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. While the average draft positions (ADP) can vary from site to site, this will help guide you toward building a roster that can be dominant in 2022.

Round 1

Picks: 1.05-1.08

When you're picking in the middle of the opening round, you won't have an opportunity to secure a top-tier running back like Christian McCaffrey or Jonathan Taylor. You're hoping the managers ahead of you slip up and let Justin Jefferson or Austin Ekeler sneak through - but even that's unlikely.

The mid-first can sometimes feel too early to reach for the next group of ball carriers, which is why you should take the sure thing in Bengals instant superstar Ja'Marr Chase.

After arriving in Cincy with a prospect profile that rivaled some of the best receivers we've ever seen enter the NFL, Chase immediately delivered a record-breaking rookie year with 81 receptions, 1,455 yards, and 13 touchdowns. You can expect him to be in the conversation as one of the league's best wideouts for a long time.

Roster Player Round
WR1 Ja'Marr Chase 1st

Others to consider: Justin Jefferson, Austin Ekeler, Dalvin Cook

Round 2

Picks: 2.05-2.08

With everyone focused on which receiver will step up after Davante Adams' departure, the person who ends up benefitting most might be Aaron Jones.

The Packers star's production spiked in the games Adams missed over the last five seasons, including last year's performance with seven catches and 51 receiving yards on 11 targets, as well as 59 rushing yards and a touchdown.

Overall, Jones finished as a top-nine fantasy running back each of the last three seasons (RB2, RB5, RB9) while splitting time with Jamaal Williams (2019, 2020) and A.J. Dillon (2021).

Dillon will be a factor yet again, but Jones has proven he can produce elite numbers even with a heavily involved sidekick.

Roster Player Round
RB1 Aaron Jones 2nd
WR1 Ja'Marr Chase 1st

Others to consider: Tyreek Hill, Deebo Samuel, Alvin Kamara

Round 3

Picks: 3.05-3.08

Keeping a balanced build at the start of the draft isn't essential, but it can help you stay open to any value picks that may fall your way in the middle and later rounds. No build's more balanced than one that features a different position in each of the first three rounds.

Kyle Pitts is a unique talent who justified the early draft capital the Falcons spent on him by posting the second-most yards (1,026) ever by a rookie tight end - falling just short of Mike Ditka's record (1,076).

The 21-year-old will once again be the focal point of Atlanta's passing attack with his only real target competition coming from rookie wideout Drake London. It sets him up for the kind of volume that could move him into the elite fantasy TE tier with Travis Kelce and Mark Andrews.

If Pitts also experiences positive touchdown regression - which he should after scoring just once last season - we could be on the verge of witnessing a special season.

Roster Player Round
RB1 Aaron Jones 2nd
WR1 Ja'Marr Chase 1st
TE1 Kyle Pitts 3rd

Others to consider: Mike Williams, DJ Moore, Travis Etienne

Round 4

Picks: 4.05-4.08

There's a point in every draft when you have to make a tough decision that'll dictate the direction your roster heads in the rest of the way. Here, that moment comes in the fourth round, when you have to choose between a promising young running back or a quality receiver.

Knowing the running back position will dry up soon and the next few rounds are loaded with receiver talent, we can confidently take Breece Hall.

The 36th overall pick in this year's draft has all the athletic measurables and college production you look for in a future fantasy stud, with enough pass-catching skills to put him over the top.

Roster Player Round
RB1 Aaron Jones 2nd
RB2 Breece Hall 4th
WR1 Ja'Marr Chase 1st
TE1 Kyle Pitts 3rd

Others to consider: Darnell Mooney, Diontae Johnson, Allen Robinson

Round 5

Picks: 5.05-5.08

Though having just one wideout through four frames might look worrisome, rest assured the next few rounds will provide us with plenty of pass-catching talent.

First up is Rashod Bateman. We highlighted the sophomore as our favorite fantasy breakout candidate at receiver, and if training camp reports are any indication, he's ready to make that a reality.

