Utilizing the Draft Planner: Drafting from the #1-#4 Spots

Utilizing the Draft Planner: Drafting from the #1-#4 Spots

By John Paulsen (Senior Editor) on Aug 19, 2015

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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. 

Follow John on Twitter: @4for4_John.

Welcome to the first of a three-part series that is intended to help fantasy owners develop a draft plan based on their position in the first round.

We'll start with owners picking #1-#4 in 12-team drafts. Using the ADP Draft Planner, I'll go round-by-round (through the 11th round) and discuss a few players at each pick that fantasy owners should be targeting. For more detail about my overall strategy this season, be sure to check out my annual here’s-how-I’m-gonna-draft article, Draft Day Strategery. I hope to update it before the final draft weekend.

Keep in mind that these picks are 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 high-reception players like C.J. Spiller, Shane Vereen or Danny Woodhead, whom you’ll have to take a round earlier in PPR formats. The ADP Draft Planner is constantly being updated as real drafts continue to roll in on myfantasyleague.com. As August wears on, there should be a larger sample of standard drafts in the system.



Owners drafting early in the 1st round in PPR formats have a decision to make — to Antonio Brown or to not Antonio Brown? I usually choose the former, but I understand that drafting a receiver in the first round is difficult for some owners, so I’ll outline a plan for both choices.

If Brown goes, I have no problem with LeVeon Bell, Adrian Peterson, Eddie Lacy, Jamaal Charles or even Marshawn Lynch early in the 1st. Owners who still want to go with a receiver should look to Demaryius Thomas. For some reason he’s a bit undervalued this year.

In standard formats, running backs tend to hold more value, so I’d grab an elite back.

Team Antonio: Antonio Brown
Team LeVeon: LeVeon Bell
Team Standard: Adrian Peterson


2.09-2.12 / 3.01-3.04

I like having an early pick in PPR because I have a great shot at grabbing two good running backs at the 2/3 turn. I’m mainly talking about Justin Forsett, Frank Gore and Lamar Miller. Forsett should catch a ton of passes in Marc Trestman’s offense, I laid out my case for Gore here, and I’m really warming to Miller since it looks like Jay Ajayi is a not even close to being ready to threaten Miller’s workload. Let’s assume that Team Antonio takes Forsett and Miller.

Team LeVeon can only start two running backs, so we should draft at least one receiver at this turn, if not two. Getting Randall Cobb late in the 2nd is good value. I really like Alshon Jeffery as well, provided the calf isn’t going to be an issue. Let’s assume we go Cobb/Gore.

Note: C.J. Spiller is probably going to slip a round or two since he had a knee scope, which I don’t think is that big of a deal. He represents nice value at the 4/5 turn in PPR formats, so owners could go WR/WR here and plan to get Spiller at the next turn.

Team Standard can start three running backs, but it’s probably a good idea to grab at least one receiver on the turn. That way, we have options at the next two turns if running back value falls to us. We could draft Cobb in the late 2nd and Gore/Miller in the early 3rd, but owners could choose to flip it and get something like Forsett/Evans instead. Starting RB/RB/RB is fine, but I’m not crazy about the WRs likely available at the next turn, so I’d like to get at least one here.

Note: Jimmy Graham is a safe option here if no one is jumping out. He should lead the Seahawks in targets by a wide margin.

Team Antonio: Brown, Forsett, Miller
Team LeVeon: Bell, Cobb, Gore
Standard: Peterson, Cobb, Gore

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Filed Under: Preseason, 2015

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