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These players have a great chance to outperform their DRAFT projection.
Ezekiel Elliott – RB – Dallas (DRAFT Projection: 16.0)
Elliott is a bit nicked-up right now, but all reports at publication time (Wednesday afternoon) suggest he’ll be ready for another full workload on Sunday Night Football. That’s good news for Zeke’s fantasy outlook, especially considering a surge in momentum following last week’s beautiful 240 total yard performance. The matchup is tougher this time around at Houston, but Elliott should see plenty of touches to piece together another 100-150 yard performances with 1-2 touchdowns. DRAFT currently has him ranked as the seventh best running back, which I believe should be elevated to fourth at his position and overall (see the top 10 section below).
Antonio Brown – WR – Pittsburgh (DRAFT Projection: 14.8)
Antonio Brown hasn’t had a boomin’ performance this season, relative to his own lofty standards. He still checks in as my top overall wide receiver, and here’s why: 1) Pittsburgh’s defense is bad. The Steelers will likely find themselves in catch-up mode with Matt Ryan this weekend, which helps the fantasy outlook of AB and the passing game. 2) The targets are there. Big Ben was erratic last game, but eventually this duo will find the connection of previous seasons. 3) Atlanta’s secondary has injuries, leading them to allow the fifth most fantasy points to opposing receivers.
A.J. Green – WR – Cincinnati (DRAFT Projection: 12.7)
Green always seems somewhat underrated on DRAFT, doesn’t he? From what I can remember, he sure gets a lot of run in these DRAFT NFL Strategy articles. This week is no exception, as this default DRAFT projection has Green listed as the 15th ranked receiver. In my opinion, he easily belongs in the top ten of his position, maybe even flirting with the seventh or eighth spot. The matchup looks good against a Dolphins team that failed their first true test against a quality offense in Tom Brady and the Patriots. Andy Dalton is playing some of the best football of his career, which inherently gives Green a substantial fantasy boost.
These players may not live up to their DRAFT projection.
Tyreek Hill – WR – Kansas City (DRAFT Projection: 15.2)
Hill’s production has waned over the past few weeks, and he’s looking at his toughest test of the season vs a strong Jacksonville defense. Chiefs QB, Patrick Mahomes, may have a difficult time finding Tyreek down the field with a heavy pass rush in his face while throwing into one of the best secondary units in the league. In my opinion, this game has Travis Kelce written all over it, as Mahomes has been peppering him with targets over the middle recently. That should continue … Tyreek Hill has the potential to bust a huge play and provide immediate fantasy value, but the chances of that happening against Jacksonville drastically decrease relative to your average week. DRAFT has Hill ranked as the fourth wide receiver of this slate, and I believe you can downgrade him somewhere closer to 10th at the position. I’m generally letting someone else draft him too early in most of my leagues.
Cooper Kupp – WR – LA Rams (DRAFT Projection: 14.2)
Jared Goff and Cooper Kupp enjoyed career outings despite a difficult matchup last Thursday vs Minnesota. Kupp undoubtedly has upside within this explosive Rams’ offense, but you are likely playing roulette with which playmaker racks up the most stats. Gurley, Kupp, Cooks, and Woods were all able to post strong fantasy lines last week, but that won’t be the case routinely. Kupp makes for a reasonable WR2 in most draft sizes, but his default projection of 14.2 FP (ranking sixth among WRs) may be too bold. I’d easily take Beckham, Green, Allen, and Thielen over him – all of which are projected lower on DRAFT. I’m putting Kupp in a tier similar to receivers like Smith-Schuster, Adams, Tate, Diggs, and Cooks.
Eric Ebron – WR/TE – Indianapolis (DRAFT Projection: 12.9) *Thursday*
If you are playing the Thursday slate, you’ll want to take note of how overrated Eric Ebron is. Sure, he’s seeing plenty of targets while Andrew Luck keeps his focus on the short-to-intermediate routes. However, I believe Ebron’s ceiling is limited to 5-60-1 for 14.5 fantasy points. That’s not a bad score, but I’m more interested in a receiver who has realistic upside of at least double that. Ebron is good for salary cap sites that force you to use one tight end, but I’m not looking towards him with the option of WR/TE on DRAFT. Receivers like Tate, Diggs, and Green all have similar projections – and I’m much more willing to look their way.
Top 10 Overall. My strategy has stayed pretty true throughout this season: looking to load up on an elite running back early. That continues to be the plan, as wide receiver and quarterback have plenty of depth and parity to take a patient approach. I’m looking at stacking two of the top six RBs (shown below) if possible. Of course, that will greatly depend on your league size.
- Todd Gurley – RB
- Melvin Gordon – RB
- Alvin Kamara – RB
- Ezekiel Elliott – RB
- Saquon Barkley – RB
- Antonio Brown – WR
- Julio Jones – WR
- Christian McCaffrey – RB
- DeAndre Hopkins – WR
- Michael Thomas – WR
Quarterback Rankings. As mentioned earlier, there is so much parity at quarterback on a week-to-week basis. The following rankings are not intended to be used as hard-fast rules, which is why I also included tiers to paint a better picture while splitting hairs between these signal callers. Newton, Watson, and Ryan headline the position in my opinion, as the former two have excellent upside through a combination of running and throwing, while Ryan is looking at a tasty matchup at Pittsburgh.
- Cam Newton – Tier 1
- Matt Ryan – Tier 1
- Deshaun Watson – Tier 1
- Drew Brees – Tier 1
- Philip Rivers – Tier 1
- Tom Brady (Thursday) – Tier 2
- Aaron Rodgers – Tier 2
- Ben Roethlisberger – Tier 2
- Patrick Mahomes – Tier 3
- Jared Goff – Tier 3
- Andy Dalton – Tier 3
RB Joe Mixon (CIN) underrated. If you are looking for a RB2 to round out your lineup in deeper leagues, Mixon could be the answer. At the time of writing this (Wednesday afternoon), the Bengals and surrounding media seem optimistic that Mixon will return this week. Meanwhile, fellow RB Gio Bernard is missing practice with injury. I’m going to flip their projections, boosting Mixon to 13.7 FP where Bernard currently sits. Don’t be surprised if DRAFT elevates Mixon later in the week. You should probably be doing that anyway.
UPDATE: Sure enough, Bernard has been downgraded, while Mixon has been upgraded to a 15.6 FP projection.
WR Calvin Ridley (ATL) underrated. Ridley is buried in the WR/TE player pool, which provides a nice advantage to those in the know. He’s a nice WR2 in deeper leagues while holding a far-to-low projection of only 8.6 FP. Ridley has been on fire with 15 receptions, 264 yards, and six TD over his past three games. This is an excellent matchup to keep him going, facing a generous Pittsburgh defense with a hot QB throwing his way.
Updated for injuries, weather, etc will be posted here throughout the week – highlighting the DRAFT consequences of each situation.
Chris Thompson as another sneaky-good RB2 pick? He’s certainly worth considering in deeper leagues. Adrian Peterson is banged up, and Thompson could benefit from more playing time with a potential shootout in New Orleans. He’s a solid fantasy candidate to fall back towards if you are in need of rounding out your RB position. He’s underrated at 10.0 FP on DRAFT, also one of the few players without a display picture – which may lead to some subconsciously passing over him. Note on Wed 10-3 @ 2 ET.