Fantasy Football Mid Round Draft Strategy
Alright so we drafted the safest possible star player in the first round and then two medium floor, high upside guys in the second and third rounds so now it’s time for the fun stuff. We passed on risky flash-in-the-pan players like Alvin Kamara and Tyreke Hill in favor of a safe core of players so that now we can start taking our shots. What we are targeting through the rest of the draft is upside so we aren’t going to list full rankings like we did previously but rather point out some guys to target in the mid rounds based on ADP. In the early rounds you play not to lose and from here on out you are playing to win.
Like Herm said except we might actually win some
Noticeably absent from this list will be quarterbacks since we already stated we will be picking one up later. This is once again based on 12 team, half point PPR, 1QB, 3WR, 2RB, TE, FLEX so by the end of the article you should have your position players covered. At this point in the draft we are no longer slaves to any kind of rankings; we are only taking the guys that we want and we are only concerning ourselves with ADP to make sure they will be there when we want them. Don’t fall into the trap of taking a guy you don’t want because of his “ranking” or because some article said you “can’t pass on him”. Even this article. Take YOUR guys at whatever rounds help you get as many of them as possible.
4th round QB trap. Don’t do it.
Fourth Round Picks 37-48
*all ADPs in this article will be based on FantasyPros at the time of writing*
Brandin Cooks ADP 42
Our first target for this round is a player who finished as WR 14, 9, and 12 over the last 3 years in half point PPR. This year he’s going off the board at WR18 which seems inexplicable given he’s not even 25 yet and is just hitting the prime of his career. Detractors point out he had those 3 years with Drew Brees and Tom Brady but, given that Goff was top 5 in TDs, top 10 in yards, and had a passer rating over 100 last season, I will absolutely bet on the lightning fast Cooks. After not being the focal point of the passing attack for the Saints or Pats the last two years, I fully expect him to be Goff’s top target running routes all over the field. You don’t trade a first and a sixth for a guy and then give him a truckload of guaranteed money so you can send him deep and check it down to Robert Woods all season.
Jay Ajayi ADP 37
If you didn’t get two runningbacks with your first 3 rounds like I advised or if your league drafts RB heavy, Jay Ajayi may still be available and could wind up being a steal in the 4th. He’s got a top 5 offensive line. He’s got a top 10 scoring offense. His main competition for carries is gone (LeGarrette Blount with 173 last year). Darren Sproles should resume some passing down work but Ajayi is a capable receiver himself. At 10.5 wins, the Eagles have the second highest over under and we know how important positive game script is for RBs.
Royce Freeman ADP 50
Last year only 9 of 32 teams produced a 1,000 yard rusher and the Denver Broncos were one. CJ Anderson quietly had over 1,000 yards and then he quietly left town to Carolina. Quietly to the tune of a measly $1.75 million. What’s keeping Freeman’s ADP manageable is the coach speak from Vance Joseph implying there is still some sort of contest between Devontae Booker and Freeman for the starting job – the same Booker who couldn’t sniff the field last year due to the presence of CJA. Yes, Booker couldn’t beat out a guy who commanded the same salary as Jacquizz Rodgers which is a million dollars less than Chris Ivory got on the offseason market. I think Royce, who the team used the 7th pick of the 3rd round on, should roll to the starting job and possibly 1,000+ yards.
Cause that’s just how Royce rolls
Fifth Round Picks 49-60
Josh Gordon ADP 53
Here he is. The riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma. If this was an earlier round he’d be the exact kind of guy we would pass over. There is a very short list of guys who are one seemingly minor infraction from being banned from the league forever. But we are looking for upside and, since he’s available here, no one offers the kind of upside that Josh Gordon does. He offers the rare height, size, speed, skill combo that only megastars like Calvin Johnson or Julio Jones possess. We’ve seen him be the best player in the league for a short time in 2013 and he admitted to “self-medicating” with drugs and alcohol before every game. Now he’s sober, at the age apex of 27 for WRs, and in even better shape if that is somehow possible. A bust from your 5th round pick shouldn’t tank your team the way your first or second would so this is where you pull the trigger on Flash as no wide receiver after this offers nearly the upside he does.
