The Importance of Your First Round Pick

Here we are at the beginning of what we hope will be a fantasy football champion season. This is by far the most difficult year to draft, due to the questioning of whether or not some of the older studs can keep producing great stats. Here are a few tips that will help you make the right draft choices.

First Round: Draft Picks 1-5

First thing you need to think about when drafting your #1 is, “who is going to get the ball the most?” Now I know what you’re thinking, “duh stupid,” but I see a lot of people using their first round draft pick (within the first 5 picks of the draft) on guys that either share touches (RB) or have been known for posting low touchdown totals (WR). You don’t want to use your first pick on a QB when there will be quality QB’s that will post good stats that will be available in later rounds. Basically, what I’m getting at is if you have one of the first 5 picks in the draft, you want to snag a RB who doesn’t share touches in the backfield.

Now we all know who should be going off the board with the first 3 picks of the draft. David Johnson, Le’Veon Bell, and Ezekiel Elliott. I see Antonio Brown going within the first 3 picks sometimes, which benefits you if you have the 4th overall pick in the draft and are targeting a RB. Once people see those first 3 running backs gone, they move onto the best WR. Don’t be that person. LeSean McCoy and Jay Ajayi are excellent candidates to be your RB1 over any WR in my opinion.

LeSean McCoy is no longer at risk of losing TD’s to vulture Mike Gillislee as he has moved onto the Patriots. If McCoy can stay healthy, he is in line for one of his best seasons.

Jay Ajayi owns the backfield in Miami. Kenyan Drake is said to be a part of the mix, but most likely only when Jay Ajayi needs a breather and rest. Ajayi could easily take away Drakes pass catching plays, if he can obviously improve his pass catching ability himself, which he has been working on during OTA’s.

First Round: Draft Picks 6-10

If you get a draft position between picks 6-10, there could still be a chance one of the above RB’s is available. Snag them if they’re still available. If not that’s ok, here is what you should do. You want to target a top WR. I know, I am contradicting myself from my strategy of draft picks 1-5, but here is why I say this.

The RB’s above are truly the only ones I see that fall into the category of main guys, who do not share touches. You have to keep in mind though, that you also need elite WR’s in your lineup. No reason to waste your first round pick on a RB with the downside of having shared carries or a TD vulture, and miss out on an elite WR. You’ll be able to pick up a RB in later rounds such as; Carlos Hyde, Isaiah Crowell, or LeGarrette Blount, which will produce similar numbers to the RB’s that are left after the first 5 or 6 picks. I feel that DeMarco Murray, Melvin Gordon, Devonta Freeman, will all go too early in this year’s draft due to their strong 2016 seasons.

For example the almighty fantasy stud Demarco Murray. I love this guy, but a first round pick I just can’t do it. Derrick Henry had 110 carries to Murrays’ 293 last season. Henry averaged 4.5 yard per carry (YPC) to Murray’s 4.4. Henry scored 5 rushing TDs to Murray’s 9 TDs. It’s becoming clearer that the Titans staff have been impressed by Henry and are planning on giving him a larger role in the offense. Even if he doesn’t receive more carries, it’s clear that he is the TD vulture to Murray. You don’t want your RB1 to have a TD vulture. I would feel safer with choosing an elite WR before picking up a RB who shares carries and TDs.

Another running back that I love is LeGarrette Blount. Even though he is on a new team, he already has taken over as the lead back on the Eagles. Ryan Mathews is most likely going to be release, which leaves me to believe Blount has no TD vulture to worry about. He will be a 3-down RB, short yardage/goal line carrying TD machine for the Eagles. I’m not saying pick him in the first round, but Blount will be available around the 4th or 5th round, while producing similar numbers to RB’s who are going in the first 2 rounds. In the meantime, you have snagged elite players in other positions.

The obvious 3 wide receivers to go first in a draft are Antonio Brown, Julio Jones, and Odell Beckham. Which the only one I would not be upset about having on my team is Julio, because I mean c’mon its Julio Jones. With Martavis Bryant coming back to Pittsburgh, I actually don’t see that benefitting Brown. Between Bryant and up and coming TE Jessie James, RB Le’Veon Bell, I doubt Brown is going produce the type of numbers he has in the past. I’m going to be honest, I’m staying away from ODB too. It’s not because of him, it’s all because of the guy throwing to him and the offensive line of the New York Giants. If I’m going to draft a WR on the Giants (I would prefer not to) it’s going to be Shepard. I don’t want Marshall either.

WR’s I would suggest for a first round pick (besides Julio) are Mike Evans, Jordy Nelson, and Michael Thomas.

Mike Evans has produced quality fantasy numbers, even though he has pretty much been the only worthy fantasy WR on Tampa Bay since coming into the league. With the addition of free agent WR DeSean Jackson, and OJ Howard in the draft, and the emergence of TE Cameron Brate last year, the pressure for Evans is about to be relieved.

Jordy Nelson. Aaron Rodgers go-to-guy… enough said.

Michael Thomas has moved into WR1 position after Cooks was traded to the Patriots. Thomas has one of the best QB’s in the game throwing to him in Drew Brees. There are still enough other weapons on the Saints to not allow defenses to shut Thomas down completely.

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