Best Draft Position (08/17/15)

By John Ewing Director of Research and Analytics @johnewing
Which draft position produces the best team?

Are you preparing for a fantasy football draft? Of course you are, we all live for fantasy football! To make drafting easier and to help you dominate your league we provide, for free, the Mock Draft Machine.

The Draft Machine allows for the creation of mock drafts as well as an innovative evaluation process to determine which players to select and which teams are drafting well.

Utilizing the evaluation process, we are able to determine which draft position produces the best team in a variety of leagues. The draft evaluation process provides rankings for both the regular season as well as the full season including the playoffs. Also, fantasy point projections for both the regular and full season as well.

We evaluated four of the most popular fantasy leagues: 10 Team League with Standard Scoring, 10 Team League with Point Per Reception (PPR) Scoring, 12 Team League with Standard Scoring, 12 Team League with PPR Scoring.

In addition to the size and scoring settings, all four leagues start one quarterback, two running backs, three receivers, one tight end, one defense and one kicker with six bench spots. The draft rankings were based on's Top 350 Fantasy Rankings, though rankings from ESPN, Yahoo and CBS are available. One final note, in these simulations defenses and kickers are taken before bench players to ensure completed starting rosters for all teams (a requirement for some fantasy sites - since all teams follow this rule for two rounds of a snake draft, it does not have any impact on the results below). Following our rankings during an actual draft, we would not necessarily recommend drafting a defense or kicker early (if at all) since marginal value in either position is minimal and week-by-week streaming is a viable strategy.

Does your league have more players or custom scoring? The League Settings in the Mock Draft Machine cater to any league. To get started drafting click here.

10 Team League – Standard Scoring
Best draft position – 6th Pick

Running backs typically dominate the first round of any draft (seven of the first ten picks in this draft carry the rock) but without a top five pick it is unlikely that one of the top backs (Le'Veon Bell, Adrian Peterson, Eddie Lacy, Jamaal Charles and Marshawn Lynch) will be available. Instead, with the sixth pick its best to zig while everyone else is zagging.

Enter Gronk. The Patriots tight end is the best player at his position and it isn't even close. In the second round, while others are loading up on more running backs the best strategy is to snag a top receiver. Julio Jones is a wideout with top-five potential. By the third round it is time to address the running back position. Yet five of the team's top seven picks were used on other positions.

It turns out, in a ten-team league with standard scoring the best strategy without a top five pick is to wait on running backs. Of course using this strategy means loading up on backs in the later rounds so you can play the matchups week to week.

Round Player
1 Rob Gronkowski (TE)
2 Julio Jones (WR)
3 Latavius Murray (RB)
4 Jordan Matthews (WR)
5 Todd Gurley (RB)
6 Jarvis Landry (WR)
7 Ryan Tannehill (QB)
8 Andre Ellington (RB)
9 Emmanuel Sanders (WR)
10 Bishop Sankey (RB)
11 Heath Miller (TE)
12 Carson Palmer (QB)
13 Colin Kaepernick (QB)
14 Cleveland Browns (DEF)
15 Kai Forbath (K)

Draft Evaluations

Reg Season Rank Team Reg FPs
1 Team 6 1541.3
2 Team 3 1534.8
3 Team 5 1529.5
4 Team 9 1512.7
5 Team 2 1490.2
6 Team 1 1485.5
7 Team 10 1485.3
8 Team 8 1485.2
9 Team 7 1482.9
10 Team 4 1354.2

10 Team League – PPR Scoring
Best draft position – 2nd Pick

Scoring settings makes all the difference. In the standard ten-team league, seven of the first ten picks were running backs. In a point-per-reception league, receivers, especially high volume pass catchers, become even more valuable. With the second pick it isn't unreasonable to take a receiver over one of the top running backs.

In a ten-team PPR league the strategy is a straightforward, target receiver early and often.

