Don't feel too bad for yourself if you pick 11th this year. Yeah, you're not going to get any elite running backs and you're probably going to whiff on the Top 3 quarterbacks too, but you'll have a decided advantage over the rest of your competition: You'll get two of the Top 14 players in Fantasy Football.
|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|
And lo and behold, there are three elite quarterbacks, one elite receiver and a worthy Top 10 running back list you should feel comfortable with (that 10th running back might be Marshawn Lynch or Michael Turner depending on your tastes). Do the math -- you're going to start out great, almost significantly better than the poor slob picking 10th who thinks he's got the edge over you.
The general gameplan you should employ is to rank the top five players on your draft board as your pick comes up in the odd-numbered rounds. Then when you're up you're guaranteed two of those five -- one when you pick in the odd-numbered round and another in the even-numbered round.
You can even work in some strategy with your picks this way by keeping tabs on the needs of the owner at Pick 12. If he or she needs a player at a position you also need, you get the first crack at grabbing someone. Take a look at this mock draft we did in early August where I had pick No. 11 and Jamey Eisenberg had pick No. 12. In Round 5, I recognized we both needed a quarterback and a tight end. Left on the board were Peyton Manning and Matt Ryan, Aaron Hernandez and Antonio Gates. I quickly decided Manning was the most desirable of the players left and was fine with either Hernandez or Gates with my next pick in Round 6. So I took Manning then, let Jamey make his picks (Ryan and Hernandez, as it turned out) and picked up Gates. Perfect pick planning should pay off.
Editor's note: The percentages listed are what position you should target based on that round for each pick.
Head into your standard draft prepping for a running back but be open to the idea of going with a top three quarterback or Calvin Johnson if they're there. If only one top three quarterback makes it to 11th overall don't hesitate to draft him. If it's a PPR draft you should eliminate quarterbacks from consideration since the rise in scoring for non-passers makes them a little more valuable. Also keep in mind that if two of the top three quarterbacks are available when you pick in a 12-team league, feel free to pass on both as you're a virtual lock to land one with your next choice if you so choose.
As you did in Round 1, plan on this pick being a running back. It's never a bad thing to kick off your draft with two running backs knowing full well there will be tight ends, quarterbacks and wide receivers available later on. The running backs left when you pick in Round 3 will be from a depleted pool compared to the other positions. But there's a caveat, one that I followed in our PPR draft: If an elite top three quarterback is staring you in the face here, even in a PPR league, it's a mistake to pass him up. The reliability of a Tom Brady or Drew Brees is just too strong to give up on in Round 2. I don't think it will happen too often but if it does, jump on it.
The first position to get thin will be running backs. The second one should be wide receivers. Once the running backs most Fantasy owners are comfortable starting are gone, focus will turn to receivers and they'll get picked en masse. In fact you might be at the end of a receiver run in Round 3. Another factor to keep in mind is that the owner at Pick 12 will almost certainly look for at least one receiver with his picks, so getting a Top 12 option now is smart knowing there might not be one when you're up in Round 4.
Players you can get here: A.J. Green, Brandon Marshall, Demaryius Thomas, Victor Cruz, BenJarvus Green-Ellis
My selection at No. 35 standard: Brandon Marshall
My selection at No. 35 PPR: Demaryius Thomas
Whatever leftovers are available from the receiver run of Round 3 should be on your plate here. The obvious exception is if you already have two receivers and do not want a third or if someone falls to you. The likes of Marques Colston, Percy Harvin and Jeremy Maclin should be considered safe, reliable starting options. There probably won't be similar receivers available when you pick again, at least not with the potential these guys have. The story will be different at quarterback and tight end for sure, and running backs might look a little better by this pick in Round 5.
I like the idea of having two running backs, two wide receivers and a quarterback or tight end through five picks. We're talking five starters to call the base of your Fantasy team. Round 5 is a good time to find some decent bargains too. The running backs will dry up even further after the next few picks so if you need one now don't hesitate, and the tight ends after Gronk and Graham will begin to fly around this pick if not earlier in the round.
Players you can get here: Roy Helu, Aaron Hernandez, Steve Johnson, Willis McGahee, Eli Manning, Jason Witten (in PPR)
My selection at No. 59 standard: Roy Helu
My selection at No. 59 PPR: Jason Witten
The options here should be to pick up a starter at a position you haven't filled or pick up depth at running back. In a PPR format a backup receiver could be a consideration. The running backs left aren't exactly gems but they'll look like Emmitt Smith compared to what you'll see in Round 7. Particularly if you weren't in love with your previous running back pick, backing him up with another potential No. 2 rusher isn't a bad idea in the least. Neither is a tight end if one's on board at a tier that will be empty by the time you pick again. If deciding between the two, just remember that tight ends run deep in drafts and rushers do not.
