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Hear Me and Rejoice

You ever woke up in the morning and checked your fantasy league and noticed someone picked up a 3rd string wide receiver from the 49ers at 3:47am? That was me, and you’re damn right he caught 4 passes for 84 yds and a touchdown that same week because I am the Waiver Wire Gawd.  I’ve been referred to as the Elon Musk of fantasy football at times.  It started as an insult but I’d be lying to you if I told you it wasn’t fitting.  I’ve been finessing in these fantasy streets for close to 15 years now and it’s time I share my secrets with the world.  I want to leave a legacy as the greatest fantasy football player to ever set a lineup.  If you want to win your league this year and talk extra spicy to your opponents then listen up B, I got the sauce.  Just follow these commandments and rankings and I will lead you to the promised land.

Commandment #1: Draft as close to the week 1 as possible.

If you’re reading this right now thinking, “Damn, the season just around the corner and I’ve already drafted. This article is too late.”, then you’re doing this all wrong.  There is no reason for you to have already drafted outside of mock drafts for practice.  Ideally you want to draft as close to the beginning of the season as possible and the reasoning is very simple.  Injuries.  From Michael Vick to Jordy Nelson, history has shown us that multiple big name players will have their year ended before the regular season begins.  You don’t want to be the guy who got too excited, drafted at the beginning of August, and watches his RB1 tear his ACL two weeks later in a preseason game.  Draft in the week leading up to the season and you will have all the injury information you need to make safer picks.

Commandment #2: Running Back Running Back Running Back, OOH

Barring something drastic happening in your draft your first three picks should all be running backs.  Yes, I’m even talking about PPR leagues (Which is the only respectable way to play fantasy.  Miss me with that two QB malarkey).  People get mistaken and believe they should value receivers over backs in PPR leagues because they get an extra point per reception but that’s EXACTLY why you should be placing a premium on running backs.  Do the math, most teams have maybe one, and in a few cases two, consistently fantasy relevant running backs.  These are your three down backs.  There’s not many of them in the league.  The fact that receivers get extra points means that nearly every team has at least 2, sometimes 3, guys you can count on to produce fantasy points.  There are more fantasy relevant receivers than can even be drafted so it’s entirely too easy to find a reliable WR in later rounds or even on the waiver wire after the draft.  The good running backs are going to go fast so if you get three of the top ones while everyone else is going for the Antonio Brown’s and Julio Jones’ of the world, your going to leave the draft with a much bigger advantage at that position than Antonio Brown would have on a late round starting receiver.

The second reason to lean running back heavy is again, injuries.  Running backs get injured at a higher rate than receivers and the last thing you want is to go RB, WR, WR, RB, and then end up losing your top running back to injury.  Now you’re most likely starting two mid teir running backs because you didn’t have insurance.  Trust me, grab yourself three running backs early and then you can pick two or three straight receivers after that.  You’ll come out the draft just fine.

Commandment #3: Don’t be afraid to reach

Reaching in a fantasy draft is truly an art form.  It takes one recognizing how the draft is progressing and having full confidence in how a player will perform the upcoming year.  Don’t go reaching unless you’re 100 % sure your making the right move.  And don’t reach multiple times. Just pick one player going into your draft that you can live with reaching for and do what you can to get him.  This can result in a disaster if you’re wrong but when it pays off it’s like pulling off from the drive-thru with extra food you ain’t order.

For reaching to work you actually have to pay attention to how a player finished the year before.   A few years ago Russel Wilson finished the year with scoring a massive amount of points in three or four games.  The Seattle offense was still known for Marshawn Lynch but I saw that if Russel put those number up consistently the following year he would easily be a top 5 fantasy quarterback.  He was going as late as the 8th-9th  round that year but I drafted him in the third round and ran away with the league.

You also have to recognize when it’s time to pounce and for that you have to know who you’re playing with.  This is made easier when you play in the same league for multiple years.  For instance, this year the player I plan on reaching on is Deshaun Watson.  I’m extremely high on him as you can see I have him ranked as the best quarterback.  The league I’m in has guys that are willing to draft quarterbacks in the first two rounds so I know if I want him I’m going to have to pull the trigger a lot earlier than anticipated.  I most likely won’t get him because I refuse to break my running back rule in the first two picks no matter what but, like I said, if something drastic happens like Aaron Rodgers being drafted in the first round, I’ll be willing to use my third pick on Deshaun and take another running back in the fourth round.

Commandment #4: Volume and Opportunity

Volume and Opportunity is the name of the game in fantasy.  When I draft I don’t care about star power, championships, wins, none of that.  I just want to know how often the team is going to put the ball in their hands and will they have the opportunity to do something with it.  For example, the sheer volume of targets and catches that Jarvis Landry has received over the years has made him a top 10 fantasy receiver even if he isn’t truly a top 10 receiver.  Now that he’s in a different offense we have to temper our expectations as we don’t know if he’ll receive the same opportunities.  On the flip side Demaryius Thomas is a tremendous talent who has played with some pretty bad quarterbacks recently.  Even though I would love to have Demaryius on my favorite team I would never pick him over Jarvis when he’s not getting the anywhere near the same amount volume.  Whenever you’re stuck deciding between two players, try to decipher who will get more touches and therefore have more opportunities to put up points.  In fantasy, especially PPR, volume and opportunity are king and queen.

