It’s early yet…I get that. The Super Bowl was early this month and we still have several months until the NFL draft which traditionally kicks off dynasty rookie drafting season which lasts until August just before the start of the new season. While there is a lot that will change, and a lot we will learn in the coming months, it’s fair to consider at this point some general draft strategy pointers for the coming drafting season. Here I am thinking high level, think strategy not tactics, and providing a point of view to consider when planning out your drafts and positioning yourself for your needs (and wants) this coming dynasty rookie draft season. We’ll go position by position and include IDP for the convenience of those IDPers out there.
Total Draft Strategy – I am impressed with the RB, WR and TE talent in this draft from an offensive perspective. There will be great kids available in the low second/early third rounds of this draft and so you should stock up in that range if you can. I also love the safety and LB corps in this draft which means 3rd to 5th rounds will have quality IDP players available too. Overall, it’s a great draft to churn the bottom of your roster to stock picks if you can.
Quarterback – The general consensus is that this is a terrible QB draft for the NFL. I don’t have any information that would alter that thinking. What I would say from a strategic perspective is that the “bad QB draft” meme is so pervasive this year, it’s quite possible there will be QB values in your dynasty drafts. If for example, the top QB is chosen late in the second or early in the third in your dynasty rookie draft, it’s quite possible the 4th or 5th QB could be available in the 5th round. The 4th/5th QB in this draft is most likely to be either Patrick Mahomes, DeShone Kizer, Davis Webb or Brad Kaaya. I would take one of those in the 5th, no problem. Something to consider for a long-term play in the 5th round.
Running Back – The running back position is deep this year. While I still want to see how the combine shakes out, there are a solid 10 RBs I’m excited about this year and that means that decent RBs will be available with a 3rd round pick. Leonard Fournette, Dalvin Cook and Christian McCaffrey are most likely 1st round rookie draft picks. After that you have a long list of solid standard height/weight NFL quality RBs that can contribute as soon as 2017. D’Onta Foreman, Jeremy McNichols, Alvin Kamara, Jamaal Williams, Kareem Hunt, Samaje Perine, De’Veon Smith are 10 guys I’m keeping a close eye on. There are another 5 to 7 that could rise below this list too. Going RB often in this draft is not a bad idea.
Wide Receiver – While I don’t consider the WRs in this draft to be as deep as RB, the top is very good and will be hard to discern. There is no stud WR this year, rather 3/4 very good guys and another 4/6 guys that will contribute and could develop into WR1s in the future. Corey Davis, Mike Williams, John Ross and JuJu Smith-Schuster lead the list and Cooper Kupp is a solid sleeper that may be available in the second/third round.
Tight End – This could be a historic TE draft. It’s that strong a class. OJ Howard, David Njoku, Evan Engram and Bucky Hodges are all guys that if put in the right offense can be game changers. Then you have Jake Butt who was injured in his last game but from a quality perspective was right there with those four guys. If you like to pick up injured quality (think Jaylon Smith last year for IDP) then Jake Butt will be a value this year.
Defensive Line – Many will be holding their breath to see if Myles Garrett goes to a 3-4 linebacker or 4-3 end scheme. Assuming he’s first overall, that would be 3-4 linebacker in the Brown’s scheme. While that would hurt his fantasy value, I think he’s the kind of guy that will be worth it no matter what scheme he moves into. Jonathan Allen is a big dude and may be more suited for 3-4 DE which would kill his dynasty stock. Solomon Thomas, Derek Barnett, Taco Charlton, Charles Harris and Carl Lawson are all guys who can get after the QB and may be worth the IDP investment. If you start DT’s I don’t see an Aaron Donald in this draft, though watching Caleb Brantley at Florida for the past couple of years makes me think he could have dynasty upside.
Linebacker – This year’s linebacker class is deep too, so there will be values in the 3rd/4th round in rookie drafts. Reuben Foster, Zach Cunningham, TJ Watt, Jarrad Davis are my favorite to land coveted ILB spots. If Tim Williams lands one I would put him there too. Alex Anzalone is an interesting guy to keep an eye on too. He was oft-injured at Florida but was highly recruited and if he finds a fit somewhere can make some hay. Raekwon McMillan, Haason Reddick, Ryan Anderson, Duke Riley, Elijah Lee and Devonte Fields makes this a deep roster of LBs indeed. Depending on what schemes these guys land in, there will be value late.
Defensive Back – Another historic class here, this time at the Safety position. Jamal Adams, Malik Hooker, Jabrill Peppers and Budda Baker make the top of this class elite. Considering that Safeties rarely start getting picked until the late 3rd or 4th round in most rookie drafts, and considering the deep offensive draft, some of these guys could be available in the 5th round and that is something to pounce on if you can.
Overall, some of the herd above will thin out but from the looks of it this is a deep class all around. Depending on your needs there are players at every position (save elite QBs) that you could get for cheap. Consider what gaps and holes you have in your roster and line up your needs to the players available here. Even in the 5th round this year there will be value, so don’t waste picks. If anything, churn your low-end talent on your roster and stock up on low round picks to invest in your defense. This draft will be great for that as there will be plenty of offensive talent left in the third that will push IDP talent into the later rounds if you are in IDP leagues. If not IDP, I would stock up on 2nd/3rd round picks where you may find late first round talent available.