By: Luke Grilli

Everytime I head into a start up dynasty draft I am always intrigued by the idea of taking a top tier QB and TE in the first two rounds. Seeing what Drew Brees and Rob Gronkowski put up on a weekly basis makes both of them worthy of an early round pick, but get that stupid idea out of your head and let some other guy make that mistake.

2013 is an amazing year to have your start up draft in a Dynasty Fantasy Football League. The amount of depth at RB1, QB and TE is unlike any I can remember from the past few years. Seriously, look at the ADP  from the first round of a 12 team league. Doug Martin, Trent Richardon, LeSean McCoy, Adrian Peterson, Ray Rice, Arian Foster, CJ Spiller, Jamaal Charles and Marshawn Lynch. There are 9 players that will put up RB1 numbers for at least 2-3 years (less any injuries of course). Those 9 players also make up 75% of the first round.

Analyzing the first round in 2013, I firmly believe that if you have picks 1.01-1.08, you should take a RB…no ifs ands or buts about it (only RB I wouldn’t take over Calvin Johnson or AJ Green at this time is Marshawn Lynch. But that is a whole other story). It would be great to have Calvin Johnson or AJ Green, but the drop off from RB1 to RB2 is pretty dramatic. With that being said, it would be risky to pass on a RB, in favor of Calvin or AJ early in Round 1, and hope that a second tier RB  falls to you late. If you take a look at the ADP example again, the owner with pick 1.01 grabbed Calvin Johnson, but then had to roll with David Wilson at 2.12. David Wilson is a great prospect, but I wouldn’t want to bet my franchise on him as my RB1.

Say the owner with 1.01 took Trent Richardson, Doug Martin or any of the other RBs available, they could have taken their choice of Michael Crabtree, Roddy White or Larry Fitzgerald if they went the receiver route at 2.12. Personally, I would have grabbed Fitzgerald and laughed my way to the bank. Taking into account Richardson’s improved offensive situation and Fitzgerald’s new QB situation, I feel confident that that duo outscores Calvin Johnson and the unknown David Wilson.

Which leads me to my next point, if you miss out on one of these top tier RBs in the 1st round, don’t panic. Calmly draft one of the stud WR1’s (Calvin, AJ Green, Julio, Dez etc…) and grab your RB1 on the way back down. Alfred Morris and Matt Forte will happily be waiting for you in the second round.

To better set up my argument, I wanted to give you an example of how I think you should start the draft out. Sure, Andrew Luck will be an awesome fantasy asset for the next decade, but don’t reach for him in the 2nd or 3rd round, when guys like Matthew Stafford, Russell Wilson, RG3 or Matt Ryan are available in Rounds 5-6 or later.

Over the past few years, I have started using a draft technique of RB, WR, WR, RB, QB/WR, QB/WR. Obviously, I have to tweak this strategy based on where other owners take their players, but this is generally the outline I use heading into my drafts. For this example, I am using the 1.05 spot in a 12 team PPR league with a snaking draft. This is what the teams could look like  if I use the ADP Data from DFW.

Team 1 Taking a RB in the First Round Team 2 Taking a QB in the 2nd Round Team 3 Taking a TE in the 2nd Round
1.05 Ray Rice RB 1.05 Ray Rice RB 1.05 Ray Rice RB
2.08 Percy Harvin WR 2.08 Aaron Rodgers QB 2.08 Jimmy Graham TE
3.05 DeMarco Murray RB 3.05 Larry Fitzgerald WR 3.05 Larry Fitzgerald WR
4.08 Dwayne Bowe WR 4.08 Steven Jackson RB 4.08 Steven Jackson RB
5.05 Antonio Brown WR 5.05 Antonio Brown WR 5.05 Antonio Brown WR
6.08 Matt Ryan QB 6.08 Jeremy Maclin WR 6.08 Matt Ryan QB
7.05 DeAndre Hopkins WR 7.05 Vick Ballard RB 7.05 Danario Alexander WR
8.08 Tony Gonzalez TE 8.08 Tony Gonzalez TE 8.08 DeSean Jackson WR
9.05 Rashard Mendenhall RB 9.05 Keenan Allen WR 9.05 Rashard Mendenhall RB
10.08 Dwayne Allen TE 10.08 Dwayne Allen TE 10.08 Bernard Pierce RB

