Monday, August 15, 2011

Strategy for Drafting Early Receivers

Every day we are getting closer and closer to the 2011 NFL season, which means that we are definitely getting closer and closer to your fantasy football draft. For the next few weeks we will be updating the player rankings as preseason statistics come in. We’ll also be providing you with more draft analysis and strategies so you get the most out of your 2011 fantasy football selections. If you have an idea for a draft strategy article or something you would like to know more about in the preseason, give us a comment and we’ll provide our expertise.

Something that I have been talking about a lot is the need to draft your running backs early. There is a dwindling number of elite talent at the running back position, so taking them with your first couple picks is a pretty simple way to a successful season. However, in larger leagues, this sometimes poses a problem for those with early picks.

If you are in a 12 team league and hold one of the first four picks, there is a chance that you will be left in an awkward situation when your turn comes around in Round 2. A lot of the elite running back talent will be gone and if you want to pick up a second RB, then you will be forced to reach for him. But there is another strategy for these types of picks that has worked for me in the past.

The 2011 fantasy football draft is unique in that there is a wide gap between the elite running backs and the value sleepers. From late round 2 to around round 4, you can pick up a solid running back, but they are largely unproven. So it might be a better option to load up with high end receivers or even get one of the higher quarterbacks to anchor your team.

The real uniqueness of this year’s fantasy football draft comes around round 5 when we see a group of running backs that could easily work as your RB2 or Flex, and you can get them fairly cheap, making it a smart move to go RB/WR in the first two rounds rather than reaching out of your comfort zone for an unproven round 2 RB.

So, hypothetically, say that you are the second pick in a 12 team league. You take Arian Foster as your RB1. When the second round selection rolls around and you are pick 23, the vast majority of late, top running backs (Frank Gore, Steven Jackson, Peyton Hillis and Matt Forte) have been taken. If you stuck to the policy of taking a second RB right away, you would be forced to reach for Blount or Bradshaw or Greene, which is too high for them. Go Wide Receiver! By taking a combo including Greg Jennings, DeSean Jackson, Mike Wallace or Reggie Wayne with your second and third round picks, you are getting two very elite receivers instead of reaching at RB.

The best part is, when rounds four and five roll around, you can truly solidify your team by taking a value sleeper running back and a quarterback.

An ideal scenario for an owner with the second pick in a 12-team league would look something like this:
Round 1: Arian Foster
Round 2: Greg Jennings
Round 3: Mike Wallace
Round 4: Tony Romo
Round 5: Felix Jones

Good running back selections in mid to late round 4 and early round 5 include: Jahvid Best, Ryan Mathews, DeAngelo Williams, Ryan Grant and Felix Jones.

With such a gap between the elite running backs and the second tier running backs, anyone with an early pick would be wise to wait til round 4 or 5 to select their running back. And by getting big names at receiver, you can rest assured that your team will not be hurt by this decision.

As always, comments are more than welcome. Please feel free to request an article topic and let me know what you, the readers, want to hear about. Comments are also open if you have any specific questions about your own draft. And make sure you follow us on Twitter @godhateslosers as we will be using that a lot more once the season begins!


  1. That's So RavensAugust 15, 2011 at 11:41 AM

    I liked your previous post about drafting players with the same bye week. Trying to think outside the box like that, I came up with the idea of drafting multiple handcuffs for other people's RB1s. If you snag Rashad Jennings, Michael Bush, AND Jason Snelling (instead of just the guy who backs up your stud), you have a great chance of those guys being legit RB2s for at least a few weeks, maybe more.


  2. I've never been a big fan of handcuffs. In fact, I'm pretty against it and had a post about my aversion.

    It's an interesting theory but the odds of it doing anything are incredibly remote. If you pick up the backups that you listed, you are really just wasting your bench slots and making the assumption that all three of the starters are going to get injured. Very very small chance that your gamble will pay off there. If you are in an extremely deep league, it might be worth the risk to draft just one of these guys (I'd go with Jennings), but drafting all three would be a waste of space on your bench since none of them really get that much playing time when the starter ahead of them is active.

