Utilizing the Draft Planner: Drafting from the #7-#9 spots

D. McFadden

Note: All percentages are for last two weeks as of time of publishing. The ADP Draft Planner is constantly being updated as real drafts complete on myfantasyleague.com.


Welcome to the third part of a four-part series that is intended to help fantasy owners develop a draft plan based on their position in the first round. To see the first (#1-#3) or second part (#10-#12), click the appropriate links.

In this part, we'll look at the #7-#9 spots. Using the ADP Draft Planner and Value Based Rankings (VBR), I'll go round-by-round (through the 8th round) and mention a few players at each pick that fantasy owners should be targeting.
Keep in mind that these picks are for standard scoring formats (with 4 pt per pass TD), but I'll also build a PPR team. 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 want to focus a little more on the RB position as the draft wears on. Conversely, if your league only requires one starting RB, you can focus more on the other positions.
Let's jump right in...


In standard formats, we recommend targeting Rashard Mendenhall in this range. Given the holdout, you may have a shot at Chris Johnson and he also represents good value here, assuming that's settled. It's all a matter of risk, and Mendenhall is very low risk. He plays on a good offense and has virtually no competition for touches. To top it off, the coaching staff intimated that he may be utilized in the passing game more this season. According to the Planner, Mendy has an 84% chance of being there at 1.09.
PPR: Picking in this range in PPR formats is tough. After the top 6 RBs (Foster, AP, Rice, CJ2K, Charles and McCoy) are off the board, owners can go WR with someone like Andre Johnson or stick with a RB like Darren McFadden. There's a 77% chance that one of the top 6 slips to 1.07, but that drops to 42% at 1.09. LeSean McCoy has been the most likely to slip, and he's a no-brainer if he does.
For the purposes of this piece, we'll assume we take a RB in the first round, whether it be McCoy or DMC. One of the two has been available 95% of the time at 1.09.


After taking a RB in the first round, you have the freedom to go WR or QB in the second if you so choose. One reason is that there is some good talent available in the third round at RB (Ahmad Bradshaw, LeGarrette Blount and Jahvid Best). I'd recommend looking WR here, so grab one of the top 5 WRs (AJ, Calvin Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, Roddy White and Hakeem Nicks) -- one has been available 91% of the time.
Note: Mike Vick and Aaron Rodgers are reasonable picks at 2.04-2.06 in standard formats, so if you go that route be prepared to target a WR instead of a QB in the middle rounds.
PPR: Looking ahead, Bradshaw or Best have been available at 3.09 81% of the time and they would both make fine RB2s in PPR. If you miss out on them, you could grab Felix Jones, though it is a bit early for him. He may also be available in the mid-4th. So the question is -- do you go RB or WR in the 2nd? Personally, I'd go with a RB due to my worry that Bradshaw/Best will be gone in the 3rd. But looking at VBR, the value seems to be in WRs, so let's plan on Calvin, Roddy, Nicks or Fitzy at 2.06 (70%). If they are all gone, go with your favorite RB. (If you choose to go RB regardless of WR availability, just look for a WR or Antonio Gates in the 3rd.)


You started RB/WR, so it's a good idea to lock up your RB2. Best, Bradshaw, Blount or even Peyton Hillis should be there at 3.09 (96%). Hillis is pretty much a no-brainer in the 3rd.
PPR: Time to look RB2, and Bradshaw, Best or Hillis should be there (82%). If they're all gone, take the best available WR (Vincent Jackson, Mike Williams or Dez Bryant) and plan on Felix in the 4th. Gates is also a solid pick here if you aren't in love with any of the WRs.


Let's say you've started Mendy, Nicks and Blount. Gates would be a nice pick in the 4th, but he has only been available 42% of the time at 4.06. So looking at WR, one of DeSean Jackson, Miles Austin, M. Williams and Dez should be there 80% of the time.
You could also add Steve Johnson to that list, though there's a good chance he'll be available in the mid-5th as your WR3, so you may want to hold off depending on how you feel about him versus the other players in that group.
PPR: Assuming you landed your RB2 in the 3rd, you'll want to nab Gates here if he's available. That's not likely, so plan on the best available WR. One of D-Jax, M. Williams, Bryant, Austin or Brandon Marshall should be there at 4.06 (83%). If not, Stevie is almost always there, but let's try to save him for the 5th.


