Remember the good old days when you could just draft a running back in the first two rounds, then set it and forget it? Those days are gone. Seriously, unless you’re drafting with a bunch of drunks and you can get Derrick Henry and Joe Mixon in the first two rounds, it’s time to diversify in the first four rounds of your draft.
Round 1: Don’t Blow It
If you’ve got the first pick, take Jonathon Taylor and move on with your life. Watch out for the Colts this year. Beyond that, I’m not feeling any of the running backs with a high first round pick this year. Of course, Derrick Henry, Dalvin Cook, and Austin Ekeler are great picks if they fall to spots 6-10, as Henry and Cook are coming off injury and I never know what to expect from the Chargers. I’d expect them all to go in the top five, likely with Cooper Kupp. What about Christian McCaffrey? Stay away, let someone else deal with it.
The fact is, running backs are getting hurt more than they used to. Those who don’t are being used in more platoon deployments, meaning even when they’re healthy, you’re losing usage, which has always been king in fantasy. So what’s the solution? In the middle of round 1, take Cooper Kupp or Davante Adams. Late round 1? Take Travis Kelce. Don’t blow your season on a guy who’s going to get hurt and miss seven weeks in the middle of the year.
Round 2: Mix It Up, Get Value
Bottom line, somebody always falls too far. Does a looming suspension scare drafters away from Alvin Kamara? Does a league of Cowboys haters let CeeDee Lamb fall to 19 or 20? You know what to do. What’s important here is to fill a different position on your roster. Unless you get extraordinarily lucky, spread out the depth.
Maybe you took my advice and passed on Ja’Marr Chase in round 1. Did he fall to round 2? Grab him. Likewise, If I’m at the 10-11 turn and I can get Kelce and Adams, I’m happy with that. I’ll search for value at running back later in the next two rounds. If I took Taylor with the first pick and I’m back on the clock at 20, I might be looking for Mark Andrews and Mike Evans at 20 and 21. The point is, mix it up. Diversify.
Round 3: Mix It Up, Again
Are you seeing a pattern here? There’s four major positions in fantasy: QB, RB, WR, and TE. You’ve got your #1 at two positions, now it’s time to get a third. For those of you wondering if I’m telling you to take a quarterback in the first four rounds, I’ll let you know now that’s exactly what I’m saying. Does this offend your old-fashioned fantasy sensibilities? Feel free to stop reading now.
Running backs get hurt. There’s a ton of depth at wide receiver. On the flip side, quarterback and tight end are razor thin across the board. There’s only a few of each that promise elite production. That’s why you need one of each in your first four rounds. If you don’t get Kelce in rounds 1 or 2, grab Mark Andrews in 2 or Darren Waller in 3. Maybe you get Josh Allen in round 3: Waller or George Kittle might be there in 4. As always, if you have two guys rated the same, go with your gut. Unless of course one of them is Kyle Pitts, then take the other one. I’m avoiding the Falcons this year like they’re a Covid ward in 2020.
Round 4: Finish The Assignment
This one’s easy. If you have a WR, RB, and TE, it’s QB time. Hopefully Patrick Mahomes or Justin Herbert is still available. For those people fading Mahomes this year with Tyreek Hill gone to Miami, I’ll be happy to take him when you draft Brandon Cooks. (They’re currently ranked as consecutively ranked picks on FantasyPros.) Maybe Lamar Jackson is a good pick here? Feels like a coin flip to me.
Now, just because I told you to diversify, don’t go and not pay attention to who’s on the board. Like I said, maybe you’ve got a league of Cowboys haters and Ezekiel Elliot is still available. Go with the flow, but then bounce back in round 5 and get another #1 on your roster. Do your research, stack the deck against your buddies, and don’t drink too much before the draft! Players and injuries will come and go, but titles last forever.