  3. Hey GHL,
    I had my fantasy draft last week I had the second pick in a 12 standard league (2RB 2WR 1flex) and here's how it went:
    1st Chris Johnson
    2nd Steven Jackson
    3rd Larry Fitzgerald
    4th Blount
    5th Stevie Johnson
    6th Josh Freeman
    Just looking for a opinion on how it turned out and whether you would have recommended going for the receivers early even though Steven Jackson fell to me
    Thanks Kyle

  4. My WR line up last year was Anquan Boldin, Vincent Jackson, and Austin Collie. At the start of the year that looked awesome, but between Jackson not playing, Collie's concussions, and Boldin just not ever getting the ball...not a great season for me. All of this info has been a huge help, but now I have a question as we get into later round picks. What are your thoughts about the Lee Evans trade? Fitzpatrick loved Johnson, so Evans never got the ball last season. Flacco couldn't deal with the double coverage on Boldin, so Mason and Rice seemed to make out well from that. My thoughts are, that with Evans taking Mason's spot, he might be a great WR3 pick up this year, and wanted to see what your thoughts are?

  5. Ive been doing a lot of mocks recently and i have 6th pick in a .5 ppr. I usually will go RB,RB if Run DMC falls to me in the 2nd which has happened a lot so I'm hoping this happens in the draft, my question is do you think its better to go WR,WR in the 3rd and 4th or WR,QB if Romo is available if I go RB,RB in the first 2 rounds.

  6. The league is QB, RB, RB, WR, WR, WR, TE, DST, K

  7. With Jackson falling to you, I think you made the right choice. I probably would have gone for a WR in round four. But Fitz and S Johnson is a good 1-2 punch. Overall, I'd say thats a solid top 6.

  8. You gotta remember that Lee Evans was a beast just a few years ago and listed as a top WR. So we know that he can play. I like the move to Baltimore. I think he strengthens every Ravens player, including Boldin, and his value goes up as well.

    I definitely agree that he will take the heat off Boldin a little bit and put up some good numbers. I'd like to see him in the preseason before I take him off the bench, but he could very well fill a WR3 or flex spot.

    Thanks for the question.

  9. It's all preference really. The middle of the draft is usually my please favorite place to be. I find that being in that spot means that you have to go a lot more by what is happening in the draft than any predetermined strategy.

    If your heart is set on Romo then yeah, I'd pull the trigger on him in 4. He has tremendous upside this year. If a great WR falls your way in round 4 though, I'd probably opt to take him. Chances are that you could pick up Schaub in the 5th round or wait even later for Freeman, Ryan or Stafford if youre willing to stock up on RB and WR first.

  10. LT or Meachem for a flex spot?

  11. Dang. Better be a deep league if you have to choose between a backup RB and a third string WR for your flex spot. Depends on your scoring system. PPR, probably go with Meachem. Other than that, all I can say is that you should watch the preseason closely to see how much work these guys will be getting. Dont know how much the Jets will use LT this year.

  12. well i wouldnt be starting either of them. i was just wondering who would be better to have on my bench

  13. Gotcha. Again, watch the preseason to see if LT shows any signs of life. If it looks like they will continue to split time pretty evenly with LT and Greene, use him. New Orleans has too many WRs for me to like anyone but Colston as a real option to start.

  14. Instead of keeping Best in round 5, I have been thinking of keeping Mike Williams in round 10 instead, I'm pick #9 in a 12 team 1 PPR league with QB TDs @ 6pts.. So I was thinking.. I could try out something like this...

    1) Maurice Jones-Drew / Frank Gore / Rashard Mendenhall
    2) Steven Jackson
    3) Antonio Gates
    4) Tony Romo
    5) Anquan Boldin
    6) Percy Harvin
    7) Tim Hightower
    8) Marshawn Lynch
    9) Roy Williams
    10) Mike Williams

    Something alone those lines.. Or even instead of Gates/Romo, I could do Welker and Marshall at 3 and 4 and take Schaubb and Owen Daniels at 5 and 6..

    Are any of these stradegies good? What do you reccomend? I'm scared of keeping Best at 5, granted he'll get more touches, that also means more hits on that little body of his.. plus the Lions love to throw the ball..

  15. If I opt to keep Best in round 5 instead, my team will look sorta like this instead..

    1) Larry Fitzgerald
    2) Steven Jackson
    3) Wes Welker
    4) Anquan Boldin
    5) Jahvid Best
    6) Matt Schaubb
    7) Owen Daniels
    etc etc etc

    IDK which route to take, please help!

  16. I feel that the top strategy is a good one. You'd still have a strong starting 2 at RB which is good. I'd go WR in rounds 3 and 4 though or else you would be far too weak at that position. Like you said, you can still probably get Schaub in round 5 or 6 and a good TE in 6 or 7.

