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Picking Players That Score a Lot of Points
David Dorey
August 9, 2005

There are three actions you must take if you want to draft a set of players allows you to compete for the league crown. If you do only two of the three, your draft will likely be disappointing without some good luck on your side. If you do all three, then and only then can you be prepared to enter your draft with gas in your tank, bullets in your gun and map to where you are going. It is as simple as that.

1. Know your players

The first action you must take and everyone does, is to know your players. You not only need to understand what players are good and which ones are bad, you need to have them arrayed in tiers so that you can quickly and efficiently evaluate your options when you draft. You need to know what players you consider as relative equivalents and where drop-offs occur. Sometimes those drop-offs are fairly small but sooner than later, they become huge as you progress from NFL starters into back-ups and players not prominently featured by their offense.

Make sure you know player value and tier positions. Make sure you read the article about How To Tier Players.

2. Know your positions

It is not nearly enough to merely know player value, you have to know how that applies to your league scoring rules by position. You need to know what the relative value of starting positions are to each other and take into consideration that position depth, how quickly that position will be drained and where the benefit is greatest to your team in total points. In many leagues, you could have the best WR's, TE's, PK's and DEF but if your QB and RB spots are weak - you will not be competitive. In others, TE's are pretty valuable and throws a big slant on how they are taken. In some, QB's all score similar and can wait.

After you know the player values within a position, you have know how each one stacks up against all other starting positions to get the greatest value with your picks. Make sure you read the article on League Analysis and Graphing.

3. Know your draft slot

Okay, so you have that killer cheatsheet with tiers and now you know what positions score in your league. You are ready to draft the greatest team ever except for one small problem - every other person in your league. See, they kind of want all those good players too. While there may be the bonehead pick or two, you have to count on them drafting well and being prepared to get the players that will still be available to you.

Sort of a monkey wrench in the plan when every targeted player you wanted ends up on someone else's team.

Or getting that first targeted player suddenly turns your draft into a game of chase, trying desperately to get positions before the tiers empty and ending up with a whole squad of players where none is better than 10th in their own position. You have to build that team and the only way to maximize your draft is to go in with a realistic plan. Know what you want in advance and you can make intelligent, confident picks. This does not mean you should ignore great value when it drops in your lap, but you need a roadmap on how to get there. When that big value pick falls to you - your team becomes even stronger.

To plot out how I see the season right now, let's set the stage first considering a 12 team league that uses standard performance scoring. Running backs are the hottest players, followed by quarterbacks (though you only need one) and then receivers. Let's walk through each pick and see what unfolds and what plans we can make based on what happens.

Rankings as of 8/9/05 (considering only QB, RB and WR)

Rnk Quarterback Tm Bye
1 Peyton Manning IND 8
2 Daunte Culpepper MIN 5
3 Donovan McNabb PHI 6
  Tier 2    
4 Marc Bulger STL 9
5 Brett Favre GBP 6
6 Trent Green KCC 5
7 Matt Hasselbeck SEA 8
8 Carson Palmer CIN 10
9 Jake Plummer DEN 9
10 Tom Brady NEP 7
  Tier 3    
Rnk Running Back Tm Bye
1 Ladainian Tomlinson SDC 10
2 Shaun Alexander SEA 8
3 Edgerrin James IND 8
4 Priest Holmes KCC 5
  Tier 2    
5 Willis McGahee BUF 9
6 Domanick Davis HOU 3
7 Clinton Portis WAS 3
8 Deuce McAllister NOS 10
9 Corey Dillon NEP 7
10 Jamal Lewis BAL 3
11 Kevin Jones DET 3
12 Julius Jones DAL 9
13 Tiki Barber NYG 5
14 Rudi Johnson CIN 10
  Tier 2    
Rnk Wide Receiver Tm Bye
1 Randy Moss OAK 5
2 Terrell Owens PHI 6
3 Chad Johnson CIN 10
4 Torry Holt STL 9
5 Marvin Harrison IND 8
  Tier 2    
6 Javon Walker GBP 6
7 Joe Horn NOS 10
8 Reggie Wayne IND 8
9 Andre Johnson HOU 3
10 Steve Smith CAR 7
11 Nate Burleson MIN 5
12 Roy Williams DET 3
13 Darrell Jackson SEA 8
  Tier 3    

Going in, I know...