Round Player
1 Antonio Brown (WR)
2 Mike Evans (WR)
3 Lamar Miller (RB)
4 Mark Ingram (RB)
5 Tony Romo (QB)
6 Charles Johnson (WR)
7 Jason Witten (TE)
8 Alfred Morris (RB)
9 Sammy Watkins (WR)
10 Steve Smith (WR)
11 Marques Colston (WR)
12 Kenny Stills (WR)
13 Breshad Perriman (WR)
14 Houston Texans (DEF)
15 Graham Gano (K)

Draft Evaluation

Reg Season Rank Team Reg FPs
1 Team 2 1534.6
2 Team 7 1509.2
3 Team 9 1506.2
4 Team 5 1485.2
5 Team 6 1473.5
6 Team 3 1471
7 Team 8 1468.3
8 Team 1 1467
9 Team 10 1451.6
10 Team 4 1431

12 Team League – Standard Scoring
Best draft position – 12th Pick

The addition of two more teams changes the results in a standard league. In the ten-team league the 6th Pick was the best draft position, in a league with this format the 12th Pick is best.

Picking last can seem like a burden but it's really not. The ability to make back-to-back picks allows an owner to address multiple positions at once (1st pick was used on a running back and the 2nd pick, one pick later, was used on a quarterback) or to fill in an entire position all at once (used the 5th and 6th picks to take receivers).

Drafting last you end up taking the No. 1 quarterback who is projected to score the most points in fantasy, two top-20 running backs, two top-25 receivers and the best option at tight end after Gronk and Jimmy Graham, not bad for your first six picks.

Round Player
1 C.J. Anderson (RB)
2 Andrew Luck (QB)
3 Travis Kelce (TE)
4 Joseph Randle (RB)
5 DeSean Jackson (WR)
6 Jeremy Maclin (WR)
7 Keenan Allen (WR)
8 Andre Ellington (RB)
9 Marques Colston (WR)
10 Teddy Bridgewater (QB)
11 Kenny Stills (WR)
12 Larry Fitzgerald (WR)
13 Mike Tolbert (RB)
14 Seattle Seahawks (DEF)
15 Randy Bullock (K)

Draft Evaluation

Reg Season Rank Team Reg FPs
1 Team 12 1472.2
2 Team 9 1469.5
3 Team 11 1451.4
4 Team 1 1447.5
5 Team 6 1445.1
6 Team 2 1443.1
7 Team 5 1436.2
8 Team 3 1427.2
9 Team 10 1427.1
10 Team 8 1423.2
11 Team 7 1399.8
12 Team 4 1347.4

12 Team League – PPR Scoring
Best draft position – 7th Pick

The 7th pick in this format returns quite a haul. You get all-world player Rob Gronkowski and then a collection of players with the potential to outperform their average draft position. Justin Forsett can be a top-ten back again this year and we are high on T.J. Yeldon in his rookie season even if he is playing in Jacksonville. Jordan Matthews and Vincent Jackson are top-20 options at receiver and a full season from RG3 could help Pierre Garcon return to the top-20 among pass catchers as well.

Like we have seen in other formats, without a top five pick do not be afraid to wait on ball carriers. In this draft, three of the first four picks for this team were used on positions other than running backs.

Round Player
1 Rob Gronkowski (TE)
2 Justin Forsett (RB)
3 Jordan Matthews (WR)
4 Vincent Jackson (WR)
5 T.J. Yeldon (RB)
6 Pierre Garcon (WR)
7 Matt Ryan (QB)
8 Lance Dunbar (RB)
9 Marques Colston (WR)
10 Larry Donnell (TE)
11 Andre Williams (RB)
12 Roddy White (WR)
13 Crockett Gillmore (TE)
14 Green Bay Packers (DEF)
15 Stephen Gostkowski (K)

Draft Evaluation

Reg Season Rank Team Reg FPs
1 Team 7 1842.4
2 Team 6 1823.6
3 Team 3 1821.7
4 Team 1 1821.2
5 Team 11 1795.1
6 Team 8 1793.6
7 Team 5 1779.9
8 Team 10 1779.1
9 Team 12 1773.9
10 Team 9 1758.4
11 Team 2 1708.6
12 Team 4 1687.6

After looking at four different leagues it is clear that a winner can emerge from any draft position. Well, almost any. In each mock draft the team with the fourth overall pick finished last. If you are picking fourth in your draft beware.

Of course, every league is different but to get an edge on the competition be sure to use the Mock Draft Machine on draft day!