Early Fantasy Trends: Do Not Reach for a QB

So I was drinking a Vitamin water while playing a game of Drawing with Friends on my Blackberry when I realized how important staying trendy was to me and my swag.  In the rapidly changing world of pre-draft fantasy football, recognizing and working with these trends can always give you a leg up, so here are a few I have noticed so far. Chiefly, draft running backs and wide receivers early and often, and be patient with quarterbacks and tight ends. My numbers are based on a standard scoring ESPN 12 person snake draft.

Quarterbacks. QBs are deep this year. Peyton Manning is the only one going in the first round (Aaron Rodgers is currently ranked 12th, so he straddling 1st and 2nd), with Drew Brees and Mr. Rodgers early in the second. That is it until Rd 4, where you can get Cam Newton, Andrew Luck, and Matthew Stafford, all of whom will be very good this year. That is the first six quarterbacks and where you take one is going to affect how you take RBs, WRs, And TEs. Otherwise wait until the sixth where you can get RG3, Wilson, and Foles, all of whom will be very draftable and startable.  Or why not wait until the eighth?  This year the QBs ranked 10, 11, and 12 are Colin Kapernick, Matt Ryan, and Tom Brady, all three of whom I believe are goin cheap and will have a bounce back season. 

Tight Ends. On the current ESPN Top 200, and in the current Mock Drafts, all of the RB1s and WR1s are gone by the end of the 3rd Rd. So if you want to get Gronk, Jimmy Graham, or Juluis Thomas, three great players, you will pretty much have to give up on a top three QB. Keep that in mind when you are looking at the running backs in the first two rounds. The top six tight ends this year are going to be good, but the TE position is relatively deep these days.  In a pass happy league, pass happy TE’s are becoming more common; so if Graham or Gronk slip too low, scoop them up. Otherwise wait, only half of the TE1s will be gone before the 8th round or so.

Running Backs.  Take a RB in the first round, period. RB1s are selling like hotcakes and all 12 are gone by the end of the second. The second round is also very wideout heavy this year, which means nine out of twelve RB1s are projected to go in the first, with only three left in the second. Keep that in mind if you really think Peyton Manning or Jimmy Graham are going to produce like last year again, which they won't, because that first round quarterback just might lead to a second round pick with no RB1s left.  And if you take Megatron, you had definitely better take a RB second and third. All of the RB2s are going to gone by the fifth round, and although there is some talent there, if you take a low end RB1, you better have a good 2nd string. By the fourth round, you had better have two RBs either way. We all saw how disappointing first round running backs were last year so I definitely recommend having solid RB2s and RB3s. With how deep QB is this year, taking three running backs in the first four turns is not crazy. But if you do this, get a WR early too.

Wide receivers. The good wideouts are going fast this year too. Last year getting talent here late was relatively easy, but not this year. All of the top 12 wideouts, the WR1s, are gone by the end of the 3rd Rd, and the next 12 are gone by the fifth. In fact, ranked in the current top 60, (5 rounds in 12 team leagues) there are only six QBs and four TEs.  So go wideouts early. As the feature running back becomes rarer in the NFL, having a consistently high scoring wide receiver becomes even more important. 
In summation, if I had to draft today, my first five picks would be 3 RBs and 2 WRs, but I also would not be against taking a QB in the fourth and loading up on RBs and WRs for the next three rounds. So I am not saying do not take Cam in the fourth, but I am saying do not take Manning, Brees, or Rodgers. Today, I would wait until the sixth round. Then choose whether you want a sixth round QB or an eighth. If you ask me, the first three are your tier 1, Newton Stafford and Luck are tier 2, and all the other top six are tier 3, so in a year when you can get Tom Brady at the end of the eight round, there is no rush. TEs are plentiful still in the eighth, so I also wouldn't take one of these too early.

Never go into draft day with a set in stone must do strategy, but definately have some kind of strategy. This whole article has basically been a very detailed way of saying that this year the strategy I recommend is “Draft WRs and RBs early and often, and be patient on QBs and TEs.”

By Matt Haithcock