Quarterbacks - After his record breaking season, Manning always goes in the first round. It may be as early as 3rd, it could be as late as 10th but he always goes in the first round - and no other quarterback. In most drafts, Culpepper goes right at the first of the second round though he sometimes lasts until mid-second round if you are in one of those RB-crazy leagues. After that, McNabb typically goes either at the very end of the second round or during the third round - depends on the league and the QB scoring. After that, Bulger is usually the 4th QB taken and will go as early as the fourth, usually in the fifth and sometimes in the sixth rounds. After those four, no one really thinks the same and the rest are a smattering through the sixth to eighth rounds. Other than Manning and Culpepper, and to a lesser degree McNabb, quarterbacks are falling back deeper than most any recent season.

Running Backs - The more dedicated the owners, the faster the RBs fly off the shelf. In many leagues, there can be up to 11 taken in the first round. In many leagues, there can be up to 18 taken in the first two rounds. Basically, they get absolutely drained in most leagues by the end of the third round - start of the fourth on the outside in a 12 team league. RBs are like the centerfold to Playboy - you may actually want to see the whole thing but you always go there first. The run on tailbacks is so frenzied that it cannot be ignored even if it does not make any sense. You wait - you got none. Simple fact. Drafts start out with Tomlinson and Alexander, then either Holmes or James. After those four the order gets turned around in every draft but guaranteed - those ball carriers are going onto rosters as fast as any previous year.

Wideouts - In almost all drafts, Moss attracts a first round pick from mid-round to the end. Rarely does any draft witness two WRs taken in the first round. Depending on the scoring (like reception points), the grouping of Owens, Harrison, Chad Johnson and Torry Holt will spread out among the second and third rounds in the middle of the RB feeding frenzy. Walker always comes fifth and then it mixes up to personal preferences.

So let's apply this to a draft as it unfolds, making plans at every pick based on what has happened.

  Pick     Pos   Player Why and What's My Plan?
1 RB LaDainian Tomlinson

Options: QB Manning, RB Tomlinson, WR Moss

WHY?: Tomlinson is the first pick because there is absolutely no questions revolving around him of any kind. Great size, youth, speed, power, durability, offense built around him, no sharing, etc.. By taking LT, I can feel pretty good that I will end up with a very highly productive RB that should last the whole season.
THE PLAN: By the time the second pick rolls around, I expect that Tier 1 and 2 RB's will be gone. I will look for my early 3rd pick to be a top WR or QB depending on who is left when I finally pick again 22 slots from now. I have to wait a long time between picks and with the "swing" or double picks I get from here on out, I need to be watching for either early value in a position that has not yet been raided or watch for important tiers that are quickly clearing out. Since I have the #1 player, I can take more calculated risks later on. I am thinking of starting out RB-WR-RB maybe - no need to get too concrete with so long to wait. I can spend most of the first round nudging people and then pointing to myself and whispering "Tomlinson".

2 RB Shaun Alexander

Options: QB Manning, RB Alexander, WR Moss

WHY? Alexander is a scoring machine and one of the most productive AND consistent backs in the NFL. Why risk anyone else here? Money in the bank.
THE PLAN: I am still too far away from my #2 pick to have a very concrete plan. Same as above, hope that a decent RB2 still exists but with such a good RB already, I am a little less concerned with getting two RB's for my first two picks and can always use my third pick to either RB or McNabb. Should reach a Tier 1 WR with the #2 pick - still hard to say so far away from my next pick.

