Fantasy football draft cheat sheet

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This will be a fantasy football draft season like no other, for a number of reasons. The novel coronavirus pandemic means there are no preseason games, which typically offer fantasy GMs constant clues about player usage and sleeper candidates, to say nothing of injury concerns. It’s hard to predict what sort of home-field advantage teams will have this year, as some start the season in empty stadiums and others have significantly reduced capacity. We haven’t seen rookies compete on NFL fields, and it’s nearly impossible to assess star players on new teams, like Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski (Tampa Bay), DeAndre Hopkins (Arizona), Todd Gurley (Atlanta) and Melvin Gordon (Denver). In fact, for these and other reasons, interest in fantasy football appears muted this summer.

Start with a look at what the optimal rosters would be for every squad in a 12-team point-per-reception league if every owner selected the best possible player at every draft spot, based on our 2020 player projections. All the rosters in this draft should outperform an average team in any given week, with most performing at a playoff-caliber level. One hint: Get a jump on the waiver wire with smart deployment of your last few picks. (Read more)

These positional groupings will help you make difficult decisions. For example, there are only three running backs in the top tier and four more in the second tier, but seven running backs are in the third tier, and they will be taken with prime picks in the first, second and possibly even third rounds. (Read more)

Seeking a script to help guide you through the all-important early rounds? We’ve optimized each draft slot to account for player potential, positional scarcity and injury risk — three key factors that help determine your fantasy fate — and explained the potential value of each pick. With the early rounds scripted, you can concentrate on finding steals in the middle of the draft.

Here are The Post’s annual draft rankings, based on next-level point projections that encompass a player’s role in his team’s offense and the projected difficulty of weekly matchups. While six of the top seven players listed are running backs, nearly half of the top 30 players (14) are wide receivers. (Read more)

Here’s an easy way to take our rankings to your draft. Or at least to print them out and stare at them, assuming you’re drafting at home, by yourself, via Zoom. Sigh. (Read more)

1. Lamar Jackson, 2. Patrick Mahomes, 3. Dak Prescott, 4. Kyler Murray, 5. Deshaun Watson, 6. Russell Wilson, 7. Matt Ryan, 8. Josh Allen, 9. Tom Brady, 10. Matthew Stafford, 11. Drew Brees, 12. Carson Wentz.

1. Christian McCaffrey, 2. Ezekiel Elliott, 3. Saquon Barkley, 4. Alvin Kamara, 5. Clyde Edwards-Helaire, 6. Dalvin Cook, 7. Derrick Henry, 8. Kenyan Drake, 9. Nick Chubb, 10. Josh Jacobs, 11. Miles Sanders, 12. Joe Mixon.

1. Michael Thomas, 2. Davante Adams, 3. Julio Jones, 4. Tyreek Hill, 5. DeAndre Hopkins, 6. Chris Godwin, 7. Kenny Golladay, 8. Allen Robinson, 9. Mike Evans, 10. D.J. Moore, 11. Adam Thielen, 12. Amari Cooper.

1. George Kittle, 2. Travis Kelce, 3. Mark Andrews, 4. Zach Ertz, 5. Darren Waller, 6. Evan Engram, 7. Hunter Henry, 8. Rob Gronkowski, 9. Mike Gesicki, 10. Tyler Higbee, 11. Hayden Hurst, 12. T.J. Hockenson.

Draft day debates and top strategy tips

Want more data before deciding how to handle the top few picks of the first round? Here’s a breakdown of the most likely choices, starting with the consensus top pick, Christian McCaffrey, who easily projects as the top-scoring fantasy running back. If you take anyone but McCaffrey — and we have a few options — you can expect plenty of guffaws. (Read more)

While some of these risers are big names who will be taken near the start of the draft, others will come much later, including running backs Antonio Gibson and Zack Moss, who have both skyrocketed from being projected 14th-round picks into projected ninth-round picks. At the top, Pittsburgh’s James Conner is a big mover, and is now going near the end of the second round. (Read more)

The Zero RB strategy, which advocates steering clear of running backs until the fifth or sixth round, was once a novel approach to fantasy football drafts. Then it became trendy. Now, because of the projected dynamics of 2020 fantasy drafts, it’s a poor choice that should be avoided. Instead, make sure you select the best running back you can in the first three rounds, and don’t be afraid to grab two or even three. (Read more)

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