A lot of this fantasy football advice is going to be generalized, as every league and draft position is different. So the advice I’m giving here is going to be given under the assumption that you play with regular NFL.com rules, and operate in a standard, 12-team league. Even if you don’t operate in a format like that, the advice should still be pertinent universally.
First of all, you must realize that running backs are the most valuable players in the draft. Quarterbacks may put up the most total points, but most leagues only have one quarterback starting, and the quarterback position is ludicrously deep. The same can be said about wide receivers and the middle range of tight ends. But high-end running backs are a small pool to draw from, and it is imperative that you get your hands on a couple of them. If by round four you haven’t drafted two running backs then you did something wrong (there are circumstantial exceptions to this rule). As I said, quarterbacks, tight ends, and wide receivers all have plenty of reasonable options, but at running back the good ones wear thin quickly.
Usually by the fifth round of any draft I like to have my two receivers, two running backs, and one flex filled. As I said earlier running back is a shallow position, so I usually end up going with a receiver at the flex with my fifth round pick. In a 12-team league in the fifth round there will still be guys like Julian Edelman, Andre Johnson, and Sammy Watkins available. Even with Tom Brady missing time early, Andre Johnson’s injury concerns, and the complete lack of quarterback available in Buffalo, any one of those players would be a decent flex option to have.
For rounds 6-8 all I’m really looking to do is build depth behind my starting five I’ve already drafted. Shane Vereen, Rashad Jennings, Golden Tate, Martavis Bryant, Ryan Matthews, Chris Polk, Jarvis Landry, Knile Davis, etc… I like to specifically target guys with high upside in these rounds. The hope is that someone you draft will end up being a flex starter value. In which case you will have multiple players who can fill the role of flex on your team, which will reduce the damage done to your season by bye weeks. Also you will have some solid trade bait down the stretch of the season, which I’ve found key in making a legit championship run. Trading someone two flex level players for a solid RB2/WR2 can improve your team by leaps and bounds.
By round nine the quarterbacks are starting to come off the board a little more regularly, and the third tier of tight ends will start coming off the board as well. So for round 9-12 I like to take two quarterbacks, a tight end, and either a handcuff running back or a sleeper pick. With those four picks you should be able to get guys like Ryan Tannehill and Eli Manning. Those two quarterbacks I specifically feel are highly undervalued coming into this season. A tight end like Jordan Cameron, or Owen Daniels. Then a solid sleeper pick like Donte Moncrief or Davante Addams. Or a running back handcuff like DeAngelo Williams or Jay Ajayi.
By now it is round 13, you’ve got no kicker, no defense, and that’s okay! While it is nice to get a high level defense that you won’t have to worry about for the entire season, I don’t think you should ever reach for a defense before the second to last round of the draft. I just think this because, in my opinion, it is more favorable to play the match ups week to week, then to go with a “top defense”. Also, nobody is drafting more than one defense, so even if you get stuck with the 12th defense taken it isn’t the end of the world AT ALL. Because while everyone else was drafting defenses in rounds 13 and 14 you were getting more sleepers that are potential studs, like Markus Wheaton or Danny Woodhead.
So that just leaves round 16. I would NEVER draft a kicker before the last round. When evaluating kickers there are a couple of criteria to consider. You want a guy on a good offense. You want a guy who will be kicking in favorable conditions i.e. indoor/good climate. And you want a guy who can hit over 50 yards. As long as your kicker meets two out of those three criteria you’ll be fine for the season.
Hopefully this article helped you with your drafting strategy for this season. If you’ve got any specific drafting questions feel free to leave them in the comments below. I’ll be sure to get back to you with my thoughts on your situation ASAP!