Fantasy Football Draft Strategy 2013 – How to Ace Every Round 15

When thinking of hard and fast rules for draft strategy the number one rule that trumps all of these so-called rules is that there are no hard and fast rules. Always use some modicum of common sense.  These are just a few guidelines that should help you draft a competitive team.  Your ability to think on your feet and make informed decisions on the fly is what turns that competitive team into a championship team. While this strategy applies to your season-long draft, you can use some of the same principles when drafting the best possible team in our one-week fantasy football leagues here (haven’t tried us out yet? Oh man, you’ll love us. One-week leagues for real money with no season-long commitment).

Wait On Your Quarterback Russell Wilson

This is an age old adage that some have tried debunking, but  any position where you only start one player means there is most likely value in waiting.  There are 32 teams and if you are in a 12 team league, you got it, there are only 12 starting QBs being drafted out of all those teams.

This season is set up to wait on your signal callers even more than usual. The depth at quarterback is better than normal with the inclusion of some young talent like Russell Wilson, Robert Griffin III, Andrew Luck and Colin Kaepernick.  This makes for a player like Tony Romo, who finished as the 8th best fantasy quarterback last season, to be going very late in drafts as the 12th quarterback taken. Eli Manning who had nearly 5,000 yards passing and 29 touchdowns just two years ago, is now a QB2.

So don’t be afraid as quarterbacks start falling off your draft board. People will fill all their startable positions before they take a backup quarterback and I’d feel pretty good with Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III or Tony Romo as my starter.

Draft Running Backs In The First Two Rounds  Trent Richardson

This recommendation is also an old one, but also based on my recent experience in mock drafts. Every team I’ve put together that took a wide receiver or tight end in the first two rounds was severely lacking at the running back position.

Last year quarterbacks were coming off  an amazing season. Three players topped 5,000 yards and 40 touchdowns and people drafted relying on those numbers once again. The same was true at tight end and wide receiver, where Rob Gronkowski, Jimmy Graham and Calvin Johnson put up insane fantasy numbers. So that put the first two rounds of the 2012 fantasy football draft in flux.  People were drafting all kinds of positions, especially quarterbacks, and that let some top running backs fall a little further than normal. Well, that isn’t happening this year. People understand they can wait on quarterback and Gronkowski has had some health setbacks.

I’ll be grabbing my top two running backs, which there are some very good ones, in the first two rounds. I feel pretty good about the top 12-15 running backs, which gives me a decent chance to get two of them as long as there are a few of my opponents who select a different position or value the top running backs slightly different than I do.

Speaking of RBs, our salary cap draft format lets you take any 2 RBs you want in our one-week  leagues for real money – no luck of the draft, just use your smarts to stay under the salary cap limit.

Reach for the players you want

I learned this the hard way last season. I was very high on Doug Martin, but I always seemed to just miss out on him in my drafts. Don’t play it safe. Don’t worry about looking stupid reaching for a player you like. This game isn’t won by playing it safe.

Draft many backup RBs  


The right late round running back is like having a fantasy football golden ticket, but without that crazy chocolate river boat ride. Would you rather have Zac Stacy or DeAndre Hopkins as a bench player?  Hopkins is going in the ninth round while Stacy is going in the tenth.  Yes, at the end of the season Hopkins could easily outscore Stacy, but the potential for Stacy is much higher.  Stacy could win the starting running back job in preseason and Hopkins is the number two receiver on a run first offense. Or even someone like Ronnie Hillman versus Kendall Wright, who is going before him in drafts. Hillman at the moment looks like the backup to Montee Ball, but his potential is still to be a starting running back for the Denver Broncos, which is better in fantasy than being the starting wide receiver for the Tennessee Titans.

I’ve also found that it’s much easier to find waiver wire receivers and tight ends that end up as starters, than it is running backs because people like me horde them! So draft your core wide receivers in the third through sixth rounds and then keep an eye out for those running backs with high ceilings.

