Folks, thank you for reading my draft guide once again. This draft guide is not one of those 200-page, predict-every-player’s-stat-line, every-team’s-depth-chart deals — or who the new offensive coordinators are and how it changes everything from the year before. Nope, not my style. What this guide does is create a blueprint for your draft. I will have plenty of articles during the season to help you week in and week out. What I want you to be able to do is draft a team that can get you to the playoffs.
It’s simple, it’s always been simple … you draft running backs early and often … period.
But KZ, what if Patrick Mahomes is available in Round 2? What if Kyle Pitts turns into the greatest player in the history of the world … blah, blah and double blah!
Here are the top 40 running backs according to average draft position today, according to FantasyPros:
- Christian McCaffrey, Carolina Panthers (Week 13 bye week)
- Dalvin Cook, Minnesota Vikings (7)
- Derrick Henry, Tennessee Titans (13)
- Alvin Kamara, New Orleans Saints (6)
- Saquon Barkley, New York Giants (10)
- Jonathan Taylor, Indianapolis Colts (14)
- Ezekiel Elliott, Dallas Cowboys (7)
- Nick Chubb, Cleveland Browns (13)
- Aaron Jones, Green Bay Packers (13)
- Austin Ekeler, Los Angeles Chargers (7)
- Cam Akers, Los Angeles Rams (11)
- Antonio Gibson, Washington Football Team (9)
- Joe Mixon, Cincinnati Bengals (10)
- Josh Jacobs, Las Vegas Raiders (8)
- J.K. Dobbins, Baltimore Ravens (8)
- D’Andre Swift, Detroit Lions (9)
- Miles Sanders, Philadelphia Eagles (14)
- Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Kansas City Chiefs (12)
- Najee Harris, Pittsburgh Steelers (7)
- Chris Carson, Seattle Seahawks (9)
- David Montgomery, Chicago Bears (10)
- James Robinson, Jacksonville Jaguars (7)
- Kareem Hunt, Cleveland Browns (13)
- Myles Gaskin, Miami Dolphins (14)
- Raheem Mostert, San Francisco 49ers (6)
- Chase Edmonds, Arizona Cardinals (12)
- Melvin Gordon III, Denver Broncos (11)
- Ronald Jones II, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9)
- Mike Davis, Atlanta Falcons (6)
- Leonard Fournette, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9)
- David Johnson, Houston Texans (10)
- Damien Harris, New England Patriots (14)
- AJ Dillon, Green Bay Packers (13)
- Kenyan Drake, Las Vegas Raiders (8)
- James Conner, Arizona Cardinals (12)
- Travis Etienne, Jacksonville Jaguars (7)
- Zack Moss, Buffalo Bills (7)
- Devin Singletary, Buffalo Bills (7)
- Gus Edwards, Baltimore Ravens (8)
- Nyheim Hines, Indianapolis Colts (14)
Now my rankings may differ a tad, but how many are you 100 percent ready to start week in and week out?
I get to about 18 to 20 players, but only 12 or so I feel great about. I want two or three of those 20 on my team. You have a huge advantage over every other team if that is how you start your draft.
Rounds 1-3: RB, RB, and oh, RB again. You want to make an argument for Travis Kelce late in Round 2? I will listen. I’d personally grab Darren Waller in the fourth, but I would listen.
Rounds 4-6: Take the best wide receivers available! Now if one of those top 20 running backs are still there … first, invite me to your league next year and secondly, take them. A top-three tight end — Kelce, Waller or George Kittle — are also in play here if they make it this far.
Rounds 7-9: Depth at running back at wide receiver, and a top tight end is also OK here. According to average draft positions, those tight ends are:
Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs (12)
George Kittle, San Francisco 49ers (6)
Darren Waller, Las Vegas Raiders (8)
Mark Andrews, Baltimore Ravens (8)
T.J. Hockenson, Detroit Lions (9)
Kyle Pitts, Atlanta Falcons (6)
Rounds 10 and 11: Quarterbacks!!!
My rule is the later you take your first quarterback the earlier you draft your second quarterback.
The quarterbacks usually available here are:
Jalen Hurts, Philadelphia Eagles (14)
Tom Brady, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (9)
Ryan Tannehill, Tennessee Titans (13)
Joe Burrow, Cincinnati Bengals (10)
Matthew Stafford, Los Angeles Rams (11)
Matt Ryan, Atlanta Falcons (6)
YOU CAN WIN WITH THEM!
Rounds 12-16: Take a defense in Round 13 and a kicker in Round 14 or vice versa. Take sleepers or impact rookies in Rounds 12, 15 and 16. Follow training camps. They will unlock the keys to these picks. Grab depth. Yes, I am taking a kicker and defense a round or two earlier than most. It keeps you above the run on them, and you can pick players/teams with later bye weeks.
When you are done with your draft, your roster should look like this: two quarterbacks, five running backs, five receivers, one tight end, one kicker, one defense and one more receiver or running back. You can always pick up or trade for what you need later if you drafted well and have depth. I love offering two-for-one trades to those owners who are weak at running back and receiver, which someone will be. I also never worry about bye weeks. Take the best player you can. We can work out byes later.
This strategy is based on redraft leagues with 16 rounds — a starting quarterback, two running backs, three receivers, a tight end, a flex, a kicker, a defense and six bench slots. It works for just about any format outside of a two-quarterback system. It works for PPR/Half-PPR and standard scoring systems.
You can also try it for yourself by using this mock draft simulator.
You can do a mock draft in minutes by clicking here.
See how your rosters turn out. It works. I have tested all the draft theories, and based on my years of playing this game, this draft strategy will work. It covers all the bases.
You call me an idiot now … good luck in your drafts.
Ken Zalis ranked No. 3 in FantasyPros’ 2019 Fantasy Football Draft Accuracy Rankings.