Perfect Draft: 4th in a 12-Team ESPN PPR League
Picking from the fourth spot of drafts this season has more or less involved snagging whoever is left over from the consensus “Top-4” of Saquon Barkley, Alvin Kamara, Christian McCaffrey or Ezekiel Elliot. Of course, you don’t have to choose one of those options (more on that later), but that’s been the way things have gone through most of the summer. No matter your ultimate selection, you are sure to control a very valuable piece of the fantasy puzzle in the first round, while avoiding the dreaded corner picks of the first overall pick. I find it’s a much better position to be in, drafting from the 2.09/3.04 slots than it is drafting from the 2.11/3.01 slots. The positional runs between your third- and fourth-round picks can make one a bit queasy but the opportunity to select multiple top-flight fantasy pieces before the middle of the third round is worth it.
In this edition of the Perfect Draft Series, I'll be walking through a perfect draft from the 4th slot in a 12-team PPR league. Each pick was optimized using projections and value-based rankings from the 4for4 Draft Analyzer tool.
Draft Analyzer Settings
- Roster settings: 1QB, 2RB, 2WR, 1 WR/RB/TE, TE, K, DEF, seven bench spots.
- No QBs before the seventh round: I know this means I will miss out on the “elite” bucket of quarterbacks, but I don’t want to clog up the Analyzer with players I know I’m not going to consider.
- Only one TE if I get a projectable top-five option: If I can find a tight end that I presume to have a reasonable path for a top-five finish, I’m not going to take a back-up. I’m confident in my streaming expertise in relation to the “onesie” positions (in this case, QB, TE, K, DST) and trust that I can find a fill-in the week before a Bye. If I’m forced to wait an uncomfortably long time for a tight end, I’ll keep the parameters for the TE position on and see what I can do with a two-headed attack.
- No Ks or DSTs until the last two rounds: There is no need to take a defense or a kicker until the last two rounds of the draft. Let’s stock up on all the depth we can instead.
Round 1, Pick 4 – DeAndre Hopkins, Texans
This was a tough one but after fighting the urge to take Zeke, I sided with the Analyzer and took DeAndre Hopkins. While I’ll admit the Elliot contract dispute is what pushed me over the edge, there’s no denying that Hopkins is an incredibly valuable commodity in all leagues, let alone Points Per Reception leagues. In this PPR format, Draft Analyzer shows Hopkin’s VBD to be a 128, indicating that he’s 128 points better than the 36th ranked WR in the draft. That’s higher than both his receiver counterparts (Thomas – 120, Adams – 110, Jones – 101) and the aforementioned running back (Elliot – 108).
Being that it is highly unlikely we’ll ever be able to nab any of the top-three running backs in the four slot (Barkley, Kamara, McCaffrey), taking the odds-on favorite to finish the season as the overall WR1 should make for a pretty good contingency plan.
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: Ezekiel Elliot
Round 2, Pick 21 - George Kittle, 49ers
Since we missed on one of the top options at running back, I’d prefer to wait for value to fall to us before addressing the position. Damien Williams and Dalvin Cook are both solid picks but I favored grabbing the top tier at another position and seeing what would fall to me in the next couple of rounds. Kittle offers me an upside play, but also allows me to put the TE position on the back burner until the very end of the draft—or until after the draft altogether. Kittle is a set-it-and-forget-it player and I feel confident in my ability to stream the position during his bye week. The San Francisco tight end set the all-time NFL receiving yards record in 2018 playing with a variety of back-up quarterbacks. The sky is the limit with Jimmy Garoppolo back under center.
Kittle’s VBD is a whopping 116, far outpacing the alternatives. Zach Ertz isn’t far behind but I’m much more bearish on Ertz than these projections are.
My Top Alternative: Keenan Allen
Round 3, Pick 28 - Damien Williams, Chiefs
Zero RB is always an option but foregoing a running back here will really push my back against the wall and I’d rather not miss out on the huge impending value drop. Anticipating positional runs is one of the more aggravating yet necessary parts of drafting in a snake draft, and the 17 picks between now and my Round 4 pick is a sweet spot for fringe RB1/RB2 picks. Even with talks of a possible running back by committee in Kansas City, it still looks like Williams can garner ~250 touches in what may be the most explosive offenses in the league.
Williams’ usage seems set more than suggested alternatives Aaron Jones and Kerryon Johnson, while the Kansas City Chiefs system/environment is leaps and bounds better than that of Johnson. Julian Edelman is an intriguing option but would be nothing more than a floor play. He’s more likely to finish outside of the top-50 players than he is finishing inside the top-10.
My Top Alternative: Aaron Jones
Round 4, Pick 45 - James White, Patriots
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