3 RB Edgerrin James

Options: QB Manning, RB James, WR Moss

WHY? Sure Manning is a great QB, but there are many good ones and they will last into deeper rounds. James is the best mix of low risk and high reward out there for me. He's on a one year contract and will be motivated.
THE PLAN: It is looking pretty favorable that I will get to start RB-RB or RB-WR with that WR being a stud. I think my third pick will probably be McNabb or a top WR if I get that RB for my second pick.

4 RB Priest Holmes

Options: QB Manning, RB Holmes, WR Moss

WHY? The question is more why is he not the first pick? Of course his durability is questionable and his productivity when healthy is without equal. When I take Holmes, I know I just mandated my 6th pick to be Larry Johnson or this could come back to kill me. I have to burn a pick others use for starters on my backup because this year Johnson is just the second half to Holmes. It is a risk I must insure. But I could have the #1 RB for as long as Holmes holds up.
THE PLAN: I wrap back around well enough to expect some decent RB choices - I want someone that is of almost no risk though like Martin or Barber. I cannot afford any more risky RB starters. With my #3 - probably a WR or see what comes.

5 RB Peyton Manning

Choices: QB Manning, RB McGahee, WR Moss

WHY? Perhaps the most consistently high scoring player in the league, it always hurts a team later to get an early QB but I just cannot ignore what Manning brings to the table - same offense, good schedule and a potential for 50 TDs. I know I have bought into going RB-RB next, but my 3.05 pick is early enough that I should reach a decent RB2 there. My difference maker will be Manning and my two RBs should combine for average RB numbers or better if I am smart drafting.
THE PLAN: As stated, I have to go RB-RB next - no question. My 4th pick will likely be either a WR or Gonzo or Gates if they fell that far.

6 RB Willis McGahee

Options: QB Culpepper, RB McGahee, WR Moss

WHY? I see Culpepper with some risk as does Moss, so I am following a run but I grab McGahee who played incredibly well last year and will be one year further removed from his knee injury in 2002. I have an upside RB which allows me some freedom later on for value picks.
THE PLAN: Now that I have an RB, I can look at my 2.07 pick for a tier 1 WR or even Culpepper if he falls that far. Or I can take an RB2 for a solid start that allows me to just value pick the rest of the way. My 3.06 pick could still result in a starting RB for my RB2 so I am already flexible in my options.

7 RB Domanick Davis

Options: QB Culpepper, RB Davis , WR Moss

WHY? Faced with the same issues as team #6, I make the same sort of move to get a strong RB1 with upside and know that I not only have a flexible situation with my #2 pick, I get to do it one spot earlier than he will. Davis has some slight durability issues, but was dynamite when he played last year and most of the RBs I will reach later will be solid enough to compensate.
THE PLAN: Like team #6, I am flexible here. Start with a RB rarely ever hurts you and I can use my mid-round position to grab the best values that float past.

8 RB Clinton Portis

Options: QB Culpepper, RB Portis , WR Moss

WHY? This is a slightly aggressive pick but I like the upside of Portis and know he has the potential to turn in a far better year than in 2004. Moss is becoming very hard to pass by but all the RB talk has me concerned that I may miss out on quality if I hold off.
THE PLAN: Since Portis is a bit risky, I am likely looking to get an RB2 that is more solid even if it means less upside. And that means my second pick almost has to go RB unless something really falls into my lap.

9 WR Deuce McAllister

Options: QB Culpepper, RB McAllister , WR Moss

WHY? It's a little harder still to justify using my valuable first pick on the 8th best player in his position, but McAllister has a lot of upside this year with a revamped offensive line. Since my #3 pick will by at the 3.09, it is hard to take the plunge here on a WR or QB that themselves carry risk. This is a tough spot in a draft but I have to be prudent knowing what will be happening after my pick.
THE PLAN: I sort of hate the idea of getting RB2 next since I start my draft with no major difference makers but it would be solid and allow my later round drafting to really shine since I will be free to make just value picks. I will consider a tier 1 WR or Culpepper perhaps, but likely I want another RB and then make my moves from the 3rd round onwards for starting runs on other positions and getting best values.

