There it is. That is my favorite piece of content to produce all year and also my most popular piece of content every year. Then again, there’s not a lot of clamoring for my content, so the competition is low. But yes, the 2015 Flow Chart is here.
You can also find our PPR version of the flow chart here.
The idea here is that you can take the chart above into your draft and just follow a track all the way down the chart throughout your draft. The chart is designed for use in 12-team standard leagues with the following 16 roster slots: QB RB RB WR WR TE FLEX K D/ST BN BN BN BN BN BN BN. I’ll try to get a PPR chart out next week.
In years prior the chart has been geared toward ESPN ADP, but I never had a complaint from a Yahoo user that the chart didn’t work on that platform. But this year I’ve designed the chart based on a mashup of ESPN and Yahoo ADP thanks to FantasyPros. There could be a guy or three mentioned as a target in a certain round that might not be available at that point on one of the platforms, but I’m positive someone else I mention as a target in that round (or even a round prior) will be available for you to select. And if you don’t draft on ESPN or Yahoo, whether that be on another site or in person with league mates, the chart will still work for you. After you draft, feel free to leave your roster in the comments, and I’ll let you know what I think.
Before we get into the rounds and the names, let’s talk general strategy. I’m admittedly a fan of the whole zero-RB thing. With this being a standard league, I don’t lean nearly as heavily in that direction, but my preferred path would be the one above on the far right of the chart in which you take a receiver in each of the first two rounds. But in a snake draft you can’t have that as an absolute strategy. If you end up with a pick in the top half of the first round, going WR-WR to start is not a good idea because a) I’m still a bit hesitant not to take a back in the top five of a non-PPR league, and b) because I think backs are more likely to be the smarter selection very late in the second round.
My rationale for liking the zero-RB trend and adapting that here to recommending that you not start your draft RB-heavy is fairly simple. I believe you need to have talent and opportunity to have fantasy value at the receiver position whereas a running back can have value with just opportunity. Obviously a back has more value and can maintain value longer if he also has talent, but being talented is not necessarily a prerequisite to having value as a back.
There will be guys from both positions selected late in drafts (or not selected at all) who will turn out to be significant values. But in any draft since the beginning of time, whether a real entry-level draft or a fantasy draft, the odds of selecting a talented player drop, often significantly, the later you get into the draft. And because having talent is something I want out of my receivers, I’m not going to forego them in the early rounds.
I’m also a subscriber to the whole late round QB/TE and streaming strategies. More people are on that bandwagon now than they were a few years ago, but in any league I’ve ever played in with non-experts, there are always several people, if not a majority of them, who over-value quarterbacks and sometimes tight ends. If you like to take QBs and TEs early, this flow chart isn’t for you.
All players listed in each round are listed in the order in which I would prefer to select them compared to other players at their position. Remember, if someone listed in a previous round is still available, they’re preferable to someone listed in a later round. If you’re dense or if I’m articulating this poorly, that means anyone listed in round two who is still available in round three is preferable to anyone listed in round three.
Alright, enough preamble.
If you have the ability to select your draft position, pick as late as you can. But if you end up picking in the top five, things could get tricky for you. If you’re right at the top of the first round, the second round pick is going to be the tough part. But if you’re picking up there, I like Le’Veon Bell and Eddie Lacy the most. I simply prefer to avoid the older backs, and Bell and Lacy are 23 and 25, respectively. The other guys going in the top five on average are Adrian Peterson (30), Jamaal Charles (29) and Marshawn Lynch (29). If you can’t get Bell or Lacy, then I’d go with a receiver. I do like C.J. Anderson (24) and Jeremy Hill (22), but I have slight concerns about their workload, so I’d go with a receiver over them.
As for which receivers I think are first-round worthy, Antonio Brown obviously fits that bill. If he’s there and Bell and Lacy are gone, Brown is your man. While not the big receiver I typically prefer, I love his usage as he was second in the league last year with 181 targets. The only receiver who saw more targets is the other receiver I’d be looking for in the first round, Demaryius Thomas. If there wasn’t some risk associated with Peyton Manning, I’d probably like Thomas more than Brown.