In my eyes, Team 1 is a well balanced team that has the right mix of youth, talent and upside. In your Start Up Draft, you don’t want to focus solely on youth, but younger players have far more value than guys on their way out. I am concerned with DeMarco Murray holding up a whole year, but Rashard Mendenhall should prove solid depth if DeMarco goes down. Plus, I can grab the Dallas back up RB in later rounds if necessary. Percy Harvin is not your prototypical WR1, but prior to his season ending injury in 2012, he was a Top 5 PPR WR. To round out the WR corps Dwayne Bowe and Antonio Brown should produce as quality WR2s. Matt Ryan in the 6th round is highway robbery. With the weapons surrounding him (and the addition of Steven Jackson) and the fact that he is only 28, Matty Ice will continue to put up Top 5 QB numbers for the next 7-8 years. Also, this team is set up for the present and the future. Tony Gonzalez will hold down the TE spot in 2013, but in 2014 and beyond, Dwayne Allen will have blossomed into a bonafide TE1 in my opinion. DeAndre Hopkins will play the role as WR4, but he also should seamlessly move into this starting lineup within the next 2 years.

Team 2 has a great deal of top end talent, but how long will that talent be around for? Fitzgerald is 30 at the beginning of the season and entering his 11th year in the NFL. How much does he have left in the tank? Same goes with Steven Jackson. Both should put up great numbers in 2013, but their shelf life is in question. I also am concerned with Team 2’s receivers as a whole. I like Antonio Brown as a WR3, but not as a WR2. Jeremy Maclin took a step back in 2012 and was more of a WR4 than the WR3, as drafted to this team. At TE, Team 2 took the same approach as Team 1. Take Gonzo for the short term and roll will Dwayne Allen long term.

Team 3 is my least favorite in this example. All the issues that Team 2 had are there with Team 3. Fitz and Jackson are getting up there in years and Antonio Brown is the WR2. Matt Ryan, again, is a steal in the 6th round, but the WR3 is lacking. Danario Alexander showed us what he is capable of in 2012, but we all know the question marks surrounding him after the plethora of knee surgeries he has undergone. The other option at WR3 is DeSean Jackson. In a PPR league, his value as a boom or bust guy takes a major hit. Again, he is not someone I would want to rely on week to week. Jimmy Graham is an upgrade from Dwayne Allen long term, but that upgrade is not worth the hit to the WRs and age issues facing this team.

Here is the list of DFW’s Top 12 QBs and TEs according to the ADP Data. Those bolded and underlined, you have my permission to draft.

2.08 Aaron Rodgers QB1 2.06 Jimmy Graham TE1
3.12 Drew Brees QB2 2.07 Rob Gronkowski TE2
4.02 Andrew Luck QB3 4.08 Aaron Hernandez TE3
4.04 Cam Newton QB4 5.11 Jason Witten TE4
5.02 Tom Brady QB5 6.08 Kyle Rudolph TE5
5.03 Colin Kaepernick QB6 7.04 Vernon Davis TE6
6.06 Matthew Stafford QB7 9.01 Tony Gonzalez TE7
6.09 Robert Griffin III QB8 9.10 Tyler Eifert (rookie) TE8
6.12 Matt Ryan QB9 9.11 Dennis Pitta TE9
7.06 Russell Wilson QB10 9.12 Jordan Cameron TE10
7.08 Peyton Manning QB11 11.01 Dwayne Allen TE11
8.03 Tony Romo QB12 11.02 Greg Olsen TE12

I wouldn’t suggest waiting until the 8th round for Romo. Good player, but I believe that the players in the 6th and 7th offer more upside than Romo does. If you wait until the 8th for a QB and take a  RB/WR/TE in the 6th, the tradeoff wouldn’t be worth it.
-Don’t be afraid of taking Peyton Manning because he is a trillion years old. If you do steal him in the 7th, be sure to draft a player fringe QB1s like Andy Dalton or Eli Manning a few rounds later.
-I know I said to wait until the 6th for a QB, but if you KNOW you can get a solid WR in the 6th and Kaepernick is sitting there in the 5th…well you gotta pull the trigger on Kaep.
-I’m not sold on Jordan Cameron just yet. Wait to take him as you TE2 if possible.

In conclusion: Load up on as many RBs and WRs that you can in the first five rounds. These rounds are where you will find the positional players worth starting week to week. A lot of the RB/WR taken after round five will start to have scary question marks or severely lack in upside. Don’t forget, you can get significant value in both the short term and the long term at QB and TE past the fifth round.

As always, let me know how you feel about this strategy in the comments or on Twitter. We all have different opinions and drafting styles…and that is what makes this game so much fun!