10 WR Randy Moss

Options: QB Culpepper, RB Dillon , WR Moss

WHY? By this late in the draft, I cannot spend my time just following runs and taking the closest player to the drain. Moss does carry risk, but he is supremely talented and you know OAK will use him extensively. I may be buying me a problem later on, but I cannot ignore the best WR on the board just to take the #9 RB and make me feel safe. Drafting this deeply, safe starts to sound a whole lot like mediocre.
THE PLAN: I have now bought into a mandatory selection of RB with my second pick and likely my third as well or I will have a major hole to fill all season. Taking Moss means I can wait on other WR though since he could end up as good as two other WR for most other teams. I'll likely go RB-RB next and know that my RB2 is likely a rookie RB. This may end up as a high risk, high reward roster that could be a total dud or a league killer.

11 RB Corey Dillon

Options: QB Culpepper, RB Dillon, WR Owens

WHY? Yes, drafting this deeply sucks and taking yet another RB seems pointless but my 3.11 pick means if I don't take a RB here, I am risking my RB2 to be hard to rely on. If I do not take an RB here, I will be drafting for need the rest of the way. The low risk and high reward RBs are probably gone with my 3rd pick and I just do not want to take the chance on it. Dillon was a top back last year and should be very low risk for another good year in NE. I'll get adventuresome later in the draft, but I am not taking a risk here. The #12 team could go RB-RB for all I know, so I will get a shot at Culpepper or Owens.
THE PLAN: Taking Dillon here gives me the freedom to chase value the rest of the way. I can get a top WR or Culpepper next and still reach some RB with my 3rd pick as scary as that may seem. I'll evaluate what RBs are around with my second pick and decide then.

12 RB Jamal Lewis

Options: QB Culpepper, RB Lewis , WR Owens

Why? By now I have sat here, waiting and waiting for my turn to come while the rest of the league has been strip mining RBs. I make a mental note to never get stuck in the back of a draft again. My options here are either the 10th best RB, or the second best WR or QB. It is certainly tempting to go with Culpepper and Owens my next two picks! That would look great and I would have two major difference makers in their position. I would have to go RB-RB at the 3/4 swing though. That means the highest scoring position that is also the most consistent will have probably a risky rookie and a very, very risky veteran at best. Maybe not even that good. I will be taking either Culpepper or Owens with my second pick and I am going to get at least one RB early so here makes sense. I do not feel great that I have merely loaded up on middle tier 2 RBs and do not have a true stud, but I do have the best 1-2 punch in the league for RB and that counts a lot. Lewis could be very big this year with a lot to prove now that jail and all the distractions are gone. BAL has a passing game too which may lower his numbers or actually increase them.

THE PLAN: I am going to get either Culpepper or Owens next - this far back I must get some difference makers. Taking Barber frees me up for more risk taking. I am going to take Culpepper next for the high scoring knowing he is a risk without Moss there but I will need to take risks this deep in the round. I just know that my third pick will be whatever RB is left on the board. I can live with that.

Now that all first picks are made, the key #2 pick arrives. What makes it key? No other pick you make will have as big a bearing on your future picks. It will shape where you go next and if you start to develop need picks in a position already picked over or if you can take value picks to build a complete team. Depending on what you do here, you may have no choice in the matter. This is the pick you need to think about and it is only marginally impacted by the first round pick. There are normally about 20 or 25 truly top players in each season and most of them will be drained when this round concludes. Let's be strategic and do some longer range thinking.