If Bell, Lacy, Brown and Thomas are all gone, you can reconsider Hill and Anderson, but I’d probably prefer Dez Bryant. He was third behind Brown and Thomas last year in terms of team target percentage. If for some reason all seven of those guys are gone, I’d probably go Odell Beckham, Jr. at that point. But I’d expect one of those seven guys to be there even with one of the last two picks in the first round.
The odds are good that you’re going to be picking a receiver in the second round. There’s only one scenario in which I can see you being forced to take a back in the second round. If you have pick three or four in the first round and both Bell and Lacy are gone forcing you to take Brown that high, you might then be forced to go running back at the end of round two.
The receivers I like who have an ADP in round two are, in this order, Odell Beckham, Jr., Jordy Nelson, Calvin Johnson, and Julio Jones. If they’re all gone, you either have to settle for Randall Cobb or go for a running back. The backs I like in round two are, assuming Anderson and Hill are gone, Lamar Miller, Alfred Morris and Mark Ingram. Those guys are really third round picks, but you might be forced to go there in a worst case scenario.
From here through round six you’re either taking a receiver or running back, so I’ll just go round-by-round and list the guys I like in each round who have an ADP in or near that round. When we get to round seven, we’ll get back to the commentary.
WR: Mike Evans
RB: Carlos Hyde
Alright, if you simply can’t wait on a quarterback, here’s your chance to grab one. Prior to this point, I really don’t see any value in a quarterback. But here Ryan Tannehill and, to a lesser extent, Eli Manning appear to have some value. If Cam Newton, Tony Romo or Matt Ryan were to fall this far, I’d go that route, but I don’t expect that to be the case. For me, the only likely consideration here is Tannehill.
But let’s be honest, if you’re the type of fantasy owner who doesn’t want to wait longer than the seventh round to take a quarterback, you’re probably the kind of owner who isn’t going to like the idea of having Tannehill or Eli as your quarterback. And to be honest, I don’t like that idea either. So, absent someone falling to me, I’ll wait until later to take a QB. Why don’t you join me in the waiting game? If you wait, I promise I’ll let you take two quarterbacks later on down the road.
We’re back to just receivers and running backs for the next four rounds. See you in round 12.
Alright, if you’ve waited this long, it’s finally time to take a quarterback.
The guy I prefer here is Colin Kaepernick. I understand that may not be a name you’re in love with, but it’s the 11th round and this is the type of guy that is available. We’re only one year removed from Kaep being a top ten quarterback yet his ADP is 20th among QBs. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to see the value potential there.
Of course, maybe he doesn’t bounce back at all from last year. But even if he doesn’t he was still the 17th best fantasy QB last year. I understand that you’re not looking to draft the 17th best fantasy QB even if his price is that of the 20th, but there’s value potential here. Perhaps I’ll take a deeper look at Kaep before the season starts in a separate post. But all you need to know for know is that there’s upside at this price point.
If someone has snagged Kaepernick by this point, look to Sam Bradford in Chip Kelly’s offense.
If you already took your QB, look to grab a running back mentioned previously.
Tight end time. I don’t think Delanie Walker will last this long, but if he does, snatch him up. The Titans have a lot of raw talent on offense, and a reliable old guy like Delanie could be the benefactor of growing pains elsewhere at the skill positions. If Walker is gone, I’d look to Larry Donnell and then Heath Miller if necessary.
If you waited until Round 12 to grab your QB, take a flier on someone else here. Be careful not to hold on too tightly to either QB you draft. Part of the idea of waiting on QB is to stream them week-to-week if one of them doesn’t break out and return significant value. The guys I’d be taking a shot on are Robert Griffin III and Jay Cutler. If there’s someone else available this late that you think has more upside, feel free to roll with them.
Pick a kicker. Pick a defense. I don’t really care which ones. For kickers, lean towards guys ranked the highest on whatever platform you play on who play on teams with good offenses and possibly have a dome as a home stadium. As for your defense, take a look at the Week 1 schedule and pick a team with a good matchup to start the season. Then stream week-to-week after that.