2011 is a unique year in fantasy football. With quarterbacks rising in relative value including Michael Vick's potential dominance, and running backs like Maurice Jones-Drew looking shaky, there are a number of draft strategies that can work.
Every fantasy owner has his own opinion.
Still, there are strategies that fit better based on what position you are picking from.
Let's assume you're in a 12-team league and take a look at the best strategy for each slot in your draft.
This year, there is not a clear-cut player to take first overall, but going the safe route and selecting Adrian Peterson of the Minnesota Vikings is the best way to start.
Michael Vick of the Philadelphia Eagles may very well turn out to demolish Peterson in points this season.
Nonetheless, Peterson's value as a surefire top five running back outweighs the potential risks that come into the Vick equation.
So, assuming you are smart and take Peterson, what is the best route to go in the following rounds?
In a 12-team league, it is best to grab a second starting running back, someone like Darren McFadden, LeGarrette Blount or Matt Forte (in that order) with one of your back-to-back picks. Follow that up with one of the remaining elite wide receivers like Vincent Jackson, Mike Wallace or Larry Fitzgerald.
This gives you a solid foundation to build on, but simultaneously forces you to pick the right quarterback in a later round.
Chris Johnson is slowly sliding down draft boards as his contract holdout continues to prolong, but he is worth the risk at No. 2 in your fantasy football draft.
Johnson is set to get back his CJ2K name with a legitimate veteran quarterback behind him.
If he misses a few games, which I still see as unlikely, Javon Ringer will do just fine in your starting lineup until Johnson returns.
So, take Johnson with the No. 2 pick.
Then, in a similar fashion to the first pick's strategy, look for a second running back.
If there is not a safe option, like Steven Jackson, Ahmad Bradshaw or LeGarrette Blount, take an elite wide receiver. With the risk taken on Johnson, you need to feel comfortable about the ability of this second-round pick to make a good return on your investment.
Follow up your safe second-round pick with one of the elite quarterbacks remaining, preferably someone like Phillip Rivers.
Then, you will be in range to find a solid second running back or wide receiver depending on how the second round plays out.
Jamaal Charles is not as risky as some people think, playing for the Kansas City Chiefs who ran the ball more than anyone in 2010, making him a viable option at No. 3 in your fantasy football draft.
Some may prefer Arian Foster over Charles and every other player on the board in 2011, but Charles has higher upside.
The Houston Texans are still a pass-first offense that, at times, would lose track of getting Foster his touches in 2010.
Charles will get his touches, albeit in a measured fashion to prevent injury, and he could be the top running back in fantasy football by season's end.
Still, he comes with some risk, meaning that you should make a safe pick in the second and third round as with the Chris Johnson strategy.
Try to grab a second running back, but if there are only wide receivers left in the elite tier of your draft board, take the best one.
If there is an elite quarterback available in the third round, take him.
Otherwise, wait an extended amount of time while simultaneously filling your team with running backs and wide receivers.
With the fourth pick in your 2011 Fantasy Football Draft, make sure you do not pass on Adrian Peterson, Chris Johnson, Jamaal Charles or Arian Foster (in that order).
These four players are the safest bets in 2011 and should be taken slightly ahead of Michael Vick.
With the fourth pick specifically, after you grab your top-end running back, look to select one of the top quarterbacks remaining in Round 2.
If a quarterback slides to you, there will be a number of legitimate running backs in the third round available like Ahmad Bradshaw or Knowshon Moreno.
Then, you can fill out your receiving corps in the fourth and fifth rounds with players like Santonio Holmes, Marques Colston and Steve Johnson.
The fifth pick in your fantasy draft is the point at which you should select Michael Vick of the Philadelphia Eagles instead of a running back.
This is because Vick is not as safe as the top four, but has the potential to be the most dominant player in fantasy football.
So, if you get Vick at No. 5, begin grabbing running backs and wide receivers in Round 2 and do not stop until about Round 7.
This way, you can grab a solid No. 1 at each, say Darren McFadden and Reggie Wayne, then look for a good mix of high-risk high-reward picks and safer players with lower ceilings.
In the end, it comes down to trusting Vick.
If you trust him, continue to to take risks as you fill out your roster with high-potential players.
If you are a bit wary but still have the guts to take him, mix in some guaranteed production with the riskier selections.
