Non-PPR draft slot: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6  | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12

Middle child, middle seat, middle of the draft. There's a certain stigma that comes with being in the middle.

For Fantasy bosses, drafting in the middle means not being able to get a top-shelf running back. But it also means a top-shelf receiver will be there, as will other running backs if you so desire one. Also, picking in the middle of every round means you won't have to wait too long until it's your pick. So if there's a run on players at a certain position, you'll be in the thick of it.

Plus, getting two top-18 players and three top-31 talents doesn't hurt, either.

About the only major drawbacks from picking seventh are missing out on the elite rushers and not being able to manipulate your draft based on other people's needs. There will always be several fellow managers picking twice before you choose once.

Before you draft ...

  • Make a top-10 list. You know you'll get one of those 10 players.
  • Then make a top-20 list. You know you'll get two of those 20 players.
  • Evaluate how badly you want a stud tight end. You'll have a great shot at one in Round 2 and maybe an outside chance at one in Round 3.
  • Finalize your plan for running backs: Which ones will you take in Round 2 ahead of a receiver? Because there will for sure be an appealing receiver in Round 2.

I went through all of these steps before building my roster in a draft we did on July 30. Here's how my team looks from the No. 7 spot:

I could have taken the easy route in Round 1 with Julio Jones or Davante Adams. But in a non-PPR league, I like taking running backs first. They score more points than receivers and there aren't quite as many of them to go around as there are wideouts. I also know that in Round 2, there are plenty of nice-looking receivers I could tag -- and even in Round 3 I should be able to find a start-worthy one at 31st overall.

So for those reasons, I went for James Conner. The Steelers have a great three-down back in him and the franchise's track record for most of this decade involves letting one running back handle a lot of the work. I don't see that significantly changing. He's an easy first-round pick in my eyes, but if you prefer something safer, one of the top-three receivers will be there.

As the offseason rolls on, it's getting pretty clear that the second-tier receivers including Tyreek Hill, JuJu Smith-Schuster and Michael Thomas aren't going to be slam-dunks to be there at 18th overall. Pass catchers like Mike Evans, Antonio Brown, George Kittle and Zach Ertz will be in the mix ... and so will some interesting running backs.

The dilemma I faced was to double-up on running backs and chase receivers later, or settle for a receiver or tight end and hope that running backs would be appealing in Round 3. This wasn't a hard decision -- using the same logic from the start of the draft, I took about 1.35 seconds to fist-pump and pick Nick Chubb. Two heavy workload offenses in emerging offenses? I'll take that all day.

This meant that the pressure was on to find receivers as soon as Round 3. Amari Cooper was the best of the bunch and offers sky-high potential based on his big games with the Cowboys last year. I expect him to continue receiving a steady dose of targets from week to week.

Round 4 was a tough spot. Adam Thielen and Chris Godwin went right in front of me, leaving me with Cooper Kupp, Robby Anderson or Tyler Lockett. I'm not really into taking any of them at this stage of Round 4, and I sure didn't need a running back (the best available one was Derrick Henry). So I splurged on Evan Engram. On one hand, I had no problem taking a player with someone who has 1,000-yard, eight-score potential. On the other, I really would have preferred to have a receiver I liked. The key here is that I don't feel like I forced the pick -- had I taken Kupp, that would have been a little reachy. I don't think Engram was too reachy, and it strengthened my tight end spot.

Think I went hog wild on receivers after that? Nope. Anderson, who I didn't want in Round 4, came back to me in Round 5, but he was my only wideout in my next three picks. Look, I knew my receivers weren't going to be great, so if I'm going to miss out at that position, I'm missing all the way. Andrew Luck fell into my lap in Round 6 and James White solidified my running back depth in Round 7. I took two of my favorite No. 3 receivers in Rounds 8 and 9 with Geronimo Allison and DeSean Jackson. Those two picks made me feel better about my receiving crew.

Just for fun, had I gone with a receiver in Round 1, my team would have started out looking like this:

  • 1.07 Julio Jones, WR, ATL
  • 2.06 Nick Chubb, RB, CLE
  • 3.07 Amari Cooper, WR, DAL
  • 4.06 Derrick Henry, RB, TEN
  • 5.07 Phillip Lindsay, RB, DEN
  • 6.06 Andrew Luck, QB, IND
  • 7.07 Curtis Samuel, WR, CAR
  • 8.06 Derrius Guice, RB, WAS

If you like this lineup better than the one I actually put together, then be ready to go with a receiver in Round 1. If not, be open to the idea of starting with two running backs (an easier sell in non-PPR than PPR). Your lineup should be unique and more productive than those that opt to bulk up with receivers.

Favorite pick
CLE Cleveland • #24
Age: 28 • Experience: 7 yrs.
2018 Stats

This would be different in a PPR format -- I wouldn't even make this pick in PPR -- but getting a running back with the potential Chubb has in Round 2 and pairing him with James Conner makes my lineup a little more unsettling for my rivals. I love that Chubb is working on his passing game in training camp and should be in line for a minimum of 15 touches per week with goal-line opportunities in the Browns' awesome offense. And if he were to trail off by midseason, that's OK because I swiped Kareem Hunt in Round 12 (I would only draft Hunt if I drafted Chubb).

Pick I might regret
NE New England • #28
Age: 32 • Experience: 9 yrs.
2018 Stats

I passed on Curtis Samuel to get White. I chose White because I wanted to clinch some running back depth rather than solidify my starting lineup with a third receiver. Maybe I'll be happy with that when Conner or Chubb are on bye, but there's some serious upside in Samuel that I should have gone for. Then I could have eased my way into drafting Derrius Guice in Round 8.

Make or break pick
CLE Cleveland • #2
Age: 30 • Experience: 10 yrs.
2018 Stats

Part of my excitement for Cooper stems from the 16-game pace he was on with the Cowboys including the playoffs: 96 catches, 1,303 yards and 10 touchdowns. I think Cooper can come close to that, and even deliver on a more-consistent-than-we're-used-to basis. But if he struggles like we saw during his Oakland days, he'll be a disappointing part of my starting lineup. I think this team swings on his success or failure.