Fantasy Football Draft Strategies for Rounds 1-5

1 week ago 12

Football is back.

Maybe the Trevor Lawrence-less Hall of Fame game isn’t your cup of tea—or the best football game ever—and it was delayed but, still, it ended the long wait for the NFL’s return. And, if anything, it’s a reminder of just how soon the regular season will begin.

In today’s Winners Club you’ll find fantasy football draft strategy advice for different pick slots, a betting preview of the NFC South and more!

We begin with a walkthrough of how to draft a team from various positions because, unlike Bill Belichick, I care about your fantasy team.

How to Nail the Early Rounds of Your Fantasy Draft

Rankings are an extremely helpful guideline to use when it comes to draft day, and luckily the SI Fantasy team has you covered with rankings across multiple formats in our 2022 Draft Kit! But if you blindly select the best player available for the first few rounds of your draft, you could end up with four or five players who play the same position and that’s just not sound roster building!

We came up with multiple guides to walk you through the first five rounds of a 12-team PPR fantasy draft from various pick groupings. Read the below strategy guides, written by Matt De Lima and I, to figure out the best way to draft in each of your leagues.

1-2-3: Receivers are shooting up the draft board, but a pick this early in the draft still warrants a shot at an elite running back like Jonathan TaylorAustin Ekeler or Christian McCaffrey. With one of the best players on the board locked up, see how you should proceed in the later rounds with a pair of picks at the 2-3 and 4-5 turns.

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4-5-6: You have a real decision to make in the first round and, no, you’re not crazy for thinking this is a good position to grab a receiver like Cooper Kupp or Justin Jefferson. But now you have to wait to address RB1. Thankfully, there are good options available in the second and third rounds.

7-8-9: There’s a bit of a tier dropoff after the seventh pick, but there’s still plenty of great players available to be had in the first like Dalvin Cook and Ja’Marr Chase. And you’ll be back on the clock soon enough with a pick in the back half of the first round.

10-11-12: Watching all of the top-ranked players fly off the board while you await your pick is hard to stomach. Nailing a solid WR1-RB1 combo at the 1-2 turn certainly makes the waiting worth it, though.

Brady, Bucs Clear Favorites to Win NFC South, Again

Tampa Bay ended its decade-plus long division title drought in 2021. And with Tom Brady back for another season, the Buccaneers—revamped with more Brady recruits—are heavy favorites to continue their reign atop the NFC South.

The Saints pose the biggest threat to Tampa Bay in the division, having not lost to Brady’s Bucs in the regular season, but Sean Payton’s retirement and key losses on both sides of the ball dampens New Orleans’s case. Then there’s the Panthers, who are trying their hand at yet another quarterback in Baker Mayfield. Carolina might be better this season, but it’s a long shot to make the playoffs for a reason. Rounding out the division are the lowly Falcons. Atlanta moved on from franchise legend Matt Ryan in the offseason and has some of the lowest expectations in the league in 2022.

Will it be as easy as the sportsbooks seem to think for the Buccaneers to repeat as NFC South winners? Or do the Saints have a shot to take back the title? Read our divisional betting breakdown and individual team over/under betting previews to find out:

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 11.5 — Over (-125) | Under (-110)

NFC South future odds: -350 (First)
NFC future odds: +300 (First)
Super Bowl futures odds: +700 (Second)

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“The Buccaneers’ offensive line has taken a hit, especially with Ryan Jensen injured, but they are still strong up front on both sides of the ball and feature a strong linebacker crew. Few teams, if any, have a stronger roster than Tampa Bay.” — Matt Ehalt

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New Orleans Saints: 7.5 — Over (-188) | Under (+138)

NFC South future odds: +400 (Second)
NFC future odds: 1600 (Eighth)
Super Bowl futures odds: +3300 (Tied-17th)

“Head coach Sean Payton has retired but the Saints promoted Dennis Allen from within the organization and they retained offensive play-caller Pete Carmichael. It also looks like Michael Thomas will be ready to start the season. Is Las Vegas disrespecting the Saints?” — Jen Piacenti

Carolina Panthers: 5.5 — Over (-222) | Under (+150)

NFC South future odds: +1000 (Third)
NFC future odds: +4000 (Tied-11th)
Super Bowl futures odds: +8000 (Tied-25th)

“Carolina has only won exactly five games in each of the last three years . The question facing bettors is: Can a healthy McCaffrey result in just one more win and enable the Panthers to surpass their regular-season wins total projection of 5.5 games?” — Frankie Taddeo

