Fantasy Football: Making the most of your first-round pick

Fantasy Football: Making the most of your first-round pick
August 22, 2014, 2:30 pm
Share This Post
Tony Andracki

As the old adage goes, you can't win your fantasy football league in the first round, but you can certainly lose it.

This year's first four picks are pretty run-of-the-mill. If you're thinking of choosing somebody besides Jamaal Charles, Adrian Peterson, Matt Forte or LeSean McCoy, you're either not fantasy-footballing right or your league has some odd scoring.

But what if you have the fifth pick or later?

There are a handful of other running backs you could take in the first round once the Big Four is drafted.

[ROTOWORLD: Top fantasy football injury risks]

If you are in a standard-scoring league, Marshawn Lynch and Eddie Lacy would likely be the best options given the fact that both are workhorses on very good teams that should be closing out a lot of victories. Neither guy is in danger of losing carries to another guy in the backfield.

If your league is PPR (points per reception for the newbies), you might be better served drafting guys like Doug Martin or DeMarco Murray, who are a big part of their team's passing games when healthy. Arian Foster and Le'Veon Bell also fall in this category.

But there is inherent risk in all six of those backs, ranging from injury issues (Foster, Murray, Martin) to inexperience (Bell, Lacy) to an aging back with more than 1,700 career carries (Lynch).

If you don't want to take a risk on one of the second-tier running backs, Calvin Johnson and Jimmy Graham are probably your best options.

[ROTOWORLD: Top 150 players]

Megatron is the best receiver in the game, hands down, while Graham puts up WR-like numbers out of the tight end spot. Both guys are so far ahead of anybody else at their position that the value of drafting one of those guys fifth or sixth overall is similar to taking one of the upper-echelon running backs.

If you're drafting later in the first round, toward pick 10 (or 12 for deeper leagues), Denver's Demaryius Thomas, Cincinnati's A.J. Green and Dallas' Dez Bryant represent the next tier of receivers and you can make a case for all three guys being worthy of a first-round pick, especially in PPR leagues.

Of course, the NFL is a passing league through and through, so you can't really go wrong taking a top quarterback in the first round, but it may not be the best strategy.

[ROTOWORLD: Fantasy Football mock draft]

The fall-off from the top tier of QBs (Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers) to some of the other guys like Matthew Stafford or Andrew Luck is far smaller than the dropoff at running back, wide receiver or tight end.

You can draft a clear starting QB for your fantasy team as late as the 9th or 10th round, where guys like Tony Romo, Philip Rivers and Jay Cutler are going.

There will be a risk with every pick you make in your respective drafts, but stay clear of those risks in the first round.

And good luck.