If you need a starter, do a quick check to see if it's at a position the owner at Pick 12 needs. For instance if Pick 12 needs a tight end and you also need a tight end, take the tight end now before your rival gets two chances to get one. But if this isn't an issue then the move is to find depth at running back and wide receiver as best as you can. Look for guys who have a chance to total 1,000 yards and score seven times, a benchmark that isn't exactly starter material but certainly quality backup material.
The advice is the same as before: Unless you have a need you want to fill, aim for depth at running back and wide receiver with guys who could find their way close to 1,000 yards and seven-touchdowns. This also might be the time to start looking for running back sleepers because in Round 9 a lot of owners will start looking for sleepers and you'll be at the end of the round after they've picked through some good choices.
If you've been waiting for a tight end, and after missing on the first four or five, why wouldn't you, this is a nice spot to pick one up. Tony Gonzalez is a name I have on my radar for Round 9 or Round 10 -- plenty of consistent production and in a good offense. Jacob Tamme is another who may or may not make it to here but is the type of tight end I'm looking for. Round 9 is also a good time to start thinking about handcuffing your primary running back before other owners start to look for decent running back low-risk grabs.
Depth is the name of the game by Round 10. Look for a player rich in potential or a guy you'd feel comfortable using in place of a starter a pinch. As of this writing Tim Hightower is technically a starter for the Redskins and a receiver like Darrius Heyward-Bey could lead the Raiders in receiving stats for the second year in a row. If one of them does well, this is a tremendous pick. If not, then it's a waste of a 10th-round pick. Worse things could happen.
Players you can get here: Santonio Holmes, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Tim Hightower, Jay Cutler, Laurent Robinson
My selection at No. 110 standard: Tim Hightower
My selection at No. 110 PPR: Darrius Heyward-Bey
It's not time to start looking for DSTs or kickers and if you're looking for starters now you're probably gonna get sick. So the plan remains to pad depth with the good talent that's left. It so happened when we did our mock for this that I landed two players who weren't hot names at the time but became hot because of teammates around them getting hurt. I do not expect Nate Washington or Kevin Smith lasting into Round 11, but they serve as proof that NFL players can go from late-round afterthoughts to relevant potential starters in the blink of an eye.
Now might be the time to start thinking about a DST. If you really love how your roster looks after 11 picks, it's not horribly wrong to take one, especially if it's a consensus top DST like the Niners. If they're gone and there isn't a DST you're in love with, take a shot on a player to pad that depth one last time. Do it now because with two picks left and holes at DST and kicker, you're going to be limited with your choices.
There's still a little bit of strategy you can work, even this late in the draft. Your typical second-to-last round will be littered with DSTs as teams scoff at the notion of taking a kicker before the final round. But if you're up to pick again in two picks and the remaining DSTs all look the same anyway, why not take a kicker ahead of the pack and settle for whatever's left at DST with your last pick? Granted, you'll probably still get a good kicker if you don't take one here, but getting a cinch like David Akers will only help your team's bottom line from week to week.
What to look for in a DST: A good schedule helps but it's really all about the talent. A great sleeper I like late is the Lions, who have a tremendous front seven and could come out with a big game in Week 1 against the Rams and play in a close battle against the Niners in Week 2. Whether you decide to play the matchups or stick with them after that is up to you, but the Lions can help you out to a quick start.
Players you can get here: Lions DST, Seahawks DST, Cowboys DST, Falcons DST
My selection at No. 158 standard: Lions DST
My selection at No. 158 PPR: Lions DST
Here is a look at what the teams look like following the draft:
|QB||Drew Brees||QB||Tom Brady|
|RB||DeMarco Murray||RB||DeMarco Murray|
|RB||Roy Helu||RB||Roy Helu|
|WR||Brandon Marshall||WR||Demaryius Thomas|
|WR||Marques Colston||WR||Percy Harvin|
|FLEX||Willis McGahee||FLEX||Kevin Smith|
|TE||Tony Gonzalez||TE||Jason Witten|
|K||David Akers||K||David Akers|
|BENCH||Anquan Boldin||BENCH||Anquan Boldin|
|BENCH||Ronnie Hillman||BENCH||Felix Jones|
|BENCH||Tim Hightower||BENCH||Darrius Heyward-Bey|
|BENCH||Nate Washington||BENCH||DeAngelo Williams|
|BENCH||Coby Fleener||BENCH||Nate Washington|