Snake Drafts: Position of Power July 9, 2012  |  Jeff

The 30 minute warning before a snake draft is a very stressful moment in the life of a fake footballer. Apprehensively clicking the “Enter Live Draft” icon and diving head first into a fantasy football draft room means that the player is about to find out the critical piece of information that will shape the upcoming fantasy campaign: draft position. There are varying schools of thought in regards to the most preferred draft slot in a snake draft. Some folks enjoy the top selection, others favor taking two of the top 13 players at “the turn,” and then there is the camp that would rather be slotted in the middle of the draft, in order to get a top tier player in round one, but not sit out too long before pick number two. The answer to this riddle lies, of course, in the season’s player pool. So, which seat in 2012 drafts is the Position of Power? Let’s find out by answering a few simple questions:

Who do I target?

The available talent when a team is “on the clock” in the first two rounds generally shapes which draft position is most beneficial. With the right early round selections, a team can stabilize its foundation while feasting on middle-late round value to make the strongest possible squad. In 2012 drafts, two groups of players have begun the march into uncharted territory, with quarterbacks and tight ends being selected earlier than ever. However, two factors illustrate that early round fantasy success can be found elsewhere. First, the quarterback and tight end positions have extreme late round value (check out our tiered rankings if you don’t believe me!). Second, we all have been enlightened on the topic of Value Based Drafting (VBD) by Zen Master Chet, and we know that elite running backs provide the most value compared to their drafted counterparts.

The next step is to give those knuckles a crack and dig into the latest average draft position (ADP) data to find out where the best duo of top running backs can be landed. Courtesy of, we find that our top two tiers of running backs generally last through pick number 10 in the first round of a snake draft. Clearly there is a benefit to selecting in the top three, due to the skills of the Foster/Rice/McCoy trio, but drafting a back at the bottom of the second tier means a team can secure another beastly ball carrier in a matter of a few picks. By selecting a player like Chris Johnson, Darren McFadden, or Maurice Jones-Drew at pick 9 or 10, teams will get to double dip into the quickly evaporating pool of quality running backs in the second round.

Current ADP data shows that backs in the Richardson/Lynch/Murray/Forte region will be available from picks 12-16, which will make a fearsome tandem of backs to build upon. Furthermore, the team that selected Arian Foster at pick #1 would have to choose between a running back on the Fred or Steven Jackson level, or draft another position in the 2nd round, which means having to start running backs from the dregs of the pack each week. We can safely conclude that picking from a slot in the 7-10 region of the first round will put a team in the best possible position to lock up elite backs early in drafts and capitalize on positional depth in later rounds.

OK! I get it! What’s next?

Now, after selecting your second headline running back, you can’t rip open a bag of Funyuns and set your team on “auto pick.” In order to complete a well balanced team that will bring fantasy titles by the bucket full, careful attention needs to be paid to the middle rounds. This is where a quarterback selection of Tony Romo (5th round), Eli Manning or Philip Rivers (6th round), or Matt Ryan (7th round) can keep a roster competitive at the QB position, while elite backs dismantle opposing teams each Sunday. But don’t get distracted by that Rubik’s Cube on your coffee table and miss the boat, or you will be cheering for Mark Sanchez to lead your fantasy team. Also keep a lookout for late round tight ends to compliment your other starters. Undervalued producers like Fred Davis (7th round), Jacob Tamme (8th round), and Brent Celek/Jared Cook (12th round), would all look mighty fine next to a set of power backs and a solid quarterback.

Oh yeah? Prove it!

After having the disadvantage of drafting at either the #1 or #12 slots in many mock drafts, I recently got a chance to draft from a power spot in’s 2012 Industry Mock Draft. Drafting from the #9 position, I was able to grab Darren McFadden along with DeMarco Murray in the first two rounds to start things off. These two studs were followed by two solid receiver targets in Hakeem Nicks and Dez Bryant in rounds three and four. In round five, I was able to grab a great quarterback at a very reasonable price, in Philip Rivers. To round out my group of starters, I selected big Vernon Davis in round six to compliment my other top level producers. In hindsight, I should have waited even longer to take a tight end, as Brent Celek lasted a few more rounds, but a foundation of Rivers/McFadden/Murray/Nicks/Bryant/Davis is an excellent way to begin a draft and should make a competitive team throughout the 2012 season.


