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), last update Aug 19, 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 final part of a three-part series studying draft strategy from different parts of the first round. Folks drafting #5-#8 or #9-#12 may want to hit those articles first.

In this article, we’re going to form a draft plan starting with a pick in the #1-#4 range in the first round of a 12-team league. We’ll discuss the types of decisions that 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 fantasy owners should be targeting.

Keep in mind 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...



I’m recommending that owners drafting in the top 4 grab a running back with their first pick. This goes for both PPR and standard scoring, but especially standard. If you’d like to start with a receiver or Jimmy Graham, take a look at the #5-#8 article, as your draft plan will be pretty similar.

We’ll do a PPR team and a standard team. Let’s assume Matt Forte in PPR and LeSean McCoy in standard.



This is a great spot to grab Antonio Brown or Alshon Jeffery, though they are both usually gone by 2.12. Add Jordy Nelson to the mix, and it’s a 50/50 proposition that one will be there at 2.12.

There’s roughly a 57% chance that one of these running backs – Montee Ball, DeMarco Murray, Giovani Bernard, Marshawn Lynch or LeVeon Bell – makes it to 2.12, so let’s do a RB/RB team (Lynch) and a RB/WR team (Brown).

For standard, we’ll probably want to grab a RB, if possible – one of those aforementioned backs or Alfred Morris, who gets a big boost in standard.


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