All right, we know what you’re thinking.
This is a post about the best pick to have in a fantasy football draft, which, at first, seems like a frivolous exercise. Isn’t it always better to have a higher selection? If given the choice between the No. 1 pick and the No. 5 pick, wouldn’t you always take the No. 1 pick?
In real drafts, that’s true. But this isn’t real life; it’s just fantasy, and the standard snake draft format introduces some nuance into draft strategy. If you pick first overall, for example, you’ll have to wait until the end of the second round to make your next pick, which could put you behind the eight ball if your No. 1 stud doesn’t pan out.
So, where should you actually want to pick on draft day? There’s no right or wrong answer — a good owner can build a championship team from any draft slot — but we have some thoughts. Assuming a 10-team, standard-scoring league, here’s a breakdown of every draft position, listed from most ideal to least ideal.
Pick No. 3: The consensus top three overall picks all are running backs — David Johnson, Le’Veon Bell and Ezekiel Elliott — and there’s a steep drop to the rest of the RB pack, which makes this trio even more valuable. But we’d argue you can’t go wrong with any of these three. With the third pick, you still can land an elite running back and have the 18th overall selection in the second round, where you probably could snag Rob Gronkowski or a top-level wide receiver.
Picks No. 1 and 2: We’re not getting too cute here. A top-two pick in this year’s draft is incredibly valuable given the potential of Johnson, Bell and Elliott and the relative weakness of the running back position overall. We’ll give No. 1 a slight edge over No. 2 because it gives you consecutive picks at the turn between the second and third rounds.
Pick No. 6: Just below that running back group is a threesome of elite wide receivers: Antonio Brown, Julio Jones and Odell Beckham Jr. Brown is the projected favorite of the bunch, but as above, there’s not much separating these three. With the sixth pick, you’re guaranteed a grade-A wideout (or one of those backs if they slip) with the chance to target another solid receiver or running back with the 15th overall selection.
Picks No. 4 and 5: Again, same logic. The top six players on our draft board are a cut above the rest of the crop, so you want to be in the top six to get one on your roster. The No. 5 pick gets the nod for its quicker turnaround in the second round.
Picks No. 9 and 10: You missed out on some real talent at the top of the draft, but we have good news: You get to double dip! Maybe you draft Melvin Gordon and Devonta Freeman back-to-back to check off an early box on running backs, or grab A.J. Green and Mike Evans as a solid 1-2 receiver punch. If you enter draft day with a plan, “the turn” can be a great place to operate.
Picks No. 7 and 8: Like we said, there’s no true “bad” draft position if you’ve done your research and have a clear strategy. But these two selections feel like the “no-man’s land” of this year’s draft: No shot at the best RB/WRs on the board and no chance to take advantage of the turn.
UPDATE (Aug. 14, 10 a.m. ET): The NFL recently suspended Elliott for six games, which obviously drops him out of the top three and changes the conversation a bit. Elliott reportedly will appeal, so owners might want to take a “wait-and-see” approach. But if his suspension holds, picks No. 1 and 2 should be the most desirable in the draft.
Thumbnail photo via Aaron Doster/USA TODAY Sports Images
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