Draft Position Specific Strategy
Picks 4-5 & 8-9
Tis the season for draft prep and everyone is giving their draft strategy tips and sorting their player rankings and adjusting their tiers. Throughout it all, we always hear mention of “well if I was taking him at the end of the 2nd…” and other such vague references to how your draft position may affect a decision. Hearing many of these, it occurred to me I hadn’t heard much that was specifically about how one’s overall strategy or decision making process may change simply because of your draft position.
So I decided to do it myself. I’ve divided up a snake draft into four sections. I’m labeling these for a 12 team draft, but if you have more or less simply squeeze or stretch it a bit accordingly:
Positions 1 and 12
The Turn is either end of the draft where you will have back to back picks. It’s a long way back and careful planning, foresight and opposition research is needed.
Positions 2-3 and 10-11
Whiplash spots are difficult because you know you will have another pick coming up soon, but the Turn or the other Whiplash are going to have two picks before you. You have to watch for snipers, but can also turn it to your advantage. In a 10 team, the Whiplash simply shrinks to the 2 and 9.
Positions 4-5 and 8-9
With your picks coming up either one quarter or three quarters through each round, you don’t have to wait too long till your next pick. In a 10 team, the Quarterpost is the 3-4 and 7-8.
A lot of great value, never a long wait, and yet the hardest swing between either setting the tone, or chasing the pack. In a 10 team, the Middle is 5-6.
Now, of course, in the early rounds it does matter which end of the round you are on and each section will address that, but once you get around a few turns it doesn’t make much difference.
The Quarterpost picks are THE picks to get the best value in my opinion. More difficult on the 8-9 end, but once you’re out of the early rounds it’s all the same.
Playing Your Opponents
There’s not much for games to play or strategy to use when you are the Quarterpost. Your job is simply to make your opponents pay the consequences for their bad decisions. You will more often than anyone be in a position to take the player that “should have been taken.” You don’t need to guess who the Turn or Whiplash are taking based on their team, because it’s too many picks out for that. You don’t need to change your picks according to them. You just need to focus on your list of players, and take the value as it comes. Unlike the Turn, the Quarterpost and Middle are the positions that say “I had a great draft, I just let it come to me.”
Practice Drafting Jujitsu. Now, I’m no expert in Jujitsu and I’ll probably be told how wrong I am, but I’ve heard it described by those that do as such. That a Jujitsu fight is a bit like a dance where every move has a countermove and the fighters just progress through the counters until one messes up or doesn’t know the counter. So Drafting Jujitsu is knowing what moves to make in response to the draft, to the other owners, and to be able to take advantage when they don’t know and make the wrong move. When teams start taking QBs too early, you don’t. When they go so crazy on RBs that Antonio Brown or Deandre Hopkins falls to your 9th pick, you take them. When someone takes two receivers behind you towards the Turn, you take the running back they dropped to you. When teams are undervaluing tight end in a TE premium or two TE league, make them pay. Know what you are going to do in any given situation.
Perspective on Your Picks
That said, there’s a fine line between letting the draft come to you, and you finding yourself chasing everyone else. You still want to be taking the players you want. The idea is to get players that you wanted that should already be gone, not to just clean up everyone’s leftovers. If it’s not a player you would normally want, don’t take them just because he’s fallen below his ADP.
While the Turn and even the Whiplash can focus on the 20% of the players they like and focus on them, the Quarterpost and Middle should keep a wider pool of players in mind. Instead of raising the ones you like, fade the 20% that you don’t. Now you can happily take the value that falls without being picky, but knowing which ones you aren’t interested in, even if they “fall” to you.
As your picks approach, you’ll want to ask yourself a few questions:
- Do I have any positional needs that may influence who I’ll take? What position?
- Who is my highest ranked player on the board at that position?
- Would I rather have that player, or the best available player of a different position?
Break it down for yourself. You don’t need 20 different scenarios and comparisons going through your head. Prioritize between players as your pick approaches and reduce the debate to 2-3 players max as you go on the clock.
