NFL - Fantasy

Fantasy Football Pick 3 Strategy: How to Draft From the 3rd Spot

Adam Taylor McKillop
Fantasy football draft strategy for the No. 3 pick in 12-team snake drafts.
Fantasy football draft strategy for the No. 3 pick in 12-team snake drafts. / ASSOCIATED PRESS
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Fantasy Football 3rd Pick in 12-Team Leagues

Having the third overall pick in fantasy football drafts is usually a big advantage, guaranteeing drafters one of the very best players available. That's especially true in 2022 because of the potential to add an early (albeit a small) steal in the very first round.

Fantasy Football Pick 3 Strategy

So how can fantasy football drafters best take advantage of drawing the No. 3 pick in 2022? Here's a guide to the best draft strategy at 3.

Round 1/Round 2

It's safe to assume Jonathan Taylor and Christian McCaffrey will be off of the board at this point, even despite injury concerns for the latter. Enter Austin Ekeler, the perfect pick at No. 3 overall.

Ekeler's draft stock has never been higher, fresh off of a breakout campaign where he finished at RB2 in PPR scoring (No. 8 overall). There are a few past injury concerns, but the sixth-year veteran suited up in 16 games a year ago and was simply dynamic running and catching the football.

Heading into the season, Ekeler and McCaffrey are neck and neck in ADP. FantasyPros gives McCaffrey the edge in their overall PPR ranks, but some view Ekeler at No. 2. Remember that steal we were talking about? That's how to view Ekeler when you select him at No. 3 overall.

Fantasy managers are on a break until No. 22. Here's where things get really fun. There's an outside chance that Alvin Kamara (ADP 18) is still on the board, and pairing him with Ekeler will give you the best combination of pass-catching running backs in your league. If Kamara is off the board, there are options. Aaron Jones, Tyreek Hill, and Javonte Williams rank in ADP 19-21, and all of the above are stud options near the end of the second round.

Fantasy managers may be more keen on taking back-to-back RBs, but Hill could carry your fantasy team if he develops the right chemistry with Tua Tagovailoa down in Miami. Jones is the safest choice of that trio, given the offseason departures of key playmakers in Green Bay's offense, and being a player that finished at RB13 a year ago.

Round 3/Round 4

After going for a dynamic RB-RB or RB-WR combo, it makes most sense to add another elite playmaker. If you opted for the RB-RB strategy, this pick is a great opportunity to land a top wideout on their respective rosters like Mike Evans (ADP 26), Keenan Allen (ADP 27) or A.J. Brown (ADP 28).

Adding any of these weapons in Round 3 is more reason to opt for a RB in Round 2, whether it's Kamara or Jones.

If you've opted to take the slight gamble on Hill with your second-round choice, you'll need another RB in Round 3. Fortunately, the 27th pick leaves two or three options. Williams (ADP 21) may fall, but if not, you're likely left with a choice between Leonard Fournette (ADP 25) or Saquon Barkley (ADP 24).

Fournette took over as the Buccaneers' lone feature back last year, finishing as a legit top-12 running back (RB11) in PPR formats. There's no major roster changes that should challenge that role, so he's a better bet than Barkley in my opinion.

Yes, Barkely was once a top-10 fantasy back. But we haven't seen that in two years, and I'll take the safer bet here.

Drafters then must endure another stretch of inactivity before selecting at No. 46. Don't check out during this down time, though, since there could be values that end up falling to you as the middle rounds get more unpredictable.

After going for a trio of playmakers at the top of your draft, Round 4 gets a little tricky. It's probably easier to continue nabbing RBs or WRs at this point, but now you must starting thinking about a potential top-end TE or QB with huge upside.

Picking at 46, you'll want to examine the playmakers first. Travis Etienne (ADP 47) gives me pause in what will be his first tase of real NFL action, not to mention the presence of James Robinson. There's also Elijah Mitchell (ADP 48), but something about the 49ers rushing attack screams a committee approach, especially with a healthy Jeff Wilson Jr. and Trey Sermon.

Lamar Jackson (ADP 49) should also be available with this pick. He's got league-winning potential thanks to his dual-threat abilities. I don't mind gambling on a player that finished at QB1 and No. 2 overall back on 2019, especially considering he doesn't have quite the same concerns as a Saquon Barkley.

Round 5/Round 6

If you opt to take Jackson in Round 4, it's time to go back to your playmakers. Get yourself a second RB or WR, depending which route you went in the earlier rounds. There's plenty of intriguing options at pick 51, especially at WR. Mike Williams (ADP 52) torched opposing defenses for 1,000+ yards in two of his past three seasons. Meanwhile, Brandin Cooks (ADP 53) is about the only reliable wide receiver on the Houston Texans' roster.

Cooks enters his ninth NFL season and has reached 1,000+ receiving yards in all but two of those. He's eclipsed 75-plus receptions in five of his eight years, and 5-plus TDs in six of those.

Back at No. 70, you may want to consider TE or QB if you haven't addressed those needs. Tight ends are a volatile position in fantasy, meaning T.J. Hockenson (ADP 63) may fall in your lap. He finished at TE15 despite missing five games a year ago, and looks poised to take another leap forward in his fourth year. After all, he was a top-five TE option in his last full season (2020).

Jalen Hurts (ADP 64) is another option that may fall. There's limitless upside because of his dual-threat abilities, so best to snatch him up if he slips. Dak Prescott (ADP 73) or Dallas Goedert (ADP 77) are also fine options to round our your starting lineups in Round 6.

Later Rounds

Since fantasy football drafts are living organisms that evolve in real time, it's hard to pin down a specific strategy for later rounds. Managers will just have to let the picks play out, but there's some fantasy draft advice you should keep in mind.

Prepare a list of sleepers you're high on for later rounds. Nabbing the right handcuff or low-profile guy that turns into a weekly starter off of your bench is a massive advantage that'll give you a leg up on your leaguemates.

Don't be afraid to take risks when appropriate as well. The massive downtime between picks when you draw the No. 3 spot means you'll see plenty of players, even ones you really want, fly off of the board before your next turn. As long as you have a solid start (like the roster above), you can afford to reach if there's someone you believe in.


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Adam Taylor McKillop is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Adam Taylor also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username atmckillop. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in their articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel. 

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