The following plan is best applied to a 12-team, point-per-reception (PPR) league using the following starting lineup: one quarterback, two running backs, two wide receivers, one tight end, one flex player (RB/WR/TE), one defense, a kicker and seven bench players. However, good players are good players, and this plan should also translate well to standard-scoring formats and leagues with just 10 teams. Players in each round are listed in order of preference.
Now turn off the autodraft and let’s get this roster started!
You might not know where you are selecting in your draft until you log in, so here is a quick list of players worthy of your first-round choice: Saquon Barkley, Christian McCaffrey, Alvin Kamara, Ezekiel Elliott, David Johnson, DeAndre Hopkins, Davante Adams, Le’Veon Bell, James Conner, Julio Jones, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Odell Beckham Jr. and Michael Thomas.
If you took a wide receiver in Round 1, take a running back here, either Joe Mixon, Nick Chubb, Dalvin Cook or Leonard Fournette. If you took a running back in Round 1, look for wideouts Tyreek Hill, Mike Evans or Antonio Brown.
Grab a tight end. If George Kittle is still available, he’s your guy. If not, go with Travis Kelce or Zach Ertz.
There should be many quality wide receivers still available, possibly including Brandin Cooks and Robert Woods — who also benefit from an appealing early-season schedule — plus Chris Godwin, Tyler Lockett and Cooper Kupp.
Look for Houston Texans running back Duke Johnson. The season-ending injury to Lamar Miller opened the door for Johnson to be a featured back in 2019. Austin Ekeler of the Los Angeles Chargers could be available in this round, too, and is a fast-rising option. (If you’re in a keeper league, look to these prospects.)
Grab a quarterback here. If Deshaun Watson or Aaron Rodgers made it this far, either would be a solid addition to your roster. If not, don’t be shy about Baker Mayfield, Matt Ryan or Carson Wentz.
Now it is time to grab your primary flex player. Think about New Orleans Saints running back Latavius Murray or Carolina Panthers wide receiver Curtis Samuel. If both are gone, Tony Pollard of the Dallas Cowboys could be a fine addition even if Elliott is active on the Week 1 roster.
L.A. Rams rookie Darrell Henderson is a bold choice here if you want to take a risk (don’t worry if anyone snickers about him being the backup to Todd Gurley, whose value is uncertain due to a knee injury), but you could go also with a safer play like Packers wideout Geronimo Allison or 49ers running back Matt Breida. Feeling frisky? Select Buffalo Bills rookie running back Devin Singletary. (Henderson and Singletary are among the rookies who could make a fantasy impact this season.)
Lamar Jackson is your backup quarterback. If someone beats you to him, look for Cam Newton, Philip Rivers or Jameis Winston.
Reach a bit for Baltimore Ravens rookie running back Justice Hill, who has a clear path to production with teammate Kenneth Dixon on injured reserve.
New York Giants receiver Golden Tate is a good pick here. Tate is suspended for the first four game of the regular season for violating the league’s performance-enhancing drugs policy and has been placed in concussion protocol, but he should be fine once he is eligible to return.
If Tate’s uncertainty is too much for you, then feel free to nab Oakland receiver Tyrell Williams or take a chance on Bills wideout John Brown.
Baltimore tight end Mark Andrews is a viable backup to any starter you drafted in Round 3. You could also bolster your running backs with Dion Lewis of the Titans.
Maybe the Cleveland Browns or Minnesota Vikings defense slipped this far. If so, that’s great. If not, the Houston Texans and Dallas Cowboys should both provide consistent points for your defense/special teams slot.
Kickers aren’t sexy but Robbie Gould of the 49ers should be very dependable.
Dealer’s choice. You could go with a value play at receiver (like the Jets’ Jamison Crowder, if available) or take another rotational running back (Detroit’s C.J. Anderson, Atlanta’s Ito Smith or Washington’s Chris Thompson could all slip in the draft). (Smith, like Curtis Samuel and Tyrell Williams, appears on our list of fantasy sleepers.)
It’s possible one of those four players from the previous round is still available with your final pick of the draft. If not, receivers DeVante Parker, Tre’Quan Smith and Marquise Goodwin could all be emergency fill-ins on a bye week or for an unexpected injury.
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