Draft an upside backup QB  

Michael Vick

This is obvious, but with my suggestion of waiting on a quarterback, I like to get my second quarterback before the pickings get way too slim.  There are plenty of good bye-week/injury fill-in quarterbacks this season and you might as well grab one with high upside like Michael Vick or Jay Cutler (both make for great Week 1 FanDuel bargains – join a league and you can roll with either one for cheap here), because they could easily lead you to victory if your quarterback goes down.

Last season I followed this template and drafted Robert Griffin III as my backup and he ended up as my starter for much of the season.  You take fliers on other backup positions because of upside, so the same at quarterback.

Get down with ADP

Paying attention to where players are being drafted helps you formulate a strategy for your draft. Much of what I’ve written here is based on ADP or Average Draft Position. These numbers can be found in many places across the internet. Always look for the most updated ADP because it changes pretty quickly. ADP is a bit of a hive mind and any morsel of news is devoured and assimilated. Think of the Borg, but not as nerdy.

You will never know exactly who your league mates will pick every single round, but getting a good feel for how players are valued universally will help you navigate your draft, and having this information embedded into your DNA will give you a big leg up (that’s the DNA causing the abnormally sized leg.)

Know your site’s pre-rankings and set your own

When you are unprepared for a draft you often get caught up in the pre-rankings set up by the site you are using. It happens to all of us and it will most likely happen to some of your opponents. That’s why you come prepared.

As soon as your draft is set, you should be able to go to your team and set your own rankings for the draft.  Then you’ll want to compare your rankings to that site’s rankings. There will be some huge discrepancies, and maybe you can use that to your advantage. If there is a sleeper you feel good about and he’s ranked 726th, if you aren’t playing against fantasy football sharks, you should be able to wait on him because your opponents will be in out of site, out of mind mode.

This practice will set you apart from a large percentage of fantasy players and is probably the most practical advice I’ll give you, so take heed!

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Use a tiered cheat sheet

So you have your rankings, but there’s no way you got them perfectly. I like to use a bigger picture tiered approach so I can see how I value groups of players, so I’ll know how many players from each tier remain. If, say there are two wide receivers left in your third tier and four tight ends left in your third tier for tight ends, maybe it would be a good idea to grab one of those wide receivers, because the drop from each tier is  going to be drastic and you might be able to get one of your tight ends next go around.  It’s in no way an exact science, but neither is fantasy. Here are my drafting tiers for reference.

Don’t draft a D or K until the last two rounds  Stephen Gostkowski

I debated on putting this in here or not, but I see people still picking kickers and defenses so much earlier than they should, that I had to throw it out there again. Defenses and kickers are known for their inconsistency in fantasy football from year to year. The Cincinnati Bengals and San Diego Chargers ranked fourth and fifth in fantasy points scored last season. The Chicago Bears were easily the best defense last season, but in the second half of the season they ranked as the eight best fantasy defense. The New England Patriots were the team you wanted to own in many second half weeks, but if you owned the Bears you weren’t going to stop starting them after such dominance in the first half. So for me, matchups for fantasy defenses usually work out better than starting any one defense every game. Last season, playing defenses against the Cardinals, Jets, Chiefs and Jaguars worked out quite well. We’ll have to see who those top matchups are again this season, but they are out there, just waiting to suck.

Mock draft as much as you can

Many of your run of the mill fantasy leagues have very few bench spots because people have to go see Fast And The Furious 12 or play hopscotch with their cat or some other nonsense, so it’s often difficult to make up for bad draft picks with late upside bench players.  This leads to you needing to feel comfortable drafting from different positions. There are plenty of places to find mock drafts, but try to find a group of like minded people to mock with. Many of the draft lobbies on bigger sites fill with people who don’t really care or are just picking randoms to be jerks. You can also try out a mock draft simulator.