My Draft Board Entering Round Two

Rnk Quarterback Tm Bye
2 Daunte Culpepper MIN 5
3 Donovan McNabb PHI 6
  Tier 2    
4 Marc Bulger STL 9
5 Brett Favre GBP 6
6 Trent Green KCC 5
7 Matt Hasselbeck SEA 8
8 Carson Palmer CIN 10
9 Jake Plummer DEN 9
10 Tom Brady NEP 7
  Tier 3    
Rnk Running Back Tm Bye
11 Kevin Jones DET 3
12 Julius Jones DAL 9
13 Tiki Barber NYG 5
14 Rudi Johnson CIN 10
  Tier 3    
15 Curtis Martin NYJ 8
16 Ahman Green GBP 6
17 Steven Jackson STL 9
18 Lamont Jordan OAK 5
Rnk Wide Receiver Tm Bye
2 Terrell Owens PHI 6
3 Chad Johnson CIN 10
4 Torry Holt STL 9
5 Marvin Harrison IND 8
  Tier 2    
6 Javon Walker GBP 6
7 Joe Horn NOS 10
8 Reggie Wayne IND 8
9 Andre Johnson HOU 3
10 Steve Smith CAR 7
11 Nate Burleson MIN 5
12 Roy Williams DET 3
13 Darrell Jackson SEA 8
  Tier 3    

It's show time. It's money time. Let's get it on...

Team  Pos Round Two Pos Already Have The Plan for #3 and #4
12 QB Daunte Culpepper RB Jamal Lewis

Options: QB Culpepper, RB K Jones, WR Owens

I take the grab on Culpepper here. I've now set myself up to have to look at RB with the 3.12 but I have a QB that has been at or near #1 every year. It is a slight risk here but I need to make something happen for my roster that is being built at the end of rounds.

Outlook: Will be taking an RB with the 3rd pick and I can only pray that some decent starter still exists. At best - a rookie or someone who shares carries but I am going to be willing to accept risks more than most since otherwise I will be building a below average team. Drafting 12th means that I cannot play it safe.

11 RB Kevin Jones RB Corey Dillon

Options: QB McNabb, RB K Jones , WR Owens

This box set of RBs gives me a super solid start with Dillon and Kevin Jones who has great upside this season. With this duo on the roster, I am free to go hunting value wherever it lies.

Outlook: Pure value from here on out. I will take a gander at QB and WR and decide when it comes to me. I should reach a Tier 1 WR or a top QB. I could swoop on my 3rd RB. Or a TE. Thing is - I got them options.

10 RB Julius Jones WR Randy Moss

Options: QB McNabb, RB J Jones, WR Owens

I already have Moss so I really need to take the best RB on the board. Julius Jones was on fire to end last year and could easily be top ten this year. Owens is interesting and would look great but I don't want my RB's to be scrubs. I feel really good here with the #1 WR and a great upside RB

Outlook: I'll likely still get an RB with my 3rd pick and that should be one of the rookies most likely. Doubtful that I can delay RB2 until the 4.03 but if I go RB with my 3.10, then I have 2 RBs and the best WR - I am ready to show what sleeper picking is all about.

9 RB Tiki Barber RB Deuce McAllister

Options: QB McNabb, RB Barber , WR Owens

Let's see, a risky WR (but with great upside) or a top QB or just settle for yet another RB? I see Barber as easily the most solid pick on the board and the tier 2 RBs are almost over. He won't likely meet last year's numbers but he's a lock for a good year.

Outlook: I'll likely end up going WR next unless McNabb falls. With some luck, I may even reach a tier 1 WR but at worst I'll get Horn or Walker. It is a very solid start so far and I'll need to get some players to exceed expectations for me in later rounds. But a solid team is nothing to be ashamed of to be sure. This roster allows me a lot of freedom in pursuing best value.

8 RB Rudi Johnson RB Clinton Portis

Options: QB McNabb, RB R Johnson, WR Owens

Well, the #3 QB is still there but QBs always last. The #2 WR is there which is tempting too but the final RB in tier 2 is sitting there calling my name. I could go with Owens here and still reach a decent enough RB2 at the 3.08 but I could also take the final tier 2 RB and still get a good WR with the 3rd pick. Chris Perry can never stay healthy so Rudi may end up with an obscene amount of carries yet again.\

Outlook: RB starters are locked down and I like the mix I have. I can now look at McNabb (if there) or the best WR on the board with my next pick. Heck - I may even grab Gonzo or Gates for a difference maker.