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Atlanta Falcons: 4.5 — Over (-125) | Under (-111)

NFC South future odds: +2000 (Fourth)
NFC future odds: +8000 (16th)
Super Bowl futures odds: +20000 (T-31st)

“Now that franchise legend Matt Ryan is playing in Indianapolis (a trade that returned a third-round pick and incurred $40 million in dead money) and top receiver Calvin Ridley is suspended for the season for gambling, the rebuild is in full swing and Atlanta projects to be one of the worst teams in the NFL.” — Kyle Wood

More divisional betting breakdowns:

AFC East: Bills | Patriots | Dolphins | Jets

NFC East: Cowboys | Eagles | Commanders | Giants

AFC South: Titans | Colts | Texans | Jaguars

Next up: the toughest division in football, the AFC West!

Training Camp News Roundup

It’s essential for fantasy football players to follow the news that’s coming out of camp.

Practices reveal which players are asserting themselves, who might be losing work in a competition and, most importantly, they help inform our draft decisions!

Is the Allen Robinson of old making a comeback in L.A. after a down year? How does Michael Thomas look after a missed season? And what of the constant cycle of injury news around the NFL?

Shawn Childs analyzed some of the storylines that are already coming out of camp and offered his take on what each development means for fantasy football players.

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The MMQB’s Albert Breer is also making the rounds on his training camp tour and he had an important nugget about the Chiefs' backfield from his trip to St. Joseph, Mo.: Seventh-round pick Isaih Pacheco is challenging Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Ronald Jones for carries. That is certainly an interesting development and it’s something to monitor over the next few weeks.

Keep up with Breer’s training camp stops here.

More fantasy football reading:

Matthew Stafford’s Elbow Injury Keeps Him Out of Team Drills

Jalen Tolbert’s ADP is on the Rise While Tua Tagovailoa’s Falls

Tim Patrick Done for the Year with ACL Tear

Fantasy Takeaways from the Hall of Fame Game

How Running Back Age Helps Predict Peak Performance

Travis Etienne, Breece Hall Headline Best RB2, RB3 Options

Courtland Sutton, Rashod Bateman Among WR2, WR3 Targets

Our very own Michael Fabiano has been answering user-submitted fantasy questions exclusively for Winners Club subscribers. Follow him on Twitter @Michael_Fabiano for a chance to get your questions answered!

Here’s this week’s Q&A:

@lindy0208: Which round would you draft a quarterback?

Fabiano: In a traditional, one-quarterback league there’s no reason to draft a quarterback in the first 50 picks. Is it nice to have Josh Allen, Justin Herbert or Patrick Mahomes? Of course. But you'll almost certainly take a hit at running back or wide receiver unless you’re in a smaller league. I’d much rather load up on those positions and get a signal-caller in the eighth round or later, where you’ll be able to get some great values. Players like Aaron Rodgers, Dak Prescott, Derek Carr and Trey Lance come to mind.

@jesberger_jim: Would you keep Allen Lazard in a standard league over Justin Jefferson, Chris Godwin, Terry McLaurin, Elijah Moore or Gabe Davis?

Fabiano: Simply put, no. While I do like Lazard to be the top wideout in Green Bay, the list of receivers you mentioned are all far more attractive options. Beyond the obvious, both Moore and Davis could turn into tremendous draft bargains and long-term keepers.

Brian Walker: Which rookie wide receiver will help me win now?

Fabiano: I don’t think there will be a Justin Jefferson or Ja’Marr Chase in this year’s class, but I do like Drake London. The Falcons had a massive need at wide receiver, so the talented rookie out of USC should come right in and see 100-plus targets in the offense.

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In Other News

Premier League Season Starts Today: Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Manchester United, Tottenham and Arsenal have consistently finished near the top of the table in recent years. There’s more intrigue this season around teams beyond the “Big Six” as the season starts.

Alabama Opens with Top-Ranked 2023 Class: Nick Saban’s next Crimson Tide recruiting class leads the way in the rankings, ahead of Ohio State, Notre Dame, Texas and Georgia. See how the top 25 shakes out and which top players make up each program’s commitments.

Steelers Extend Diontae Johnson: Pittsburgh’s fourth-year Pro Bowl pass-catcher signed a two-year extension after posting the best season of his career. The deal averages $18.355 million per year.


Thanks for reading Winners Club! Have a great weekend, and I’ll be back in your inbox first thing Monday morning.

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