Chris Hogan ADP 53
For me this one really is as simple as it looks. You’ve got an elite QB who has averaged just shy of 600 pass attempts per year for the last 5 years. Brandin Cooks, Danny Amendola and Dion Lewis are gone which vacates 253 targets from last season. You have Edelman coming back (but not until after a 4 game suspension), Eric Decker in the twilight of his career, and Cordarelle Patterson who is primarily a special teams player joining the team. Hogan should easily see 100+ targets from the reigning MVP of the league and perhaps this is the year he replaces Edelman as his favorite WR target.
Kerryon Johnson ADP 67
Anyone who saw the preseason highlights so far know that this kid has some wiggle and that he’s exciting in space but what I’m most excited for is the O-line improvements. Last year the Lions were the second worst team in yards before contact at .81. Only two teams were worse than 1.00. And the best teams in the league like the Panthers, Rams, Jags, Saints were up near a full 2 yards before contact on average. The Lions line last year was brutal but this year they’ll have a healthy Taylor Decker at left tackle (missed 8 games last year), Pro Bowl left guard TJ Lang, Graham Glasgow replacing Travis Swanson at center, 2018 1st round pick and PFF’s highest rated college center Frank Ragnow at guard, and above average right tackle Rick Wagner (again, based on PFF). Just a reminder that the Rams averaged a league worst .67 yards before contact in 2016 and Todd Gurley ran for 3.2 yards per carry – they made some line/scheme improvements and in 2017 they had the second highest yards before contact and Gurley averaged 4.7 YPC and was the fantasy MVP. The Lions made some O-line improvements and they are switching their play calling scheme to the run-friendly Erhardt-Perkins system thanks to Matt Patricia so they hopefully won’t be the second worst run team this year. Now, I’m not saying Kerryon Johnson is going to be Gurley but the only place for the Lions run game to go is up and there aren’t many RBs left with this kind of upside.
Sixth Round Picks 61-72
The 6th round is interesting for me because I don’t particularly care for the players going in this area and a lot of times one of the players listed above is still available. What I find myself doing here if none of the guys above are there is grabbing a tight end and getting that out of the way so I’m going to cover those tight ends here.
Greg Olsen ADP 60
He likely won’t be here but if he’s on the board still he’s a great grab. In his last 3 healthy years with Cam he’s been the model of consistency, averaging 80 catches and 1,061 yards a season, never having less than 1,000. He led the team in red zone targets in both 2015 and 2016 despite the presence of Kelvin Benjamin who is now gone. The concerns are obvious; he’s 33, was hurt all of 2017, he considered retirement, and he’s returning to a team that added Christian McCaffrey and DJ Moore to the passing attack. That being said, the elite tight ends are gone by this point and the falloff after him and the next 2 is fairly precipitous so he’s as a reliable choice as you can get. Bonus that his bye week is week 4 so you can get that out of the way and not have to worry about that valuable bench spot for the rest of the year.
Kyle Rudolph ADP 79
In a lot of years I would treat TE like QB and be happy taking the 10th, 11th, or 12th guy off the board but this year I’m willing to reach to grab the Redzone Reindeer. The two biggest factors that make me excited for him are the additions of Kirk Cousins at QB and John DeFillippo at offensive coordinator. We talked about how Cousins was an upgrade in the Diggs/Theilen section but he has also been a bit of a tight end whisperer – even without Jordan Reed he was able to get Vernon Davis to 648 yards which is his best season since 2013. John DeFilippo said himself that they will not only play Rudolph at slot which he’s done before but play him out wide which is exciting given what DeFilippo was able to get out of Ertz with the Eagles. His ADP is mid 6th and it’s the perfect place to get him but I’ve found myself taking him in the 5th in leagues where I worry someone else will snatch him up so feel free to pull the trigger on him wherever you think you can get him.