7 WR Terrell Owens RB Domanick Davis

Options: QB McNabb, RB Martin, WR Owens

Well, Martin is certainly a safe pick and Davis is a slightly risky RB1 (though with upside). But I am heading for a mediocre roster at this rate and tier 2 RBs are gone. I', going to take a swing for the fence with Owens here. Davis and Owens - that could be golden or could be league dung. But with a mid-round pick, I can reach a decent RB2 and lock down a top WR so I can delay them while I explore QB and TE in the 3rd and 4th rounds. Or get a backup RB then.

Outlook: My next pick is the best RB on the board no doubt but he'll still be an NFL starter. I may end up with a rookie and just extend the boom or bust mentality that my draft is creating.

6 RB Curtis Martin RB Willis McGahee

Options: QB McNabb, RB Martin, WR C Johnson

I am tempted to snag Chad Johnson here but McGahee and Martin seem like a rock to me. Martin had a skyrocket season in 2004 and while he'll fall back, I am willing to bet he'll be at least this valuable and free me up for value picking the rest of the draft.

Outlook: My RB-RB ploy has landed me a safe, solid and possibly unspectacular start. I'm looking strongly at WR next pick and maybe even Gonzalez. I have a solid foundation and now my job is seeking out difference makers and sleepers.

5 RB Ahman Green QB Peyton Manning

Options: QB McNabb, RB Green, WR C Johnson

While I could get cute here and take Chad Johnson, grabbing a first round QB should always mean RB-RB next or the hole is impossible to fill. I missed out on the very top WR so Green fills in a big need for me with a player that has some risk and some upside. But Green always ends up at least average and on a good year - he's top ten.

Outlook: My 3.05 pick is going to be RB, sort of has to be one. After that I can explore WR most likely unless a TE shows up I wasn't expecting. But I will take an RB next.

4 RB Steven Jackson RB Priest Holmes

Options: QB McNabb, RB Green, WR C Johnson

Man - Chad Johnson is tempting. Holmes could be a super-RB again and I may miss out on tier 1 WRs but I think I still have a shot at no worst than Horn later on. I take Jackson who has a great schedule and should hold up the RB2 slot to be strong enough that it's pure value picking from here on out.

Outlook: One reason I went with RB over WR there was that I HAVE to get Larry Johnson or my house of cards falls. Taking an RB there means I am not dead in the water if someone steals LJ on me. I'll be focusing on WR next and maybe a top TE. Or McNabb. I have two RBs - I am not worried about needs so much outside of LJ in the 6th or 7th rounds.

3 WR Chad Johnson RB Edgerrin James

Options: QB McNabb, RB Jordan, WR C Johnson

I already have James who should be money in the bank playing a one year contract in IND. I can reach a decent RB with the 3.03 so there is no reason for me to ignore the great upside of Chad Johnson. Let Palmer get even better and this pick is golden.

Outlook: I'll take an RB next, but after that I'll look at QB each round and decide when to take that plunge and if not, value pick my WRs and RB3. I am liking this team so far with two top 3 players in RB and WR.

2 WR Torry Holt RB Shaun Alexander

Options: QB McNabb, RB Jordan, WR Holt

I already have the #2 RB and I pick again only three picks later. Just in case the Tomlinson guy gets cute and tries to sweep tier 1 WRs clean, I take Holt here and then an RB second. Holt should be a lock for a good year and consistent in a normally inconsistent position.

Outlook: My 3.02 will be the best RB on the board for a solid start. McNabb is attractive that deeply but I bet I grab a RB so that I have a very powerful RB-RB-WR set to start my draft. That is likely the best trio to get.

1 RB
Lamont Jordan
Marvin Harrison
RB LaDainian Tomlinson

Options: QB McNabb, RB Jordan, WR Harrison

I cannot possibly hope to get any quality at RB2 if I delay until the 4th round and Jordan fills that need with an upside player to match with stud-boy Tomlinson. Harrison nets me the final tier 1 WR too! The best RB, a tier 1 WR and a decent, upside RB has me set. Jordan carries some risk but in the OAK offense he finally gets the big chance on a team that wants to run. Moss pulls the secondary back and Jordan plows through the line.

