The following is my opinion, and my opinion only; feel free to disagree.
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Over the last couple of weeks I have been doing a large number of fantasy drafts and have found that one important draft strategy to take going into this fantasy football season is to try and draft two running backs inside of the first three rounds; after that the quality and consistency of the available runners is quite the drop off, save for a few exceptions. In comparison, and similar to last year the wide receiver position appears to be much deeper while the there are also a large number of quality quarterbacks, meaning I will once again be waiting on that position.
Adrian Peterson, Arian Foster, Marshawn Lynch, Doug Martin, LeSean McCoy, Alfred Morris, C.J. Spiller, Jamaal Charles and Ray Rice are all potential if not likely first round draft picks and all players I will gladly draft. The late first round and second round are filled with a selection of elite wide receivers such as Calvin Johnson, Dez Bryant, A.J. Green, Brandon Marshall, Julio Jones and Demaryius Thomas. Also in the second round are the elite quarterbacks such as Rodgers, Brees and Cam Newton. Manning seems to be a third round selection while Brady is slipping into the fourth at times, so I have less of a problem in aiming for these two as it currently stands. Over the course of rounds two and three, not-so-elite-level runners are also being drafted such as Matt Forte, Trent Richardson, Stevan Ridley, Steven Jackson, Chris Johnson, Frank Gore and Maurice-Jones Drew.
It is once all of the running backs I have mentioned in the paragraph above have been drafted that things really take a nosedive at the running back position. Heading into round four of the draft it is likely you will be looking at running backs such as injury plagues DeMarco Murray and Darren McFadden, rookies LeVeon Bell and Monte Ball as well as other unproven or underwhelming options such as Ryan Mathews, LaMar Miller and David Wilson. Other than hoping I can land Reggie Bush and Darren Sproles, a couple of diamonds in the rough at this point, I would feel much safer about my roster having two of the running backs currently going inside the first three rounds.
Imagining that this is the strategy that you have taken going into round four, the team should consist of a first round running back, lets say Jamaal Charles 7th overall, as well as a second round wide receiver, lets say Julio Jones 18th overall (if you are lucky enough you might even get Brandon Marshall at this point). Finally, in the third round imagine selecting someone such as Frank Gore 31st overall.
Now it is at this point that you can be a bit looser with how you approach your next couple of picks. You still need to draft a quarterback, two wide receivers and a tight end to your starting line up, but with a core of two solid runners and a top-level wide receiver, you have a good start. Going into the fourth round I usually aim to grab my next wide receiver, knowing that the tight end position is pretty up in the air this year and that there are going to be quality quarterbacks available into the middle rounds of the draft. At this point in the off season I am commonly seeing names such as Vincent Jackson, Jordy Nelson Marques Coltson, Dwayne Bowe, Reggie Wayne, Hakeem Nicks, Torrey Smith and Danny Amendola available in the 4th round and some of them in the 5th, all of whom I would gladly have a #2 wide receiver (Torrey I usually avoid though for some reason). Getting someone like Jackson or Nelson might be a stretch, but the rest of the bunch are consistently available as 4th rounds picks; for the rest of the article imagine taking Dwayne Bowe at this spot, 42rd overall. It is also conceivable that you might be able to snag Amendola before the end of the 5th round, but if he is not available Wes Welker, Eric Decker, Mike Wallace, Antonio Brown and Steve Smith are all players going in the 5th and 6th rounds. I going to imagine selecting Danny Amendola with this pick, 55th overall. (I was going to say Welker as I think he has less value, but someone tends to take him earlier than they should).
Hypothetical Roster through five (5) rounds:
RB1 Jamaal Charles, RB2 Matt Forte, WR1 Julio Jones, WR2 Dwayne Bowe, WR3 Danny Amendola.
Going into the 2012 fantasy football season, well known fantasy writer and podcaster Matthew Berry strongly advised grabbing a quarterback and tight end with your first two picks, probably the single worst piece of advice given last year. As you can see I prefer to grab my RBs and WRs early while waiting on QB and TE, I employed a similar draft strategy last year and found a more consistent level of success across the bevy of leagues I play in each year.
Now, going into rounds six and seven you can concentrate on grabbing the best available quarterback and tight end, then proceed to stock up on quality backups the rest of the way. I usually prefer to play week to week matchups with my DEF and wait until the final round of the draft to draft my kicker. It is more important to snag potential sleepers and backups for injury prone players.