2018 Fantasy Football Draft Prep: Picking at No. 3 overall in non-PPR leagues is a great place to be to land Ezekiel Elliott
When it comes to picking at No. 3 overall, Dave Richard says to start by focusing on Rounds 2 and 3, not Round 1.
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Editor's note: Our latest non-PPR pick-by-pick series was done in June and is a three-man draft with Heath Cummings, Jamey Eisenberg and Dave Richard, with each one selecting four teams in this 12-team mock. The goal of this series is to show you positions to draft in these spots as much as the players selected, so take that into account when viewing each team.
Picking third just might be the best spot to draft. You're guaranteed one of the top three running backs, you pick earlier in the even rounds than the others guaranteed a top-three rusher and you ultimately end up with three of the top 27 players in the draft.
That's the good news. The bad news is that you're in the thick of tier dropoffs at a number of positions in late Round 4 and early Round 5. Those two picks are crucial for any Fantasy team, but they're harder for you because most people consider there to be just barely over 40 really good players in Fantasy this year, and you're unlikely to get any of them by 46th overall.
Do yourself this one favor before you draft: Rank the top 60 players. By prioritizing players, you're making yourself aware of who to expect, especially when you get to Round 4. A lot of unprepared Fantasy owners will find the going tough by then. You shouldn't be one of them.
Here is my team from No. 3 overall:
- 1.3 Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Cowboys
- 2.10 Doug Baldwin, WR, Seahawks
- 3.3 Zach Ertz, TE, Eagles
- 4.10 Ronald Jones, RB, Buccaneers
- 5.3 Jarvis Landry, WR, Browns
- 6.10 Sony Michel, RB, Patriots
- 7.3 Carson Wentz, QB, Eagles
- 8.10 Robby Anderson, WR, Jets
- 9.3 C.J. Anderson, RB, Panthers
- 10.10 Andrew Luck, QB, Colts
- 11.3 Nelson Agholor, WR, Eagles
- 12.10 Chargers DST
- 13.3 Greg Zuerlein, K, Rams
- 14.10 LeGarrette Blount, RB, Lions
Zeke was the easiest choice in the world after Todd Gurley and Le'Veon Bell went first and second. Gotta love being guaranteed one of those three.
So my focus basically was on my second-round pick when the draft started. In that specific range I think it's smart to target a pass-catcher. A lot of the top-tier running backs will have been taken by then, so the value is at receiver.
I also subscribe to the theory that the top tight ends are worth taking at fair values, not steal values. I don't consider it a reach to take Travis Kelce or Zach Ertz in that area, but it would be better to settle on one of them in Round 3.
So with Rob Gronkowski being the only tight end off the board when I was up in Round 2, I hoped one of Kelce or Ertz would make it back in Round 3. That allowed me to take the best-available receiver in Doug Baldwin, though T.Y. Hilton and Tyreek Hill were also in consideration.
Sure enough, Ertz was there in Round 3, and I didn't hesitate. These picks sent me into Round 4 with three really good players, but definitely some uncertainty given the talent decline that Fantasy owners should expect by roughly 45th overall.
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But because I was prepared and knew some players I thought would be good to take then, I felt good. In Round 4, I took Ronald Jones, a Tampa Bay rookie rusher I am very optimistic for. He's got a shot to be an every-down back for a Bucs offense that improved its offensive line and has a much stronger defensive front to keep them in games. I also took Jones because he was essentially the only running back I liked at that point in the draft, whereas there were a handful of wide receivers I would have been happy with.
One such receiver was Jarvis Landry, Cleveland's new good-hands man. In a non-PPR league his value isn't as good, but he still can foot the bill as a No. 2 wideout. I preferred him to Golden Tate and every other receiver drafted after him.
Happy to come out of my first five picks with two running backs, two receivers and a stud tight end, I kicked my draft into high-gear and found some unbelievable values the rest of the way. Sony Michel is another running back with sky-high expectations -- finding him in Round 6 felt lucky.
In Round 7, I settled on Carson Wentz after Jamaal Williams went in front of me. The timing of the Wentz pick was perfect -- there wasn't another player at another position who I really liked there. I recommend taking a quarterback when it feels like you're stealing him from the rest of your league, but it's also a good time to take one when there isn't a player at another position you're hot for.
Robby Anderson is exactly the kind of receiver depth I'm looking for on Draft Day. He's got the upside to reel in his fair share of over 120 targets and can find the end zone on big plays and short plays. He was a Round 8 gift, even if he's on the hapless Jets.
The rest of my picks were about building depth, but I am compelled to share why I took Andrew Luck in Round 10. For starters, he's an absolute bargain in Round 10. Even if he is good but not great, that price tag is awfully low. Luck also provides some insurance just in case Wentz, who is coming back from a torn ACL, isn't ready to play Week 1. Plus I feel as though Fantasy owners can make a choice between taking two quarterbacks or two tight ends. I typically stump for two tight ends, but I already drafted Ertz, so why would I take another? The best available tight end by late Round 10 was George Kittle, who I do like, but Luck has more upside at his position than Kittle.
Oh and by the way, Luck's new offensive line is loaded and his new head coach was Wentz's former offensive coordinator. I believe the Colts will be just as pass-happy as the Eagles were last season. That's a good thing.
Favorite pick: Andrew Luck
For a late-round pick, he's got the most upside of anyone in Fantasy. It helps that he's realized his potential before, and it sure seems like he'll be ready for the start of the season. That could be a bad thing if you draft close to Labor Day -- once it's clear he's "back," his Fantasy value is sure to shoot up, potentially as high as Round 6.
Pick I might regret: Jarvis Landry
In Miami, Landry was a security blanket and a go-to receiver amid a group of iffy receivers. In Cleveland, he's practically certain to see fewer targets thanks to a deeper, better receiving corps and an offense that utilizes a running back as a short-area target. We'll see if Landry can become more effective in fewer targets.
Player who could make or break my team: Ronald Jones
I'm not particularly worried about my running back depth, but if Jones reaches the expectations I have for him, my team should be in great shape. If he struggles to break out, I'll have a harder time winning the league.
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