Are you still feeling a bit panicked about what you might do early in your fantasy football draft? You’ve come to the right place, so keep calm and read on.
The beginning of the draft is a very important time during which you’ll form the core of your squad, so you’ll definitely need a good attack plan. To help you out, we’ll be simulating a four-round, 10-team mock draft for a standard-scoring league.
After seeing the results of the mock, we’ll look at three key strategic tips for early in the draft and highlight how some of the teams in the mock applied said tips.
Four-Round Mock Draft
Mock Draft Results
The below table shows each team’s top four picks, with bye weeks in parentheses.
Have your tiers ready
Just because someone is the top player at his position remaining on your draft board, that doesn’t mean he’s a viable selection.
For example, Rob Gronkowski is the No. 1 fantasy tight end, and he’s widely seen as a first-round pick as well. Team 7 used its top selection on him in this mock. So when Team 8 gets on the clock for its first-rounder, the consensus No. 2 tight end (Jimmy Graham) should get consideration. Right?
Wrong. Gronk is in the top tier of tight ends by himself. His statistical dominance relative to his positional peers makes him an extremely valuable commodity.
While other positions aren’t that extreme, you’ll need to decide where the drop-offs are. In the above mock, Teams 6 and 7 decided the top tier of running backs ended after Marshawn Lynch and selected players at other positions.
At quarterback, the top tier contains Andrew Luck and Aaron Rodgers. Jordy Nelson‘s torn ACL gives Luck a slight leg up, but Rodgers is too good and has too many weapons to crater statistically. After those two, there was a 14-pick quarterback drought in this mock to reflect the drop-off from Tier 1 to Tier 2.
The concept of tiers should be prominent throughout your draft, especially early on as you form the core of your team. Make sure you have positional groupings ready before you select your squad.
Pay attention to bye weeks, but don’t freak out over them
The strategy of making sure all your starters (or at least your key starters) have different bye weeks can be effective. It minimizes the tinkering you’ll have to do from week to week and, ideally, keeps your team performing at a consistent level throughout the fantasy season.
However, if that mindset is causing you to draft inferior players just for the sake of non-overlapping bye weeks, you should ditch it.
Ultimate FF Strategy conducted an extensive analysis based on 2014 fantasy data, which concluded that the amount of bye-week overlap within a team had little to no effect on the squad’s success.
You’ll notice that five of the 10 teams in the mock had bye weeks overlap between at least two of their top four picks, but none of the overlap was between players of the same position, which is a superior alternative to a strict no-overlapping-of-bye-weeks policy. The teams with some overlap will probably be lean on the weeks when their top stars are off, but the payoff of better production throughout the rest of the year isn’t a bad consolation.
Of course, if you’re crafty on the waiver wire or trade market, you can make any bye-week situation work.
Don’t be afraid to wait on a running back
Running back is consistently the position fantasy owners rush to draft in the first round because of the premium on elite halfback production.
And yet the controversial “no running back” fantasy strategy has gained steam in recent years.
This strategy obviously doesn’t involve drafting zero running backs, because there are two starting running back slots to fill on a standard fantasy roster. But it does mean waiting longer than is customary before picking one up. It’s born of the idea that bell-cow running backs are becoming extinct, and there are only a few you can trust for big production.
Two teams tried the strategy in the above mock: Teams 6 and 10. With their spots in the back half of the first round, neither squad felt there was any remaining running back who was dependable enough to carry a team. Instead, both ended up with four great players.
Team 6 got Antonio Brown, the top fantasy wideout, and Aaron Rodgers, who might be the top fantasy quarterback. Mike Evans is a second-year stud receiver playing with a rookie quarterback, but that quarterback is Jameis Winston. Its fourth-round pick was Jimmy Graham, an accomplished tight end who should be Russell Wilson‘s favorite red-zone target.
Team 10 will slay any other team’s wide receiver production, led by Dez Bryant and Demaryius Thomas, undoubtedly two of the league’s top five wideouts. Second-year pass-catcher Brandin Cooks will also add plenty of punch as Drew Brees‘ No. 1 target, and Russell Wilson will be a nice dual-threat quarterback to use in all matchups.
Both of those squads can grab two of the many serviceable, high-upside running backs remaining in Rounds 5 through 8.
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