One of the most hotly debated questions that I have seen on my Twitter timeline over the past few weeks is what to do with your first two draft picks this season. With so many changes to the landscape of the 2012 Fantasy Draft since the Preseason games have begun, it’s easy to see why team owners are beginning to struggle with this decision.
There are basically two camps here. Camp one likes to snag a quarterback in round 1 or 2 and is comfortable getting their running backs as the draft progresses, while camp two is a believer in going RB/RB out of the gate, building depth while waiting on a quarterback in the later rounds.
So in an effort to help owners wade through the murky water that this decision has created in our minds this column will lay out a couple different options for you to consider as we inch closer to draft day.
Keep in mind that these options are based on a 12 team PPR scoring format in which quarterbacks receive 4 points for each passing touchdown.
So let’s start our analysis by taking a look at some mock drafts that I performed using Fantasy Football Calculator while employing a strategy of selecting a quarterback first in draft positions 1-4. Please note that none of the spots in these mock drafts were done by computer or “set to auto” as we say:
Position 1 Position 2 Position 3 Position 4
Brady Rodgers Brady Rodgers
Richardson Richardson S. Jackson S. Jackson
Matthews F. Jackson Martin Richardson
Lloyd S. Smith Nelson Nelson
D. Thomas Colston Harvin Lloyd
Tamme F. Davis Pettigrew Witten
So as you can see, when drafting a quarterback first from one of the top 4 draft positions, you are left with a select group of running backs to choose from as the snake returns to you for rounds 2 and 3. A list of available running backs at this point in the draft is below:
Please do not read anything into the backs that I have selected here as this is strictly an exercise to see what is available at certain points in the draft.
Obviously another option would be to split your 2nd and 3rd picks between two positions, preferably running back and wide receiver. However this strategy will leave you with a weak running back corps and force you to reach later on in the draft in order to bolster your ranks. Not a strategy I would advise implementing.
Now let’s take four new mock drafts that employ the “RB/RB” strategy that has us waiting until later rounds to address the quarterback position. Again these mocks will be performed on Fantasy Football Calculator and none of the participants will be “set to auto”:
Position 1 Position 2 Position 3 Position 4
Rice Rice Foster McCoy
Martin Richardson S. Jackson Lynch
Welker J. Jones Welker Marshall
Lloyd Harvin Nelson Bryant
D. Brown S. Green Hillis D. Brown
P. Manning Ryan Ryan Bowe
V. Davis Spiller Garcon Cutler
With this strategy we can see that by selecting running backs with our first two picks we have solidified this position on our roster and still have an excellent group of wide receivers to choose from at the start of round 3. A list of these wide receivers is below:
It’s also important to note that the pool of running backs we have to choose from at the end of round 2 is virtually the same as in the “QB 1st” strategy. The distinction here is that by drafting a top end running back with one of the first four picks of the draft we have made the player selected as our RB2 a complimentary pick as opposed to relying on him to produce above his capabilities as we would with a QB 1st play.
You will also notice that we were able to grab a solid quarterback option in round 6 of all these mock drafts. While we certainly could have waited and selected from a thinner pool of QB’s it was important for us to draft a quarterback here as only 6 of 12 teams had selected a QB at this point. Waiting for the round 7 and 8 turn would have dropped us into a tier of quarterback that would have put us at a competitive disadvantage as the season wore on.
In summation of this analysis it is important to point out that there is no one tried and true draft strategy that works every time. One must be flexible during a draft as the selections of other owners will certainly have an effect, whether positive or negative, on the strategy you set out to employ.
That being said, I feel as if employing the RB/RB strategy as it relates to your first two selections from the first four draft positions is the way to go. By taking two backs to start your draft you open up your subsequent rounds to a deeper talent pool of players at each position, while at the same time solidifying a position that can be described as thin in the 2012 draft.
Please note that this is the first part of a three part column. I will tackle draft positions 5-8 in my next column with the remaining draft positions bringing up the rear. All three of these columns will be completed as we get closer to draft day but if your draft is coming up prior to my column being published simply email or Tweet me any questions you may have.