Don’t forget to become one of the hundreds of thousands of other players who’ve fallen in love with our one-week fantasy football leagues by getting into one of our 20,000+ Week 1 fantasy football leagues.


15 thoughts on “Fantasy Football Draft Strategy 2013 – How to Ace Every Round

  1. Reply Jason Jul 3, 2013 6:04 pm

    So we don’t have a typical scoring system. QB 6 points for TD 1 point 15 yards, -2 INT, Rushing/Receiving TD=6 pts, 8.5 yd= 1 point, -2 fumbles. With this scoring system would you change your draft strategy. Most years in this league QBs come of the board very fast usually 7 or 8 QBs in the first round of a 12 man league.

    • Reply Kurt Jul 3, 2013 10:01 pm

      At 1 point per 15 pass yards a guy like Drew Brees is going to put up some serious points. The fact that QB get taken quickly only means more value at RB for you in round two..

      Each draft is different but here’s how I would play that system.

      Drafting in top 3 – go RB, RB and grab a pair of mid round QB’s and play them during the season based on matchups. Matt Ryan could prove to provide exceptional value (again) in 4th or 5th round.

      Anything outside of the top 3 you could PROBABLY go RB – QB – RB or QB – RB – RB.. Only picking a QB if its Rogers, Brees or Peyton since they should put up the most passing yards and TD this season.

      Good luck -

  2. Reply David Jul 6, 2013 4:39 am

    I like your strategy when it comes to drafting RB in first rounds. Though, this year I’m faced with a decision I’m curious to get your take on it. I’ve tested this a couple times in mock drafts but what about taking RB’s in the first 4 rounds this year. There is so much depth at WR I was still able to pick up Garcon, gennings and Atleast 8 other #1 WR. After all this game is about taking risks.

  3. Reply Augbob Jul 8, 2013 4:27 pm

    Hi, How would you draft in a 2QB ppr league with 10 bench spots and no D or kicker? I was thinking RB QB RB WR QB then WR or TE depending on availability and so on. Do you agree, or would you go another way? Thanks for your opinion.

  4. Reply Augbob Jul 8, 2013 4:29 pm

    I’m picking 10th in a 12 person league, thanks

  5. Reply Garrison Jul 9, 2013 2:25 pm

    You said to reach for players that you wanted, would it be a good idea to reach for Calvin Johnson in the first round?

  6. Reply Josh Jul 16, 2013 10:55 pm

    Wait on a qb in my league and your finished. Take back to back rbs and your twice dead. Our scoring system is so non traditional if it could drink beer then it would drink paps blue ribbon, wear thrift store clothes and listen to indie rock.

    1 pt for every completion, 1 pt ppr, 8 pt passing tds, 10 pt receiving/rush tds. Just 1 pt every 25 rushing/return yds.(plus big play bonuses, and yardage bonuses) 1 qb, 3 wrs, 2 rbs, 1 TE, 1 rb/te, 1 wr/te, k, DST. It’s a scoring bonanza. Annoying sometimes but I have been in this league for 10 years with old high school buddies.

    Qbs who consistently have high tds and completions put you over the top, unless your a complete imbecile drafting the rest of your team. Wrs are the second most important position. Mike Williams and Lance Moore out scored Jamal Charles last year in our system. Guys like Peterson, Martin and Foster warrant High picks because of receptions and tds, the rest are a wash, but they still go high because they are names.

    Idc this year, I’m tired of going the traditional route of having a balanced team and not making the playoffs. I want to win. I’m going Qb, WR, WR unless someone ridiculous falls into my lap. Looking to get Bree’s/ or Manning rd 1, Randall Cobb rd 2, If sproles is available in rd 3 ill take him, if not ill take the best available wr then go rb in rd 4. I don’t mind starting leveon bell, and Shane Vereen. Rbs really do not matter in this league, but half the league still hasn’t figured that out.

