Fantasy: Strategy for drafting in the middle of each round
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theScore's Justin Boone breaks down the best ways to approach your draft depending on where you're selecting in the order.

Draft Position

Here's a look at how to attack the draft if you've been assigned one of the middle picks in a 12-team PPR scoring league.

Average draft position (ADP) data courtesy of Fantasy Football Calculator and is based on 12-team leagues with PPR scoring.

Round 1

Picks: 1.05-1.08

One of the keys for the first couple of rounds this year is to come away with at least one bell-cow running back. Dalvin Cook is ranked as my RB5, but he often falls to the middle of the first round with the likes of Derrick Henry or Clyde Edwards-Helaire sneaking above him.

Perhaps some drafters are worried by the failed contract talks between Cook and the Minnesota Vikings, though I'm not among them. Cook averaged the second-most PPR fantasy points by a running back in 2019 and had at least 115 yards from scrimmage in eight of his first 11 outings before he missed time later in the year with injuries.

It's fine if you prefer a different ball carrier in this range, but the important takeaway is that you want to lean toward taking a running back in the first round.

Roster Player Round
RB1 Dalvin Cook 1st

Others to consider: Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Kenyan Drake, Joe Mixon

Round 2

Picks: 2.05-2.08

We're hoping one of the running backs from the third tier - think Aaron Jones or Nick Chubb - falls to us in the middle of the second. Based on ADP, Jones is more likely to be available in this area.

Regression is coming for the Green Bay Packers back who had 19 total touchdowns last season. If you want a recent example, Alvin Kamara scored 18 times in 2018 only for that number drop to six one year later, including a stretch of nine straights games without finding the end zone. However, even with that in mind, Jones could easily post double-digit scores again and find himself in the RB1 mix.

If the backs in that tier are gone, you can look for a falling receiver like Julio Jones or spend up on an elite tight end like Travis Kelce.

Roster Player Round
RB1 Dalvin Cook 1st
RB2 Aaron Jones 2nd

Others to consider: Nick Chubb, Julio Jones, Travis Kelce

Round 3

Picks: 3.05-3.08

If you've managed to secure a pair of quality running backs during the opening two rounds, then you can shift your focus toward a receiver. It's a very deep group of wideouts from Rounds 3 to 6, and the flow of rushers going early pushes some of the high-end pass-catchers into this range.

Allen Robinson, DJ Moore, and Adam Thielen are all excellent picks here as players who are guaranteed to be among the league leaders in targets.

Prior to his injury-riddled 2019 campaign, Thielen was in the top 10 for targets in back-to-back years. With Stefon Diggs gone and rookie Justin Jefferson needing some time to develop, Thielen is a lock for another monster target total in 2020.

Roster Player Round
RB1 Dalvin Cook 1st
RB2 Aaron Jones 2nd
WR1 Adam Thielen 3rd

Others to consider: Allen Robinson, DJ Moore, Mike Evans

Round 4

Picks: 4.05-4.08

We continue to attack receiver with our target being one of the most underrated wideouts in fantasy during the last few years.

On a per-game basis, Robert Woods has been the WR19, WR16, and WR14 over the last three seasons. He accomplished the latter despite scoring only three touchdowns in 15 appearances. Woods has never been a red-zone destroyer, but he may flirt with WR1 production if he can get back up around the five- or six-touchdown mark as was the case during the previous two campaigns.

If Woods isn't available, or if you're in the group of people who are still underrating him, there will be plenty of other pass-catchers to target in this round.

Roster Player Round
RB1 Dalvin Cook 1st
RB2 Aaron Jones 2nd
WR1 Adam Thielen 3rd
WR2 Robert Woods 4th

Others to consider: JuJu Smith-Schuster, Amari Cooper, Jonathan Taylor

Round 5

Picks: 5.05-5.08

As you can tell by our pick this round and the names listed below, the receiver well hasn't dried up yet.

If Terry McLaurin and Tyler Lockett are on the board, you'll have a tough decision to make. Both players rank inside my top-20 wideouts and are set up for great seasons as the most heavily targeted pass-catchers in their respective offenses. Lockett often gets taken in the first half of the fifth round, so we'll gladly "settle" for McLaurin, who has an untapped ceiling as the clear alpha dog in the Washington Football Team passing game.

Even with us waiting until the third round to take our first receiver, we're still getting McLaurin as an upside WR3.

