85 catches, 1,000 yards and eight touchdowns. He's an amazing No. 4 receiver in PPR and a potential steal in Round 6.

Pick I might regret: Todd Gurley

Todd Gurley RB / L.A. Rams (2016 stats)
ATT: 278 YDS: 885 TD: 6 YPC: 3.2 REC: 43 REC YDS: 327

I'm expecting Gurley to rebound this year with a better offensive line, improved quarterback play from Jared Goff and, more importantly, a coaching upgrade with Sean McVay. Does that guarantee Gurley playing like he did as a standout rookie in 2015? No. But he should improve on last year's bust campaign, which makes him worth drafting toward the end of Round 2 in any format. The reason I might regret drafting him here is because I let receivers like Sammy Watkins , Jarvis Landry , Davante Adams , Terrelle Pryor and Allen Robinson go for a second running back. Luckily, my receiver talent ended up being OK.

Player who could make or break my team: Philip Rivers

Philip Rivers QB / L.A. Chargers (2016 stats)
CMP %: 60.4 YDS: 4,386 TD: 33 INT: 21

I'm never going to complain about waiting on a quarterback, especially when I can get Rivers in Round 12. All Rivers has done is pass for at least 4,200 yards and 29 touchdowns four years in a row, and he got an upgrade in his receiving corps with Mike Williams joining Keenan Allen , Tyrell Williams , Hunter Henry and Antonio Gates . But the reason Rivers goes late on Draft Day is Fantasy owners fear a drop-off could be coming, which is natural given his age (35) and workload (at least 570 passes each of the past three seasons). Here's hoping there's at least one more good year left for Rivers, so plan to wait for him as long as possible. 

Senior Fantasy Writer

Jamey Eisenberg has been a Senior Fantasy Writer for CBS Sports since 2006 with a focus on Fantasy Football. A University of Florida grad (class of '98), Jamey got his start in the newspaper business and... Full Bio

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