Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

10 Aug 2009

Draft Strategy: Grab WRs First

I'm a decent FF player, who credits KUBIAK for my 2 championships in the past 3 years (I played in 2 leagues each year). I always go RB for the first two rounds, but I'm thinking this year, I should go WR with my first two picks.

Seems like there are a ton of RBs who could arguably be labeled "Tier 1" guys, whereas there are only a few elite WRs.

Anybody want to talk me down from the ledge? If I could grab Andre Johnson and Randy Moss in Rd 1 & 2, and then grab Ryan Grant and Julius Jones in rounds 3 & 4, I'd be set. Right?

Posted by: AndyB on 10 Aug 2009

23 replies , Last at 10 Sep 2009, 7:26pm by Marcumzilla

Re: Draft Strategy: Grab WRs First
by Marcumzilla :: Tue, 08/11/2009 - 12:50am

Bah! Stupid thing looking like it didn't submit causing me to triple post!

Re: Draft Strategy: Grab WRs First
by Marcumzilla :: Tue, 08/11/2009 - 12:49am

Bah! Stupid thing looking like it didn't submit causing me to triple post!

Re: Draft Strategy: Grab WRs First
by Marcumzilla :: Mon, 08/10/2009 - 11:39pm

If you're picking Julius Jones in the fourth, I'm pushing you over the ledge, unless you play in a 20 team league or so.

I would say it depends on your draft position. If you're in the first couple, then no way. If you're in the 10-12 spot, then I think it's very viable.

Try running some mock drafts using ADP and look at the resulting teams.

Re: Draft Strategy: Grab WRs First
by AndyB :: Tue, 08/11/2009 - 1:06pm

Just found this article that validates my theory. It also includes Marc's caveot not to go WR if you're picking in the top-3.


Re: Draft Strategy: Grab WRs First
by Marcumzilla :: Tue, 08/11/2009 - 2:16pm

I think one of the keys will be loading up on high upside (but riskier) RBs after you've grabbed the stud WRs, maybe QB and TE too. I think more people are trying this, so I'm planning on being ready to roll with the punches. If a bunch are trying this in my draft this evening, I'm going to just grab the elite RBs that slip through.

Btw, I don't think J Jones is a bad pick, just in round four. People are catching on, and his ADP is moving earlier. He went in the seventh in a mock I did over the weekend. The sixth should be pretty safe to grab him still. I've heard the suggestion, and tend to agree, that he may be a good sell-high after the first couple weeks.

Re: Draft Strategy: Grab WRs First
by bingo762 :: Wed, 08/12/2009 - 10:47am

I wouldn't put too much stock in ESPN articles. But I like the WR early theory. I started doing it last year. It depends on where you pick and what was picked. Like the poster above says, if others do the same, then grab the RB that slipped through. I've mocked this out a ton of times. From the 9th slot in a 12 teamer I've been able to grab LT or Slaton. 1st three are ADP, MoJo, Forte in some order. Fitz, A. Johnson, or Moss and a QB will get taken after that. There will definitely be value at RB in rounds 4,5,6, though.

Re: Draft Strategy: Grab WRs First
by Marcumzilla :: Wed, 08/12/2009 - 1:26pm

In my draft last night (posted in separate topic so as not to hijack), lots of RBs were falling. I ended up probably too RB-heavy because I couldn't pass some up. It was mostly QB and WR being taken early. I think just going with the flow would be best.

Re: Draft Strategy: Grab WRs First
by socctty :: Thu, 08/13/2009 - 4:43am

Like any of these rules, it deserves a lot of consideration due to position and your league's rules. I'd venture to guess that most people still don't play points-per-reception.

This year, with a PPR league, it's not a bad rule due to the RBs. In certain leagues, I bet you could even throw away concerns about draft position. Generally speaking though, this sort of advice is nice for making people reconsider their assumptions - not for following dogmatically.