Commandment #5:  Wait to draft a quarterback

This ties back into the volume argument.  These days every quarterback, besides Blake Bortles and Marcus Mariota, are throwing the rock 30-40 times a game.  You don’t necessarily need to reach for a Drew Brees or Cam Newton because you could get comparable volume from a quarterback in round 9 or later.  This is a passing league so nearly every quarterback is fantasy relevant to the point where you could get away with streaming quarterbacks all year if you wanted.  I can’t say this enough but the only players you need to be prioritizing early are running backs.

Commandment #6: Don’t Pick a Kicker or Defense Until the Last Two Rounds

When going for a kicker you want to pick one on an offense that’s good but not too good.  You want them to be able to get into scoring range but not score.  Fast paced offenses prop up kickers as well so teams like the Patriots always have a high scoring kicker just because, again, more possessions mean more kicking opportunities.   I’m someone who prefers to stream defenses.  What this means is that every week I’m scanning the waiver wire to see who has the best matchups and playing them.  Defenses are extremely easy to stream.  Find whoever are the 3 or four worst offenses or quarterbacks and just use the defense that’s playing one of them every week. So this year just switch your defense to whoever is playing the Bills in a given week.  That defense will usually put up nice numbers and that strategy saves you from getting stuck playing one defense for stretches of games against multiple good offenses.  Before you pick a single kicker or defense every other spot in your lineup and bench better be filled.

Commandment #7: Bye Weeks Schmye Weeks

A lot of people will tell you that bye weeks are very important.  If you ask me, I don’t think they’re that crucial to your draft strategy at all.  They’re something to pay attention to week to week sure, but never am I passing up on a player I want in the draft because he has the same bye week as someone else on my roster.  I’ve found that having multiple starters with the same bye week is actually an advantage.  Lets say you just so happen to end up with four starters with bye weeks in week 9. While everyone else has to replace a starter anywhere between 6 and 9 times a season you would only need replacements in 4 weeks that season.  Sure you will need more replacements in week 9 when you are super depleted but at the end of the year you will have had 2 to 5 more games at full strength than any other player in your league.  Even if you can’t find replacements and you lose that week so what? It’s one week, every other week your team will be stronger than most.  This isn’t college football it’s ok to drop a few games, which leads into my last rule..

Commandment #8:  Losers Can Be Winners

Don’t forget that the fantasy football playoffs take place in weeks 14, 15, 16 in most leagues.  It just so happens that these can be extremely difficult weeks to manage your team.  This is because team’s tend to lighten the load of their stars as the NFL playoffs approach.  I’ve seen countless players, including  myself, lose fantasy playoff matchups because a star player sat out.  That running back that’s been carrying his and your team to an amazing record won’t get so many carries n week 16 when you’re playing for your championship.  Just last year I was in a playoff game and my opponent, who was undefeated at the time, had Antonio Brown. You may remember Brown tweaked his calf muscle that week and left the game early.  He probably could have continued playing as he didn’t miss any time once the playoffs came but there was no way they were going to risk further injury that close to the playoffs.  I won that game solely because Antonio Brown didn’t return to that game.  I’m not suggesting you pass up on players from really good teams in the draft, but when building your bench, you may want to place more value on players from fringe playoff teams.  When the fantasy football playoffs come around these players will have more to play for and you’ll be worrying less about who’s sitting out or getting a lesser workload in the waning weeks of the season.

So here’s how your draft should go:

Round 1: RB

Round 2:RB

Round 3: RB

Round 4: WR

Round 5: WR

Round 6: WR/earliest round to consider drafting a quarterback or tight end

Round 7: RB/WR/TE/QB

After you have 3 receivers, 3 runners, and a quarterback, you want to continue picking strictly running backs and receivers until every spot on your bench is full.  If there is a high ceiling tight end like Evan Engram, Delanie Walker, or Trey Burton I’m not mad at picking them after round 5 but don’t waste a spot on your bench on a second tight end.  This will give an abundance of high quality options to consider during the season when playing matchups or looking for replacements.  No you don’t need two quarterbacks and for the love of god don’t you dare draft a kicker or defense before your last two picks.  I have my rankings for quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers, and tight ends below.  I didn’t rank kickers or defenses because matchups are a better barometer than rankings at those two positions.

