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Fantasy Football Formula: Draft the Best Team

Updated on February 26, 2012

The Fantasy Fooball Player

Fantasy football is a great game. Where else can a fanatic sports fan have the opportunity to create his/her own NFL team? It's ingenious and a wonderful segway into the world of football. If, for some reason, you've never joined a football fantasy league and you love the NFL, then I highly recommend signing up.

All right, lets get to the crux of the matter. Although the overall goal is to have fun, in the end, we all want to win. It's a fact, plain and simple. Unfortunately, I can't promise that my strategy will guarantee you a winning team for two reasons. One, there is the luck factor. Sometimes the players you pick perform well, but you're opponent ends up scoring more points. It happens. Two, you have to account for other little variables like injuries and fantasy draft duds. However, I can promise you that I'll provide valuable fantasy football tips that most people skip. A formula that keeps me in the hunt every season.

Fantasy Draft Strategy

For starters, I'm only talking about fantasy leagues that use the "standard format" or slight deviation to:

1QB, 2RB, 2WR, 2FLEX, 1THE, 1DEF, 1K

Basic Strategies

In the standard format, many people put a lot of stock in running backs. Running backs are the backbone in this type of league. They have the ability to rack up a ton of yards and touchdowns both on the ground and in the air. Some people will even draft 3 running backs in a row in order to solidify a strong RB core.

Others go for a top rated quarterback. QBs often produce the most touchdowns and overall yardage. For example, Peyton Manning had 4,500 yards passing and 33 TD in 2009. No matter what top running back you have, be it Chris Johnson or Adrian Peterson, their numbers cannot compare. Manning's stats are phenomenal and it would be difficult to pass him up in any draft.

There is a third approach, where people go down the line and try to get the best available player at the time. So, if they have 2 receivers and 1 running back and the next best player is a wide receiver, they will opt for the wideout, every time.

My Strategy

All right, now that we have fantasy football basics, I'm going to breakdown what I do. First and foremost, you need a stud running back. Picking the top receiver or top quarterback in the first round is a rookie mistake. I understand that if you are the number tenth or eleventh overall pick, it is very tempting to pick up a Drew Brees, Peyton Manning, and even Randy Moss. Especially, when everyone goes running back crazy and you're faced with deciding between Ronnie Brown or Ryan Grant as your number one pick. However, in my humble opinion, choosing a running back (personally I would choose Grant in this scenario) is the correct choice.

Running Backs - Why?

Reasons for the 1st round RB pick

First off, by the time the second and third round picks come around, the number of high quality running backs diminishes substantially. Furthermore, since everyone will be picking running backs, there will always be a top receiver in the second round. If for some reason people get receiver happy in the late 1st and early 2nd rounds, then you'll have a great number 2RB, either way win/win.

Let me show you what I'm talking about...

Lets say you choose Ryan Grant as your number one pick. When the 2nd round comes to you, you'll have your choice of either a decent number two back like Brandon Jacobs or a top 10 receiver such as Brandon Marshall or Donald Driver. Either way, you're sitting pretty by the end of round 2.

On the flip side, let's say you grab Andre Johnson as your first overall pick. Great receiver, awesome performer. Now you have the same choice (because someone will definitely pick up Ryan Grant by the time it comes to you) Brandon Marshall or Brandon Jacobs. If you choose Marshall then, man, you have a heck of a receiving duo, but remember what I said earlier:

The running backs are the backbone of your team.

Now you're exposed and are stuck with a wild card running back in the third round. So, because of this, you go with the safer pick and get Brandon Jacobs, who has 2nd round written all over him. Now, looking at your team's top performers, all the pressure rests on a receiver who relies heavily on the quarterback to throw him the ball, and a running back who is on the decline.

As for the quarterback, there is one reason why you don't pick Rodgers or Manning (Peyton) in the first round...they are not a priority. In the standard format, there is only 1 starting quarterback. While the other positions require 2 or maybe 3 depending on your flex options. So, the QB's importance drops dramatically. Also, aside from your big 3, Brees, Manning, and Rodgers, any quarterback can out perform the other on any given Sunday. It's that competitive and it usually averages out. Of course, that doesn't mean you can get any old quarterback such as Jake Delhomme or Trent Edwards, but you'll get your crack at a decent quarterback in the later rounds, trust me.

All right, so the first 3 rounds are easy. You get a stud back and then go for a top receiver and a second back in the next two rounds. As for picking 3 running backs in a row, I advise against it. You still need receivers to help support your team. Loading up on running backs just causes confusion and makes you less versatile.

Peyton and Eli Manning

The Money Rounds...

