Fantasy Football Draft Strategies to Win Your League in 2023

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It’s prime draft season, and it’s time we talk about fantasy football draft strategies to win your league in 2023. If you’ve already drafted, may the fantasy gods be with you. Millions of football fans will be drafting fantasy football teams over the next week before the NFL regular season starts.

Not your year to suck - fantasy football draft strategies
Not your year to suck – fantasy football draft strategies

Preparation is the key to having a good draft and setting yourself up to contend.

League Settings Impact Fantasy Football Draft Strategies

Your first task is understanding your league settings, as this will impact fantasy football draft strategies.

Make sure you understand the roster, lineup and scoring settings for your league. A standard league will have a starting lineup featuring one QB, two RBs, two WRs, one TE, one Flex (WR/RB/TE), one kicker and one DST. However, that’s not always the case and your league may be different.

Some fantasy football leagues will have three starting WRs, which means you need to value WRs higher than normal. A league with two starting QBs will also put more value on the QB position.

Is your league using standard, half PPR or full PPR scoring? You need to utilize different fantasy football draft strategies based on the scoring. A RB that catches the football is more valuable in PPR leagues.

Draft for Value – Study Average Draft Position (ADP)

One of the best fantasy football draft strategies is understanding value. It’s so important that we wrote an entire article about it last week. Take a look at draft value picks. Studying average draft position is going to allow you to anticipate where players will likely be drafted in your fantasy football league.

Average Draft Position (ADP) PPR Leagues 2023
Average Draft Position (ADP) PPR Leagues 2023

We’ll use an example from last season. RB Josh Jacobs was being drafted around 50th overall (RB20) in PPR leagues, but he finished as the RB3 (328.3 fantasy points) after leading the NFL in rushing yards (1,653). Drafting Jacobs anywhere near his ADP turned out to be the best value in last year’s draft.

So, how do you identify value before your fantasy football draft? You need to project stats for players that will be drafted and then turn those projections into how many fantasy points a player will score based on your league’s scoring. Relying on ADP won’t give you an edge on your competition.

Your goal should be targeting players that you project will outperform where they’re being drafted.

Fantasy Football Draft Strategies Explained

There are countless fantasy football draft strategies that team owners utilize every year. We’re going to briefly explain some of the most common fantasy football draft strategies.

  • Zero RB Strategy: Instead of drafting a bell cow RB early, this strategy focuses on drafting WRs early, plus potentially an elite QB and/or TE. Start drafting RBs with upside after the fourth round.
  • Zero WR Strategy: The goal is to draft three RBs in the first three rounds. You’ll then draft WRs in the later rounds with upside, while taking advantage of the depth at WR.
  • Best Player Available Strategy: Use your projections to draft the best player available. Positions are irrelevant early in the draft, but make sure you balance your roster as the draft progresses.
  • Early TE Strategy: Drafting an elite TE early can provide a massive positional edge. Travis Kelce (316.3 FPs), T.J. Hockenson (215.4 FPs) and George Kittle (200.5 FPs) were the only TEs to put up 200+ FPs last season. There’s often a big drop in production after the top 5 TEs each year.
  • Early QB Strategy: Locking in a starting QB that can consistently score around 25 FPPG is one of the winning fantasy football draft strategies. Patrick Mahomes (25.3 FPPG), Josh Allen (24.2 FPPG) and Jalen Hurts (25.6 FPPG) all have an ADP in the second round this season.
  • Punting QB or TE Strategy: Some owners will punt either the QB or TE position. The goal here is to draft two TEs or two QBs near the end of your draft. You can also use the waiver wire during the NFL season to stream the position on a week-to-week basis if necessary.

Any of these fantasy football draft strategies can help you win your league in 2023.

Flexibility With Fantasy Football Draft Strategies

You might want to utilize a zero RB or zero WR strategy during your draft this year. However, you need to be flexible with your fantasy football draft strategies or you could end up in a terrible position.

For example, let’s say you’re set on a zero RB strategy. What happens if other owners in your league are attempting the same strategy? If there’s a run on WRs in the first round, you need to pivot. If an elite RB like Christian McCaffrey (ADP #2) or Austin Ekeler (ADP #4) drops to you at pick #6, you need to select the RB based on the value you’re getting.

