Have the No. 1 pick? You might want to grab Todd Gurley. (Leonard Ortiz/AP Photo)

After hours of crafting the first iteration of the Fantasy Football Beginner’s Guide in August, reality stepped in and changed everything.

Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell had his four-game suspension reduced to three games. Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo has fractured vertebra and could miss six to 10 weeks. Seattle Seahawks running back Thomas Rawls has been rehabilitating an ankle injury and could miss the season opener. Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater dislocated his knee and tore his ACL in practice, ending his season.

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So with those changes in mind we have updated the guide to insure you nail for first three picks in your fantasy football draft. According to the research of ESPN, in its standard scoring leagues, on average 36.4 percent of your team’s yearly point total will be generated by your top three picks. So yeah, they’re important. With some consensus projections from Fantasy Pros and a little help from Fantasy Football Calculator’s draft strategy tool, we can optimize those early picks to make sure you’re getting the most production each week.

For example, if you are in a 12-team standard league and have the No. 7 pick, taking a tight end No. 1 overall would result in a lower-than-average projected weekly score — so we want to avoid those kind of decisions on draft day, no matter how tempting it may be.

Here is how to optimize your draft early for each draft spot, 1 to 12:

Pick 1

RB/RB/WR in standard leagues
WR/WR/RB in PPR leagues

Your league’s scoring format, not what the magazines or cheat sheets say, should dictate the No. 1 overall pick in your draft.

If your league uses a standard scoring format, going with the top running backs on the board in Rounds 1 and 2, followed by a wide receiver, makes the most sense. In the first round, that means making a choice between Todd Gurley, David Johnson and Adrian Peterson.

My original choice was Gurley, who rushed for 1,106 yards and 10 touchdowns in 13 games, earning him the NFL offensive rookie of the year award in 2015. But now I am leaning towards Peterson.

Without Bridgewater under center, the offense will have to flow through Peterson, who faces a soft schedule in terms of run defense. In fact, eight of the 16 defenses he will face rank 19th or lower in efficiency, including Week 16, which is when most leagues have their championship game.


In the second round, target running backs Mark Ingram or LeSean McCoy, and try to follow up with wide receivers T.Y. Hilton or Amari Cooper in the third round.

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If you are playing in a point-per-reception, or PPR, league, then definitely grab Antonio Brown. With Ben Roethlisberger healthy, Brown could be the highest-scoring fantasy player on any roster. Early projections have Brown catching 124 passes for 1,648 yards and 11 touchdowns for 229 fantasy points, most among all wide receivers.

Your second wideout will likely be either Mike Evans or Cooper, then keep an eye whether running back C.J. Anderson is available for you in the third round. If he is, scoop him up. If not, reach a bit for Latavius Murray.

Pick 2

RB/RB/WR in standard leagues
RB/WR/RB in PPR leagues

No matter what format you play in, your first pick should be a running back, giving you the choice between at least two of Gurley, Johnson and Peterson. I know most cheat sheets will tell you to take a wideout, but trust me: There is more value at the running back spot than you think.

I’d prefer Peterson then Gurley. Almost half of Gurley’s yardage (508) came on runs of 15 yards or more, and per the game charters at Pro Football Focus, Gurley led the league in breakaway percentage (45.9 percent), a metric that looks at the percentage of yardage accumulated on long runs.

Your next two picks will be a running back (Doug Martin or Devonta Freeman) and wideout (Brandin Cooks or Hilton) in standard scoring leagues, or those same positions reversed in PPR formats. Perhaps Alshon Jeffrey, if you are lucky, followed by Eddie Lacy or Ingram.

Pick 3

RB/RB/WR in standard leagues
WR/WR/RB in PPR leagues

Chances are two wide receivers have already been taken by this point no matter what kind of fantasy league you are in, but if you are in a standard scoring league, don’t make it three in a row. Grab Peterson or Gurley with your first pick, follow up with McCoy or Ingram with your second pick with perhaps Hilton, Jeffrey or Demaryius Thomas as your third-round selection.

In PPR leagues, take whomever is left of the Big 3 receivers: Brown, Odell Beckham Jr. or Julio Jones. And then see whether Brandon Marshall is available in the second round. If he is, there’s your guy.

Per the game charters at Pro Football Focus, Marshall averaged the sixth-most yards per route run in 2015 (2.3) and caught nine of 12 catchable passes that were 20 or more yards downfield. Four of those were touchdowns.

If Marshall is not available, it’s okay to go with Jeffrey or Evans.

For your running back, you will likely have to choose between Ingram, Anderson and Martin. Any of those three will be good enough for your team.

Pick 4

RB/RB/WR in both standard and PPR leagues

This is where I drafted in the Post’s second fantasy football mock draft held in late August. I was happy to get Jones here after Brown, Beckham and Peterson were taken with the first three picks. More likely, though, none of the top RBs is gone. If Ingram falls to you here in the second round of a 12-team league, hit the “draft” button as fast as you can. If not, you’re looking at Freeman or McCoy.

For your third pick, wideout Sammy Watkins is intriguing.

Pick 5

RB/RB/WR in both standard and PPR leagues

In the unlikely event the owners in your league took to heart my work on the Zero WR strategy, you may want to look at whichever of the top three wide receivers are on the board instead of reaching for rookie Ezekiel Elliott. But more likely than not, you should still be able to get one of Gurley, Johnson or Peterson. Martin or McCoy are still your targets for the second round, with a possible reach for Ingram if need be.

