The Colonel's secret recipe. The contents of Marsellus Wallace's briefcase in "Pulp Fiction." Tony Soprano's fate when the screen went black.
These are all mysteries, enigmas ... secrets. We want the answers, but we aren't likely to ever know the real truth. Well my friends, I'm going to let you in on a little secret that has helped me win more than my share of fantasy championships. It's my recipe of 11 herbs and spices. It's Marsellus Wallace's soul, or Tony Soprano's death. (I'm speculating on the last two, of course). Yes, I'm giving out my round-by-round fantasy football draft strategy to build an elite fantasy team.
It's not rocket science or Einstein's Theory of Relativity. It's a simple and effective blueprint for finishing your fantasy draft with a smile, knowing that you just put together a team that will put you in contention for a league title. If you follow this plan and make smart waiver-wire moves and trades in-season, I can guarantee a successful 2015 campaign.
Draft an RB: If you have one of the first six overall picks in a 10-team league, you should target a running back. The supply of featured running backs does not meet the demand of a fantasy football lineup, so you could be in dire straits if you pass on the position. The one exception to this rule is for owners with the No. 7-10 selections, at which point picking Antonio Brown or Rob Gronkowski becomes an option. In that case, you can land the best wideout/tight end and still get a solid running back at the top of Round 2.
Draft a WR: Unless you draft Brown in the first round, you should be going after a wide receiver in Round 2. That means you're going to get one of the top 10 fantasy running backs, as well as a top-10 wide receiver. In a recent mock draft, I landed Jamaal Charles in Round 1 and came back around to grab Demaryius Thomas in Round 2. That's a solid foundation to build a fantasy team around, right? Remember, your main focus is to build a balanced roster that doesn't leave you stressed out about the matchups.
Draft an RB or WR: You should be focusing solely on the runners and receivers in the next two rounds, choosing the best player available at both positions. For example, in the mock draft I mentioned earlier, I had the choice to draft either Mark Ingram or Mike Evans. Being that this was a PPR mock and there were still a bunch of good runners left on the board, I went with Evans because of his immense skills as a pass catcher and red-zone prowess. I do like Ingram, but I saw Evans as a better selection.
Draft an RB or WR: Same drill in this round as the previous one. If you took a runner in Round 3, then you should get a wide receiver. If you went with a wideout in the previous round, then it's time to go after a running back. My fourth-round selection in our PPR mock was Andre Ellington, who finished in the top 20 in fantasy points among runners last season despite missing four games. To recap, I have now drafted two top-10 fantasy wideouts from a season ago, along with a top-10 and a top-20 runner.
Draft an RB, WR or Jimmy Graham: Use common sense here ... if Drew Brees or Peyton Manning are available, grab them. If Graham is still on the board (not likely), he's a nice selection. If Graham is off the board, then you should continue to build on your running back and wide receiver depth. I just don't see Greg Olsen or Travis Kelce being worth a top-50 pick. Deciding on whether to draft a runner or wideout will be based on the best player available between the two. In the mock, I took Keenan Allen.
Draft an RB or WR: You should continue to build your running back and wideout depth in this round. Olsen or Kelce are options at tight end, but you have to determine if their value is greater than that of the available runners and receivers. I passed on both of them in the mock in favor of rookie T.J. Yeldon, who figures to be a three-down back in his first season in Jacksonville. The Alabama product has the upside to emerge into a No. 2 fantasy runner, and I was able to land him as a flex in this draft.
Draft an RB, WR or TE: If you already have three running backs, then you don't need a fourth (not yet). The same goes for wideouts. If either Kelce or Olsen is still on the board, I would jump on the best available option. Otherwise, I'm likely to wait a bit longer on a tight end. You should also be looking at how many quarterbacks have been drafted at this time. There shouldn't be more than five or six picked, so you can still wait if you haven't landed Brees or Manning in a recent round.
Draft a QB, RB, or WR: In a perfect world, you will already have three runners, three wideouts and either a quarterback or tight end. If you're still in need at quarterback, I'd consider taking Cam Newton in this round. Otherwise, continue to build depth at runner and wideout. Since I had drafted Yeldon and Ameer Abdullah (Round 7) in the previous two rounds of the mock, I decided to add Jeremy Maclin here ... as a No. 4 fantasy receiver behind Thomas, Evans and Allen. That's nice depth.
Draft a QB, RB, WR or Martellus Bennett: If you have waited on a quarterback or a tight end, then you should target one of those two positions. You'll be amazed at the number of good signal-callers that are still on the board at this point, including the likes of Ben Roethlisberger, Tony Romo and Tom Brady (although his stock is on the rise). If you feel like you can wait another round or two on that position, Bennett is a good choice at tight end. In fact, he was the player I landed in this round during our mock.
Draft a QB, RB, WR or TE: The same strategy applies here as in the previous round. In the expert's league, I waited to draft a quarterback until this point and was still able to land Newton. If you already took a quarterback and still lack a tight end, then that's the position you should target. If you have already grabbed a signal-caller and a tight end in one of the first nine rounds, then you can also continue to build on runners (maybe a top handcuff) and wide receivers with this pick.
Draft a QB, RB, WR or TE: If you have used this strategy to perfection, you should now have one quarterback, four running backs, four wideouts and one tight end. That gives you some options to choose from in terms of your next selection(s). If you don't love your No. 1 quarterback or tight end, then you can draft a backup for one of those spots. I tend not to draft a backup tight end, though, and would rather go after a No. 2 quarterback.
Draft a QB, RB, WR or TE: At this late stage of the draft, you should be keeping your eye on deep sleepers and players who could out perform their draft position. In all, continue to use common sense. You don't need to draft a sixth runner or wideout ... five at each position (once the draft is completed) is more than enough for depth purposes. You shouldn't have drafted a defense or kicker yet based on this draft strategy, but if you did (shame on you!) then remember that one is enough.
Draft Stephen Gostkowski: Did you know that Gostkowski almost always outscores all but one or two of the top fantasy tight ends? In 2014, he would have ranked as the 16th-best runner and the 14th-best wide receiver. Points are points, right? If the Patriots kicker isn't on the board for some reason, then Plan B is to draft either a fifth running back or wide receiver (whichever position you still need to fill). If you still have just one lone signal-caller, this is a good spot to select your fantasy backup too.
Draft a K or D/ST: This assumes, of course, that Gostkowski wasn't available in Round 13. In this scenario, you should have no problem landing a top-10 option at either position. Chances are this will be a defense, so take the best unit that's available on your board.