Fantasy Football Draft Strategy (2021): When Should You Draft a Tight End and Wide Receiver? Is Travis Kelce Worth a 1st Round Pick?

Travis Kelce Kansas City Chiefs

Close your eyes and visualize it. It's December. Your team is in the fantasy playoffs. Your early round draft picks are crushing it and all of your sleeper picks have broken out. Your team is stacked at every position with no weaknesses. That's the fantasy football dream, and it's within your reach. But you know that doesn't happen by accident. It takes research and planning to achieve that.

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When should you be doing that research and planning? Right now, with the process I outlined earlier:

In summary, you need to practice and learn. Practice and learn as much as you can with tools that can give you instant feedback. Additionally, you need to tailor your practice to be as specific to your league as possible. Scoring, rosters, draft spot, keepers, etc. should match your league during your research, or else the strategies you learn won't translate. If you can do that, you'll walk away on draft day as a winner.

Now, at the end of this article, I'm going to give you a heads up on a limited-time offer that will help you do all of the above faster and better than the rest of your league. Even if your draft is very soon, I'll show you how you can fast-track the process. Make sure you read to the end to find out. I'm also going to answer some questions I've been receiving as well.

Now, we're going to take the process above and apply it to two more positions, Tight Ends and Wide Receivers.

When To Draft a Tight End?

First, let's review this ridiculous graph of tight end value versus draft ranking that has Travis Kelce standing out all by himself at #1.

Kelce isn't just one tier ahead of everyone else, he's about 2 or 3 tiers above the field. So let's first try some drafts with and without Kelce #1 overall and see what the projected scores of those teams are:

Fantasy football tight end draft strategy Kelce 2021

As you can seee, when I took Kelce 1st overall I had some of my highest overall scores. So in short, YES, Travis Kelce is worth a 1st round pick this year. However, only one person per league is going to get Kelce. So if you have the opportunity to draft him any time in the second half of your draft, then just do it and don't think twice about it.

But what if you don't get Kelce? Let's check the When To Draft a X? Tool to help answer that question. We used this yesterday to look at quarterback draft value. The summary of this tool is that it uses data from the thousands of mock drafts done at Fantasy Football Calculator, projects the overall team fantasy points each week and then categorizes them by draft strategy. Here's what it says we should do in our scenario (half-ppr, 12-teams, 10th spot) for tight ends:

This tool also says that the best time to draft a TE is the first round, but a close second time is in the 7th round. So don't sweat it if you miss out on Kelce, you can just hang tight and snag a TE in or around the 7th round.

When to Draft a Wide Receiver

Here again is the wide receiver draft value chart. The top tier of WRs provide significant value and should be targeted in your drafts.

If you miss out on a top tier WR, that can be okay as long as you get either Travis Kelce, Christian McCafrrey or Dalvin Cook. If you don't have one of those three on your roster and you don't have a top-5 WR, then you are going to be hurting.

We started to answer this question back in the running back article previously by using the Draft Simulator. Since then I did some more drafts with the WR/WR strategy and found that WR/WR depends a lot on who you take in rounds 3 and round 4. Through this testing I actually ended up with my best draft yet because I had good value picks fall to me in rounds 3 and 4:

When I did a vanilla WR/WR/RB strategy, my team ended up fine, but not great. The key to unlocking the biggest upside with the WR/WR strategy is to also get a top-end QB and possibly even a great tight end in Kittle. My best draft is my most recent one with a projected score of 119.0 fantasy points per week because I snagged two top tier WRs with Hill and Diggs, a top TE in Kittle and then the #2 QB overall in round 4 with Josh Allen. I'll take that draft any day of the week. That shows that you should try to stay patient and pick up value where you see it. In a lot of home leagues, Allen won't last to the 4th round, so you can't guarantee that you'll get him there. In fact, our Scenario Calculator shows that there is only a 20% chance of Kittle being available when I drafted him and only a 33% chance of Allen being available with that pick in that league size and format.

The overall takeaway for wide receivers is that the top 5 WRs are fantastic building blocks for your team, but they won't carry your team entirely. Stay smart, and scoop up value at other positions along the way.

Grab Bag of Questions

What about 2-QB leagues?

I had meant to discuss when to draft a quarterback in 2-QB leagues yesterday. My apologies. Let's tackle that question quickly here. The summary is that you need to be very aggressive with drafting QBs in this format. Let's see what the When to Draft a X? Tool says about this for a 10-team 2-QB league, drafting from the 10th spot:

Fantasy football draft strategy 2QB leagues

It turns out that the most optimial time to draft a QB is in the 1st round. The 2nd and 3rd rounds are okay also for your first QB, but after that it drops off quickly. Don't leave the first three rounds of your 2-QB league without at least one quarterback. And it's even okay to go QB/QB if the right players fall to you.

Can you do one of these at the 5 spot?

Here is one question from Twitter:

"Wonderful article. The breakdown is incredible. I’m in more leagues than I’ve ever been before, so reading different strategies from different spots in the draft are helpful.  Can you do one of these at the 5 spot? Zeke is most likely my target as top 4 RBs should be gone."

If I had the time, I would love to write up a summary for every possible combination for formats, league sizes and draft spots. However, just between the four main formats (PPR, Half-PPR, Non-PPR, 2-QB), the different league sizes and draft spots, that is thousands of different combinations. That's the reason we went ahead and built these fast and easy to use draft prep tools in the Draft Simulator and When to Draft a X? Tool . We have all of the data for you at your fingertips and you can access it any time for your specific settings.

What is the best draft spot to draft from?

That's another common question and we used the same data and analysis in the tools above to answer that question as well. You can access that with our Best Draft Spot Tool on Fantasy Football Calculator. It depends on the scoring format and league size, so it's not one simple answer.


I have one other bonus tip for keepers. On draft day, you don't want to be scrambling through your player list wondering if a player was kept or wasn't kept. That's what a beginner would do, and you're definitely not a beginner.

You need to make sure that your draft day resources support keepers. Whether you're a computer person with draft tracking software or you prefer to print out old school PDFs, have your keepers marked off for you before the draft starts to save you time.

For example, the Draft Simulator , Draft Tracker and Cheat Sheet Generator on Fantasy Football Calculator can mark off keepers for you automatically.

What about the actual players you're drafting? You can't just draft any RB, right?

That's right. Your draft strategy is a foundational framework, but you also have to pick the right players. Especially in the mid to late rounds, there is a lot of variation in projections for some of these players. Everyone agrees that Kelce will be great, but there are a lot of different opinions on middle to late round players. To help you out with this player evaluation, I'm excited to tell you about a limited-time offer that will be available tomorrow.

Limited-Time Offer Starts Tomorrow

I hope you've been finding these articles informative. My goal is to provide you with the best information and tools you need to give you an edge in your drafts. In the next article tomorrow, I'm going to have an offer for you. The tools I've shown you so far are critical in simplifying an overwhelming draft preparation process.

The cherry on top is picking the right players to fill in those slots. If draft strategy is writing the script for your movie, then player research is casting the right actors. Tomorrow, I will have a time-sensitive deal that will help you pick the right players with a lot of upside. You'll need to read the article tomorrow if you want to take your fantasy football draft to the next level. And it's a limited-time offer too, so keep an eye out for it so that you can act fast. In the meantime, you can ping us on Twitter or do another free mock draft for practice. See you tomorrow!

Editor's Note: Our limited-time offer just went live for this weekend only! Get our premium sleepers for free while it lasts.

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