Fantasy Football Strategy: 5 Ways to Draft WRs
As the NFL draft comes to end, our focus shifts back to your fantasy draft. It’s time to look at the different ways to draft NFL pass-catchers. With Point-per-Reception becoming more standard in fantasy football than actual Standard scoring, the WR position has begun to overtake the almighty RB in fantasy owners hearts. There are various ways to build your fantasy roster around the WR position, here are five strategies to help you get ready to win your #FootClanTitle!
1. The Double Up
As the name implies, you will be drafting a WR with your first 2 picks using this strategy. For years, it seemed that RB-RB was the only way to start a fantasy draft but the hyper-fragility of the top drafted RBs has changed that. In my RB Draft Strategy article, I noted that only about 4 of the top 12 drafted RBs finish the season as an RB1, but what about the WRs?
|2018 WR ADP||2018 FInish|
|1. Antonio Brown||WR4|
|2. DeAndre Hopkins||WR2|
|3. Odell Beckham Jr.||WR16 (12 Games)|
|4. Julio Jones||WR5|
|5. Michael Thomas||WR6|
|6. Keenan Allen||WR12|
|7. Davante Adams||WR3|
|8. AJ Green||WR40 (9 Games)|
|9. Mike Evans||WR8|
|10. Stefon Diggs||WR11|
|11. Tyreek Hill||WR1|
|12. TY Hilton||WR14|
Last season, nine of the top-12 drafted WRs lived up to their draft stock, and 11 of those guys finished top-12 on a fantasy point-per-game basis. That’s only a 25% bust chance for WRs versus 66% for RBs. If you subscribe to the mindset that avoiding risk is the best way to approach the early rounds of a fantasy draft, then WR-WR is most definitely the strategy for you. There will be decisions to be made in Round 3 when you must decide whether you are about that Zero-RB life.
The opposite side of the coin from the first strategy, Zero-WR drafting leans into the sheer quantity of valuable WRs in fantasy football vs the lack of workhorse RBs. Using Zero-WR, you will avoid drafting a WR for at least the first 4-6 rounds of your draft. This will allow you to load up on potential stud starting RBs, top QB talent, and maybe even Travis Kelce if you can handle his sky-high ADP. Then you’ll start to grab WRs in the middle and late rounds, hope to draft a stable of pass-catchers that you can plug and play based on matchups. The reasoning behind this strategy is best pointed out with the bottom score of RB3/4 tiers vs WR3/4. Last season, the worst RB3 scored 119 points vs 135 from the WR3. The worst RB4 scored 89 vs 117 from the WR4. The fantasy points to be had later in the draft from mid to late WRs are just better than that from RBs.
3. Balanced Attack
Maybe going heavy WR or heavy RB isn’t the route for you. All things in moderation, they say. One of the most elementary sounding draft strategies may just be the most effective, just alternate the two positions for the first 4-6 rounds of your draft. With the draft landscape of 2019 in mind, if you have an early 1st Round pick, you will likely want to go with one of the 6 stud RBs available (Elliott, Barkley, McCaffrey, Kamara, Gurley, Gordon), then you can back that pick up with one of the sure fire top-12 WRs in Round 2. If another of those top WRs is still hanging out there in Round 3, grab him and add your 2nd RB in Round 4. If you have a late 1st Round pick, do the opposite of that. All in all, as Round 6 comes to a close, you have each of your 2 needed starters at WR and RB, plus one back-up each that can be started in your Flex. That zen feeling you’re having is the beginning of roster nirvana. Enjoy.
4. Boom or Bust All-Stars
Do you enjoy roller coasters? Does studying NFL matchups for the slightest WR/CB mismatch sound like your idea of a good time? Do you draft Brandin Cooks every season? If you answered yes to at least 2 of these questions, then loading up on boom or bust WRs may be the draft strategy for you. The key to this way of drafting is mainly a strong stomach. These tend to be wideouts that either aren’t the clear-cut #1 on their team or play for a team that doesn’t often have big passing days. You end up with guys like Will Fuller, who has only played in 17 games over the last 2 seasons but has 6 games of 18+ fantasy points and 7 games with fewer than 5 points. Or Robby Anderson, who has played in 30 games over the last 2 seasons, and finished as the WR16 and WR35 respectively. During those 2 years, he has 9 games over 15 fantasy points but 10 games where he didn’t register 5 points.
When drafting these players you have 2 options:
- Start them regularly to ensure that they are not on your bench when they boom, but live thru their bust weeks.
- Study every aspect of their upcoming matchup and do your best to guess which part of the coaster you’re currently riding.
The advantage to this draft style is that almost all of these types of players have mid to late round ADPs, meaning you can combine this with just about any draft approach. If you went Zero-WR, you could ride these boom weeks to WR1 production while not having a true WR1. If you chose the balanced attack, you can use a guy like Cooks or Anderson in your Flex and end up with a positional advantage over your opponent.
5. Late Round Fliers
Usually paired with one of the first two strategies, the late-round flier is exactly what it sounds like: you are drafting WRs from near-obscurity and hoping they can have a fantasy impact. If you went heavy on WR early, you likely spent the rest of your draft filling the other holes on your team and will need to add WR depth late. If you avoided WR at all cost early on, then the end of the draft is your time to shine. Load up on great offense’s WR3, who are only an injury away from being very fantasy relevant, or grab young WRs that may end up their team’s WR1 once the fantasy playoffs roll around. Side note: If your league does not force you draft a DEF or K, don’t do it. Those positions, along with TE if you didn’t want to waste a 5th round pick or better, are easily streamed during the season and should not ever be drafted. Instead, add those late round WRs, recently highlighted by fellow writer Rob Wilson. This will give you the ability to watch the preseason play out and may give you the ammunition needed to pull off a great early season trade with one of your less-savvy league-mates.
While prepping for your draft, be sure you are using every tool at your disposal. The best tool out there is the Ultimate Draft Kit, full of premium rankings, injury info, and consistency charts. You don’t win your league at the draft, but you can lose it.