One of the big themes in drafts this year is knowing when to take a quarterback. Some people swear by spending a first-round pick on one, others might not take one until the middle rounds. Some folks will take one in Round 1, but only if there isn't an elite talent at running back on the board.
|No. 1 overall||No. 5 overall||No. 9 overall|
|No. 2 overall||No. 6 overall||No. 10 overall|
|No. 3 overall||No. 7 overall||No. 11 overall|
|No. 4 overall||No. 8 overall||No. 12 overall|
The fourth overall pick might be the earliest Fantasy owners would consider a quarterback. The merits are obvious: They're generally safe picks, they score a lot of points and they don't need to be backed up until their bye week. But by splurging early on a player at this deep position, an owner might have to get lucky with picks later on to feel good about his or her draft.
By picking in the fourth slot, it just so happens you've got a good chance of uncovering some gems -- but you shouldn't feel compelled to take a quarterback in Round 1 to enjoy those gems, either.
Editor's note: The percentages listed are what position you should target based on that round for each pick.
Personal preference will determine whether or not you'll consider a quarterback or running back in Round 1, but if it's me, I'm going with a running back at this pick. You are hereby ordered to draft any one of Arian Foster, LeSean McCoy or Ray Rice if someone picking in the Top 3 rolls with Aaron Rodgers. But even if those guys are gone, I don't mind Maurice Jones-Drew at No. 4 overall in a standard league, provided that there are no hiccups involving him in training camp. His workload should be similar to that of Foster, McCoy and Rice. I'll lean toward Ryan Mathews in a PPR on the hunch that he out-produces Jones-Drew as a receiver while increasing his workload overall. Going with either back in either format is fine. The only way Rodgers is my pick here is if both MJD and Mathews aren't in tip-top shape for the start of the season. You can always get a good quarterback later on.
Paying attention is one of my Draft Day rules. Working out of Pick 4 means you have to keep tabs on the owners in Picks 1, 2 and 3 and sometimes match their needs with yours to help grab a player. In most leagues, this means they'll have a running back on the roster just like you should, and they'll have the same needs as you too. If one of the Top 5 quarterbacks is available in standard formats, that's a direction to in but it's not a given they'll be there. If they're not, the Plan B is to swipe a second running back and come back with an elite receiver (or tight end if one slips to you) in Round 3. In PPR leagues, replace elite quarterbacks with elite tight ends and quality running backs with elite receivers: If a Top-2 tight end slips to you, grab him. If not, look for the best available receiver and target a running back in Round 3.
Who you take here is dependent on who you took in Round 2, but unless a good value slips you should prepare for a receiver. Many No. 1 options will be available in all formats. You're looking for a guy who has 150-plus target potential in high-powered passing offenses. Anyone in our Top 10 receiver rankings will suffice. In a standard league an elite tight end might make it here. If so, he's not a bad choice if no one else is sticking out. You should more than likely consider waiting for a quarterback for at least one round.
You can still find a near-elite quarterback or receiver at this point in the draft. If you dig value, that's the direction to lean in because the running backs left are guys you might "settle" for (and that could end up happening with your next pick). One consideration might be to check on the rosters of the owners at Picks 1, 2 and 3; if they each have a quarterback you can wait until Round 5 to take yours since they probably won't take two with their first five picks unless they can start both. In standard leagues, if they collectively have one or no quarterback then it's probably a good time to take yours.
Right around 50th overall is when owners begin to take players they're sure will play a lot but not necessarily be excited about it. You should never hate any pick you make but if there's a player you don't particularly like but can concede he's a valid choice then take him, particularly if he fills a need since you won't add someone for another 16 picks. Think safe, not spectacular. In standard leagues this could very well be a receiver, maybe a tight end if you're particularly interested in Aaron Hernandez or Antonio Gates. In PPR formats you might pick up a running back that doesn't catch the ball much. Those guys are great values if they're considered capable of over 1,200 total yards and seven touchdowns. That's better than most receivers you'll find here.
Whereas the quality running backs ran out about one round ago, the quality receivers begin to dissipate by this pick. Whether you're searching for a starter or your best backup, you should be pleased with what's left at wideout, certainly more so than at running back. Making the assumption that you don't need/want a quarterback or a tight end (check if the owners at Picks 1, 2 and 3 need those), aiming for one of the last quality receivers is a good, safe plan.
