Treating a Fantasy Football Draft Like a Grocery Shopping List

Image courtesy of Bruce Turner. Creative Commons licence:

Image courtesy of Bruce Turner. Creative Commons licence:

It’s upon us guys and gals. Fantasy football season is coming. With only 10 days left until the official kick off, most leagues are gearing up to draft, but what do you do if you know next to nothing about football?

Women currently comprise 20% of all fantasy football players , and that number will only go up as women become more comfortable breaking into this “mans world”. The fantasy sports industry continues to grow by the minute, and that means more and more female players are joining their first leagues as we speak.

Being the “new guy” (or girl) joining a league can be intimidating. Everyone in the league seems to be better prepared, more knowledgeable, and you seem to be the only person who isn’t sure of themselves. Even if this is your first draft, you shouldn’t be deterred from becoming a fantasy football player! It is easy to join a league, and there are plenty of websites to help familiarize yourself with the fantasy football world.

During your research, you’ll come across a ton of advice. (Literally a ton. ESPN’s 300 player cheat sheet is 9 pages just by itself.) You’ll receive guidance on sleepers, busts, draft day strategies, player rankings and many other finer points of the game. To someone new to the game, this bevy of data can quickly turn into information overload. To ease the confusion, I’m going to break down the basics on player availability, and what you will need to draft.

A must have for your draft is the Cheat Sheet. A cheat sheet is nothing more than a grocery list for the fantasy football famished. You can find cheat sheets on many different websites, but I recommend using one from the site from where you will draft, or if you’re participating in a live draft, use one from the site that will host your league. There are overall player rankings and player position rankings, and you will need both. Go ahead and print them off, I’ll wait.

Looking at your sheet, you may just see a bunch of names and positions. What you are actually holding, however, is your very own player shopping list. As the draft progresses, you’ll cross off names as they are “bought” to see what’s left to “buy”.  For general purposes, you use your overall rankings sheet and simply go down the list as you draft progresses.

Now you may be wondering when do you “buy” certain players, and when do you wait? Well, lets’ break down your sheet a little further. Since we’re shopping, we will relate each position to a food group. You have your Meat Group (the running backs), your Vegetables (the wide receivers), the Breads (the quarterbacks), your Fruits (the tight ends), and Snacks (kickers, and defenses). I used the ADP data from Fantasy Football CalculatorESPN and Yahoo to help determine when I think you should draft your players.

The Meat Group/Running Backs- The reason running backs fall into the meat category is that they are typically more expensive, but yield the most bang for your buck in feeding your roster. Running backs account for a large portion of points scored for you team., and quality rushers are very valuable because of a high level of disparity at the position. For those reasons, running backs are largely considered to be the most important part of a good fantasy team. Here are a few varieties of running backs and where they can be drafted. Keep in mind, you will need to draft 4-6 players at this position.


The Steak:

Adrian Peterson

LeSean McCoy

Jamaal Charles

Matt Forte

Marshawn Lynch

These backs are considered the elite players at their position, and depending on your league size, they will be drafted in the first or second round.


The Chicken:

Giovani Bernard: Second-Round Pick

Frank Gore: Fourth-Round Pick

Ray Rice: Fifth-Round Pick

Chris Johnson: Fifth-Round Pick

Chicken is still a staple for delicious dinner meats, and these guys have potential to perform as an RB1 at a much cheaper price.


The Hamburger:

Maurice Jones-Drew: Seventh-Round Pick

Fred Jackson Round: Eighth-Round Pick

Bernard Pierce: Ninth-Round Pick

Danny Woodhead: Ninth-Round Pick

Chris Ivory Round: 12th-Round Pick

Ah hamburger. The cheap, easy and versatile go to for dinner. While these guys are being bought at a cheaper price, they could still have the opportunity to produce for your team.


The Vegetable Group/Wide Receivers- Meat makes up a large portion of the dinner plate, but next and not to be forgotten is the vegetable. Wide receivers, in my opinion, are the second most important part of the fantasy football roster. There is less variance in the points scored at this position, so finding value is a little harder. You will still need to draft 4-6 receivers, so while less flashy than the running backs, this is a position that is not to be overlooked.


