Fantasy Football Draft Strategy 2023 - Drafting from the 3rd Spot in a 12 Team Half-PPR League
Having a strategy coming into a snake draft is extremely important to set yourself up for success. Obviously, you need to be flexible as you navigate the subsequent rounds, but having some idea of how you want to tackle the first couple of rounds will set the tone for the choices you make down the road. You can't always predict the later rounds, but you can have a pretty good idea on what you want to do with rounds one through three and go from there.
In this article, we will take a look at potential strategies for drafting from the 3rd spot in a 12-team, half PPR point league (although these suggestions align pretty well with PPR as well.) Ultimately, this comes down to finding the players you like and fitting them into a strategy that works best for you. But I'll give you some of my favorite players to target given the starting position.
The third selection in the draft slots you right before what I perceive as a tier drop. In my opinion, the top 3 are locks, and it gets a bit more sticky after Justin Jefferson, Ja'Marr Chase, and Christian McCaffrey are off the board. At the three, I'll be taking whoever of those three drops to me. Justin Jefferson and Ja'Marr Chase are not only the two best wide receivers in fantasy but the two best players in fantasy football in totality. A near 320-point floor makes them the elite of the elite. And while Christian McCaffrey does pose some injury risk, his upside and floor outside of injury are unmatched among running backs. At the three spot, you should roll with whichever of these three falls to you.
Round 2-6 Chase/Jefferson Draft
Assuming you take either Jefferson or Chase, you've set yourself on the path of zero RB. By the time the snake makes it back to you for round two and three, Austin Ekeler, Bijan Robinson, Saquon Barkley, Nick Chubb and Derrick Henry should all be gone. If one of those players remains, reassess and consider bringing an RB1 into your squad. But most likely, all of these running backs have been snapped up in the first and early second. That means, if you want an RB with one of your next two choices, you will need to select Jonathan Taylor, Josh Jacobs, Joe Mixon or reach for Najee Harris or Travis Etienne. All of these running backs have major questions revolving around their upcoming season. Jonathan Taylor and Josh Jacobs are risks to play, Joe Mixon and Najee Harris have perceived volume but real downside risk, and Travis Etienne and Jahmyr Gibbs are not three-down backs as it looks like Etienne will still come out on passing downs and Gibbs will cede early downs to David Montgomery.
Because of this, I would stay the course and lock in your receiving core. Ideally, Chris Olave, Davante Adams or Garrett Wilson drops to you. But even if they don't, DeVonta Smith, Jaylen Waddle, Keenan Allen and yes, even Amari Cooper are excellent choices here (I'm very in on Cooper this year.) I would grab two of them and ensure yourself the deepest receiving core in the league.
From there, you may feel like you need to go running back with one of your 4th or 5th round picks, and I'm here to tell you, you do not. I love both DeAndre Hopkins and Diontae Johnson at the turn with these picks, especially as your fourth wide receiver and therefore depth options. From there you can snag a running back if one appeals to you, or give yourself a premium option at QB if Lamar Jackson, Justin Herbert, or Joe Burrow have dropped to you. Giving yourself a top-tier QB and elite receivers will compensate for potential running back pitfalls.
From here, yes, it is finally time to hammer running backs. And I'm just as happy to scoop up some lagging running backs in these rounds who have huge upside or locked-in volume. The Panthers will be bad, but all the more reason that they will ride Miles Sanders whose contract lends itself to at least two years of heavy workload. Javonte Williams looks healthy and is running with the first team and you have to expect a bounce-back from Denver this year. David Montgomery will see 13-16 carries a game for a potential top 5 offense. And my favorite sleeper of the year, Khalil Herbert will be the engine of the Bears' extensive ground game. He made Montgomery expendable last year and had a casual 5.7 Y/A on a non-small sample size of 129 carries.
RB Zero strategy always feels risky given the lack of sure things at the RB position, but if you manage to hit one RB in the later rounds, your positional advantage immediately takes over. Given the bucket of yuck, this draft position presents from the RB position at round two and three, it is most effective to load up on receivers and target higher upside RBs later.
Round 2-6 McCaffrey Draft
If McCaffrey happens to fall you, set yourself on the "Hero RB" path which is leveraging the strength of your RB1 to allow yourself to wait on future running backs. AKA do exactly what I outlined above but with the strength of having McCaffrey lined up as your running back.
If you can manage to snag Olave, Cooper, Hopkins, and Johnson over rounds two through five, you have both the upside and depth to have an absolutely elite wide receiver roster in fantasy football. Given the volume afforded to Cooper, Hopkins, and Johnson, the likelihood that they are fantasy busts is extremely low. Even with a low volume passing offenses, a 30% target share will equate to some of the highest receiver floors in fantasy football.
From here, you can still target upside running backs with a bit more confidence given McCaffrey residing in your RB1 spot. You can also wait on QB, with the likes of Dak Prescott, Aaron Rodgers and Geno Smith available in the round 8/9 turn. And you can always double up at QB with Goff/Richardson or Wilson giving yourself two chances at a hit.
The moral of the story, take the best player available of the remaining top tier, and then don't force yourself into RBs in the RB dead zone. With the rest of the elite running backs off the board, hammer the deeper and more consistent wide receiver in the middle rounds and find running back value in rounds 5-10. With a deep quarterback position, your deep receiving room and running back hits will win out.
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