Utilizing the Draft Planner: Drafting from the #5-#8 Spots

Utilizing the Draft Planner: Drafting from the #5-#8 Spots

By John Paulsen (Senior Editor), last updated Aug 13, 2014

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John was named the Most Accurate Fantasy Football Expert by FantasyPros for the 2010 and 2014 seasons, finished as runner-up in 2011 and 4th in both 2012 and 2015 for a total of five Top 5 seasons in the last six years. Cumulatively, John was the most accurate expert from 2010-15 while also winning the 2011 Fantasy Sports Trade Association award for the most accurate draft rankings. 

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This is the second part of a three-part series. Owners picking at the end of the first round should go check out Part 1. Seriously, you need get out of here before I call security.

In this article we’re going to look at the middle of the first round (#5-#8) and the types of decisions those owners will have to make throughout the draft. Using the ADP Draft Planner, I'll go round-by-round (through the 10th round) and mention a few players at each pick that fantasy owners should be targeting.

Keep in mind that this draft plan is for PPR scoring formats (with 4 pt per pass TD), but I will outline a standard scoring strategy as well. For PPR, I'm going to assume a starting lineup of 1 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR and 1 TE (along with a kicker and defense). If your league allows you to start three RBs, you'll probably want to draft a minimum of three RBs in the first five or six rounds. Conversely, if your league only requires one starting RB, you can focus more on the other positions.

If you want to take a look at the Top 200 Rankings as we go along, choose PPR and enter 1-2-3-1 as the roster requirements. For the standard strategy, I'll use ESPN's standard roster requirements, which include 1 QB, 2 RB, 2 WR, 1 TE and a flex, so enter 1-2.5-2.5-1 in the drop down boxes. (CBS and Yahoo standard leagues both use 1-2-3-1 with no flex, so a similar strategy can be used with a bit more emphasis on receiver.) Rankings will change over time as we gain more information, but this is how I'd attack the draft at this point in the preseason.

Note: Since there is far more draft data for PPR in the Draft Planner, I'm going to use it for both formats. ADP doesn't change all that much between formats, unless you're talking about players like Shane Vereen or Danny Woodhead. All percentages are for last two weeks as of time of publishing. The ADP Draft Planner is constantly being updated as real drafts continue to roll in on myfantasyleague.com.

Let's jump right in...



This year, picking in the middle of the first round can be daunting. You’re probably hoping for a top 4 RB – LeSean McCoy, Jamaal Charles, Matt Forte or Adrian Peterson – to slip, but McCoy and Charles probably aren’t going to be there at #5. Forte and/or AP might be around, and if they are, it’s a good idea to scoop them up. In PPR, Forte is a no-brainer pick for me at 1.03 or lower. Peterson has some age and workload issues, but he should be great in Norv Turner’s offense. I will generally grab one of these four if they are available in the middle of the first round.

Let’s assume they aren’t. We have the option of going with another running back (Eddie Lacy), wide receiver (Calvin Johnson, Demaryius Thomas) or tight end (Jimmy Graham). There are other players in the mix – Dez Bryant, A.J. Green, Julio Jones, DeMarco Murray etc. – but that’s pretty much the group we have to choose from in the middle of the 1st.

I’m going to build three different teams based with three different starts. Just realize that in PPR formats I’m typically going to recommend taking a receiver – Antonio Brown, Alshon Jeffery or Jordy Nelson – in the mid-2nd, so if starting WR/WR or TE/WR is not appealing, you may want grab Lacy or another RB in the first round, or perhaps draft a RB like Montee Ball or Giovani Bernard in the mid-2nd.

So we have one team starting with a WR (Team Calvin), TE (Team Jimmy) and RB (Team Eddie). In standard, we’ll go with Lacy in the 1st since running backs hold more value in standard formats.



In PPR, I’m targeting Brown here, even if he is my second non-RB in the first two rounds. Brown is my #9 overall player in PPR and is an especially good value here. (He has 5-plus receptions and/or a TD in 21 straight games. PPR gold.) Jeffery and Nelson are fallback options at receiver, assuming the top 7 wideouts are all off the board.

At RB, I feel pretty good about Ball, Bernard, Marshawn Lynch and LeVeon Bell in the middle of the 2nd.

LeVeon Bell Tangent: I do have some concerns about Bell’s workload with LeGarrette Blount and Dri Archer in town. What primarily made Bell a low-end RB1 last year was the 22.2 touches per game (#3 in the league) he received as the Steelers’ only real option at running back. They made a concerted effort to upgrade Bell’s backups during the offseason, so I believe he’ll see fewer touches and therefore has a lower ceiling.

I do feel that there is a bit of a drop off after this RB group, though I’m comfortable with Andre Ellington and Zac Stacy in the 3rd, and one should be there.

Let’s assume Team Jimmy and Team Eddie draft Brown, while Team Calvin goes with a running back… say, Montee Ball. Team Standard will grab another RB (Alfred Morris) because that’s the cool thing to do in standard formats. I really like Alfred in standard and am warming to him in PPR as well.


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Filed Under: Preseason, 2014

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