PFF Fantasy mailbag: Top-of-the-draft questions

Many of the questions for Mike Tagliere this week focused on approaches to the early part of a fantasy drafter. See the answers here.

| 11 months ago
(Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

(Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

PFF Fantasy mailbag: Top-of-the-draft questions

Last week, we opened up the flood gates at PFF, asking you to send in your questions for our Twitter mailbag. The response was great, but this week, it’s even better. We’re hoping to make this a weekly thing, so make sure you’re following us on Twitter @PFF_Fantasy.

There were some great questions this week, and while I cannot answer all of them in one article, I’m going to do my best to ensure every one of you get answers to your most pressing questions as we enter the fantasy season.


In a full PPR, you should be attempting to lock up a stud wide receiver early. However, it becomes quite the cluster at No. 7. If the top five wide receivers (Antonio Brown, Julio Jones, Odell Beckham, A.J. Green and DeAndre Hopkins) go before your pick, your question is a good one to ask. While you say that Gurley and Peterson are touchdown-dependent, they are two of the safest picks in all of fantasy football, even in a PPR format. It’s well-known that you can’t win your fantasy league with your first-round pick, but you can definitely lose it. I can understand the thought process on Ezekiel Elliott there as well, but again, I prefer the safest picks in the first round. Gurley is likely to see an uptick in receptions this year, while Peterson will likely lose some work to Jerick McKinnon. If the top five wide receivers are gone, I would be taking Gurley.


Keeper questions often revolve around talent for me, as there is only so much value for a player who is kept as a 16th-round pick, but is the second-best wide receiver on his team. With that being said, you don’t have that issue. All of your players are talented and have tremendous value, but this one comes down to opportunity cost and where they are being drafted. While Rawls is a great value, there are other values at running back this year later in the draft. So then it comes down to the two wide receivers, Landry and Allen. There isn’t much difference in their 15th- and 16th-round cost, so take the superior talent who is being drafted much higher, Allen.


The Zero RB strategy is something I’m opposed to as a whole, but I understand the idea. The reason I’m not a fan of the strategy is because you’re relying on injury in order to get value out of players. Not in all situations, but almost all, it’s rare that a starting running back loses his job without some sort of injury. And then, when that injury takes place, every person in your league is going to be aiming for the same player you are off waivers. It ultimately relies on luck and injuries a lot more than I would like. With that being said, drafting Williams is a perfect start to your Zero RB team. He will offer fringe-RB1 value for at least four weeks, which buys you time in order to hit waiver-wire gold due to an injury at the running back position. If you can pair him with another late-round running back that doesn’t rely on an injury for production (Charles Sims, Theo Riddick types), you could make it work for the first four weeks.


The answer to this question is rather easy – fantasy football players have a “what have you done for me lately?” approach to their drafts. You are correct in your assessment of him being undervalued, as we here at PFF have Lacy ranked as our consensus No. 11 running back, with Pat Thorman and I having him at No. 9 individually. What most don’t realize is that Lacy wasn’t even bad last year, as evidenced by him grading out as our No. 15 running back. The issue was strictly on volume, as Lacy’s 4.1 yards per carry was directly in line for what he averaged his rookie year. The offensive line dealt with a multitude of injuries, Aaron Rodgers wasn’t even himself, and the scoring opportunities were not there. With that being said, the offensive line is healthy going into the season, Rodgers is a great quarterback who just had a bad year, and then John Kuhn is gone, freeing up even more scoring opportunities. Lacy dedicated his offseason getting into shape, and should take care of those who invest a third round pick on him. I’m buying on him, as evidenced by this article I did in the offseason.


You are correct when it comes to the scarcity of true workhorse running backs at this era in the NFL, which is why I’m an advocate of getting as many of them on your fantasy team as possible. However, if you’re looking to draft a couple wide receivers and targeting running backs in the third, fourth, or fifth rounds, here are a few guys I’d target: LeSean McCoy (3.01), Mark Ingram (3.02), Thomas Rawls (3.04), Carlos Hyde (4.03), Jeremy Hill (5.01) and Duke Johnson (6.09). A couple of those guys paired with two stud wide receivers should net you some very solid results.


There was a question last week in regards to which draft slot was the best, and while the answer was No. 1, having the fifth spot isn’t the worst thing. You are able to take the draft for what it is, see the trends as they happen, and learn how people are drafting all around you. It’s unlikely that you are going to land one of the big three (Antonio Brown, Julio Jones, Odell Beckham), so you’re looking at either DeAndre Hopkins or A.J. Green. Earlier this offseason, I covered that exact decision for you. After that, don’t have a set strategy in mind, but rather take value when it is presented to you. If wide receivers keep flying off the board, go with one of the workhorse running backs. At least you’ve locked up a top-five wide receiver already.


QB: Aaron Rodgers, Cam Newton, Russell Wilson, Andrew Luck, Drew Brees.

RB: Todd Gurley, David Johnson, Devonta Freeman, Ezekiel Elliott, Adrian Peterson.

WR: Antonio Brown, Julio Jones, Odell Beckham Jr., A.J Green, DeAndre Hopkins

TE: Rob Gronkowski, Greg Olsen, Jordan Reed, Coby Fleener, Travis Kelce.


Most that read my work know that I’m a big advocate of getting workhorse running backs on your fantasy team, going against the grain of Zero RB supporters. With that being said, there are just a handful of players who are c;psetpguaranteed to be top-five at their position barring injury, and it’s the big three wide receivers. Antonio Brown is a monster, regardless of format, and is matchup proof. While some say he is quarterback dependent, that’s not quite true so long as the quarterback isn’t Michael Vick. Julio Jones is a target hog who has not even shown his true ceiling, which is crazy because he averages the most yards per game among wide receivers in NFL history. And then Odell Beckham Jr. is an athletic freak who would have competed for the No. 1 wide receiver title if he hadn’t been suspended for that Week 16 game last year. While I love David Johnson, he has veteran competition on the roster, and even though I’m not too concerned, it is a concern. And as for Gurley, he is arguably the safest pick at the running back position, but he plays on a team that will have limited scoring opportunities. Take one of the big three, and enjoy the points.

That wraps up this week’s edition of the Twitter Mailbag! If we didn’t get to your question, please get your question in early next week when we post the #askPFF hashtag, while including @MikeTagliereNFL in your tweet and I’ll do my best to get to your question.

  • Jason

    Have Todd gurley (10th round) or Antonio brown (1st round) in a keeper league and I am picking 6th. Should should I keep and then pick at 6??