Do You Draft By Position or Take the Best Player Available?

Published on December 28th, 2020 12:50 am EST
Written By: Dave Manuel

The basic framework when it comes to making your fantasy football picks. One of the most common questions that is asked about fantasy football is - which position should I draft first?

The answer depends greatly, but here are some things to think about.

It's important to understand a few key concepts when it comes to fantasy football.

The first: positional scarcity.

Ask yourself a question - how many truly great players are there at each of the different positions?

Running back you have probably between 7-8 truly great running backs, including the likes of CMC, Derrick Henry and Alvin Kamara.

Tight end you have just a couple - Travis Kelce, George Kittle and maybe somebody like Darren Waller.

Quarterback you have the likes of Patrick Mahomes, Kyler Murray, Russell Wilson and Aaron Rodgers.

At wide receiver, you could make a case for at least a dozen truly great wide receivers, if not even more.

A decent rule of thumb - the more you have of truly great players at positions where greatness is scarce, the better you will do.

If you have a top tier QB, a top tier tight end and a great running back, you will likely do very well in your league. And, on top of that, you will have some valuable trading chips, as people always want and need these positions.

Due to the scarcity of truly great RBs and TEs, the greats at these positions will usually get snapped up early. If you are playing in a 12-person draft, for instance, the first round will likely see at least 7-8 running backs get drafted, as well as a great tight end like Travis Kelce.

Note: This obviously changes depending on your league rules - assume that we are playing in a standard or 0.5 PPR league

For the reason of scarcity, many people will look to draft at least 1-2 running backs early in the draft, or they might go Running Back/Tight End to start. If you do this, you will have two of the positions will the scarcest number of great players locked up.

Wide receiver is a position where it is much easier to find great players, which is why some people will wait until even the 5th round to start drafting their wide receivers, as there is a greater drop-off from the #1 running back to the #20 running back as there is from the #1 wide receiver to the #20 wide receiver.


Having said all of that, you should also keep the concept of "Best Available Player" in mind.

If you have drawn up your player rankings and see somebody available where they shouldn't be, you shouldn't rigidly stick to a desire to draft a particular position. Instead, you should take the best player available.

For instance - let's say that you are picking #11 in a 12-person draft and really want to start with a running back.

There is a run on running backs early in the draft, and Davante Adams, who you had pegged as the #5 best player available, is still available to be drafted when it gets to you at #11.

In this circumstance, you should absolutely draft the Best Player Available (Adams) and worry about your running back later. Adams is simply too good to pass up at that spot, and you'd likely be kicking yourself if you panicked and drafted a running back at that spot.


In short - it's a great idea to have a basic framework in your head in terms of which positions you'd like to draft first (it's a good idea to base this on scarcity of position), though you should also be flexible enough to draft the best player available when a gem drops into your lap.

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