The next 4-5 rounds (rounds 4-9) are the most important rounds of the draft. No more worrying about Rodgers, Peterson, or Manning (Maybe Eli. By the way, doesn't Eli look like a deformed version of Peyton?).

The money rounds is where it gets interesting. These picks will determine whether you make the playoffs or struggle to stay over .500. They are the gems, the diamonds in the rough.

First and foremost, DO NOT follow the leader. If for some reason people get on the Tight End train in the 5th round, don't you dare follow suit. Let the idiots chase down Jeremy Shockey as their number 58th pick overall. You actually want that to happen. It means that there are more quality receivers and backs at your disposal.

Best Fantasy Football Picks

Now, who to pick? Well, before the draft, do a little research and read up on up-to-date rosters. Once you've done your homework this is what you look for...consistency, reliability, and the ability to blow up. This means, you absolutely need to grab starters or backups who receive a lot of attention such as a Ahmad Bradshaw or LaDainian Tomlinson.

As for receivers, you want a starting wideout, preferably the number one receiver on the team; however, there are some great number two's out there like Wes Welker or Devery Henderson. So, these are the type of players you want to fill out in your 4th-7th rounds. If you can get a quality THE in the 7th, then by all means do it. If there's only crappy ones left, continue the WR/RB trail.

Now for the 8th, 9th, and 10th rounds...You still want to look for starters or potential starters. These are my 'gem' picks where I try to get the next generation of stars...the rookies. If the high profile rookies like C.J. Spiller or Jahvid Best are picked early, don't panic, there are others to choose from. Sometimes, if I really like my first 5 picks, I'll try to grab a guy like Spiller in the 6th round, but this is rare.

As for the rest of draft, you're going to have look for the best TEs, kickers, and Defenses available.

Fantasy Overview

Okay, lets recap and make a quick checklist for your pre-draft preparation.

- 1st, always select the best running back available in the 1st round

- In the 2-3 rounds, select the best running back and receiver available. I advise not to pick 3 running backs in a row.

- In the 4-7 rounds, be sure to grab a quarterback and then start looking for your 'gem' running backs and receivers. Always avoid following the leader, chasing down TEs, Defenses, or Kickers.

- In the 8-10 rounds, continue looking for gems and look for the best rookies available. If there is a top 10 tight end, grab him. If not, continue searching for the best quality running backs and receivers.

- In the late rounds, find your kicker, defense, and tight ends (if you haven't found one already).

- And lastly, have fun! There's nothing like playing in a competitive football fantasy league. It's awesome! Good luck out there!


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    • wavegirl22 profile image


      9 years ago from New York, NY

      Manning is the man be it fantasy or reality! I am just happy that the season is days away from the opening kickoff. You know where I will be come Sunday :) And of course I am your silent partner when it comes to the fantasy team plays:) Thumbs up drej . .even if you are an iggle fan!

    • K9keystrokes profile image

      India Arnold 

      9 years ago from Northern, California

      Best Fantasy Football Player: How to Draft a Winning Team will make many people happy right now, what with the season starting,...grand timing!


    • billyaustindillon profile image


      9 years ago

      Perfect timing as it is that time of the year to draft fantasy football players and teams.

    • drej2522 profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      thanks guys...and yes, (soccer) football is the world's 'real' football! Hell, they actually play the sport with a foot! However, American Football is far more entertaining! Sorry, I'm biased, but it is...

    • LeanMan profile image


      9 years ago from At the Gemba

      I agree with Humagaia, football is football (soccer), what you are talking about is a big girls version of rugby with lots of padding! Sorry us Brits can't help ourselves, otherwise a great hub with some good tips.

    • Dobson profile image


      9 years ago from Virginia

      Fantasy football gets a lot of press and even more hours of preparation, consternation and thought. Football in America means gridiron Humagaia!

    • humagaia profile image

      Charles Fox 

      9 years ago from United Kingdom

      GoddamIt! I saw the title and shot right over to view Fantasy Football Team selection, and what do I get: Gridiron. Hey, give us a break, football was around long before gridiron. No need to usurp our name and make things so difficult to search on these days.

      This is almost a serious point!

    • johnyater profile image


      9 years ago from Hamilton, Ohio

      Drej, sounds like fun, and a lot of work scouting who is out there and what up an coming rookies there are.

      I'm going to offer some advice about a running back that I believe is under rated. Cedric Benson. I know that I am partial because I like the Bengals, but think about this in 2009 he was second only to Chris Johnson in Yards per game, he led the nfl in attempts per game, yet had only one fumble that he did not loose. This year with the addition of Terrell Owens and the extra attention he will demand the running game should open up some more. I am looking for Ced to have a record breaking year.


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