Drafting from the 1st Spot in a 12-Team Half-PPR League
There are not many greater things than getting awarded the 1st overall pick in your fantasy draft. You start the year with the top-ranked player, but depending on the league you are in, there could be a couple of players worth the first pick overall. Your strategy will differ depending on if you are drafting 1st in a half-PPR league compared to drafting 1st overall in a 2-QB league . For the purpose of this article, we are looking at who we can get on our squad when we are drafting 1st overall in half-PPR leagues.
To get a feel for why I picked each player, let’s review a recent draft I completed with commentary based on how the draft went and what options fell to me. I based this draft on the following league starter requirements: 1 QB, 2 RB, 2WR, 1 Flex, and 1 TE. Kicker and defense were drafted in the 14th/15th rounds and were not included.
The best way to gear up for draft season is by completing mock drafts. You can read tons of articles but until you start picking the players yourself, you will be behind the figurative 8-ball. There is no such thing as too much mock drafting leading up to the start of the season.
What would you have done differently with the 1.01 compared to how I drafted below? Visit our mock draft lobby to see if you can draft a better team and try out different strategies to get ready for your draft.
Round One (Pick 1.01): Christian McCaffrey, RB, Carolina Panthers
If we take a look at our ADP rankings , drafters have been sold on Jonathan Taylor as the consensus 1.01 in half-PPR leagues. He finished the year as the RB1 and has a great chance to finish again as a top-3 running back in all fantasy formats. I don’t mind taking Jonathan Talyor, but given how much of a cheat code Christian McCaffrey is in any PPR league, he’s the pick for me. I will undoubtedly regret this when he gets injured for the 3rd consecutive year, however, the upside is unmatched if he can remain healthy. I’m hoping another offseason has fully healed him. The pick is between CMC and Taylor - I will not fault you for either pick with the 1.01.
Round Two (Pick 2.12): Mike Evans, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
In round one we took a running back and the choice was between another RB or getting an elite receiver that fell. I didn’t love any running back that was left in the second round compared to the type of receiver I could have drafted. Tyreek Hill went one pick before me which left Mike Evans the obvious choice. Chris Godwin is going to be hobbled heading into the season and Gronk is currently retired. The Buccaneers are a heavy pass-first team and one of the highest-scoring teams in the league. Give me Brady’s top receiver, a guy who is an automatic 1,000-yard receiver with upside for double-digit TDs this year.
Round Three (Pick 3.01): Mark Andrews, TE, Baltimore Ravens
When you’re at the turn (either at the 1.01 or 1.12) you need to take a stance and not just follow the crowd. I could have added another elite receiver in Tee Higgins or Keenan Allen, but due to the league requirements, I only have to start a max of 3 WRs. In leagues with 2 flex or 3 WRs and a flex, I would have selected another WR here. Instead, Mark Andrews, who could end the 2022 season easily as the TE1, was another obvious choice. He’s the top pass-catcher on his team and his target share is massive. The team just got rid of Marquise Brown, and while Rashod Bateman will fill in as the de facto WR1, he’s not going to command as many targets. Andrews will give me an enormous leg up on whoever my opponent starts every week and I can make up at receiver later in the draft.
Round Four (Pick 4.12): Travis Etienne, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars
Several picks later, I need to pick a second running back now to pair with CMC at the 4.12. My choices are between Etienne, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, and Damien Harris based on current ADP. With the removal of Urban Meyer, the Jaguars’ offense should be much better than last season - we never saw Etienne play any meaningful snaps in the NFL due to his injury but we know he was a fantastic pass-catcher at Clemson and he had Trevor Lawrence throwing him the ball. I’m betting on his talent here and am hopeful that my RB1 and RB2 can stay healthy the whole year. If I had to redo this pick I would likely take Breece Hall from the New York Jets to lock in the number of touches he’s going to get.
Round 5 (Pick 5.01): Mike Williams, WR, Los Angeles Chargers
With my next pick, I needed a WR who would be an every-week starter from the get-go and who didn’t have any major injury concerns. This meant that Hopkins and Thomas were off my board, and I wasn’t picking Godwin due to his injury status and me already having drafted Mike Evans. Mike Williams was my choice who is going to be a stud this year. He used to primarily be a deep-ball receiver only when he was with Phillip Rivers, however, Justin Herbert has been able to incorporate him into the offense all over the field. He has a chance to outscore Keenan Allen this year in what should be another very high-scoring offense.
Round 6 (Pick 6.12): Robert Woods, WR, Tennessee Titans
The Titans traded A.J. Brown essentially for Treylon Burks who hasn’t looked as good as they hoped. Along with not being 100% present due to health issues, Robert Woods is likely to be the #1 WR for the Titans out of the gate. Woods is a year removed from being a consensus top-15 receiver and Tannehill isn’t really a steep drop-off from the skill level of Matthew Stafford. Woods has the chance to rack up 100 catches and 5-8 TDs in an offense that is lacking talent outside of Derrick Henry. If Burks has to miss any amount of extended time Woods is an absolute steal at his current ADP and is a great flex-play from Week 1 on.
