Perfect Draft Series: Drafting 4th in a 12 Team PPR League

Perfect Draft Series: Drafting 4th in a 12 Team PPR League

By Kevin Zatloukal (4for4 Contributor), last updated Sep 12, 2016

Kevin Zatloukal's picture

Kevin is a Ph.D. computer scientist. His doctoral work at MIT was focused on quantum algorithms. During the fantasy offseason, he teaches computer science at the University of Washington, his alma mater.

Follow Kevin on Twitter: @kczat.

Once again in 2016, 4for4 has partnered with Draft Analyzer to offer access to their outstanding tools for all 4for4 subscribers. Going into the draft, you already have a sizable advantage over your league mates with 4for4 rankings. Draft Analyzer not only comes preloaded with 4for4 rankings but also gives you an edge by adjusting its recommended picks based on what is happening during the actual draft. That one-two punch will let you deliver a knockout blow on draft day.

In this article, I'll be describing my perfect draft from the 4th spot in a 12 team PPR league. The league starts 1 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, 1 TE, 1 Flex, 1 Kicker, and 1 Defense. Each team has a total of 16 roster spots.

Although Draft Analyzer allows you to customize your strategy in many ways, such as by picking specific players to target, I'm entering this draft with a blank slate. I just want to score as many points as possible.

That said, I'm expecting to end up avoiding running backs in the early rounds (i.e., the Zero RB strategy). The PPR scoring makes late-round RBs who catch passes more valuable, reducing the advantage of early-round RBs. Meanwhile, the top WRs and TEs become relatively more valuable because not only do they get more yards and TDs than late-round picks at those positions but they also get more receptions, increasing their advantage in a PPR league.

It seems that drafters in PPR leagues (in general) have not fully adapted to these differences. As a result, there continues to be an advantage to be gained by waiting on RB. As we will see, this is precisely the strategy I was led to by Draft Analyzer, which uses value-based drafting principles, without any explicit intention to avoid early RBs.

Draft Analyzer in Action

Round 1, Pick 4 – Julio Jones, WR, Atlanta

With the fourth overall pick, I have my fingers crossed that one of the "big three" WRs — Antonio Brown, Julio Jones, or Odell Beckham Jr. — will fall to me, and that is indeed what happened here. I couldn't be more pleased with getting Jones, who could easily finish as the WR1 this season. If I were not so lucky, and all of the big three were taken, I would grab DeAndre Hopkins with this pick and still have a big smile on my face. Hopkins is not far behind Odell Beckham Jr. in our projections for this season.

Round 2, Pick 9 – Brandon Marshall, WR, New York Jets

With my second pick, I gain a huge advantage from 4for4 rankings by taking Brandon Marshall. He's the 12th WR off the board in this draft, but he's the 6th WR in our rankings, with only A.J. Green separating him from DeAndre Hopkins, whom I'd have been happy to get 17 picks earlier. Marshall finished as the WR3 last season and, with Ryan Fitzpatrick under center again, we expect him to finish in the top six as well this season.

With two top-6 WRs in my first two picks, I'm feeling good about this draft already.

Round 3, Pick 4 – Sammy Watkins, WR, Buffalo

In the third round, I grabbed another top-12 WR in Sammy Watkins. His ADP has been depressed recently due to injury worries, but make no mistake: Watkins is a stud WR. This is fantastic value in the third round.

In a PPR league, WR is the most important position, and through three rounds, I've come away with three top-12 WRs. It would be hard to have a better start than this.

Round 4, Pick 9 – Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Arizona

I continued to load up on WRs by taking Larry Fitzgerald in the fourth round. Fitzgerald finished as the WR7 last season. While a lot of those points were due to TDs that we expect to regress, we still have him projected at WR23 this year. Fitzgerald's increased usage in the slot nowadays may decrease his projected yardage, but his 93 projected receptions still leave him solidly in the top 25.

With quality WRs to fill not only the WR slots on my roster but also the Flex position, it's time that I start turning my attention to the other positions. I will eventually need to add more depth at WR, but with the quality I've put together at WR, my backups are unlikely to see a lot of usage, so addressing the other positions is a more pressing concern.

Continue reading for a round-by-round analysis through Round 16 and a recap with a couple of Zero RBs you should be considering.

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Filed Under: Preseason, 2016

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