Re: Draft Strategy: Grab WRs First
by Slade (not verified) :: Thu, 08/13/2009 - 8:35am

I like the WR/WR strategy if you are picking in the second half of the first round; at that point the available RBs all have flaws, and the WR drop off is steep enough after the first seven or eight guys (agree with ESPN on this) that you can get excellent value out of two early WR picks.

I got Fitzgerald and Andre Johnson 1-2 in a draft I had the other day, picking 7th in the first round. I wound up drafting Ryan Grant and Jonathon Stewart in the third and fourth rounds, and picked up some timeshare/backup/sleeper RBs in the later rounds to compensate for lack of depth at RB. That really is the difference; this year, you can be picking up Julius Jones/Lendale White/Marshawn Lynch types of RBs in the middle rounds, or Ray Rice-esque sleepers in the late rounds. There is a lot of uncertainty past the first 4-5 RBs, while WRs are (comparatively) a known quantity. Drafting WRs early and hoping to find production at RB in the later rounds makes a lot more sense than doing the reverse.

Re: Draft Strategy: Grab WRs First
by Mike M (not verified) :: Wed, 08/19/2009 - 9:02am

Where are you guys finding PPR mock drafts? I am looking to do some mock drafts that are PPR 12-team leagues, but can not find any.

Re: Draft Strategy: Grab WRs First
by Zac :: Sun, 08/23/2009 - 12:14pm

I didn't find the numbers to support this strategy at all. According to KUBIAK, in my scoring system (PPR), the 20th RB (the last starter in my league) is projected for 185 pts. My league also starts two WRs and a RB/WR flex. There are 33 WRs projected for 185 pts or higher, so that implies that every single person should start a WR at the flex (unless they can get 3 top 20 RBs). Therefore, there is much less depth at RB then there is at WR, and you should take RB early because otherwise, they might all be gone.

Re: Draft Strategy: Grab WRs First
by Boston Dan :: Sun, 08/23/2009 - 8:22pm

The numbers don't support the strategy AT ALL for a PPR league, but for a non-PPR league, they very much do.

In my league we start 2 WR, 1 RB and 1 Flex WR/RB. Lendale White, the 20th RB, is projected for 158. There are ONLY eleven WRs projected to score more points.

In a ten team league, with the 10th pick in a snake draft I am most definitely taking two of Moss, Johnson and Larry Fitz with the 10th and 11th.

Re: Draft Strategy: Grab WRs First
by BucNasty :: Sun, 08/23/2009 - 9:36pm

In all 3 (non-PPR, 10 team) mock drafts I've done on Yahoo the first 4 were AP, MoJo, Forte, and Turner. If you're not in that top four, or if you don't like one of those backs, I'm all for grabbing a receiver.

Re: Draft Strategy: Grab WRs First
by MilkmanDanimal :: Tue, 08/25/2009 - 10:44am

I think it's safe to say "always draft RB" first isn't a sound strategy, but "always draft RB who's going to get almost all of his team's carries" still is. Depends on where you're drafting, really. If you draft 3rd, you're taking an RB. If you're drafting 12th, your best shot is at an elite WR.

Re: Draft Strategy: Grab WRs First
by sjd210 :: Tue, 08/25/2009 - 1:32pm

Based on last year's ADP reports and how 2008 panned out, if you drafted 8 running backs in the 4th round or later there was 45% chance that 2 of them ended up being top 10 running backs. 70% chance that at least 1 was top 10...

Re: Draft Strategy: Grab WRs First
by Yadda3x :: Tue, 08/25/2009 - 4:34pm

I think the cat is clearly out of the bag on a WR-WR strategy this year. This is definitely viable *if* everyone else isn't doing it. In drafts and mocks I have seen completely whackadoodle picks. I saw one goofy draft (a list, I wasn't in it) where they picked Roy Williams and Welker, plus the top 3 QB by the end of the *second* round in non-PPR. That's flat out nuts. You need to draft value. If Chris Johnson is available in the mid to late 2nd round, abandon your strategy and take him. If all of your players outperform their draft position you are going to make the playoffs.

