By Adam Harris-
(CBS) Patience is a virtue, right? That saying applies to life as a whole and can be used in many situations to get someone through a tough time — except in fantasy football.
During a fantasy football draft, I hate waiting for others to decide my team’s fate. My “had it up to here” line is usually at the floor before I walk into my draft. I get anxious, antsy, apprehensive and agitated, but I keep a somewhat calm demeanor as I see my targeted player passed over, pick by pick, as my selection nears.
This year I have the 11th overall pick out of 14 teams in The Score’s infamous fantasy football league, and I hate it. I had the 12th pick until newly acquired Kevin Dziepak was added and thrown to the end of the draft, thus bumping me up a huge spot.
For those of you with one of the first five picks in your drafts with 12 or more teams, know that all of us at the end of the line are jealous. For those at the end of the line, let us figure out a plan that works and will leave you satisfied and smiling (The Office reference) once the grueling draft process is over.
Rounds 1 and 2
When picking near the end or at the end of the first round in a 12- to 14-team league, expect to get a second-tier running back or receiver. Please refer to the “Tiers Before Tears” ranking sheet from my article last week as we commence. In a PPR or half-PPR scenario, once the top five running backs are gone (LeSean McCoy, Matt Forte, Adrian Peterson, Eddie Lacy and Jamaal Charles), I believe later first-round picks should switch their focus to the wide receiver position, where there will be value picks available. A player’s value is projected not only in how many points he will score but also how many more points he will score than the next best player at his position. If you can get a top-tier receiver like Detroit’s Calvin Johnson, Denver’s Demaryius Thomas or Dallas’ Dez Bryant late in the first round, you should jump at the chance, though it may be unlikely.
Atlanta’s Julio Jones, Chicago’s Brandon Marshall, Cincinnati’s A.J. Green or even Green Bay’s Jordy Nelson are perfectly fine to grab at the end of the first round, with Jones by far my favorite. If he stays healthy, he could be the difference-maker you are looking for. New Orleans tight end Jimmy Graham is also an option late because of his amazing value.
That all leads me into the quarterback situation late in the first round. I’m wouldn’t make it a hard rule, but I’d advise most owners to hold off on taking a quarterback in the first four to six rounds. The only exception is if Denver’s Peyton Manning, Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers or New Orleans’ Drew Brees are available late in the first or early in the second, as they’re in a tier of their own; otherwise, don’t take a quarterback. The position is too deep in the second tier to use an early pick that can be used on a high value player like Jones.
Once you select your value receiver or tight end or a stud receiver in the first round, you can switch your focus to who is still available around the turn. At this point, you will be looking at running backs such as Cincinnati’s Geovani Bernard, St. Louis’ Zac Stacy, Pittsburgh’s Le’Veon Bell or even Washington’s Alfred Morris. If you are to take a running back here, just remember that he’s going to be your RB1 — your rock, your steady point pusher. In PPR formats, I would aim for Bernard here and consider Stacy second. However, if Denver’s Montee Ball is available, you should grab him immediately because of the Broncos’ high-scoring offense.
It’s also perfectly fine to go with a receiver again after the quick turn. If you can get a high-volume, highly targeted guy like Marshall in the second round in a PPR league, go for it and then concentrate on running back in the next few rounds. Do this knowing you won’t be picking for another 22-plus picks, causing you to utilize that damn patience aspect of your fantasy persona.
As a reminder, here’s a list of players who are must-grabs early in the second round if they are there:
Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Montee Ball, Calvin Johnson, Demaryius Thomas, Dez Bryant, Jimmy Graham and Julio Jones.
The rest are decisions you will have to make, but know that going WR-WR the first two rounds is not completely unheard of, although I will try to avoid that myself.
Rounds 3 and 4
Over the next 22-plus picks, you need to pay attention to what positions are being drafted. You don’t have to target any particular player or position until about five picks before it gets to you, but you need to keep track of any runs on aparticular position. A run on a position is when many players from the same position are taken in a row, causing owners to panic and reach for a particular player too early. This is a prime position for you to pounce on different position and perhaps grab a guy who should have already been drafted but was passed up by anxious owners looking to get, for example, a quarterback before they all “run out.”
I would make it a goal of yours to grab the remaining running back and receiver needed to fill any big holes in the third and fourth rounds, leaving the quarterback for later. So far, many drafts have seen the likes of Atlanta’s Matt Ryan, New England’s Tom Brady and Dallas’ Tony Romo fall to the seventh, eighth and sometimes ninth rounds. Keep that in mind and understand that patience can be a virtue when drafting. Don’t fall under the spell of reaching for a player in a run.
Here is a list of players who I like in the third and fourth rounds, with the preferred bolded:
Joique Bell (RB-DET), Bishop Sankey (RB-TEN), Shane Vereen (RB-NE), Andre Ellington (RB-ARI), Vincent Jackson (WR-TB), Percy Harvin (WR-SEA), Roddy White (WR-ATL), Torrey Smith (WR-BAL), Michael Floyd (WR-ARI), Larry Fitzgerald (WR-ARI), Andrew Luck (QB-IND) and Matt Ryan (QB-ATL).
Remember, drafting late in the first round is difficult this year. It’s hard to acquire difference-making players late, so you need to use the lists provided above and the advice I gave you to make cool, calm and collected decisions on draft day. Don’t succumb to the pressures of a positional run and of impatience. Stay level-headed and stick to a few targets just a few picks ahead of your scheduled selection.
Take your time and breathe. Wasting your league’s time while drafting is much easier to live with than wasting a pick.
Adam Harris is a producer for 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter @aharris670 and feel free to ask fantasy questions.