 

Quarterback Rankings

  1. Deshaun Watson
  2. Tom Brady
  3. Aaron Rodgers
  4. Russel Wilson
  5. Cam Newton
  6. Drew Brees
  7. Carson Wentz
  8. Matthew Stafford
  9. Jimmy Garoppolo
  10. Phillip Rivers
  11. Mitch Trubisky
  12. Nick Foles – if starting
  13. Kirk Cousins
  14. Ben Roethlisberger
  15. Patrick Mahomes Jr
  16. Andrew Luck – if healthy
  17. Jared Goff
  18. Matt Ryan
  19. Derek Carr
  20. Tyrod Taylor
  21. Lamar Jackson
  22. Teddy Bridgewater
  23. Baker Mayfield – if starting
  24. Jameis Winston
  25. Blake Bortles
  26. Josh Rosen
  27. Sam Darnold – if starting
  28. Alex Smith
  29. Case Keenum
  30. Eli Manning
  31. Marcus Mariota
  32. Ryan Tennehill
  33. Dak Prescott
  34. Andy Dalton – Do you really want to be dependent on Andy Dalton?

Running Back Rankings

  1. Todd Gurley ll
  2. Ezekial Elliot
  3. David Johnson
  4. Alvin Kamara
  5. Le’Veon Bell
  6. Leonard Fournette
  7. Devonte Freeman
  8. Dalvin Cook
  9. Lesean McCoy
  10. Jordan Howard
  11. Saquon Barkley
  12. Kareem Hunt
  13. Melvin Gordon
  14. Christian McCaffrey
  15. Derrick Henry
  16. Joe Mixon
  17. Kenyan Drake
  18. Jay Ajayi
  19. Kerryon Johnson
  20. Jerick McKinnon
  21. Marshawn Lynch
  22. Mark Ingram
  23. Alex Collins
  24. Jamaal Williams
  25. Ronald Jones Jr.
  26. Marlon Mack
  27. Royce Freeman
  28. Lamar Miller
  29. Rashaad Penny
  30. Tevin Coleman
  31. Dion Lewis
  32. Carlos Hyde
  33. Chris Thompson
  34. James White
  35. Duke Johnson Jr
  36. Sony Michel
  37. Isaiah Crowell
  38. Corey Clement
  39. D’Onta Foreman
  40. Tarik Cohen
  41. Theo Riddick
  42. LeGarrette Blount
  43. Doug Martin
  44. Kenneth Dixon
  45. Rex Burkhead
  46. Devonte Booker
  47. Matt Breida
  48. Chris Carson
  49. Aaron Jones
  50. Nick Chubb
  51. Jordan Wilkins

Wide Receiver Rankings

  1. Antonio Brown
  2. Odell Beckham Jr
  3. Michael Thomas
  4. DeAndre Hopkins
  5. Julio Jones
  6. Davante Adams
  7. Keenen Allen
  8. Mike Evans
  9. Adam Thielen
  10. Stefon Diggs
  11. Tyreek Hill
  12. Allen Robinson
  13. AJ Green
  14. Doug Baldwin
  15. JuJu Smith-Shuster
  16. Demaryius Thomas
  17. Will Fuller V
  18. Larry Fitzgerald
  19. Golden Tate
  20. Josh Gordon
  21. Jarvis Landry
  22. Alshon Jeffrey
  23. Amari Cooper
  24. TY Hilton – undraftable, draft him if and when you want but dont blame me
  25. Corey Davis
  26. Emmanuel Sanders
  27. Julian Edelman
  28. Brandin Cooks
  29. Marvin Jones Jr
  30. DeVante Parker
  31. Pierre Garcon
  32. Cameron Meredith
  33. Devin Funchess
  34. Allen Hurns
  35. Mike Williams
  36. Michael Crabtree
  37. Randall Cobb
  38. Robert Woods
  39. Robby Anderson
  40. Cooper Kupp
  41. Jordy Nelson
  42. Sammy Watkins
  43. DeSean Jackson
  44. Marquise Goodwin
  45. Marqise Lee
  46. Martavius Bryant
  47. Calvin Ridley
  48. Sterling Shepard
  49. Mohamed Sanu
  50. Chris Hogan
  51. Jamison Crowder
  52. Michael Gallup
  53. Josh Doctson
  54. Sterling Shephard
  55. Rishard Matthews
  56. Nelson Agholor
  57. Courtland Sutton
  58. Kenny Golladay
  59. Tyrell Williams
  60. Paul Richardson
  61. Kenny Stills
  62. DJ Moore
  63. Anthony Miller
  64. Christian Kirk
  65. Dede Westbrook
  66. Tyler Lockett
  67. Kelvin Benjamin
  68. Ryan Grant
  69. John Brown
  70. Taywan Talor
  71. Jordan Matthews
  72. Dante Pettis
  73. Ted Ginn Jr
  74. Albert Wilson

Tight End Rankings

  1. Rob Gronkowski
  2. Travis Kelce
  3. Zach Ertz
  4. Evan Ingram
  5. Delanie Walker
  6. Jack Doyle
  7. Jimmiy Graham
  8. Kyle Rudolph
  9. Greg Olsen
  10. Trey Burton
  11. David Njoku
  12. Tyler Eifert
  13. Austin Sefarian-Jenkins
  14. George Kittle
  15. Cameron Brate
  16. OJ Howard
  17. Benjamin Watson
  18. Jordan Reed
  19. Ricky Seals-Jones
  20. Charles Clay
  21. Vance McDonald
  22. Jake Butt
  23. Eric Ebron- undraftable until he shows he has hands attached to his arms
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