Anyone that has played fantasy football for any amount of time would be able to tell you that a lot changes from year to year. That is certainly true this year as we look at the early round strategy heading into 2012. With some Tight Ends getting drafted in the second round, and a ton of question marks at the running back position, the first couple of rounds aren’t going to be as cut and dry as years past.
A few things haven’t changed much this year however, and that’s the fact that RBs and QBs should dominate the first round, and your first couple picks will be dictated by your draft position, and league settings.
We have received a lot of questions in our fantasy football forums this year asking “what should I do in the early rounds of my draft?” Unfortunately the answer to this question is, “it depends.” The two main factors that should dictate your first couple picks are your league settings, and your draft position. It is really important to figure out what your draft spot is as soon as possible (so you can start planning your first pick), and also determine which positions your league settings favor.
The main thing to look at heading into your draft is the scoring system for your QBs. If you are in what we consider a QB heavy league, then your league will give 6 points for a passing TD, and either a point for every 20 or 25 passing yards. It’s even more important in these leagues to pay attention to the QB position in the early rounds.
I think the best place to be this year is at the beginning part of the draft. Being in the top 5 picks will mean an elite talent for your team, and plenty of options on the way back in the second round. If you are in the top 5 picks you are guaranteed either Foster, Rice, McCoy, Calvin Johnson, or Aaron Rodgers. Anyone of which is a great starting point for any fantasy team.
The second half of the first round isn’t as easy though. There are a lot of question marks after the top 5, and you could go with a number of different players. Since I feel the drop off after Calvin at wide receiver is a big one, I think the second half of the first round should only be QBs and RBs. That being said, depending on how you have guys ranked and your league settings, you could be drafting a number of different players. Personally I think Ryan Mathews, Tom Brady, Chris Johnson, Drew Brees, and MJD (assuming he signs) should be the picks in the second half of the first round. However, I would not call you crazy if you wanted to take a gamble on the youngsters Newton or Richardson.
The real fun however begins in the second round, because you have 4 positions that you can choose from. For the first time in the modern fantasy football era, it actually makes some sense to consider drafting a tight end in the second round. Personally the only way I will be drafting Gronkowski or Graham is if they slip in the second round and I don’t like any other options at the other 3 positions, but I don’t think it’s crazy to use an early second round pick on one of these guys.
Other than the tight ends you will have options at quarterback with Stafford and Newton if they are still around, and there will still be decent running backs to choose from like Lynch, Forte, Murray, McFadden, and Peterson. At this point in the draft you should also consider the second tier of receivers like Larry Fitz, Welker, and Roddy White. There is no set answer on what to do in this round, so just pick whomever you feel is the best player available based on your league settings.
I think people tend to over think their first couple picks, but if you stick with the guys that should be drafted in the first couple rounds then it’s hard to get yourself in trouble. No matter who you get you are going to have a couple of studs on your squad that you can build the rest of your team around. All you can do is know your league settings and pick the guy that you think will offer the most value (regardless of position). The first couple rounds are not the time to worry about which positions you think you should draft, but rather getting as much talent on your team as possible.