By Jordan Marino aka jmarino76

This is a guide that will give you the formula for drafting a winning fantasy football team. The information is coming from the mind of a self-proclaimed fantasy football guru. But don’t let the self proclaimed title discourage you from drafting with my ideas, as I have quite a few titles under my belt. I will give you sleeper picks for 2013, and I will let you in on the secret that drafts me a top seeded team year after year. This article is based on ESPN Standard leagues, but the strategies and sleeper picks are successful in any league.

Let’s start with some potential sleepers at the running back position for the 2013 season. Demarco Murray, ranked number 45 on ESPN, is a guy I’m high on. He is more of an early round steal, than a sleeper, but I would take the Cowboys’ runner over several of the running backs that are ranked ahead of him. With Felix Jones gone, Murray will take complete control of the touches out of the backfield, and I think he will be a top fantasy scorer with the talent that surrounds him in Dallas. I would look to take him in the fourth round, possibly even third just to be sure to lock him up.

Now lets talk about some true sleepers that you’ll find in mid-to-late rounds. There are two rookie runners that should be considered: Eddie Lacy, and Le’Veon Bell. Eddie Lacy is one of two rookies in the Packer backfield and he will earn the bulk of the workload. The Packers haven’t had a 1,000 yard rusher since Ryan Grant in 2009. Eddie Lacy will reach that milestone in 2013. Also, it seems he will get the goal line carries over fellow rookie back, Johnothan Franklin.

In Pittsburg, I see Le’Veon Bell taking carries away from Jonothan Dwyer, who I think failed to prove himself when he had the opportunity last season. Look for Bell to be the man in Pittsburg, and give them a dangerous rushing attack.

 

Eddie Lacy / Le’Veon Bell

I would try to get 1 of these 2 rookies on any fantasy team. When the 7th round comes along, I don’t think you can go wrong with either one.

A RB that I am going to take a chance on for my team is LaMichael James of the 49ers. The good thing about drafting James, is that you can get him with one of your last picks, as he will go undrafted in most drafts – except mine. You shouldn’t let him go undrafted either because an aging Frank Gore will need to sit out a bit more this season, giving LaMichael James more touches. Don’t be surprised if James has a breakout year this season, so don’t let him hit free agency. There is not a lot of risk when you take a player like this so late in the draft. Your starters will be in place, and there will be depth at each position on your roster, so why not take a potential break out player like James.

Now that you have some RBs that you need to draft, let’s look at the wide receiver position. WR is tough because I don’t see enough consistent receivers in the NFL. There’s a lot of players who have had one solid season, but it’s tough to tell if they will do it again. The receivers that consistently have great seasons are the ones ranked in the top 15, and those receivers are gone by round 5. With that being said, I’m going to look at receivers later in the draft like Antonio Brown of the Steelers, and Torrey Smith of the Ravens. Both these guys are in similar situations, where the receiver that was on the other side of them in 2012, is no longer there. This should make them the #1 target for their quarterbacks, boosting their fantasy performance. These 2 wide outs can be taken in the 8th or 9th round.

My sleeper pick for WR, another player that will go undrafted in just about every draft, is Darius Heyward-Bey. He will be playing with a good QB for the first time in his career at his new home in Indianapolis. His speed will give Andrew Luck a deep threat, that could produce double digit touchdowns. I think his potential is worth him drafting in one of the last couple rounds. Again, there’s little risk drafting a player like this in one of the last rounds.

Andrew Luck, with new teammate, Darius Heyward-Bey

Lets briefly talk about quarterbacks. I’m going to give you 1 player to think about, and that is the Bengals’ gunslinger, Andy Dalton. He will make a good back up QB for any fantasy team. Entering his third year, I think he will have a pro bowl year, and I want him as my 2nd QB. Simple as that.

You now have a few sleepers to keep in the back your mind, so lets get into the draft strategy. I have always used this strategy, and that’s because it works! It’s simple; load up at RB and WR the first five rounds, then get a QB. I’ll sacrifice sounding like a nerd in order to prove why this works. If you look at total points from 2012, there were 6 quarterbacks with at least 300 points, and 1 with 290. So the top 7 fantasy scoring QBs can get you approximately 300 points. Now, if you take one of those QBs in the first round, you miss out on a top running back that can get you 230-275 points, and by the time you pick again in the second round you’re looking at a RB/WR from about 160-200 points. (Fantasy drafts are snake format, so if you get 275 points with your first pick, you will have 160 with your next). So with some quick mental math you can see that you would have more points after 2 rounds if you take a QB. However, you fall behind on points from RB/WRs because you picked a QB too early, so the points catch up. Keep in mind there were 7 QBs in 2012 that had roughly 300 points, and you can still get one of the top 7 QBs in the 6th round. That is the key piece of evidence; in round 6 you can still get a top fantasy QB. In conclusion, if you wait on drafting a QB, you will have the most possible total fantasy points from the RB and WR position after 5 picks, and then you can still get a 300 point QB. If you can’t follow along with the numbers, just take my word for it and use at least your first five picks stocking your RB and WR slots.

There you have it, the keys to a championship and bragging rights over your friends. One last piece of advice, don’t get caught up in the rankings, they’re just projections. Go with your gut, and stay unbiased. Don’t just draft players from your favorite team, and don’t ignore players from teams you hate. Draft to win, and have fun!