Fantasy Football Draft Strategy 2022
Drafting from the 3rd Spot (12 Team PPR)
You’re on the clock with the 3rd pick in your fantasy draft - where do you start? Jonathan Taylor and Cooper Kupp are consistently chosen as the 1st and 2nd players off the board and you’re now faced with a ton of options. Should you select CMC, when healthy, is it a fantasy football cheat code? Do you play it safe and select a PPR monster in Austin Ekeler or go with the ground-and-pound type of player in Derrick Henry - someone we know is going to have the Titans’ backfield to himself. Other alternatives include jumping up for Justin Jefferson or Ja’Marr Chase, however, those are fairly risky at the 3rd overall pick.
This season there continues to be a heavy dose of running backs selected in the first round, and this draft was no different. In the first round, eight running backs were selected, but there were a couple of wide receivers selected early, which is different from the previous few fantasy seasons. As the position is scarce, loading up on running backs early who have a proven role is the way to go, even in a full-PPR league. You can always find wide receivers on the waiver wire who can provide 10 fantasy points in a pinch - try doing that with the running back position if there isn’t a major injury during the year.
The benefit of selecting third, and not right at the beginning (or turn) allows you to assess who Team 1 and Team 2 have selected before making your picks. Has a QB been picked yet by both teams? As evident with the draft below, I was able to scoop up additional running back depth with the 10.10 pick (Nyheim Hines) as the teams in front of me had already selected at least 1 quarterback. Of course, you could run the risk of Team 1 selecting a second QB, just like Team 2 did, however, I was successful in risking this and then was able to scoop up my starting QB. If I had selected my QB ahead of the turn, it’s almost certain that Hines would not have fallen to me. This is just one example of how looking at the teams ahead of you can pay off and land you both of the players on your want list instead of just one.
Before we get into my mock 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 on 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/WR/RB/RB with my first four picks has me set at the running back position and allows me to stack up on WR and select a later-round QB while trying to pluck any value that may fall my way. There was a decent wait on QBs in this draft, however, I was able to land a steal in the 11th round of this draft that has top-5 upside.
Here's my team from the 3rd spot overall:
- 1.03: Austin Ekeler , RB, Chargers
- 2.10: Tyreek Hill, WR, Dolphins
- 3.03: Antonio Gibson, RB, Commanders
- 4.10: Clyde Edwards-Helaire, RB, Chiefs
- 5.03: Darren Waller, TE, Raiders
- 6.10: DeVonta Smith, WR, Eagles
- 7.03: Elijah Moore, WR, Jets
- 8.10: Amon-Ra St. Brown, WR, Lions
- 9.03: Cordarrelle Patterson, WR/RB, Falcons
- 10.10: Nyheim Hines, RB, Colts
- 11.03: Trey Lance, QB, 49ers
- 12.10: Van Jefferson, WR, Rams
- 13.03: Mac Jones, QB, Patriots
- 14.10: Pittsburgh Steelers DST
- 15.03: Brandon McManus, K, Broncos
My Favorite Pick: Trey Lance (11.03)
Waiting to draft a QB is always something I aim to do, but I do want a QB with rushing upside if I do wait until the double-digit rounds. While the efficiency in throwing touchdowns is usually lacking, the QBs more than make up for it on the ground with their legs. For me, Trey Lance was an easy pick in the 11th round. He was selected as the 16th QB off the board in this draft - what a steal! His rushing upside is going to give him a stable floor each week and in his limited action last season, he looked very dangerous. This pick is similar to selecting Jalen Hurts last year. You could grab Jalen Hurts in the double-digit rounds last year and he provided top-5 upside for most weeks. Lance should be able to replicate this and if he can consistently get Deebo, Kittle, and Aiyuk the ball and not solely rely on his legs, the sky's the limit.
Pick I Could Regret: Clyde Edwards-Helaire (3.03)
With Damien Williams off to Atlanta, I couldn’t pass up CEH in the third round. Edwards-Helaire should have the bulk of the touches to himself this year in an offense that will need to lean more on the run now that Tyreek Hill signed with Miami. At this point in the offseason, Ronald Jones and Jerick McKinnon don’t pose a huge threat to his upside but could steal some 3rd-down work from him. CEH was chosen in the first round for a reason - he’s very skilled and I expect him to shine this season. I passed on Saquon Barkley and Ezekiel Elliott, in addition to the aforementioned Mark Andrews. Will this draft pick come back to haunt me? Possibly, but I’m banking on Andy Reid relying on his one running back who has proven to be very valuable for fantasy football over a couple of running backs on the decline.
Boom or Bust Player: Cordarrelle Patterson (9.03)
Matt Ryan is out and there is a battle for starting QB between Marcus Mariota and rookie Desmond Ridder. It’s likely that the Falcons will not be as pass-heavy of a team as in years past and will look to run the ball a bit more. Cordarrelle Patterson is still the RB1 per the team’s depth chart, and with the Falcons drafting rookie Drake London and Kyle Pitts looking to improve on his impressive rookie season, I expect Patterson to remain a running back for the season. For my team I drafted, Patterson became my RB4 and he’s a guy that will see a handful of targets through the air every week. He’s a versatile receiver-turned-running back and he was efficient last season with his touches. He’s not a starter on my squad but offers a lot of versatility when bye weeks and inevitable injuries hit my team. Depending on your league, you might be able to line up in your WR slot as well. Damien Williams is not going to take away a large share of his touches and while the team is going to be bad again, Patterson should see a lot of attention in this offense.
Key Takeaways from Drafting with the 3rd Spot
- Darren Waller is a huge value this year and is a steal where I got him at 5.03. Last year he was being selected in the 3rd round in every draft. Davante Adams will undoubtedly take away targets and touchdowns from Waller, but he’s not going to just vanish in this Raiders’ offense. He was selected as the 5th TE off the board in this draft and that’s his floor. In an AFC West division that is loaded, every game this year has the chance to be a shootout. If defenses finally clue in and double-team Adams, Waller is going to keep seeing 6-8+ targets a game and will pay off at his current ADP .
- I wasn’t prepared to take an early tight end. I could have selected Mark Andrews in the 3rd round but ultimately passed for another RB. In this draft, I placed a greater emphasis on obtaining running back depth than grabbing a top 1-3 TE this season. If you’re going to draft an elite QB and/or TE early, you need to crush the rest of your draft. And if you draft both early, you need a perfect draft and find the rest of your pieces on the waiver wire, which could be a tall task if the league is competitive. Team 4 attempted this strategy, selecting Josh Allen in the 2nd and Mark Andrews in the 3rd, and his wide receiving group is hurting. There’s optimism for a bunch of receivers on his team but this team could end up looking ugly if there is a single injury or regression that hits Henry, Allen, or Andrews.
- At the 3rd spot, I had no initial plan of going zero-RB. There are too many great running backs inside of the top 2 rounds and if you miss on at least one of them, you’re behind everyone else. Even in a PPR draft, it’s very tough to make up the lost volume that is pretty much guaranteed with selecting a running back in the first two rounds. In a full-PPR league, you can attempt to implement a zero-RB strategy if you are near the end of the first round and your league has a requirement to start 3 WRs minimum, plus a flex spot or two. Team 12 implemented a partial zero-RB look, selecting its first RB in Round 5. The team is stacked at WR, and pairing Carr with Adams is a great combo. I don’t love selecting both Jets’ running backs, but with the other RBs being backup and part-time players, this team could dominate late in the year if any of the RBs can carve out a full-time role in their respective ambiguous backfields. The wide receivers are going to need to carry this team and if the running backs don’t work out, this team could fall short of a championship.
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