    How would you draft in my league. Think I got it pegged properly? Cobb, when you consider we reward pts for reception and return yds is projected to finish above megaton. It’s going to be a crazy year. Love it!

    • Reply Champ Jul 23, 2013 12:44 am

      Well Josh ill go QB first if Rogers,Bress or Brady are out there. If not then ill get calvin with first pick. But u have to get RB in the 2nd or 3rd round for sure even tho they dont score much point in your leauge u still need to play them. and the RBs are limited these year. much deep in QB beleive or not and well there is always WRs every year that show out. and in the 4th even tho is reaching you miet want to go ahead and get a TE. that early could get you a number 1 TE thats like having TWO #1 WRs and in your leauge that sounds like MONEY..

  7. Reply Justin Aug 1, 2013 7:34 pm

    been messing with mocks quite a bit and I love the two first RB and then been toying with snagging Grahm in 3rd/top WR. Gronk seems to be going in the 5th and I can snag a mean QB at 6.

    What do you think about getting 3 RBs in the first 3 rounds? Then getting a couple good WRs, a QB and waiting on a TE until like 10.

  8. Reply MoxyTime Aug 6, 2013 5:48 pm

    This year I’m number 12 in my draft order. Last year I found a great article that was perfect for me since I know football very well, but am new to fantasy. I’m looking for the same type of article (Draft Order for Dummies so to speak) that will tell me very clearly,”first round you should go for the best of any category…..second round you should have your QB…by the end of the 3rd round you should have your QB and one WR…..” I can’t seem to locate that same type of article this year. Any links would be greatly appreciated.

    Last year it was fairly simple — I was 6 out of 12 and as best I could tell from research, the tactic was to take the best available in almost any of the key positions. This year, being number 12 I think there’s a bit more strategy. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks, Paige

  9. Reply Dre Aug 6, 2013 5:50 pm

    I have the Number 1 pick in a 12 team fantasy league. Should I go RB, RB, QB or RB, RB, WR to aquire me the most points for my picks?

  10. Reply Pablo Aug 11, 2013 4:03 am

    Keeper league.I’ll keep MJD (round5)
    Do I grab 2 others RB round1&2
    or 1RB and 1WR??
    Ex:(i`m drafting 4th )
    Rice(1stround)-Demaryius Thomas(2ndround)

  11. Reply Kyle Allan Aug 14, 2013 11:38 am

    I am in a PPR / 2-man keeper league. My keepers are Cam and Sproles (not great). I have the fifth overall pick in the draft. All of the tier-1 RB’s will be gone by that point. I’ll be deciding between Dez or Forte I think. Other WR’s available would be Andre Johnson and Demarius. Other RB’s would be Reggie Bush and Chris Johnson. Thoughts on who I should select? 12-man league.

  12. Reply Clint Aug 16, 2013 8:26 am

    I have third pick in a 12 team standard league non keeper. Basic ESPN rules as my office is starting this league. Half are women (no offense) and half men. Most have never read a article on fantasy let alone done a mock draft. I hear them talk and they all have a favorite team they follow so Brees will go to lady who likes NO, Rogers to lady who like him etc in the first round. What is a good strategy to follow in this hectic draft. I have played in other leagues but nothing as crazy as this. Specifically want Doug Martin number one but where do I go with the 22nd and 27th pick? If Jimmy G is there for 22 do I take him since he is as good as a number one receiver and then follow with RB 2 at 27? or go RB2 with 22nd and WR1 27th? also, would getting a QB in the third be with picks 46 or 51 be bad if Matt R is still there or would it be better to just lock in WR2 and Flex at that point? Thanks for any help!!!

  13. Reply Phil Aug 29, 2013 1:04 pm

    I have the 10th and 11th picks in a 2QB, PPR league of 10 people. Last year the first 3 picks were QBs – Rogers, Brees & Brady, then the top RBs went next. In the 10th and 11th spot should I go for a QB and RB, or take a risk and go for say Calvin Johnson?

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