I'm often asked how to best navigate a Fantasy draft from the middle of the first round (and therefore, the middle of every round). Here's how I answer: If you love a lot of running backs, or if you crave a safe pick in Round 1, you could go with Travis Kelce or Davante Adams. But if you don't love a lot of running backs -- perhaps the idea of starting D'Andre Swift or Josh Jacobs sickens you -- then prioritizing the position is an absolute must through the first few rounds.
You're about to find out where I come out on this. I didn't think twice about taking Aaron Jones in Round 1, and I didn't think much about passing on Nick Chubb in Round 2. I was elated to have two running backs with 15-plus Fantasy point potential each week (Chubb's averaged at least that much in PPR each of the past two seasons).
And boy, was I glad when I was up in Round 3 and the best available running backs were Chris Carson and, I guess, Swift. Carson would have been a good pick, I'm okay starting him, but I was much happier having the two guys I had plus Robert Woods in Round 3 and Diontae Johnson in Round 4.
Here's how the rest of the team turned out:
1.07: Aaron Jones
2.06: Nick Chubb
3.07: Robert Woods
4.06: Diontae Johnson
5.07: T.J. Hockenson
6.06: Tyler Boyd
7.07: Kenny Golladay
8.06: Ronald Jones
9.07: Sony Michel
10.06: Ryan Tannehill
11.07: Aaron Rodgers
12.06: Phillip Lindsay
13.07: Parris Campbell
14.06: Gerald Everett
15.07: Boston Scott
Rushing to take running backs and then having patience with other positions really paid off for me. I didn't hurry to take a tight end and got borderline lucky with Hockenson in Round 5. I definitely took my time to get a quarterback knowing that the rest of my league likes to wait, and I snagged Tannehill at a ridiculous Round 10 value. And then somehow Rodgers was there in Round 11 and I just couldn't pass up the value. I assume I'll trade one of them within the first six weeks of the season.
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But the other patient approach involved drafting mild-appeal running backs in Rounds 8 and 9. I know I'll never sit Jones and Chubb, and I think I can find capable Flex options among my receivers. So getting Jones and Michel before 100th overall provided excellent depth. I'm hoping I won't need those guys too often, but if I do, they have some potential to help and maybe even grow their roles.
TEN Tennessee • #17
Age: 33 • Experience: 10 yrs.
It was Round 8 and Justin Herbert, Tom Brady, Tannehill, Rodgers and Jalen Hurts were all still on the board. Of the squads picking after me in Round 8 and then before me in Round 9, only three needed a quarterback. Even a dummy like me knows five is more than three, so the odds were excellent that at least two of those quarterbacks would make it back to me in Round 9. I waited. In Round 9, Brady, Tannehill, Rodgers and Hurts were left. I could have taken one then, but I also noticed that three of the five times picking after me in Round 9/before me in Round 10 still needed a starter. I didn't even need to use my calculator to know that at least one had a tremendous chance of being available in the tenth round. Sure enough, Tannehill, Hurts and Rodgers were there. I chilled with Tannehill and was very satisfied UNTIL Rodgers made it back to me in Round 11. I didn't care that I just spent a pick on a quarterback, I was delighted to get the reigning MVP on my roster about 80 picks after his ADP! The point of all this? Don't reach for a quarterback unless you are NOT sure one you like will make it back to you in the next round. Also, don't ignore screaming bargains at any position, even quarterback.
NYG N.Y. Giants • #19
Age: 27 • Experience: 5 yrs.
I could have taken Melvin Gordon or Michael Carter in Round 7 but opted to build receiver depth with Golladay. It's nice that he's back at practice for the Giants but it's become harder to trust him knowing how rough Daniel Jones has looked. That offensive line in New York might be a season-crushing albatross for everyone involved. At least Golladay is penciled in as my fourth receiver, but I think I would have been happier taking Gordon and then finding a receiver in Round 8 or 9.
DET Detroit • #88
Age: 24 • Experience: 3 yrs.
I've made a lot of assumptions with Hockenson this offseason: That he'll be the Lions' top target in the offense, that he will play 17 games, that he will catch a ton of passes all year and that he'll find the end zone a lot. The truth is that nothing is promised when it comes to mediocre offenses, and it feels really safe saying the Lions won't be a high-scoring team. The stat I cling to is that Hockenson finished with nine or more PPR points in 12 of 16 games last year. That's pretty close to break-out status, and it was when he was collecting a 17.3% target share. If he takes a step forward there and sees more throws because the rest of the Lions passing game is a mess, then he should easily finish as a top five tight end.
So which sleepers, breakouts and busts should you target and fade? And which QB shocks the NFL with a top-five performance? Visit SportsLine now to get Fantasy cheat sheets for every single position, all from the model that called Josh Allen's huge season, and find out.