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Be flexible with fantasy football draft-day strategies

(Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire)

Once in a while, you’ll hear someone talking about a certain fantasy football strategy that they’re in love with. They used it last year and now live by it.

The most popular strategy this season seems to be Zero-RB, which is easy enough to understand. At its core, Zero-RB means to wait to draft your first running back until the later rounds and then stockpile on mediocre options.

Another rather vague strategy is to wait and draft a quarterback and tight end. That means stocking up on RBs and WRs in the early rounds before grabbing a QB or TE later on.

Zero-WR is also a thing; the same as Zero-RB, but focusing on everything but WRs in the early rounds.

To an extent, these strategies can be a great method of drafting. But to have a firm strategy before the draft order has been set would be a mistake.

If you have a pick around the 5-to-8 range, employing Zero-RB probably isn’t the best method. And if you’re sitting at the end of the first round and Rob Gronkowski is still there, are you willing to pass on the tight end just because you’re going to wait since that was your strategy going in?

These strategies all depend on draft order and what the rest of your league does. Guess what? Every league is different. No two people draft the same or have the same exact thoughts on every player.

What if everyone else in your league goes WR heavy or reaches on a quarterback and Adrian Peterson falls to the end of the first or even second round? At that point, you throw strategy out the window and take the most consistent running back in fantasy football.

It’s not that these strategies can’t work, but there are other factors to consider when choosing a certain method.

Recently, a friend of mine told me that he was using Zero-RB for the first time ever this year since he had the No. 1 pick. I immediately questioned him and asked if he would take Amari Cooper or T.Y. Hilton as his second or third pick if Le’Veon Bell or maybe Jamaal Charles were available.

He considered it for a second and said that would never happen since he already knew someone was going to take Bell early.

While that may be the case in his league, it’s not impossible in a fantasy draft — too many crazy things happen. You don’t know what anyone else is thinking or where he or she got his or her fantasy advice. What if everyone else employs the Zero-RB method and there is a vast array of running backs available late in the second round?

Having a set strategy can be good to a point, but if you’re not willing to change on the fly if something unpredictable happens, then a set strategy would only hamper you.

The best, and easiest method to use going into drafts is having tiered rankings of your top players as well as another list of sleeper candidates you like in the late, late rounds. Tiers can help you decide not only between positions, but also help you in not reaching for a player.

Going back to having a pick at the end of the second round. I have Brandin Cooks and Keenan Allen in a tier above Amari Cooper and T.Y. Hilton. If both of those top receivers are gone, maybe I’ll move tiers and go for a running back like Doug Martin or LeSean McCoy.

Just keep an open and flexible mind because you never know what will happen on draft day.

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