The 2021 fantasy football master draft strategy is back with a simple premise: Follow this handy, step-by-step guide, and you're sure to enter the season with a quality roster that balances reliability and upside. Sept. 9 can’t come soon enough.
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ROUND 1 (1-12): DRAFT A RUNNING BACK, WIDE RECEIVER, OR TRAVIS KELCE
Running backs have returned to the top of the fantasy football food chain. It wasn’t long ago when drafters selected Julio Jones and Antonio Brown over their bell-cow counterparts, but a few talented running back draft classes have brought leagues back to the golden days.
Every fantasy football draft is unique, but one thing is certain: Running backs are the drivers of fantasy-winning teams. Get your studs early and wait untill the later rounds to take shots on backs in ambiguous backfields. That’s where we’ll find the next breakout at the position.
Unlike last year, when the strategy was focused on grabbing a workhorse running back no matter what, 2021 presents us with a different approach in the second half of Round 1.
If you miss out on the Tier 1 crop of running backs — Christian McCaffrey, Dalvin Cook, Ezekiel Elliott, Alvin Kamara or even Aaron Jones — be open to drafting an elite wide receiver in the second half of Round 1.
Wide receivers have the highest percentage of top-12 finishes (55%) over the past three seasons in PPR scoring. The Tier 1 wide receivers — Davante Adams, Tyreek Hill, Stefon Diggs, Calvin Ridley and DeAndre Hopkins — are strong bets to meet Round 1 production without the cost. These receivers represent five of the top seven players in PFF’s PPR fantasy projections.
Selecting Diggs at the back-end of Round 1 is a sharp move, as he could easily repeat as the league leader in targets. In Josh Allen’s only preseason game, the Buffalo Bills passed on 85% of their offensive plays, so you want the centerpiece of Buffalo's passing attack.
Kelce is the third option here if he happens to fall to the back end of Round 1 (10-12). Targeting tight ends with elite upside will be a recurring theme in this piece, as the approach provides fantasy managers a massive positional advantage.
ROUND 2 (13-24): DRAFT A RUNNING BACK, WIDE RECEIVER OR DARREN WALLER