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    Best Draft Position (08/11/14)

    John Ewing, Director of Research and Analytics, @johnewing
    By John Ewing
    Preparing for a fantasy football draft? Which draft position produces the best team?



    New for the 2014 season is the Fantasy Football Draft Machine a product that will help you dominate on draft day. The Draft Machine allows for the creation of mock drafts as well as an innovative evaluation process to determine which players to select and which teams are drafting well.

    Utilizing the evaluation process, we are able to determine which draft position produces the best team in a variety of leagues. The draft evaluation process provides rankings for both the regular season as well as the full season including the playoffs. Also, fantasy point projections for both the regular and full season as well.

    We evaluated four of the most popular fantasy leagues: 10 Team League with Standard Scoring, 10 Team League with Point Per Reception (PPR) Scoring, 12 Team League with Standard Scoring, 12 Team League with PPR Scoring.

    In addition to the size and scoring settings, all four example leagues start one quarterback, two running backs, three receivers, one tight end, one defense and one kicker with six bench spots. The draft rankings used are based on PredictionMachine.com's Top 400 Fantasy Rankings, though rankings from ESPN, Yahoo and CBS are available. One final note, in these simulations defenses and kickers are taken before bench players to ensure completed starting rosters for all teams (a requirement for some fantasy sites - since all teams follow this rule for two rounds of a snake draft, it does not have any impact on the results below). Following our rankings during an actual draft, we would not necessarily recommend drafting a defense or kicker early (if at all) since marginal value in either position is minimal and week-by-week streaming is a viable strategy.

    Does your league have more players or custom scoring? The League Settings in the Fantasy Football Draft Machine cater to any league. To get started mock drafting click here.

    10 Team League – Standard Scoring
    Best draft position – 7th Pick

    There is a clear top tier of running backs this season (LeSean McCoy, Adrian Peterson, Matt Forte, Jamaal Charles and Eddie Lacy). With the seventh pick in a draft it is unlikely that one of these top backs will be available, so the best strategy from this position was to take the top receiver in the game, Calvin Johnson, and wait on running backs.

    Waiting on running backs in this case does not mean waiting until the second round. Following the Johnson pick the best available players based on value were Peyton Manning (2nd Round) and Julius Thomas (3rd Round).

    The next two draft selections were running backs, best available, and four of the final six picks were also running backs. If you are going to wait on running backs that means you need a deep stable of potential backs to pick from in order to play the matchups on a weekly basis.

    Round Player
    1 Calvin Johnson (WR)
    2 Peyton Manning (QB)
    3 Julius Thomas (TE)
    4 Rashad Jennings (RB)
    5 Toby Gerhart (RB)
    6 Larry Fitzgerald (WR)
    7 Mike Wallace (WR)
    8 Denver Broncos (DEF)
    9 Phil Dawson (K)
    10 Steven Jackson (RB)
    11 Shane Vereen (RB)
    12 Stevan Ridley (RB)
    13 Marques Colston (WR)
    14 Josh McCown (QB)
    15 Danny Woodhead (RB)

    Draft Evaluation

    Reg Season Rank Team Reg FPs Full Season Rank Full FPs
    1 Team 7 1537.4 1 1889.8
    2 Team 8 1528.5 9 1792.2
    3 Team 3 1500.6 2 1872.9
    4 Team 1 1494.9 4 1828.3
    5 Team 5 1494.2 6 1803.6
    6 Team 10 1484.2 3 1830.5
    7 Team 2 1456.3 7 1803.3
    8 Team 6 1449.2 8 1793.6
    9 Team 9 1423.3 10 1759.6
    10 Team 4 1423.1 5 1804.1

    10 Team League – PPR Scoring
    Best draft position – 1st Pick

    In a ten team PPR league, drafting early is best. The teams with the first three picks in this format are all projected to finish in the top four in both the regular and full season projections.

    Picking first is nice. Not only are you able to get a true No. 1 running back but, with the 20th and 21st pick, you are able to snag two top five receivers.

    Picking first in a PPR league means also waiting on quarterback, but, without a Peyton Manning or Drew Brees to be your quarterback, when you do draft a fantasy signal caller, take a few to play the matchups.

