When it comes to building a great weekly fantasy football squad, you want to be prepared to slay the snake — that is, the snake draft. Given the lottery selection you receive, the players in your league, and the NFL's depth of offensive skill potential, it's not just preseason standings as well as sleeper lists that vary from year to year. All of the ideas and strategy recommendations you've previously recorded on your cheat sheets must be revisited for 2021.
Of course, none of this alters the reality that you should be able to dominate the draft from the first to the last round and if you study and practice adequately, you should offer yourself an opportunity to finish in the money.
Tip #1: Begin with a five-round strategy for attacking the problem.
Heading into a 12-team fantasy football draft, the one thing you can be sure of is that you will wind up with five players selected in the top-60 overall rankings. Once you've made your choice between Nos. 1 and 12, it's easy to become preoccupied with that initial option and lose sight of the other core-four selections that follow because, in most of the football leagues, these are the players that you be accounted for regularly for at least half of your weekly starting lineups constantly.
If you don't surround your first-round selection of an RB1 or WR1 with a plethora of supporting cast members, it's a waste of time. Engage in mock drafts with your pick as well as league specifications to learn what combinations of skills you can get so that when the time comes for the real thing, you know your best alternatives and how to audible if a pick does not fall where you want it to.
Essentially, this is the fantasy football equivalent of your first drive, and whoever scripts their first series the greatest will almost always have the greatest success throughout the season.
Tip #2: With running backs, arrive early and frequently.
Running backs have made a significant comeback in fantasy football. The fact is that they never left. As with any job, talent is paramount, but the number is just as critical. While considering your league's style — standard vs. PPR-leaning — is critical, the final goal is to maximize scrimmage yards and touchdowns.
The workhorses are diverse when it comes to the top echelon of running backs this season with Christian McCaffrey and Alvin Kamara excelling in receiving, while Dalvin Cook and Derrick Henry contribute more on the ground and in the end zone. When it comes to backs in committee-dominated time, you might want to look into at least 17 to 20 touches per game because you should have one trustworthy, frequently explosive back and one steady with complimentary back in your RB1-RB2 combination. If you are only needed to start two, you should pick five or six players from your total of seventeen by having up to seven backs is permissible if you have a flex position.
Diversifying your portfolio is critical for backups so make sure to select some players with well-defined responsibilities for the first half of the season and others with enormous upside for the second half. Ascertain that you have enough supply of hedged bets and lottery tickets when the time comes to scratch them.
Tip #3: Obtain at least one top-tier wide receiver on your team.
Although the finest running backs appear to be the most important players in fantasy football, the league's passing explosion has elevated the importance of exceptional wide receivers to an all-new level. Davante Adams, Tyreek Hill, Stefon Diggs, and DeAndre Hopkins, among others, are so outstanding at receiving passes from elite passers that they are more reliable than the vast majority of running backs in most situations. Obviously, they have a greater impact on the top-24 in PPR leagues, but they are also typical stars in other formats.
The goal here is to be familiar with your tiers across all positions and with the running back position getting even more crowded this year, you should consider drafting a receiver before the mid-third round. It is still fine to open WR-WR or even WR-TE by starting with the 8th or 9th overall pick followed by the 16th or 17th pick with a combination starting with Adams or Hill because it is the better value play in comparison to forcing a pick on a running back in the first round.
If you start with a solid foundation with a tried-and-true game breaker or two at the receiver, you can relieve some of the strain later on by targeting all of the proper high-upside sleepers. The position has also seen less attrition, with the majority of its best players proving to be long-term investments. As a result, in the majority of drafts, you should look to target wideouts twice before the fourth-round drop-off occurs.
Tip #4: Recognize that a tight end's role is no longer limited to "early or late."
The NFL has swiftly refilled its tight end cabinet. In previous seasons, the dictum has been to either select a top-eight end, like Travis Kelce, in the first three rounds or wait until after filling out the running back, wide receiver, quarterback, and flex positions. While Kelce, Darren Waller, and George Kittle comprise the newest fearsome big three, the tight end position is now crowded with talented kids.
T.J. Hockenson, Kyle Pitts, and Mark Andrews in the 4th and 5th rounds are all deserving targets, and following that, they have additional upside in Dallas Goedert, Noah Fant, and Robert Tonyan. It's also prudent to acquire a top-12 starter at the optimal moment when his worth exceeds that of a player at a different position and then plunge into a deep sleeper pool late. Irv Smith Jr., Cole Kmet, as well as Adam Trautman are among the members of this ensemble.
The tight end hasn't had this many fascinating tiers in a long time, but you need to stay vigilant and keep the position in mind throughout your selection since there's a good chance it makes sense to get one in the middle.