How to Draft in Fantasy Football? Your Complete Step-By-Step Guide

Eager to know how to draft in Fantasy football? Fantasy football season is fast approaching. Any drafts you’re in may need to be treated like a finals exam and time to “cram”.  

For many fantasy football players, you also could be in line to join a new type of league this year. There are so many variations, PPR, dynasty, Superflex, a combination. 

Friends, colleagues, or family may be inviting you. Depending on who’s in the draft room, your strategy may change.  

Dynasty, Superflex, Keeper League Draft Strategy

These non-traditional leagues can be dynasty leagues, keeper leagues, or Superflex 2 quarterback leagues.  

Non-PPR vs. Half-PPR vs. PPR

The draft strategy even changes in traditional leagues where there are 0 points per catch (Non-PPR). Compared to ones where you score 0.5 points per catch (Half-PPR) or even 1 point per catch (PPR).  

There are some apparent tips in general for these formats. Such as: 

  • You want to take quarterbacks earlier in Superflex and 2 QB leagues. 
  • Or you want to draft younger players in dynasty and keeper leagues. 
  • OR finally, you want to take players that rake in a lot of receptions in 1 point per catch leagues.  

Let’sLet’s get deeper into this in this article to prepare you for all of these drafts.

How to use rankings on draft day?

First off, let’s look at how the rankings and draft strategies would change based on 0 point per reception leagues (Non-PPR). Compared to 0.5 (Half-PPR) or 1 point per reception (PPR) leagues.  

PPR League Draft Strategy

In these point per reception or PPR leagues. The players you want to target early and often are your skill position players.  

Running backs and wide receivers can put up huge numbers in these leagues compared to quarterbacks.  

RB’s and WR’s can both be more explosive in PPR than standard leagues. Some top players should receive in a considerably due 10 catches for 110 yards and no touchdowns.  

That would be 21 points in a PPR league compared to only 11 in a non-PPR, or standard, league.  

Therefore, it is a toss-up when drafting for the 2 positions depending on the league type you are drafting. Look at player’s stats and rankings in the 2 scoring formats.  

Some top players should be drafted in considerably different spots for wide receivers, running backs, and even tight ends.  

Top WR’s in Non-PPR

The top receivers rank about as follows in non-PPR: Devante Adams, Tyreek Hill, and then the 3rd spot is a toss-up between Calvin Ridley and Stefon Diggs. 

In this format, touchdowns matter a lot more than receptions. 

Tyreek Hill ranked 17th last year in the NFL in catches with only 87 compared to Diggs’Diggs’ 127 catches. That’sThat’s a 40 point difference in a 1 point PPR league. 

Ridley only had 90 catches during the 2020 season. However, we can expect that to be north of 100 this season without Julio Jones on the roster.  

Devante Adams and Hill are so touchdown heavy, with 18 and 15 in 2020. They should be the top 2 without a doubt in wide receiver rankings for standard leagues. 

Top WR’s in PPR

In a PPR league, Adams should still be 1st but Diggs should be considered 2nd, with Ridley even possibly higher than Hill. 

Other wide receivers that get big bumps in non-PPR are Adam Thielen and Mike Evans. They ranked 3rd and 4th in wide receiver touchdowns with 14 and 13.  

Ridley and Diggs came in at just 9 and 8 touchdowns last season. To show how much touchdowns matter in non-PPR, Diggs averages 110 yards and 10 catches with no touchdowns. In comparison, Adam Thielan only averages 4 catches for 70 yards and a touchdown but outscores Diggs by 2 points. 

Top RB’s in PPR

Running backs in PPR leagues are always high demand. The top running backs that get a boost are Alvin Kamara and Austin Ekeler.  

Kamara led all running backs with 83 catches last season. Ekeler came in at 6th in running back receptions in only 10 games.  

Ezekiel Elliot was the only other running back that should be considered a top 10 fantasy running back. Despite that fact that he was top 10 in catches last year.  

To display how big of an advantage players like Kamara or Ekeler have. Consider a top running back like Derrick Henry in a 1 point PPR league. Looking at the total point discrepancy between Kamara’s 83 catches compared to Henry’s 19 catches. This equates to a huge 64 point advantage for Kamara.  

In a non-PPR draft, Henry should be considered at number 2, behind Christian Mccaffery. However, he could be as low as 3 or 4 behind Dalvin Cook, Kamara, and possibly even Elliot in a PPR league.  

Running backs not to be fooled by from their high reception totals last year are JD Mckissic and Nyheim Hines.  

They likely won’t reach those totals this year, and both ran for less than 400 yards.  

Consider them only as high as about the 40th ranked running back.  

PPR vs. Non-PPR leagues

PPR vs. Non-PPR leagues even affects tight end rankings.  

