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Suggested Roster Builds From Every Draft Slot: Fantasy Football Positions To Prioritize

Travis Etienne Jr. fantasy football rankings draft sleepers running backs

The most popular preseason fantasy football question is “who do I take with the first pick?” We have covered that here. So we now must address a question that is asked seemingly almost as often, which is “how do I start my draft? What positions should I go for first, and in what order?”

Every fantasy football draft is different in terms of where players are picked and you have to go with the flow and adjust on the run. There is no one rigid order to draft from at any slot, but we must have a loose plan in place. You cannot expect to accurately predict ahead of time how any of the draft will turn out, but it is essential to have a flexible shell of an approach in place.

You may pivot often from what we recommend, and some fantasy players have their own methods of attacking the early rounds and will not follow what we lay out here. That makes sense, as there is no one set way to draft, and we have to be ready for unpredictable picks at any time. We must always target groups of players, not specific guys. Yet we now share our suggested early-round builds at every draft slot. They are based on various Average Draft Position Reports, mainly the late August Main Event ADPs from the Fantasy Football Players Championship (FFPC) via fantasymojo.com,  and my own recent draft experiences as a frequent participant and observer.

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Pick #1 - Fantasy Football Draft Position Strategy

The preferred build is to start out with Jonathan Taylor. Then at the end of the second round, you will possibly be looking at RBs such as Leonard Fournette, James Conner, and Nick Chubb along with WRs such as Mike Evans, Michael Pittman Jr., and Tee Higgins. By your fourth-round pick, the second WRs available could include the likes of Diontae Johnson, Jerry Jeudy, and Marquise Brown. You may have to take Elijah Mitchell or Cam Akers if the wait continues to the fourth pick for an RB2.

You will get a  very good WR on the turn in the second round but should not wait until the fourth/fifth for an RB2.

Preferred Build: RB/WR/RB/WR.

One Projected Possible Early Roster: Taylor, Evans, Conner, Diontae Johnson – keep in mind that these are often better-case scenarios and represent player ranges. if any players we list are not available when you pick after the first round, consider simply taking the next top player at the position from your cheat sheet.


Pick #2 - Fantasy Football Draft Position Strategy

Obviously, you will take a similar path to how the team picking first approaches their draft. The decision here is whether to opt for a top RB such as Christian McCaffrey or Austin Ekeler or to take the shot on Justin Jefferson. I personally prefer Ekeler here and a similar projected build to the first slot. But to examine potential results at this spot, taking a WR first could lead to hoping Fournette and Chubb fall to your second pick as RB1/2 types while also considering Conner or Travis Etienne as an RB2.

The third pick may come down to a decision between whether to wait on your RB2 or not. In that scenario, I’d rather end up with an example combination of Fournette and Chubb instead of waiting for an RB2 on the 4/5 turn.

Preferred Build: RB/WR/RB/WR

Alternative Build: WR/RB/RB/WR

One Projected Possible Early Roster: Justin Jefferson, Fournette, Chubb, Marquise Brown


Pick #3 - Fantasy Football Draft Position Strategy

This is the spot where I prefer to start focusing on the best WRs available unless Ekeler is still on the board. Otherwise, I would rather start my draft with a Jefferson or Ja’Marr Chase. Many of the top RBs come with minor concerns and I don’t have those with Jefferson or Chase. I will loosely plan to opt for one of those two WRs and then double up on RBs with the second and third picks and take the best available WR or two on the 4/5 turn.

Preferred Build: WR/RB/RB/WR

One Projected Possible Early Roster: Justin Jefferson, Aaron Jones, Chubb, Diontae Johnson


Pick #4 - Fantasy Football Draft Position Strategy

Again, I will start at RB here if Ekeler is still available, otherwise this is the Ja’Marr Chase “sweet spot” if Jefferson is off the board. You have the flexibility to start out with two possible builds here. leading with either Ekeler or Chase. One of your two picks on the 2/3 turn should be at RB no matter how you start.