Bateman overcame an injury-plagued start to his rookie year to amass over 50 yards in three of his first four outings. A couple weeks later, he flashed No. 1 receiver potential with a seven-catch, 103-yard game against the Browns.

In what will be a very condensed Ravens passing attack, Bateman will see enough volume and scoring opportunities to be a top-24 fantasy receiver.

Roster Player Round
RB1 Aaron Jones 2nd
RB2 Breece Hall 4th
WR1 Ja'Marr Chase 1st
WR2 Rashod Bateman 5th
TE1 Kyle Pitts 3rd

Others to consider: Darnell Mooney, Chris Godwin, Adam Thielen

Round 6

Picks: 6.05-6.08

Our receiver picks continue with an oldie but goodie: Adam Thielen.

As we went over in five risky picks to gamble on, Thielen averaged top-12 fantasy stats in four of the last five seasons. While two of those campaigns were cut short due to injury, he played at least 10 games every year. Even if he misses time again, we'll gladly take that kind of production whenever he's on the field.

His touchdown upside alone is worth chasing, since he's tied with Tyreek Hill for the third-most receiving touchdowns (24) over the last two years, behind only Davante Adams (29) and Mike Evans (27).

With a new coaching staff intent on implementing a pass-heavier scheme, Thielen is a strong WR3 on any fantasy roster.

Roster Player Round
RB1 Aaron Jones 2nd
RB2 Breece Hall 4th
WR1 Ja'Marr Chase 1st
WR2 Rashod Bateman 5th
WR3 Adam Thielen 6th
TE1 Kyle Pitts 3rd

Others to consider: Brandon Aiyuk, Elijah Moore, Drake London

Round 7

Picks: 7.05-7.08

During the first post in this series, we discussed our reasoning for reaching on a quarterback in the seventh round. The position tends to be drafted earlier in most home leagues than regular ADP would indicate, and if you want a passer with top-five potential, you'll have to pay up for him.

This can also be an awkward range where the stronger options have mostly been selected and the players remaining have more red flags than you want from a seventh-round pick.

That leads us to Russell Wilson, who's escaped the Seahawks' slow-paced and run-heavy offense in favor of a Broncos attack that will be built to his strengths. It's an exciting development for someone who found a way to produce even in the worst of times in Seattle.

Wilson finished as a fantasy QB1 in eight of his 10 campaigns and never ended a year outside the top 16 passers.

Roster Player Round
QB1 Russell Wilson 7th
RB1 Aaron Jones 2nd
RB2 Breece Hall 4th
WR1 Ja'Marr Chase 1st
WR2 Rashod Bateman 5th
WR3 Adam Thielen 6th
TE1 Kyle Pitts 3rd

Others to consider: Chase Edmonds, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Allen Lazard

Round 8

Picks: 8.05-8.08

With our starting lineup almost finalized and no obvious choice staring us in the face, we revert to our default setting and take a shot on an upside running back.

Though Damien Harris remains the lead option on early downs (for now), Rhamondre Stevenson is doing his best to carve out a bigger role.

In the three appearances in which he played at least 50% of the Patriots' snaps last season, Stevenson racked up yardage totals of 114, 78, and 107 while scoring four touchdowns.

This year, he's making a case to take over some of the passing-down work left behind by the recently retired James White.

Stevenson is on the list of ideal backup running backs to target in fantasy as someone who can offer flex value most weeks with the potential to turn into an RB1 if Harris gets hurt or underwhelms.

Roster Player Round
QB1 Russell Wilson 7th
RB1 Aaron Jones 2nd
RB2 Breece Hall 4th
WR1 Ja'Marr Chase 1st
WR2 Rashod Bateman 5th
WR3 Adam Thielen 6th
TE1 Kyle Pitts 3rd
FLEX Rhamondre Stevenson 8th

Others to consider: Robert Woods, Treylon Burks, Tony Pollard

Round 9

Picks: 9.05-9.08

It's almost surprising Cordarrelle Patterson is consistently available in this area of the draft.