If you are selecting right in the middle of your 12-team fantasy football league, take a leap of faith with a high-potential player like Michael Vick or LeSean McCoy, in hopes of your insignificant pick becoming part of the fantasy elite.
Let's say you do not land Vick here.
LeSean McCoy is the man to select.
He is a Jamaal Charles-type player in a much more unique offense.
Rather than simply pounding the ball and getting the majority of his fantasy points on the ground, McCoy finds ways in the passing game, many times making the best out of broken plays.
So, make some noise in the middle of the first round by taking a risky running back like McCoy.
Then, get your second running back on the way back, who is preferably a little bit safer.
Finally, fill out your wide receiver corps and wait for a quarterback in the ninth or 10th round like Josh Freeman or Eli Manning.
At this point in the first round, you want to get as close to a sure thing as you possibly can, making Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers a prime candidate to be selected.
Some may think that Ray Rice or Andre Johnson provide you with guaranteed production, but quarterback is a position that can give you a larger true advantage.
So, at this point, try to grab Rodgers or another lite quarterback.
Then, look to make a splash in the second round with a running back that has a high ceiling in the form of a LeGarrette Blount or Michael Turner.
In the next couple of rounds, this position is friendly to those that like adding a top-end tight end.
The fourth round is the perfect spot to snag Jason Witten or Jermichael Finley and still find serviceable wide receivers and running backs down the line.
As we inch closer to the end of the first round, the "sure things" begin to dwindle, but Ray Rice may be the last of this group.
If you can get him or a an elite quarterback like Aaron Rodgers here, you are sitting pretty.
This slot is geared toward waiting on wide receivers.
By grabbing solid running backs and a great quarterback early on, you can wait on wide receivers, yet still end up with the likes of Steve Johnson, Wes Welker or Mario Manningham in the fourth, fifth and sixth rounds.
So, grab one of the last sure things in the first round then choose wisely when the upper echelon of receivers start to diminish after Rounds 5 and 6.
Toward the end of the first round, the risk in every pick gets scary due to the magnitude of the situation, but players like Maurice Jones-Drew and Frank Gore provide great value at this point.
So, if you can grab one of these two, or other running backs that will get every opportunity to be a fantasy stud, like Michael Turner or Steven Jackson, then do so.
In the second round, attempt to double up on workhorse running backs.
Then, when the third round rolls around, draft tight end Antonio Gates.
He provides the biggest advantage at a single position that you can find in fantasy football.
Then, fill out your wide receiver slots with a nice mix of high ceiling players that are potential busts, like Austin Collie, and solid veterans that are likely to produce, like Anquan Boldin.
With the 10th pick in your 2011 Fantasy Football Draft, the reliable running backs may all be gone, meaning that selecting one of the top two wide receivers in Roddy White and Andre Johnson may be your best option.
By selecting a wide receiver at this point, you are getting a dominant player at the position rather than a potential bust at the running back position.
Then, you can grab one of the remaining running backs that will likely be someone like Michael Turner, Steven Jackson or Darren McFadden.
In the third round, consider looking at Antonio Gates if he gets to you. Otherwise, continue to fill out your roster with wide receivers and running backs.
Wait on a quarterback and tight end until the other teams in your league begin a run on wide receivers and running backs.
At the end of the first round, you should try to take a guy with a high ceiling, like Frank Gore, and match him up with an extremely safe pick.
Let's say you grab Gore with the 11th pick.
In the second round, you need to pick up a player you feel comfortable with as someone that will almost certainly provide at least above average production.
It could be one of the best wide receivers left on the board like Greg Jennings or Hakeem Nicks.
Either way, select someone you trust in 2011.
Follow up Round 2 with your second running back in round three.
Then, grab a receiver in the fourth round and look for an elite tight end like Jason Witten in the fifth.
It is always hard to predict who will be available at the end of the first round in fantasy football drafts, but the nice thing about having the last pick is drafting back-to-back.
As long as your league does not draft 11 straight running backs, your game plan should be to get your two starting running backs right off the bat.
It may be Rashard Mendenhall and Michael Turner, Steven Jackson and Frank Gore or Darren McFadden and LeSean McCoy.
Either way, get your two starting running backs first.
Then, get at least one wide receiver coming back in the third round like Dwayne Bowe, Dez Bryant or Marques Colston.
Decide on whether you want to grab a quarterback in the fourth round. If not, wait until much later.
If you don't snag a signal caller, choose your favorite running back or wide receiver to be your flex.