The Leafy Greens:

Calvin Johnson

Demaryius Thomas

A.J Green

Dez Bryant

Brandon Marshall

These guys are mighty healthy when it comes to points they’ll produce for your team. They can all be had at a premium in the first or second round.


The Potatoes:

Antonio Brown: Third-Round Pick

DeSean Jackson: Fifth-Round

Wes Welker: Fifth-Round

Torrey Smith: Sixth-Round

Julian Edelman: Sixth-Round

Though not as healthy, these guys are still filling. Wes Welker in particular is an attractive pick up. His current concussion worries are causing a drop in his average draft position, so keep an eye out, as you could pay a discounted price for a quality player.


The Peas And Carrots:

Emmanuel Sanders: Sixth-Round Pick

Eric Decker: Eighth-Round Pick

Mike Wallace: Eighth-Round Pick

Cecil Shorts: 12th-Round Pick

Greg Jennings: 13th-Round Pick

Often overlooked, and not very attractive, these peas and carrots can still provide some nutrition for your roster at an inexpensive price.


The Bread Group/Quarterbacks- Often the most enjoyable part of dinner is the bread group. They are responsible for a large part of your calories, and likewise, quarterbacks are heavy point producers. However, there is little disparity in point production at this position. As a result, there are a few heavy hitters to target, and after that a lot of mid round value. Your roster will require 1-3 quarterbacks, depending on your scoring structure and the quality of quarterback you select.



Peyton Manning

Aaron Rodgers

Drew Brees

Mmm, pasta. High in carbs and equally delicious. These guys are going in the first round for a reason.


Everything Else:

Matthew Stafford: Fourth-Round Pick

Andrew Luck: Fifth-Round Pick

Nick Foles: Seventh-Round Pick

Cam Newton: Eighth-Round Pick

Tom Brady: Eighth-Round Pick

RGIII: Eighth-Round Pick

Tony Romo: Eighth-Round Pick

Honestly, you never know who the leaders will be when it comes to the quarterback rat race, but these guys are a good value for a good starting quarterback


The Fruit Group/Tight Ends- Fruits aren’t often on the dinner plate but you can’t deny they are an important part of your everyday diet. Tight ends have a large assortment of responsibilities. This lack of specialization doesn’t lend itself to copious point production, though there are some studs to be had.


The Exotic Fruit:

Jimmy Graham:

Julius Thomas: Round

Rob Gronkowski: Round

High in price, delicious to own.


The Apples and Bananas:

Vernon Davis: Fifth-Round Pick

Jason Witten: Sixth-Round Pick

Jordan Cameron: Sixth-Round Pick

Greg Olsen: Eighth-Round Pick

The everyday and the mundane, but they still get the job done. Martellus Bennett, and Charles Clay are very economical choices being drafted in the 11th-12th rounds who still have merit for your team.


The Snacks/Kickers/Defenses- The snacks, the afterthought; Even if you have no interest in them, you will inevitably need them. Keep them out of your shopping cart until the last two rounds of your draft.


And that concludes our shopping overview! There are players out there who you will love and hate, but don’t pass on or buy these players just because some writer tells you to You should like the team you draft, but always draft with value in mind. If at the end of the day you find yourself hating your team, there is still hope!! That’s what trades and the waiver wire is for. Happy drafting ladies and gentlemen, and may your dinners be hearty and your rosters be full. Cheers!

Draft Day Dame

Are you a new or female player who wants to hear more of Payton’s advice or ask her a question? Follow her on Twitter, connect with her on Facebook, or find more of her articles here.

Are you hungry now?  Save money on all of your tailgate needs


Categories: Fantasy Football

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4 replies

  1. Great article! I loved the breakdown, and I hope to see more fantasy football news and info coming from the Draft Day Dame:) Cheers!

  2. Insightful approach. I’ll share this with newcomers as a great starting point.

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