  17. Thanks! Sorry for posting twice, I didn't know if you wanted it in the other post or not. What are your feelings towards drafting Rodgers and Gates in the first 3 rounds? Would look something like this...

    1) Aaron Rodgers
    2) Steven Jackson
    3) Antonio Gates
    4) RB
    5-7) WR
    10) Mike Williams (TB)

    Would it be a terrible idea?

  18. Funny you should post this, because I was about to ask you about this very topic. The other day I did a mock draft (10 teams, position 5) using this strategy and ended up with the following players after 8 rounds:

    1. Ray Rice (Bal - RB)
    2. Roddy White (Atl - WR)
    3. Mike Wallace (Pit - WR)
    4. Dez Bryant (Dal - WR)
    5. Jermichael Finley (GB - TE)
    6. Felix Jones (Dal - RB)
    7. Matt Ryan (Atl - QB)
    8. Jahvid Best (Det - RB)

    Now, the chances of me doing this again are probably less than the chances of me winning the powerball, but it is still encouraging! I went with Ryan in the 7th because it was either him or Rapistburger (though I did get Bradford in the 11th, which was nice), and I thought maybe the Ryan/White combo might be a good bonus (double points per TD). This led me to do some other pondering, so here are a couple more questions for you:

    1) Is it a good idea to intentionally draft a QB/WR combo from the same team? Would it be better to go RB, QB, WR, WR to get a top notch QB like Brady or Manning, or to wait on QB and try for the guy throwing to your WR1?
    2) How many players from the same team is too many? I've noticed that this year I often target Dez Bryant, Whitten, Felix Jones, and occasionally Romo. I find myself sometimes passing on some of these guys if I already have a couple of their teammates. A manager in my league last year picked about 80% Colts for her team and was feast or famine all year. I don't want to be like that!

    Thought I had more, but my brain is going to sleep on me. Sorry for the deluge of posts tonight! I was out of town a couple of days and had to catch up! :)

  19. Its not really something that I've thought of before. You would have the best player at 2 of your positions which is always nice. Steven Jackson is good and you might be lucky enough to swing Ahmad Bradshaw, Javid Best, DeAngelo Williams, etc in fourth. The only concern would be the lack of an elite WR. You would have a lot of maybe good players, but no one who is a lock to finish in the top 10.

    You could run a few mocks with that strategy and see what RB2 and WRs you end up with. This could actually turn out to be a nice idea for your scenario

  20. So question in 12 team league with Foster, Peterson, Johnson, and Charles already taken and in a position of later pick like 11th would you advise a Maurice Jones Drew as 1st pick, and a Roddy White second pick? or two RBs right away like MJD and LeSean or McFadden? My plan was to wait on a QB til 4th and pick up Freeman or Bradford type. What's your opinion? Thank-you!

  21. You can take it either way. If you go RB/RB you'll still be able to land Dwayne Bowe or Mike Williams in three and Brandon Marshall, Wes Welker or Marques Colston in 4, so that is solid.
    If you go RB/WR, RBs Bradshaw or Greene could fall to you in three, or you can get another WR there and take Jahvid Best, Moreno or D. Williams in 4.

    One thing I definitely recommend you do is try a few mock drafts because your views of where to draft a QB are way off. In a 12-team league you can get Schaub in 5 and Matt Ryan in 6, but Freeman is going down into the late 7th round and Bradford isn't going until 9. You'd be wasting a 5th round pick taking either of those guys so early.

  22. I have 6th pick in a 10 team PPR League. In my league QB's get .50 per completion and -.50 per incompletion. I am really stuck here, I assume, Foster, Johnson, peterson, rice will all be taken. So do I go with someone like Lesean Mccoy or jamaal charles, or do I snatch up Mike Vick and hope to get a decent RB on my next pick?

  23. Vick had a nice completion percentage last year, but I don't even have him as my number one quarterback. 6th spot is a tough one, because that is Vick's ADP. you could definitely take him if you are in to that sort of thing. Personally, I'd probably go for McCoy. You can get a QB who will work well in your league in round three with Brady, Rivers or Brees.

  24. Is Vick worth a first round pick in your opinion? I read split feelings all over the place.

  25. My opinion is no. Maybe 12 team league if you are at the very end. I wrote about it a little bit here:
    and here:

    I just dont trust him, really. He isn't even my number one quarterback. Rodgers takes that. More consistent.