Outlook: Everyone hates the #1 pick and this is why. He has the best RB, a decent RB2 and a tier 1 WR. What is not to like about that? From here on out, whatever the best value on the board joins LT and the rest of the front-end swing boys.

This has shown not the way your draft will go, but the way that different draft slots can work out, knowing what the scoring scenario does to positions, what other drafts are like this summer and using tiers to keep me alert to positional depth in an easy manner. Draft slot management is critical in those first four or five picks since teams will follow positional plans as they try to build a set of starters. After that - it's mostly about getting sleepers and strategic picks considering bye weeks, the NFL teams already on your roster (avoiding loading up on, say, ARZ players) and respecting the relative scoring values of TE, PK and DEF in your league.

Before we end, let's take a general overview of ways to build your team positionally and what it most likely would mean to your team. I am only considering the first picks as a RB or WR because this season I see no reason to take a QB in the first round. You really need to understand how positions stack up to each other relative to scoring. And you need to apply some reality to that with how many starters you will need for each position and how quickly some positions will fly off the board (say, oh, running backs maybe).

Remember - different tactics take on different results depending on the draft slot used.

Strategy What it means
RB - RB - RB The classic Stud-RB start means you better be very good with WR and QB, cherry picking sleepers to make up for some lost opportunity early. You just took only two starters with your valuable first three picks. Feels good but puts a lot of pressure on the team in later rounds. Can strategically hurt other teams that waited on their RB2. Unless your scoring heavily favors RB's or you get to use a third RB in a flex position, you probably just bought into being only average - at best - in all your other starting positions. Remember - most leagues RB's are only 25% of the starters.
RB - RB - QB Normally an okay start - filled the three highest scoring starter slots with your first three picks and likely with great value. Now then - can you pick a couple of good WR after the first 15 are gone? Unless you get a Tier 1 QB, the value of this strategy is debatable unless QB scoring is very high and you know a run on them will ensue. QB's do score a lot and in most leagues, the top nine last out until the 6th to 8th rounds. Know your league and the scoring before going this route if you do not get a Tier 1 QB.
RB - RB - WR This is probably about the best generic plan discounting what values might drop in your draft. You start out with a solid RB corps which is important but then still reach a pretty good WR and you will be needing more than one anyway. Not knowing anything about a league or slot, this is the one I would tell a newbie to use since it is the safest one of all. Maybe not most advantageous in all cases, but the safest.
RB - WR - RB As long as that WR is a Tier 1, this makes sense. Plenty of QB's left and you start out solid on RB with a great WR. Probably weaker than the RB - RB -WR unless receivers are valued higher than most leagues. Most the time this has to entail a top 3 WR or be near the back swing of rounds 2 and three so a decent RB2 is still available. Need to know what you are doing on that WR in the 2nd round.
RB - WR - WR This can be deadly effective but only if you get a sleeper RB. This year seems to be less abundant in them but then again - we always say that. You have wrapped up two great starting WR in a position that is the hardest to get right. Good start but good luck on that RB2. You need to be pretty sure in your player evaluation skills to net a decent RB2 and you probably buy into getting an RB3 earlier than you want just to make sure you are covered. This really only has a great chance of working if you have a late round pick that gives you a very early 4th rounder. Even then, luck needs to be on your side.
RB - WR -QB This works well only when you have top tier players from all the positions. If you do, then you are in a great spot to take the players that fell in the draft. If you got one of these wrong, you can be hurting your chances to compete. This can look great at the time but you'll need access to a pretty early 4th round pick in order to reach an RB2 that will post at least moderate points. This is something best done when RB1 is a big stud like Holmes or Tomlinson. Tough to make this work - it just does not play out well in drafts usually.