Stay tuned to The Fake Football for more in-depth strategery discussion as draft season approaches!

10 Responses

  1. Cjamesb says:

    I have this commish in my league that loves to booze and make outlandish bets on draft day. For example: he bet that Jermichael Finley would out score Brandon Marshall (.5 PPR) in FF last year. Needless to say he lost. The payout generally is new fantasy football team gear. I would love a new hat to go with my jersey. Anything come to mind that might be a good trap bet to throw his way after about a dozen or so beers?

  2. Jeff says:

    @Josh S: Ya, that is tough. As far as RBs go, you are going to probably be left in the Fred/Steven Jackson, Ahmad Bradshaw range unless you get lucky and someone slides to your spot (assuming 12 teamer). I don’t think SJax or Bradshaw are too bad if you are set on going RB. Ive got Bradshaw ranked slightly higher. Then with your other pick, maybe you get a good bounce and one of the top 2 TE may fall to you, or you could grab a nice WR in the Green/Marshall/Jennings/Nicks range.

  3. Josh S says:

    I drew the 1st pick for the first time ever this year and it sucks!! Any ideas on what I should pair with Foster at the 2/3 turn?Wanna go RB/RB but not loving S Jax. Ugh. Hate to go QB that early too. It may be the worst pick this year. Help!

  4. Jeff says:

    @Jim Day: But then again, those risky RBs are now your 2nd and 3rd round picks in that scenario. I guess the overall questionable depth at RB supports both of us, as you would rather get a top TE to avoid the risk at the top, and I’d rather back fill TE to avoid the risk in the middle. It will be interesting to see how the value in the 1st couple rounds plays out this season with guys from every position being selected with high picks…should be fun.

  5. Jeff says:

    @Jim Day: The idea isn’t dependent on those two running backs (DMC/Murray), those are just the two I went with. You could conceivably pick any 2 RB in the top12-15 or so, if you like different ones better. I understand that those two have injury issues, but the fact you get 2 RB is the point. As far as the top tier TEs, I agree, those two guys are awesome, but each time I have snagged one of them in the 2nd round, I have felt much worse about my RB situation after the draft, than if I would have had a Davis/Celek/Pettigrew type as my TE. I guess it all boils down to your confidence in filling out your RB slots in the middle rounds, and I don’t really like that crop too much this year.

    @Rumford Johnny: Ya, the mid-late TE and QB options are far more appealing to me than the mid-late round RBs as well.

    • Jim Day says:

      I have grabbed Gronk or Graham in plenty of drafts already and can still come back and grab 2 very solid RBs in rounds 2 and 3.

      Too many risks with all of the RBs left after the 1st 3 for me to like.

  6. Rumford Johnny says:

    I’m with Jeff on the RB/RB strategy. Too much value late at TE & even QB, to not attack the RB spot early.

  7. Jim Day says:

    Jeff, that looks great on paper, but McFadden is a serious injury risk who has had only one season in the top 10 and Murray had 5 productive games last year and also missed time to injury.

    How are these two players better value than a top tier TE, meaning Graham or Gronk only, that have far separated themselves from the pack?

    I’m sorry, but I just don’t buy it.

    • Oedipa says:

      Jeff’s right. If he’s not your preference, he’s not your preference. But if McFadden puts together a healthy year, it’s real easy to envision him as the #1 RB in the league. Get the handcuff (whoever that might be) and you’re golden. I won 2 out of my three leagues last year and what did those two have in common? McFadden/Bush.

      • Jim Day says:

        @Jeff: Totally agree on the fun part, but this time of year the fun is in the discussion.

        @Oedipa: Except who is the handcuff this year? Right now we have no clue.

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