Darren Waller should be locked in for the number 2 tight end as he averaged almost a full reception more per game than George Kittle.  

Travis Kelce is still the clear number 1 TE. Kelce was a close 2nd to Waller in catches but had about 250 more receiving yards and 2 more touchdowns.  

Top TE’s in PPR

Tight ends that should get bonuses in PPR leagues are Logan Thomas and Noah Fant. Both are high-usage tight ends who can both make plays.  

Thomas last year was 3rd in tight end catches, and Fant was 7th. Fant should significantly improve his touchdown numbers. This could bump Fant from the 12th highest scoring tight end to the top 10 this year in PPR leagues.  

The 3 Top Draft Strategies in PPR Leagues

For standard and PPR leagues, there are 3 major draft strategies to follow. The 1st is the “Hero Running Back Strategy.” 

This strategy has you taking a top running back in round 1 and then load up on wide receivers, a quarterback, and a tight end before going back to running back. 

It’s a good strategy as running backs in rounds 3 to 6 are pretty underwhelming.  

Should you Draft your QB late?

The next is to wait a long time to draft your 1st quarterback. You would load up on your starting running backs, wide receivers, tight end, and flex before taking a quarterback in this strategy.  

The benefit of this strategy is to solidify your big point getting positions. Then still get a good quarterback in this really deep year of high-quality quarterbacks.  

You can still easily get a top 10 ranked quarterback in round 7 that has the potential to become a top 5 quarterback.  

Should you Draft a QB Early?

The last draft strategy is to go early at quarterback. Going early on your quarterback allows you to still draft a running back in round 1 and then take a top 3 quarterback in round 2.  

If you find yourself in round 2 not liking the skill players that fell to your pick. It could be a good idea to secure a consistent quarterback at what can sometimes be a volatile position.

Applying these Draft Strategies in Dynasty and Keeper Leagues

These strategies and rankings are still relevant for other leagues such as dynasty and keeper leagues.  

Generally, in a dynasty league, you keep the majority of your roster year over year. 

In keeper leagues, you keep 2 or 3 players on your roster each year.  

However, the most significant difference is that you have to focus on younger players in both leagues to compete for 2 years or even 5 years down the line.  

Like the actual NFL draft, Drafting on potential is a risky but potentially a league-winning strategy down the line.  

How to Draft in Dynasty?

Imagine drafting Patrick Mahomes late in a dynasty league draft his rookie season.  

High potential players are key to finding, and that’s why rookies have so much value in these drafts.  

This position is the most relevant for the skill positions, with the most significant emphasis on younger players.  

Drafting RB’s in Dynasty

The window for running backs is so short that any running back approaching the age of 28 takes a significant hit in dynasty leagues.  

For example, Derrick Henry is 27, the oldest top-ranked running back. Henry’s ADP (average draft position) is often outside of the top 10 in drafts for running backs in dynasty leagues. 

Fantasy Managers discount Henry on the assumption that he only has 1 or 2 more good years left in him.  

Top RB’s in Dynasty

Running backs who get a massive lift in a dynasty league are Saquon Barkley. Barkley is only 24 and is one of the best running backs when healthy. 

Other older top running backs that take a hit in dynasty leagues are Aaron Jones, Ezekiel Elliot, and Alvin Kamara, all at age 26. 

Young promising backs to draft as RB1’s are Johnathon Taylor, Najee Harris, Deandre Swift, and Cam Akers. All of these RB’s get huge bumps into the top RB6 range and are all running backs at age 23 or younger.  

Akers won’t play with a torn ACL this season but should be a top 5 running back in the coming years. Akers, ADP in Dynasty is still high, considering he’s worth zero points in 2021.  

Draft Strategy in Keeper Leagues

You can only keep a few players for a keeper league, so drafting Derrick Henry earlier wouldn’t be a bad idea as you could not keep him after 2 or 3 seasons.  

Keepers should be players that have at least 3 or more years of solid production left in them.

WR’s in Dynasty and Keeper Leagues

As for wide receivers, the current top 10 drafted are all under 30. This is a significant change from the wide receivers of old, where we had Terrell Owens, Randy Moss, and Chad Ochocinco all be top 10 fantasy wide receivers at age 34 or older.  

The rankings are similar to regular one-year leagues for dynasty drafts, but a small group of receivers get a bump.  

Rookie Draft Strategy

Rookie Ja’Mmar Chase should be considered in the top 10 wide receivers as well. As young studs DK Metcalf and AJ Brown, at age 23 and 24. 

All have justifiably high ADP’s and should be considered in the top 5 of wide receivers. While they sit just outside the top 5 in standard drafts.  

Wide receivers who have significant drop-offs in their rankings for both dynasty and keeper leagues are: Julio Jones, 32 years old, and Deandre Hopkins and Keenan Allen, both age 29.  