RB - QB - WR Same as RB - WR - QB but likely a bit less workable since QB's are falling this year in drafts. Likely lost some opportunities by going this route and will need to get lucky from here on out. That QB has to be in Tier 1 and that WR better be a good one. Waiting until the 4th for RB2. like above, is best done only when you have a top RB1 and yet pick early in the 4th - that is frankly impossible in most drafts.
RB - QB - RB This is fine if your QB scoring is well above the other positions. Probably stronger if your RB1 is a big stud player since your RB2 will be Tier 3 and your WR's will be weak unless you get lucky with sleeper WR's. Unless your QB's really score much more than other positions, this better have in it a Tier 1 QB.
WR - RB - RB Starting with a top tier WR is a decent idea if you draft late in the first round and you can get enough value with RB's to make a solid start that can address value picks later. Normally what works best is to get that Tier 1 WR and then make your RB picks be a mix of one solid guy and one big upside guy. You are headed for mediocrity if you are not careful with this and need a sleeper RB to hit for you.
WR - RB - QB As tempting as this may seem, taking a top tier WR and following it with a Tier 3 or 4 RB means you have set your team up for about average scoring so far in your first two picks. Taking a QB had better be a Tier 1 QB and even then, chances are good you would have been better off overall waiting on QB. With the rate RB's fly, that WR and QB better be distinct advantages to compensate for a weak RB2. Very hard to make this one work to your advantage.
WR - WR - RB Only when you make the play to grab two Tier 1 WR's because you were drafting at the end of the first round and they fell. You have two great WR in a normally inconsistent position. You can always get a QB later of some note, and you get a Tier 4 RB for something solid. Just need to land one RB sleeper to make this work. Downside is that is almost always does not work. Feels good until you check out what your RB2 looks like. Only try this if you have a final round pick and your 4th is one of the very first picks in that round. Cross them fingers.
WR - RB - WR I hope you are getting reception points because that is likely the only way this makes sense. WR1 needs to be a Tier 1 guy, RB1 needs to be Tier 2 guy and then the trade-off between WR2 over an RB2 needs to be already known before you go this route. If there are no reception points, then you better be one Slick Sam at sleepers because you are buying a couple of need picks real soon.
WR-QB-RB This only works best if there are reception points or at least a scoring methodology that actually favors WR and QB and you are picking deeper in round one. I'm sorry - I hate to admit it as a receiver-aficionado, but RB's are too valuable to wait on if only because of what the rest of your league is likely to do. You better know your league and scoring favors this before hoping on this band wagon.
WR-WR-WR No. Just stop that. I have never seen a scoring system this addresses in my 15 years of playing. Just no.
QB - anything Rather than go through all the permutations, suffice it to say QB-anything (other than Manning) only makes sense in leagues that give a disproportionate scoring to QB's over all other positions. In almost all leagues, you start only one and I see ten good ones this year. Taking Manning in the first round happens in every league and that team immediately ends up chasing needs the rest of the draft instead of best values. He is hard to resist but his price is significant unless you get major QB points in your league. Since leagues only start one per team, they last until 6th rounds or even later for decent starters - not so in RB or WR.

No one will draft like I showed above in the two round sample because we all have different opinions and preferences. Viva La Difference! Even I don't follow my own rankings to the letter because a draft is dynamic and after those first two picks, there are more considerations than merely projected performance. Risk, upside, bye weeks, youth, aging players, schedules and more will effect where you go in your draft and what you can do. But being prepared will allow you to recognize where values lie and what that means to your team when you deviate from your plan.

Remember - the highest scoring team is the one with the best total net points from ALL starting positions. It feels good to load up early on favorite positions but does that really make sense. It feels great to start out with three RBs but you know - bench points count zero. How may points are you giving away by delaying starters?

You want to pick players that score a lot of points - we all do. But that is merely a subset of what your aim should be - putting a group of starters on the field every week that combined score more than your opponent. Draft a fantasy team - not a fantasy group of "I love this guy and that one too and the rest suck".

Above all - win!