Just don’t steal Kyle in too many leagues or you will start getting these texts
Jordan Reed ADP 96
We said we were going to take some risks and go with upside through these rounds and there’s no better example of high risk, high reward than Jordan Reed. He’s phenomenal when healthy but he’s literally never had a fully healthy season. The closest he came was 2015 when he played 14 games, had 87 catches, 952 yards, and 11 TDs. That was good for TE2 and in 16 games he has legitimate TE1 upside. He had surgery over the winter to have surgery to remove the sesamoid bones in is big toes which was causing the pain and discomfort and he supposedly says he feel 100% better than he had in other years. His quarterback this year is Alex Smith who recently brought you back to back 1,000+ yard seasons for Travis Kelce so I’m willing to roll the dice on Reed here. Unlike Olsen or Rudolph, he could be available in the 7th but we wary of the dreaded Tight End Run that seems to always happen some point during the mid rounds.
Seventh Round Picks 73-84
Cooper Kupp 89
Part of fantasy football is admitting you were wrong and this is a guy I was wrong on. It’s like science – when your theory is proven wrong you’ve got to come to terms with the results. Coming out of college he was not particularly big, not fast whatsoever, and he was older than most rookies at 24. I figured he had bust written all over him but what he did was bust out to the tune of 62 catches for 869 and 5 TDs. Sometimes there’s more to football than metrics and by all accounts Kupp seems to have formed a sort of mind-meld with starting QB Jared Goff where he’s more comfortable throwing to him in the red zone (23 targets) than anyone else (next closest was Sammy Watkins with 11 and he’s gone). We saw it for years with Aaron Rodgers where, if it was 3rd down and you had one throw to score, you knew Rodgers was looking for Jordy Nelson. Michael Crabtree showed us that end zone body control is an incredibly valuable skill and gets you looks even when there are superior athletes on the team so I’m grabbing the red zone favorite on a prolific offense like the Rams if I have the chance. I can’t be wrong about him twice right?
Chris Thompson ADP 91
Let’s start with the downside here and that’s obvious – injury history. He gets hurt early and often. And we aren’t talking about nicks and bruises, we are talking about missing time because of:
– Broken back (compression fracture to T-5 and T-6 vertebrae
– ACL year
– Torn labrum
– Ankle issues
– Additional back issues
– Second torn labrum
– Broken leg (fractured fibula)
Pretty scary. But let’s talk about why he’s a value here. Last year Chris Thompson played 52% of the snaps he was eligible for and he was averaging 8.2 fantasy points a game. He was on pace for 100 carries and 60-70 catches which is a workload that is basically Kamara/McCaffrey light from last season. And now he’s switched out the downfield passer Cousins for the dump-off specialist Alex Smith. Derrius Guice was the one thing holding down his ADP and guess what? His season is over. It’s Samaje Perine who was ineffective in all phases last year and now an aging Adrian Peterson who has never been a pass catcher and might retire once he gets his 37 yards to pass Jim Brown. I look at people drafting Dion Lewis (35% of snaps last year) and Tarik Cohen (36% of snaps) rounds and rounds earlier and I can’t help but feel like Thompson is a value flex player at this point in the draft.
The last guy in this article and of course it’s another high risk high reward. In fact, the reason he can be had here is that his ADP is currently held down by a looming suspension (which may or may not ever come, mind you). If you don’t have 3 WRs by this point you may not be able to afford to take him (which is why we don’t take a QB before now – so you can afford to shoot your shot on guys like Anderson). By this time 29 teams will have 1 WR off the board and 11 teams will have 2 gone. Last year’s WR 17 in half point PPR is going of the board at WR 39 over fear that he might miss a couple games while Alshon Jeffery, last years WR 19 is going off the board a full 4 rounds earlier when we *know* he is going to miss a couple games. And Anderson doesn’t have to compete with the likes of Nelson Agholor for targets (who you may or may not here about next article…)