A beginner’s guide to fantasy football



So you want to try your hand at fantasy football, huh? Well, as you’ve probably figured out, the first step is to draft a team. Who to write and when, however, takes a little longer to figure out, and that’s where this helpful primer comes in.

To get you started, we’ll play things relatively conservatively – the true strategies of the Galactic Brain are best explored once you’ve joined the ranks of fantasy junkies – and we’ll build on the most fundamental concepts from Draft Day. : average draft position.

More commonly known as ADP, it funnels the results of thousands of individual drafts into actionable insights. Essentially, you get a set of crowdsourced rankings that also have predictive properties, since ADP also tends to inform the choices of those who write with you.

For this exercise, we’ll assume a 12-team league and use the default lineups used by giant fantasy sites ESPN and Yahoo: one quarterback, two running backs, two wide receivers, one tight end, and one flex (RB/WR/TE), a defence/special teams and a kicker. We’ll use half-PPR (points per reception) scoring, a popular option that splits the difference nicely between full and non-PPR formats, and we’ll get our ADP from aggregated Fantasy Pros rankings.

Use these fantasy football draft levels so you don’t get stuck on the clock.

Let’s start with an overview of how many players ADP tells us you can reasonably expect to be drafted at each position from round 1 through 10. That’s enough to round out your roster (minus defense/special teams and kicker positions, which should really wait until later rounds) and add some key saves.

  • BR: 7, 6, 4, 5, 3, 2, 4, 5, 3, 5
  • WR: 5, 3, 5, 5, 5, 8, 4, 3, 5, 3
  • QB: 0, 1, 2, 0, 3, 1, 3, 2, 2, 1
  • AND: 0, 2, 1, 2, 1, 1, 1, 2, 0, 2

Running backs fly off the shelves in the first two rounds, then the rush for them cools. To avoid being shorthanded, you probably want to take at least one in the first two rounds.

Wide receivers take center stage in Rounds 3-6. That makes sense, because after the top 12 backs come off the board, running backs are historically outplayed by wide receivers in what’s called the “dead zone”.

In general, the fact that you need multiple running backs and wide receivers in most roster structures means that they start getting caught early and often.

Ranking the top 200 in fantasy football for the 2022 season

In contrast, the “onesie” positions of quarterback and tight end generally do not have the same need to store depth. As a result, they tend to be distributed sparingly during drafts. In other words, if you want a quarterback or tight end and they’re starting to get drafted right in front of you, there’s no need to panic. You can – and probably should – wait a bit, and you’ll likely walk away with a top-12 option.

“That’s all well and good”, you say, “but how does this help me to understand exactly who write?

Well, that’s where ADP comes back into the picture.

Let’s say you have the eighth overall pick and, after seeing that there’s no great urgency to pick a quarterback or tight end, you decide you want a running back or a wide receiver. Coming back to Fantasy Pros, their ADP suggests the likes of RBs Jonathan Taylor, Austin Ekeler, Christian McCaffrey and Derrick Henry, as well as WRs Cooper Kupp and Justin Jefferson, will be gone by the time you choose. However, if one is still available, its ADP tells you that a lot of people would jump at the chance to grab it.

Your picks for crowd-approved running backs are more likely to come down to a combination of Dalvin Cook, Najee Harris and Joe Mixon. As a wide receiver, Ja’Marr Chase has an ADP of 9, so he has a good chance of staying on the board at 8.

This is where your own preferences and analyzes come into play. If you’re convinced huge things are in store for Chase, who missed the 2020 college football season before immediately lighting up the NFL as a rookie, maybe he’s the one calling her. If so, you may feel some urgency to take a running back in the second round, especially since you know that position’s popularity tends to drop sharply in the third.

Stay away from these four stars in your fantasy football project

A look at ADP tells you your likely running back options in the second include D’Andre Swift, Nick Chubb, Aaron Jones and Alvin Kamara. Does that sound good? If not, try to figure out what happens if you go with a running back in the first. According to their ADP, WRs Stefon Diggs and Davante Adams might not reach you in the second, but that’s not out of the question. Even though they are gone, at least one receiver among CeeDee Lamb, Deebo Samuel and Tyreek Hill should be there. Plus, consensus top tight end Travis Kelce might be yours for the picking. Many fantasy analysts would approve of an RB-RB start as well, and our preview tells you that if you go that route, there should be plenty of popular wide receiver options in later rounds.

Okay, we’ve gone deeper into the first two rounds, but you should also use ADP to see who tends to be available in later rounds. For example, many analysts see a big drop after the first five tight ends (Kelce, Mark Andrews, Kyle Pitts, George Kittle and Darren Waller) and make it a priority to get one, which usually means using a pick in the first four rounds. However, if you like what you see in some of the lower-ranked options (e.g. Dallas Goedert, Zach Ertz, and/or Dawson Knox), you can jump into a draft ready to use your top picks to others. posts.

Hmmm, decisions, decisions. But it’s the pleasure of a draft, right? You can play general manager and see if your view of who is available and when translates to a dominant team.

Remember that every draft is different and choices can and will be made that will deviate significantly from ADP. Heck, maybe you’ll make one of those picks, especially if you pay attention to my running back rating, where I have Saquon Barkley fourth at his position (ADP: 13th at RB).

If and when unorthodox picks are made in front of you, it gives you a chance to get great value on a player who fell for you, at least as their ADP suggests. As such, whatever draft plan you started with, you should be ready to pivot if unexpected fruitful opportunities arise. Maybe you wanted to start RB-RB, but Jefferson and Chase fell to your top two spots. Rather than staring a gift horse in the mouth, go ahead and grab it, and use ADP to help you find some solid running back prospects as things go.

By the way, not all ADPs are created equal and aggregated rankings at Fantasy Pros are just one option. You could instead choose to take inspiration from decisions made by writers who we know have real money at stake, such as on the Underdog and FFPC platforms. Just be sure to keep in mind that these rigs have metrics (e.g. best ball, three WR lineups, full PPR, etc.) informing their ADP which may not be the same as your league uses.

Oh, and this is important: only draft players you feel comfortable with. Don’t take someone you don’t want just because an “expert” says you should, or because they’ve fallen and are now worth ADP. If for some reason you have a bad feeling about a player, trust your instincts and choose someone else.

Once you have your team and the season begins, you’ll want to use the waiver wire to replace drafted players who are underperforming with free agents who started hot or show signs of flourishing.

There’s so much more to learn about fantasy football, but hopefully this exercise will get you started on the right foot.


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