Once you slip beyond that Anquan Boldin range you need to realize that you usually aren't getting value at the WR position early. SJD's post above mentioned the good return for late round running backs. It's true, but realize that most of those were rookies and last year was an insane rookie RB class. Forte, Chris Johnson, Slaton, Mendenhall, Ray Rice, Stewart, McFadden, Felix Jones, Kevin Smith, Hightower, Torain, and we'll toss Michael Turner in there for new situation. 9-11 of those were legitimate picks. This year we have Moreno, Brown, Wells, McCoy, Shonne Greene, maybe James Davis, and we'll say Ward. I feel like I'm really stretching the list this year too.

I get the feeling that we are going to get to the end of this season and realize that this year fantasy football theory has changed but that there was way more insanity than normal. Read the Fantasy Almanac, subscribe to rotoworld, follow their suggestions, and keep your head this year.

Re: Draft Strategy: Grab WRs First
by Marcumzilla :: Tue, 08/25/2009 - 6:40pm

I'm trying out rotoworld for the first time this year. My impressions of them have been up and down so far. I liked the articles, but then I didn't see any more for weeks. Then I just found they hid them on the "Features" link at the top. (No indications at all for new content on the Draft Guide page? Really?) Had I not found that, I would have been regretting my purchase; but those look like good articles, and like they are updated regularly.

I do still have one big gripe with them, and that is I've not seen squat from them on auctions. The custom cheatsheet isn't so custom if you can't get dollar values. I like seeing numbers from more places to validate my calculations.

Re: Draft Strategy: Grab WRs First
by tally :: Tue, 08/25/2009 - 5:03pm

It really depends on the individual draft. If there is a sudden run on RBs, then the baseline of RBs will drop and their scarcity will make them more valuable. I don't know if you can go into a draft thinking to take a certain position. You really have to play it by ear round-by-round.

Re: Draft Strategy: Grab WRs First
by socctty :: Wed, 09/02/2009 - 8:14pm

I think it's more correct to say the run on RBs would retroactively make the RBs taken more valuable; following your logic only leads people to keep chasing RBs. If there's a run on RBs, there's value @ WR on the board.

Re: Draft Strategy: Grab WRs First
by tally :: Thu, 09/03/2009 - 7:44pm

Again, it really depends. If there is a run on RBs, but one that you have rated highly is still around, I'd take him because the baseline just dropped out from under him. In the meantime, there are many WRs still on the board, so if you pass on one now, you may still get a comparable WR in the next round.

On the other hand, if the run on RBs make the remaining RBs similar in value, then you wouldn't bother picking one up until later if you think one of them is still going to be around on your next turn.

These things depend on your draft position and the # of picks before you get to pick again. You look at the people picking ahead of you and their rosters and take a guess at what they are likely to fill.

Re: Draft Strategy: Grab WRs First
by Kyle.Brostowitz :: Tue, 08/25/2009 - 8:10pm

I am drafting 12th in a 14 team .5 PPR league. I am fairly certain I am going to go WR-WR and then figure out RB my next time through.

Re: Draft Strategy: Grab WRs First
by Crushinator (not verified) :: Fri, 09/04/2009 - 4:43pm

As others have pointed out, the flaw with WR first is that aside from high turnover year to year on WRs, they just don't score the way a RB does in a standard scoring league. WRs are definately valuable and if there's value there, take it, but you pretty much need to take a "bust-proof" WR in the first round to guarantee that its worth it, while there might be 5-15 RBs who outperform that WR anyway.

Re: Draft Strategy: Grab WRs First
by Marcumzilla :: Thu, 09/10/2009 - 7:26pm

I've actually seen some recent data that WRs don't have the turnover that RBs do, at least in the top 15 or so.

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