Fantasy football draft guide: How to assemble your team

Last week’s start of NFL training camps heralds the return of one of America’s favorite digital pastimes: fantasy football.As the …

Last week’s start of NFL training camps heralds the return of one of America’s favorite digital pastimes: fantasy football.

As the players prepare themselves for the grind of a season, which begins Sept. 7, couch quarterbacks are gearing up for their respective fantasy drafts. It’s an exciting time for those who can’t get enough gridiron action.

The most dedicated players pour over rankings and do-no-draft lists ad nauseam or sit through dozens of mock drafts, but plenty of folks just want to casually pick their team and see how it goes. There’s no wrong way to do it, but having even a basic draft strategy will boost the chances of success.

Here’s a little primer on what I try to do when assembling my team using the two post popular scoring formats: standard and PPR (points per reception).

Load up on RBs, WRs

In a standard league, it’s imperative to get a top RB like the Cardinals’ David Johnson in Round 1 and usually a good idea to take two of them in the first three rounds. That’s because the dropoff in expected production after the first 20 RBs is steeper than at WR.

PPR leagues, in which receptions typically are worth 0.5 points each, are a different story. A handful of WRs are first-round worthy, such as Antonio Brown (Steelers) and Julio Jones (Falcons). After that, about 60 percent of the best available players at FLEX positions (RB, WR, TE) the rest of the way are receivers.

Under either scoring format, it’s a good idea to have 6-7 WRs and 4-5 RBs. And if one of your top two RBs is in a precarious situation due to health or competition, it’s not a bad idea to snag his backup — his handcuff.

No more than two QBs

Most of the time, a great QB can be snagged in the middle rounds because only one can start each week and there’s plenty of talent at the position. Those dead-set on taking Aaron Rodgers (Packers) or Tom Brady (Patriots) should wait until at least Round 4, but even that seems too high. Let someone else snag them too early.

It’s OK to draft a backup, but make sure to do it very late. And, check that your QBs bye weeks aren’t the same. What good are two QBs who both won’t play Week 8?

Don’t overdraft fringe positions

There are so few cases in which taking two TEs makes sense. If you land super-productive Rob Gronkowski (Patriots), his injury history makes selecting a reserve a smart idea; that’s a rare exception.

There’s never a need to draft more than one defense or kicker. They’re simply too interchangeable and nearly impossible to predict preseason.

Scott Fontana