Despite his extremely late breakout, the 31-year-old is positioned for another solid fantasy campaign given the lack of high-end competition in the Falcons' backfield.

Patterson compiled 1,166 yards from scrimmage, 52 receptions, and 11 touchdowns in 2021 - making him the RB16 in fantasy points per game. He was even better over the first 12 outings (RB10) before injuries forced the coaching staff to reduce his touches over the final month.

At worst, Patterson will be an intriguing weekly flex play. But there's a clear path to him providing RB2 fantasy stats for the second straight year - and it costs you next to nothing to find out if he can repeat.

Roster Player Round
QB1 Russell Wilson 7th
RB1 Aaron Jones 2nd
RB2 Breece Hall 4th
WR1 Ja'Marr Chase 1st
WR2 Rashod Bateman 5th
WR3 Adam Thielen 6th
TE1 Kyle Pitts 3rd
FLEX Rhamondre Stevenson 8th
Bench Cordarrelle Patterson 9th

Others to consider: James Cook, Melvin Gordon, Darrell Henderson

Round 10

Picks: 10.05-10.08

We're in a sweet spot for acquiring upside running backs, so let's keep the streak going.

Projecting a fourth-round rookie to take over as a team's starting back can be a stretch, but the state of the Texans' backfield makes it a lock.

Dameon Pierce has been generating plenty of buzz in training camp for his explosive runs, and he backed it up by rushing five times for 48 yards in his preseason debut. It's left beat writers gushing about his potential and predicting an inevitable rise up the depth chart.

Even if Marlon Mack begins the year as the starter, it'll only be a matter of time before Pierce gets his chance.

Roster Player Round
QB1 Russell Wilson 7th
RB1 Aaron Jones 2nd
RB2 Breece Hall 4th
WR1 Ja'Marr Chase 1st
WR2 Rashod Bateman 5th
WR3 Adam Thielen 6th
TE1 Kyle Pitts 3rd
FLEX Rhamondre Stevenson 8th
Bench Cordarrelle Patterson 9th
Bench Dameon Pierce 10th

Others to consider: Garrett Wilson, Kenneth Gainwell, George Pickens

Later rounds

After the 10th round or so, you no longer need to pay close attention to ADPs. You should focus on stocking your bench with as many high-ceiling players as possible, with your sights set on running backs and receivers.

Remember, single-play positions like quarterbacks or tight ends can always be streamed or acquired by trading a bench player. So don't load up your bench with backups, and leave your final two picks for a defense and a kicker.

Normally, late-round running backs offer more upside than any other position. However, we've left ourselves a little thin at receiver.

Though Chase is a guaranteed producer, Bateman's breakout is still a projection and Thielen's durability concerns could come back to haunt us.

Jahan Dotson is one of the rookie wideouts being touted as a star in the making based on his practice performances. He instantly slots in as the Commanders' No. 2 pass-catcher and should be poised for a strong debut campaign.

K.J. Osborn is an interesting sleeper after he scored five touchdowns in his final six games while Thielen was sidelined last season. He should benefit from the new coaching staff's pass-friendly approach, and if Thielen does go down again, our team won't miss a beat.

Roster Player Round
QB1 Russell Wilson 7th
RB1 Aaron Jones 2nd
RB2 Breece Hall 4th
WR1 Ja'Marr Chase 1st
WR2 Rashod Bateman 5th
WR3 Adam Thielen 6th
TE1 Kyle Pitts 3rd
FLEX Rhamondre Stevenson 8th
Bench Cordarrelle Patterson 9th
Bench Dameon Pierce 10th
Bench Jahan Dotson 11th
Bench K.J. Osborn 12th

Draft position

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Fantasy: Strategy for drafting in the middle of each round
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