Perfect Draft: 3rd in a 12-Team ESPN Standard League

Perfect Draft: 3rd in a 12-Team ESPN Standard League

Standard scoring leagues are the final bastion of fantasy football purity. There are no bonus points, specific positions aren’t propped up because they’ve done their job on the field, and yardage and touchdowns are now all that matter. True football for true fans of the game. Fantasy managers these days want points and high-scoring matchups. This isn’t a video game, it’s football! However, since we’re still talking about fantasy football, we need to talk strategy. While PPR has become more commonplace, the switch to standard has some nuance to it requiring some changes to our approach.


Editor's Note: Click here for all articles in the perfect draft series.


In this edition of the Perfect Draft Series, I'll be walking through a perfect draft from the 3rd slot in a 12-team Standard league. Each pick was optimized using projections and value-based rankings from the 4for4 Draft Analyzer tool.

Draft Analyzer Settings

  • Roster settings: 1QB, 2RB, 3WR, TE, K, DEF, seven bench spots.
  • No QBs before the seventh round: Past ADP compared with points per game show us the value of waiting on a quarterback. Even with the scoring change, the seventh round is the earliest position where opportunity cost has been sufficiently reduced and quarterbacks can be drafted. While standard scoring drops the need for more wide receivers, we’re still only starting a single quarterback. I personally prefer to wait but comparing the draft pick across multiple positions is ideal in order to maintain a flexible strategy.
  • No TEs before the fifth round: We can’t rely on receptions to prop up tight end scoring, but opportunity gives us yardage and touchdowns. The switch to standard doesn’t affect my approach to drafting tight ends, but I’ll still use Draft Analyzer to compare their value across other available players. The fifth round is when the next tier of tight ends are typically selected so I’ve set the tool to wait until then for tight ends to become an option.

  • No DST OR K before the fifteenth round: Past defensive performance isn’t predictive of future performance and they can be effectively streamed negating the need for drafting them early. I use a similar approach for kickers as we’re just looking for volume each week. It allows me to continue adding other core players and build a stronger roster.

Jump to Pick 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16

Round 1, Pick 3 – Saquon Barkley, Giants

I was surprised that Draft Analyzer recommended so many wide receivers to start my draft. Saquon Barkley is projected to have 350 total touches throughout the 2019 season. That’s the most for any player. Barkley’s role as both the primary running back and secondary receiver option puts him in a class of his own. His +103 VBD was significantly greater than any of the suggested receivers making this an easy selection at 1.03. The data provided by Draft Analyzer allowed me to easily compare the players from both a statistical and value-based standpoint making Barkley the logical selection. The only other thing to consider here so early in the draft is who would be available once the draft snaked back to me at 2.10.

The devaluation of receptions in standard-scoring leagues props up top-tier running backs. Their usage in both the running and passing game outpaces wide receivers with a similar ADP. Regardless, the start gave me some flexibility heading into the second round. A ‘modified-ZeroRB’ strategy was viable given Barkley’s status. He would essentially serve as an ‘anchor’ at the position while I acquired wide receivers. I could also lean into my advantage at the running back position and draft value options at the position. This is the benefit of an early draft position as multiple strategies become viable from this position.

Each round, Draft Analyzer suggests the top available suggestion along with four alternatives, as shown at the top of this section. Throughout the rest of the article, I will note those suggestions as well as my top alternative to the player that I actually selected.

My Top Alternative: David Johnson

Round 2, Pick 10 – Mike Evans, Buccaneers

The Draft Analyzer provided four wide receivers and one running back for my consideration at the 2.10. It’s here where tiers become critical in drafts. All eyes are on Damien Williams with rookie Darwin Thompson possibly moving ahead of Carlos Hyde on the depth chart. However, even with the positive buzz, Williams sits in Tier 4 of running backs. All of the suggested wide receivers sit in Tier 2 or 3 given their talent and role on their respective teams. Draft Analyzer projected that my next available running back in the third round would be Aaron Jones. That’s actually an upgrade. Jones is ranked 14th in running backs while Williams is 15th and projected to score 189 points. Because there wouldn’t be a steep drop off in talent, I could forego Williams at 2.10 with an eye on running back options in the early third round.

To solidify my choice of wide receiver, I compared both their value and projected usage using the Draft Analyzer. Mike Evans had the highest rank and projected to score at least seven points over the suggested alternatives (166). In addition, because I was so close to the turn, I could project to draft at least one of the wide receivers in consideration for this pick. With that knowledge, I could draft Evans understanding a wide receiver of similar value could be acquired after the next four picks.

Suggested Alternatives: Keenan Allen, T.Y. Hilton, Adam Thielen, Damien Williams

My Top Alternative: Keenan Allen 

Round 3, Pick 3 – Tyreek Hill, Chiefs

I went off script here. My plan after drafting Mike Evans was to turn back to the running back position given who was available at the 2.10 and had I projected to be available at the 3.03. However, when Tyreek Hill was a suggested alternative I adjusted my draft strategy. He’s the fifth-ranked wide receiver and projected for 190 points while still available in the third round. Of the suggested wide receivers, Hill came without any concerns affecting his fantasy season. T.Y. Hilton is waiting for Andrew Luck to return to the field. Amari Cooper is dealing with his own injury. Hill is being drafted as a WR1 in most leagues and I was able to take him as my WR2 adding value to the selection.

My only concern was the quality of running backs that would be available in the fourth and fifth round. Barkley was a fine start, but my adjusted strategy included identifying a viable RB2 option within my next two picks. Candidates included Josh Jacobs, Sony Michel, and Chris Carson given their roles within the team and upside as receivers. By taking a second wide receiver, I was gambling at least one making it back to me in the fourth.

Suggested Alternatives: T.Y. Hilton, Leonard Fournette, Amari Cooper, Aaron Jones

My Top Alternative: Aaron Jones

Round 4, Pick 10 – Tyler Lockett, Seahawks

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