Roster Player Round
RB1 Dalvin Cook 1st
RB2 Aaron Jones 2nd
WR1 Adam Thielen 3rd
WR2 Robert Woods 4th
WR3 Terry McLaurin 5th

Others to consider: Tyler Lockett, D.J. Chark, D'Andre Swift

Round 6

Picks: 6.05-6.08

If one of the rookie running backs with starting potential is still available in the middle of the sixth round, they would be the pick here. Unfortunately, the last few players in that tier tend to be selected before this stretch.

That allows us to continue our receiver onslaught with a breakout candidate who offers week-winning upside in our flex spot: Marquise "Hollywood" Brown.

Baltimore's first-round pick from last season flashed his ceiling with a 147-yard, two-touchdown debut, but injuries prevented him from sustaining anything near that production. After having a screw removed from his foot and adding 23 pounds of muscle, he's ready to be unleashed as a full-time player in one of the most prolific offenses in the NFL led by MVP Lamar Jackson.

Roster Player Round
RB1 Dalvin Cook 1st
RB2 Aaron Jones 2nd
WR1 Adam Thielen 3rd
WR2 Robert Woods 4th
WR3 Terry McLaurin 5th
FLEX Marquise Brown 6th 

Others to consider: DeVante Parker, Cam Akers, Will Fuller

Round 7

Picks: 7.05-7.08

The running back options still leave a lot to be desired, so with a tier drop coming at receiver, we'll grab another guy who could finish in the top 20 if everything goes his way.

Brandin Cooks' concussion history is worrisome and a big part of why he's falling to the middle rounds of fantasy drafts. However, before last year, he had four straight 1,000-yard seasons and hadn't missed a game any of those campaigns.

If he can stay healthy in Houston, it's possible Cooks could emerge as Deshaun Watson's new favorite downfield threat with DeAndre Hopkins no longer on the roster. For those who want to shy away from Cooks, any of the receiver choices below would also be solid value in this round.

Roster Player Round
RB1 Dalvin Cook 1st
RB2 Aaron Jones 2nd
WR1 Adam Thielen 3rd
WR2 Robert Woods 4th
WR3 Terry McLaurin 5th
FLEX Marquise Brown 6th 
Bench Brandin Cooks 7th

Others to consider: Marvin Jones, Michael Gallup, Diontae Johnson

Round 8

Picks: 8.05-8.08

We'll finally look to address another area of our roster after drafting five straight receivers.

Though some may think we're light at running back through seven rounds, viable starters pop up regularly during the season as injuries strike. If we load up our bench with a few strong backups and stay active on the waiver wire throughout the year, we'll be in good shape.

Latavius Murray is one of the premier second-string rushers, evidenced by his performances in the two games Kamara missed last season. Murray averaged 31 touches, 153.5 yards from scrimmage, and two touchdowns per contest during those weeks. He'll be a borderline RB1 if Kamara is sidelined at any point in 2020.

Roster Player Round
RB1 Dalvin Cook 1st
RB2 Aaron Jones 2nd
WR1 Adam Thielen 3rd
WR2 Robert Woods 4th
WR3 Terry McLaurin 5th
FLEX Marquise Brown 6th 
Bench Brandin Cooks 7th
Bench Latavius Murray 8th

Others to consider: Tyler Higbee, CeeDee Lamb, Alexander Mattison

Round 9

Picks: 9.05-9.08

The temptation to select a quarterback is growing, but we'll wait at least one more round before finding our starter. Additionally, the depth at tight end allows us to wait there, too.

Instead, we can grab another upside play in one of the rookie wideouts who's stepping into a significant first-year workload. Henry Ruggs was the first receiver taken in the 2020 NFL Draft and is already drawing rave reviews at Las Vegas Raiders camp.

Due to his speed, Ruggs is often mischaracterized as only a deep threat. However, he brings a far more diverse skill set to the pros and will be a factor from Day 1 as the top outside target in Las Vegas.

Roster Player Round
RB1 Dalvin Cook 1st
RB2 Aaron Jones 2nd
WR1 Adam Thielen 3rd
WR2 Robert Woods 4th
WR3 Terry McLaurin 5th
FLEX Marquise Brown 6th 
Bench Brandin Cooks 7th
Bench Latavius Murray 8th
Bench Henry Ruggs 9th

Others to consider: Carson Wentz, Emmanuel Sanders, Darius Slayton

Round 10

Picks: 10.05-10.08

We waited to break the quarterback seal, and there's still a past MVP with top-five upside who is available and being wildly underappreciated by the fantasy community.

