“Do. Or do not. There is no try.” — Yoda
Continuing the Balanced Strategy
Welcome back to the next installment of my series on balanced roster construction. If you haven’t read my previous article about what a balanced roster looks like, go catch up before you move on. Drafting is the most essential part of building a balanced roster because it is the foundation of your dynasty team going forward. Mistakes like drafting players too early or not taking obvious value because of team need in the draft can affect you for seasons to come.
You need to start your draft by drafting the best player available (BPA) between running back and wide receiver (#LateRoundQB). I recommend drafting an RB first because they have a shorter shelf life, fewer starting opportunities in the NFL and are harder to find later in the draft. As discussed in my last article RBs start to decline by age 28, which gives them a shorter window of production for your team. Wide receivers have a longer window of being able to consistently produce because they don’t typically decline until age 32. Due to position scarcity (the fact that fewer RBs are on the field than WRs on any given play), you can get more value from late-round WRs than late-round RBs. This means you need to address your RB situation early to make sure you have a stable of startable players at that position. While WRs do run out eventually, there is far more depth available later in the draft.
Quarterbacks at least touch the ball on every single play and have the ability to change plays when they see matchups they like. Thus, they control more of the game and in fantasy have the opportunity to score more based solely on their decision. QB scoring is also boosted compared to other positions because they get points on any completion and there is far less position scarcity. This is why you can afford to wait to draft a QB, because you can still get good value based on all of the opportunities they get.
Tight ends work similarly to QBs because typically only one starts and if you don’t have a stud TE like George Kittle or Travis Kelce then you will probably get similar value from your starting TE that you drafted later. Additionally, if you don’t have a stud then you aren’t going to rely on them to be a star on your fantasy team. You need one to start, but if you draft properly early you don’t have to have a stud TE. (Just draft a young one that will develop in 2-3 years)
Another key stat to help determine which position to draft is Points Above Replacement(PAR). You can read more about PAR in this article by my fellow Astronaut, Spotlight (@FF_Spotlight). With balance you get a safer floor, but still have the opportunity to BOOM at multiple positions.
Tier by Tier Plan
The spot you are drafting from in round 1 kicks off your whole strategy in 1 QB PPR depending on where you randomly land in the order. If you are in picks 1-4, you should definitely draft an RB. That means you are drafting Christian McCaffrey, Saquon Barkley, Ezekiel Elliot, or Dalvin Cook. These are your workhorse backs that are consistent top 10 finishers. Picks 5-8 will probably be WR in the form of Deandre Hopkins, Davante Adams, and Tyreek Hill. Alvin Kamara will probably fall in this range too. Picks 9-12 are typically going to be RBs again with Joe Mixon and Nick Chubb falling here, as well as Chris Godwin. Once you’ve made your first pick, you just need to pick the opposite position and continue alternating round by round. I recommend doing this until your starting RBs, WRs, and Flex spots are filled so that you only need to fill TE and QB.
There are some exceptions to this rule based on a player’s talent. These are guys who are going to fill a positional need and be a constant producer. Slightly older guys who fit that criteria can be taken if the timing is right in the draft. Aaron Rodgers, Julian Edelman, Travis Kelce, and George Kittle are guys who I would break this pattern for.
TE is a tricky position because unless you have a TE1 as your starter you are probably getting mediocre production. Usually, once I have filled out my starting RB, WR, and TE, as well as built some bench depth, I start to get the itch to take a QB. IF there is a veteran QB who will remain as a starter and produce, take him, or if there is a younger QB that you believe in, take him instead. Maybe the young QB has taken a dip in value due to a sophomore slump (hello my boy Baker Mayfield) or got their first chance late in the season. However, if you have a positional player that you absolutely love AND that player is young, AND you think you can get a decent QB later, take that positional player (you need to have all the AND’s accounted for to make a non-QB pick here). It's necessary to have multiple players at the RB and WR position that can start for you OR have the potential take over their starting position on their team. QBs can play until their 40+, so you can afford to wait to take them.
Balancing your roster gives you a better shot at continued success because you are not relying on that one person. However, do not fear, because there's always a rookie draft.
“Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger; anger leads to hate; hate leads to suffering. I sense much fear in you.” — Yoda