    Round Player
    1 LeSean McCoy (RB)
    2 Brandon Marshall (WR)
    3 Antonio Brown (WR)
    4 Ben Tate (RB)
    5 Keenan Allen (WR)
    6 Jay Cutler (QB)
    7 Jason Witten (TE)
    8 Houston Texans (DEF)
    9 Adam Vinatieri (K)
    10 Russell Wilson (QB)
    11 Tony Romo (QB)
    12 Darren McFadden (RB)
    13 Brandin Cooks (WR)
    14 Ladarius Green (TE)
    15 Lance Dunbar (RB)

    Draft Evaluation

    Reg Season Rank Team Reg FPs Full Season Rank Full FPs
    1 Team 1 1943.1 1 2409.1
    2 Team 2 1915.5 2 2353.1
    3 Team 10 1878 7 2256.8
    4 Team 3 1865.8 3 2337
    5 Team 8 1850.3 8 2255.5
    6 Team 6 1845.4 6 2279.2
    7 Team 4 1837.5 4 2305.4
    8 Team 5 1807.5 5 2291.7
    9 Team 9 1797.9 9 2248.4
    10 Team 7 1742.7 10 2186.5

    12 Team League – Standard Scoring
    Best draft position – 3rd Pick

    The addition of two more teams changes the results in a standard league. In the ten team league, the seventh pick was the best draft position. In a league with this format, the third pick is best.

    With the third pick, one of the top tier running backs is available in the first round. Instead of waiting on running backs, you should wait on drafting a quarterback similar to the strategy used in the 10 Team PPR league.

    Drafting with the third pick, you end up taking a top five running back, two top ten receivers and a top twenty running back, not bad for your first four picks.

    Round Player
    1 Matt Forte (RB)
    2 Dez Bryant (WR)
    3 Randall Cobb (WR)
    4 Frank Gore (RB)
    5 Jordan Cameron (TE)
    6 Tony Romo (QB)
    7 Terrance Williams (WR)
    8 Houston Texans (DEF)
    9 Stephen Gostkowski (K)
    10 Bishop Sankey (RB)
    11 Eli Manning (QB)
    12 Khiry Robinson (RB)
    13 DeAndre Hopkins (WR)
    14 Jordan Todman (RB)
    15 James Jones (WR)

    Draft Evaluation

    Reg Season Rank Team Reg FPs Full Season Rank Full FPs
    1 Team 3 1480.5 1 1831.6
    2 Team 6 1464.3 4 1793.2
    3 Team 1 1464 2 1816.9
    4 Team 7 1461 3 1797.3
    5 Team 4 1442.2 6 1761.5
    6 Team 2 1437.1 5 1764.4
    7 Team 8 1435.5 9 1743.3
    8 Team 10 1422.2 7 1758.2
    9 Team 11 1390 8 1752
    10 Team 5 1389.2 11 1710.2
    11 Team 9 1389 10 1729.3
    12 Team 12 1303.2 12 1641.1

    12 Team League – PPR Scoring
    Best draft position – 4th Pick

    The fourth pick in this format might provide the best haul of any draft we have evaluated. With the first five picks in the draft, you get Adrian Peterson (a top five running back), three top fifteen receivers (Antonio Brown, Jordy Nelson and Kendall Wright) and a fringe top twenty running back (Doug Martin) that is two years removed from being the second best back in fantasy.

    Again, waiting on quarterback is a strategy that seems to produce the best results in this format, especially when having an early pick in a draft.

    Round Player
    1 Adrian Peterson (RB)
    2 Antonio Brown (WR)
    3 Jordy Nelson (WR)
    4 Doug Martin (RB)
    5 Kendall Wright (WR)
    6 Russell Wilson (QB)
    7 Greg Olsen (TE)
    8 St. Louis Rams (DEF)
    9 Justin Tucker (K)
    10 Colin Kaepernick (QB)
    11 Eli Manning (QB)
    12 Alex Smith (TE)
    13 Bernard Pierce (RB)
    14 Sammy Watkins (WR)
    15 Tavon Austin (WR)

    Draft Evaluation

    Reg Season Rank Team Reg FPs Full Season Rank Full FPs
    1 Team 4 1844.5 2 2251.7
    2 Team 1 1836.2 4 2229.9
    3 Team 2 1833.6 1 2265.7
    4 Team 10 1830 3 2248.8
    5 Team 12 1779.4 12 2115.9
    6 Team 11 1779.3 6 2197.3
    7 Team 3 1773.6 7 2196.7
    8 Team 6 1767.5 8 2179.1
    9 Team 5 1766.5 5 2216.3
    10 Team 7 1735.2 11 2143.7
    11 Team 8 1734.5 10 2157.9
    12 Team 9 1728 9 2177.3

    After looking at four different leagues, it is clear that a winner can emerge from any draft position. However, three of the four best draft positions started with a top four pick.

    Of course, every league is different. To get an edge on the competition be sure to use the Fantasy Football Draft Machine on draft day!


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