Having a strict strategy is a terrible idea. How about if Nick Chubb leads the 2023 RB rankings? So much can happen in an NFL season.

You might have it in your head that you’re not drafting a QB in the first few rounds, but what happens if a QB like Allen or Hurts drops to you in the third round, which is well after their ADP? If you want to win your fantasy football league, you should take what your opponents are giving you.

Identifying Players With Upside in Later Rounds

Drafting elite fantasy football players early will set you up well, but it won’t win you your league.

Where you separate yourself from other owners is in the later rounds of a draft. Most owners will spend little time analyzing players being drafted outside of the first five rounds. You need to hit on players with upside to win your fantasy football leagues. Here are some tips for finding those players.

Opportunity is everything in fantasy football. Using an example from last season, WR Christian Kirk was being drafted around 100th overall (WR40) despite being the Jaguars #1 WR. Kirk finished as the WR12 in PPR leagues with 241.9 fantasy points, which was huge value that could have won you your league.

Depth charts are constantly changing on a season-to-season basis. Make sure you analyze depth charts and make a list of players to target that are being overlooked based on ADP. Potential players to target are rookies, players moving up the depth chart or players coming off an injury.

Drafting a RB late - fantasy football draft strategies
Drafting a RB late – fantasy football draft strategies

One of your fantasy football draft strategies in later rounds should be adding RB depth with upside. With a lot of teams utilizing running back committees, volume is crucial. Outside of the first five rounds (12-team leagues), RBs like Cam Akers (RB21), Alexander Mattison (RB22) and James Conner (RB24) will all be lead RBs for their team with lots of volume as long as they can stay healthy.

Another popular fantasy football strategy is drafting RB handcuffs. However, some owners overvalue this strategy. Having multiple bench spots being used by RB handcuffs will hurt your depth elsewhere.

Practice Fantasy Football Draft Strategies With NFL Mock Drafts

Once you’re on the clock and the timer is running, it’s too late to prepare. You need to have a plan with multiple contingencies and the best way to ensure you’re prepared is through practice.

There are countless NFL mock draft simulators to utilize. There are also websites where you can perform mock drafts with other real people, which will help you tremendously. Simulators often end up with similar results, but fantasy football mock drafts against real people will force you into different strategies.

Take notes while completing fantasy football mock drafts. Are certain positions becoming scarce earlier than projected? Are upside players on your lists being sniped earlier than projected?

Before your fantasy football league draft, make sure you have your notes and lists ready to go. Having tier lists for positions and rounds will ensure you can pivot if your ideal player is sniped before your pick.

Unprepared fantasy football team owners will often make mistakes during the draft. Mistakes can quickly snowball and derail your entire draft, putting you in a poor position to win your league.

Keep in mind that utilizing fantasy football draft strategies is the first step to winning your league. It’s also important to make successful moves during the season, including trades and waiver wire pickups.

We wish you the best of luck drafting your fantasy football team and hope you crush your opponents.

Fantasy Football Draft Strategies FAQ

What position should I draft first in fantasy football?

Generally, you’ll want to draft a WR or RB unless Travis Kelce falls to you late in the first round.

Should I draft a RB or WR with my first pick?

This will depend on where you’re picking in the draft, but a general rule of thumb when looking at fantasy football draft strategies is to target a WR, as they’re more consistent and less injury prone. Football moves in circles, and right now, teams target pass catchers a lot.

What are the best fantasy football draft strategies?

There are lots of fantasy football draft strategies, such as zero RB, zero WR or early QB/TE. At the end of the day, the best strategy is to be flexible and take what your opponents are giving you

What does ADP mean in fantasy football?

ADP is short for “average draft position”, which is where a player is being drafted on average based on the available data (mock drafts or previous drafts). Make sure you’re using a reputable site, but following ADP can be one of the best fantasy football draft strategies. Limited work with string gains.

What is the flex position in fantasy football?

Most fantasy football starting lineups will have one flex position. Flex = Flexible. Being flexible during your draft will prove to be one of the fantasy football draft strategies that always wins. Choose a WR, RB or TE at the flex position, and consider your top 5-6 picks as your base to find the best player that fits your team.