Preferred Build: WR/RB/RB/WR

Alternative Build To Start With An RB: RB/WR/RB/WR

One Projected Possible Early Roster: Austin Ekeler, A.J. Brown, Conner, Jaylen Waddle


Pick #5 - Fantasy Football Draft Position Strategy

This is another spot where I would prefer starting out with a WR, most likely Chase or Cooper Kupp. I slightly lean to Chase because Kupp’s QB has a minor elbow issue. I don’t want to chance an RB at this point in the first round unless Ekeler is still available. If we start with a WR here, then the RB1 types available in the second round could include Aaron Jones and Javonte Williams.

If Allen Robinson or Jaylen Waddle drops to the fourth-round region here you could have a nice example WR duo of Chase/Robinson to start out. The worst-case scenario might be to take a Diontae Johnson or Brandin Cooks type.

Preferred Build: WR/RB/RB/WR

One Projected Possible Early Roster: Ja’Marr Chase, Aaron Jones, Conner, Allen Robinson


Pick #6 - Fantasy Football Draft Position Strategy

If Ekeler or Chase are still available, those are my prime targets in the middle of the first round. Being in the middle of a 12-team draft means there is less of a wait between some other draft slots, so it’s a comfortable spot for me. I would lean toward starting out with an RB build if the top 3 WRs are gone. You can have a little hope that Alvin Kamara, who is worthy of a mid to late first-rounder, falls to this spot in the second round.

But with WRs such as Deebo Samuel, A.J. Brown, and Tyreek Hill possibly available, I would start out with an RB and WR and then still look to land a Conner/Etienne type in the third round while aiming for a second WR in the Robinson/Waddle range in the fourth.

Preferred Build: RB/WR/RB/WR

One Projected Possible Early Roster: Dalvin Cook, Deebo Samuel, Conner, Allen Robinson


Pick #7 - Fantasy Football Draft Position Strategy

Once the top three WRs are no longer available I am not pushing up the next tier of WRs this high. I want the best RB available and will still get a very good WR1 type in the first half of the second round. It will be tempting to start out with two WRs in the first three rounds, but if the end of the Conner/Etienne tier is about to dry up, then RB will be the prime focus with the third pick.

There may be a shot to land a Courtland Sutton or Gabriel Davis in the fourth round, and an example combination of CeeDee Lamb and Davis would be very satisfying to start out with.

Preferred Build: RB/WR/RB/WR

One Projected Possible Early Roster: Dalvin Cook, CeeDee Lamb, Etienne, Gabriel Davis


Pick #8 - Fantasy Football Draft Position Strategy

We start here with the best RB available, which could be Cook or Derrick Henry. If Kamara drops to this slot in the second round we are opening with two RB1s and that cannot be passed up.  There is also a strong consideration for Travis Kelce in this range if available, as he functions as a WR1 type at TE. But there is a good chance to start out RB/WR here if Kamara and Kelce are off the board.

In the third round and early in the fourth, you have to jump on the opportunity to get an RB in the Conner/Chubb/Etienne range if possible, otherwise, take the best available WR in the third and best available RB in the fourth. Daring types may start out RB/WR/WR/WR if they don’t like the RBs available in their third and fourth-round slots as much as the WRs.

Preferred Build: RB/RB if Kamara is available/WR/WR

Top Alternative Build: RB/WR or Kelce/RB/WR

One Projected Possible Early Roster: Derrick Henry, Lamb, Etienne, Mike Williams


Pick #9 - Fantasy Football Draft Position Strategy

I am personally rolling with a RB here, although it’s reasonable to start considering Davante Adams or Stefon Diggs. You will have a decent shot to land Saquon Barkley or Kamara in the second round. Starting out with a Mixon/Barkley duo is very hard to pass on, but you will have a good chance of also starting out with a top WR or Kelce along with your RB1. If you start out with two RBs, though, looking at a Mike Williams or Allen Robinson as a WR1 in the third round may not appeal to you.

