2014 Fantasy Football: My Round-by-Round Strategy

Aug. 14, 2014.

The following is a round-by-round blueprint of how I plan on drafting in my fantasy football leagues this summer.

Keep in mind that depending on the circumstances, you might not be able to completely follow this strategy once your draft begins. There could be a run on a certain position; an unexpected player could fall; or another owner may take one of the key sleepers early. You have to be able to play a lot of it by ear, but having a strategy going into the draft helps a lot.

Also, most of this assumes a 12-man league with two running backs, two receivers and a flex (ESPN standard). If your league makes you start two quarterbacks or three receivers, you’ll need to adjust accordingly.

Follow me @walterfootball for updates.

Drafting Early: Picks 1-4:

ROUND 1: You want to have one of these picks this year. It’s not about getting one of the elite four running backs – though that definitely does help – but it’s more that the value this year is at the beginning of the third round. There will be a major run on receivers atop Round 3, and if you can’t get one of the second-tier wideouts, you’ll have a big hole at the position.

At any rate, I would take one of: Jamaal Charles, Adrian Peterson, LeSean McCoy or Eddie Lacy with one of these selections.

ROUNDS 2-3: As mentioned, there will be a run on receivers. If you went with a running back in the first round, grab two wideouts here. All of the good ones will be gone by the time you’re picking in the fourth round. That position is thinnest this year.

If you opted for Calvin Johnson with the fourth pick – and I wouldn’t blame you, considering the poor durability running backs have – I might still go with a wideout with one of these two picks. A running back is obviously an option, as is a quarterback if one of Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers or Peyton Manning slips.

ROUNDS 4-5: I’d take a second, and even possibly a third running back at this juncture. Check my Fantasy Football Rankings for some potential players, but I would anticipate Rashad Jennings and/or Lamar Miller being available. Perhaps even Andre Ellington if you’re drafting with idiots.

If you don’t want to take two running backs here, options will be limited. Andrew Luck makes a ton of sense, but not much else does unless someone unexpected falls.

ROUNDS 6-7: If you don’t have a quarterback yet, you should definitely consider one in these two rounds; waiting until the bottom of Round 8 is a bit risky. Tom Brady, Robert Griffin, Matt Ryan, etc. are all solid choices.

If you already have a signal-caller, or if you’re confident you can land one at the end of the eighth frame, then you should just fill out your starting lineup and top backup positions. Maurice Jones-Drew, Marques Colston and Jordan Reed are nice targets.

ROUNDS 8-9: I would select the best running back, wide receiver or tight end (if you don’t have one) available with these two picks. It goes without saying that if you don’t have a quarterback yet, you should absolutley pick one now.

ROUNDS 10-11: I’m selecting a tight end here if I haven’t already (Zach Ertz, Delanie Walker, Charles Clay). A backup quarterback like Ben Roethlisberger is also an option. I’m a big proponent of securing a backup signal-caller. If your starter gets hurt or inexplicably regresses, you’re boned because the players at that position put up the most points.

If I still have a pick left over, I’ll be looking at the top running back or receiver available. I’d love to land high-upside players like Carlos Hyde and Christine Michael, or bounce-back candidates such as Dwayne Bowe.

ROUNDS 12-13: Nothing but high-upside players for me. Check out my 2014 Fantasy Football Sleepers for a list of players to consider. Oh, and don’t choose a defense or kicker yet. That’s just lazy.

ROUNDS 14-16: Round 14 is my final skill-position player – a super-high-upside long shot. Round 15 is my defense. Round 16 is my kicker.

As far as defenses are concerned, I love playing matchups. Go to my 2014 Fantasy Football Defense Rankings for details.

Drafting Middle: Picks 5-8:

ROUND 1: If Eddie Lacy is available, I’m taking him. If not, I’m considering either Calvin Johnson or Jimmy Graham. Matt Forte is definitely an option, but I’m not in love with the other running backs. Besides, players at that position bust frequently, so why not spend your top choice on someone more reliable?

ROUNDS 2-3: Remember when I said there would be a run on receivers at the beginning of Round 3? Well, if you’re closer to the beginning (i.e. fifth, sixth pick), you might be able to risk it and grab a running back in the second round. However, if you’re drafting seventh or eighth, you should probably take a wideout in Round 2 and then hope for Zac Stacy or Andre Ellington on the way back.

A quarterback is an option as well, particularly if you play in a league that awards six points for passing touchdow

ROUNDS 4-5: Assuming you went with multiple wideouts, and/or a quarterback, and/or a tight end early on, you’ll probably be looking at a running back at these spots. The candidates mentioned in the “Drafting Early” section apply. The same goes for Andrew Luck if you don’t want to wait on a quarterback.

