Fantasy Football Draft Strategy 2021 - Drafting from the 3rd Spot in a 12 Team PPR League

Travis Kelce Kansas City Chiefs

Drafting from the 3rd spot in a 12 team PPR league this year is great.

You lock in an elite running back and you can also decide when to draft certain skill positions based on what the fantasy managers at spots 1 and 2 have done with their teams. Since there is a long time to wait between picks, it’s important to hit on every pick during the first few rounds.

This season there are a ton of running backs flying off the board compared to years’ past and in this specific draft, there were 10 out of 12 RBs selected, and there wasn’t a non-running back selected until the 1.08 with Travis Kelce. As the draft is very running back heavy this season, it’s important to land two studs within your first three picks if you have the 1.03 - the options coming back to you in the fourth round (Raheem Mostert, Myles Gaskin (who I took), Mike Davis, Travis Ettiene and teammate James Robinson) are the likely players you will have to choose between as your RB2 if you do wait. I like Gaskins’ outlook again this season but I’d be way more comfortable playing him in the flex every week compared to my RB2 slot. If he has a very tough matchup or isn’t producing as we expect, he can ride the bench and I can slot a WR into my flex.

The one other thing worth noticing about this area is that someone very good at another position should fall to you. For me, this was Darren Waller - he’s a clear cut above the next TEs taken (Kyle Pitts and Mark Andrews) and will see WR-like targets. Kelce and Kittle are going a bit too early for my liking but if you can land one of the top-three TEs this year you are going to a) have a weekly advantage compared to most of your league mates, and b) don’t have to worry about the position for the remainder of the draft.

If you’re new to fantasy football, here’s a rundown on the scoring in PPR leagues that I will be basing my draft off of: all touchdowns are worth six points, and one point is given for every 10 yards rushing and receiving, and one point for every 25 yards passing. One point is given for every reception and the standard lineup every week will consist of QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, TE, Flex (RB/WR/TE), DEF, and K.

Starting this draft RB/RB/TE has me set to then pick a couple of wide receivers and the opportunity to get a solid QB early if I want a dual-threat QB.

Here's my team from the 3rd spot overall:

  • 1.03: Dalvin Cook, RB, Vikings
  • 2.10: Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB, Chiefs
  • 3.03: Darren Waller, TE, Raiders
  • 4.10: Chris Godwin, WR, Buccaneers
  • 5.03: Myles Gaskin, RB, Dolphins
  • 6.10: Russell Wilson, QB, Seahawks
  • 7.03: Tyler Boyd, WR, Bengals
  • 8.10: Brandin Cooks, WR, Texans
  • 9.03: A.J. Dillon, RB, Packers
  • 10.10: Alexander Mattison, RB, Vikings
  • 11.03: Los Angeles Rams, DEF
  • 12.10: James White, RB, Patriots
  • 13.03: Marvin Jones, WR, Jaguars
  • 14.10: Will Lutz, K, Saints
  • 15.03: Jameis Winston, QB, Saints

Some notes about the above draft:

  1. After landing two studs at running back in Dalvin Cook and Clyde Edwards-Helaire to start the draft, I followed this up with Myles Gaskin in round five to secure three great running backs who should receive a ton of work. There is a huge drop-off at the position around this point and you’re basically drafting backup running backs after this. Once I landed a few WRs and my QB, I then attacked the best-looking running backs that could provide high RB2 numbers if they were given a role in A.J. Dillon, and in this specific draft, I decided to handcuff my first-round draft pick by taking Alexander Mattison. Cook does have some injury risk and in the 10th round, I’m comfortable guaranteeing the touches in that backfield.
  2. The quarterback position is extremely deep. Although I chose to make Russell Wilson the pick as the 7th QB off the board in round 6, I wouldn’t say this is too early. Six other fantasy managers had made their QB selection, and Team 2 had two chances to select a QB before me if I didn’t select Wilson where he was taken. Paying attention to other teams’ draft needs around you can ensure you won’t lose the guy you really want this season. If I wanted to wait on QB, I could have got Stafford or Burrow in the next couple rounds, or waited and fired on Baker Mayfield who is another QB that should have a great year. Unless you are set on one of the top-3 to 5 QBs this year, I suggest waiting until the 6th round or later this year.
  3. After starting the draft RB/RB/TE, I don’t believe there is a better team that has a better advantage every week if they perform as we expect they would. The WR depth this season allows me to be okay foregoing the position until the fourth round where I was able to add Chris Godwin, followed by Tyler Boyd, Brandin Cooks, and Marvin Jones later on in the draft. I did miss out on a couple of WRs I would have liked to have, and this tells me I maybe should have waited to select a QB until a round or two later.

My Favorite Pick: Marvin Jones (13.03)

We love Trevor Lawrence coming out of college and are high on the offense, why are we only excited about his number 1 target and pair of running backs (all of whom are being drafted in the 5th and 6ths round)? Marvin Jones is locked in as the WR2 in Jacksonville and let’s be honest, the Jaguars are unlikely to be playoff contenders and will still be trailing in a ton of games. This is in our favor as fantasy managers as the Jags will be forced to throw a ton. Every year Marvin Jones is not considered a fantasy asset and every year he proves people wrong - why has he dropped to the 13th round? In leagues with 3 WR slots or more, he’s a fantastic choice later in drafts and I suspect his ADP rises a lot over the next month or two. He has accumulated over 1,700 yards and 18 touchdowns over the past two seasons. There is a chance at QB but the targets will still be there for him. Gimme all the Marvin Jones this late in drafts.

Pick I Could Regret: Myles Gaskin (5.03)

Instead of securing a third running back, I could have paired Chris Godwin with my favorite out of D.J. Moore or Tyler Lockett. As it’s a PPR league with 3 WR slots (potentially 4 with the Flex spot) this is a move I probably wish I could have back if Gaskin doesn’t produce as we expect and make a weekly start for my squad. There is a very big drop-off in the fifth round at RB and part of me just wanted another starter to have in the event of bye weeks or injury, but you can’t play that way. The move should have been an elite WR that could finish in the top-15 at the position which would have set my team up much better. Later in the draft, I would have had to select a couple of rookie running backs for depth as lottery tickets that I hope break out during the year or become starters due to unforeseen injuries to the teams’ starter.

Boom or Bust Player: Brandin Cooks (8.10)

As my third WR, I selected Brandin Cooks at the end of the 8th round. He’s not a PPR monster, he is injury prone, and he is likely to be without Watson for the year (or longer) but he should see a decent amount of targets compared to some of the other WRs in this range. Jarvis Landry may be one I regret not taking, who was selected just two picks later, but Brandin Cooks has shown the weekly upside that could take my team to the next level on a certain week. He had a few boom weeks where he had over 100 yards and a touchdown but there are certainly other weeks where he will be a complete dud and lose you the week, especially if you are having to sit him on the bench due to injury. As a third WR that could win me a week against my opponent in any given matchup, I stand by the pick and he’s a good boom or bust candidate who is dropping in ADP due to the unknown at quarterback.

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