In the simplest terms, the rationale behind drafting any player is hoping he out-produces everyone else available at that time. This is true whether you’re choosing the first overall pick or the fourth pick in Round 9 or the last pick in the draft. Why else would you take a player?
The only reasonable answer to that question: Because you need to fill specific positions in your weekly lineup. But even when you’re choosing based on roster needs, the same rationale applies: When you pick a player, you’re hoping he out-produces everyone else available from that position at that time.
But that’s something you already could have figured out. What you might not have thought through is how you feel about each position. How much will you stress running backs? Is this the year you’re going to target receivers early? Or are you going to zag while the rest of your league zigs and lock down a tight end and a quarterback before anyone else? And can you rationalize to yourself the answers to these questions?
Look, Fantasy is supposed to be fun. This should be a fun thought exercise and not something that keeps you up at night. Besides, you need your beauty sleep. Read along and think about these strategies and how they align with what you think is best on Draft Day.
And don’t forget to know exactly what the rules of your league are and how many players you can start. The strategies you’ll map out in a 10-team league with one flex are a lot different than a 12-team Superflex with three receivers or a 14-team tiered-PPR with team RBs and four flex dyno-multipliers.
I just made that last one up, but it sounds fun!
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NFL offenses have evolved – teams are passing more, and wide receivers have benefitted. Over the past five years, the top 12 running backs based on total PPR points averaged 16.5 points per game. Wide receivers averaged 17.0. Running backs that finished 13th through 24th in total PPR points averaged 10.7 per game while receivers averaged 13.2.
That’s a lot pointing toward wide receivers carrying plenty of value. Maybe even more than running backs.
If it wasn’t for the consensus panicked rush for premium running backs, Fantasy managers would probably prioritize wide receivers first. Even if you start one more receiver than a running back, there just aren’t enough running backs to satisfy every Fantasy manager. And there are plenty of receivers who are start-worthy. Look at the Tiers for yourself and you’ll see upward of 30 names you’d be OK with having in your lineup.
Fantasy averages back that up: In each of the past three years, there have been at least 19 wide receivers (and as many as 24!) who averaged between 13 and 15.9 PPR points per game. By comparison, no more than 12 running backs per year averaged between 13 and 15.9 PPR points per game.
Those are important numbers since only nine running backs have exceeded 16 PPR points per game in each of the past three years and no more than 12 wide receivers have gone beyond 16 PPR points per game in two of the past three years. And yeah, getting a receiver between 13 and 16 PPR points per game is pretty good; seven receivers with at most a 15.9 PPR average finished in the top 12 of Fantasy points per game in a season, including two in 2021.
You should expect to find capable receivers through Tier 6 in PPR and Tier 7 in non-PPR, which means if you really wanted to, you could skimp on the position with your first few choices and then bombard your roster with wideouts from Tier 4 in PPR/Tier 5 in non-PPR. You probably won’t love how that looks after your draft, but at least you’ll have the confidence in knowing that receivers tend to be the easiest positions to fill on a weekly basis off waivers.
DAVE’S FAVORITE STRATEGY AT WR: Build a gameplan around running backs and tight ends, and let wide receivers fill the gaps whenever there isn’t a player at another position you really believe in. The position is deep enough that there will always be an interesting receiver available until you get really late in the draft.
Wide receiver PPR tiers (updated 7/29)
Wide receiver Non-PPR tiers (updated 7/29)