I often hear people talk about fantasy football draft strategy and discuss drafting a running back in the first round no matter what. In any fantasy football draft it is important to not only be flexible with who you draft and how you build your team, but also to understand what types of players will be available when you draft. Here I’ll discuss a few basic concepts that can help you draft the best team possible.

When Studs Are Gone

Most years there will be key positions that have high end talent at the top and then a considerable drop off. The running back position this year is a great example. Once guys like Arian Foster, Ray Rice, and LeSean McCoy are off the board things get murky. If your drafting from the 6th position in round one it might not be smart to draft Maurice Jones-Drew or Chris Johnson. Sure those guys might be the 6th best running back available, but their value is probably not as high as a Quarterback like Aaron Rodgers or a wide receiver like Calvin Johnson. the truth is we don’t know if Maurice Jones-Drew will be any better than Jamaal Charles or even Shonn Greene. Early in a fantasy football draft it is essential to draft for value as opposed to position need because at that point in the draft you need every position.

Identifying Tiers

How can you decide when in a draft go after certain positions? Obviously this will change based on league scoring and number of teams and starters, etc, but a good idea is to group players with similar values together. This is creating tiers of players who you expect will all perform about the same at their given position. If Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, and Drew Brees are all in the top tier of quarterbacks then you are expecting their fantasy football production to be about the same. A good draft strategy might be to take these players in the middle to late first round, or into the second round. However, if you don’t get one of the elite players at that position it doesn’t make sense to panic and draft Eli Manning in round two when you could get a player with similar value, Ben Roethlisberger,¬† in the fifth round. Tiers will help you evaluate the value of where and when your are drafting.

The Running  Back Myth

It was fantasy football religion that in order to win, you needed a strong running back. While having a stud like LeSean McCoy will help, the days of league championships won on the legs of Priest Holmes are gone. If you can outscore the competition at every other position you can still win even with modest running back production. Additionally, outside the top tier running back talent, production from the running back position is very unpredictable. Last year guys like DeMarco Murray went undrafted in most leagues.

Know Your Role

To be successful you have to adapt and understand what is happening in the draft around you. With good preparation you can better understand when you are getting good value as opposed to reaching for a player several rounds earlier than you should.