Drafting from the #4 or #5
First Round (1.04/1.05)
There’s 4 top RBs going at the top of most drafts. Gurley, Bell, Elliot and David Johnson. You probably want whichever falls to you. If you are at 5 and all of them go, you need to know who you want ahead of time. There’s some solid RBs coming back to you in the 2nd, but if you aren’t comfortable with them as your RB1 you may need to pass on Antonio Brown or another WR. In PPR I’m taking Kamara 5th.
Second Round (2.08/2.09)
This is a spot that you can really just take whatever the best option falls to you, particularly if you take a RB in the 1st. This is why I would advise not taking a receiver in the early 1st round because it severely limits your options in the 2nd and 3rd. You can survive taking a WR in the 3rd if you go two RBs first. You can even get two great WR2s around your 2/3 turn. But if you don’t have a RB already you will be really pressured to take one with your 2nd even when some great WR1s are still there. Don’t put yourself in a corner.
It’s doubtful that receivers like Adams and Keenan Allen make it back to you, but AJ Green has been falling this far with Mike Evans and TY Hilton likely available too.
The running backs are going off quickly this year but if Christian McCaffrey falls to your pick I know I wouldn’t be able to pass him up. Otherwise, it’s options like Freeman, Mixon, Howard, and Mckinnon.
Third Round (3.04/3.05)
Gronkowski is usually going before now and then Kelce right at or after your picks. You’ll want to make up your mind ahead of time about TE, whether you want to reach for Gronk last round or be open to taking whichever falls to you in the 3rd. I would definitely consider Kelce here if he fell.
If you went RB heavy in the first two rounds then you are in luck, there is quite a nice grouping of receivers here that are all on the edge of being WR1s. Mike Evans, Hilton and Diggs probably didn’t fall, but Thielen, Fitzgerald, Baldwin, Tyreek and Amari Cooper are all likely here. Know who your favorite in these tiers is.
If you want to take a RB here there’s a chance Mckinnon has fallen with his calf strain news, and McCoy is falling as well with his legal questions. Both could end up being great values, but of course come with risk. Collins, Henry, and later ADP backs are a bit of a reach here, but up to you and they and much of the next tier probably won’t make it back. So if you need a RB you may want to take your favorite one left regardless, because there’s a bit of a gap until the next grouping.
Fourth round (4.08/4.09)
There’s a chance Lamar Miller fell to you if you wanted a RB, but people are starting to realize Foreman will be on PUP and Miller is a steal. Otherwise I hope you are good at RB because it’s pretty bare here. Ingram may be an option, so do your thinking on him now, not while you’re on the clock. Otherwise you are going to have to reach into the 5th round ADP backs for Burkhead, Dion Lewis and Kerryon.
There are more great WR2 options here. There’s so many that you may wish you’d taken 2-3 RBs already. Just saying. Demaryius has stability and upside with a competent QB, Juju is a great value by my projections at this point, especially if Antonio Brown has nagging injuries, and Golden Tate, Allen Robinson, Chris Hogan and Brandin Cooks are no slouches either. Tate could easily be the best of them all.
Zach Ertz is usually gone by now, but if not he’s the safest TE3 option and there’s a big gap again until the next TEs I’d be willing to take. I have been conservative on Ertz this year, but all these injuries to receivers may end up justifying a higher pick for him than I was willing before.
You may see QBs start to be taken this round. I’m not even going to be diplomatic about this: Just don’t draft a QB yet. You can think about it in the 8th.
This is where knowing the position composition of the team(s) behind you can come in handy. Most owners will want to come out of the 5th with one of the following:
If the Turn and Whiplash teams already have an imbalance after their first 3 rounds you can make a safe bet what they will be taking on the Turn. If they have a TE already, they aren’t taking one. If they only have one RB they will be taking at least one more, and so on. Use this to your advantage. Be aware
Fifth Round (5.04/5.05)
By the time it comes back to you in the 5th rounds most of the desirable RBs will be gone. If you are lucky, Tevin Coleman, Isaiah Crowell, Marshawn Lynch or Tarik Cohen may make it back to you. Chris Carson is climbing the ADP boards as we speak so he may be a name to consider in one of these tiers.