Cam Newton is currently the 14th passer going off the board, according to ADP. Coming back from two injury-shortened seasons, there are durability concerns and questions about how fast he'll get acclimated to the New England Patriots' complex system. However, many are overlooking the fact that Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels have always schemed to their talent. Newton won't be asked to execute Tom Brady's offense but rather be given plays that maximize his skills.

When you add in his rushing ability, it's easy to see Newton outproducing expectations in his first season with the Patriots.

Roster Player Round
QB1 Cam Newton 10th
RB1 Dalvin Cook 1st
RB2 Aaron Jones 2nd
WR1 Adam Thielen 3rd
WR2 Robert Woods 4th
WR3 Terry McLaurin 5th
FLEX Marquise Brown 6th 
Bench Brandin Cooks 7th
Bench Latavius Murray 8th
Bench Henry Ruggs 9th

Others to consider: Chase Edmonds, Zack Moss, Damien Harris

Round 11

Picks: 11.05-11.08

In the interest of drafting another quality backup running back, we'll keep waiting on tight end. Don't worry, there are a lot of breakout candidates to choose from in the late rounds.

Even before Miles Sanders was listed as week-to-week with a vague lower-body injury, Boston Scott was a name that fantasy managers needed to know. When Sanders was erupting in the second half of last season, his backup was doing some sneaky damage of his own. Scott posted 45-plus yards from scrimmage in four of his last five games in 2019 and eclipsed the 120-yard mark in two of those outings.

The 25-year-old can provide weekly RB3/flex numbers while also being an intriguing starting option if Sanders isn't ready to go by Week 1.

Roster Player Round
QB1 Cam Newton 10th
RB1 Dalvin Cook 1st
RB2 Aaron Jones 2nd
WR1 Adam Thielen 3rd
WR2 Robert Woods 4th
WR3 Terry McLaurin 5th
FLEX Marquise Brown 6th 
Bench Brandin Cooks 7th
Bench Latavius Murray 8th
Bench Henry Ruggs 9th
Bench Boston Scott 11th

Others to consider: Sterling Shepard, Brandon Aiyuk, DeSean Jackson

Round 12

Picks: 12.05-12.08

The time has finally come to fill our vacant tight end spot, and there's still a ton of talent to choose from. T.J. Hockenson, Jonnu Smith, Blake Jarwin, and Chris Herndon all have a chance to go from late-round darlings to top-12 fantasy tight ends this year, but we're taking Mike Gesicki.

Miami treats Gesicki like a big slot receiver, which is excellent news for fantasy managers. At his position, he was third in routes run and fourth in air yards in 2019, according to Ben Gretch of CBS Sports. Dolphins wideout Preston Williams is working his way back from a torn ACL he suffered last season, which could open up more work for the tight end early in the season.

Even if our late-round approach doesn't pan out, the position is so deep that there will be streamable options available on the waiver wire until we identify a suitable starter.

Roster Player Round
QB1 Cam Newton 10th
RB1 Dalvin Cook 1st
RB2 Aaron Jones 2nd
WR1 Adam Thielen 3rd
WR2 Robert Woods 4th
WR3 Terry McLaurin 5th
TE1 Mike Gesicki 12th
FLEX Marquise Brown 6th 
Bench Brandin Cooks 7th
Bench Latavius Murray 8th
Bench Henry Ruggs 9th
Bench Boston Scott 11th

Others to consider: T.J. Hockenson, Jonnu Smith, Blake Jarwin

Later rounds

The truth is, after the 10th round or so, you no longer need to pay close attention to ADP. You should focus on stocking your bench with as many high-ceiling players as possible, with your sights set on running backs and receivers. Quarterbacks or tight ends can always be streamed or acquired by trading a bench player. Save your final two picks for a defense and a kicker.

Players to consider: Damien Harris, Ryquell Armstead, Anthony McFarland, Benny Snell, Bryce Love, N'Keal Harry, Preston Williams, Mike Williams, Parris Campbell, Curtis Samuel, Breshad Perriman, Allen Lazard, Gardner Minshew, Teddy Bridgewater, TJ Hockenson, Jonnu Smith, Eric Ebron, Blake Jarwin

Draft Position

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Fantasy: Strategy for drafting in the middle of each round
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