This spot seems ideal to take an RB1 and either Kelce or Lamb, but I personally go with Samuel over Lamb if that is also your preference.

Preferred Build: RB/WR or Kelce/RB/WR

Top Alternate Build: RB/RB/WR/WR

One Possible Early Round Roster: Mixon, Samuel, Etienne, Davis


Pick #10 - Fantasy Football Draft Position Strategy

Your pick may come down to whether you want the best remaining RB or start out with a top 5 WR. Opening with Adams or Diggs may lead to taking a Kamara or Barkley as the RB1 in the second round. Or you could opt for the reverse approach with a Mixon/Samuel type of start to the draft. That is my preference while taking the shot that Etienne or a similarly valued RB falls to the third rounder and then nabbing a very good WR2 target.

You see that I am high on Etienne and he could be available and worthy of consideration at several spots in the third round. Conner could also be a top target at various slots in the third round. Allen Robinson can have high availability variance in the fourth round, Or you may choose to start out with three top WRs from rounds two to four and then go for the best RB value play in the fifth round at RB if taking the gutsy approach.

Preferred Build: RB/WR or Kelce/RB/WR

One Projected Possible Early Roster: Mixon, Kelce, Etienne, Allen Robinson


Pick #11 - Fantasy Football Draft Position Strategy

There is a lot of nifty flexibility here at the end of the first round. If Adams or Diggs is still available, then a WR/RB start to the draft is sensible. But again, the strong start at RB1 and RB2 will be incredibly inviting when you consider the best RBs available at your next turn might include Mitchell and Akers. You can start out with De'Andre Swift and Kamara at this slot and be very happy with the beginning of the draft.

Preferred Build: RB/RB/WR/WR

Top Alternative Build: WRs Adams or Diggs if available/RB/WR/RB

One Projected Possible Early Roster: Swift, Kamara, Courtland Sutton, Gabriel Davis


Pick #12 - Fantasy Football Draft Position Strategy

This is a good spot to be in and proves all draft positions have advantages and disadvantages. When drafting in the final slot in a 12-team league, you get the first shot at a second player. So you will have a chance to take one of the best RB1s remaining and also possibly nab another RB1 type as your second starter at the position. If Adams or Diggs fall to the 12/13 slots, and you are willing to take an Ezekiel Elliott/Akers type as an RB2, you could embark on a Diggs/Mike Williams type of start at WR.

I personally want to land two RB1 types here, and that is what I did in my last two drafts where I was positioned at the end of the first round. I started out with Robinson and Davis in my most important league draft this past weekend after taking Najee Harris and Swift with my first two picks at the end of the first round. I am fine with starting out Davis/Robinson although I understand if that is not a comfortable WR1/2 duo for some.

Preferred Build: RB/RB/WR/WR

One Projected Possible Early Roster: Swift, Barkley, Allen Robinson, Davis


Tight End and Other League Size Considerations

I would not take Mark Andrews over a WR1 target at the end of the second round or beginning of the third, but would strongly consider Kyle Pitts to be on the level of many top WR2 types in the top 15 range. If you play in a 14-team league, you will have to concede not taking a fully comfortable WR1 or RB2 on your second turn of picks. I would rather start out RB/WR or the reverse at the 13th or 14th slots and grab a more ideal WR2 with the next set of picks as the better RB2 selections may be gone.

Those who play in 10-team leagues can condense our targets and groupings here a bit and should have some very enticing WR2 picks available in the second and third rounds. There could also be stronger consideration given to starting out with two RBs in a 10-teamer.

I did not include zero-WR theories here as I tend to base my plans on balancing out RBs and WRs in the early rounds. But if you have a chance to start off with Adams and Diggs, I would not be averse to that at all.  My occasional zero-WR builds do not happen by design. It's also obvious that I will not draft a QB in the first four rounds.

Scott Engel's fantasy and betting analysis is also featured at The Game Day.

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