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PF Daily: Fantasy Football Tutorial Series: Beginner

Basic strategies

Back to Tutorial Series Index page

So you now know what fantasy football is and how the different types of leagues, scoring rules and starting lineup requirements will impact your decisions in the draft and the season. You are on your way to a successful fantasy season by just having a firm grasp on your league rules and structure. There are multiple strategies to select heading into your draft and I will break down some of those strategies below.

Stud Running Back Theory

(breakdown based on a 12-team, start 1QB, 2RB, 3WR, TE, K, DEF)

One of the first 'mainstream' strategies that took the fantasy circles by storm was the 'Stud RB Theory'. Up until the explosion of this theory, quarterbacks in many standards leagues were the first to go off the board because they scored the most points. The Stud RB theory changed that thinking. The basic mantra behind this theory was simple:

'The running back stable will empty quicker than both quarterback and receiver and therefore loading up on running backs early will help this owner (a)Secure depth and (b)Get assets to trade on the roster.

An owner back in the day (even today really) following this strategy would load up on the position by drafting a running back in the first four rounds. Not only would this owner have great depth at running back but also selecting running backs can cause other owners to panic and reach for running backs that maybe are not as talented as your own.

The problem with this system is you can only start two running backs in any one week and you have put yourself behind the eight ball at receiver and tight end. Sure you have running back depth and trading is a possibility but the smart owner going against owners doing this will load up for bear at quarterback, receiver and tight end and look for steals at the running back position once the owners shift to receiver. Stud running back theory can definitely work and is a viable option but it isn't the best option to lock yourself into four running backs without being flexible and watching for value in the draft.

Value Based Drafting

(breakdown based on a 12-team, start 1QB, 2RB, 3WR, TE, K, DEF)

Originally penned by Joe Bryant, Value based drafting simply put means to take the best available player regardless of position. This system took advantage of the 'Stud RB Theory' by not allowing an owner to panic and to take the best player on the board. In it's purest form, this strategy could result in 2 quarterbacks taken in first two rounds, or four straight receivers to begin a draft which also is not ideal. The best way to use Value Based Drafting is to put stipulations into it such as 'If drafting a quarterback in first round, do not take another one until round ten unless exceptional value on the board.'

It is a more dependable system than the Stud RB Theory as you often will have better starting strength using Value Based Drafting.

SFS Draft (Starters First Success Draft)

(breakdown based on a 12-team, start 1QB, 2RB, 3WR, TE, K, DEF)

Our own strategy here at Pro Football Daily uses a hybrid of value based drafting along with getting the starters in place at QB, RB, WR, and TE. The key to success, dominating in head to head leagues is not roster depth but rather starting lineup strength at the major positions. Always wait to draft a kicker and team defense until the final few rounds of your draft. Those two are crapshoots and not worth early picks.

So in this strategy it is simply, picked the best player on your draft sheet when your pick comes up regardless of position (QB, RB, WR, TE). Once you have selected the number of starters at the particular position, you will ignore that position until all the rest of the mentioned positions are filled. Following this system in this particular league, by round seven, you will have your starting lineup in place with solid strength in each area. Then in the next several rounds you will begin adding depth, starting in your weakest position. By round thirteen or so, your roster should have a strong starting group and good depth players.


Round 1: QB Aaron Rodgers (Do not take another quarterback until at least round 11 - first player is quarterback so last backup (from round 8 to 11) taken will be a quarterback. If you take a quarterback in round one you are hitching your wagon to him in every week.
Round 2: RB Arian Foster (one of your two starters)
Round 3: WR A.J. Green (one of the three starters
Round 4: RB C.J. Anderson (your second running back starter)
Round 5: TE Greg Olsen (your starting tight end)
Round 6: WR Julian Edelman (2nd of your three starting receivers)
Round 7: WR Vincent Jackson (your final starter)

So after seven rounds, you have managed to set up your starting group with just seven picks

Quarterback - Aaron Rodgers
Running backs - Arian Foster, C.J. Anderson
Receivers - A.J. Green, Julian Edelman, Vincent Jackson
Tight End - Greg Olsen

You are now in a good place going forward, simply adding depth for the next several rounds. Following this season will always put you into the top tier of the league in terms of initial chances. The key after round seven is to secure strong depth in the right order.

Taking a quarterback in round one, I honestly would not take my backup until at least 24 quarterbacks are already off the board. Same with the tight end position. Instead for next six rounds, load up at running back and receiver and you will be on the way to your Successful fantasy draft.

All three strategies listed above can work but the best strategy, that puts your team in the best place every single time in the third option above. By getting your starters locked in through the first part of the draft, your starting lineup will be amongst the toughest to defeat on a weekly basis.