Your 2019 Fantasy Football Draft Strategy

a red football on a green surface

You can draft effectively with little more than a major top 300 players list. Holding some positional rankings will be a big help too. But there’s one more thing that can elevate your draft from good to great: tier lists.

The idea of tier lists is that they add another layer and feature to positional rankings. Knowing which quarterback is the best, which is the second-best, and which is the third- or fourth-best is useful. But it’s even more useful to know those rankings and then also know that the biggest drop-offs come between, for example, the fourth guy in Fantasy Football Strategy.

Football’s opening day is just around the corner, and your fantasy draft is fast approaching. Now is the time to fire up those podcasts, buy those glossy magazines, and run through mock drafts online. Now is the time to develop a foolproof strategy for your 2019 fantasy football draft.

Below, you’ll find big-picture ideas and detailed reminders about the state of the game and your best bets for crafting a team that will run your opponents’ teams right off of the digital field. Let’s go!

Tier li is the fifth guy.

Use tier lists to make picks efficiently. Imagine you’re the second-to-last pick in a snake draft and you’re eyeing the quarterbacks. A tier list will tell you if the best two remaining quarterbacks are on different tiers or are on the same tier (and therefore very comparable players).

If the two are pretty similar, maybe you’ll decide to draft a different position instead. And you’ll be confident that you’ll just take whichever quarterback the next guy doesn’t take.

Pick the best available player early

Three or four picks into your draft, you’ll want to start thinking about the roster positions that you have yet to fill out. But when you’re making your first few picks, don’t overreact to open slots. If your first three picks are all running backs, that’s okay! You’ll have plenty of time to grab those other positions.

Make an exception for emergency situations in which the last guy in a major tier is about to go, leaving you with a significantly worse option at that position when your next pick comes around — but, other than that, just go with the best available player early in your draft.

Watch those tight ends

Understanding tiers is key for drafting smart, but tiers matter more for some positions than others. This year, the tight end tiers are very stratified.

Look at this year’s tight end rankings, and you’ll see that there are three tight ends who are clearly a cut above the other options this year: Kansas City’s Travis Kelce, San Francisco’s George Kittle, and Philadelphia’s Zack Ertz. There are three or four more down a step from those top options: New York’s Evan Engram, Tampa Bay’s O.J. Howard, Los Angeles’ Hunter Henry, and perhaps New Orleans’ Jared Cook.

After those guys, you’re in deep trouble at the tight end spot. Be mindful of runs on tight ends in your draft, especially if you’re in a deep league.

Draft rookies late

The NFL is always welcoming new players. Late in the draft, you’ll find that you often have the chance to choose between aging stars and potential future ones. Your best bet, especially in a keeper league, is often to choose the elite rookies.

They may not have starting jobs or be starters yet, but these late-round picks are all gambles — so you might as well make the gamble with the biggest potential playoff. Guessing right on a rookie star on could change the trajectory of your season.