When it comes to Fantasy Football, nothing sets the stage for a league title than having a solid draft. After all, having to rely on parlaying deals with others in your league to get a decent roster is certainly not anyone's plan entering a season. However, have a poor draft and you could certainly have to resort to selling the proverbial farm to get a decent return.
Before getting into position specifics and round selections, if you are a Fantasy Football player who relies on "Autodraft", you can stop reading right now. The computer drafting process isn't all that bad, but an imperfect science when it comes to selecting the positions you truly need, when you need them. Other than that, before you go into your draft room, prepare yourself with position-by-position breakdowns of the top 10-15 at each position. As players go off the board, they should leave your board as well. This will allow you to keep current records of who is still available, as well as who you value the most at each position.
Now for the drafting process itself:
Running backs still rule the roost
Fantasy Football is still a running back game, despite the emphasis on quarterbacks in the modern NFL. The new-age running backs like Le'Veon Bell of the Pittsburgh Steelers, LeSean McCoy of the Buffalo Bills and Darren Sproles of the Philadephia Eagles are perfect examples of what running backs can bring to your team with their versatility in catching and running the ball. Double the options, double the points.
Fantasy Football: Top 15 RBs to Draft
BTSC's fantasy contributors put together their top lists of fantasy football running backs to draft in 2015.
Although running backs are paramount in fantasy football, if you are drafting in the back half of the first round, or have the last pick in the first round, rather than grabbing a questionable running back, take a top-tier quarterback. Players like Aaron Rodgers will give you more points than a second-tier running back.
Quarterbacks are not created equal
Despite the scenario above where you are drafting in the back half of the first round, quarterbacks should be selected in the second round, but again, rather than taking Ryan Tannehill of the Miami Dolphins in the back end of the second round, start to look for players who will give you a better output than a mediocre quarterback. In other words, if Rodgers, Tom Brady, Andrew Luck, Ben Roethlisberger and Peyton Manning are all off the board, start thinking wide receiver, but focus on the wide receivers who will garner the most points on a weekly basis.
Wide receivers are not a high demand position
If you are able to get Calvin Johnson or Antonio Brown in the second round of your Fantasy draft, that isn't always a bad thing, but don't forget there are players who could give you plenty of production without being the top-tier performers. Players like Odell Beckham Jr. and T.Y. Hilton are going to put up big numbers in 2015, and most will be available in rounds 3-4 rounds after the "elite" receivers are off the board. Unlike running backs and quarterbacks, there are plenty of receivers who will put up big numbers in 2015 that won't require you to start to sweat and push the panic button. Think Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson for the Green Bay Packers, both or one will surely be available in the mid rounds and will surely put up quality points as long as Mr. Rodgers is throwing them passes.
Tight Ends are nice, but not priorities
Other than Rob Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham, there aren't many tight ends who should be drafted above other skill positions like running back or wide receiver. Jason Witten and Heath Miller are throw back players, but not huge Fantasy football players due to factors which range from diversity of offense, to the aging process starting to take it's toll. Antonio Gates used to be a big time pick, but with his four-game suspension to start the season he has now become a late round player who could add depth to your bench until he returns.
When to take a Defense/Special Teams
I have played in leagues where players who don't get a top tier defense in the late rounds will simply not draft a unit, but select this position on a week-by-week basis. They will look at the available units on the board, their weekly matchups and pick the most favorable ones. Every defense is going to give up points and yardage, it is the nature of today's NFL, but trying to minimize that is the goal with when to take a defense/special teams. When the Seattle Seahawks and St. Louis Rams defenses are off the board, put this selection on the back burner as it doesn't require immediate attention.
Sure, you can draft Sebastian Janikowski in the late rounds if you want, or you can pick up Billy Cundiff off the scrap heap when the Cleveland Browns play the Baltimore Ravens in hopes the Ravens will give up yardage, but ultimately a lot of field goals. There are really good kickers in the league, but a lot of kicking has boiled down to coaches electing to go for long-distance field goals, as well as conditions. I like to look for kickers who kick in warm climates or in a dome. Half of their games will be in favorable conditions. To me, you can take or leave drafting a kicker, their point totals will rarely equate to other positions, especially if the kicker is on an offense which puts up more touchdowns than field goals.
What about the bench?
Never stop thinking about bye weeks of your star players, as well as guys who could be picked up as trade bait or depth in case of injury. I always recommend taking a mid-round running back or wide receiver to allow me the flexibility of choosing players on a weekly basis, but also to dangle over someone's head in terms of a potential trade down the road if I need to make an addition to my roster. The teams with the best depth, and ability to select players off the waiver wire, are typically the teams who are in the game for the long haul.