Most fantasy football players rightly put most of their stock and preparation into getting the first few rounds of their drafts right. If you can hit on your first, second and third picks, chances are you will have a core that can take you far during the season. But what about the middle rounds where the star power starts to fade and the choices get tougher? What about those players who are filling out the rest of your roster, who might not be big names but will still find their way in your lineup, likely filling important roles?
How should we prepare for those rounds?
Since there's so much strategy content out there for the early rounds and for late-round lottery tickets, I decided to turn my attention to Rounds 5-8. I believe the players selected here end up having as much value and impact — if not more — as your first couple of picks or those late-round sleepers.
Some quick notes on the process: Every draft is different, but we'll be going by Yahoo ADP here. Also, I'll be providing two different plans of action depending on if you go running back or wide receiver with your first-round pick, which is the most common choice we're being faced with in 2022 drafts.
Round 5: Don't get trapped
If you went RB in Round 1 — Consider a high-upside WR2. What do I mean by "high-upside WR2?" Well, I mean a wide receiver who could be the No. 1 option on any other team, but is only a WR2 because of how magnificent their offensive ecosystem is. The perfect example in this round is Allen Robinson, who has been a No. 1 option before but is now at WR2 on the Rams, thanks to the presence of Cooper Kupp.
You can make the argument that someone like ARob (or Mike Williams) has more value at ADP than Terry McLaurin or Diontae Johnson, two WR1s who are in bad-to-horrible offensive ecosystems.
If you went WR in Round 1 — Target Travis Etienne, ignore other RBs. Again, following Yahoo ADP, you'll likely find names like Breece Hall, David Montgomery, Josh Jacobs and maybe even Cam Akers in this part of drafts. Bypass them for Etienne.
Not only is Etienne likely walking into an early season featured role for the Jags, but he has proven rapport with Trevor Lawrence going back to their college days and, most importantly, he has the pass-catching chops to make a big impact in half-and-full-PPR. Don't get fooled by the bigger names (with the bigger question marks surrounding them) or the lure of Hall's youth and draft standing (while ignoring his offensive ecosystem). Chase Etienne's upside instead.
Round 6: Pivot to less glamorous fantasy positions
This might seem counterproductive — to go for a quarterback or tight end in this round when there are still quality options available at RB and wide receiver — but this is a spot in drafts where not only do QBs and TEs not cost as much, but the talent drop off from the top-tier options isn't massive — nor is the gap in upside.
If you went RB in Round 1 — Consider a second-tier tight end. The chances of Darren Waller or George Kittle being available here are slim to none in any competitive fantasy league. But the likes of Dalton Schultz, Dallas Goedert and T.J. Hockenson should all be here for the taking.
The reason why I want to highlight them here is that, while they likely won't reach the stratospheric heights as that first tier of TEs, they have a lot of things working in their favor. Schultz is one of the few trusted pass-catching weapons remaining in Dallas, and there will be a plethora of targets he can inhale behind CeeDee Lamb. Goedert is one of the most athletic phenomenons (and red-zone mismatches) at the position, and his offense is expected to be more potent this year. Hockenson has already proven his productivity, and if anything, the presence of Amon-Ra St. Brown (more on him below) should just make Hockenson's job easier this season.
If you went WR in Round 1 — Good time to get a star quarterback. Quarterback, as it usually is, remains a very deep position. It's also one that is in the eye of the beholder; you decide how much value the position actually has for your fantasy team. With that said, I personally like to target quarterback in this area of drafts because, while they might not have the monstrous ceilings of Josh Allen or Lamar Jackson, there is still a path to elite production. Fantasy stars like Joe Burrow, Jalen Hurts, Kyler Murray and even the old GOAT himself, Tom Brady can all be drafted here without spending major draft capital.
Round 7: Secure a young star-in-the-making for your FLEX spot
We've seen a wave of young talent enter the league in recent seasons, and a lot of those players happen to be available in this round — especially at wide receiver. Target them.
If you went RB in Round 1 — Draft a wide receiver. Every position is available here — you could even take a defense (don't) — but the position that sticks out as one with incredible value is wide receiver — specifically, young talents like Jerry Jeudy (who could be Tyler Lockett 2.0 in Denver with Russell Wilson) JuJu Smith-Schuster (at just 25 years old he could end up being the No. 1 wide receiver option for Patrick Mahomes), Gabe Davis (arguably the wide receiver with the most hype coming into this season) and Amon-Ra St. Brown (who proved last season he's the real deal).
Having one of these guys in your FLEX spot could probably end up being a cheat code when the season is all said and done.
If you went WR in Round 1 — ^^^ Same thing applies.
Round 8: Security > Upside
I know playing it safe seems like the coward's way to go, but we're still drafting players who could either A) Be in your starting lineup or B) Make a significant impact at some point in the season or C) Both.
We're not reaching for the moon yet — look for someone dependable here because soon, there won't be many safe floors left.
If you went RB in Round 1 — Look for a wide receiver with a secure role. I know you might be tempted to go for Michael Thomas in this round, but there are just way too many question marks surrounding him right now to call him a secure option. Instead, look for names like Adam Thielen, Marquise Brown and Rashod Bateman. These wideouts are all set to be featured options in their respective offenses — all offenses that are expected to be potent, by the way.
If you went WR in Round 1 — Target Chase Edmonds, ignore all other RBs. The above thoughts on Travis Etienne apply here for Chase Edmonds — and Edmonds might end up out-scoring Etienne when the season is done.
I don't quite understand why Edmonds is going this late in drafts, but I'll happily accept his ADP of 80.7. Not only was Edmonds paid the way a featured back would be paid to join the Dolphins, but he has proven results on both the ground and through the air. Sure, Miami head coach Mike McDaniel might have ties to Raheem Mostert and could look to lean on him, but Mostert's injury history is working against him. Edmonds has the secure floor along with the upside to end up a league winner. Ignore the likes of Miles Sanders, Devin Singletary and Clyde Edwards-Helaire; take Edmonds here instead.