6 Football Positions and What Each Can Do for Your Fantasy Team

By  //  July 26, 2022

If you look at how to win at fantasy football, you’ll quickly see that it comes down to two main factors. You need to draft well, and you need to start the right players on the proper days. 

That shouldn’t surprise you much if you know about professional football. After all, drafting well and starting the correct players often leads to on-field victories in the NFL as well, along with excellent coaching.

When looking at the fantasy football rankings for players, you need to understand they’re not put in tiers by accident. Rankings indicate what players can help you the most and which ones you should find most valuable. If you don’t know much about the game, but you want to do well in your league, looking at a player’s ranking can reveal that information.   

For instance, player rankings might reveal that you want to take Tom Brady in the first round, but you want to save a wide receiver or running back for the second round. Most draft kits come with a player ranking system, along with stats and analytics that will further help you as you try to decide who to pick with each successive round.

Along with player rankings, you should also make sure you have the following position players on your team. Having each of these positions will balance your team well, and you’ll find success on both offensive and defensive fronts.

Your Quarterback

Nearly all conventional fantasy football wisdom says that you need to draft a quarterback in the first round. This mirrors what many teams do in the real-world NFL draft.

In the real-world draft, a team might not select a quarterback with a high draft pick if they feel like they already have a franchise quarterback in place. If a team has a Tom Brady, Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, or a similar QB on their team, they might use that pick to get a different position player. On the other hand, they might still draft a prized QB so they can immediately trade that player to another team.

With fantasy football, you’ll almost always want to pick the best quarterback still available to you with your first-round draft pick. Occasionally you might find a player who wants to use a different strategy, but nearly all fantasy football podcasts or columns will recommend you pick a strong QB to anchor your team and start the selection process.

Your Wide Receiver

With fantasy football, you probably want to draft a well-regarded offensive or defensive player in the second round. Opinions vary regarding whether you should take an offensive or defensive player. Many experienced fantasy football players always go for offense in the second round, but that’s not a hard-and-fast rule.

For instance, maybe you’re picking in the second round, and you have some top-ranked wide receivers or tight ends available to you. You might go for someone like the Bengals’ stud wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase. You could also select someone like Tyreek Hill, who jumped from the Chiefs to the Miami Dolphins this past offseason.

If you go for a top-ranked wide receiver in the second round, you’re following conventional wisdom, and there’s nothing wrong with that. However, it’s not inconceivable that you might buck the trend and take a top-ranked defensive player.

You might use your second pick to get someone like the LA Rams’ Aaron Donald. He helped them win the Superbowl last year. He has just as much of a chance to get you a lot of fantasy points if you start him on any given day, especially if he is in there against an inferior offensive line.

Your Tight End

In the third round, just as many fantasy football players go for defense as they do offense. In fact, if we assume for a moment that you picked a quarterback in the first round and a top offensive player in the second round, that makes it more likely you’ll go for a defensive player in the third round.

Let’s say you went with a top-dated defensive player like Aaron Donald in the second round, though. In the third round, you might go with a tight end if you see some attractive ones still on the board. Maybe you’ll pick Travis Kelce, Darren Waller, or George Kittle if you see them still available.

Tight ends can earn you a lot of fantasy points, especially if you start them against a weaker secondary. If you have a versatile tight end on your team that you can start against an inferior defensive unit, you’re likely to do very well that way.

Your Running Back

You might choose not to select a running back till you get to the fourth round, even if you still see some on the board like the formidable Derrick Henry, Nick Chubb of the Cleveland Browns, or Jonathan Taylor of the Indianapolis Colts. Running backs can certainly help your fantasy football team if you start them against teams with poor running defenses.

However, many fantasy football players don’t like to spend a ton of draft capital on running backs, which is why you’ll rarely see an experienced fantasy player take one earlier than the fourth round. Most fantasy football experts would rather pick up a quarterback and then a top receiver with the first two picks. They might go with the best defensive player available in the second round, but if so, they’ll almost always select a receiver in the third round.

By round four, they’ll want a tight end or running back to round out their team on the offensive side. Many people say that defense wins championships, and that’s often true in the NFL. In fantasy football, you can usually say the opposite. Unless one of your defensive players has a monster day, a stud offensive player will usually yield more overall value.

Your Safeties

By the fifth round, you’ll probably think about your defensive needs if you’ve taken top offensive weapons in the first four rounds. You should now look for the best available defensive weapons that no one else has drafted yet.

You might go with a safety like Jesse Bates II, Tyrann Mathieu, Budda Baker, or Antoine Winfield Jr. Any of them can help your team, particularly if they can act as ball hawks against inferior quarterbacks.

Your Interior Defenders

You can also go with an interior lineman in the fifth round or the sixth. We’ve already spoken about Aaron Donald. He’s one of those rare offensive line wreckers who can chase down even the most skilled quarterbacks, which is why you’ll sometimes see him go in earlier rounds.

However, you should always keep an eye out for guys like Cam Heyward, DeForest Buckner, or Fletcher Cox if you can get any of them in the fifth or sixth rounds. Any of them can provide the same value that a safety can.

You can usually value a top-rated safety about the same as a top-rated defensive lineman when you’re doing your fantasy football drafting. Either one can get you some points with a quarterback sack or an interception. With interior linemen, you also have the possibility that they can tackle a runner for a loss. That’s helpful from a fantasy perspective as well.

Additional Drafting Advice

In later rounds, you can look at other positions, like kickers. Kickers might not get that much love in fantasy football drafts, but one who rarely misses can get you the extra points needed to get you that fantasy win if you are in a close contest with some other players. 

If you’re looking at kickers in the later rounds, you might go with Harrison Butker of the Chiefs or Matt Gay of the Rams. Jake Elliott of the Philadelphia Eagles is another possibility.

At all times, you want to pay attention to player rankings, but you should also look for high-value players that fall to you in the later rounds. If you need to pick lesser-known players because you’ve looked at some analytics that lead you to believe they’ll pan out for you, you should absolutely do that.

Try to listen to any podcasts or watch shows that reveal players you can draft in later rounds that other fantasy players in your league might miss. You’re always attempting to find an edge, and that often means taking less valued players who everyone else passes on in the earlier rounds.

Also, draft how you want, and don’t listen to any other fantasy players in your league who comment on your technique. If you have a draft strategy, follow through on it and ignore all the surrounding chatter.

Know what players you want most, but have backup plans in mind. You can always adjust on the fly if you feel that you know a player’s true value. Rankings matter in fantasy football, but they’re not always the most crucial factor. Luck also frequently comes into play to some degree.