In the third round, Hilton or Cooks might be the best options on the board.

Pick 6

RB/RB/WR in both standard and PPR leagues

Lamar Miller is a solid choice here, even if it may draw snickers from the crowd with DeAndre Hopkins and A.J. Green still on the board, although in PPR leagues, going with Hopkins isn’t a decision that will cost you a championship trophy.

Adding Lacy in the second round gives you solid production at the position with Jeffery or Evans becoming the first (or second) step to a productive receiving corp.

Pick 7

RB/WR/RB in standard leagues
RB/RB/WR in PPR leagues

Miller is a good choice in both leagues, provided Gurley, Peterson and Johnson are gone. You might be tempted to reach for suspended running back Le’Veon Bell here, but losing your top pick for three games, not including the bye week, isn’t a smart move this high in the draft.

Lacy, McCoy and Martin still provide solid standard scoring value in the second round, with Benjamin, Cooks and Hilton your choices at wideout.

In PPR leagues, it is possible — albeit unlikely — that Keenan Allen has slipped. If he did, grab him and follow up with Martin or perhaps Anderson with your pick in the third round. If Allen isn’t available, you are going to have to settle for Jeffery or Evans.

Pick 8

WR/WR/RB in standard leagues
RB/RB/WR in PPR leagues

No matter which scoring system you use, the picks at this spot are going to appear counter-intuitive, grabbing wide receivers in standard leagues and running backs in leagues that reward the passing game. But you are looking for value, and chances are the top wideouts will be gone in PPR leagues, making it more advantageous to stock up on RBs.

The top three wideouts and top two running backs are sure to be off the board, but you should have at least A.J. Green and Dez Bryant to choose from in standard scoring leagues. I’d heavily lean towards Green since Bryant’s production suffers without Romo under center for Dallas.

You could pair your choice with Thomas or Landry in the second round, followed by Anderson if he is healthy.

I’m not the only one bullish on Green. According to NFL.com’s Matt Harmon, Green should get at least 30 percent of the team’s targets in 2016, placing him in the top four at the position in terms of fantasy scoring by the end of the season.

In PPR leagues, go against the grain with Miller in the first, and possibly Jamaal Charles in the second round (though be sure to grab Spencer Ware later in the draft), following up with wideouts Randall Cobb or Julian Edelman in the third.

Pick 9

RB/WR/WR in standard leagues
WR/WR/QB or RB in PPR leagues

Many sources might have Elliott as the best running back likely to be available here, but there are more than a few red flags, most notably how rookie rushers do in Year 1.

Since 2006, there have been 23 running backs selected in the first round of the NFL draft (not fantasy drafts). Four of those started at least 12 games as a rookie and only two — Doug Martin and Trent Richardson — produced 200 or more fantasy points in their first NFL season. Just four of those 23 rookies ranked in the top 10 at the position.

My advice is to pass on Elliott and opt for Miller or, if you feel particularly bold, Bell. You might be able to get Allen as your No. 1 wideout, followed up by Benjamin, Thomas or Watkins.

If in a PPR league, go with Green or Bryant in Round 1, Marshall or Allen in Round 2, and either Aaron Rodgers or Cam Newton in Round 3. If picking a passer this early feels too risky for you, you may have to settle for Matt Forte as your primary rusher, and that, too, carries risk.

Forte is going to be the No. 1 back on the depth chart, but Bilal Powell will remain in the offense as a passing-down back, possibly seeing as many as half of the team’s carries.

Pick 10

RB/RB/RB in standard leagues
WR/WR/QB or TE in PPR leagues

Your ideal situation is Miller (45.7 percent chance he is still available), Charles (97.6 percent chance) and Anderson with your first three picks. And don’t worry if you hear any snickers along the lines of, “You need wide receivers, too, you know!” This strategy is projected to produce 88.1 fantasy points on average each week compared to 86.5 if you went RB-WR-Any with your first three picks.

In PPR leagues, you need to load up on wideouts with the first two picks (Bryant and Allen Robinson) followed by one of the top passers, or perhaps reach for tight end Jordan Reed a round early.

Reed led the position in yards per route run (2.45) and was Washington’s most-targeted receiver in the red zone during the 2015 season (16 of 21 passes for 10 touchdowns).

Pick 11

RB/RB/RB in standard leagues
WR/WR/RB in PPR leagues

This is going to look similar to above, where Miller, Charles and either Anderson or Latavius Murray make sense in standard scoring leagues.

In PPR leagues, focus on Robinson followed by a rusher. Grab Freeman, and don’t be too shy about reaching for Carlos Hyde, who could benefit under Chip Kelly, the 49ers new head coach.

Pick 12

RB/RB/RB in standard leagues
WR/WR/QB or RB/RB/WR in PPR leagues

Whether it’s the last pick in the first round or first pick of the second, Bell might be worth the risk. If healthy and playing, he could provide first-round production once he returns in Week 5 and will almost certainly produce more fantasy points per game than Elliott, Miller and Charles.

In PPR leagues, Robinson, Marshall plus a passer gets you off to a solid start. If you are in a league where more wideouts are taken in the first round than expected, don’t be afraid to zig when everyone else zags and select running backs with your first two picks.

To fully maximize this strategy, though, you want to see six or seven wideouts taken in the first round.