Fantasy Football Drafting Basics
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Fantasy Football Drafting Basics

Running Backs: Fantasy Powerhouses to Build Around

Let's start with running backs because they are the keys to building a championship squad. It is essential to take an elite stud running back with your first round pick no matter what. While it may be tempting to take Peyton Manning or Steve Smith, the smarter pick will always be a running back. No matter what strategy you are employing, it is essential to take as many running backs as early and often as possible. Sleeper candidates at the running back position are often the difference between Championship squads and also-rans. Frank Gore, Ladell Betts, and Maurice Jones-Drew were huge difference makers for owners who took the chance on them. A few sleepers for 2007 that you should target on draft day are: Atlanta's Jerious Norwood, Carolina's DeAngelo Williams, Minnesota's Adrian Peterson, and Green Bay's Brandon Jackson. Another key to remember on draft day is to handcuff your stud running backs. This mean that you should draft your stud's backs-up late in the draft as a replacement in case he gets injured. The classic example of the handcuff theory is in 2005 when Priest Holmes went down and owners who handcuffed Larry Johnson reaped the rewards. A few key handcuffs for 2007 are: San Diego's Michael Turner, Washington's Ladell Betts, Chicago's Adrian Peterson, New England's Sammy Morris, and Seattle's Maurice Morris.

Quarterbacks: Wait for Value in Later Rounds

While it may be tempting for many owners to grab a premier QB early in the draft, it doesn't translate into fantasy success. The position is so deep that you can find almost equal value in the 7th round with players such as Matt Leinart, Jon Kitna, and Philip Rivers as you will in earlier rounds. The key to drafting quarterbacks is to find an offense that loves to throw the ball and has the weapons at wide receiver to be a fantasy powerhouse. Obviously, the studs at the position this year (Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Carson Palmer, and Drew Brees) will put up huge numbers, but you should focus on selecting running backs and wide receivers early and try to find value at the quarterback position in the later rounds.

Wide Receivers: Grab a Stud and Focus on Break-Out Players

Drafting wide receivers early is like committing fantasy suicide unless you can draft the right one. Early in the draft, try to draft a stud wide receiver to anchor your squad-- such as Carolina's Steve Smith or Cincinnati's Chad Johnson-- if you are in position to do so, because they are playmakers who have the ability to score whenever they touch the ball and are the center of their team's offense. Instead of focusing on possession receivers like Marvin Harrison and Torry Holt, you need to find playmakers at the wide receiver position in order to be successful. Once you've grabbed your stud, you can afford to wait and then focus on finding breakout candidates in the later rounds. A few that I would recommend as sleepers for 2007 are: New England's Wes Welker, Cleveland's Braylon Edwards, and Detroit's Calvin Johnson. Another tip to remember is to take chances on little known receivers late in the draft because one may pop --such as Philadelphia's Reggie Brown-- or be a bust-- like Minnesota's Troy Williamson last year.

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