Round 7 (Pick 7.01): Courtland Sutton, WR, Denver Broncos
I wanted to draft a running back here but couldn’t pass up on Courtland Sutton as he’s a great value at his current ADP in the middle rounds. Russell Wilson is a notorious deep-ball thrower and Sutton should see a high target share in an offense that resembles Seattle. Wilson supported two top-20 receivers in Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf and Sutton and Jeudy could definitely end the year ahead of ADP.
Round 8 (Pick 8.12): James Robinson, RB, Jacksonville Jaguars
Mistakes were made in this round. My third running back is a backup of the running back I chose in the 4th round - not ideal at all. Although, I guess I have the Jaguars backfield locked up? At this point in the off-season, we don’t know who will be the starter - we assume it’s Etienne, but would it surprise anyone if he just doesn’t recover back to 100% and Robinson looks much better? We are wrong in fantasy football all the time and we know Robinson has had success on the football field before. CMC is locked into my RB1 and I will need to follow the Jaguars backfield closely to see who should be played as my RB2. I am worried about the recovery from his Achilles but I should have the RB1 in Jacksonville.
Round 9 (Pick 9.01): Tom Brady, QB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
I knew I had to select a QB here otherwise I was likely to not get one of the guys I wanted (Brady or Lance). Team 3 and 7 did not have a QB and Brady and Lance were back-to-back in ADP, meaning I would likely not get one of them. I chose Brady and then 3 quarterbacks were taken (including one team taking a 2nd QB) before I got another pick - phew! Knowing the needs of other teams is crucial when it comes to the onesie positions in QB and TE. Don’t think your league-mates won’t take a second QB just to spite you and leave you having to play Kirk Cousins or Tua Tagovailoa to start the year. Regarding the pick, Brady will be a part of a top-5 scoring offense on a team making a Super Bowl run - I was happy to pair him with Mike Evans and will be set at the position.
Round 10 (Pick 10.12): Gus Edwards, RB, Baltimore Ravens
With J.K. Dobbins’ injury status being unknown at this point, I took a chance on Gus Edwards coming back healthy and carving out a role in the most run-heavy offense in the league. We saw how quickly the Ravens lost their RBs last offseason and there’s no guarantee Dobbins (or Edwards for that matter) will be 100% healthy this year, but I’m willing to take a chance. Edwards is essentially a lottery ticket - if he gets back to being healthy and earns a meaningful role, he’s a high-end RB2 that I picked in the 10th round. If he is battling injuries and doesn’t get a role in the first few weeks, I can move on and ditch him to waivers and pick up another running back to start as my RB2 or flex.
Round 11 (Pick 11.01): Kadarius Toney, WR, New York Giants
After taking Edwards, I wanted to balance out the roster by taking another high-upside receiver. I already played it relatively safe with the previous receivers and I was swinging for the fences for someone who could explode into a top-24 receiver by the end of the year. Kadarius Toney is a great YAC player who should be able to step up and excel in an offense now coached by Brian Daboll, the former Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator. Daniel Jones is no Josh Allen but the offense can’t be much worse than last season. The team did draft Wan’Dale Robinson, however, he is more of a slot receiver and shouldn’t take away from what Toney can do.
Round 12 (Pick 12.12): James White, RB, New England Patriots
Recent reports have come out that White was seen walking with a limp still after getting knocked out for the season last year due to a hip injury that required surgery. Regardless of the injury, White is being drafted in the 12th round, and in some leagues, you can grab him with your last pick in the draft. Rhomondre Stevenson will get work this season until White is 100% but the coaching staff knows how valuable White is out of the backfield as a receiver. With Mac Jones progressing another year in the offense with not a ton of wide receiver talent, White could see 6-8 targets a game which I will gladly take as an RB2 or flex play to cover for bye weeks. If he doesn’t recover and the Pats stick him on the bench, I will gladly toss him for a waiver wire pickup.
Round 13 (Pick 13.01): Rachaad White, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Leonard Fournette has come into training camp overweight and the coaches aren’t pleased. I doubt Tom Brady is happy about this, either. Lenny has time to get back into shape before the season but it’s not a great look after getting a fair chunk of guaranteed money for his 3-year extension. Rachaad White is a great dart-throw as a pass-catching option for Tampa Bay, especially if Geovani Bernard is not re-signed. Although we’re unsure of how deep into the doghouse Fournette is, if White can impress Tom Brady enough in training camp and make a meaningful impact, he could begin to carve more of a role in the offense. If White does become the starter, this would make him the 3rd Buccaneer I would be rolling out on my team. I don’t love this, but if he does have a meaningful role late in the year, you will basically have all of the touchdowns covered on a high-scoring team with a chance at two stacks.
Compare how this draft unfolded versus how drafting from the 3rd spot could turn out. Completing multiple drafts from different starting positions will set you up for success if you don’t receive your draft position until an hour before the draft.
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