THE REST: The rest of the draft will follow “Drafting Early.”

Drafting Late: Picks 9-12:

ROUNDS 1-2: You don’t want one of these picks this year. As mentioned, there will be a run on wideouts at the beginning of Round 3, so if you don’t want to miss out, you’ll have to take at least one receiver with your first two selections. I would even consider going receiver-receiver if someone else grabbed Montee Ball.

As with the “Drafting Middle” strategy, you might want to consider a quarterback with your second choice, but only if your league awards six points for passing touchdowns.

ROUNDS 3-4: If you didn’t go WR-WR, and somehow one of the tier-two receivers falls to you, don’t even hesitate. Just make your pick and move on. There’s nothing to think about.

If you did opt for two wideouts right away, take at least one running back at this spot. With your other choice, go for the best quarterback, running back or tight end available. Check out the Top 250 Cheat Sheet for more.

ROUNDS 5-6: You might have been in a tough spot if you waited on an RB2 in past years. The position is deep this season, however, so you can find a quality starting running back here.

If you already have two starting running backs and receivers, go with the top players available. A quarterback or a tight end obviously makes sense, but don’t be afraid to take a third running back or receiver for your flex spot. Just stay true to your board (or whatever board you’re using), and you’ll be fine.

THE REST: The rest of the draft will follow the Drafting Early strategy. Make sure you look at our cheat sheets. We have regular fantasy football cheat sheets and new customized fantasy football cheat sheets.

More 2014 Fantasy Football Articles:
Fantasy Football Rankings

2014 Fantasy Football Rankings:
2014 Fantasy Football Rankings: Quarterbacks - 8/30 (Walt)
2014 Fantasy Football Rankings: Running Backs - 9/3 (Walt)
2014 Fantasy Football Rankings: Wide Receivers - 9/3 (Walt)
2014 Fantasy Football Rankings: Tight Ends - 8/27 (Walt)
2014 Fantasy Football Rankings: Defenses - 6/4 (Walt)
2014 Fantasy Football Rankings: Kickers - 6/4 (Walt)
Fantasy Football Rookie Rankings - 5/18 (Walt)
Fantasy Football Rookie Rankings: Dynasty - 8/22 (Walt)

2014 Fantasy Football Mock Drafts:
2014 Fantasy Football Mock Draft: 2-QB - 8/21 (Walt)
2014 Fantasy Football Mock Draft: Standard - 8/14 (Walt)
2014 Fantasy Football Mock Draft: PPR - 8/12 (Walt)
2014 Fantasy Football Mock Draft: 3-WR - 8/7 (Walt)
2014 Fantasy Football Mock Draft: Standard - 7/31 (Walt)
2014 Fantasy Football Mock Draft: 3-WR - 7/24 (Walt)
2014 Fantasy Football Mock Draft: PPR - 7/17 (Walt)
2014 Fantasy Football Mock Draft: Standard - 7/10 (Walt)

2014 Fantasy Football Cheat Sheets:
2014 Fantasy Football Cheat Sheet: Top 250 - 9/3 (Walt)
2014 Fantasy Football Cheat Sheet: Top 250 - PPR - 9/3 (Walt)
2014 Fantasy Football Cheat Sheet: Top 250 - 2-QB - 9/3 (Walt)
2014 Fantasy Football Cheat Sheet: Top 250 - TD - 9/3 (Walt)
2014 Fantasy Football Cheat Sheet: Custom - 9/3 (Walt)
2014 Fantasy Football Spreadsheets - 8/28 (Walt)

2014 Fantasy Football Articles:
2014 Fantasy Football Stock Report: Training Camp - 9/3 (Walt)
2014 Fantasy Football: It's All About Value - 9/1 (Kenny)
2014 Fantasy Football Sleepers - 8/31 (Walt)
2014 Fantasy Football Busts - 8/31 (Walt)
2014 NFL Preseason Recap, Fantasy Football Notes - 8/30 (Walt)
2014 Fantasy Football Preseason Stock - 8/30 (Walt)
2014 Fantasy Football Quarterback Targets - 8/30 (Walt)
FanDuel $1 Million Contest - 8/30 (Walt)
2014 Fantasy Football Mock Draft Simulator - 8/30 (Walt)
Fantasy Football Round-by-Round Strategy - 8/17 (Walt)
2014 Fantasy Football Stock Report: Running Backs - 3/28 (Walt)
2014 Fantasy Football: Overdrafted Players - 2/16 (Walt)
2014 Fantasy Football: First-Round Bust History - 2/14 (Walt)
Running Backs with Most Carries - 2/14 (Walt)

2024 NFL Mock Draft - April 16

NFL Power Rankings - Feb. 22

Fantasy Football Rankings - Feb. 19

NFL Picks - Feb. 12