Julio maybe has another 2 good years in him. Hopkins and Allen are at risk to retire in the next few years.  

Any top-ranked WR seems safe to draft in a keeper league besides these 3. The rest in the top 30 have at least 3 more years in them at their prime. 

Drafting TE’s in Dynasty

The crop of tight ends is so young that the rankings shouldn’t change that much in dynasty leagues.  

The only top tight ends over 30 are 31 year old Travis Kelce and 30 year old Logan Thomas.  

Kelce has shown no signs of slowing down and is still a safe bet to draft as the number 1 tight end in dynasty leagues.  

However, you could argue for Kittle and Waller purely based on the possibility that Kelce retires in 2 years or regresses by then. 

The general consensus on Kelce is that as long as Kelce is still with Mahomes he can stay a top TE well into his thirties.  

Thomas is probably a no-go in the top 10 tight ends due to the risk of regression. However, he also looks like he could go strong for at least a few more seasons.  

Is Pitts more valuable in Dynasty?

The highest potential pick here would be Kyle Pitts but taking him over an established top tight end like Kelce, Waller, or Kittle, who all have a lot left in the tank, is probably not advisable.  

Drafting QB’s in Dynasty

The quarterback position in the NFL is almost ageless as Tom Brady looks like he can play until he’s 50.  

Taking an older quarterback at their ordinary ADP may not be so bad, such as Russel Wilson at 32.  

The only dynasty quarterbacks who may be too old to draft and retire any year are Brady, Matt Ryan, Ryan Fitzpatrick, and Aaron Rodgers.  

Other than this group, it seems all these top 20 quarterbacks can play another 5 to 10 years.  

Rookie QB’s in Dynasty

Rookies or 2nd year players to target earlier than you usually would for dynasty leagues are: Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields, Joe Burrow, and Trey Lance. All of these rookies could all slide into the top 10 quarterback rankings in dynasty.  

Others to consider as a top 20 dynasty quarterback who wouldn’t usually be there are: Zach Wilson, Tua Tagovailoa, and Mac Jones. 

Wilson may start to lose some of his rushing prowess in a few years. However, he still looked just as fast last year and seemed to keep improving his pass game year over year.  

Drafting Strategy for 2QB and Superflex

Speaking of quarterbacks, we have to look at 2QB and Superflex leagues.  

Superflex leagues give you the option to play a quarterback a flex. 2QB leagues feature 2 starting quarterback roster spots. 

Most teams in a Superflex league will use the Superflex spot to roster a quarterback. Even a 2nd or 3rd teir QB can consistently give you 15 to 20 points each week. 

The floor provided by a QB in your Superflex spot is the equivalent to a standard flex running back or receiver who would be the 3rd best at each position on your roster.  

In this scenario, you’re looking at every team drafting at least 3 quarterbacks, which is every starting quarterback in the league.  

Take your QB early

In these leagues, you should take your quarterbacks a lot earlier. Think of even considering Mahomes or Josh Allen in the 1st round (Both of which often go as 1st and 2nd picks in 2 QB leagues).  

Additionally, while drafting, try to pay close attention to the number of quarterbacks taken.  

If your draft has already had 20 quarterbacks taken, you should try to scoop up your 2nd one immediately and take 1 in the next round.  

Sometimes in drafts, everyone has the same idea, and 7 or 8 quarterbacks can go off the board in 1 round, which could leave you with scraps as your backup.  

Get on your quarterbacks before the rest of your league does.  

Consider Bye Weeks when Drafting

Another thing to watch for is your quarterback bye weeks. If you draft 2 with the same bye week, you could be punting one week with just 1 QB in 2 quarterback leagues.  

In 2QB and Superflex leagues, go into the draft with the same positional rankings as a standard or PPR league. Ensure you increase the value of the quarterback spot.  

Concluding Draft Strategies

There are so many different fantasy league formats to make fantasy football even more enjoyable if it wasn’t already intriguing enough.  

Whether you are lined up to be in one of these particular leagues or not, consider joining or putting one together.  

If you enjoy finding value plays and playing in deep leagues, try a 2 quarterback league.  

Some weeks, during a big bye week you may find that almost all starting quarterbacks are rostered.  

It inspires more trades and values the quarterback position more, which some people overlook in a regular fantasy football league.  

If you like intensely watching every game on Sundays for your fantasy players and get really into the stats, try to complicate some of your league scoring rules.  

Changing your league’s scoring can be done by adding a point per reception (PPR). 

We talked a lot about PPR, or even switching to tenths of points where every yard truly counts. 

There is a lot to consider this season when drafting your teams. Just be sure to properly put together a set of rankings that make sense for the league you are competing.  

How to Draft in Fantasy Football? Your Complete Step-By-Step Guide