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Fantasy Football 2018: Mock Draft Analysis and Selection Strategy

Steve Silverman@@profootballboyFeatured ColumnistAugust 29, 2018

Rams running back Todd Gurley will be one of the top picks in most fantasy football drafts.
Rams running back Todd Gurley will be one of the top picks in most fantasy football drafts.Associated Press

Many fantasy football players are playing the game along multiple fronts. The concept of daily fantasy football is hard to resist because it pays out immediately and you get to choose your lineup every time you play.

But fantasy football is often best enjoyed in a league with 11 other friends, co-workers, neighbors or some combination of those three, because your knowledge is put to the test over the course of the season and the rewards earned can be bountiful.

Yes, there is the financial aspect of winning your league, but the bragging rights associated with victory in a year-long league may be even better. 

The ability to shut up the loudmouth trash-talker with a win courtesy of a late score in the Monday night game may be worth more than any cash prize.

To win your league, you need to have a solid draft. The smart fantasy general manager will make many moves during the season and they will be vital; if you fail on draft night, the regular-season moves are only likely to help you get close to respectable by the end of the season. 

You won't make the playoffs if you drop five of your first six games because of a poor draft. 

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Don't make the common mistake of drafting a quarterback too early.
Don't make the common mistake of drafting a quarterback too early.Jason E. Miczek/Associated Press

The advice you are likely to see from nearly all fantasy football experts is to stay away from drafting quarterbacks early. The advice is good, because nearly all offense is centered on the QB.

If you get a great quarterback such as Tom Brady or Drew Brees, that's wonderful. But if you get a quarterback like Matt Ryan, Marcus Mariota or Cam Newton, that's fine as well. 

All of these QBs are capable of big games that can put you over the top in a given week. The position is strong and deep, and our advice is to wait until the eighth round (or later) of a 16-round draft before you select one.

Our advice is not unique. They say the same thing in many of the fantasy football preseason magazines, in newspapers, on websites and various broadcast outlets.

However, it is difficult advice for many players to follow. Once the quarterbacks start to go, there is a compulsion to go with the crowd that is difficult to avoid. Strong players can do just that. You must wait as long as possible before you go with the quarterback.

The early rounds have to be devoted to running backs and receiversin that order. You have to get your running backs early because the best ones are difficult to find. The most productive running backs should be Todd Gurley, Le'Veon Bell (despite his holdout) and Ezekiel Elliott. Kareem Hunt, Alvin Kamara and David Johnson should be right behind.

There are receivers who are worthy of first-round consideration, and the best are Antonio Brown and DeAndre Hopkins. Odell Beckham and Keenan Allen should be considered next.

We have never felt the tight end position was worthy of a first-round pick, but there is a reason to change that opinion this year.

Rob Gronkowski has been the best TE in the NFL for multiple seasons, and that is not going to change this year. The difference is the New England Patriots appear so shockingly weak at the wide receiver position that it may force Brady to look in Gronkowski's direction more than usual. 

If you have the No. 11 or 12 pick in the first round, Gronkowski is a strong selection.

You may get a few raised eyebrows around the draft table, but we predict you will get the last fantasy laugh.

Rob Gronkowski is a tight end who may be worthy of a first-round fantasy draft pick.
Rob Gronkowski is a tight end who may be worthy of a first-round fantasy draft pick.Jason E. Miczek/Associated Press/Associated Press

So our drafting philosophy is to go exclusively with running backs and receivers through the first eight picks, with the exception of the Gronk scenario just described.

After that, you may go to the quarterback well, and we suggest waiting another four rounds before taking your backup QB. Follow your quarterback selection with your tight end, and then get back to your running backs and receivers.

Your last four picks should be backup quarterback, backup tight end, place-kicker and defense. Varying from this strategy can hurt a fantasy player quite a bit. You may have won your league with a different strategy in the past, but luck was on your side. 

Don't depend on luck or happenstance.

In this league, up to five running backs, six receivers, two quarterbacks, two tight ends, one place-kicker and one defense are selected. However, the magic number is 16, and that's the total number of players that can be drafted.

Here's a repeat of what we just told you on a round-by-round basis. For our example, we are drafting from the No. 6 spot in this snake draft. (No. 12 picks last in the first round and first in the second, while No. 1 picks first in the opening round and last in the second round.)

1. RB

2. RB

3. WR

4. WR

5. RB

6. RB

7. WR

8. WR

9. QB

10. TE

11. WR

12. RB

13. QB

14. TE

15. PK

16. Defense

That draft pattern gives us five running backs, five wideouts, two quarterbacks, two tight ends, one place-kicker and one defense.

Our lineup will consist of one quarterback, two running backs, two wideouts, one tight end, one flex player (RB, WR or TE), one place-kicker and one defense.

How will a fantasy owner feel coming out of this draft? Probably dissatisfied, because every player gets aced out of at least two players they wanted going into the draft, and possibly more.

But a solid performance on draft day combined with astute trades, waiver-wire pickups and lineup changes should result in a solid season that includes a fantasy playoff appearance.

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