With two RBs and two WRs on board, you could go a number of different directions in the 5th round. Starting three WRs gives that position a bit more value, and there are several good options that are typically available in the 5th. One of S. Johnson, Santonio Holmes, Mario Manningham or Brandon Lloyd has been available 98% of the time. One of that group has been available at 6.06 86% of the time, but Mario's stock is rising, so I wouldn't count on it.
Another option would to be TE, where Jason Witten and Jermichael Finley have been available 51% of the time. If one is available and you think one of that group of WRs would slip into the mid-6th, then it makes some sense to lock up an elite TE. We'll assume a WR here.
PPR: You should be thinking WR with a similar group of guys: Stevie, Holmes, Manningham, Jeremy Maclin and Percy Harvin. One has been available 98% of the time. Austin Collie and Lloyd also deserve consideration. There is also a 43% chance that one of Witten, Finley and Dallas Clark will make it to 5.09.


If you already have 2 RBs and 3 WRs, this is a good spot to look for a QB. Ben Roethlisberger, Tony Romo, Matt Ryan, Josh Freeman or Matt Schaub have been available 81% of the time. You may want to pull the trigger on a TE, but there is better value to be had later on once the top 3-4 TEs are off the board. Whether or not you go QB here depends on your faith in later QBs like Eli Manning, Matthew Stafford or Jay Cutler, who should all be available in the 8th. 
Tip: Another option would be to grab a third RB and wait until the 7th to look for a QB. If you are left with Freeman and Schaub at 6.06 and don't see much of a difference, check the teams picking 6.07-6.12 and see if they all already have QBs. If only one (or none) need a QB, you can be pretty sure that Schaub or Freeman will make it back to you in the 7th. Teams generally aren't looking for a QB2 this early in the draft.
PPR: One of those five QBs have been available 89% of the time at 6.06 in PPR formats. Again, if you're comfortable with Freeman, there's a good chance he'll slip into the 7th. Stafford, Eli and Cutler are good options in the 8th/9th. Owners that go that route can build superior depth at RB and WR.


If you went QB last round, it's probably time to grab a RB3. We suggest targeting one of the following group: Mike Tolbert, Cedric Benson, Marshawn Lynch or Joseph Addai (92%). Including Tim Hightower increases that percentage to 96%. Tolbert is the most likely to be available (86%) and the highest on 4for4's rankings. Another player whose stock is shooting up is Beanie Wells, so if he's available at 7.07, he's worth consideration as well. In a recent PPR draft, I passed on Wells in the mid-6th (for Collie) and he was gone in the 7th. I took Tolbert there.
PPR: You're looking for your RB3 here as well. Wells, Tolbert, Benson, Lynch, Hightower, Addai and Reggie Bush are all solid here. (Note: One of this group could very well be there in the 8th, so if Owen Daniels or Jimmy Graham is available, consider them here.)


There's a reason we waited on a TE once Gates and the other elite TEs were gone. Look at the availability of Daniels, Graham, Marcedes Lewis, Kellen Winslow and Rob Gronkowski in the 8th.
Gronkowski is available 71% of the time and a good guy to target here. I have found I can wait on him until the 9th in PPR leagues, but in standard leagues he tends to go earlier due to his propensity to catch TD passes. All of these guys are solid starters and represent good value in the 8th/9th.
PPR: I would perhaps draft a WR4 here (Mike Thomas, Roy Williams, Julio Jones, etc.) if value emerged, but otherwise, TE is the way to go. One of the aforementioned group of TEs has been available 96% of the time at 8.06.
If you do go WR and miss out on this TE group in the 9th, consider Jared Cook or Greg Olsen, who should both surprise a bit this season. Brandon Pettigrew, Dustin Keller, Brent Celek, Zach Miller and Tony Gonzalez are other low-cost options that can be had in the 9th round or later.


Here is a representative sample team for each format:
Standard: Mendenhall, Nicks, Blount, M. Williams, S. Johnson, Big Ben, Tolbert, Gronkowski
PPR: DMC, Fitzgerald, Best, Bryant, Holmes, Big Ben, Tolbert, Gronkowski
In both cases, by waiting on a QB and grabbing a solid starter like Roethlisberger, Ryan or Freeman in the 6th/7th rounds, owners can build superior depth at RB and WR. The same goes for TE once the elite guys are gone. There is good value later on in the draft with players like Gronkowski, Winslow and Lewis. 
Alternatively, owners in PPR leagues could start RB/WR/Gates/Felix and go WR/WR in the 5th/6th, planning on Freeman Schaub in the 7th. But there is no guarantee that Felix will be there in the mid-4th, so owners that go that route have to be prepared to shore up the RB position in the middle rounds.
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