The WR value just keeps coming in these rounds: Marvin Jones, Sammy Watkins, Corey Davis, and Michael Crabtree are my favorites, but if you want Edelman as your 3rd WR here I wouldn’t blame you.
Drafting from the #8 or #9
First Round (1.08/1.09)
You will likely have your pick of any low end RB1, such as Hunt, Fournette, Cook, or even Gordon. Depending on your league, the last top 3 receiver (Brown, Hopkins, Beckham) may have slipped to you. If you like any of the 3-4 RBs still on the board, it might now be worth taking one of these top WRs and still getting a RB1 on the backside. Whether you take two backs or two receivers or play it safe with one of each, be comfortable and confident in whoever you take. Now’s not the time for experimentation.
If the top WRs aren’t there, or you are just as happy with a Keenan Allen or Davante Adams, I suggest taking your favorite RB and letting the Turn and Whiplash decide your 2nd round pick for you by default. A top 5 WR is likely going to still be there for you if you want a WR1. And of course there are plenty of RBs still left to go around at your 2nd rounder too.
Second Round (2.04/2.05)
This is the first spot where we practice what I talked about earlier in taking the value that falls. If you went RB first and somehow Julio or Keenan Allen falls to you here I’d jump on that. But if Christian McCaffrey falls I am really buying in to him in PPR. Hard to see him not repeating at least last year’s RB10. Ten or eleven RBs are likely off your board already, so you can take him at his floor and smile.
Bit too soon for Gronkowski for me, but wouldn’t say it’s a terrible choice if you want to just get TE out of the way now by taking the best.
Third Round (3.08/3.09)
Sometimes Kelce falls this far for some reason. It’s not likely and don’t plan on it, but, as I say, know what you’d do.
You’ll catch the tail end of the possible WR1s here with Baldwin, Tyreek Hill, Larry Fitzgerald and Amari Cooper. Solid options if you don’t have a WR yet.
There’s a drop off after McCoy and Mckinnon and now you’ve got Collins, Henry, Royce Freeman, Ajayi and Drake, a very uncertain tier. If you need WR, take one here and get the RB that’s left next.
Fourth Round (4.04/4.05)
You’ll want to make sure your team doesn’t have any glaring weaknesses coming out of this pick. Ertz may be here if you want a top TE. I’ve been wary of him this year, but all these WR injuries in Philadelphia open the path to plenty of work for him again, even if his TDs regress.
If you need a RB but don’t like the group that is here at ADP, then consider “reaching” for Lamar Miller. Far more certainty than Drake and Henry. If it will be your 3rd RB you could even consider Ingram, but you’ll need to be really confident you can outplay your league without him until Week 6. He could be an impact player in second half.
More wide receivers. It doesn’t stop. Landry could have fallen, or you may be “reaching” but its hard to go wrong with Juju, Demaryius, Golden Tate or Chris Hogan here. Allen Robinson, Brandin Cooks and Josh Gordon are a trio of high upside, high risk picks going early next round too.
Fifth Round (5.08/5.09)
This is the perfect spot to do a little cleanup. Hopefully your team is solid and you won’t be pressured to take a specific position here, leaving you free to take the best player. But if you do need to take a specific position, start to ignore ADP. Of course, you need to know projections and points, just to make sure you are in the right ballpark, but anything within 16 ADP picks is perfectly fine if its the right player for your team.
The Rest of your Picks
Continue to take YOUR players that happen to fall through. Don’t try to play the ADP game in the Quarterpost, too much happens before it comes back to you. From here on out you are better off drafting off a projection sheet than a ADP list. Luckily, we have that for you here at FusionFFB.com with our combined projections ranks, with QBs not included!
As always, the best way to feel comfortable in your draft is to do a few mock drafts from your position. There are many great options, but my favorite ones I’ll suggest are the Sleeper app and Fantasy Football Calculator where you can easily join and pick your position.
Keep an eye out and check in for articles on all the other positions.