If the receivers left all look the same to you, and if you're just not into the tight ends left, then go with a running back. This will vary from draft to draft but don't be surprised to see a couple of receivers with 1,000-yard, seven-touchdown promise and a couple of tight ends with the upside to get near those same stats. If you can get one of those types of players, great. Otherwise, consider this round "last call" for running backs that can provide excellent depth and potentially start as a flex. There's the rare case where you might still need a quarterback, particularly in a PPR. Weigh the number of quality starters left versus the number of owners who need a quarterback. If you think one will slide to you, wait. If not, take one here.
No one should be drafting for need by this point, but some owners in PPR formats still might be without a quarterback. If so, now's the time before owners start grabbing their backups which will happen starting in Round 9. In fact, it's not a bad idea to plan on spending two of your next two or three picks on quarterbacks. Otherwise the focus should shift to building depth. Positional need won't be as important as getting anyone who can put up numbers but now's the time to take one last look at the running backs left and get anyone who might come in handy. In about two rounds, the running back talent pool will be real shallow and you won't want anyone who's left. Unless there's a potential stud at another position, or unless you still have a major need to fill, plan on going with a running back.
You should still be either building depth or filling in holes in your roster. If you're still looking for a tight end you might have to settle for one outside of the Top 12. That won't be the case at tight end as there should be some decent starter material there. Running back will be a popular spot for owners, and risky sleeper picks will start to fly off of the draft board. I'd begin gambling with players who have a shot at putting up some big numbers starting here.
You should definitely be on a search for depth and sleepers by this point. Backups at quarterback, receiver and tight end should be available and of interest. You might even be able to do some strategic selecting as players at positions you want might not be on the radar of the owners of Picks 1, 2 and 3. Check out their rosters and make some assumptions on whether they need backups at positions you're looking at. I like the idea of drafting a second quarterback here but will wait a round if each of the owners picking twice after me already have two passers.
We're in best available player mode now. If you're lucky there could be a running back that slips to you, particularly in PPR formats. Simply put, a rusher who will play regularly as a backup for his team is worth a pick by now. There are also some receivers worth checking out. Take whichever you need that helps pad depth.
I would never take a DST ahead of a player I think can contribute to my roster. But if no one stands out and you're happy with your team and want to get a jump on everyone else in the league, then taking a DST isn't so bad. A pointer: This is only useful if everyone in the league must draft a DST and if two or fewer DSTs have been picked already. Because you can get a top-tier DST, and because you can pick a skill-position player in a few picks, you're playing ahead of the game.
If you must draft a DST and haven't done so, you might as well do it now and save a kicker for your last pick. If you have already collected a DST then it's time to search for a deep sleeper. A running back with skills we've seen before but is buried on the depth chart isn't a bad way to go. There shouldn't be a lot of thinking here as you just need to pick someone with some semblance of breakout potential. The best-case scenario is that you unearth a starter, the worst is that you cut this player after a couple of games. Don't overthink it.
It's the kicker round (assuming you must draft one). Look for kickers who either post consistent accuracy or play with a high-powered offense. If they have a good Week 1 matchup it's icing on the cake.
Here is a look at what the teams look like following the draft:
|QB||Tony Romo||QB||Matt Ryan|
|RB||Maurice Jones-Drew||RB||Ryan Mathews|
|RB||Fred Jackson||RB||Michael Turner|
|WR||Mike Wallace||WR||Jordy Nelson|
|WR||Vincent Jackson||WR||Miles Austin|
|FLEX||Torrey Smith||FLEX||Torrey Smith|
|TE||Vernon Davis||TE||Rob Gronkowski|
|K||Robbie Gould||K||Robbie Gould|
|BENCH||Pierre Thomas||BENCH||Reggie Wayne|
|BENCH||Mark Ingram||BENCH||Justin Blackmon|
|BENCH||Lance Moore||BENCH||Matt Schaub|
|BENCH||Daniel Thomas||BENCH||LeGarrette Blount|
|BENCH||Mike Tolbert||BENCH||Robert Turbin|